Friday, May 9, 2014

Priorities

Two weeks ago we had an incredible speaker at my MOPS group, Joyce Zook, a Christian life coach and biblical counselor at Practical Christian Woman. She was an absolute hoot and made a deep impression on me during her 1 hour presentation. As I was scribbling down notes, my mind was racing and I knew I wanted to share some of this goodness on my blog.

So the topic she covered was priorities. To be in MOPS, you have to have a child under the age of 5 (stands for Mothers of Preschoolers) so you can imagine that the 50 or so women in my group are all rather busy. Most mommies have multiple kids so I make it a point to be a sponge and soak in as much wisdom from veteran moms. Being a mom adds so much sweetness and fulfillment to your life but it also adds stress, chaos, and the need for balancing priorities. As a believer, I know I need to put God first, it is the first commandment God gave us. But do I do it? Sometimes, maybe, rarely, wish I did it more. A few years ago Joyce was in over her head as a military wife, mom, pastors wife, bible study leader, swim team mom...the list goes on and on. One morning she woke up overwhelmed knowing this juggling act needed to end. And God gave her this list of how we as Christian women, should be balancing our priorities. On a funny note, she said that if we don't agree with these priorities, we can take it up with The Lord...since he gave them to her :).

1. God- "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
  • This is a toughy. Sure I read the bible everyday but it is always on my phone and never a number 1 priority. I use the extra time I have while Ford is asleep to give myself 5 minutes of quiet time. The hard part here is that as women a lot of us feel called to serve in the church...but putting God as our #1 priority does not include serving, volunteering, etc. We need to be IN the word, spending time with devotionals, worshiping on Sundays. Our relationship with The Lord comes first. 
2. Health- "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own" 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • This one initially came as a shock to me but my views were quickly changed as I realized how important it is for me to be healthy. God gave us one body and it is our job to take care of it... getting adequate sleep, eating right, visiting the doctor, exercising. Now Joyce warned us that this one can be placed too high sometimes when women can get obsessed with looking "perfect" but to be a good wife, mother, worker, etc, we MUST be healthy!
3. Husband- "Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:11-12
  • As a mom it can be really tough at times to prioritize your husband before your children. Physically, yes my baby needs to eat and have a diaper change before I go on a date with my husband but my heart needs to prioritize them differently. Sex, dates, supporting his career and hobbies. I find that when Jon and I get the chance to be alone or go on a date without Ford, we are better parents. I married Jon before he was a father and I want to continue to date him and nurture our relationship because one day we will be empty nesters. I feel like we've done a good job at making marriage a priority since Ford was born and sometimes it is a sacrifice. Sacrificing 8 hours of sleep to stay up late playing games, or spending money on a babysitter for date night. Loving my husband well makes me want to parent better and love my son well. 

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4. Children- "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
  • Children tend to wiggle their way up to the top of our priorities list and it's important we take a step back to analyze. Joyce reminded us that our kids don't have to experience everything all at once which was great advice! Let them choose one sport/activity per season, there is no need to pile up soccer, band, swimming, girl scouts all in one semester...both the parents and kiddos will be drained. This was encouraging for me because I already feel like I want Ford to experience so much! He won't know the difference in a playdate at my house and a Gymboree class. 

5. Home/Job- "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27 and "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8
  • If you are not the primary breadwinner of the family, home is first. If you are, job first. Since I am a stay at home mom, my "job" is in my home keeping it clean, laundry done, food on the table, and errands run. I know this may not be the case for every stay at home mom but in my case I am the COO of our household. Jon helps out when needed but I respect the fact that he's worked hard providing for our family (traveling each week and working more than 40 hours) and I want our home to be not only liveable but enjoyable. I want him to look forward to coming home and us to be able to spend time together as a family. 

6. Self- "Love your neighbor as yourself" Matthew 19:19
  • Moms seem to always put themselves low on their priority list and we can get burnt out pretty easy. I loved how Joyce used this verse from Matthew that if we don't love ourselves, it is impossible to love others. It's so true. If I don't get time to myself each week (or each day really), I go nuts. Even if it's a solo trip to Target, I can clear my thoughts and focus on me. This priority includes going out with friends, participating in hobbies, taking classes. For me it's my blog, going to MOPS and other mommy groups, and dropping off Ford with my parents or neighbors so I can have alone time. 

7. Others- "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20
  • Just because this is the last one on the priorities list, doesn't mean it isn't important. God commands us to serve the least of us and care for the widows and orphans so it isn't something to be taken lightly. This is where we can fit in volunteering at our children's schools, loving on your friends, etc. I sometimes feel like I am not doing enough of this but find rest in knowing I am prioritizing my relationship with the Lord, marriage, house, etc first. Ford and I just started volunteering at a retirement center in our neighborhood and we look forward to really making an impact in people's lives. 

Next up we did a little workshop where we were able to write out our personal priorities and talk through how to balance them. It was a great hands on activity to help me see where I am spending too much time vs. not enough. (adapted from Practical Christian Woman)

Step 1- Priorities on your calendar- try to work all 7 into 1 week and double them up if you can! A walk with your husband can keep you healthy and nurture your marriage. 

Step 2- Add to your life- Don't see anything on your calendar that allows you to unwind? Add a pedicure while the kids are at school or arrange for a babysitting swap so you can go to the store alone. 

Step 3- Stop saying yes- take a 2 week break to pray and plan for upcoming priorities. As women we want to say yes to everything but it is impossible to keep your head above water!

Step 4- Choose the best- In areas you are doing too much, choose God's best. Start at the bottom of your priorities list. 

Step 5- High energy activities- mark your high energy activities on your priorities list and count how many you do in 1 week. This could be those Wednesday nights where you pickup from Girl Scouts and head straight to soccer, run through the drive through and arrive 15 minutes late to youth group. 

Step 6- Stress reaction- think about how you react to those high energy activities? Do you lose your temper with your husband or maybe eat your stress?

Step 7- Stress solutions- lower the number of high energy activities to reduce your stress reactions. Start at the bottom of your priority list with the lowest high energy activity.

Do you find yourself swimming in to-do lists? Stressing over your day to day activities? Giving your husband your leftovers? I hope you look to this post to help you relax and find balance in your crazy life. Remember.... "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:" Ecclesiastes 3:1

Practical Christian Woman

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9 comments:

Liz said...

How many ways can I say I love this post?!?! So good! Wish I was in your mops group :)

Rebekah @ Living && Learning said...

This post came at the perfect time! It has really been laying on my heart that I need to settle into a good daily routine again and re-organize priorities. I love the perspective of Matthew 19:19! I am the worst about putting others first, not that I don't love serving but I burn myself out and then don't have anything left to give my family and friends.

Bridget said...

Wow...thank you for posting. Such a great post!!! I plan to really sit down and go through my priorities!! Thank you Ruthie!!!

Danielle said...

Thanks for sharing, Ruthie! With my maternity leave almost up I know I'm going to struggle getting my priorities in order. My world has been all about Jack these last 3 months and I know I'm going to really have to depend on and trust in God as that changes. My heart breaks thinking about leaving him, but my situation is what it is and I'm going to try to bring God glory through my role as a mother, wife, employee, and friend even though emotionally I'm struggling. This post was a great reminder of putting Him first.

Carolyn said...

Echoing all the previous comments - this is a great read. I of course read the whole thing and felt like an Epic Failure (which I totally realize wasn't the point lol) but I am glad it gave me a template of how to work on what I need to.

Emily said...

I would love to be in a MOPS group,but the nearest one is an hour away. Wonderful post... thanks for sharing!!

Lauren H Edmondson said...

I really needed to read this today. Josh and I were just talking about what was in store for the weekend and I mentioned all the errands I need to run, the laundry that needs to be done and the bathrooms that are in desperate need of a good cleaning and his response was "I guess me and Sawyer will just hang out..." and I realized that baby and husband have been listed way too far down on the list lately.

Laura Aston said...

This spoke directly to me :) thank you!

Danielle Warren said...

Thank you for sharing this! There are times when I am uber stressed and depressed and I can never figure out why. Then I realize that I haven read my scriptures or truly talked to my Heavenly Father. I hadn't had a real conversation with my husband. As soon as I would figure that out, it feels like the world was lifted off my shoulders.!
Thank you again.

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