Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LDS Writers Blogfest---A Time to Prepare

Being a wife, mother, and a writer has a lot of perks and a lot of struggles that come along with it. I worry that I'm not balancing my life well and one of those areas of my life will suffer for it because in each of these small little words comes so much responsibility:




Last October, Ian S. Arden gave a talk to the members of the LDS church in our General Conference. It was called A Time to Prepare and addressed some of the things I'd been worrying about. He said, "With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another."

To me, that was such a powerful visual. Prioritizing important choices so we are not buffeted on the wind between time-wasting activities.

Every day I make hundreds of choices. Mundane ones that don't matter (like what I eat for lunch) and big ones that would seem small at first (what are my children doing while I write) but are actually large in the eternal scheme of things. I have to prioritize what's important, and as much as I love writing, my children will always come first. Sitting on the porch, listening to my teenage children talk about their day is a highlight rather than a hindrance. Even if I do have twenty more things on my to-do list. Sitting to play tea party with my little girl, even though I have a manuscript waiting to be finished will never be considered time-wasting for me because I want my daughter to grow up to remember that her mommy loved to play with her and cherished all the moments of her childhood. I want that for all my children.

Having said that, I also want my children to see that I have a talent that I'm trying to develop and that taking writing time for myself is still a priority. However, the computer is so convenient that sometimes I find myself looking at Facebook, playing Bejeweled Blitz, or looking at Google+ and Twitter. I have obligations as a writer to market my work and get my name out there, I feel sometimes that I need a break and justify playing Bejeweled Blitz, and of course I can always rationalize that I am researching ideas for my next book when I'm reading all the latest newspapers. But the reality is, those are my distractions. Those are my winds of procrastination.

Ian Arden went on to say, "I invite us to identify the time-wasting distractions in our lives that may need to be figuratively ground into dust. We will need to be wise in our judgment to ensure that the scales of time are correctly balanced to include the Lord, family, work, and wholesome recreational activities. As many have already discovered, there is an increase of happiness in life as we use our time to seek after those things which are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.”

So, I've already taken the first step in identifying my time-wasting distractions. And frankly, I don't think they're all bad. Sometimes I may need a distraction and sometimes going to social media is part of my job. But the key is to correctly balance it all so I am not cheating the Lord, my family, or myself. When I'm giving my best to my family, I find that I'm a better writer. And when I'm writing, I find I'm a better wife and mother.

But how do we find the balance? Elder Arden tells us we must do two things. One, we must become master managers of our time. To me, this doesn't mean scheduling each day down to the minute, but it does include making sure time is allotted for all the important things in our life with a little left over for the inevitable time crashers---the things we can't plan for but always happen.

The second thing he said to do was to pray because, "when help is prayerfully and sincerely sought, our Heavenly Father will help us to give emphasis to that which deserves our time above something else."

To me, that was the greatest comfort of all to know that Heavenly Father will help me prioritize and that He knows what is most important at a given time in my life and all I have to do is pray---anytime and anywhere. Those words of comfort are what get me through the day sometimes when I question my choices or second-guess myself. Knowing that I'm doing the best I can and that my Father in Heaven knows that, too, gets me through some hard times and adds a little extra joy to the good times.

There are so many demands on our time these days, and with the advances in technology, including in the publishing world, I think those demands will only get louder. But I also know that as we prioritize our choices in developing ourselves as writers, parents, spouses, and children of God, we will be happier and blessed for our efforts in ways we might not be able to imagine now.

I am so grateful for my family, for my opportunities, and for the blessing I have of trying to do better today than I did yesterday. As Elder Arden said, "Time marches swiftly forward to the tick of the clock." As time slips away each day, I know we are all looking for balance in our lives and I truly believe that, as Elder Arden so eloquently said, seeking guidance through individual prayer and then making priorities are the scales that balance us in today's world.

If you would like to read the entire article of A Time to Prepare click here

**Here are some other writers who are taking part in the LDS Writers Blogfest today. You can check out what touched them about a particular Conference talk and maybe find a new blog or friend to follow.

Amanda Sowards
Angie Lofthouse
Ben Spendlove
Britanny Larsen
Cami Checketts
Charity Bradford
Danyelle Ferguson
Giselle Abreu
Julia Keanini
Kasey Tross
Kayeleen Hamblin
Kelly Bryson
Krista Van Dolzer
Laura Johnston
Melanie Standord
Rachelle Christensen
Rebecca Belliston
Sierra Gardner
Stephanie Worlton


Rebecca Belliston said...

That whole balance thing. I'll have to reread his talk, but first, I should probably go hang with the kid who's watching TV while I sit at my computer. Yeah...thanks for the reminder. :)

Debra Erfert said...

I've always admired the way you've been able to write while still mothering a growing family. When my children were young, it would've been impossible for me to write due to my one son's heath problem.

Looking back now, I wonder if I had been blessed with not having yet been touched with the desire to write. I know that kind of sounds a little backwards, but I can't imagine now having the patience dealing with an overly hyperactive little boy and all the associated problems we encountered with his health if I had wanted to sit behind my computer and write as much as I do now. As it was, I literally spent all my time with baby Adam, who didn't sleep but a few minutes at a time, at best, for the first 5 years of his life--and neither did I. I had no idea I was preparing an outstanding missionary of God at that time. I just knew he needed me--every breath of me, and I couldn't divide my time between my children, my husband, and the easy church callings for anything else, not even my art.

I believe Heavenly Father had prioritized my time for me. He knew what kinds of challenges I’d go through with my children. When they were old enough and those problems subsided, suddenly I found myself with a new passion. Writing!

Some might call it a coincidence, but I believe a coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Oh, Rebecca, for some reason that made me feel weepy. :)

Debra, how profound. I'm totally going to write that quote down, "Coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous." I LOVE that. Thank you so much for sharing and for being a cyber-friend I look forward to talking to every day.

Lo said...

Amen to your thoughts on prioritizing! Time is so precious. It can be hard to keep everything in perspective and focus our energies on what matters most. Thanks for the reminder! It's great to meet other blogfest authors! New follower :)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I haven't read that talk in a while. Looks like one I should go back and read again, as I've been struggling with prioritizing my life recently. Thanks for your post and great to meet you!

Unknown said...

Julie I'm pretty sure that Heavenly Father prompted you to write this just for me :) Thank you sooo much!! I remember this talk now but when it was given over the pulpit it wasn't so much of a necessity in my life but today I NEED it :)

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

So great to meet you Lo and Kayeleen. It is fun to meet new cyber-friends.

Julia, thank you for saying that. You're so sweet! :)

Randy said...

What an great post. Thanks.

KaseyQ said...

Wow, I think I need to go back and read that talk- I love your comments on it, and I think that the three titles you mentioned are all full-time jobs in and of themselves. I totally hear you about the time sucks in our lives, and I think I could use a good time audit myself!

Glad to have found you through the blogfest- I would love for you to come visit us over at Mormon Mommy Writers if you haven't already (www.mormonmommywriters.blogspot.com). We're always discussing the demands on our time and ways that we can carve out time for the things that are most important to us. :-)

Melanie Stanford said...

Balance- it seems like the hardest thing sometimes and no matter what it comes with guilt. Guilt that I'm writing instead of playing with my kids, or guilt that I'm not writing. Great post- a good reminder that we need to get rid of those things that really aren't necessary.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Elder Arden's talk totally made me think of one of Elder Oaks's talks from a few years ago, "Good, Better, Best." It's a lot harder to decide how to spend your time when all the choices are good. But as you pointed out, some of those choices will always be best, and we need to make sure we're spending our time accordingly.

Angie said...

Thanks, Julie. I needed to hear that today!

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Randy and Angie. Made my day to hear from you.

Kasey, I'm a frequent visitor to MMW. You guys do a great job over there!

Krista, I agree with you there are a lot of similarities in those two talks. Nice catch. :)

Melanie, guilt is such a destructive thing and hard to get rid of. It's an individual process for sure, but something that has to go I think. :)