Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Creating time for what really matters

Lately, y'all, I've been feeling so stretched thin and I've decided to make a change. I'm not going to sit here and write about our busy lifestyle because chances are, if you're breathing, you're busy. But, I am going to tell you what I'm doing about it.

Each morning when I get to work, I read two short devotions. They're both from publications our church gives and one particular morning a few weeks ago, both of my devotions were centered around time. I don't think it was a mistake either. I'd been feeling really stressed about how I was going to get all of this stuff done when I wanted to get it done and still have fun. And that morning, it stopped me in my tracks when I read about how what we spend most of our time doing shows us where are priorities are. Yes, I knew this, but for some reason, those words jumped out at me that morning.

If you know me in real life, you know that I like to do things. If there's a school party for the kids, sign me up. If it's a holiday, I'll bring the treats. If there's something we want to celebrate at work, I'll take care of it. It's my personality and it's just in my nature to do. I like to do. It gives me so much joy to do things for others, and most of the time, it's totally fun. But sometimes, I bite off more than I can chew (yes, honey, I'm admitting it!).

I also have a tendency to try to fit one million things in a small amount of time. For example, I think I can make it to a class at the gym, run a few miles, stick dinner in the crock pot and cook a homemade breakfast for my family all while making it to work on time a few mornings during the week. It doesn't work. I'm not super woman although sometimes I think I am. (I do have to chuckle when I think about this though - Kaden always wants grits and pancakes for breakfast. Every day. He loves them. One recent morning, I handed each he and K.C. a plate with pancakes on it and Kaden immediately asked for his grits which were still in the microwave. I laughed and said something like, "I'm getting them buddy. I'm not super girl, I only have two hands" to which he replied "but you are super." Things like this make my day!)

Most of my outside of work to-do list is comprised of self-imposed to-dos and many of those things don't really have to be done. I am your poster child for an over-achiever and I'm ok with that most of the time except when I feel like I'm doing too much stuff to really do those things that are important.

When I think about my life and those things that are most important to me, they are these things:
  • My husband 
  • Our boys
  • My relationship with Christ and our involvement in our church through teaching Sunday school and singing in the choir
  • My family and friends
  • Running and exercising 
  • Taking care of my family and home
Those six things are what make me me. They're the things I live for, want to spend my time being with and doing and the things that matter most. When I'm stretched thin, I can't be the best for my people.

For myself, I've discovered that to be the best version of me I have to have time to run/sweat and I have to have time with the Lord because I just can't be the best me without Him. Unfortunately, the latter of those two things is often neglected and I have to do something about it.

I feel so convicted (not a word I usually use) about not spending time with my Savior as I should. I think about God, I whisper prayers throughout the day and we read a Bible story (usually Goliath because the boys are obsessed with this story) and say our prayers with the kids each night, but at the same time, I don't have that set aside time each day that is my God time and I know I need it.

I feel like this post keeps getting off topic as many of my posts do, but all of this is related I promise.

When I read the short devotions about time and how what we're devoting our time to show where our heart is, it made me think hard about some things:

  • I get up earlier than everyone in my house many days each week in order to run and workout.
  • I stay up late many days making lunches, ironing clothes and doing other things.
  • I work as hard as I can during the day so I don't have to be bothered with my real job once I leave the office.
  • I fill every free second with all this "stuff" that doesn't have to be done and I rarely relax.
While all these things are good, do you see what's missing? Set aside time with the Lord each day. When this immediately jumped out at me as I was reading, it stung. You see, it stung because I realize I go to great lengths to ensure that I can run at least five days a week. I go to great lengths to make sure my family gets (for the most part) real breakfast and not just cereal each morning. I go to great lengths to make sure I'm able to spend family time with my husband and kids each day and sacrifice sleep to pack lunches (with sandwiches often in the shape of dinosaurs or something from whatever holiday we're getting ready to celebrate) and get clothes ready for the next morning. I go to great lengths to do all these things (like M&M Halloween cookie jars) that don't really have to be done just so I can say "thank you." But I don't go to great lengths to spend time with my Lord every day. And I always blame it on the busyness of life or the fact that my eyelids shut the moment I get snuggled into bed at night.

And that had to change.

There are so many things in this world that I can't control no matter how hard my control-freak nature tries to control them. But there are two things I can do: pray and ask for guidance and read God's Word. As a wife and mother, one of the greatest things I can do is to pray for my husband and pray for my children for each and every aspect of their lives. If you haven't done this, I encourage you to. It'll take a load of worry off of your shoulders and give you a calm peace. 

I told my husband a few days ago that I'm officially slowing down. After having something nearly every night for about three weeks, we're entering into the busiest season of the year and I've decided to slow down. Sounds absurd, right? 

I'm going to be intentional about what I'm devoting my time to. It's already been an easier week for me and I'm enjoying it. I want to be able to run out at the last minute to shop for Christmas gifts, I want to be able to snuggle up at night and watch Frosty the Snowman, I want to be able to hop over to my parents or in-laws spontaneously and I want to be able to enjoy this season.

No, I'm not giving up running or making dinosaur sandwiches, but I am being more intentional about my time and what I sign up for. I want my kids to remember their childhood with playtime, free time and lots of giggles and love. I want my husband to have a wife who isn't stressed about making an absurd amount of treats. I'm not saying I don't want to go the extra mile because I do and I don't do anything halfway, but I'm not going to be the first to volunteer to pick up the cupcakes or take on an extra task. At this point in my life, the most important thing to me is my family and I want to be able to enjoy them fully all the time.

Here's what seems to be working for me, so far, a few days into this experiment:
  • Time with God - I've been packing my lunch and taking this time each day to read my Bible, jot down things in my prayer journal and turn off the noise.
  • Running and working out - Instead of stressing about the number of weight workouts I'm doing each week and my mileage, I'm planning my runs around what I know we have going on and adjusting weight workouts accordingly. I've managed to hit my mileage without any problems and I'm falling in love with running just for what it is even more.
  • Cooking, lunches and clothes - I've been trying to pack the kids' lunches at night as I'm cooking dinner. I've been planning out what we're going to eat for dinner each night and that's made it a lot easier. Kevin is awesome with making sure the boys clothes are ironed each night. :) I know I'm lucky to have a husband who gives 100%.
  • Other things - I'm not taking on things that aren't super important to me just to do them. I'm throwing a baby shower for a friend later this week and instead of trying to make many things myself, I've ordered the things I'm responsible for and the only thing I have to do is make a diaper cake.
So there you have it: my plan to slow down and soak in life. If you've been reading for a while, you may remember that my theme for this year is to soak it in. And that's just what I want to do for the last month and a half of this year.

What are your secrets to doing it all?

How do you manage your time?


Kailey said...

Hi Anna! Just clicked over to your blog from the Influence Network and just wanted you to know how much this post spoke to my heart! I'm in the middle of an overwhelming time in my life and I can't seem to find a way to slow down. I hope your new experiment works! I'm trying to infuse some simple Jesus time in my everyday tasks as well. It's so refreshing to hear someone else speak how I feel so thank you for that! I love your blog and look forward to getting to know you better. :)

Kayla Peveler said...

You are just amazing. So stinking amazing! You and I are total twins, I'm always "doing" and need to slow down sometimes!! I love you and your giving heart!!

Also loving the boys' comments about you being "super" :)

Blue-Eyed Bride said...

I just spent 31 days exploring this very topic, and I didn't quit everything. But I quit the things that weren't important to me. I stopped saying yes for the sake of saying yes. And I will tell you that my relationship with the Lord grew tremendously during those 31 days because I could hear what He was saying to me. Love this post. :)

Nilda said...

And yet another post of yours that speaks to my heart! I had this same conversation earlier today with a coworker. I've been maximizing my time at work to prep my lessons each day so that way I can come home and enjoy being with my husband. Being overachiever it's hard to just stop always being on the go and doing things 110%!

Ashley Robyn said...

This post just reached straight through the screen and grabbed my heart. I was just thinking of how much time I spending wasting time. I look back and think "where did the time go" because in reality I probably spent it doing something I didn't need to do. It's so important to focus on the best parts of our life and just enjoy those parts. Loved this post today friend.