Friday, November 05, 2010

Color Me Selfish

I’ve never been a big proponent of “me time”. It has always seemed selfish to me. In fact I think I’ve put it down on this blog before. Sometimes I try to be the martyr. My job is to serve my family. And just continue to give and give until one day I finally just drop dead…or crack and go wacko. Seriously, try as I might, a martyr I am not. Supermom, superwife and suzy-q-homemaker I am not either.

Lately, I am nearing the edge of my sanity. I am tired. My nerves are fried. There are six other people in this house that need food, clothes and help. They leave their messes behind. I am a slave to their schedules and constantly have to readjust my plans to meet theirs. I am always five steps behind where I should be. ( My Grandma says that everything takes longer when you are in a hurry and she’s totally right.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I love them. I love serving them. I do think that for the most part I am called to continue to give and pour myself out for others until I die. That is after all what Jesus did for us and calls us to do. That’s a big part of why I think God let me become a mom, so I could finally learn to put others first. For sure, there have been times when a break isn't possible and I need to keep giving or give more. God has always seen me through those and given me the strength that I need.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:9-11

So where does a break fit in without it being pure selfishness? Because I need a break. Maybe I could finally go do my errands that I have been trying to do all week. BY. MY. SELF. That is, if no one has anything else planned or needs anything. And I really don’t mind. I love serving them.

I’ve been thinking that there is a time and a place for some me time. God took a break during creation. He does not need rest, but He knew we would because we can’t work all the time.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis2:2-3

Throughout the Old Testament, He continually expected his people to rest one day a week. For me to be able to function and love my family, I need some time. For me to not be a crazed, stressed out Mom, I need some time off. For me to not fall asleep on the couch at 8:00 p.m., I need a break. And so do you, my friends. That is not selfish.

Whether it’s shopping, errands, a nap or time with friends we all need to step out of our usual roles and relax. I think the selfish part comes in when the breaks and me time are the most important thing. It’s easy to let that become the focus rather than serving. I don’t need to be selfish about my me time. My husband is always willing to make something work. He wants me to do those things. I’ve got friends that are willing to help me out in that area too. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. I’m finally learning that.

Sometimes I think it’s me that doesn’t want to go. Because it feels selfish. It feels unnecessary. It makes me feel guilty. Like I am not the martyr mother I should be. Maybe time away forces me to realize that I can’t do it all. That helps me be humble, another reason I think God let me become a mom.

So color me selfish, I don’t really mind. When I get home, I will be refreshed and ready for another go around. I can give baths, get snacks, do laundry all for the love of my family. I really don’t mind. I love serving them.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I had a lot of rainbow and unicorn dreams when I became a Mom.  Especially when it came to bedtime.  It’s so poetic to think of a family hunkering down after a delicious, gourmet, home cooked meal.  In a clean house.  Maybe with popcorn in front of the fireplace.  Or everyone gathered around a board game.  Then tucking bathed children into fresh beds with a cozy story, bedtime kiss and quietly whispering “sweet dreams” as the drift peacefully into sleep.  It’s all so sweet and glorious and… NEVER happens.

Sometimes bedtime goes more like this. 

Get in bed right now. 

I’m serious, get in bed.

Maybe you didn’t hear me when I said GET IN BED!!!!!

Can I….?  No. 

Can You … ?  No. 

Do you…?  No. 

I love you.  Go to sleep. 

I really love you, but don’t get up unless there is blood or smoke or daylight.

Tonight was one of those nights.  I was so glad to put them to bed.  I seriously don’t want to see anyone again until morning.  What kind of bedtime is that?  What kind of mother ends the day with those words?  Definitely not that stuff dreams are made of.  I also haven’t showered yet and would like to take a bath.  I’d like to do the dishes.  I’d like to eat more halloween candy.  And maybe have just five seconds of peace!   

One problem is that I’m constantly scrambling right now.  I feel like I am always five steps behind on everything.  Organization, cleaning and meals.  Bible study, exercise, you name it!  So I’m already edgy and frustrated by that.  I think I should be able to do it all. I was already crabby when the kids came home.  It was a rough night of doing dog chores, homework and piano lessons.  By the time bedtime rolled around, I was in a less than snuggly mood.

Today I stayed home all day.  I know it’s such a novel idea for a homemaker to stay home and do house stuff all day, but that’s my plan for getting caught up. I got nothing done though.  Well, I did do 8 loads of laundry, gave the puppy a bath and some human baths, exercised, made dinner, brownies and a grocery list.  I also ate a lot of Halloween candy.  I just didn’t get everything done I thought I should, like taking a shower.  The day went too fast.   And that’s ok.  I know I can’t whip the whole world or even the whole house into shape in one day.  But I sure would like to.

When things don’t go smoothly Mike might get annoyed or frustrated.  But I take it as a personal offense.  There is nothing I want more than to do a good job as a Mom.  So when things are hectic and crazy and filled with bickering, I take it as a direct slap at my self worth and my purpose.  I just don’t think bedtime means as much to Mike.  To him, it’s a bad night.  To me, it’s a repudiation of me.

So I suppose it’s normal.  Motherhood is not always peaceful.  Sometimes it’s a battle.  Sometimes it’s an all out war.  There will be good nights and not so good nights and miserable nights.  Nights filled with basketball practice and piano lessons and fights and doggie baths.  It’s not logical to take that as a sign of my self worth or lack there of.  But sometimes motherhood is not logical either.

I fully realize that I can’t take bad nights as a personal attack, even if someone may yell something that might be considered one in a court of law.  But I have to separate who I am as a person from how things go in mothering.  Being a mom is no doubt a huge part of what I do and who I am, but the circumstances surrounding it do not define me.

Here’s what does:  I am loved by God and don’t do anything to deserve that.  I don’t have to.  He loves me because He is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11

I am forgiven by God. Tomorrow is a new day!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

I am equipped by God.  He teaches us and makes Himself known through His word.  I better read it.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

That is where my purpose and self worth need to come from, not crazy dreams of a happy (not so) little family.  Not how much I can or cannot accomplish in a day.  Not how smoothly bedtime goes.  The more I can rest in God’s love, forgiveness and teaching the better.  Hopefully our nights will be better too.  If I can allow myself to be filled with God’s love, that will overflow to my plans and my family.  It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Monday, November 01, 2010

America, Part Two

I’m not sure if you know.  You may not have heard, but I guess there is an election coming up tomorrow.  Apparently the entire nation is in a tizzy over the outcome.  Just like they were two years ago.  And every election.  Isn’t it always dubbed the most important vote of the century?

This is not a political blog and I am no political pundit.  I’ll vote for sure because I think there are things we should stand for and work for.  But again as we are being bombarded with ads and billboards and debates, some religious groups are out in full force.  We have received phone calls, texts, emails and a letter begging us to vote a certain way before “irreparable” harm is done to our country. 

It’s been bothering me a lot.  As a follower of Jesus, I think I need to ask myself  if I truly believe God is in control of everything.  If I do, then there is no way I can stake our future survival on any individual or political candidate.  I cannot hope that changing the laws will change people’s hearts.

It sealed the deal for me last week at Bible study.  We are studying the Old Testament.  Over and over again God shows He is in control of kings and nations.  At the end of the study we were asked this:

“Who places kings in authority?  Do human rulers sometimes thwart God’s purposes, or are they part of God’s plan for carrying out His purposes?”  (Opening the Windows of Blessing by Kay Arthur, Pete DeLacy and Bob Vereen, page 50).

Let me share with you a few verses I’ve read trying to answer that. 

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. Daniel 1:1-2

“I, even I, am he who comforts you.
   Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
   human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the LORD your Maker,
   who stretches out the heavens
   and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
   because of the wrath of the oppressor,
   who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?

Isaiah 51:12-13

Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words,  I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin.  Jeremiah 25:8-9

God allowed kings that were godly and kings that were evil.  God used kings as his servants for His purposes.  We live in a fallen world and can’t make things right through our human attempts.  Only God can do that and He will.  Make things right, that is.  But just like Jesus didn’t lead a military coup, we might not win the victory through politics.  As Christians, our victory is eternal Glory with God.  Our victory is people coming to Him and accepting His gift of grace.

We worry about our agenda winning, while people are being jailed for their beliefs.  We don’t think we really have time to commit to helping our church, while others are being killed for their faith.  We wonder if we are going to have enough money to go on that warm weather get away, while others are starving to death.  We like to ask God to bless America and I guess He has.  We have freedom to vote, to worship and more wealth than almost any other nation. 

There are nations where the church is booming under oppression.  Just today I heard this story about Iraqi Christians being held hostage.  God allows Christians to be put in jail in some parts of the world for worshipping Him.  You can read about the unbelievable things that are happening to Christians in places like China and Sudan at Voice of the Martyrs

Yesterday at church we were learning about Paul and the many times he was jailed, beaten or stoned.  He was not on easy street. 

“The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.  But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city.  They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.  So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” 

Acts 13:49-52

God uses oppression and attacks for His purposes.  What if we were held hostage at our church?  I am sure we would be outraged at the breach in our freedom.  But would we rejoice that we were counted worthy to suffer for Christ?  Or that His name could be glorified through us?  I might not always understand, but I will certainly embrace whatever He has for me, my family, my church and my country.  Whether it means my life gets harder, money gets tighter, or my freedom is threatened; it doesn’t matter. He is in control.  No one can irreparably damage me.  God has me in His hand.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:28-29

Maybe things will get harder.  Maybe that would make me a less flabby Christian who is even more in love with Jesus and anticipating His return.  May His name be glorified.


So He said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.”

Zechariah 4:6