Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reprioritizing and all that jazz

I said here at the blog last week that I had some things that needed my attention so I'd be online much less for a while. Well, I still have things that need my attention but after a few much needed tasks of 'cleaning up' in the online department, I've been able to free up several things that were a major time-eater. Contrary to what it may look like, I actually have been online less, but the time spent here has been more focused. For me, that's important.

As I've been thinking about "ordinary life details" over the last week or so, Kim does what she always does and posts something that I was about to post on, on the same day (and almost always posts it before I get the chance to). She's either psychic or it's a simple matter of being in the same "place" as a wife/mother/blogger/student of the Word as I am right now. She just gets up earlier than I do so she gets to post about it first.

As I read her post this morning thinking about details in my life that need to be looked after, it occured to me that I am the only one that can look after them the way they need to be looked after. That's sort of a scary thought. It's a responsibility that can sometimes feel very overwhelming, considering the rumor that I have 900 kids is partly true, and 900 kids brings with it a whole host of little details that make up a very full day.

Last night at church I was briefly chatting with a lady that has a life somewhat similar to mine in that she has five kids (although they're a bit older than mine). I asked how her week was going and she asked about mine, and somewhere along the conversation we laughed about how in our minds everything is running like clockwork, but when asked "mom, what's for dinner?" we have a strategic approach to answering without actually saying "I have no idea yet, let me alone in the kitchen for 20 minutes and I'll figure it out". She commented on what a victorious feeling it is when we actually know the answer to that question in advance, and I heartily agreed. Those moments are the best kind.

Over the years when people learn I have 900 kids (or 7, depending on your math) I've had all kinds of reactions. One of them that has left the biggest impression on my mind is the comment "I don't know how you do it, I could never handle that". Well, yes you could. It's not as if I woke up one day and there were 7 kids of varying ages sitting on the porch needing a mother. Now that scenario would be a monumental challenge. Rather, in the Lord's timeframe that was appropriate for my life, each new person came along and we all adjusted our lives and schedules and sleep patterns, to accomodate the new family member. Some of those new people were easier than others but sooner or later the household shifts into a new schedule and we all get used to it.

All that to say, life's little details are (or should be) all about prioritizing. When a new baby arrives, baby comes first and everyone and everything else comes next. Sometimes you can swing tending to baby as you tend to something else too (like rocking the cradle with your foot while you fold a load of laundry) but when push comes to shove, you will put baby's needs above anything else. If you have a teenager dealing with a social issue, that comes above cleaning the mold in your fridge (unless you can talk it through while you're cleaning the fridge, which is always convenient too). It's a complicated yet simple matter of assessing the general situation and sort of mentally checking off what might be top priority and saying "these need to be addressed first" then moving on to the less critical matters, but matters that need to be addressed all the same.

I don't sit around all day looking for spiritual applications in life's details, but because I am a Christian and I do think like one, I can't help but see the application in all of this. Talking to a dear sister yesterday about an area we are both growing in and learning to understand a little better (which is both frightening and exciting at the same time) I know that for myself personally, this is much more of a top priority than say, studying eschatology. I know that I need to spend more time in certain spiritual areas of my life than others - which is not to say that all areas are not important - but it is to say that some require more attention than others.

Thanks to all the fine folks who do their book shopping through my book blog, I had enough saved up to buy myself a treat recently. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges is not a book that many people would call a treat, because I have a strong feeling I will be both challenged and convicted by the content. For me though, it's a book I know I need, and the content is material I know I need to be challenged by. For me, it's a priority. This is why when I picked it up at the post office when it arrived yesterday, I opened it in the van and read the dustjacket (inside and out) and then began to read the introduction.

I'm very much looking forward to this book. My "spare" time over the course of the next couple of weeks or so will be dedicated to consuming this book. I read fast so I could potentially finish it in a day, but I want to read it slower and take my time to really consider the important topics it addresses. If you haven't read it yet and think you might like to, go here to Kim's blog and read her ongoing series of posts as she's read through it.