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rubber ducky toys

When Doing More Isn’t Enough

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
~Psalm 127:1-2

rubber ducky toysThe highlighted calendar said it all:

May 1: Book Day! Bring your favorite book.
May 2: Hat Day! Wear a fun hat to school.
May 3: Cowpoke Day! Wear your boots and bandanas!
May 4: Costume Day! Wear a Halloween costume or dress-up outfit to school.
May 5: Fun in the Sun Day! Bring a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a bathing suit for outdoor fun.

I serve as an associate pastor, mostly tending to the faith education of children and their families. The aforementioned instructions cover only the first week of a month-long calendar that was recently sent home with a kindergartener in my congregation. The child’s mother is a professional singer, a soloist in the church choir. She’s usually a picture of elegance—like a tree planted beside a stream of water—exuding calm and control, beauty, strength, grace. But in her Facebook post, complete with a photo of the class calendar in all its highlighted glory, this confident, professional musician was about to lose it. Her exasperation was palpable as she wondered aloud to an audience of Facebook friends, “Wait. Now I’m supposed to send in random yet very specific items for an entire month of school or else my kid is left out?”

As a mother of three children ages 13, 11, and 4, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the kindergarten-last-month-of-school calendar is just the beginning. And while the complete ridiculousness of my kids’ schools expecting anything more than that my children will be fed and dressed and relatively clean at this time in the school year is hilariously summed up by Jen Hatmaker, the truth remains: most of us have bought into the idea that doing more (and more and more and more) will someday—finally—be enough.

Those of us who work in churches are far from immune to this line of thinking. Read more

Keeping Track of it All: Calendars for the Young Clergywoman

15573899782_f8142c8525_mA good calendar is the best friend of any busy professional, and for clergy, the art of scheduling has a few unique dimensions: weekends are busier (and therefore require more space); hours are unusual; there must be a balance of blocks of time alone for writing and planning, at the same time that there are blocks of time when one must be available to people and scheduled appointments.

Some of us work with an administrator who assists with our scheduling, but many of us manage, all on our own, schedules that would make a corporate executive’s head swim. We often work with an assortment of staff and volunteers with their own crazy schedules. So what’s the best way to stay on task and keep track of everything? Fidelia asked three young clergywomen to tell us about the method that works best for them: Mindi Welton-Mitchell on using Google Calendar, Kristen Wall-Love on using a denominational calendar, and Lauren Evans on using a designer paper planner.

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Taming the Busyness: Getting Organized and Staying That Way

Tending to one’s calendar seems like a mundane activity in the midst of the emotional upheaval of a death—and it is. And yet our ministries are full of such moments. Yes, ours is a lofty calling, but we still need to get things done. There are plenty of urgent and important matters in ministry (death of a church member). Others are not urgent, but deeply important (our own self-care). Still other issues are merely urgent, but not important (insert your own example here). How do we organize our lives so as to make the best use of our time, while providing flexibility to respond to needs as they arise?

I’ve been a collector of organizational tips for a long time, but especially since moving to part-time ministry. I resonate with my friend Karen Sapio, pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church in southern California, who remembers working part-time while her kids were little. “I had about two or three hours of work time each day if I was lucky,” she says. “I didn’t have much of an organizational method. I pretty much arrived at the church and worked furiously on whatever I could until it was time to pick up the kids at child care.”

Whatever our life circumstance, we know that our resolve to be more organized waxes and wanes depending on our time, energy, and Myers-Briggs type. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful along the way, and others gathered from friends and colleagues: Read more