As much as I love freedom and the call of the open road, I thrive on routine. Schedules are my friend. Goals and I are besties. Therefore, when we pulled into my in-laws driveway 2 1/2 weeks ago, I was looking forward to having consistent room in our routine to establish our new normal. I’d spent some serious time during the 1,230 mile drive from Idaho to Minnesota really pondering my priorities. It is so easy to say that ______ is important with my mouth, but do my actions prove it? I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I had to honestly ask if what was most important to me was leading the way in my schedule and routine or if it was fending for scraps of time and attention. To be completely honest a lot of “priorities” were getting nothing but crumbs but were expected to thrive. It was time to turn the boat into the wind and start making headway in the most critical areas.
What were my critical areas?
After some soul-searching, I identified the following areas of personal importance that needed scheduling attention:
- My relationship with Christ
- Family read-aloud time
- Writing time
This is not to say that these three areas are my “top 3” in importance overall (although I could say that my relationship with Christ would certainly qualify). Instead, these are areas that I say are important but often get pushed aside by other things.
What has changed?
I don’t have any shocking secrets or hidden tricks that will wow you. However, I can say that the first step to making a change was simply to identify the changes needed. Secondly, I had to decide how to rearrange my routine. Third, I needed follow through and set a goal.
To start, I decided that despite the fact that I am a night owl, the honest reality was that I needed to put my most important activity at the beginning of my day to ensure it did not get pushed aside. I also needed a reading plan. So for the last 2 1/2 weeks Trent and I have been getting up an hour before the kids need to get up. I begin with my bible reading in bed and Trent goes to the living room for his own quiet time. From there he goes for a run (one of his new routines) and I get ready for the morning. My initial goal was to finish reading the book of Acts (which I’d started a while back and never finished). Last week I completed Acts (exciting end by the way) and now I’ve begun 1 Corinthians.
For our family read aloud time, we began with a book that we all had an immediate interest in due to our recent visits to Plum Creek, Minnesota and De Smet, South Dakota: Little House in the Big Woods. Then we pushed back the kids’ bedtimes by 30 minutes in order to allow for more “cushion” for reading in the evening between dinner and bed. Lastly, we included grandma and grandpa in on the fun and made it a goal to finish the book before our departure so they could enjoy the entire story with us. We all fell instantly in love with Laura, Mary, Pa and Ma and found that a chapter a night was a “just right” fit for our time slot. Last night we completed the book and everyone voted to continue reading the series together. I feel that having a successful, regular routine established for these past 2 1/2 weeks will really help us continue the momentum moving forward.
Last on my list was writing time. I didn’t have a specific goal (such as to write everyday) because I knew that probably wasn’t realistic for this period of time in my life. However, I did decide that I needed to grant myself the freedom to write for the sake of writing and not “save up” my writing for special times of deep internal processing. In the past I’ve allowed a lot of “white space” to develop on my writing canvas. Unless something profound was stirring me, I kept mostly silent. While this is effective for processing sake, it isn’t realistic for writing sake. While I do have lots of thoughts, not all of them are deep and profound or worth flushing out publicly. I decided I’d rather continue to share those deeper thoughts as God lays them on my heart, but feel free to share our lighthearted adventures in the meantime. Therefore, as you may have noticed in the past few months, my writing will be more frequent, but not always serious or “spiritual” in nature.
What about you? Do you have areas of your life that are important but not necessarily implemented into your routine? Do you struggle in this area as well? I’m saying a prayer for you now as I write this that if there are areas that you want to change, God will give you not only the clarity to identify them, but also the courage and ability to enforce them. Today we hit the road to begin a few weeks of fairly consistent travel from Minnesota to Tennessee. Perhaps you can say a prayer for me as well that these goals that have been developed and practiced will not fall by the wayside in the new changing routine. Thanks.