A lot has been written about the subject of “me time.” Proponents assert that one cannot take care of others without first taking care of herself, while those opposed to the idea will tell you that it’s selfish to look for time solely carved out to take care of you. Is there a middle ground? Should there be?

Honestly, I could write an article from both positions and probably convince you one way or the other. Scripturally, we see both sides of Jesus: He serves others tirelessly (take a look at Mark 1:21–34, and He retreats to spend time alone with his Father (Mark 1:35 is a great example). Like so many things in this Christian walk, there is a precariously thin line of balance, and we tend to teeter on one side or the other at any given moment. Teetering is the reality we live in, and there won’t be balance unless...

Unless we listen to the Holy Spirit. Unless we find our value in the cross. Unless we surrender our to-do lists, plans, schemes, and routines to the One who loves us most and knows where we will find our balance: in Him.

In this season of raising little ones, setting aside our agendas seems like shooting ourselves in the foot. If I don’t have laundry at the top of my list, who’s going to do it? If I spend my day on the couch with my Bible, who’s going to change diapers and get dinner on the table, not to mention teach the kindergartener to read? I’m not talking about forsaking all of the practical stuff for the stuff that makes us feel spiritual. The truth is, God knows the job He’s tasked us with, He knows how many working hours there are in a day, and He knows your frame. That last part’s the best part. He knows your frame and mine, and He knows what He wants each of us to accomplish each day.

Trouble is, we often forget to ask. I’m so terribly good at making to-do lists that I almost never remember to ask God what He wants on that list. He is the best list-maker, and you know what? His lists are always balanced. When a pedicure or a workout or some quiet time reading in a coffee shop is on the list, I can rest in the fact that these are gifts the Father gives us and wants us to have. Gardening, surfing, knitting, baking—what’s the thing that nurtures and energizes you? God doesn’t necessarily want to take that from you in this season of sacrificial homeschooling. He loves to give us exactly what we need, and sometimes a rest from the day-to-day grind is exactly what I need. And sometimes sacrificing the energizing stuff is what we truly need.

So here’s the question, then: How do I make a list with the Holy Spirit in mind? I will go ahead and make those lists in my regular format, using great online tools with corresponding apps like Evernote and TeuxDeux. Then, if I remember to, I’ll pray specifically over the list and ask God to add or delete or to give me a sense of what’s really important. TeuxDeux is great for this, because whatever tasks are left unfinished one day will automatically transfer to the next day’s task list. I can rest in the fact that what was left undone today is what God has allowed to slip through my fingers.

Granted, I know (and so will you) which items are time-sensitive. If library books are due or an appointment outside of the home must be kept, well then of course those things become a priority. But what about the things on the list that fall more into the “want to” category (think homemade valentines) or the “really not all that important” category (think ironing the sheets)? Asking God to design our days will help us put the “want-to’s” and the “not so important things” into perspective. It doesn’t mean we’ll never get to do them; it just means we’ll not feel that sense of guilt or unrest or fatigue that comes when we are running around trying to fulfill our own agendas in our own strength.