by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, November 2010~Volume 10, Number 8
Continued from Last Issue...
One way I accomplish more is by multi-tasking. For example, this afternoon, while my lunch was heating in the microwave for 20 seconds, I transferred the clothes in the washer to the dryer in about 25 seconds! Last night, when I was waiting for files to import to my computer, I read from a book. Sometimes I balance my checkbook when I am sitting in the van waiting for someone to come out of a store. Or, when I am watching the little ones, I try to do something productive with them, such as getting fresh air and sunshine, cleaning their bedroom, doing chores, or cross stitching as I watch them play. (Though I do know how important it is to spend time “just” having fun together, too, which all of us enjoy!) It is also helpful to take along projects in the van, for doctors’ appointments, and anywhere else where I may spend some time sitting with nothing to do. (Of course we can always spend idle moments praying or memorizing Scripture too, which is an excellent way to redeem the time!)
I find that my days are way more productive when I have a plan, a schedule, an agenda—goals! I need something to focus on and “check off” when I’m done with it! However, I must warn you: a successful day is not necessarily one in which I accomplished everything on my to-do list. Not at all! I have found that sometimes, the most successful day is one on which there were many interruptions, distractions, or change of plans that interfered with my schedule--and I responded properly. That is so important! “Goals” are not being handled properly if they are only making us irritable, selfish, and stressed. At the end of the day, Jesus Christ is still all that matters in our lives—that we were living for and focused on Him. It is absolutely critical that we keep things in perspective, girls! During the course of writing this article, I have had to stop several times for various interruptions. But that is what life is all about—working around “obstacles” and wisely prioritizing our responsibilities. Someone has said that “good” is often the enemy of “best,” so let’s be sure we are completely in the center of God’s will and not settling for anything less than His best for our lives.
The tips I have shared have simply been basic ideas, thoughts, and pointers that I have found helpful. I will close with the words of a dear friend, Brianna. She wrote about time management last year, and it was actually from that article that I developed my current goal-planning system of notebook and folder. Brianna wrote,
“. . . Now, I would not have you to think that I accomplish every single thing that I scratch onto that sheet of paper. That would be quite impossible and rather selfish for me to expect. I use the term selfish because my ‘goals’ are not my number one priority. They are a guide, not the measure for success.
“What then does matter as the sun is setting and I reflect upon the events of the day? Is it the completion of my ‘to-do list,’ an orderly house, the absence of disasters during the course of the day, or the successful shopping trip? I have come to the realization that only Jesus matters and thankfully, He can be glorified through any type of day. He is not limited by lack of money, time, and resources. Rather, He is more able to show Himself strong in the midst of our daily hardships! When I can answer positively that Christ was glorified in my words, attitudes, and actions, I know that my day was not wasted. As I carry this attitude with me all throughout the day I need not worry or become ruffled with moment by moment cares because I know that I am, as Frances Ridley Havergal put it, ‘hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand.’ ...
“Seeking first the Kingdom of God is not something which can only be done on the mission field, but it is an ever present reality which we must constantly strive for! Each day when I awake in my father’s home, I have the choice to do what needs to be done and seek God’s will. Often that means laying aside a book in order to comfort a sick little boy, or taking time to pray when I begin to worry and forget that God is in control. I am finding that the Christian life is the opposite of how Karl Marx described it. It is not the ‘deadening of the senses,’ but the awakening of them; instead of plodding along in this present world from one task or goal to the next, I am awakened to the eternal reality that everything I do will be taken into account in heaven. I live a purposeful life, one which is full of beauty, joy, and meaning.”
I hope that this article has been a practical encouragement to be a productive, efficient daughter. But more than that, I hope that all of us will realize how vital it is that we build for Jesus, because He truly is all that matters. It is possible to accomplish much in our lives, yet never hit the mark. It is possible to do amazing things and never live the life He has for us. Let’s not spin wheels in the dirt. His way is best, and very often His way comes in the forms of those small, unique distractions that we think are posing a problem. Yet really, those are the very things He wants us to learn from, benefit from, and work toward. If we find that extensively planning “our lives” poses more problems than it does benefits, then it is time to find a different system. I will now leave you with a short story of something that happened recently:
It was Sunday morning and I was trying to find something to wear to church. Finally, I settled on a particular dress and took it to the utility room to iron. (Normally I like to lay out and prepare my clothes the night before, but this had been one of those days when my goals did not quite happen!) Upon entering the utility room, I noticed that the ironing board and iron was already set up and my brother’s wrinkled pants were lying across the board. “Hmm,” I thought. “I guess Justin was going to iron his pants.” I tossed them aside and began ironing my skirt. As I was performing this duty, a different brother, Gideon appeared. “Oh, are you the ‘Ironing Lady’ today?” he asked eagerly.
“No,” I said, “I’m ironing my clothes.” That was selfish, my conscience immediately pricked.
“Okay,” he said, “I’ll ask Justin to iron them.”
“Well, let me see them,” I responded. “I’ll try to get to them.” Now I felt as if unexpected work was piling up on top of me. I would have preferred to be accomplishing something else that day rather than ironing everyone’s clothes. When my skirt was done, I ironed Gideon’s pants. That was easy, I admitted, hanging them up.
Then I spotted Justin’s pants still thrown to the side. I really should iron his, too, I told myself. How did this simple, 1-skirt ironing job turn into ironing the family’s wardrobe? But I took up heart and began working on Justin’s pants as well. His legs being longer than Gideon’s, they took twice as long to iron, but at last they were done. I could leave the iron out for Justin to put away, I told myself. After all, I just ironed his clothes for him. But then I figured it’d take me about 20 seconds to do it myself. Why not?
It was as I was doing this last task that the thought occurred to me: The Lord wants me to be faithful in small things. He is not only calling me to glorify Him in exciting, noticeable areas. He wants me to be patient, flexible, and unselfish with my time. He wants me to be willing to put my schedule aside in order to do something for someone else. This is how He is asking me to serve, glorify, and honor Him right now. To respond properly to moment-by-moment situations like these—is that a great burden? These are mild “sacrifices” compared to what some are suffering for Christ in foreign lands, and even in our own nation.
The sanctifying work that progressed in our little utility room ended with a prayer thanking the Lord for His goodness, His faithfulness, and His current “assignments” to me right now. How can I ever complain?
Planning and goals are wonderful, but always remember that the Lord wants HIMSELF and the situations HE allows us to be confronted with to be top priority every day. May the Lord bless you richly as you live for Him!
NOTE: Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed by my goals and plans—that’s when I have to slow down, take a deep breath, and re-evaluate. I may even have to put them out of sight until I get my bearings again! (Also, I like to take things a little easier in the summertime—we all need a rest now and then! It is also important to rest as much as possible on the Lord’s day. This is a great habit to form, and it is another way to honor the Lord by obeying His Word.) If you feel overwhelmed or stressed by all that has been discussed in this article, stop. Set the magazine down, pray, and then—if you want to—adapt these ideas to fit your own needs. Your season of life is likely different than mine, and what works for you is probably different than what works for me. :)
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