It’s so easy to get too busy, to get spread too thin. It’s not healthy. It brings no glory to God. It bears little fruit. Slowly, year-by-year, month-by-month, we are learning this lesson and remembering it. There are so many things that look alluring, that look good, that we are tempted to get involved in. But I’m recognizing more and more, and earlier in the thought process, which of these things are time-suckers with little fruit to bear, and which ones are worthy investments of time, energy, and resources. I’ve come to the conclusion that much of the stuff we can fill our schedules with is pointless, fruitless, busy-work with little or no fruit to show for in the end. This is not how I want to spend my time. This is not how I want my husband nor our children to spend their time. So over this winter and “spring” we continue to consider “how should we fill our time?” and “what are our priorities?”. I’ve spent far to much of my life bouncing from one idea to the next; flitting here, flitting there – settling on one thing long enough to taste it, before hopping along to sample the next! And although I feel like I am slowly changing my habits, it’s something that I must be vigilantly guarding against. For a few unthoughtful moments plunges us into two weeks of over-the-top busyness. Everyone pays.
Being purposeful about this sometimes means we don’t see friends as often as we might like to. It means we don’t sign up for some things that might actually be fun. It means we drive less, spend less on gas, stay home more, and focus on the many home-projects we’ve got going (or want to get going). Even these (consider my long list from the last post) must be carefully considered and weighed in the balance. We can’t do it all. What is the priority? Where do we begin? Do we begin a little bit of every project all at once and hope for the best? Let’s hope not!
Consider food. With every large order I like to consider which added items I can buy in bulk next time. Every food item I get in bulk cuts out one part of the grocery store I have to visit. Building top bar hives, expanding our bees may not sound like a step toward simplification. But once our bees are producing enough honey it is another shelf in the grocery store I can skip. To me, this is simplification. I hate shopping. I can skip the eggs. Soon the milk. Chickens. And if we can’t grow or raise it ourselves, supporting a friend or local farmer who can is the next best thing! Besides, all of these “preparing the field” projects are work and life and fruit of the hands. It’s not just another form of entertainment packaged as “educational”.
Consider toys. Another form of entertainment. Several weeks ago I was tired of the impact they were having on the household and I packed them all up. Alright, maybe a few got left out. The Lego is still accesible. There are about two stuffed toys and a few plastic animals floating around. But pretty much everything went into boxes and bags. And do you know what? Everyone is happier, busier doing crafty things, inventing, building, going outside. I thought there might be a transition period, but I think it was almost a relief. Phew. Now we don’t have to waste inordinate amounts of our day playing with, protecting, fighting over our toys! What are we going to do with the toys? I’m not sure yet. We were dealing with constant messes (which, inevitably, Mariet cleaned up before I had a chance to make sure kids did), which was the main motivation for packing things up. I think we might do a sorting, get rid of a bunch of stuff, and keep a few things in organized bins that can be taken out – one bin at a time – to be played with. But for now, and maybe for the summer, this is a good arrangement. We’ve been doing sewing lessons instead, we set up the trampoline (a little premature, the snow-load is taxing it), and so much more.
Consider mealtime and who eats what. This is an area that has been improving quite dramatically lately. For a long time I’ve been more consistent in some mealtime rules about tasting things, “you don’t have to like it, but you do have to eat it”, no substitutes, etc. But more unexpected and dramatic changes have taken place more recently. Trust me, some of the pickier eaters still have lots of room for improvement, but things have been hopeful. This is no doing of my own. All I will say is “fasting and prayer”. What a huge blessing and encouragement!
Consider really enjoying one another. I have a real problem with being busy. I get so focused on my agenda (or even lame things…. like blogging) that I don’t really pay attention to someone who is talking to me, I don’t slow down and look in the eye of the little person who is bearing their heart or seeking my comfort, I don’t stop and laugh at the joke, the funny face, the delightful discovery. And…. having to wind this up in a hurry…. this brings me to mentioning how unloving I am. It really struck me on Saturday, actually, while I was at the food buying club dividing. How impatient I am with people who I view as “slow”. How irritated I become when I feel someone is working inefficiently, when I know I could do it better myself. How low my threshold is for people who don’t seem to be able to solve problems independently. How proud and arrogant I am! Oh, God, help me! Conform me to Christ’s image! I was talking to my family about this and we came up with the thought of how to God – on the extreme high end of the scale of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding – the rest of us are all on the low end of the scale! My “intelligence” compared to God’s puts me right in the same group as the lowest human intellect on earth! There’s a thought to ponder! So as I consider my lack of charity, and meditate on God’s words about charity, I am pricked again and again and again thinking of interactions I’ve had, in ways that I daily respond to my children, my husband, friends, strangers. In the thoughts that pass through my heart. I want to be simple. I complicate things.
Must go. A little person needs me now!