A FOUNDATION of PERSONAL ORGANIZATION

You are still sleeping.  Maybe it because of the quiet rain.  Maybe its because you wore out yesterday with church and having fun with Daddy being home from work.  Regardless of why, it is a perfect day for sleeping in so that Mommy can get a bit of a head start on the week.  And I’m taking advantage of these minutes to write to you.  Organization is on my mind so we’ll spend a bit of time on that.  It is a many-faceted topic and is actually a foundation for so much else.  So it’s a good place to start.  This probably won’t be the smoothest blog post because I have to write fast.  Any minute you will arise.  The computer will have to close and life will turn into breakfast making and hairbow fixing (you currently like to wear at least 4).

Eventually I’d like to write you about developing a life philosophy (and a philosophy for your someday family) on how to deal with possessions.  And I want to share a few ideas that have helped me in organizing (I came from a background of not being organized.  So every step I make is quite exciting to me).  And just other random thoughts on life and possession organization.  There will probably be many many posts on this overarching topic.  But first I need to show you an underlying foundation of life organization.  It is this key that I think will help you with every other aspect of your life.

This is something Daddy taught me and it has completely transformed my life.  It is something that we want you to know and understand even as a child.  The inner peace (of knowing what you are investing your time in is what is most important to you) and direction it can give your life – even as a very young lady – has a wealth of long-term benefits.  Someday maybe you will find a different system that you prefer over this style.  But, as your Mommy, I want to at least have taught you this  way well.

In a nutshell it is similar (a little more simplistic) to that which is taught by Franklin Covey and I’m sure we will have you listen many times to our old audio cassettes going into depth on these concepts.

IDENTITY YOUR VALUES

We all have certain life values whether or not we have articulated them or even thought them through. What are your life values?  What are the things in life that are most important to you?  What do you cherish most?  If you had a day to focus on whatever brings you greatest joy, what would that be?

When you are a little girl your values are going to mimic ours since you are in our family and we are raising your purposefully in a certain way.  As you grow your values will take on a more personal meaning and you will come to own certain values as really yours.  Over time we want to help you make the transition from the values we have set to coming to own your own values.

Some people have many many values. Others have just a few.  Several years ago I first wrote out my values and found that I have 16.  Under each of those values I have various goals.  But, I only currently have 16 Life Values.  For example, here are my first 10.  I have them listed with a little bit of explanation.  Once you write down your values, place them in order (some things may be hard to place in an exact order, but generally line them up so most significant is on top and less significant tends toward the bottom).  This is very important and I will explain why in a bit.

  1. God… to delight in the Lord, orbiting my heart and strength and mind around Him. In all I do, think, and say glorifying Him and delighting in Him now and always and always and always.
  2. Nicholas… treasuring the grandest blessing in my life… never ceasing to value and strengthen this relationship, talking, having fun, working together in unity and joy and with purpose. Being the bestest of friends.
  3. Nicky and Lizzylou and Edmund… realizing they are the greatest gift we have been given, and the delight and responsibility it is to guide them. They are our foundational ministry, calling, work, joy. Engaging them in truth and joy and love and wisdom. Realizing this day with them is so valuable. We will never have this specific day again. Embrace it and use it to the best of my ability for teaching them God’s ways
  4. Wisdom through Bible study and Prayer… it is my strong belief that the Lord speaks to us through His Word and He molds us into His image through the Holy Spirit as we marinate in the Word. It is of utmost importance to take focused time to read the Word and to read it to our children.
  5. Home… Our home is our primary focus of ministry and growing as a family. It is our castle, haven, training ground, and joy. Others may enter, and we desire this for Christ has called us to hospitality, but at the end of the day it is us happy 5 and it is so good to be us.
  6. Extended family… God has given us a wonderful extended family and it is my intention to focus much on creating opportunities of good fellowship, grandparent times, and be able to help them financially or physically in the future as needed.
  7. The Church… My heart is for the women of the Church. I want them to walk in joy, hope, and security in their identity in Christ.  I want them to know God’s Word and have a strong theology that impacts every aspect of their life.  I think my giftings within the church are encouragement, coming alongside, and teaching.
  8. Financial… We desire to be wise stewards of what God has given us. We desire to cultivate and produce vs.being consumers. We want to be generous towards the Church and Kingdom work in which God is calling us to join.  We want to have a process of saving finances for longterm goals which also gives us the freedom to enjoy our current season of life.
  9. Learning… I want to always be learning and growing. Taking opportunity to purposefully and strategically strengthen my learning in various areas… languages, philosophy, vocabulary, reading, theology, music.
  10. Body… Realizing my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I am entrusted to care for it well, I do this through what I eat, exercising, and protecting myself.

GOALS

Then with each value I wrote on my value list, I write out practical goals toward aligning my life with that value.

For example, value 13:

  1. PRESERVING MEMORIES… Taking time to record the God’s work in the life of my family.

These are some of the specific goals I have toward doing this:

Writing down funny things my children say and do (posting on Facebook, writing in Baby books)
Verbal recounting to them of God’s work in our family and their lives specifically in the past
Writing my values into a letter for Nicky and Lizzie
Writing my contemplations from time to time
Taking pictures
Creating photo albums
Family Christmas letter

Now that I have these goals written out, I can choose specific steps (and these steps will constantly be changing a bit.  It is good to go back to them about once a month when taking a bit of extended planning contemplation on the upcoming month). “Twice a month, spend half an hour preserving memories in one form or another.”  “By next Christmas, have made a scrapbook online/and order it of Nicky’s summer-winter 2013.”

Another example of goal making.  One of my values (number 5) is home.  My goal list under Home says:  “Cooking Well, Eating Healthy, Baking, Hosting people in my home, Teaching (my children), Organizing” Those are the things I focus on in that category.  Under each goal I have specific steps.  “By-weekly make Lizzie’s special baked goods to freeze” (since you can’t have certain ingredients).”  “Weekly grocery ship.”  “In February find the best sugar cookie recipe and work to master it.”

This can give so much direction. It also encourages me daily.  My 12th value has to do with possessions.  When I clean out a drawer, throw away socks I will never wear, or when I have you all work together toward tidying up the living room before Daddy comes home so that your time with Daddy can be more fully invested in special time with him (reading, playing, etc. instead of picking up toys), I am in line with my life values even if what I am doing doesn’t seem very important/won’t be on the nightly news.  Even in the smallest things we do, when we keep in line with out life values, we can gain a sense of great purpose and fulfillment because we know we are right where we are supposed to be.  Today wasn’t a “nothing day” afterall.  Noses got wiped and celery was sliced and tummies were tickled.  These things are all related to my values of investing in my children, caring for our bodies, and keeping order in my home.

I have found that much of the stress and discouragement of my life come when I feel what I am doing is not working toward what I think is important. When I clarify my life values and put my actions in line with them, I feel so much more peaceful, content, and good about myself and the direction my family is heading.

And it frees me from guilt when I have to say no to events.  It helps me choose to the best over just the good or better.  Back to having your value list in an order from greatest to least… Lizzie, this is important because, when a scheduling issue causes values to collide, you can make the right choice.  For example, if one of your values is The Church and you are asked to join a woman’s Bible study, you think might first think, “Oh wow that fits in with my value!  And in my goals!  Yes!”  But in this situation it will conflict with your child’s naptime and make the entire rest of the day a disaster or maybe it conflicts with the only evening your husband is home and has set aside free time to be with you.  In that case, remember how your children and husband are higher on the list.  But if it conflicts with a cake decorating class you were thinking of attending (under your “learning value), that value isn’t as high on the list.  So perhaps the Bible study is the best choice at this season of your life.  Or maybe you are already in 4 Bible studies and you are accomplishing your church value already and should be focusing on your learning value.  Or perhaps you can push the cake decorating class to a different day?  Just things to contemplate as you get down to the actual organizing of your calendar.

I know this probably sounds complicated.  But really it becomes a part of you.  When you are filling in what will be on your calendar you aren’t freezing up and saying, “Oh wow this is value 4 and I’m not sure if I am focusing enough on value 3! Panic!”  It isn’t like that.  It just becomes a general way of viewing how your use live your life and invest in that which is most important to you instead of feeling you are spending your time without really accomplishing what is of most value to you.

One other thing.  Your values may look different than your husband’s.  It is important to together talk through each other’s.  And, as much as possible, work your values around each other’s.  Meaning, if one of yours is Organization, make sure the other one also honors that by keeping organized and fostering that in your children (not in a stressed out way, but just doing your best to not be a mess).  If one of yours is The Arts, make a point of going to The Sleeping Beauty downtown even if you might not have naturally chosen that.  And I also want to mention here that it is important for you to, periodically, on your own/someday when you are married to do so both alone and with your husband, revisit your values/goals/steps.  Spend adequate time every few months to take a good solid look at these and re-orient yourselves if you are getting off focus.  You know how we periodically go out of town and you get your special vacations with Poppi and Nana?  While we are there one of the main things we do is re-focus on our values/goals/steps personally and as a family.  Also, daily (the night before or the morning of – I plan the night before and Daddy plans the morning of) organize your plans for what you want to accomplish the next day.

Oh and also.  Something great about this.  It gives you freedom to know you are “done.”  I’ll explain.  For this month my teaching goals for Nicky and you (you mainly just listen) are Westminster Catechism question 15 and 16.  And the hymns you are learning are,  “O Worship the King” and the “Gloria Patri.”  Nicky is learning his number flashcards 2s.  etc.  When  have these goals in mind, I’m not stressed that maybe I’m not teaching my children enough.  And I’m not tempted to try to be super teacher and make my children learn until they are burned out.  I stick with my goals and once we’ve worked on them for the day, that’s it.  I know I’m done with that part of the day.  And it gives me direction if I decide to suspend our normal learning (or normal any activity in our lives) for a certain time period (we are sick, moving, family is in town, etc.)  I know that we are on a certain path and its OK that I have decided to take a break (instead of me feeling like things are out of control and feeling guilty I’m not keeping up with something).  I know where we were at and will get back to it when the time is right.

OK.  Next let’s next start talking about your DAILY TO-DO LIST.

Household managing, buying things, ordering things, scheduling things, responding to things, cleaning things, saving one of you from the latest exciting idea you have that might end you up in the ER….  This list can feel like it never ends.

And I will stop here for a second to say I make a daily to-do list.  But then I also have a monthly to-do list of larger projects.  And I’m able to slowly move those off of that into my daily list.  But I don’t try to accomplish 700 things each day.  I once heard someone say about 6 things on her list works for her.  And that’s really about what I can accomplish besides just the normal feeding and watering and care of you and the boys.  And my 6 are pretty small (otherwise I notice I am not as on top of caring for my family).  Make 1 phone call.  Mail a check.  Research a sunscreen you can use with your allergies.  Update Amazon Subscribe and Save.  Spend a certain amount of minutes responding to e-mail (and if I don’t get all my emails responding to I just wait until the following day to finish… which might frustrate people but I’ve found its the way I keep our home the main focus and don’t get off track).  And if it is a day I happen to be able attempt one of those larger projects from my monthly list, that’s great.  But a lot of times it isn’t.

So we need a to-do list.  And when we look at the to dos. Here’s the deal.  First of all, remember that all of these to dos need to be in line with our major life values and goals.  If they aren’t, they shouldn’t be there.  And maybe, after you’ve gone through your values you will realize that some of those things that you have been doing or have been feeling guilt you aren’t doing, aren’t in your values list.  You can stop doing them!   Example… awhile ago some of my friends were part of a huge children’s consignment sale.  And it sounded great and I could have made some money and bought clothes cheaper.  But when I looked at the time involved (and that I hate big crowds) I realized that wasn’t the best for me.  It was the best for them maybe, but not for me (garage sales are more my thing or finding gorgeous clothes from expensive children’s stores during their 80% off clearance online).  So this is why I took a long time to explain the values and goals and steps.  There are some ways I specifically approach my to-do lists.  Maybe they will be helpful to you.  Plus I wanted to explain to you about having an overall life mission statement which some people write before they write their values but it helped me to think through my values first.  Also a family mission statement.   But I can hear you awake now and its time for your day to begin.

Until later then,  ~ Mommy.