I cracked open Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love on the plane home today. It’s been sitting on the shelf for a long while. So often, the words I need to read wait patiently for me. One chapter in, I already felt compelled to make notes and to pray—you have to love a book that moves you within its first pages.
Having space on the plane to read, write, think and pray was a gift. It’s a rare day that these things find space in the middle of an afternoon, but this was Monday’s grace to me. Prompted by chapter one, I asked God to show me what this season requires of me right now. I grabbed my journal to make notes, and the list just poured out.
Maybe as I process through this new list and discern how to order my days–hoping to accommodate what’s really most important for me to be about, something will spark a flame with you, too. Why the list, and why narrow down the core things that deserve my attention right now? Because we can’t do it all, and some of the things we try to accomplish are beyond our scope.
Jen is right: Social media allows us to see the best of everyone’s talents and successful attempts in life every day. Not only do avenues like Instagram and Facebook make this possible, but they magnify successes in all areas of life–some friends are cooking extravagant, organic meals every day, some are juggling six extracurricular activities per child, some are rocking full time jobs while mothering, too. In turn, the reminder that our friends and connections can do x or y or z with finesse magnifies within us the unceasing sense that we are not keeping up or doing enough.
The fact of the matter is, your gifts are yours, and mine are mine. Your loves and passions are yours, and mine are my own. If I try to do everything you do with gusto and success, I’m missing the boat. I’ve got to do what I do best and what gives me energy.
You do you, and I’ll do me. I think we all, almost always, need this reminder.
Here are the things I sensed God calling me to be about for this season, and not in a particular order. They’re all important. Surely the list will change over time, but this is where I am in the here and now and what makes sense for me…I need to prioritize:
- Trusting God. To spend time in prayer and quiet so I’m poised to hear what He has to say and to believe it for my life, family, pregnancy and baby’s upcoming birth.
- Resting. I am not my best self when I’m not well rested. Especially right now, I need to carve out extra time to be still, and to sleep (while the sleeping is good 😉 ).
- Loving my people well. Primarily, this means Jason, Henry, Eloise and baby. I need to get this right first, before I pour out attention to anyone else. When I’m not loving well at home, guilt sneaks into my life everywhere.
- Making time for self-care (beyond physical rest). This upcoming chapter will be so focused on the well-being and care of a new life. I can’t sustain another person if I’m not intentional about refueling emotionally and spiritually myself.
- Making lists and clearing my head, and then setting priorities rationally.
- Caring for the physical needs of my body and this baby leading up to delivery, and spending the time necessary to prepare for the birth I envision.
- Connecting with Jason intentionally–scheduling dates away from the house and listening well. Talking about our priorities as a couple and family, and making plans together with intention.
- Creating space for quality time with each of our kiddos pre-baby. One-on-one dates, adventures out as a family, thoughtful time spent at home.
- Making a space that feels welcoming, calm and cozy for baby. Continuing to clear out clutter from other areas of our home and life.
- Continuing to write. Documenting this journey is important to me, and writing is deeply foundational to who I am. It moves me forward and sharpens my mind.
Other to dos that matter to me before baby are separate at this point. This list is a “Top Ten” of things that will set the tone for everything else I do. To have room for the to dos, numbers 1-10 on this list have to come first.
I likely have six weeks or so to build better habits and a stronger foundation around these goals. Do I feel like it’s a lot to consider? Yes. But improving in any one of these areas will make me better in every other.
I have to lay down some things, like:
-The guilt I carry when I’m not spending hours in the kitchen preparing beautiful meals. These days, the simple (and simply healthy) ones will be better for everyone in our household. I’m not a happy mama when I’m stressing out about food for our family.
-Managing housework my body doesn’t really facilitate right now. Washing floors and cleaning out the shower in the bathroom come to mind.
-Exercise. Taking walks and keeping up with kids–with some stretching mixed in when I can, will have to do. This baby does not like it when I overdo it, and lately, that doesn’t take a whole lot.
-Throwing Pinterest-y birthday parties. Eloise turns three this weekend, and while I plan to celebrate her with gusto, her party will be simple. Simple is best for all of us right now.
-Feeling guilty about quieter days at home. This is super hard for me. I love to be out and about, and I love to adventure with our family. It’s summer, and I want to make the most of all of this great weather and the longer days. But the heat is hard, and I’m the crankiest when we’ve pushed too far. Simple rules the roost right now. Even if it’s a summer day and gorgeous, I’ve got to let go of being outside all day and showing up for every event.
Whew. This feels like a lot to think about. Really, it’s tangible. I just need to remember to choose what gives life and brings joy into our home and family, and to put down the rest. It isn’t that I don’t want to juggle more plates, it’s that I realistically can’t. No need to let the high priorities suffer for the sake of so many things I’m not being called to right now.
Thanks for slowing me down, little bean. You are so good for me and for my heart. And thank you, Jen Hatmaker, for bringing it in a powerful way. For the Love sat on the shelf for the exact right length of time.
learning to grow more thoughtfully on this journey,