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Things I Do: A Word On Priorities

[Note: The following was originally posted at "The Wright Place", Gretchen Wright's personal blog, where she regularly writes about life, family, food, and more. Gretchen is married to our Senior Pastor, Darrin Wright, has four kids, and has served our church family in a myriad of ways.]

Every few mornings after I've read the day's selection in "The One Year New Testament for Busy Moms" Bible, I reach for one of the most unique looking books I own and read from it. Savor by Shauna Niequist is filled with 365 short readings which aim to help the reader focus on "living abundantly where you are, as you are" as laid out in the subtitle. I'm enjoying what I've read so far and one entry in particular has me thinking.

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Niequist titles the entry "Things I Do" and she lists a few items that she's figured out that she cares so much about that she's willing to give up other things to attain. Once those things are figured out (easier typed than figured) then it's not difficult to discern your priorities...or so the theory goes.

Of course, all of that reading set me to thinking about the things I do...

I worship my God.

My favorite part of the week happens on Sunday morning in the sanctuary of the church among my faith family. I am fulfilled by adding my voice to that of the congregation and singing praises to my Maker, the one who loves me best. I try to worship all through the week on my own and with my family, but worship is the sweetest and best for me in the pew. I make sure I'm present.

I make food for my family...

and we do our best to eat it around the table together. This is the way of serving my gang that takes most of my time these days, perhaps even more time than teaching the kids just now in this season. Fixing decent meals is about so much more than the food.

'The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. It is there that we give ourselves to one another. When we say, 'Take some more, let me serve you another plate, let me pour you another glass, don't be shy, enjoy it,' we say a lot more than our words express. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by the same food and drink that nurture us. We desire communion . . . Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communion with one another.'
~ Henri Nouwen

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I teach my kids.

Sure, I teach them how to read and we "do spelling" and math and all of the other subjects you would imagine but the kind of teaching I am most focused on these days is of another sort. As my teenagers continue growing older each year, I am increasingly aware that my voice in their ears grows fainter as other voices and influencers grow louder. This natural and necessary shift in their attentions causes me to shift a bit too-- toward making sure they are ready for the adulthood that is before them. Yes, math is vital, but so is knowing how to treat others with respect. Science is important, but so is knowing how to feed oneself and not have to rely on junk food to survive once they've left the family table. They need to know how to put in an honest day's work every bit as much as they need to know the plots of Shakespeare's plays. Therefore, I am trying to teach my kids.

I read.

I read like someone is going to set my books afire if I don't. I am calmed, centered, and continually educated when I am able to spend time between the covers of a book. I would rather talk about the books you are reading than just about anything else. If you aren't reading a book then I'd like to tell you about a book I am reading or about a book I think you should be reading. I'm sorta pushy that way. A friend of mine was recently swept away by a good, looooooong book and told me that she'd barely done anything except read that book for days. This friend would not call herself an avid reader and so upon hearing the news, I was as excited for her as if she'd told me she'd won the lottery...because, she sorta had...being lost in a good book is worth so much!

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I love my Man.

We've been married 20 years and they've been full of the things that 20 years of marriage are full of. After 20 years, I've learned more about what love is and what it looks like in different seasons and situations. I've learned that marriage might just be like a new leather purse. In the beginning it feels stiff and unbending and maybe a bit difficult to handle, but the longer the purse is carried and used and filled full of the things of life, the softer and easier and more beautiful it becomes. I'm carrying that purse now but I'm all about continuing to pursue more beauty and more use and more life within it.

I write stuff down.

"Hey Mom, do you remember when...?" If I've not written it down, the answer to the question is usually "No, I don't remember." If, however, I've added a memory to this space or to a journal, the chances of remembering are much better. My Aunt Sab told me years ago that I'd be glad that I'd spent time writing about our adventures here. So many times when I don't feel like taking the time or spending the energy, I remember her words and I type a few of my own. As I look back over the 5 years of posts, I'm rewarded, not with the stellar writing style (as if!) or the expert photography (hardly!), but with clear memories of moments that will never be again but are still able to be visited on the page.

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Of course there are a few other activities that find their way onto my To Do List, but the things listed above are the ones I try to place at the center of my world, the ones I'll shift my list around to attempt to accomplish. Hours and energy are finite. Niequist says, "When we know what's essential in our lives, everything else is negotiable."

For more posts from Gretchen, you can follow her at her blog and on Twitter.


Questions for Reflection:

What about you? What are the things that you do? 

What needs to be essential? What needs to be negotiable?