I had a wonderful time at my church’s women’s retreat this weekend. The theme was “Simple Journey,” and there was a panel of 5 ladies representing 5 seasons of life: 20’s, 30’s 40’s, 50’s and 70’s. I loved how what I took away from the retreat was a collection of points from each lady’s message. One speaker (in her 20’s) spoke about desires, and asked “What do you desire?”
I’ve been struggling with the fact that my house is a disaster. I see ladies who keep their homes clean and their lives in order. While I follow a schedule as far as getting to work goes, my time at home seems chaotic and lazy at the same time. I’ll sit for hours staring needlessly at Facebook and blogs, convincing myself that I need this reward for spending my 9 hours at the office each week. I need it because I’m a mom and need my downtime. I need it because I cook dinner each night. But with all this “need” comes a lot of guilt. I feel guilty that my husband does all the dishwashing. I feel guilty for the disaster he must come home to each day. I feel guilty that my son is not growing up in the clean home I’d love to provide for him. And then when I feel so guilty, I feel tired, thus feeding my need to sit endlessly, and so goes the cycle of need and guilt.
So when Kristin asked what I desire, the word discipline came to mind. I deeply desire to be a woman of discipline. I want the simplicity that comes with a life of discipline. Yesterday, I finally disciplined myself to not open my laptop or turn on the TV until I’d had my quiet time—spent time doing what should be my daily devotions. The women’s Bible studies at church have been going through Cynthia Heald’s study, “Becoming a Woman of Simplicity.” Since my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend the study, I was given a copy to go through on my own. After letting it sit in my car for almost 3 months, I finally opened it up. I loved what Cynthia had to say about what it means to live a simple life, “My definition of a woman of simplicity is one who lives a God-paced life. She waits for God’s leading, and she has time to be still and know her Lord. She has a deep abiding rest in her spirit. She is a woman of profound simplicity because she has only one focus: being simply and purely devoted to Christ.”
For me, a disciplined life will lead to a simple life. I am going to stop treating what should be rewards as necessities. I need structure, so I’ll follow a schedule (one with room to be flexible when needed). And I’m going to have goals that are attainable, so I won’t need to feel guilty for not being the woman I want to be. And with all this discipline, my life (and thoughts) will become more simple.
Last night, I came up with four daily tasks for myself: make the bed, have a quiet time, pick up the living room, and have focused play time with Jace. Then I came up with my weekly tasks: vacuum, clean the toilets and wipe down the bathroom counters, sweep the entry way and kitchen, laundry and straighten my room. After that I listed my monthly tasks: make baby food, cut Nolan’s hair, clean Jace’s room, clean the showers, mop and plan my month. I then wrote them out on a weekly planner and scheduled when I would do each thing. It’s amazing how doable everything feels when I look at it in the scope of a month.
Obviously there are some tasks missing like the kitchen, but those will fit into our normal routine. After defining my tasks, I set some goals for myself: no computer time until I’ve made the bed and had my quiet time, and then only a half hour until I’ve completed all the tasks that I can before Nolan comes home. No TV until I’ve made my bed and had my quiet time, and then it can only be in the background until I’ve completed all my tasks. Start dinner before Nolan comes home twice a week. Post on this blog three times per week. List one new item on Etsy per week. I feel like my goals will help me accomplish a lot while not feeling too rigid.
After just one day of following this, I can’t believe how much I’ve gotten done while also feeling rested! I came home from work, put Jace down for a nap and had my quiet time. He didn’t fall asleep during this time, but at least wasn’t fussing. When I was done, I cleaned his room while he played in his crib. Then gave him a bottle, put him back down for his nap, and ate my lunch while enjoying my half hour on the computer. Then I cleaned my living room and vacuumed as I had scheduled, followed by some time on the computer while watching TV. I love sitting here and looking around at my neat living room. And I know I’ll love getting Jace up from his nap in his no longer stinky room!
I can’t believe the peace that’s already covered me as I’ve focused my thoughts and trusted God to lead me through my day. And now it feels good to get it all out on paper (or should I say blog?). If you are already a disciplined woman whose life is in order, I applaud you and am amazed you followed me through this entire post! If you are like me, though, and have had many of the same struggles and mental cycle, I hope we can learn together.