This week has been an educational crash course in saying "YES" and I have had my eyes opened to why that is a bad thing. I have been living my life as the "YES" women to everyone. Yes, to my husband. Yes, to my children. Yes, to my friends. Yes, to my ministry. Yes, to my church even. And I could feel the walls closing in, I could feel God whispering to let go, but my stubborn "superwoman" persona would not allow that. For those of you mothers that work jobs feel free to add in the "YES" to all those demands too! All of this "yesing" hasn't been good and then add on top of it my sudden but severe memory loss and I have given myself a perfect storm of over planning. I felt it at first on Friday, my daughter's new bed was being delivered a head of schedule (wasn't suppose to be until Monday). Lance forgot to take the truck to grab the mattress, so when he got home we ran to Costco to grab it (a 30 minute drive). Then when we got home we had to build the bed... all the while waiting for weekend company to show up! I remember doing the dishes and thinking to myself that I should cancel our company, be honest with them of my over planning. But I wanted to see them! And it ended up working out fine, until Monday rolled around. VBS, working on my daughter's room, pet sitting,
not to mention all my normal weekly responsibilities that I had to do. Yep, I had done it AGAIN!
See our problem as mothers is we feel a need to prove to others we can do it all. And we literally feel it in our very bones that if we can't we have some how failed at being "super mom". But this is a lie! You mother, are under attack by the second best war corespondent in the universe. Satan. See, as mothers we can usually pick out when the devil is trying to get us distracted using sad, mean, hurtful or even horrific circumstances. Little Addy who I blogged about recently, her family is stronger in their faith because of the devil trying to distract them away from God with Addy's diagnoses. Heck! All he is doing is making them lean all on God. So, when that fails Satan changes tactics to try and tempt us with his sugar. Spiritual sugar. Most of the world is aware today that sugar is more addictive then heroine. We know it is bad for us but it is so hard to find things without it added in. It is in our faces, promising pleasure, all the while it is killing us. So what is spiritual sugar then?
Spiritual sugar is anything good in our lives that is not God lead. Go ahead and make a post it of that definition, I'll wait. LOL. As mothers we have soooo many good things the devil tries to distract us with. Last night at our sisterhood meeting we dived into these "sugars". See when we try to do something good, anything good, but it is not God lead, we are giving in to unhealthy distractions. Ever wonder why it says in the bible to "Pray without ceasing" - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18? I believe with all my heart that it says that because we are suppose to talk to God about every good possibility that comes our way so that He can LEAD us forward or tell us no, or even to put it on the back burner. Spiritual sugar acts in the same way as sugar. We say yes to all these good things, everything feels great so far and we can even feel like we are riding on the "Holy Spirit High". But then the energy the good thing gives wears off leaving us sluggish, down, tired, drained. Sounding familiar yet?
As mothers we have to learn to prioritize better, to prioritize going to God to see what He wants us to do. Now, I am not talking about asking God if you should have a ham sandwich instead of turkey sandwich by any means. LOL. But I am saying that we can no longer as mothers use the excuse that we don't have enough time in our day to even catch our breath. That is another lie. God has given us the exact amount of time each and every day to get everything done that HE wants us to get done. The problem lies with the distractions that pull us away from His will. These distractions can look different for each of you. It can be your electronics, it can be social media (guilty), it can be pets, it can be friends sometimes, it can literally be anything good that leaves you feeling drained after a short time to the point you can't do the things God wants you to do. Because lets face it, if you aren't doing what God wants you to do then you aren't putting Him first are you? So how do we priorities and let go of good distractions? Lets break it down.
Priority #1 - God
Our first priority in life has always got to be our Father. He loves us the most, cares for us the most, and does everything for us. So in all things ask God about it. Keep Him first by getting His will done and with practice your will will begin to line up with His. He is for you, all we have to do is accept His guidance. A true super hero can admit when they need help and accept it. You mother have an open door that is flooding with help if you can just trust your Lord through it.
Priority #2 - Yourself
Your second priority must be you! In case you think you read that wrong, your second priority is YOU, YOU, YOU! How as a mother can you possibly think about giving yourself to help others if you can't help yourself first? You can NOT be empty and try to fill someone else's cup, you just can't. This doesn't mean you now have the right to splurge on things or leave the house as soon as the hubby gets home. No, but it does mean your schedule needs to have you in it! A schedule that has time for a DAILY shower just to feel refreshed, time for a rest or down time, at some point at least weekly time for fellowship with a friend or two, and time for fellowship in private with your Father to get off your chest the things you usually vent to your friends about.
Priority #3 - Your husband (if you are a single mom this will mean you need to make extra time for priority #2)
You husband needs your best, not your left overs. And it is hard! Gosh it is hard, because the last thing I want to do (especially if I didn't get priority #2 in my schedule) is give my husband my best. Can I get an amen? But mothers... wives, your husbands love you! It actually stresses them out when they come home to your "left overs" because they feel guilty themselves for not being home more to help out. So practice just hugging your husband when he gets home and smile a loving smile. Because he needs to know it was a rough day but that you got through it and you are glad he is now home to help. Plus your children are watching how you respond and that is how they will respond to their spouse someday.
Priority #4 - Your children
How many of you put your children at priority #2 or (gulp) priority #1? Yeah, not a good idea. If you are like me and homeschool you may be gulping twice. LOL. Our children when they are first born are 100% dependent on us, but that doesn't change our list of priorities. I used to believe it did but it doesn't. We may not be able to help our husband with the lawn or be intimate as often, but we can still be loving, respectful and caring to him. And our electronic devices should never take priority over our children. If you are like me and use electronics for work or ministry then you need to schedule a specific block of time to get work done and...STICK TO IT. You are responsible for a large portion of your child's upbringing and you will be held accountable for how you stewarded God's gift to you. I say this not to scare you, I say it because like I said before, God gave you all the time you need to be a parent and if you are feeling like there isn't enough of that time to raise your children and be a good mom then you are saying yes to something you should be saying no to.
Priority #5 - Your ministry
That's right, your ministry. If you are a Christ follower you have a ministry whether you recognize it or not. Whether it is big or small. Doesn't matter. Christ called us to go into the world and spread the Way to EVERYONE. That is not just your children, not just your friends. It is everyone, mind blowing don't you think? Christ called us priest and the definition of priest it to share God's love and to teach that Jesus is the way. You could be like me and this blog for your ministry or you could be the mom that helps at the soup kitchen (with or without your children) or even the mom at work that doesn't gossip with the other employees but instead shows love to everyone. Whatever it is, it needs to be a priority.
SPIRITUAL SUGAR IS ANYTHING GOOD THAT IS NOT GOD LEAD ~
So there you have it mothers. If you do these priorities and learn to say no to things that God is not leading you to life will be calmer. Not every day, because we will forget this wisdom and regress and have to come back to it. The house, the car, the errands, the extracurricular things and the electronics and social media are all fillers. An analogy I heard last night on the Better Together show was that the priorities are the large stones of life. They fill up the most time and then the extras are smaller pebbles that are okay as long as they aren't distracting us from the big stones. Or, the priorities are the meat and potatoes of life and the extras are the treats for after you've eaten your dinner. LOL
One more thing. Mothers, you must recognize that this life is a living breathing and growing thing. Something that was once God lead He will eventually ask you to let go of to move you to something even bigger. God will never keep us in something too long lest we get comfortable, complacent, stagnant. He will ask you to let go so you can grab onto the new thing He wants for you. I am currently in the process of doing this. Letting go of something I have ministered since 2015 so that He can lead me to a new ministry. So always be on the look out for the good thing that is God lead and pray without ceasing so that you will recognize it when He is ready to show you. He loves you and the only way to grow and be molded into who He needs you to be is to be willing to branch out into unfamiliar territory.
It is funny. I have had a lot going on since I last wrote, that includes as of this morning, losing my engagement ring to the garbage disposal. Needless to say I was devastated. First it was the week old new Apple Watch that is swimming with the fishes; now it is the 14 year old engagement ring that I will not be able to pass to one of my son's future brides. Through tears and pain at the sentimental loss of my ring I can still find the bottom line of this weeks post. I can still remember last week's post about finding joy in things other then the Lord, and the danger that holds. So I press on, but I will tell you what, Briseis is getting some serious life lessons on why you don't want to get too attached to things of this world!
This week I have been focusing on the mistakes we make, the mistakes our children make. I have been watching and observing. I have been listening and processing. Earlier this week I saw two brothers walking into VBS. They were probably about 9 and 11. The younger was so excited to be going to VBS with his brother and went to give him a side hug as they were walking. My heart broke as I watched the older one shove his brother off and tell him not to touch him with annoyance and venom in his words. The mother either did not care to notice it or was so engulfed in her phone or something she didn't see. In that moment all I wanted to do was go up to that boy and give him a hug... and scold his brother and make him apologize. I hurt for the younger brother.
But you know what mom? I see my children doing the same thing. I see them act nasty to their sibling even when one is trying to be loving and I HATE IT! I'm sure you empathize with me on this if you have more then one child. Heck! If your child has a friend that has ever done something like that you empathize. I hate myself when I am too lazy to do anything about it because I have been the referee all day. Sadly, that is life and though as mothers we try to teach our children how to behave and how to act they will ALWAYS miss the mark at times.
The other day I was in the car listening to a talk show. The guy was talking about consequences for our children and how a lot of parents today are over punishing their children. Funny, looks like we have gone to no discipline all the way back to over disciplining. The balance of life is always fluctuating from one side to the other trying to reach that balance. Anyway, back on topic. The speaker was explaining that as parents our job is to teach our children through example and our own testimony. So often, when our children mess up we are so quick to punish with our own consequence (usually out of anger) that we don't even think about the natural consequences that will happen. Then when those consequences finally come we say nasty remarks to our children like, "Serves you right", "Told you that would happen", "Maybe next time you'll listen". All we are doing is adding insult to injury. Let me give you an example, you child is not studying for a big test they know is coming up. You have reminded them numerous times that they need to. The day of the big test comes and naturally they fail. You ground them for a month from driving, video games, friends, pretty much everything except studying. Once your punishment is finished you child is told by his teacher that because of his low grade he will have to go to summer school which will make him miss out on a trip to, we will say Universal. When they tell you this you respond with one of the above remarks. So now, for a mistake they made they have had your consequence, the natural consequence as well as a remark that does not show love. Next time something similar happens your child may even try to start lying to make you think all is well as to avoid added consequences and snide remarks. The natural consequence will still happen but you have lost your child's trust to be just.
There are natural consequence that always follow mistakes we make. They may not happen right away, but they will always show up. Our God is loving, but He is also just. He pleads with us to listen just as we plead with our children to listen. The brothers? They could very well grow up not having a relationship. I for one do not want that for my children, when I am gone I want to know they have each other's backs. By giving my testimony of how I loved my siblings and how I didn't, I teach my children about the natural consequences that can happen. By talking to them and loving them when they do make mistakes they understand and will appreciate me a lot more when there is a consequence I have to give them. Briseis is in a phase currently with hitting her brother when he upsets her. I have told her about when that happened to me and how I dealt with it. When it became persistent then she was warned that she would have to do a writing if it happened again. When that time came I did have to enforce a consequence, one she knew was coming if her actions continued. But I didn't lash out with a punishment to blind side her. I didn't say harsh words when her brother finally hit her back. Slowly she is learning how to respond in a loving way to him when she needs a break. I am also learning of how to treat and, especially, talk to my children; in a way that I won't fear the natural consequence of them not wanting a relationship with me when they are older.
So the next time the anger builds up and you want to lash out at your children for a mistake they made, stop to consider what the natural consequence will be. Think back to if you were ever in the same situation and share with them what happened to you. Love on them and pray for them that they learned from the mistake. And if it becomes a repeat mistake explain to them before hand what the consequence will have to be, doing it out of love and not anger. Because at the end of the day Lance yelling at me for turning on the garbage disposal would have only added insult to injury. But because Lance loves me and knew the natural consequence was breaking my heart already there was no need for added hurtful comments. Instead he hugged me and reassured me and knew that I would NEVER EVER turn on the garbage disposal again without checking to know where my rings were.
Fathers, do not provoke your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord ~
11 days! That is how long I was away from my babies. I still remember dropping them off at their (other) grandparents house, choking back tears, knowing if they saw me crying it would only be that much harder for them. A million "what ifs" running through my mind, all of them unpleasant and anxiety ridden. I had never been away from them this long, not even close to this long. I had never been this far away from them, a full day of traveling should anything happen. As the worry and fear and sadness grew, there were times I down right did not want to go. What if one of them got hurt or died? What if Lance or I died? But I dropped them off, a mask plastered on my face so they wouldn't see my worry. I left and didn't make it down the street before I started crying, wanting nothing more then to hold my children in my arms.
Motherhood is a crazy thing, isn't it? We gripe and complain to our husbands, our friends, and God about how we need a break from motherhood. But just when we get that chance we recoil those feelings and replace them with worry and heart break. Yes, heart break! That was the emotion I was feeling as I drove off, like my heart was being torn in two. I shouldn't have been surprised, I get the same way when Lance is called out of town (but since he is an adult it isn't as strong). Everyone I complained to had to reiterate to me that this was not only a good thing but a needed thing for me.
Poor Lance. For two years we saved for this trip and he put up with my sharpness because I "needed a break" only to have me change my tune at the last minute to a note of worry and fear. Bless his heart! The next morning we left for Canada. My parents came too. It was the first time I had them to myself in 34 years! The trip was a complete success and we had so much fun on our Alaskan cruise. And after arriving in Vancouver I began to relax and truly enjoy being with my husband and my parents. And before I go any further, yes there were times Lance and I fought. Times my parents fought. That is life, but for the whole of the trip it was great. Nothing in life can ever be 100% perfect.
As mothers I think we feel like we lose control when we can't be near our children. Motherhood is our calling, and how can we fulfill that calling if we aren't with our children? Homeschooling moms, I think we may have a harder time with this then mothers that have their children go to school. But I could be totally wrong. But I do admire these mothers who work or send their children to school, you know who you are. You are taking necessary steps to ensure your children learn that just because mom or dad isn't there doesn't mean it is the end of the world. You are teaching yourselves to take little steps to allowing your children to find their identity without you there. I thought my children would be screaming and crying during this trip, worried I had abandoned them or something (rarely did we have cell service). But letting them go and trusting God with the control over my children's well being is what our family needed, it was what I needed.
I learned on this trip that my children were the focus of my joy and the "what ifs" alone of losing them or them suffering was almost physically unbearable. And that mothers is a problem. If my joy is found in my children and something should happen to them then my joy dies. Our joy is to be found in the Lord alone and my joy was misplaced. Once I allowed myself to trust God with my children I was able to receive His joy during my trip. I smiled and laughed and felt so good on this trip because my joy was in Him and all the experiences he allowed me to see and do (some, like the whales, that are only in my memory because we didn't get pictures of them because we were too busy just watching them) were breathtakingly beautiful. And did God provide! His miracles and wonders were overflowing on this trip because I could see them through clear eyes, joy filled eyes.
Now I am by no means saying that I didn't miss my kids like crazy, that I don't love them, that they are not my livelihood because they are and I did. But I am saying that sometimes as moms we can get so focused on our children that we miss receiving the joy from other aspects of our life that God has for us. Had I not altered my perspective on where my joy was, this trip could have been miserable. Fear and worry could have left me handicapped in our room. Just thinking of this brings the show Scrubs to mind when Carla has to leave her daughter for the first time and spends most of the trip in her room on the phone or crying about being apart from her baby girl. But because I sought my joy from God that didn't happen. I was able to fully enjoy my vacation and my mom. I had so much fun with her and it gave me a glimpse into the future of what will come with my own children. My mom let me go off to live my own life long ago, but thanks to God's answered prayers I was able to spend an amazing time being her daughter again, mending past hurts and strengthening our relationship. Lance and I had fun together, just plain old FUN, the way I hope our empty nest years will be! I got to see my dad really smile (a rare thing), most of the time I was the reason he was because of something I would say (by the way, I have given him an official nickname now. LOL)
So what I learned from this trip is that my joy needs to come from the Lord, which will be hard to remember when my calling is to homeschool my children. But ultimately I will be a happier mom if that is where my joy lies because my children will fail me and disappointment me but my Lord never will. If I live with my joy focused on Him them I will actually enjoy my children that much more. So when the time comes mother for you to go on a trip and leave your little ones behind, do not let fear, anxiety or worry keep you from the joy of the Lord. If you let Him he will give you the recharge you need as a mother. And then when it is time to come home you will have butterflies in your stomach with anticipation of reuniting with your children. Then when the hugs and kisses consume you from your little ones you will be truly refreshed and will have no need to leave them again for a long time! The old saying, "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation" will not exist because you allowed God to refill you through His wonders. Trust me on this, it is the first vacation I have taken where the last thing I wanted to do was come home and be lazy and recuperate. I am recharged and my joy is in the correct place so now I can enjoy being home with my family with excited anticipation of what the future at home holds.
They had a blast while we were gone and by missing them we got home and didn't want to leave their sides, so we have been playing with them more, been nicer to them and more patient, and we are doing things together again as a family.