Now, we don't always make the godly choices or have the godly reactions we would like to! Though it's no excuse, in our defense I must say that we have the toughest, most beautiful job in all the world. Pat yourself on the back, mommies, and try some of these ideas to offer your best instead of your left overs!
Time in the Word: Simple. We already know it and yet we tend to overlook it. No excuses, no exceptions, no substitutions. Devotionals are good, but it's still not the Word. Commit to being faithful to your time with the Lord. This means turning off the television and leaving your cell phone in the next room with the ringer off! Make time, not excuses.
Time With Friends: Don't let technology replace face-t0-face time! We MUST have fellowship with sisters in Christ. We are not selfish for doing so. Sisters, for your sanity and spiritual growth, go see a friend or have one over! Don't worry about how clean your place is. You will be refreshed and you will refresh your friend as well, putting you in a better mood, ready for the rest of the day!
Keep a Journal: You probably do it anyway! If you're on Facebook, you most likely write your moods, experiences, and memories. There is something wonderful and soothing about writing these down. Jot your thoughts down as you meditate on God's Word or your day.
Don't Set Yourself Up: Kids need structure and consistency in their schedules, yes! You also need to get things done. Jiminy Cricket, these little people want to eat three times a day?! Do they not know you need to get some cleaning done, maybe some reading, writing, laundry, etc.? Do yourself a favor: don't even try some of these tasks when you know you'll be doing homework with the kids. We only set ourselves up for more stress, as we only manage to read half a sentence before someone needs to interrupt us. I quickly learned cleaning CAN wait and the children and I are both much more relaxed when I don't leave the homework area (when they need help) to read, work, cook, or whatever. There are exceptions, of course, but I learned:
- to clean in 10- 20 minute intervals (if I'm too busy) during their school hours
- don't even attempt to read while they're doing homework
- cleaning will still be there
- my "presence" is not required online 24/7 and emails and texts can wait
- the bathroom is only an escape for a full 30 seconds (if at all) of privacy
- stressful times are often MY fault
- I can't please everyone
- I CAN say "No," to people without feeling guilty (depending on what they ask)
- my husband being home doesn't mean I get extra help (I let him slide sometimes)
- I don't look cute when I'm angry (though my husband seems to think I do)
- the floor won't stay clean forever
I say that many of the stressful times are my own making because if I already know that the kids need my help with homework, why on earth would I even attempt to read a good book, write in my journal, blog, talk on the phone, or anything that also requires my undivided attention, only to be interrupted at every read, written, or spoken sentence by the blessings God gave me, which I may turn around and scold for interrupting, when it's all MY fault in the first place because I already KNOW they need me? Phew! That was a long sentence. I won't even attempt to go back and check for proper punctuation, ha!
Choose Joy: Your family is not your enemy- promise! Don't take your family for granted. I have found myself a time or two (I'm ashamed to admit), waiting for my son's bedtime so that I can have time to myself to either get some work done or just to relax. Then I later go in his bedroom to give him a blessing and the guilt sets in as I see him sleeping peacefully.
Yes, we get busy and frustrated, but we CAN find joy in that! We don't HAVE to do anything, we GET to do it! It's a matter of perspective!
Don't let your husband steal your joy.
Don't let your children steal your joy.
Don't let the routine steal your joy.
It is OUR choice. Don't take your loved ones for granted. It's a beautiful thing to have a godly responsibility, partnering with God, in bringing forth the next generation of godly men and women. The next time you're tempted to run to the bathroom for a break (even though it doesn't quite work out), think of three things you love about that person that upset you and thank God for them. Did someone spill their drink? Did someone step on dog waste? Did they break something? GET OVER IT! Discipline if you see the need, depending on the situation, but if it was an accident, after your internal storm is under control, have them help you clean up (depending on their age) and move on. We do more harm to ourselves and our children when they see how a simple thing can cause a huge level of stress and raised voices in us. That's not the "godly" example we want them to follow.
Be spontaneous and step out of your "stressed-out-I-still-have-tons-of-things-to-do-so-please-keep-conversation-to-a-minimum-while-I-pretend-to-be-interested" mode.
Surprise the children with a picnic outside instead of the, "Hurry up and eat so you can get back to homework," speech they don't listen to anyway. Ask them questions! Ask them what their dreams are, ask them if they made someone feel special or helped someone that day, ask them what they like about themselves and others. Let's slow our pace and have an actual conversation! It's so vital that we show our children that they have value and worth, beyond their appearance and social status. Their worth is based on who they are in Christ. Kids need to know this powerful truth. There is joy in everyday life. Laugh often! It's good for your emotions and it burns calories! I, for one, plan on having a laughing marathon today so I don't have to work out. I just don't run, ha ha!. Ok, ok, I do need to be more disciplined in that area. One of my weaknesses. I'm not proud of it! Which leads us to:
Exercise: Another simple truth we often choose to ignore. We should be having at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on a daily basis. It reduces stress, anxiety, and helps fight depression! Sounds great, right? Not to my chubby body, but hey, the flesh IS a bully and we got it under control (sometimes).
Involve the kids in a walk around your block, some playtime in the yard, or park. If you don't enjoy actual exercise (running, treadmill, aerobics), start with playtime. A good game of basketball or volleyball will be fun for everyone and you'll manage to burn some calories, create memories, level off your temper, and maybe even put the kids to bed earlier, tired from the day (*wink *wink).
Exercise will improve your self-image, emotions, metabolism, energy levels, heart health, and therefore, your family life. Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, John Ratey, says exercise will even help improve our memory and learning! Wow! I want some of that exercise now (not really, just trying to convince myself, lol).
Choose joy today! It's a beautiful day and the Creator of the universe adores you. What better motivation can we have to live our lives and treat our family in a way that reflects our relationship with Christ? Don't let insignificant things get the best of you. Reach out to someone if you feel too frustrated. One of the worst things we can do is keep silent when we should speak, and speak when we should be silent. Choose wisely and enjoy your loved ones! It is in our homes that our ministry begins. Where you lead, they will follow.
Let's go serve our King!