Thursday, January 26, 2006

pulling it all together step one: Priorities

Yup, I'm still working at it.....getting my house and my life back in order. It's going great so far and I'm really feeling encouraged that I will get it all in order. I think the first step for me was FINALLY getting my priorities straight. My priorities had been so out of whack for so long that they didn't even really exist anymore....I was living by the 'every minute a new priority' other words JUNK. When the kids were babies and life was so hectic all the time I functioned so well only because of a very well defined set of priorities that structured my daily routines. Well after the babies grew and I went to work and life kind of fell apart I didn't see my priorities the time I got sick (a little over two years ago) there were no priorities left and because of that no routine or program for keeping things going at home. I had watched my house, my relationships and my health all just crumble out from under me and because I had failed to keep a well defined set of priorities it has been a really difficult time to put it all back in order. Here's how it all lines out for me.

Priority #1.........GOD
The Lord has to be the central focus in my life. Absolutely everything else has to be built around this foundation or it will all fall apart. So we plan our days around our devotion/study time and our week around our church activities. Each day starts and ends with time with our Creator, and our weeks are punctuated with visits to His house and time spent in His family. Nope, we aren't perfect but I firmly believe that if we hadn't taken this step we would no longer be a family at all. Having this foundation has given us all a central purpose to build our goals around and it's just amazing how much that has strengthened our family.

Not too long ago our family really lacked structure and definition. We didn't stand for anything ....alone or together, and we nearly fell to destruction because of it. Sure we had a few common dreams. We wanted a homestead and we enjoyed the same tv shows....but those things will never add an ounce of strength or purpose to your life.

Priority #2......Troy
The Lord created me to be Troy's help meet and I am dishonoring Him and Troy and myself if I fail to acknowledge that in my day to day life. I can honestly say right now that my having lost this priority over the years nearly cost me my marriage. When you have this priority out of line with God's word every other aspect of your life will suffer for it.

We all know how miserable we are when we are out of step with our husbands, some of us may mask it better than others do but we all know that deep down torn to shreds feeling that comes from knowing that the bonds you have with your man are weak and fraying. From my own experience I can say to you.....if his eyes are wandering or his attentions are toward another lady more than usual or his attentions aren't toward you as much as usual... you had better reevaluate where your man is in your list of priorities. I'm not saying that his behavior would be justified but I will say that if you are being the right kind of wife to him he will be much less likely to fall. If you feel the slightest bit insecure about your man's ability to remain faithful to you, don't take it out on him....strengthen the bonds; dote on him; wait on him; give him a massage for no reason; cook his favorite meals; stop spending his money on fluff and stuff that you don't really need and show him you appreciate his work by being a better steward of his finances; stop fussing at him because he didn't take out the trash and take it out (praise God your hands are washable); stop speaking badly of him and talk about how wonderful the man you married really is. Yes, I know he has failed you from time to time, I know you are tired and the kids have worn you out and the housework is demanding but those excuses won't comfort you when your man has fallen and your heart is broken.

I have really struggled with becoming a wife that is honoring to the Lord and it is an area that I pray hard for every day. I want to be that 'other half' for Troy and I want to do God's will for my life .......sometimes I think that would be so much easier if I could just erase most of what I thought I knew and just remember what I know now is right. For so long I took the easy road in my marriage and figured that it would all work out for the best somehow.....boy did I learn my lesson the hard way. I can't serve myself by dishonoring my husband and I am totally dishonoring him if I am not submissive to him ALL the time. I am slowly learning to bite my tongue instead of fire off a list of complaints when he says something that I disagree with. I am learning that every time I argue with him, no matter how small it may seem, I am dishonoring him. I am learning that had I always purposed to serve my husband as I should that my marriage and my life in total would be much better off and I could have avoided so much pain for myself. I am learning that to complain or argue or roll eyes behind his back is just as bad (maybe worse) than doing it to his face.

I have been doing a lot of reading and praying the past year for my marriage and my husband. Three books that have been a great help to me were
1) Becoming Heirs Together in the Grace of Life by Jeff and Marge Barth. This book is wonderful and I can't even begin to describe just how much it has helped both me and Troy. I only wish I had read it much sooner than I did.
2) Me Obey Him?! by Elizabeth Hanford Rice. This was the first book I ever read that really explained submission and told me why it is so important. It is a very small book and I had read it through 3 times the first day I had it. Having been raised with so much of the feminist agenda being pounded into my mind this book really helped me to understand why that is all so wrong and how to begin to change it.
3) Created to Be His HelpMeet by Debi Pearl. I really didn't think I wanted to read this book because I really didn't think it would do much more than bash on me for not having been submissive. There were a lot of things in the books that were hard for me to swallow but overall this book has changed my life in so many ways......I would strongly recommend it to anyone no matter how good or bad they think their marriage is.

Priority #3......The Kids
We homeschool and for us finding a routine and schooling method that worked for us has been a great help. We are also really busy correcting all the years of wrong training that had been put in with the kids. Our focus with the kids is schooling and training and it is all going fairly well.......the point here is that they come after Troy and before the house in order of priority for me. I am really working on spending individual time with each child each day, even if only 15 minutes. It's actually pretty easy to accomplish if I include a child in each task I am working on. For example, I fold all of our laundry as it comes out of the dryer so I can have one of the kids helping me with that......they are learning a skill that is needed and we have a great opportunity for conversation instead of me saying "go fold the laundry" and spending that time doing something else we are doing it together and it has been a great opportunity to train and teach.

Priority #4 .......The Home
Anyone who had seen my home a few months ago would be shocked to see it so low on my list of priorities but this is truly where it belongs and had my other priorities been in order all along my home would likely never have gotten so bad to begin with. Getting things organized for me began with putting everything about my life in it's proper order. I am amazed at how many women I know who have everything out of order. They have spotless, beautiful homes but their husbands can't stand them and their kids are banished from all but a few areas of the house for the sake of neatness. My home has made a complete 180 in the past year and it didn't happen because I treated my family like dirt so I could have a clean house. I'll be posting soon on how I am putting this 'priority plan' to work and how it has worked for me. I'm not claiming to be a Martha Stewart.....but the difference in my home and my life lately is my it's not perfect but the difference is night and day.

Priority #5.......Myself
Time to watch a movie or read a book or soak in the tub used to be something that I deemed absolutey necessary. I can't count how many times Troy or the kids would be trying to have a conversation with me while I was trying to read and pretending to hear them....or surfing the net saying 'yup' every few minutes. I hate it when people treat me that way and I'm sure that they did too. The Lord never commanded me to love myself and make sure that I 'take time for me' as the world tells us women we should so I'm sure that I do have this in the right order. As my friend Miss Willie keeps telling me 'if you take care of them, taking care of you happens in the process'. So my nails aren't done.....big deal, my husband could care less if my nails are filed spackled and sparkly. So my hair is messy most of the time and I haven't been to a beauty parlor in over 3 years......the only thing Troy cares about my hair is that it doesn't smell bad and isn't super short. So I don't get to soak in a bubble bath three times a week.....I get just as clean in my shower when Troy and I share to *ahem* conserve water ;-)

Everything else in my life comes after all of this and I'm convinced after seeing the dramatic changes in my own life over the past year that this is the way it should be. Soon I'll post about the next steps I took to getting things in order around here, but I thought that this should go first since it is truly what needs to happen before getting things in order physically can take place. My dear friend Miss Willie (one of the few real Titus 2 women I know) has always said that if your house is out of order it is a symptom of other parts of your life not being right......she is such a smart lady.

Ya'll have a wonderful and blessed day!!!

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