The “Main Things”

Today at my church’s mom’s group, we had one of our pastors give us a pep talk and boy let me tell you, God had the message on an arrow straight to my heart!  His theme was, focusing on the main things.  As a mother of young ones, sometimes I feel like I’m always a day late and a dollar short in the cleaning, meal preparing, busy work tasks of making a home.  I have been feeling really defeated lately, frustrated at why can’t I get it all done, just sort of grumpy about it all most of the time.  But God had encouragement for me in Pastor C’s message today and it was this, “by whose standards are you living? By what expectations are you measuring your “success” as a homemaker?”  My pastor reminded us that God clearly lays out some priorities for us in scripture and here are the top two: Loving Him, Loving others as ourselves (Husband first, then children, then the family of God, then those who are lost).  Nowhere in this list do we find “Martha Stewart house pristinely clean at all times” or “perfectly fit body outfitted in the latest clothes and hairstyle”.  Those priorities come from our culture, not from Him.  And yet it hit me this morning as I was listening to the message, these are things that most often have me feeling inadequate and defeated.  I tell my children, “just a minute” about 100 times a day as I scurry around to clean a house that never gets fully clean.  It’s like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing!  Pastor C assured us that this doesn’t mean we neglect the tasks of cleaning and taking care of ourselves, what it means is that we don’t push the more important things aside to accomplish them.  He also encouraged us in the way we greet our husbands when they come home.  He asked us if we barrage our men with complaints about how hard the day was and all we didn’t get done and need help with or if we focus on loving and welcoming him home first and simply asking for help instead of playing the poor me card to earn his sympathy.  Ouch!  Boy do I do this more than I’d like to admit.  As I was thinking about it today, it’s like I feel the need to paint a sad story of my day in order to excuse the fact that I didn’t get everything done according to MY list.  When really, Travis knows what I’m facing, he knows that we are in a weary season of our lives and that I can’t be super woman.  But I think what it is is that I WANT to be, so badly!  My own desire to be perfect at everything puts me in a grouchy, complaining, defeated mood and it’s just sin, plain and simple.  When I am focusing on the “main” things, as pastor C put it, those other things will be seen with the right perspective.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

My children won’t remember how clean the house was or wasn’t, but they will remember the time I spend with them, doing things together, laughing, enjoying them, reading the Word together and praying.  But if I’m not careful they will also remember a mama who’s constantly stressing about all she has to accomplish and how she made them feel like they were always in the way of those accomplishments.  So what’s the balance?  Well, here’s a list of what I think homemaking is and isn’t.  I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but these are what ring true at the moment:

  1. Homemaking IS creating a place of refuge and peace for our families, which I think includes a certain level of cleanliness and organization.  Homemaking IS NOT, a perfectly clean and organized home at all times at the expense of lost quality time with the very family we are trying to create a refuge for.
  2. Homemaking IS living by right priorities with our time and energy, which can mean limiting or eliminating those things that threaten to take the tops spots.  Homemaking IS NOT holding ourselves to impossible standards or comparing ourselves to other moms who are gifted differently.
  3. Homemaking IS filling up our tanks with time with Jesus and His Word, praying throughout the day for His strength and perspective which will overflow into our families.  Homemaking IS NOT trying to do it on our own strength.  Our standards and priorities never work like His do and we can do nothing well on an empty tank.
  4. Homemaking IS preparing healthy, tasty food for our families.  Homemaking IS NOT nightly gourmet meals.  Gourmet chefery never makes an appearance on God’s priority list, only on the food network’s.
  5. Homemaking IS refueling ourselves with retreats of rest and joyful activities (the most important being time with the Lord).  Homemaking IS NOT feeling entitled to selfish pursuits or allowing ourselves to be completely derailed by laziness and selfish hobbies.
  6.  Homemaking IS having a plan.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling completely defeated when daily life doesn’t go according to it.  God’s plans are always better than ours, even when they make us feel uncomfortable.
  7. Homemaking IS including the whole family in cleaning and the work that needs to be done, expecting that perfection will not happen, but pride in contributing will.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling like you have to do it all without asking for help.  Everyone can do something , don’t play the poor martyr by doing it all.
  8. Homemaking IS practicing hospitality.  Homemaking IS NOT needing a clean home before you do it.  Be a Mary and not a Martha as the saying goes.

What is God teaching you about focusing on the “main things”?  What things would you add to this list?  Sisters, we need each other!  Not the perfect façade we may want others to see, but the real us that knows fancy words and appearances will never get us to the good stuff of true sisterhood.

Finding My Way Out of a Funk and Into Silence {and a Challenge}

Without silence the Word of God cannot bear fruit. One of the most depressing aspects of contemporary life is the almost complete absence of silence. I wonder if the Word of God can really be received in the center of our hearts if our constant chatter and noise and electronic interactions keep blocking the way of the heart.” (From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation).

Whew. It’s been a long week. I’ve been in a funk and I desperately need to hear the Word of God, and I need it to bear fruit in my heart. I am married to a truly great man,  yet, as things go, as life becomes full and hard, I start to feel like I no longer feel or see his love for me.

It hurts.

It makes my heart yearn and long— kind of a homesick sort of feeling deep in my heart. I am homesick. I want to live in the world to come— where my heart’s needs and longings will be ever fulfilled. I am homesick for my Savior. Because in Him the only real and consistent source of  love exists for me. He is the only one whose love will never disappoint— will never let me down. His love is realperfecttrue.

But my life as a mom of three is so busy, so full. There is so much activity and noise. Where does a hard at work wife and mom find time for silence?! Something has got to give.

If His still small voice is in the calm, I must find the calm. I must make room for it in my life. I am desperate to believe His words, that they would take deep root in my heart… bearing fruit. Those words telling me I am His beloved. His words— the only remedy for this deep ache, the ache coming from the desire to be thought of, remembered, loved. And passionately.

(We mamas, we need to hear his voice calling us His chosen, His beloved!)

Because the only way to silence the lie that whispers “you are forgotten” is to receive His truth in my heart. And this truth comes with time in silence and solitude, time spent with the one who gave His life for mine, who has my name engraved on His hand, the one who knows intimately every ounce of me, whose thoughts for me outnumber the grains of sand.

We need silence because we need time to discern the many competing voices in our minds.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint, but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)

Or said another way, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” (From The Message)

I don’t know about you— but I need God’s revelation. Because when I start believing the lies that are being whispered in my ear, I live to feed those lies. If I believe that I have been forgotten — I start to look for ways to feel or be remembered and I set my hope on things that can only promise to disappoint, things that will always fall short and come up empty. I build idols— seeking things to fill this hole— the ache. I start stumbling all over myself. 

But when I hear truth, and let it rest and take root in the deepest part of my soul, I see what God is doing and then it comes… I find true fulfillment in Him.

I need to see through His eyes. I need to see what He is doing. So, I am making room for silence and meditation this week. Join me?

What lies are you believing?

What in your life do you feel anxious or fearful about?

What is a source of hurt or pain for you?

In what areas are Guilt and Shame pestering you?

As you spend time in prayer, try to identify what is at the root of these feelings. Chances are, some lies are being whispered in your ear too. (Ever since The Garden it’s been the enemy’s way.) Spend some time in the Word, in silence— meditating on the truth, letting His words speak to those things.

***

For further reflection I highly recommend listening to this sermon called The Wounded Spirit. It was such an encouragement to me this week and was one of the things that finally snapped me out of my “funk”… the other was exercise. I went on a long run Friday night and listened to the sermon while I ran. It’s amazing how exercise will help clear your mind! And it’s been something I’ve felt like God has been saying to me (for months really) — that I need to be taking care of myself, eating well, and getting some regular exercise. Especially for us homeschooling moms, we have so much on our plates and since we tend to be more tied up at home (which can feel isolating) we need to try to find some balance and take care of ourselves so that we don’t burn out or get into a mental funk. To make this happen I’m joining a little movement. My neighbor’s niece has started something called 100x. It is a challenge—  for anyone who wants to participate— to set some personal goals in a specific area of your life and to spend the next 100 days (starting on August 24th) accomplishing your goals. It can be anything from spiritual goals, to health goals, financial goals, goals related to a hobby you want to grow in, or anything else. I love this idea and since I feel like God has been speaking to me about exercising, I am setting a goal to spend at least 10 minutes each day exercising for the next 100 days. I am setting my goal low because I know if I get going, chances are I will go for longer than 10 minutes… but also because with three kids and our school year starting, I may only get in 10 minutes some days. If you wish to join in, visit the website here or the Facebook page here, and leave a comment so I know who is doing this with me!