I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a room I thought was ready for a spread in Southern Living. Guess what? If real people live in the home featured, it doesn’t always look picture-perfect either. We often think our level of organization, cleanliness or décor should rival the media’s example, but we need to think differently and give ourselves some grace. (& others too.)
We'll always have struggles in some areas. Try for minimum maintenance where you are not strong and shine in your strengths.
Organization looks different to every single person in this room and it looks different to every single person in your family. We shouldn’t feel pressured to meet an organizational standard set out in a magazine or by a friend. You may have to compromise with those you live with, but be who God created you to be. Organization isn’t the end-all to a happy life.
It took me 15 years into my marriage before I realized that I needed to give grace as to how I defined myself as a homemaker. In 2003, I had a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 1-year-old and a newborn. I was overwhelmed! I had an older woman as a mentor who met me for coffee one night every week during that year and she was my lifeline.
I remember meeting one evening and she listened as I cried again about not being able to do it all. She stopped me and said, “I have two assignments for you:
First, keep a record for 2-3 days on how you spend your time. Write down everything – changing diapers, feeding babies, answering phone calls – everything.” I thought she was nuts! Didn’t she just hear me say I was overwhelmed? The thought of keeping pen and paper nearby to jot down every dribble was at best irritating, but I liked her so I said I’d try.
The second assignment was to make a list of everything I thought I should accomplish that week. I thought, “No problem! I keep lists of everything. Would you like that in Excel or Word?”
The next day I started my time log and within 6 hours I was blown away by how my time had been used. It had been a typical day and I had not stopped – not even for a 5 min. break to get a drink or use the restroom. It was one feeding, changing, schooling, cleaning moment after another and I felt like I had not really accomplished much that day. Certainly the house didn’t look like I had done anything.
I called my mentor and begged permission to quit the time log. I had gotten the point. I was working hard at being a good mom and sometimes it’s hard to see tangible results when we’re succeeding.
The following week I brought the time log and my list (in Word) to our coffee session. She looked at the time log with a knowing smile and set it to the side, making only the comment to let the machine pick up the phone during school hours. Then she took in hand the list of tasks for the week, took out her pen, and began crossing items off the list. I gasped, “What are you doing?” She handed me back the list, which had half the tasks marked out and she said, “that’s what you need to do every week.”
I was a little dumbfounded. She had marked out volunteer opportunities and ironing (yes!), but what really put me in a tizzy was that she had put a line through mopping. I had a crawling 1-year-old; I had to mop! She explained that my 10-year-old could sweep the floor daily, but that mopping every week at this time wasn’t necessary. I left a little incredulous, but…I didn’t mop that week!
She instructed me to care more about my children’s well-being and development before any household task. If I did that then I would be a success. That was the best advice ever given to me and I think differently by giving myself grace when the list doesn’t get done.
I don’t think you can pick up a book on organizing without reading the recommendation to ask others for help. I agree with that advice, but I think we often leave out the most important person to seek help from – the Lord.
Over the last year and a half the Lord has been steadily teaching me about how to walk with Him moment by moment.
Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;"
Lamentations 3:22-26, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."
2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
When you think you can't do it, turn to 2 Cor 9:8!
About a year ago I was folding laundry and mentally spiraling with the thoughts of all I had to do. I quickly said, “God, what do I do first?” Immediately the confusion and angst lifted and I knew which task to move to next. I was floored by His quick response. I had kept a prayer journal most of my life and knew He answered prayer, but it was usually slower than I liked. I thought that’s the way He worked so when He answered within seconds I was amazed.Off and on I continued asking for His immediate direction with daily tasks and He always answered.
Just last week I was getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party. I had to-do’s that were pressing from many areas in my life and I knew I could not accomplish the most important ones without His help.
I had an action item of making salsa. I kept returning to the kitchen and my to-do list thinking, “I’ve got to make the salsa early so the flavors can meld before dinner.” Yet each time I quickly asked the Lord what to do next He directed me to other items.
“Salsa, Lord? No.”
An hour before the party I was in Target making a last minute purchase when the idea struck me to go to our favorite nearby Mexican restaurant and purchase salsa and queso blanco for the meal. I had never done that before!
I made the purchase and when I served it at the meal it was a huge hit! My daughter said it was so cool to have her favorite salsa and cheese dip at home for her birthday dinner.
I thought to myself, “Ok, Lord, so that’s why no salsa. Thanks for helping me make her night special and for getting me through my day.”
2 Chronicles 32:8b says, “but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.”
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
I want to share one more aspect of seeking the Lord’s help step-by-step. As you can imagine, it has strengthened my spiritual life, but it has also helped me with managing my daily life. With His help I realize that I have a trigger or a key element that plays into whether I have a profitable day or not.
I can muddle through my day sick, hungry or upset, but I can’t function when I’m tired. To walk with the Lord through each day well, I need my rest. I asked my oldest daughter if that were true for her and she said, “No.” She could get through tired, but once hunger sets in, she struggles.
I challenge you to ask the Lord to show you what you need to do to walk with Him on a daily basis.
So, in conclusion, although I think you could have a more effective aptitude for Organization if you spent more time thinking about it, I believe even more so that if you give your mind to the Lord He will change your thinking, not only about organization, but about what’s important in life.