For the past two months, I’ve been working on the biggest project of my life. I’m happy to announce it here, as it’s not a secret. Proverbs 31 Ministries’ devotions will be featured in the next women’s devotional Bible published by Zondervan. It’s an incredible honor for all of us who write the devotions. It’s a double honor for me, as I’m the general editor for the devotions.
When I accepted the position last November, my confidence was high. It didn’t take long to discover this would push me beyond any organizational experience I’d had to date. I had to figure out systems of reviewing about 1,000 devotions, then sort and manage hundreds of them, and finally edit 182 of them from about 500 to 250 words. That was just to meet the first deadline in mid-May. Another 183 are due in September.
It took several false starts to find what system would work best. Because of that, I’ve been on overload for about eight weeks as I approached the deadline. I met it, but it put me in some crazy times.
So today, I’d like to share some tips for how to handle the crazy times. We’ve all got them. Life goes along smoothly, then you get several birthdays back-to-back. Or like I did, you have a deadline the same week you have two graduations. Or someone gets sick, family comes to town, or you go on vacation (which always takes me twice as long to catch up afterwards.) When the crazy times hit, there are a few changes I make in my routine.
1) I make sure I don’t neglect starting my day with prayer. When everything in me wants to head to the computer or start working, I know that’s when I most need to spend some time with the Lord. I grab my coffee, to-do list and pen, and sit at my kitchen table. Sometime I read the Bible, but other times I just sit and chat with my Heavenly Father. I’ll write things on my list as God brings them to mind, or if I need to get them OFF my mind, I’ll write them down. Sometimes in the past few weeks, I’ve had a good cry, just knowing my compassionate Lord cares.
2) I tackle big projects in little bites. Instead of tackling five loads of laundry, I’ll just do one. And I see it through to the end: dried, folded and put away. Instead of deep cleaning my bathroom, I just clean the mirror. Whatever I start, I completely finish so there are no loose ends.
3) I keep my kitchen counters clean. Since my desk is in the living room, kitchen clutter distracts me. What distracts you? Is it shoes in the entry way? Dust on the dresser? Find that one thing that makes you feel better, and just take care of that.
4) Allow kids to take on (safe) chores that you normally do. I’m an ironing freak, and normally get all my ironing done on Saturdays. This hasn’t been happening, and the ironing pile is growing. So during the crazy times, my teenage kids have to figure this type of thing out on their own. Or, they just wear wrinkled clothes, and that’s a good thing for me to live with things that aren’t perfect too.
5) Entrust my errands to someone else. This past week I’ve been glued to my chair. So I decided to make a list of errands, including some shopping, and pay my son to do them. He would have done it for free, but I really wanted to hire him. He appreciated the trust, and did a great job. Honestly, it made me feel like a good steward of my time. It was probably the best $20 I’ve spent all year.
6) I don’t trust my memory. Things I would normally remember, things I’m sure I’ll never forget, I forget in the crazy times. So I write down more things in my spiral notebook, which serves as a to-do list and a place to capture notes, ideas and things I need to follow up on.
7) I don’t berate myself for not being able to handle everything with excellence. Years ago I placed my worth and value in how well I managed my life. Was my house clean, did I remember to make cookies for the bake sale, did I never, ever, ever make a mistake? I really set myself up for disappointment when there was the slightest hiccup in my schedule. I was my own worst enemy.
I thought it was the right thing to do to hold myself to a high standard. Except when I didn’t meet it, I felt like a failure.
Eventually I understood that I had placed more value on who I was on the outside than on the inside. I really wanted to please God with how well I did everything. Only God was never looking at my performance. He was, and is, looking at my heart.
We all experience crazy times. It’s good to acknowledge them and accept that life will run differently during those times. Sometimes those times last for years, not weeks or months. Like when Robbie was born and Dylan was only 18 months and Josh was 2-1/2. Three in diapers just about did me in, and continued for the next three years.
I wish I could go back to my young self and let her know that she isn’t defined by how well she keeps her house, or cooks a meal or manages life at any time – crazy or not. I’d tell her she’s only defined by what God thinks about her, and He thinks she’s pretty special just the way she it.
That’s what He thinks about you too.