organization, Uncategorized

4 Corners Organizing

Organization. That beautiful concept that has so often eluded me. I seriously struggled with this area of life for many years and although I have learned so much over time, I still have a long way to go. Many of the people I admire most are those awesomely naturally organized goddesses that float through life with their planners, effective routines, and efficient lifestyles (if that’s you, I love you…come be my friend).

But really, organization is such an important part of life, especially if you are going to be effective in managing a home, business, work, family, church, ministry, etc. (And double especially if you happen to be doing all at once which I know many of us are). And although I am not naturally an organized person, I have really researched, read, studied and worked hard to create a sense of order and organization in my life and home with some good results, thanks be to God!

Yet still, every once in awhile, my to do list piles up and I get overwhelmed. You ever get those moments when everything and everyone just seems to be going crazy, your to do list is ultra maxed out, you feel like you can’t get a grasp on everything and that your head is gonna pop? Those are the times that I used to just let overwhelm me but now I’ve learned how to deal. In those particularly stressful times, I stop everything for a few minutes, sit down, pray and usually put on music to calm myself down. I then take out my planner and jot down a little system that I learned years ago; a system I like to call “The Four Corners” system.

Basically you get a piece of paper and divide it into four equal sections. You then label them as follows:

1. Important/Urgent

2. Important/ Not urgent

3. Less important/ Urgent

4. Less important/not urgent

Those titles are pretty self explanatory. You then think of everything you need to do and divide them into the category that best suits them. It really helps you to think clearly about what you need to get done.

  • Which item on your to do list is most important and needs to be done ASAP?  Some good examples: booking an important doctor’s appointment, dealing with a ticket, etc.
  •  Which is important but not urgent and can maybe wait to be done early next week? Renewing a passport perhaps….unless of course it’s expired and you need it to travel in two weeks (!) then it gets bumped to important and urgent.
  • Which is less important but still needs to be done urgently? For example, buying someone a birthday gift is less important than booking a doctor appointment but still needs to be done before you head off to that birthday party tonight.
  •  Finally, which items are the least important and not urgent and should therefore not take up too much of your thoughts until you have more time? A good example of this would be redecorating your living room. You still want to do it but it’s just not a main priority.

These are some examples that hopefully helped you to visualize this “4 corners” approach. Try it sometime! It really helps me in the crazy seasons (which just so happened to be today for me personally!)

What methods help you to stay organized in overwhelming seasons? Got any tips to share? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Homeschool, Uncategorized

Why I chose homeschool (Part 2)

First of all, I apologize for the delayed post! Our house got hit with a terrible bout of sickness and it seems to have taken me longer than expected to get into my “groove” again. I find the more I have on my plate, the more I struggle to catch up from little lapses in our schedule and routine. I also promised myself that unless my home, family, and church are being cared for as a priority, I have no business spending time blogging. I now finally feel caught up, healthy and organized and so here I am!

This is a follow up to the previous post on why I am choosing homeschooling. In this post, I would like to focus on the factors of influence and the individual personality of a child.

  1. Influence

Peer pressure. It gets a bad rap really. Everyone always talks about the negative sides of peer pressure when in fact, peer pressure can actually pressure people into becoming better individuals. When taking peer pressure into account, it is not one of the weightiest reasons for me choosing homeschool, however it certainly is a considering factor. Peer pressure is all around us and try as we might, we can never fully protect our children from its grasps. In the previous post, I expressed my concerns against our government run schools and their policies/ideologies. I am far more concerned about teacher/system pressure on my child than I am about peer pressure. I maintain that you could shelter your child from school and then off you go to church where they are confronted with even worse “peers” than at school (gasp! I know…hard to believe right? But remember, if we are doing our job of fulfilling the great commission in our churches as we are supposed to, our churches will be filled with broken people and families with (gasp again!)…sin. Not that they are to stay that way and remain in sin mind you, but at the end of the day, we are all simply works in progress 🙂 ). So if bad influences abound no matter where you turn, it can only be concluded that you must believe and search out the good influences. This is where its important for me that I make sure that my boys are not simply being sheltered from bad influences (next to impossible), but that I am actively searching out good influences for them. The choice of homeschooling for me is a flexible choice. At the present moment, its what makes the most sense and works with our family, however, I am open to God directing us otherwise and I am also hopeful to start a homeschool co-op program (homeschooling with other local families who are interested). The reality is that although I can’t control my children nor hover over them 24/7, I like the involvement that homeschooling and/or co-op homeschooling allows for me in being an influencer upon my child and also having a little more say not in who their peers are, but how much influence they wield. 

2.  Individual personality of a child

We all know that each child is unique and special in their own way. Our elder son Miles is very stubborn, independent, but he also is very easily influenced. He tends to pick up traits, phrases, expressions, etc. from other children very easily. He likes to learn at his own pace, does not prefer typical “classroom” environments nor typical classroom group activities. He likes to engage in single projects that are important to him and act independently in gathering information. That’s the good stuff…now for the bad stuff (we all have our up sides and down sides at the end of the day)…Miles tends to be a bit lazy, complacent and lacking in curiosity. Now knowing this as his parent, I love that I can tailor make and adapt a schooling routine, curriculum and philosophy to not only capitalize on his strengths, but teach him to overcome his weaknesses. In our first two months of homeschooling, I have already learned many things about what works when teaching Miles and what doesn’t. I find that many schools today don’t allow for individual learning styles, not to mention the fact that these days, schools are not the best growing environment for boys in particular (Interested in this subject? I have included some good links for reading about this subject below)

With these things in mind, I have weighed the pros and cons, prayed, sought wisdom and come to the conclusion that in order to protect my boys from the influences of government run programs run by a very corrupt government…in order to ensure that my husband and I maintain a strong influence in our boys’ lives….in order to instruct and inspire them in a way that actually teaches them to love to learn, think, and problem solve…in order to protect, encourage, and foster their masculinity…homeschool is our best option.

As I mentioned before, I really did wrestle with this decision, as I (being a lover of all things “school”) loved the idea of sending my children to a school. As I considered and pondered, I read the following quote by Dale Partridge that really helped me define and clarify my thoughts in this decision making process. I’ll close with it…I hope you enjoyed this post…feel free to share thoughts in the comments below!

“Over the years I’ve heard Christian parents enrolling their young children in public school because “They will be a light to their friends” or “We must teach them to be in the world, but not of the world” or “We can’t keep them in a bubble forever”. My response to these folks is this: All of your extrapolated scriptural references to (“be a light” or “be the salt” or “be in the world not of the world…”) were instructions originally written to adults. Jesus nor any of the apostles sent young children out to evangelize or to disciple or to be missionaries or to be the iron in another child’s life. Now, I understand public school may be the only option for some families. However, let me remind you what Jesus said about the leadership of children, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a millstone wrapped around his neck and be drowned in the sea.” Public elementary school is not a mission field for your young child. There is an appropriate time and place to reveal this world’s agenda to our children, but it’s not through public schools with transgender philosophies, prayer-free campuses, false scientific teachings, and politically driven ideologies designed to indoctrinate the minds of our 7 year old sons and daughters. And look…there’s nothing easy about finding a safe solution for your child’s education. But one thing that I’ve learned to be true is this: The right thing is almost always the hardest thing.”  –Dale Partridge

 

Read: The War Against Boys (Article by The Atlantic)

Buy: The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers

Uncategorized

Keeping your cool during constant interruptions

Ah, the life of a mom. Nothing ever goes quite as expected or planned. Add in a husband who loves to “live life on the edge”. Check. Add in ministry. Check. Add in pastoring a church. Check again. And you’ve got yourself a recipe for constant interruptions.

When we first got married, I was so unorganized and free spirited that the interruptions and unexpected things of life didn’t affect me the way they do now. Now that I’ve read a few organization blogs, use a planner, and generally try to keep some semblance of order in our household, my stress levels just don’t hold the same as I try to desperately hold onto the tenuous grasp I have on routine and order.

Ministry and especially pastoring a church brings a whole new level of interruptions. You can guarantee that if your church is budding and vibrant (as a church hopefully should be), there will be plenty of needs that constantly pull on you (particularly if you are a stay at home or work from home mom- people just seem to think that if you’re home, you are basically doing nothing anyways and should therefore be available to answer every beck and call…not true in the slightest as all my SAHM’s said AMEN, but I digress). The reality is however, that if you are going to have the heart of Christ, you sometimes must abandon your self-preservation and fully give yourselves to others.

It’s interesting in the book of Philippians, that Paul points out and commends the work of Epaphroditus saying “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem, because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.” (Philippians 2:29-30 NKJV) This man came close to death in order to pursue the work of Christ. Paul doesn’t rebuke him for this and say “Now, now… time to slow down Epaphy! Don’t overdo it!”Not at all, he commends him for his acts and attitude. Nowhere really in the Bible does it tell us to protect our precious schedules and routines and slow it down with helping others. In New Testament Christianity, nothing was more important than loving and helping one another. Now, we hit the nitty gritty of this. How exactly do we make ourselves available to help others while maintaining our own routines, homes and sanity? How do we function as God has called us; in excellence in our jobs, as mothers, wives, etc. and yet still be able to respond to the interruptions that loving others inevitably brings? How do we keep our cool when life doesn’t go as expected or planned? Here’s a few points to consider that I have learned over the years:

  1. Pray

I have found that in my craziest seasons of interruptions….driving people to unexpected appointments, watching a single mom’s sick child,  rushing to a hospital to visit someone in need, unexpected house guests, etc…that the only thing that keeps me sane and at peace is prayer. Abiding in Christ is not just a nice catchphrase, and even though it sounds simple enough, it is one of the hardest things to do in actuality. Truly learning to abide in Christ comes through a life of prayer and simply learning to walk with Christ. Daily prayer time is vital, and learning to constantly talk to Jesus throughout the day will give you the peace that can sustain you when you feel completely overwhelmed. As a pastor’s daughter, I always grew up knowing this well but it wasn’t until recently, when I faced a seriously interruptive season that I finally understood that this really is the answer. On a particular overwhelming day, I highlighted these passages from Anne Ortlund’s Disciplines of the Heart as she quotes Oswald Chambers, “Think of the things that take you out of abiding in Christ – Yes, Lord, just a minute, I have got this to do; yes, I will abide when once this is finished; when this week is over… Begin to abide now. In the initial stages it is a continual effort until it becomes so much the law of life that you abide in Him unconsciously. Determine to abide in Jesus wherever you are placed.” True peace and rest in the midst of the storms and chaos of life can only truly come from Christ.

       2. Have a routine

Kind of sounds counter productive…having a routine just to interrupt it, but hear me out. I have to reference again myself when I first got married. I cannot describe how unbelievably unorganized I was. Constantly losing keys, forgetting appointments, feeling unsure all the time..it was not a nice feeling at all. So of course, when interruptions came, I was less stressed than I would be now because my mentality was more or less “Why not? Add some more madness to the pile!” When the interruptions were over however, it took me even more time to recover from them because I had no plans of any kind in place. I will reference Anne Ortlund again (her Disciplines series are some of my favourite books). She states in her book Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman referencing the importance of planning and goal setting “Yet, if at any stage of life you feel like you’re ‘flying by the seat of your pants’, taking each day as it comes without having anticipated it, planned for it, shaped it, and prayed over it, then take time off and get back to poring over your goals. Then you will control your days, instead of letting them control you.” If you have plans, an active to-do list, and a routine; when the interruptions come, you can then quickly figure out “What exactly am I not going to get done because of this interruption? When is the next best time slot for me to accomplish this task/these tasks?” Then write it in your calendar/planner and move on with a sense of peace knowing that although something didn’t get done, you have a plan in place to recover.

       3. Learn when to say no/Learn HOW to say no

Sometimes we do have to say no. For this concept however, take a moment to consider your personality. I have a girl in my church who is the polar opposite of me. She’s fun, always down for a good time, always on the go, loves to be out with people, and is always willing to drop everything and anything to go help anyone. Me, on the other hand…to me, fun is just an F word. I like books, quiet, studying theology and doctrine, being home, and being alone. (What a charmer, I know). Taking this into account, I can then pretty much quickly surmise that out of the two of us, she is the one who probably needs to learn to say no more often, whereas I need to more often embrace the call of saying yes to helping others in need. What about you? Do you naturally love to be out and about, helping and being with others? Do you maybe need to take some time to quiet down and invest in your walk with God, your own home and family? Then read on. The rest of us whose natural inclination is to be introverted and inwardly directed, it is probable (although depending on your specific situations) that we must take a little time to turn outwards. An excellent book I would recommend for this specific topic is Lysa Terkeurst’s “The Best Yes”. A great read on understanding the difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. Understanding priorities will also give you direction when choosing when to say yes to interruptions and the needs of people. If at any time, your relationship with God, your church attendance, or your home and family are being neglected, it might be time to consider saying an occasional no. Those things must be a priority, it wouldn’t be right if a woman was to throw herself into all kinds of charitable work while forgetting to spend time with God or her own family.

Another important factor that goes along with routine, is that you can choose how to say no. The other day, someone asked if they could come over one morning to talk to me and get some encouragement. She was flustered and stated she needed to come over “immediately”. I was already feeling at max capacity, but felt that I needed to spend time with this girl. Instead of saying no, I sat and looked at my routine and schedule and figured out how to best plan this “interruption”. Mornings are for housework, doing homeschooling with my eldest son, exercise and prayer/reading. I asked if she could work with my schedule and instead come during the boys nap/quiet time. She could, and it worked out great! Some occasions don’t lend themselves to being so easy to reschedule, but when you can, try to keep control over when your interruptions fall. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to work with your schedule and routine.

       4. Learn when to say yes

Ultimately, this is where the rubber meets the road. There have been many times where someone has had a need and my immediate thought is “How can I get out of helping in this situation?” Christ often reminds me though that “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17 KJV). Yes, often helping others in need will interrupt your schedule but are we so caught up in ourselves that we can no longer feel the burden of someone in need? Can I still be interrupted for the cause of Christ or have I become so inwardly directed that my precious house, routine, and family time can’t be bothered?

In conclusion, interruptions will always be an inevitable part of life. What will you do when they come? I hope and pray that we can firstly, find a constant oasis of peace and tranquility through abiding in Christ. Next, may we show diligence in planning our own time and schedules so that we can respond to needs without flipping out and feeling overwhelmed. A simple pencil crossing out and rescheduling a task can make all the difference in the world. May we also know when to say no with grace, kindness and confidence if we genuinely cannot meet a need. But may we also make ourselves available for the cause and burden of Christ, allowing ourselves to “gladly spend and be spent” for others.