Every so often it’s good to stop and reflect and assess. Rather than continuing to barrel forward, we can pause and learn about our own needs, our own patterns, our own situations – then make choices and plans that are smarter and more effective.
Here are some things I learned in February.
1. After multiple intense days with little sleep, I need to plan for a do-nothing week.
In February I went to a speech & debate tournament in Portland with my two older boys, carpooling with friends. For 2 days, 3 nights, we had 14+ hour busy days in a packed church. We drove home on Sunday, straight into the church parking lot to attend church (which is the spiritual rest we need, whether or not we want the social interaction). After that, we had a family meal with extended family at our house.
I was still able to take a nap Sunday before evening service, and I slept 9+ hours that night, so I assumed – wrongly – that I was caught up on sleep and ready for a strong week. The following week was break week, and I had a list of things I wanted to tackle (of course).
And I was dragging all week long.
We have another tournament coming up, and on top of the tournament there are two other events the following two days I’m helping with. Four days of being in charge of event functioning in a crowd. And, again, break week follows.
So, I’m planning on dragging all that break week. There’s nothing wrong with that – what’s wrong is my expectation that a single nap will make me good as new.
Instead, I will not plan on making any progress on anything beyond what is necessary (my 6 week menu plan, some pantry & fridge decluttering, and preparing for our final term). I will plan on reading lots that break week – with herbal tea and a warm blanket – and making sure I get to bed early.
Expectations are key.
2. Clutter is sometimes needed.
My husband has been working on redoing our master bathroom on Saturdays and in the evenings, for which I am very grateful.
But big projects like that means there will be clutter. Temporarily, everything from the bathroom is displaced and not where it belongs. It becomes clutter in the bedroom. Temporarily, the tools and debris from the project must live near the work.
It was a good reminder that clutter is not only inevitable, but sometimes necessary. The time to declutter will come when the project is over.
The main goal is not to have no clutter, to always be decluttered, to keep everything neat and tidy all the time. The main goal is to keep life flowing smoothly and be a good manager and steward of the resources (and projects) we have in front of us. The main goal is to live with gratitude and use our abilities and space and stuff abundantly to the glory of God – and that means mess. The time to clean will come, but the fact of mess doesn’t mean there’s a problem.
This is a good reminder during our month of the declutter challenge.
3. Someday, we will be lonely.
My fourth-born child turned 10 in February. While he was opening his presents, I commented that this means we now only have one child who is not double-digits.
To which my 12-year-old responded, “Yeah, pretty soon time is going to start flying and you’ll be alone.”
Oh, well, yes, I suppose so. Before I know it, that will be the case.
4. I need an Evernote replacement.
I have written extensively in the past about how I have used Evernote as my digital filing cabinet, but my use of the program has dwindled over the last 2 years.
My Evernote disillusionment began setting in as I started using my phone as my portable data machine and my iPad as the place I wanted to quickly pull up school plans or links. The Evernote mobile app is slow to load and clunky to use. It took too long to find what I needed and it never got better. In fact, it seemed to get worse with updates.
So I ended up just not using it.
Last month as I was going through my many brain dumps, I realized that I felt scattered on my projects and responsibilities because I was keeping information in too many places, none of which were reliable because I wasn’t using any particular place consistently.
I realized I did need one single place where information I need lives.
And, on top of being clunky to use, Evernote has had multiple CEOs in the last few years, is not profitable as a company, and thus questionable as a long-term trustworthy place to keep data.
So I used some of that draggy time during break week to research Evernote alternatives that were either native Apple or cross-platform (i.e. I’m not interested in OneNote, but that’s the obvious Evernote replacement).
I almost decided to just go all-in on either Google Keep or Apple Notes, but as I used them, realized they were better for quick and temporary spots (like digital post it notes) rather than a solution for long-term reference (like saved and organized pdfs or book notes and quote collections).
In Simplified Organization Community Coaching, we spent February talking about reference storage as being a thing that we needed. In examining my own set up, I realized that was currently my weak point and it was worth addressing, worth spending the time figuring out, and worth getting set up again.
I am currently in the midst of doing just that, but I will put some more time into setting it up and using it before I share what I’m switching to from Evernote. Stay tuned.
5. Reading theology is grounding.
Much of my reading is connecting around the idea of faith. Our weekly Bible Study (and I’m leading a parallel discussion on Sistership) is reading Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality, in school we just read the chapters on the Holy Spirit and faith in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, and Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Job (which I’m only halfway through!) also returns again to showing Job’s faith through his trial.
All three point out that faith is in Christ, outside ourselves. Faith is not an internal looking and examining, but an anchor outside ourselves. We lean on, trust in, look to Christ in faith and find peace and assurance in Him, not inside ourselves. All three also tie faith to repentance, which is where faith turns us when we do look at ourselves honestly. Faith and repentance, moment-by-moment, looking to Christ and trusting that He’s leading us onward to eternity with Himself.
Lord, we believe; help our unbelief. Increase our faith each day.