The following article, “What Am I Really Accomplishing?”, was written by Tina Farewell for the May, 2012 MHEA Newseltter and is reprinted with permission.
What Am I Really Accomplishing?
There is just one way to avoid being overwhelmed—to bring everything as it arises to our Master; and He does help, and He does not misunderstand.
~ Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
As we busy mothers fall into our beds at night, we often think, “I haven’t accomplished anything today!” Sometimes we are correct in our assumptions; we really didn’t accomplish much of anything—or else we don’t realize the magnitude of what we actually did accomplish. Yet, all of us probably wonder, “How can I accomplish more?”
When I’m Really Not Accomplishing Much!
When we are overwhelmed, we usually feel as though we don’t accomplish much because we are doing only the urgent in our lives, not the important. Part of the problem is we forget what family and home education really is. Home is to be the centerpiece, the focal point, not just a place to eat quick meals and sleep short nights. When we engage in numerous activities outside the home, we become frustrated, angry, and exhausted because we don’t allow our homes to be the growing, nurturing places God designed them to be.
Timothy notes we are “to lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” If we don’t purpose to do this, then busyness and activity are certain to fill our time. We scream at our children, “Hurry up! We’ve got to go!” And with each trip out of our homes, we have to get ready to leave and upon our return, we must settle in again, not establishing the productive and consistent rhythm and routine we thrive in.
But instead of constant irritation, our time could be filled with honoring our husbands, nurturing, training, and educating our children, keeping our homes full of joy as well as “decently and in order.” We usually neglect our First Love and our True Liberator, Jesus Christ. We forget that He is the One Who carries us along the womanly path He designed for us–with custom-designed, perfectly-fitted yokes so we can bear what He has for us. I am encouraged and rest in Christ more fully when I read this section from Matthew’s gospel, aren’t you?
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest.
[I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am
gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment
and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not
harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light
and easy to be borne.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP)
So, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you should be doing each day, then follow His leading rather than someone else’s expectations, imposed plan, scope and sequence, or false educational opportunity. Look to the One Who promises to guide each step of your path. Find true freedom by resting in Him!
When I Really Am Accomplishing Something!
I often experienced exasperation and exhaustion when I had several young children who needed me to meet their many physical needs. When my older children were in their late teens, I was vital for their emotional support. Many of those years overlapped! Plus, we had a booming book business in our home, and I was responsible for choosing and reviewing each book.
There were nights I cried when I went to bed because “I didn’t get anything done today!” My loving husband Bob comforted me and asked questions about what I’d done, helping me evaluate the day. God set the example to do this in Genesis 1, when He recounted what he did during each creation day and then evaluated His work. “God saw that it was good.” “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (NAS)
How could I pattern my life after His? If I didn’t know what I’d done, how could I evaluate my work? To determine what I actually did in a day, I kept a card in my pocket and wrote down every little action. One early morning’s activities included:
~ Snuggled in bed with child
~ Got up at 7:00
~ Gave Bob a banana
~ Talked with Bob
~ Ate a banana
~ Read aloud a picture book
~ Fixed breakfast
~ Read Bible to family
~ Yelled at children
~ Sought forgiveness
~ Sang together
That evening I went through my list and evaluated it. Giving Bob a banana helped him to be healthier—that was good. Snuggling and reading aloud edified our relationships and nurtured our souls and minds—teaching literature, grammar, usage, His story—and that was good. Yelling at the children, well, that was discouraging, mean, and just plain old sinful. I evaluated, confessed to my Lord and my family, and could start anew.
Though I don’t do this little exercise often, it teaches me so much. It reminds me that everything I think and do and say affects many other people, especially those in my family. If I’m mean to someone, that person will be hurt and probably take it out on someone else. It’s the principle of cause and effect, of ripples in the pond of life—the butterfly effect.
Often we accomplish more than we can even imagine, but we don’t notice it because each individual act seems so insignificant in the story of our lives and because we don’t evaluate it. You might have to start by making a list of a day’s activities and evaluating them.
Better yet, you may want to start a new habit as I did many years ago—keeping a Blessing and Mercy Journal. Each night before sleeping, I contemplate my day’s activities and attitudes, evaluating them with the Lord. I write a few lines in a small journal, giving thanks to Him who is so merciful to me, and reminding me of the good I’ve been blessed with and accomplished each day. I will only write in positive terms. Instead of writing, “My daughter was almost killed in an accident!” I write, “Thank You, Lord, that she only got a broken leg.” I usually write in quick bullet points, not detailed journal entries, thus ending my day in an attitude of praise and thankfulness.
How Can I Accomplish More?
As we evaluate ourselves, we may recognize that we can be more efficient to accomplish God’s purpose. Although I learned the following at a business seminar, I believe it is even more important for moms. The speaker invited us to list Interruptions to our productivity and creativity. They may be positive or negative, but Interruptions are unknowns, since new information may make us change our focus, often giving a false sense of urgency.
Interruptions in our group varied from phone calls, emails, and Facebook to fixing meals and unexpected visitors. Interruptions are enemies of Prime Time. Prime Time is the time you accomplish the most important tasks in your day, usually first thing in the morning.
At times I’ve mistakenly believed my children were constant Interruptions, but I changed my mindset. God placed me here for my husband, my children, my grandchildren; they are my Prime Time!
Prime Time may include delighting in a few moments with the Lord, taking time to look lovely for my husband, spending five minutes alone with my youngest child, filling his love tanks so he’s not so clingy. Prime Time can be cheerfully tending to my aged mother, reading aloud, or taking a meal to a new mommy. Prime Time can be researching a sermon or editing an article for the MHEA newsletter.
The secret? Attend to Prime Time each morning and don’t get diverted by Interruptions. This is a very simple, but powerful principle—and best of all, it works!
I encourage you to take a few moments to define Interruptions in your life, and then decide what Prime Time is to you as a woman, a wife, a mother. I pray you will skip the Interruptions and the urgent tomorrow morning and, instead, move straight into productive Prime Time—doing what is truly important!!!
Lord Jesus, please guide us in our productivity and in our creativity. Give
us the grace to obey You so we don’t waste any of the precious time
You’ve given us on this earth. And, Lord, help us focus carefully on the
priorities You give us during this Prime Time, since it is truly Your Time—
and You come first. Thank you for loving us and minding every detail of
our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
~ In Search of Balance by Richard Swenson
~ Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
~ Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
~ Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
~ The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews
~ If This Is Homeschooling, Why Am I Always in the Van? Talk by Tina Farewell