Several years ago, I went through a Julia Child phase. I read My Life in France several times, watched Julie & Julia, and visited the Julia Child exhibit at the Smithsonian, and planned out multiple gourmet meals for several weeks running, several of which I still use regularly. I submit as evidence the stained recipe for chicken breasts with white wine and cream sauce in my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
But here's the thing: I was exhausted. I was neglecting many, many other things in my life, and what's crazy is I don't even know why this was my particular obsession. If I do say so myself, I make a mean boeuf bourgignon, but was it worth yelling at my kids every time they needed something while I was cooking? Was it worth sacrificing morning devotion time to get the marinade just right? I think not.
After hitting my breaking point (I believe it involved a crying fit over a broken bottle of wine which had sent shards of glass into the mushrooms), I started thinking more about balance.
It seems like I'm never quite there, and society encourages an unhealthy illusion. When you look around on social media, you see so much imagery of perfectly clean homes with beautiful style, great ideas for Julia Child-worthy recipes, fun projects for teaching, clever mnemonics for teaching Scripture to your kids, workout inspiration......
But, sometimes, doesn't it just seem like too much?
I mean, honestly, how can anyone do all that and, more to the point, how can anyone do all that well?
My tendency is to grab onto one of those categories and go all-out, making gourmet meals every night for a week, obsessing over keeping the countertops clean, putting Scripture verses on all the write-able surfaces, buying materials for every foldable known to humankind, getting to the gym or out on a run at ridiculous hours.
First of all, that's completely exhausting and, frankly, unsustainable.
Second of all, every time I put extreme focus on one area, EVERY TIME, I neglect the others. And I bet I'm not the only one.
One of my life goals is to be in balance, and I follow a few bloggers who seem to have figured out how to hold a nice level of tension between all of these things (or are brutally honest in their pursuit of balance, which I appreciate even more!). The Nester, Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Glennon Melton and, right now especially, Lara Casey spring immediately to mind.
I always do better when I set goals, but the traditional goal-setting process hasn't usually worked out for me. I have a little bit of a patience problem, so either I overshoot and get frustrated by too little progress in too little time, or I undercompensate (is that a word??) to make sure the goal is reachable and wind up feeling unfulfilled because I know I could've done more or better or faster.
A few weeks ago I purchased a set of PowerSheets from Lara Casey, and so far I love them. I'm still in the very beginning stages of using them, where you write down thoughts about yourself, what's important to you, and your Big Ideas for what you want to "make happen" in the next six months, but I can already tell this will be much better for me than previous attempts.
SMART goals, I'm looking at you.
PowerSheets actually work a lot like the backward design process in Understanding by Design, which my teachers friends should recognize!
First (and so far only) word on my Big Ideas list: BALANCE
Next up, I write down what did and didn't work for me over the last year and the lessons I learned from those experiences (hello, new baby, there should be plenty of material here!), then onto What Fires Me Up. The whole point of these sheets is to help you discover your passions and figure out why you do what you do and why you want to do what you want to do.
Which brings me to my focal Scripture passage for this whole exercise:
Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. (AMP)
I like the first translation the best, because it emphasizes that I change to line up with what God wants, rather than making my plans, saying a quick prayer over them, and assuming God will conform to what I want.
So I'm praying through this process that I will truly commit and trust my plans wholly to Him, my thoughts will become agreeable to his will, and those plans will be established and succeed.
Will you pray that with me?
I have no relationship with The Lara Casey Shop; I just like Lara's attitude and outlook on life. I purchased PowerSheets myself and received no compensation for this post.