Friday, August 24, 2007

Pleasant Boundaries

As I sit at my breakfast table typing this post, the smell of cinnamon rolls is wafting from the oven. Also in the oven is a quick cake I whipped up for dessert tonight. The kids are still lazily snoozing upstairs, enjoying one of their last mornings of summer. I have long-since kissed my sweet husband goodbye for work, handing him his lunch and sending him off with a prayer in my heart for his safety. I have had a wonderful quiet time this morning, enjoying hymns from my iPod and soaking up God's promises to me from the Psalms and reflecting on Hebrews 4:16, how we can approach the throne of grace with confidence! A busy day awaits me, as I mentioned in my post on Monday, as this is my final big work day at the church in our Awana office, preparing for our new Awana year. I look back on a week full of "to-do's " I've gotten done, lists I've checked off, all part of a busy week as a wife and a mother. "How do you do it all?" I've often been asked, and just as often, wondered about others.

A wise woman would answer, "I don't."

The truth is, as long as the list of "to-do's" was for this week, my list of things I didn't do is even longer. And that's as it should be! It's wasn't all for me to do this week!

For everything I did this week, there is another thing I chose not to do. A phone call I didn't make. A blog post I didn't write. Blogs I didn't read. TV shows I didn't watch. A lunch date I didn't schedule. A sale I didn't shop. A room I didn't decorate. A scrapbook I didn't scrap. A meeting I didn't go to. The list of things the Lord had for me was just long enough for the strength He's given me to complete it. I have found such rest and simplicity in simply tackling what I know I'm supposed to be doing, nothing more. How do I know? I see if it fits into the categories, in order of importance, that I know are in my life. First, is it part of my ministry to my husband? Is it part of my ministry to my kids? My home? Does it take away time from them, or most importantly, my time with the Lord? Is it fulfilling my role as a home schooler? As the Awana secretary? As a daughter? A friend? Does this need to be done right now, by me? Am I sure God asked me to do this, or is it somehow feeding my own selfish ambition?

Throughout my life as a wife and mother, I have read and reread the Proverb that says, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down." (Pr. 14:1) There have been times in my life when, with my own hands I have torn down my house piece by piece with an overscheduled, frantic, undisciplined pace of life. Ministries, meetings, Bible studies, classes, play groups, homeschool association meetings, supper clubs, sales, errands, etc... all "tools" to build a godly home, but when wielded by my undisciplined hands and for lack of a blueprint (or plan), I was unknowingly, for a season, doing more damage than good. As I've gotten older (and I guess, more tired!) I've realized that it's not all for me to do. It's certainly not all for me to do right now. I don't agree with the popular statement that I hear a lot of women say, "You can have it all, just not all at once." I can't have it all. Furthermore, I don't need it all! Not even spread out across my lifetime! And, that's not a bad thing. What I can have is all that God has apportioned me. And that is always enough. Abundant, even!

Yesterday my daughter received two phone messages asking for babysitting tonight. I decided to let her decide what to do with her schedule, so I left it up to her. What she did was go to our family calendar and see that the next few evenings (including our church night) she (or our family) already had somewhere to be. Friday night would be our family time at home, and she didn't want to miss it. So, she declined the babysitting jobs. She prioritized her roles and scheduled her time accordingly. I think she acted wisely in this situation, and I pray that is evidence that she's learning what I've been learning. (Oh, how I wish I'd learned it as a teen!)

I know there are time management books galore, and how-to-be-a-highly-effective-purpose-driven-Christian books and websites by the hundreds, so this post isn't meant to offer any advice that isn't readily available in many other places. I'm just reflecting on how good it feels, at the end of a busy week, to know and rest in the fact that...

"the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places."(Ps. 16:6)

I hope you have had a wonderful week!

Happy Friday!


Amberly said...

As I read the first paragraph of your post, I was getting a little envious and feeling a bit guilty. Lately my quiet time with the Lord hasn't been frequent enough and as we are anticipating a move in the near future, I've let the unimportant things take over. Yes, there are things that have to be done to facilitate the move (house to be sold, mortgage paperwork to be done, plans to be made, etc.), but they have taken over as of late. This post has helped to remind me of what I know, but what I sometimes find so hard to put into practice. Thank you!

Also, I wanted to ask if you have any tips for making sure you get that quiet time and keep that a priority while kids are still young. Mine are 8, 7 and 3 years old.

Cyndi said...

Oh, Amberly don't feel guilty! My point was, that while I was doing those things, I wasn't doing *other* things. While I did the things I did this morning, a lot of other things didn't get done. But, I knew I was doing what I should be doing, and there is peace in that.

When my kids were younger, I got in the habit of getting up early. I remember reading in my "through the year" Bible all the places it said, "And he rose early" so I spent that year highlighting all of the places it said that. While certainly not a Biblical mandate, it does seem to be a common characteristic among those who have been used greatly by God. I found that there has been no substitute in my life for simply... getting up early. It's not a holiness thing, or a better-than-anybody thing. And it's not an easy thing!! But, it has introduced discipline in my life in spiritual and physical ways. I am so thankful God has given me the grace to do that over the years. I know it's hard to have those quiet times when they are little. It was *such* a struggle for me. But, it is God's will for us, so if we pray that He will help us make it happen, we can know that we are praying in His will.

You are SUCH a good mom. :)

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Have you been listening to my thoughts lately?? Because this post is about me right??
When I first became a mom I had tried to do everything and be involved in everything and still think I could be a blessing to my husband, lovingly care for my children, and manage my home. But instead I did what the Proverb says, "tore down my house with my own hands"
But, through the years I have learned the value in what is truly important.
Thank you for reminding us of what is truly important!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

ok, I was distracted when typing the comment so I repeated myself.
...this is just a great post!

Jenny in Ca said...


wow, what a beautiful post. Thank you for the wise words. As the new homeschool year begins, your words are very timely. Just what I needed to think on, thanks.

Linda said...

My sweet, sweet friend. You could not have known as you were typing up this post that God was having you do it just for me. I'm am sick and tired of my undisciplined self saying over and over again I need to be wiser about the way I spend my time. For me it is just plain frittering away hours on things that aren't really all that important - and not getting the important things done.
You've put it so succinctly. I intended to write my post today on my "new plan". You have helped me clarify it in my own mind. I am a true "Scarlett O'Hara" with putting off until tomorrow my pathetic motto. It is way past time for me to do it right for more than a few weeks at a time (and then fall back into old, sloppy habits).
Thank you Cyndi. You are a precious friend.

Alycia said...

This was another most timely post Cyndi ~ thank you so much! As Linda wrote above, I think it was written for me as well :) You are inspiring and such an encouragement to me. Blessings to you and your family in the weekend ahead!

Susanne said...

Cyndi, this was a very freeing post! And like you said, I wish I would have learnt this in my teens.

Joni said...

Mmm, mmm, mmmm! That's me chewing on the wise words of this post, Cyndi. I simply LOVED what you wrote, and the scripture you used to tie it all together. I tend to be a girl who wants to do it all, but I KNOW that's not what God has called me too. Sometimes, even thought I know this, I am pressured by what I think others will think of me if I don't do what they feel that I should! ;) I am purposing to return to my life back home with better boundries.

I read your post and was so relieved about this truth: there were many things that were NOT done because of the things that WERE. I need to hear that it's okay NOT to do things, that if my priority is X, then Y and Z might not get done and THAT'S OKAY. Good words, friend. Good words.

Thanks for your recent comments and prayers for our return, btw. They are much appreciated. We leave in 10 days!

lize said...

I think it has been so beneficial to me and my family to have learned the word- no. I was running way to much and doing so much for others I really was neglecting my own home. I still volunteer but not as much and I'm more choosey what I lend my time too. After all our biggest job is are families and they deserve all our time. Thanks for the thoughts.
And morning time is best(for me) to be with God and to listen to what He has for me.

Sheila said...

very nice blog - i found you as we have a few common interests.

Matt said...

Like the others have said, I'm seeing my name all over this post. I do get up early but I was still feeling anxious about when we have the baby home, how am I going to fit everything in? Your post reminded me that I don't have to but I do need to prioritize.

I love your writing. If you ever doubt that this blog is worth the time, please contact me so I can reassure you. :)