“We must spend time together now because when the kids are grown and gone it will just be us. We dont want to end up being strangers.”. These are the lines I use with my husband to sell the idea of a monthly date night. I have heard of couples divorcing once the kids are gone. Why? Because they poured so much time and energy into raising the children and the marriage was neglected. What a sad ending but it makes sense. How can I enjoy spending time with someone who became a stranger over the years? This is not to say we are not to raise our children but we must prioritize correctly.
I began to think about eternity. You know, eternity is forever and ever and ever….it’s amazing how we casually talk about it. We are all going to spend eternity in one of two places, heaven or hell. Most claim they are going to spend an eternity with a God they don’t even have a relationship with now. If I don’t worship him now, what makes me think I will be able to or even want to worship Him for all eternity? It’s not just about going to church and being a good person. It’s about having communion with The Lord, totally surrendering all to Him. It’s about Him being our life not an afterthought. If He is a stranger to me now, then I won’t be invited to the party. As we all make news years resolution, let a right relationship with Jesus be at the top of the list because after the new year has come and gone, eternity still awaits us all!
Some days I am tempted to nominate, second, and approve myself as wife and mother of the year. On these days my activities go as planned, the new recipe I tried for dinner was a winner and all is well and I think, “I GOT THIS.” BUT these days are few and far between. Recently an older cousin stayed with me for a few days. She was such a blessing and she helped me to realize how much I needed help. Being needy in this case is not a bad thing. The old adage no man is an island is so true. God did not design us to go at it alone. On his earthly tour, Jesus, the son of God had 12 disciples. What makes me think that God is expecting me to do this alone? I am slowly recognizing that I don’t have to be supermom and that it is ok to ask for and receive help. This admittance takes a great level of vulnerability and humility. Pride tries to convince me that being needy is for the weak. It whispers, “you are smart enough, strong enough, no one can do it like you can.” But it is true, God does resist the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). And believe me when I say I am in desperate need of God’s grace.
This mindset of asking for help also applies to our walk with God. None of us have to fight the devil by ourselves. Perhaps you are struggling in a certain area but don’t want to admit it to anyone. Purpose in your heart that you will not let pride cause you to carry the same baggage into 2014. Build relationships with godly people, ask for prayer, let down your guards and confess your sins to another (James 5:16.). It brings healing and liberation!
I can admit that I still struggle. Struggle to accept the grace of God. I have such a works mentality. Yesterday I missed my quiet time with the Lord. This was not intentional but baby number 6 got up earlier than usual and required my attention. I am almost ashamed to admit it but I was beating myself up for missing this time. I felt that somehow God was not gonna move on my behalf because I didn’t put in the “work” that morning. Therein lies the problem, there is too much of an emphasis on me doing as opposed to resting and receiving what Christ has already done. Gods grace is not to be abused or taken for granted, nor is it to be rejected…such a delicate balance. Yes we should strive to have daily communion with God, it is a great benefit to us and it pleases the Father. But we must not reject the grace of God when unpredictable moments happen; trust that the Lord sees and will honor the desire that we have to be in His presence.
There has been such an urgency for me to teach Jesus to my children during this season. I don’t want it to seem forced but I recognize there is a battle going on for their affection…and mine! Sad to say but the agenda for most this season does not include Jesus, the very reason for celebration. How do I convey and demonstrate to my children that it is more blessed to give than to receive? I want my children to know that God is not against us desiring gifts, as I have learned through personal experiences that He delights in giving to His children. However I don’t want them to miss the other part of the story, the beauty and power of giving. To not be consumed by, “I have to have this, gimmie now mindset.” Children (and adults alike) need to understand that they are not disqualified from being a blessing to others just because they don’t have money to a give. I want them to realize that they can give the gift of prayer. So this week I had the older children pick someone they wanted to pray for, and prayed for different things concerning that person each day (their salvation, their siblings, their parents, etc…). I desire to do similar activities through the month such as calling or visiting someone we know is lonely , inviting someone over for a meal, write a special note expressing gratitude to an individual, visiting a soup kitchen etc. I also will not beat myself up and think my kids didnt learn everything they needed to learn if I don’t get a chance to do all the above activities.
I am also trying to be deliberate about sharing the story of the birth of Jesus and how they fit into this story. They can never hear it enough, nor can I. They need to understand that this story is so much more than about a baby being born in a manger. I want them to come to love who this baby became, understand and embrace His purpose; still remember and celebrate Him when the lights are packed away and the gifts are unwrapped. I recognize that sometimes my lessons may be a bit choppy, and the kids may not always be as attentive or as excited as I desire them to be. I may not come close to the cute nativity activities I see on Pinterest but I have to trust that in my sincerity to convey the truth of Christmas that the Lord will take my efforts and do a work in the hearts of my children.
One of the most difficult and sometimes frustrating things about parenting is repetition. It’s easy to feel like there is no progress because you are doing the same things OVER and OVER! The end is nowhere in sight. I clean the kitchen, its mealtime and guess what; I have to clean it again. I wash all the laundry, only to wake up the next day to a pile of dirty clothes. And let’s not even get started with the task of training children. I tell my two year old, “No,” only to turn around to see him doing the same forbidden thing. Constant repetition! However, I recognize I must keep at it or settle for chaos if I choose to stop. If I grow tired of cleaning the kitchen, we would end up eating in filth, and thats if we are even able to eat for lack of clean dishes, If I choose not to do the laundry, my family would be a mess. If I choose not to consistently train my children, they will be undisciplined and bring me shame (proverbs 29:15). SO while repetition can seem unproductive, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Progress is being made!
The same is true for spiritual disciplines. I must not grow weary in repeatedly seekng Gods face in prayer, reading of his word, and regular fellowship with other believers; these habits make me more Like God. The opposite is also true, if I neglect to repeat these practices, chaos is inevitable. I get spiritually disoriented, my anger causes me to sin, I spew out hurtful and harmful words to those I love because I have not been filled up. Lack of repetiton in these areas render me powerless and I am unable to resist the devil (James 4:7). When I don’t spend time with Jesus, My perspective is jaded, I see my children as a burden instead of a blessing. Resentment can build. I become overly sensitive, emotionally unstable,easily annoyed, and have an inward focus (Philippians 2:3-4).
Keep at it, repetition does bring progress, and even perfects!
It is so easy for me to get distracted. I start cleaning my living room and go to the kitchen to get something and before you know it, I start cleaning the kitchen, forgetting about the living room. I go on the internet to google great colors to paint your kitchen and also begin to look up colors for the closet. There are times where I am “accidentally” distracted. However, most of the time I am actively looking for a distraction in attempts to avoid something that needs to be addressed.
The other morning I was exhausted and desperately needed to clean my house but I was LOOKING for something to distract me. I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to move. Then it happened. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper ever so gently inviting me be distracted by Him. Now there is a thought for you! What if in my moments of fatigue, desperation, and despair I run to the Lord to distract me? This is certainly not a novel idea. The Lord has already made this invitation to all of us in Mathew 11:28, when He said, “…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We look for distractions because we don’t want to deal with whatever is before us. When I allow the Lord to be my distraction, He gives me rest and I don’t become overwhelmed or consumed by the very thing I am running from. When I sit in His presence, I get refreshed, gain wisdom, find peace and abiding joy! Very much a worthwhile distraction!