I can only take care of these kinds of strings by making lists. If I write them on a sticky note, and put them right on my laptop, then I find I can go down the lists, mark off what's finished, and empty my head of all those jumbled threads.
For instance, right now I'm thinking about the ex-Amish men that are downstairs with my husband and Joe Keim doing their Bible study. I'm thinking of how cool it is to look out my window and see their trucks--all lined up--construction gear loaded in the backs of their pick-ups, cars poised to take off and head out into the world on this cold Saturday morning...but first, they're filling their spiritual vessels with the Word. What an image: big tough workers...letting the Lord lead their lives and soften their hearts. That thought makes me smile, and also makes me glad I stayed up late to bake the guys a loaf of spicy pumpkin nut bread to go along with their coffee and the sweet Words of God.
Then my mind shifts to the writing projects that are drifting around waiting for me to make time to let their characters come back to life. I'm thinking of the tiny of island of Unst...and what will happen next to the widowed woman who is on Unst trying to discover what became of her husband...how did he disappear? What help or hindrance do the island people give her? She waits---just off stage--for her story to continue.
And what about Leah Raber, the MC in my Amish novel? Her story is finished, but she needs polishing, and I can imagine her standing off to the side, tapping her foot, impatiently waiting for her story to gel and shine.
And then, there is Annie...little Annie...the MC in my new novel. She is a child and has the enthusiasm and impatience of childhood oozing out of her pores...she wants to jump around and SHOUT her story...she's waited SO long for her tale to be told to the world--nearly a lifetime. She is anxious to pop out of my head and leap onto the page! She loves telling her story--just WHEN will she get to finish telling it? I mentally pat her head and tell her to be patient...I plan to return to her world soon...I hope.
Underneath all of these thoughts, as if that isn't enough, a song is rolling onward: "Sing! Sing joy to the world! Sing! Sing joy to the world!" This is the first line to one of the songs I'm going to be singing in the upcoming Christmas concert I'm doing with the community choir. It makes an interesting little under-note to all the other chaotic thoughts floating around in my head, don't you think?
If you're like me, thought-threads like these are never really gone, but are on the fringes of my mind every day. Taking care of each of them, one at a time, is an infinite chore because just as soon as one is finished and marked off the lists, another one pops alive to float and badger and add to the seeming chaos.
Whatever the many threads on my lists, I like to keep in mind that talking it all over with God should be my first priority every morning. I like what God is saying to me in this passage:
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. Ephesians 1:6-8
When I read that, then I know that all the loose threads that make up my lists can be a part of God's plan for me. I just need to ask Him which thoughts are in line with His plan...which thoughts need to go on my to-do lists in order to fulfill those "long-range" plans He has for my life. That's exciting--the God of the universe will help me tame those loose threads into lists that go somewhere and mean something in His world!
What are you making mental lists of? Is it story lines? School work? Household chores? Christmas happenings? Let me know how you tame the loose threads that make up your to-do lists. And in the meant time, let's think about how much God wants to use our loose threads to weave our lives together...a beautiful mosaic of thoughts and deeds to His glory!