One recurring thread in my life - and a lesson I've had to relearn a time or two - is that to be content, I must know what my top priorities are, and I must do those priorities. The priorities have changed over the years so I have to reassess them every so often.
Quite a long time ago, I learned a valuable lesson on realizing my priorities. Several years after that, life moved us over a state border, our children were no longer babies and toddlers, but busy school children, and I was invited to work with several women on a huge speaking and writing project. I became overwhelmed again, until I realized....my priorities.
Since I've learned that hard lesson twice over the years, I'm very protective now of my time. My husband is my barometer*. He knows how well I am handling what I'm doing, and how well I will handle more.
But even though I have a human barometer and even though I know I need to maintain my priorities, life's bumps, hiccups, and requests keep me off course much of the time. That's when I have to pull back, reassess where I am at the stage in life vs. where I'd like to be, and recreate my priorities.
My priority 'accounts' are:
That list, and the order, hasn't changed much over the years, but the specifics change according to what I know I need to do in an area.
For this season, at least through the end of Spring, I know I need to work on the following, in each account:
God account: I need to actually set aside more time on purpose with God, whether in nature, through copyworking the Bible, or by praying. I should do this visibly, so the kids learn by osmosis.
Me account: I'm tracking my food and doing quick strength exercises every morning. In the evenings I'm home, I'm walking with, right now, no distance or speed goal, but simply with the goal of creating a habit of walking daily.
Husband account: We're going on a date each week!
Family account: There are areas (as always) that are going good, and there are areas where we're slipping up. While keeping the good, I'm trying to straighten out the trouble areas, which are primarily in homeschooling (little one needs to read more, middle one needs to switch to a more challenging math plan). Other areas of concentration: reading aloud every night possible to our little gal and spending one-on-one time with our little guy, who is now 12, but still loves to hang out with just mom (at night, 'talking time'), or with just dad (playing basketball together). Our teens need freedom, but with the security that I am there when they need me.
Home account: We will keep up on chores; always remembering the goal of making our home a refuge.
Business account: My husband is able to be home now, working with me on my (completely-a-surprise-success, started as a pay-it-forward project!) business. He's the CFO and a right good one, because if it wasn't for him, I would not know a profit from a loss until a check bounced. This category is the one that has changed the most for me, as it replaces past accounts like 'tending to baby' or 'teaching gardening classes' or 'meeting up for play dates every other day' or even 'crafting and creating as much as I possibly can.' This account, for now, even takes the place of spending a lot of time with friends. I work 2-3 hours a day on the blog, which is not much, but is enough that I do have to prioritize.
Even though I like freedom, and permission to chase butterflies, having goals helps me live life on purpose, making sure I'm fitting in what's most important to me.
Do you keep a priority list? What does yours look like?
* Definition of Barometer:
: an instrument for determining the pressure of the atmosphere and hence for assisting in forecasting weather (ie. Lori's calm or storm) and for determining altitude attitude.
Setting Priorities & Then Being Okay with Them is the 4th degree of my 360° Project. I hope you'll join me on this journey!
Monday evening our fourteen-year-old daughter and I went to the bay for the sunset. She needed to get into nature after a stressful weekend. I noticed that an iPhone photo I took of her standing on the bluff looked like a silhouette, so I asked her to "do a ballet pose," and snapped this shot...
One of these days (soon, I hope), I want to do a ballerina photo shoot with her - at the beach, downtown in the city, at the bay.
Photo: iPhone. Our 12yo son and 14yo daughter, playing badminton in our back yard.
The pregnancy and toddler season was physically exhausting and I'm sure I lost brain cells for lack of adult conversation for a few years there (bless the poor, poor WalMart cashier who innocently started up a conversation with chat-starved me).
The early elementary season was mentally exhausting as I learned how to teach. That season was also full of beautiful memories, of mostly at-home days, baking together, nature journaling, creating hilarious clay faces, and going to the beach without notice (to anyone, even ourselves).
This season, the middle-of-child-raising while they're-half-independent-half-not is the most exhausting of any season I've lived so far. I'm physically tired from all the go-go-going, but not as tired as in those toddler days. I'm mentally fatigued, sure, but not in the way I was in the elementary season.
Mostly, this season, I'm soul-fatigued. I can feel the world tugging at our older children with strength equal to my own. I can sense the passing presence of the devil as he "roams to and fro throughout the earth, seeking whom he may devour." I daily feel my soul stir with warnings and conscience-pricks and convictions. "Teach this child that," it says. "Let that go," it whispers another day.
"It's hard work being a parent," I say to Tim.
"I know," he says.
Then we carry on.
I listen to my on-my-knees playlist.
And I put one foot in front of the other, trusting that God will help me through this beautiful... unbelievably beautiful, incredibly hard, unforgettably wonderful season of raising teenagers.
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