Only For Today

Happy New Year! I know it’s a common thing to say, but wow did 2017 go by fast! We had a busy year, new assignment, new house, new baby, new friends and so many memories. While 2017 seemed to be a year of newness for our family, I’m hoping 2018 is more of a year of settling. We are settling into Ben’s job, being a family of 6, homeschooling 3 kids, and finding our favorite spots around Del Rio.

A big part of New Years time is always the topic of resolutions and goal setting. For the past year I’ve been trying hard to stay on top of my planner. Using a paper planner has been a game changer for me as many of you know. It has changed the way I clean, the way we are organized and lowered my stress level (most days at least). It has made me realize just how much I was trying keep track of in my brain and how unrealistic my expectations were. It has also made me more accountable, both to myself and my own goals and to my family. I have found so much freedom within the structure of organization.

I’ve noticed how the planner has helped me break down tasks so they aren’t so overwhelming. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning. By creating a routine of cleaning different areas of our home each day I can happily look around a relatively clean home. I am also less stressed about the areas that are less than clean because I know that I will be working on them in the near future. It’s written down, so I know I won’t forget. And it’s written down so that I can cross if off when it’s accomplished. The work isn’t as intimidating since it is broken up into smaller, realistic pieces.

A few months ago I introduced you to The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII when I offered my Advent Lectio Divina Journal. I mentioned how I hoped to look at each of the points in the Decalogue and decided to kick off the new year with another excellent point.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

Friends, I don’t think there could be a better New Years resolution for me. My planner has opened my eyes to how much time I truly have and is slowly helping me to use that time well. Before a daily plan for myself, I floundered. Things got done of course, but hastiness and indecision ruled. Now, most days at least have a plan, an order, a structure. I don’t always get everything done, but I have a clearer vision of what actually needs doing.

A recent addition to my planning is a simple sheet of paper which I laminated so I can use dry erase markers on it. It says “Only for Today” at the top and is inspired by the Decalogue point above. It has space for 3 kinds of tasks: “must do”, “want to do” and “like to do”. I only allowed myself space for 2 “must do-s”. 3 for “want to do” and 5 “like to do.”

It was so hard to limit myself to only 2 “must do-s” but as I was building the worksheet I kept the words of Pope John XXIII in the forefront. In order to guard against hastiness and indecision I had to be methodical and decisive. Those “must do-s” really need to be concrete and achievable. They must happen today. The “want to do-s” are things that I want to happen soon, meaning if they don’t get done in 2-3 days they get bumped up to a “must-do.” The “like to do-s” are the most broad and are usually where I put bigger goals that may need to be chunked into smaller pieces. I also will put a craft goal here as a motivator to get those “must do-s” done. Remember, priorities.

I love this simple exercise. It is training me to prioritize my time and helps me hone in on the essentials of the day. It’s so awesome to see how a small change can yield some pretty incredible fruit.

If this kind of small change sounds like one you would like to try, here is the FREE pdf printable!

I hope you each have joy and peace awaiting you in this new year. Happy 2018!

Something out of Nothing

My mom was here for a visit. Yay!! We reorganize all my decorations – it was a big job. I had bins, boxes, more boxes and random bags of decorations, ornaments, window clings and Easter eggs for days. Many hands make the work light, and it is so true. While she was here we were talking about memories, of course.

One morning, my mom was asking the kids what I did during the day. Rosie, my sweet Rosie, said that during the day I do “nothing.” My mom reminisced about how her mom would be cleaning the floor, or dusting, or anything and the phone would ring. My mom or one of her siblings would answer the phone and say “Sure my mom can talk. She’s doing nothing.”

We started talking about how, as a mom and honestly, as any person, we are very rarely actually doing “nothing.” Just right now, though you may be sitting down, you are reading. Or you could be stirring a pot of tomato sauce for pasta or flipping bacon for breakfast. You might be exercising, watching TV or rocking a baby to sleep. We are always moving, always working, always playing. Even when you are sleeping, you aren’t doing “nothing.” You’re sleeping!

In this sense, we are always working. Our bodies are always working, our heart is pumping blood, our lungs are expanding and contracting, we are smelling, seeing and hearing. Our minds remain active and more often than not so are our hands and feet. Pope John Paul II’s Laborem exercens (1981) is about our relationship with work and how it is through work we come to know ourselves and our Creator. When God created Adam and Eve, he commanded them in no uncertain terms to work. They were to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill and subdue the earth. Notice how the work our first parents were called to is creative work. As images of a creative God, we are capable of participating in the continued creation and renewal of the earth.

If we are called to work, and the work we are given has been directed by God, then the work we do in our fulfillment of our vocation is holy work. Our work, whatever it may be, has the potential to bring us closer to God and to one another. We might scrub floors, change diapers, balance accounts, engineer electrical systems or direct traffic. When we do our work with our best effort and with love for God and neighbor, it is sanctified and so are we.

This might sound sweet and naive. After all, work is more often than not hard! We have to go back to Genesis for the reason, and then look ahead to the Gospels for the reward. Our first parents, though called to be creative, also sinned. The command to work was not taken away, but toil was added to it. Now they were to be fruitful and multiply, but they also had to toil or struggle to make the ground produce food. Work became hard. Death entered the equation. If this was the end of the story, work would amount to a whole lot of nothing.

Now look ahead to Christ. Jesus did not simply pronounce us saved. He did not creatively leave us His Body and Blood and call it good. Jesus, the Incarnation, suffered, he toiled for us through His death on the Cross. The Paschal Mystery is where our salvation lies – Jesus death and resurrection. You cannot have one without the other. And so when we toil, when we work hard to do the will of the Father, we can unite ourselves to Christ crucified. Our work is purified through His work and we collaborate with Christ for the building of the Kingdom of God. All that nothing just turned into a whole lot of something.

  • To learn more about these ideas you should read Laborem exercens, especially the first and last chapters.

The will of our Father is different for each of us and therefore we each have our own unique work. Right now, my work is finding a cheerful, dedicated attitude toward keeping up with my house cleaning. I am also embarking on a new consulting/contractor position as a facilitator for online classes to help form and train catechists and adults in the faith. In August I’ll be lesson planning for our next homeschooling year. Each of these has their own elements of the Cross, of toil and struggle. But thanks be to God I can also see how each of them is bringing me closer to Jesus, closer to holiness.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Measuring Our Work

You never know when God is going to inspire you. That is one of the things I love about this blog. Each time I write about a moment I encountered God in our daily living it inspires me to seek Him in more places. I hope the same is for you.

A few weeks ago, I found God in my air conditioning grate. Yep, not a typical place but let me tell you, there’s lots of time to think and seek while wiping down each individual dusty, dirty slot (probably was a faster way to do it, but it didn’t occur to me until after I was done. I think God wanted to make sure I heard this lesson loud and clear).

We moved into a new house just a few short months ago and I have been trying to create and maintain a workable cleaning schedule. Thanks to my pen and paper planner, it’s actually working and I am not only up to date on laundry, but I’m doing crazy things like cleaning the air conditioning grates and baseboards! Full disclosure, I was an awful cleaner in our California house, perhaps you may have guessed, and I have made a huge life-change in this area. I truly believe this is God inspired, which is why my journey is still on-going.

I’m finally doing the work. Step 1 complete. Now, God is working on my attitude and expectations. While I was cleaning, a dangerous thought flitted through my mind.

“You know, I’m doing all this work and Ben probably won’t notice.”

Yikes, where did that come from?! Not a good place, trust me.

This little thought is ripe with temptation and very quickly leads to unrealistic expectations placed unfairly on both my husband and myself. I started writing this post the day it happened, but then life happened and I’m just finishing it now. During the time between then and now another blogger posted a very thought-provoking and timely article. She offered a look at what Uncle Screwtape, from C.S. Lewis’ famous work The Screwtape Letters, might advise young Wormtail to do to a tired mother that would lead her astray. Guess what is in the first paragraph?

Attack her marriage. Make her feel that her efforts are not noticed, not praiseworthy and not worth even mentioning.

(Seriously, click the link. Even if you aren’t an exhausted mom, you probably are a tired somebody at least a few days a week).

Time and again we all find ourselves in this situation. We work hard on a project only to find it doesn’t receive the praise we believe it deserves. We struggle to attain a new skill, but no one notices. We fight to lose a few pounds, but no one compliments our new look.

These moments of vulnerability are where Satan quietly slips into our ear. “You didn’t work hard enough, you’re not good enough, no one notices you anyway.” Why do I listen to this insidious, deceitful voice? I did work hard enough. I am good enough. And there is someone who is always with me, who observes with love each thing I do.

It is completely unfair to place my self-worth on my husband’s shoulders, or anyone else’s for that matter. Yes, of course he should and does appreciate my work at home. However, if he doesn’t notice the air conditioning grates, will my efforts become less worthwhile? They shouldn’t. Knowing that I did the best job I could do for my family and our home is sufficient. Realizing that I am fulfilling my vocation as a wife and mother each time I put my best effort into taking care of our home is fulfilling and affirming. Even if my best isn’t perfect, when it is done from a place of love and not expectation, it is a blessing for our family.