Monday, August 20, 2007

10 Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

I was "tagged" by fellow writer Jan Parrish to list 10 things you will never hear me say. I use the expression "never say never" on a regular basis, so this is a hard list for me to write, but here it goes:

1. No thank you, I don't eat dessert.

2. Thank you for offering to baby sit for free, but I'd rather pay you.

3. I don't do vacations.

4. Please drop by any time, my house is always clean and ready for unexpected visitors.

5. Is there a game on TV tonight, honey?

6. I would love to mow the yard.

7. Ah shucks, I'm all done ironing!

8. I don't feel like writing so I think I'll read over my insurance policy instead.

9. Could you please take a little longer with my oil change because I really enjoy sitting in your waiting room?

10. Kids, will you please come keep me company in the bathroom?

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Thoughtful Tongue

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

This week I received the blessing of laryngitis. Of course, on many levels it didn’t seem like a blessing. The frustration of not being able to communicate verbally was almost overwhelming for a motor mouth like me. Every time I tried to talk, it resulted in harsh, painful fits of coughing. When the phone rang, it sat unanswered. My unreturned messages piled up, because the person on the other end could not hear me if I tried to answer. It was a difficult week, to say the least.

However, my inability to speak gave me a chance to ask myself two questions. How much of what I say is truly valuable for others to hear? What do my actions say in spite of my words?

During my bout of laryngitis, I could only whisper a few words before the coughing started, so I had to pick those gems carefully. It made me realize how many extra syllables leave my lips simply to fill air space or to be a part of a conversation, even though they don’t have much true meaning. I also realized how my words and actions don’t always align, especially with my children. My mouth says I’ll pour a cup of apple juice, but my body stays at the computer to send one more e-mail. My mouth tells the kids I’ll go to the park with them, but my body sits down next to a friend we run into once we get there.

This is why I say the torture of laryngitis was actually a blessing. It gave me the chance to quietly evaluate how I use my words without my own voice getting in the way.

Perhaps the best part of laryngitis is that, even with no voice, God hears me. And without the distraction of talking to other people, He and I got in some much needed quiet time.

What are you struggling with when it comes to talking or the way you use your voice?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Impossible Balance

My kids’ summer vacation is nearly over and we haven’t done all of the fun things I planned. We haven’t yet been to the zoo, the amusement park, or a nearby canyon for a day of hiking. However, the personal projects I hoped to complete over the summer remain undone as well. My closet is still the same mess it was last spring and the new tile I bought for my bathroom sits waiting on the counter, still uninstalled. These projects remain undone because, although we haven’t done everything I hoped for, the kids and I have gone on a two week vacation, been swimming many times, gone to my daughter’s baseball practices and games twice a week, and on and on and on.

When it comes to budgeting my time, my kids get the biggest piece of the pie. And I want it that way. I am acutely aware of how quickly they grow up and how precious these years are when they actually want to do things with me. It won’t be long until their summers are filled with camps and jobs and friends, and I’ll be off hiking on my own. I want to make the most of every day I have with my kids while I still actually have them.

But in the mean time, my adult projects are piling up and stressing me out. I’m not sure where the concept of a “balanced life” originated, because it is an unreachable goal. It is impossible to give equal amounts of attention to your children, your spouse, your work and your home. And who would want to? The people in my life are far more important than my “to do” list, so why wouldn’t I give them priority status when it comes to dividing my time?

According to scripture, Jesus didn’t lead a “balanced” life at all. His attention wasn’t on home repair or planning the perfect anniversary dinner for his wife. He had one, singular focus – ministry. He didn’t try to have it all. So why do we?

The real question is, how do I avoid feeling guilty or stressed over the jobs that remain undone. Let’s hear your ideas and suggestions!