What I like about blogging is that it is my space to put down my thoughts and happenings and both record them for the future, rather like a journal, but also share them for any interested, hopefully for their encouragement and edification. However, there is no obligation for anyone to read them if they aren't interesting or relevant. Equally, once it has gone out live (there is always a moment of trepidation before pressing the Publish button!) I am in a certain respect accountable to following it up!
So here are my thoughts on my goals, which I could have blogged about on 1 Jan but I thought I would wait a while and make sure they were going to happen! Feel free to share your thoughts or own goals in the comments field (non-family members also welcome!)
My usual practice is to have a theme for the year (I have read about some bloggers who have a word such as gratitude or communion which is also a nice idea). Last year it was "stepping outside of my comfort zone" (with baby number three as well as the move) and according to my journal my verse for the year was Zech 4:6 "Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit".
This year the theme is spiritual discipline and my verse goes along with that: "rather, train yourself to be godly" 1 Tim 4: 7-8. I am reading "Disciplines of a Godly Woman" by Barbara Hughes and currently working on daily prayer, bible reading and the really hard one....getting up early enough to do it! Not quite managed the last one yet! This is mainly due to having
1. a tv
2. a husband who likes watching films in the evening
3. the french system of starting films at 8.50pm so they finish ridiculously late
4. ok ok a general lack of self discipline on my part too!
In addition to that, I have also been musing on the idea of intentional parenting. (I made this term up for myself then discovered loads of people have already used it, ah well!) In fact, there is room for intentionality in all of my life but I thought I would particularly focus on this crucial area.
What do I mean by this phrase... Well, it is all to easy to drift through life without any particular focus or (to take some helpful cliches) surviving not thriving and failing to plan which of course we are told means planning to fail!! I like organising and believe it to be important, although there is of course room for spontaneity and impulsiveness in life. The problem is, if I don't have a clear picture of where I am going and what is the priority for me to get done, there is a very good chance I won't achieve the important things in life, but will get caught up in what Stephen Covey so helpfully classes as the unimportant urgent things that clamour for our attention. (7 Habits For Highly Effective People - great book!)
So the first thing to do is have a mission plan for where I am going - I enjoyed listening to Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday as it was a very clear mission plan for the American people. In effect, he was saying this is what we wish to attain, now his job is to work out the details and strategy of how to get there. And if he gets lost or distracted on the way, he can always refer back to it and check if he is focusing his attention on what he classed as his priorities.
Once I have a mission plan, I can refer all my plans and projects to it, and check them against it so to speak. Then when I have a conflict of choices and decisions to make, I can go for the ones that match with my priorities. If my time is limited, and the season that I am currently in is brief (for a great talk on this, have a look at Caroline Mahaney's talk here) then it is all the more important to use each hour wisely. Sometimes I look back and think if I had given it a bit more thought I would not necessarily have spent my time doing that (surfing the net perhaps!!) or committed myself to going to x, y or z. I have my mission plan in my head but I would like to put it in writing - my current favourite verse for it is 2 Cor 5:9 "So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it".
On to intentional parenting then. Nowhere in my life am I more aware of wasted time than with the children, as we are often reminded how short our time with them is and how quickly these lovely years of being their main influence will pass. And as we are also reminded as parents, how important our job is! We are shaping children and how they turn out in years to come will be to a large extent dependent on what input they receive from us. Wow! I love that challenge, daunting as it is! Who would be a City Banker when they could be a child shaper!!!
I also notice in my own life that whilst I have the privilege of being at home all the time with the kids, if I don't pay attention and give thought to the time I spend with them, I can actually spend hardly more time really interacting with them than someone who is out at work all day, as I get sidetracked by cleaning and er, surfing the web and all the other demands or temptations that pop up.
So in choosing to be more intentional, it is a way of reflecting on what our priorities are for our family, for the characters and capabilities of the children (not to mention ourselves!) and then highlighting what will help us achieve these and prioritising these activities or times above all others. I don't mean that I have every minute and hour of the day planned out (doesn't that sound nice though! If somewhat unrealistic!) but working out what are the rocks of the day and making them get placed into the jar (I love this picture very clearly explained on one of my favourite blogs here!) before all the pebbles and sand come fill it up. And in my case, if this is not done prayerfully and basing my mission plan and goals on the Bible, it will not be done well.
Look out for the next post which gives you some practical ways that I am implementing all this.