Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Thing at a Time

I clearly remember the first time I felt overwhelmed by my to-do list. I was in fifth grade and the workload had gone up. Suddenly I was being assigned homework. I couldn't figure out how to remember everything I needed to remember. We had a school assembly one day, where we were introduced to the school counselor and were told that we could go to her about any problem we had--so I took my problem to her. The advice she gave me helped me then, and God has been gently reminding me of it in recent weeks: "Don't look at the whole to-do list, take one thing at a time, do it, and move on to the next."

After being down and out with my knee surgery--and really, having been out of comission for a few years with my high-risk pregnancies and migraines (which I recently discovered were caused by milk--avoiding milk has freed me from the pain I was dealing with every other day), I can look at all that needs to be done and feel overwhelmed. In fact, I had been feeling so overwhelmed, burdened, and frustrated with caring for my home and children that I had become frazzled and depressed. My attitude was to look at everything that needed to be done and to feel my fatigue and sit down because I just couldn't deal with it.

Finally, I reached a point where I couldn't take my frustration anymore and I prayed. I began to get up a little earlier than the kids. Aiden has an alarm clock that goes off in the morning, signaling that he may come out of his room for the day (otherwise he'd be up around 5:30/6am every day). Jocelyn usually wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 for a bottle and is content to stay in her crib--sometimes she goes back to sleep, and sometimes she plays on her own. That is the time I've carved out to read my devotional, Bible, and pray. It may not be much some days, but I am finding that when I start my day doing that, everything else falls into place.

When I start the day, the kitchen may be a wreck, laundry piled to the ceiling, and Nappy hair is often tumble-weeding across the floor. Before, I would think of all of that, plus every little project that I haven't tackled (such as the stenciled monogram that my mom made for Jocelyn's room that is still not displayed on the wall), and I would get discouraged. Now I feel the reminder "one thing at a time," so I block everything out of my mind and tackle the kitchen, then I move on and tackle something else. All day long I move, doing one thing after another. Slowly, methodically, I move. Stopping to feed the baby when it's time to eat, or to tie Aiden's shoes. These interruptions don't bother me as much as they used to because I realize that I'm doing the best I can do--to God's glory, not mine. And somehow, it all works out just right. Dinner is served and my house is more picked up than it has ever been, even with the many interruptions in my day.

Even if my house is a wreck at the end of the day, I find that if I've had the right heart attitude all day long--I don't care. I can feel proud of the work I've accomplished because I know that God was pleased with how I lived my day. You see, God doesn't look at the outward appearance of things--He looks at the heart. If my heart was in the right place, everything else in my home is placed just right as well--even if I didn't find the time to get to it because I was loving a teething baby, or taking a preschooler to the zoo. As my husband keeps reminding me...who's list do I want to be on? God's or man's? When my answer is God's, somehow it all falls into place and I go to bed with a peaceful heart.