I plan. I like to see my life neatly outlined in those boxes- every line filled in tidy handwriting with different colors of ink. If my planner has extra space I use it to make lists of things I hope to do daily or within the week or for sure that month. I do hourly planning, daily planning, weekly planning, monthly planning, lesson planning and menu planning. I guess you could say I’m a macro and micro planner. It’s not that I’m afraid of the unexpected; it’s just that I am afraid of wasting time or missing opportunities because I didn’t plan well enough.
The irony is that it’s just short of a miracle for life to go as planned in my home. We have such a mixture of ages and stages, not to mention personalities (and pets and plants), and few of them consult my careful planning before throwing their wrenches. Just the other evening, after serenely mapping out how I would orchestrate bedtime to allow for some quiet personal time for me, I was confronted with a plant knocked over and potting soil scattered all across the room, then someone peed on the kitchen floor and then I discovered soiled bedsheets on two beds. In all the hustle and bustle, fluster and frenzy, and all the Plan C’s stepping aside for Plans M-Z, I often wonder if I’m getting anywhere. In an effort to meticulously steward my time, am I actually wasting it?
I am grounded by the concept of layers. I don’t remember exactly when it came to me- perhaps when I was a focused college student or a more grounded teacher or maybe as a mom figuring things out- but it has become a calming mantra in my ever-active brain. And here it is: a little at a time for a long time makes the difference. I have seen it at work with the children. As much as I want to do all the good things with them all the time it’s simply impossible. But if we do one or two things throughout the day or the week, we are still doing good things.
One thing we have started is bedtime memory verses. Every Sunday the children all pick verses to learn that week. We practice them when I’m tucking them into bed at night. It provides a little more individual time and they have God’s word on their mind as they fall asleep. But sometimes we don’t get to the verses because it was a late night or a harried night- and I remind myself: “Layers. We are still doing a little at a time for a long time.”
Something we have been doing for the past 5 years is Family Song. Every month we learn a new hymn together and we sing it every day. Sometimes we don’t get to it or sometimes some don’t want to sing. Rather than get too frustrated I remind myself: “Layers. We are still doing a little at time for a long time.” And that’s how it goes- whether it’s popcorn by candlelight or making a magic cupboard together or birthday stockings or quiet reading times- the traditions, the memories, the relationships are built in layers.
That is also how it is for me as a person and a maturing Christian. I’ll have an epiphany or the proverbial lightbulb will turn on and I’ll start to think I’ve finally arrived in at least one area of my life. And then reality reminds me I still have a long way to go. Of course I’ll first shed some tears but then I wrap myself up in that comforting thought: “Layers. I’m still doing a little at a time for a long time.”
My dear readers, whether you’re an exhausted parent or an overwhelmed college student or a struggling Christian, or simply a human living day to day, I hope you can find encouragement in knowing that life happens in layers.