Do you make to-do lists?
I live by them, whether they are written down or just in my head. I really like writing them down though because then I get to mark through them when the task is done. This gives me a sense of accomplishment. It’s amazing what drawing a line through “iron clothes” can do for my psyche.
When I don’t write my to-do list down, I am usually a little less accomplished. The following is an example of what will happen.
I’ll go to the kitchen to start breakfast. I realize not all the dishes were washed the night before so I will wash up first. Then I will see the toys scattered around the kitchen floor and put those away. The kids will begin complaining they are hungry and I will remember about breakfast. After breakfast I will begin clearing the table, only to be told by Gingernut that she needs help in the bathroom. I go help her out and after we’re all done figure I might as well get the kids dressed and ready for the day while they are in their rooms and in close proximity to the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I will remember the dishes from breakfast need putting in the dishwasher. On my way back to the kitchen I will want to brush my teeth really quick and have a bathroom break because I haven’t had one since 5:00 A.M. and well, my bladder is about to explode. Then, I will finally make it to the kitchen to clean up only to be bothered by the cat who feels as though I did not give him enough food that morning and should top his bowl off. I will spill cat food on the floor, which I will begin to clean up. I will look around the rest of the floor – specifically that section under the table. Realizing that it looks like we ate on the floor instead of the table that morning I will sweep up that mess. I’ll see the candle on the table and think about how I should light it to make the house smell nice. On the way to get the lighter I will notice the how nasty the rug is and go vacuum it. I will remember the dishes in the sink and go BACK to the kitchen to clean up but by this time it is snack time so I have to stop to get the kids food. At some point I will light the candle.
It’s only 10:00 people. That’s 10:00 A.M.
And so my day goes if I haven’t written things down.
But whether my tasks for the day are written down or in my head, my days can fill up with the busyness that days fill up with. It’s not bad things. The kitchen has to be cleaned. We have to eat. We all need clean underwear…except Lil’ Paul who is in the process of transitioning to underwear. So now, I also add to my list of things to do cleaning up pee from the floor.
Six months ago I would let that busyness keep me from stopping and being at rest in order to have some time that is just for me and Jesus. The dirty laundry would tease me that it was now piled taller than me. The toys scattered on the floor would laugh at my attempt to keep them in the place. The soap scum in the bathtub would sneer at me as it built up thicker than the six inches of snow we are about to get tomorrow.
But thanks to some convicting of the Holy Spirit and wonderful words written by friends I began to ignore the teasing, laughing and sneering of the things in my home that needed doing and to be still for a bit with the Lord. My heart began to change and it soon required little effort to not do everything that needed doing before I sat with Him. I began to not just need Him, but to long for Him, to come to Him with anticipation of what He would show me that day.
However, I have failed to ignore all the callings of the to-do list to spend more time playing with my children. It’s not that I don’t want to play with them. I just know how much needs to be done and the kids end up taking a back seat so very often. What I need to realize though is they need me to play with them. They need me to read a book to them. They need me to eat a snack with them. They need me to teach them.
I’m not saying that I ignore them. Quite the opposite, they get 95% or more of my attention. But what kind of attention am I giving them? This is the question that I am pondering and doing battle with. Instead of having a mom who was in the kitchen all the time, I would rather Gingernut and Lil’ Paul have a mom who let them help bake cookies with her in that kitchen. I don’t want to give them what is left over of me at the end of the day. I want them to have the best of me. I think when I do that consistently it will become easier to not fold the clothes so I can play Candyland, to not clean the kitchen for the fifth time that day to put together a puzzle.
And I will begin to look forward to doing those things with anticipation.