27 February 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Motivation to Do the Next Thing!

Shannon, blogger extraordinaire at Rocks in My Dryer, sponsors a "blog carnival" called Works-For-Me-Wednesday, where people share tips that work for them. Here's my first attempt to participate!

As a stay-at-home and work-at-home mother, sometimes the to-do list can get rather overwhelmimg. I don't know about you, but when I have a lot to get done, I tend to flit frantically from one task to the next. I'll start folding laundry and then remember a business phone call I need to make. So I'll leave the laundry to make the call and then I'll see that I didn't complete the breakfast dishes or the pee-pee sprinkled toilet will BEG to be wiped down (Do you have boys? Then you know what I'm talking about. Our toilet is just ONE BIG PEE FEST!!! Gah!). Anyway, before I know it, an hour has passed and I've not accomplished much.

A woman I admire named Elisabeth Elliot, when asked what to do when overwhelmed with tasks, gave this advice: "Do the next thing." This means the next thing that comes to hand, whichever task presents itself. I love that advice, but I do find myself asking, "WHICH next thing should I do now?!" In addition, sometimes, y'know, every now and then, I'll have a job to do at home that I just really, um...don't want to do. Like putting laundry away. Or making dinner (don't tell anyone, but I don't really enjoy this task). Or going through the mountains of papers that come into our home each week. Anyway, (or as my dear English friend, Melissa, says that we Americans say, "anyways") HERE IS MY TIP FOR YOU, dear reader.

Divide your day (or your hour) into fifteen minute chunks. When Mt. Laundry intimidates, I can say, "I will fold this laundry for 15 minutes!!! Then I will be done!" And I'll actually set the timer and fold like mad for 15 measly minutes. It's amazing how much I can do in fifteen minutes! Or I can say, "I am going to work on this kitchen for 15 minutes!" And usually, I can get all the food and dishes cleaned and put away, if I work diligently for that whole time. The best part is that I can usually stay motivated to my task for 15 minutes...impressive, I know!

It also works in my business. If I am prepared and ready with phone list and essential materials, I can do my business calls for a focused 15 minutes. I can check and respond to email...for 15 minutes. I think I need to make myself a new rule...I can read blogs for 15 minutes.

Head on over to Shannon's and see what might work for you!

Have a great Wednesday!

23 February 2008

A snowy Saturday...

Lucy has been doing some important cleaning around the house yesterday and today. And she's been using some important and official cleaning materials. Last night, she came downstairs with a big wad of wipes in her hand and said, "I clean" and also, "My wipes." But it sounded like, "I keen" and "My yipes." I asked her what she was cleaning and she just restated, emphatically and with hand gestures, "I keen and...I keen." Well, okay, then.

This morning she came into the kitchen with a HUGE wad of toilet paper and proceeded to scrub the kitchen floor with it. "I keen," she said. The question is, should I toss that wad of toilet paper (it's *at least* half a roll), or wad it up and stick it back next to the roll? Hmmm...you decide.

22 February 2008

Here's the caboodle!

Good evening! Well, it's not really an opportune time to start a blog...I'm supposed to be putting the children to bed. But I had some thoughts tonight while grumpily shoveling snow that I wanted to put down. Also, I'm afraid I'm going to forget everything that the children say and do. I thought this might help. I'm a big blog fan myself, and have a whole list of favorites...it's probably the biggest time suck of my life at this point!!!!!!!!! Gah!

So we were out all day, the whole family. I had a haircut and color (yeah!) with my dear stylist, Eric. Then we went to our lovely friends' house for lunch and to visit. We drove home through a snow storm. It was slow going. John has an ear infection and was feeling quite puny. Three of four children fell asleep. We made a quick stop for provisions before coming home.

When we arrived home, things fell apart. All children were starving. John needed to lie down immediately. The groceries needed to be put away. The snow had piled up and the walks need shoveling pronto. I remembered that tomorrow is trash and recycling day. I was being pulled in all directions, and snapped at John when he innocently asked where something was. Not good.

I turned on the oven for dinner, threw some snacks on the table, and stomped outside with a bag of trash. I dragged the trash barrels to the curb, stomped back upstairs for the recycling, dragged that to the curb, all the while muttering murder under my breath about how I do all the chores, I do all the housework, I take care of the whole house, blah, blah, blah, poor me, I'm so put upon.

As I took up the snow shovel, for some reason, thoughts of farm and pioneer women came into my head. Those women did everything...house, children, back-breaking labor day and night, inside and out. I began to feel a little bit less sorry for myself. Mind you, not for any good reason. I just thought to myself, "I'm no wuss. I'm as tough as those women. I can hack this."

So I shoveled the sidewalks to our two doors. I shoveled our (many and narrow) steps. Then came the test. Was I going to shovel our neighbor's sidewalks and steps? Now, our house is a two-family home, and our neighbor's sidewalk is connected to ours. We don't really use his steps ever. But he works A LOT, he wasn't yet home from work, and I will very often shovel his side, just to make things easier for him.

But at this moment, I really DID NOT want to shovel his way. Here are some of my thoughts: he never shovels; it has snowed so much this winter and I've done this enough; he shouldn't expect me to do this for him (I'm sure he doesn't!!); I have enough to do taking care of my own family; ME, ME, ME, ME, ME.

Then I started to think about the fact that I think our neighbor actually really appreciates living near us. Twice, he has asked if we would want to go in on buying a two-family with him. I don't think our neighbor is a believer, though his father is a pastor. I know nothing of his upbringing, or his experience with the church; he's not in a church community. He's been to our church once, last Easter. And I thought about how we pray for him, and try to care for him and love him. And I thought about how we might be the only Christians here (his folks live far away) who want to love and care for him. And I began to want to serve him, so that he might see Christ's love through us. And I even said out loud to myself, in the snowy night, "Because I love Jesus...I'll do this."

Then I realized that that's not quite right. If my service relies on my love to Christ, it will fail. My love to Christ is weak and faltering, and dependent on my moods and emotions. My moods and emotions are unsteady, selfish, and fickle. But Christ's love to me...it never fails. His love to me is steady, sure, purely for His glory, and the same, yesterday, today and forever. My service to my neighbor must be because Christ loves me. And I said aloud, again, into the snowy night, "No...because Jesus love me."

This affects all areas of my life. It's my only hope. My only hope against sin, the flesh and the devil. Because Jesus loves me. Because Jesus loves me, I have the power to not yell at my children. Because Jesus loves me, I have the power to not complain about my circumstances. Because Jesus loves me, I have the power to shovel my neighbor's walk. Because Jesus loves me, I can take out the trash with joy in my heart. Because Jesus loves me, I can serve with joy and abandon.

Oh, Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.