Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greasing The Squeaks

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Prioritizing is often hard for me. I assume it is difficult for most moms. After all, what woman can put the needs of one of her children over those of her others? And who hasn’t, after a long and tiring day, had to decide between sleep and honoring her husband’s request to discuss the family budget?

We learn that the “proper” way to prioritize is to put God first, then our spouses, then our children. Unfortunately, life isn’t so black and white. If simply saying, “I’m sorry, angel, but I have to spend some time in prayer, and then rub Daddy’s back, then I’ll come find your pacifier,” would quiet a screaming baby, we would have peaceful homes. However, we all know life doesn’t work that way.

The saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease didn’t become popular without reason. We give our attention to the loudest thing in our environment at any time, and while occasionally it is my husband, it is never God. Even if He tried to get my attention audibly, the clamor of my ever-talking kids would probably drown out His effort. Perhaps this is why most children are scared silent of thunder – it is God’s way of getting them to be quiet so He can talk!

Another place I have trouble prioritizing is in my quiet time. Since I write about God, I often compose during the early morning hours I devote to Him. Usually I find this time brings us closer together, but sometimes it is just work. That is not what this time is meant for, but if I don’t do God’s work during the time I set aside for Him, then I have to do it during my family’s time. Priorities, priorities, priorities.

I keep telling myself that this situation will sort itself out once my youngest child is in school all day, but that is not for another year. What’s more, I am certain that is not how God wants us to live. He does not mean for us to wish away the blessings of today while we anxiously wait for tomorrow. We all know the grass is never greener in another year, it is just different.

In the end, I decide there is no value in fretting over this question of priorities. God knows my heart, and when all is said and done, that is truly more important than whether I spent my time in the right place today or not. If I consistently get it wrong, I bet He’ll send some thunder to let me know.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Taking a “Sick” Day

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Today my seven-year-old came home early from school. When I answered the ringing phone, I heard a tiny voice say, “Mommy, I don’t feel good.”

“I’ll be right there,” I assured her.

I remember having sick days as a kid. That lousy feeling of being ill was softened by the anticipation of getting a day under the covers, in front of the TV. If I was lucky enough to have a tummy ache, I’d get a clear soda like 7-Up or ginger ale – an extra special treat.

Additionally, a sick day meant someone stayed home with me. Or even better, someone came to pick me up early. To hear the voice on the other end of the school office phone say, “I’ll be there,” made me feel better than any cold syrup ever could. It told me I was more important than work.

Now I don’t get sick days. No mom does. But every now and then, it would be nice to stay in bed and watch trash all day. Trash that isn’t animated.

I think I am going to declare a sick day. Well, at least a sick afternoon while my kids are at school. I’ll make some cocoa and curl up under a blanket, and let the vacuuming go for another day. I’ll ignore the kids’ socks that litter the family room floor, and I’ll let voice mail tell all of the charities and pollsters calling mid-day that I am simply not available. I’ll ask my husband to pick up dinner, and maybe he will come home early, just because I am important.

Even if I’m not really sick.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Loathing The Learning Curve

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge…” - 2 Peter 1:5

All week long, my 5-year-old looks forward to her gymnastics class. She enjoys the other kids and feels a strong sense of accomplishment when she masters a new skill. However, the period between the introduction of a trick and her successful performance of it causes a great deal of anxiety. This morning I asked, “Are you ready for a great day at gymnastics?” She replied with a rather glum, “I guess so.”

I can relate to her sentiment. There are so many times when I face a challenge I am eager to meet, but the learning process required to succeed is daunting. Sometimes I even know I am embarking on something God prepared for me and equipped me to do, yet my nerves still pull me back.

When fear grips my daughter, I give her a big hug and kiss before pushing her to a place where she has to try. I tell her it doesn’t matter if she does things perfectly. What matters is that she does her best without giving up. I am blessed to have friends giving the same encouragement to me.

What do you say to your children when a big learning curve stands between them and what they want to accomplish? What do you say to yourself in this situation?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Are You Protecting?

“For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you…” – Deuteronomy 23:14

I am something of a safety nut. When asked what I do for a living, I frequently joke that I am the Director of Home Front Security. I am the one who checks the locks on each door and window every night, makes certain everyone wears a seatbelt, and sees to it that every bicycle-riding head is under a helmet. However, this morning I read an interesting article suggesting that guarding the spiritual part of ourselves is of greater importance than protecting the physical parts.

This is not something I had considered before, but I see some truth to it. Our physical bodies are temporary, but our spirit lasts forever and is therefore our most valuable possession. It is what we must nurture, develop and safeguard at all cost. Perhaps more importantly, it is what we need to teach our children to grow and protect.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of giving up my well-earned job title. Protecting my spirit doesn’t mean I want to open myself or my family up to the risks or trauma of physical harm. But I do have a new perspective that expands my role from merely guarding our physical safety to reinforcing our spiritual defenses as well. Perhaps it is time to start teaching my kids to pray scripture in addition to telling God about each day’s events. Or maybe we could work a lesson into our weekly family hikes.

What ideas do you have for strengthening your family’s spiritual defenses?