Today I felt Like a Failure

Welcome to Parenting 101: I tried my best and I failed.

One of the first lessons when raising little human beings, is that doing your best isn’t ever enough. You can spend 100 percent of your day unselfishly loving, serving, cleaning, cooking and teaching and there’s always, ALWAYS someone (or perhaps many) who are going to think it’s not good enough.

I remember reading an open letter to moms a couple of months ago titled “You Are Enough.” It spoke to discouraged mothers about how their love and efforts were enough. Honestly, posts such as this fill my heart with hope. They’re touching. They’re encouraging. When I read them, my eyes fill with tears. I try to convince myself that they’re true and I’m inspired to keep going.

But the truth is, I really don’t believe them.

Because never, have I ever been enough for my family or my kids. 

Not even on my good days.

Not even on the days where I manage to keep my cool from morning till night.

I’m not creative enough.

My food isn’t healthy enough…(and if it is, it doesn’t taste good enough.)

I’m not joyful enough.

I’m not fair enough.

My motives aren’t pure enough.

I don’t have enough time.

I can’t clean enough….(And man, do I EVER clean. All. Day. Long.)

I’m not pretty enough.

I’m not loving enough.

My apologies aren’t sincere enough.

I’m not encouraging enough.

My faith isn’t real enough.

I am NOT enough.

Reading through this list, I realize that none of these feelings or thoughts are unique to just me. These are the real thoughts and feelings that us mom’s struggle with daily. “You Are Enough” would’ve never gone viral if women didn’t have a deep desire to hear those very words.

It’s a wonder to me that any mom even makes it through motherhood.  Is there a place more lonely? Is there a position in life that take as much blame?  Are the consequences of failure higher in any other occupation?

To mess up, literally harms your own offspring. The cost of failure affects the very ones you love the most: your own precious children.

I’m sorry, are these thoughts too heavy for today? It’s just the kind of day I’m having.

I woke up this morning, bright and early. Our family had just had spring break, so I felt refreshed and ready to teach. I planned fun activities, lots of breaks, snacks and rewards. It was tons of work for me, but meant to be a relaxing day for the kids as there was very little real work involved.

Before noon, my best efforts had failed and two children were crying in their rooms. I tried to gently correct my son in his behaviour and it completely backfired. My boy told me that he felt like a jerk who always ruined everyone’s fun and that he was a horrible son.

My heart was devastated.

Here, I was pouring in time, care, love, and creativity. My absolute best efforts. Yet the day ended in tears and my son was struggling with condemnation.

Where did I go wrong? Why am I such a failure?

Motherhood sure is hard.

I honestly feel like I could end this post right here. But it’s not the end. Because the one thing that sets me apart from those who don’t believe in God, is HOPE.

Hope that things will get better.

Hope that God sees my heart.

Hope that he will take my best effort’s, and bear fruit from them.

Hope that when all is said and done, it will be enough.

But the devil knows where to hit us and when. And today I was really struck down. Today I felt like quitting. Like throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

But, HOPE.

Hope keeps me going.

I have long given up hope that I am enough, but I still believe with all my heart that Christ is. He will make up for my failures, for my bad days, for my lack of abilities.

In Christ alone, my hope is found.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Motherhood isn’t a Sprint, it’s a Marathon

In life, many things are a sprint.

In school it was always a race: who could get the highest grades? Who could be the fastest athlete? Who could be the student of the year? The most popular? The most likely to succeed?

In school, one could run their course, like a sprint. If they worked hard enough, studied harder, pushed a little bit more…if they had the strength and the speed, the drive, they could be the winner. And there was always only one winner. No one remembers the girl with the second highest grades.

Getting a job can have the same drive. Who can be at the top of the pyramid? Who can be the supervisor? The manager? The Boss. The one who leads them all? Only one person can be CEO…do you have what it takes?

And then comes Motherhood. We read all the books – certainly we will be the best parent EVER. Certainly we will stick out from the rest. And we quite literally waddle up to the starting line, expecting that this race will be like all the others.

And for some of us it starts of very much the same. We have all our ducks our in a row. The house is prepared. The nursery is finished. The work schedule is cleared for a year. The baby falls into our social schedule nicely. Check.

When our baby sleeps through the night first. Our house stays cleaner than those around us, we lift our heads a little higher. Other Mom’s fall behind and we scoff, because they obviously don’t know the secret to this race. Then comes along the second baby, wait, and what?!? A third! And slowly we begin to say, “Hey this race is no longer fair!! Of course THAT lady is winning, she only has one tiny newborn, who contendedly lays strapped to her mothers chest. Of course she looks more put together. Of course her house is cleaner!”

But still, it bothers you and you try to pick up speed. To keep up to who you once were. Except the problem is that there are three little ones crying around your knees. They’re too tired. The baby is hungry and needs a diaper change. The toddler is getting blisters on their tiny feet. The four year old just want you to read them a story.

And you scream: “NOT NOW!! Can’t you see? I have a race to win!!”

Their sorrowful cries are met with impatience: “Hurry up! Get your shoes back on! We had to keep up!”

Running at this speed, that once felt normal for life, is now downright impossible. And you wonder: Where did I go wrong?

What is wrong with me?

Why can’t I keep up?

You think to yourself: “Obviously, I just need a better stroller. I’ll get the two seater. Maybe a better set of runners for the kid. Maybe an iPad for the bored one.” So you get some new gear. And start running again. And it works!! NOW we’re talking!

Looking ahead, your jaw drops. An obstacle course?!? Who put that there? Obviously your new stroller can’t go around THAT! You contemplate leaving the kids behind, after all, if someone else could run with them and take care of them for you, the kiddos could catch up to you later!

You’ll never win at this pace!

But then you see their tiny, tear streaked faces and you stop. Because something in your heart cries out: They just need YOU!

So you pick them up, now carrying two in your arms. Wow, this is hard. The four year old trips and begins to cry. And you slam to the ground, discouraged and downcast.

It’s no use. You can not win this race.

Weeping in despair you sit in the dust, but then, what happens next amazes you. The four year old crawls on to your lap and gently pats your face. Then he hands you the book he’s been begging you to read. You look at him for the first time, and his eyes shine back. And you truly look at the others. They stretch out their hands to you.

On the ground suddenly things look different and you see much further ahead. You see that the woman who was in first place has fainted and lies motionless from exhaustion. And that Mother you passed at the beginning of the race, she slowly walks up to you, now caught up, and gives you a knowing smile.

It was never a sprint, you whisper to yourself watching with pity the others who don’t yet realize this. For their children all have the same sad eyes. They have the same yearning look: Please Mom, just stop!

This wasn’t sprint. It was a marathon. And it wasn’t about being first, at all. It was about sticking together, through it all. It was about taking breaks and getting back up to go a few steps more. It was about stopping to admire the beauty around you. It was about reading that book, over and over again.

You begin to enjoy this race, this Motherhood thing, but then you look up and you see the finish line approaching. The kids are now older, and they begin to race towards it at an alarming speed. You cry out: “Wait!!! Slow down! It’s not a rush!” But all too soon they cross that finish line. Tears stream, because it took much longer than you had first pictured, but, oh, it all went by too soon.

The sweat, the pain, the frustration and exhaustion is forgotten. You smile and let them go to begin their own races. If only, you think with a sad smile, you had know this from the very beginning: Motherhood isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Don’t Forget the Good

I mentioned a few posts back that I’ve been sifting through old journal entries. A lot of the entries focus on my frustrations, my failures, my kids failures. But then there was one, a complete gem, that made me vow to start keeping track of the good as well. This entry was so touching that it had me crying and smiling all at once:

Date: Aug 16, 2012

Yesterday my children put me to shame. I heard of an orphanage being built in Ethiopia that would house abandoned babies. It is already being built in faith that the needed funds will come in. But until the house is completed they are by law unable to take in any of the babies that are left in the wilderness to die. The government has strict rules on this so they need the money desperately – lives are at stake. Innocent lives. I had already had it in my mind to give $500, which is already $200 more than we usually give every month. As I wrote out a check, my eldest son, Isaiah, asked me what it was for. I told him the story of these babies and he ran to his room to get his piggy bank. He pulls out EVERY bill, toonie and loonie, only keeping a few cents for himself. It came to $75 – his entire life savings. Then, my next child (Bella) saw this and pulled out her piggy bank and the next child (Jonas), giving over half of their own money. Together, out of their own will, they gave all the money they have been saving from their birthdays, Christmas’ and other earnings. It came to $105. And here I am sitting on a big savings account. God, bless the tender, giving hearts of my children! It will take them years to save this money again! Isaiah is only 6, Bella 4, and Jonas 3…and already they are being generous for you. I wrote out a new check to cover their balance and have it in my mind to secretly put their money into the bank for them. Thank you for kids, who continue to teach me lessons that completely amaze me.

Often I just see the things that need to be changed in my kids lives, and quite honestly, the lists of behaviours and irresponsibilities they have completely overwhelm me. But then, I read this and step back to actually see my children through the Father’s eyes. And the truth overwhelms me: In many ways they are FAR more sweet, pure, forgiving, compassionate and gentle than I am. And I am instructing them??

I shared this journal entry with them instead of devotions one morning last week, weeping and asking for forgiveness. For too often focusing on the bad. For too often overlooking the good. When they are GOOD kids. They are often sweet and unselfish, and I often feel the opposite about them because I get stuck on teaching what needs improvement, but I forget that the most important thing in a teacher is the ability to see the good in their students and call it out. In doing this, we don’t try to make our children become something they aren’t, rather they begin to see who they are and flourish into a mature version of that. When I am told I am good at something, it pushes me to try even harder, to learn even more. But when I am told I’m terrible, or a failure, it makes me want to give up and not try at all. Teaching my children, has taught me this in a very sobering way.

I think God has a sense of humour, because I see myself as their teacher, but quite often they are mine. 

A Long Cold Winter

What do you do when you’re shut inside for almost half of the year? What do you do with five kiddos who have been shut inside for months on end?

We are loosing our minds here in this household. I know I can’t be the only one out there, right?!?

I know there are many of you reading this who have no clue what I’m talking about. But let me explain: This year in Manitoba, Canada, it has been a very, very long, cold winter. I don’t remember winter to be like this, but yet…it feels familiar because at about this time every year, the reality begins to set in – winter where I live is SO long.

For those of you from warmer climates, let me give you a picture: Winter in Manitoba officially only starts at the end of December, but it snows much, much sooner. By the end of October we usually  have snow. Now, November and December are very manageable months – the first snowfall brings excitement! The children jump into their snow gear to play in the sparkling, white snow. My excitement builds too, even though I’m turning 30 this year. My favourite snowfalls are when it’s close to 0°C and the snow clumps together in big beautiful clumps which seem to fall in slow motion from the sky. And the anticipation for Christmas usually stifles out any complaints about the weather. This is the favourite time of the winter season, it makes me happy to live here, full of joy that I live in a place that has such extreme seasons. It usually cools off after it snows, but it still feels quite manageable, maybe -15°C (approximately 4°F).

But then Christmas ends. The tree is packed up and put away. The cheerful decor is taken down. Enter January. The days feel so dark, so long, yet daylight hours are short by around 5 o’clock the sun sets. Those who work longer than 8 hour shifts often drive to and from work in the dark.

And then…the cold starts setting in. The cold that just doesn’t seem to leave no matter how cozy your house, no matter how warm your bed. The temperature drops to -20°C, then to -30°C, on really bad days it hits -45°C or lower (that’s -49 in Fahrenheit). The fun of the Holidays are gone, and screen time rules get stretched just a little bit longer.

By the time February hits, the children have completely lost their minds! They take longer to get dressed for the North Pole, then they actually stay out playing. Even after 15-20 minutes the youngest comes in with frost bitten cheeks. But winter isn’t over yet and I remind myself it will be another month before the days begin to warm and another two or three months until the snow completely melts.

Sigh.

Ok, this calls for some creativity. Let me think…The kids are tired of their books (they’ve been reading a chapter book a day for the last two weeks.) The activity books have all been filled up (except for the colouring pages, because what boy really wants to color?) The puzzles have been done. We’ve used our screen time and then some.

Well, what now? I need to think of something before someone loses an eye over here!

Ah, then I begin to have ideas, they’re messy, but they might just do the trick! Bring out the paper, the glue and the crafting supplies. Bring out the newspaper and globs of paint. It’s time to have a contest. It’s time to become world famous artists who are designing their own art gallery. Paintings, sculptures, artwork of all kind is welcomed…

“No, Emerson, you may not paint the kitty.”

He glues candy to a paper, but not before sneaking as many as he can into his cheeks before I stop him. Why not? We need the extra fat out here in this climate. Everyone works cheerfully side by side for the rest of the afternoon.

I was really having a bad day – but looking around this room of sticky hands and happy faces, my home, here in Snowy Manitoba, feels a little bit warmer.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It’s Not Ok

Some days can be exhausting as a mother, believe me, I have five kids – I KNOW. And while many times I enjoy the energy and giggles (…ok more like shrieks and screams) in my house, sometimes it just WEARS on you. I know. I sometimes just want to sit in my room in silence and lock all the doors. I GET IT.

But the other day I had a conversation that literally caused me to choke back tears, not because I didn’t relate in some form to the mother, but because I realized at that moment how horribly mean us mothers can be.

Yesterday I was talking to another mom about how her Christmas Break had gone –  and I kid you not, she gave an exaggerated sigh, rolled her eyes and said in a loud voice, “My kids are driving me CRAZY!! They are SO annoying! I just can’t wait until I can give them back to the school to deal with! Like I love them, but I need them gone!”

Stunned at her boldness, I quietly managed out the words, “Oh, that’s too bad.” And looking at my shocked expression, she softened her tone and gave me a smile, “Oh it’s not THAT bad, but it will be nice to have them gone so I can sit in peace again.” And I nodded, regaining my composure and smiled back, “I understand.”

Truthfully though, that conversation has haunted me all day. It broke my heart. Because one thought plagues me…what if her child had overheard her?

What if any child had overheard her?

I can’t imagine the pain of overhearing my own mother say that about me. Luckliy, I grew up in a much different time, where mothers simply didn’t say such things about their children.

Now, that same day, my six-year-old son came back from his Sunday school class with a picture in his hand. On the paper he held there was a question: “What makes you happy?”

His response? “Mom and Dad”

The contrast of those two moments are forever burnt in my memory.

Mothers, it’s okay to have hard days. It’s okay to break down in tears. It’s okay to need space. It’s okay to leave the room. I TOTALLY understand.

But you know what’s not okay? Saying hurtful things about your child. PeriodEven if you’re joking around.

It is OUR JOB to pour out unconditional love on our undeserving littles, not the other way around. But more and more I see the roles being reversed and children loving their parents unconditionally, while their whiny parents complain about having to put up with them.

This is not okay.

I’m so far from perfect, it makes me want to cry. Often I have to go back to my kids and apologize for hurtful and careless things I’ve said…again and again and AGAIN.

But more and more our culture is getting callous to these mean hearted “authentic outbursts.”

Let’s not become callous to them. Let’s not find them funny. Please, let’s just not go there. Because under each tiny child is a soft, tender heart – yearning to be loved by YOU.

So watch your words carefully, Moms, for the sake of your little one who – when asked what makes them happy, responds ever so sweetly: “My mom.”

Worth My Time

For as long as I can remember, writing has just been something I do. It’s like I wake up in the morning and have something to say…sometimes I don’t even know what it is yet. But I know it’s in there, and it’s important. Sometimes it’s a certain topic, other times it’s a feeling…. a deep almost inexpressible feeling.

It’s like a challenge awaits me. The challenge is to share that feeling, to put it into the right words so that others can feel it too.  For some, a challenge like that seems overwhelming. For me, it brings about a sense of relief, as if finally others can understand another piece of what is in my heart, another thought that makes me who I am.  This is why I’m unconcerned with whether or not people agree with me, because I know that one of the things that makes me, me, are my individual thoughts.

My thoughts today?

I like being alone. A lot.

The silly part though, is that I also like being with people a lot. This results in a funny little thing, for what brings me the most stress, in the end also brings me the most joy. I’m like an introverted-extrovert. If that’s even a thing.

Maybe you are one who understands this, but for those who don’t know the feeling, let me give you a little bit of an example:

Picture this…I’m reading in my room and I do not want to be disturbed by anyone…but what do you know, my child comes in, begging to play with me. Reluctantly, (and somewhat begrudgingly) I put down the book and I follow the child out of the room. To my surprise and delight, my child has planned something great and out of the ordinary for me.

A Game. But not just any game, something so sweet… a made up game! He thought it up for me. Just for me!

My heart warms.

I follow the arrows he made…first down the hall, then up the stairs, around corners, into rooms, through the bathroom and finally into my walk-through closet. I stop at the door that is labelled in my son’s messy, grade 3 writing. It says, “Open to find yor surpize”…. I slowly open, curious as to what the great surprise may be. Out jumps my shining faced boy, “Surprise!!!” I jump too, for he scared me, and we giggle together.

The thing that I really did not want to do, suddenly becomes something so much better than reading a book.

What if I had said no?

What if I would’ve told him that I was too tired for his game? Oh, my heart breaks at the very thought!!

And I realize, everything that’s worth anything seems to go this way. Like having a large family over for a meal. It’s work hosting a big group! But the hours spent in the presence of friends is priceless.

I remember, as a teen, sometimes spending an entire day watching TV. At the end of the day, you just don’t feel good, you don’t feel rested.

You feel gross.

Not necessarily guilty gross, but just physically, it doesn’t feel good. Why is that? I mean, it’s kinda like rest… and rest is good, so therefore I should feel better afterwards. Right?!?

But I never did.

Right now, I see a generation of people who are largely unhappy. I see multitudes of those who sit on their phones, spending many hours doing whatever they want. I see people rushing through the lines of the drive-through’s, getting what they want, when they want it. I see grown up “children” living in their parents basements, spending hours playing video games or sitting on Facebook, doing whatever they want to do…never stopping to reach for the next thing that will entertain, that will temporarily satisfy their craving for self, for fun, for happiness.

But if we have everything, then why aren’t we happy? How come, in a generation where we have so much, are depression and sadness so common? If all our friends are just a text message away, then why is our generation so lonely?

Lately, there’s one question I’ve been asking myself a lot. I ask myself this question every time I’m about to add another thing to my list of things to do and the question is this: Is this worth my time?

On the heels of that question come harder questions to wrestle with…just what do I want to accomplish in my life? What am I going to add to my life that is going to fulfill a greater purpose?

Sometimes, in the busy seasons of life, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important. Especially this Christmas, I’ve felt the tug of this. For every group and activity we’re a part of, it seems like there’s another Christmas party to go to. And sometimes it’s great! But often I come home grumpy and exhausted. And I feel stuck.

Did you know that it is possible to just say no sometimes? Yeah, really! Who knew?!? I don’t have to go to every single party! 

It just so hard to say no to things though, isn’t it? Because what if I’m missing out on something really good?

But it’s so, SO good for us. We can’t do everything and we can’t give everything. This doesn’t mean that we should say no to everything, but if one day you wake up, like me, and realize that in the next 10 days you don’t even have one single evening or day at home to yourself, then something has to change.

This Christmas season, as you reflect on your past year, ask yourself: Was I too busy? Was I selfish with my time? Did my schedule look too chaotic? Am I complaining about the things I’m doing instead of enjoying them? Am I making time for the most important people in my life? And as you ponder these questions, seek God on what HE wants you to spend your time on for the year ahead.

For some of us, we don’t need to change our schedules, we just need to change our attitudes. Sometimes, like my son’s big surprise, those things we don’t feel like doing are actually exactly what we need to be doing. On the flip side, if we are just dragging ourselves to event after event, completely worn down…maybe it’s time to ask God, “Is this something you want me to continue with in my life? Is it worth my time?” 

Then, don’t just listen, ACT.

 

I Just Don’t Have Time!!!

I miss summer today.

Not because of the weather or the season, for I LOVE fall, it’s my favourite season! But today I miss summer because it’s my slow season. All of the other seasons are filled with busy days packed full of events and activities from morning until night, but not summer.

I know that many do not feel as I do, as summers are full for some people: full of holidays, of travel, of camping, and other planned activities…

However, for a homeschooling mom who does very little travelling, summers are like taking a long, deep breath. In summer I move slower. My mornings are relatively quieter and unhurried. My “to do” lists are also shorter and with my mornings free, there is actually a possibility that I may complete them! There are free days too…days to go to the park, play with the children, and enjoy the warmth of the sun.

But come fall, my time is gone.

Homeschool begins, and in comes CHAOS!! There’s always some work for me to do or some place for me to be. My outdoor time is limited to frantically picking the last of the tomatoes before the frost hits, gathering fallen branches and debris thrown about by the wind, picking up jackets and toys left lying around the yard and other work-like activities.

Gone are the heartwarming childhood memories of fall… of raking leaves and jumping in piles, I don’t have time for THAT when there’s canning to do, school to finish and cleaning to attempt to catch up on.

But…Autumn! Autumn with its stunning beauty is still there. The freshly fallen leaves carry the same sweet smell. The air holds the same crisp, coolness. The harvest moon is just as big and golden as always, but the beauty of the colours around me are noticed in short glimpses, always with a hint of sadness in my heart: I wish that I could just enjoy these days.

 

Today I read a poem called “October” by my favourite poet, Robert Frost, and my eyes filled with tears, because for me, it captured the very essence of this beauty slipping away:
October.jpg
“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Slow the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!”
(This isn’t the full poem)
I don’t know what it is about poetry that speaks to me so deeply, but it just does. I am the type that can hardly get through a fast paced novel without skipping pages, because I get impatient to get to the “good parts”.
Poetry, on the other hand, causes me to slow down. I soak in every word, so I won’t miss the meaning of the poem. Rushing through poetry is as pointless as running through an art museum, you miss the significance of the beauty around you.
And then it hits me: Rushing through life is as pointless as rushing through poetry. The meaning is completely lost when we speed through the days.
Maybe this is why we look back on childhood with such fondness, because children just move at a slower pace than us adults. The meaning of life for my children is NOT getting school work done and…they obviously DON’T rush through it! They take their time in everything they do. Whether the job is to sort laundry, clean up the toys or to rake leaves, it seems as if I always have to get them back on task as they always seem to want to stop the work to have their fun…like when it’s time to clean up lego: suddenly they build an entire city with the pieces!!! Not very efficient, but definitely more fun than putting it into bins.
But for me, stopping to just have fun does not come so naturally anymore. I’m completely burdened by the tasks of the day and I forget that the meaning of my existence has nothing to do with having a clean house. Life will not come crashing down if my tomatoes freeze, or if I decide to not can any more pasta sauce. The meaning of life is not for my kids to be the perfect piano player, or the best readers, or the neatest writer. If I forget to bring the garbage out on time and I miss the garbage truck, if I’m late for my meeting and get annoyed stares as I enter the room, life goes on!! Very little has changed other then my stress levels and my attitude about life.
Work. Money. Careers. School. Success. The world acts as if these things are the meaning of life. But in reality, they do little else than to fill our short slot of time here on earth.
So what then? If meaning isn’t found in these things, then is everything we do a waste?
Only if we make it a waste.
Only if we speed through each of our daily tasks, without ever pausing to find the purpose in them.
Honestly, I don’t have time to write this. I don’t need to write this. I have a hundred other things that would be more useful to me right now. But I am writing anyways. Because it’s in doing things that we don’t have time for, when we realize what is important in life. Don’t know what I mean? Think of this:
I don’t really have time to snuggle my children each morning, but when they come to me, I stop, sit down and hold them in my arms. In stopping my busy activities for the morning, my children know and realize they are precious. They are important. They matter. So I can view it as a waste of time, because it’s not on my “list” or I can stop and realize that they are more important than the list.
I don’t have lots of  time to go out with friends or fit in coffee dates. And taking time to meet new people, this definitely isn’t on my “to do” list…these things MAKE work. They don’t accomplish a task, building relationships takes time, lots of time. But communication and strong friendships are signs of an emotionally healthy person. Why? Because these things have MEANING.
You know what I REALLY don’t have time for? Disciplining my children.
Because BELIEVE me, THAT is NEVER on my list of things to do. Rather, it usually interrupts my lists…which results in me yelling, or putting them in a corner, or, if I’m very exhausted, giving in.
But you know what brings meaning to discipline? When it becomes more than just trying to get correct behaviour. When bad behaviour simply becomes a tool for measuring how your child is doing and discipline becomes rather an opportunity to meet the needs and form the character of the child. It’s only when I stop just dealing with bad behaviour and begin seeing the need behind the ugly actions, where I find meaning to what discipline is all about.
How about time for devotions?
This is a difficult one for many of us! Especially in my earlier days of parenting, when a good nights sleep was getting 3 hours in a row. When my children woke up before I did. When naps were necessary for survival!!! Certainly I was exempt from this one! I didn’t even have time to shower most days!!!
A few years ago, during a conference, God got a hold of my heart in this area. I began to spend an hour or more a day in his presence. The result changed me completely. Before this, five minutes a day was my goal. Because devotions, like so many other things in my life at that time, was just another item on my checklist.
Now, I always cringe inwardly when I read devotional titles like: “Five minutes with God…for Busy Moms”. Not that there’s anything wrong with spending five minutes reading a cute devotional, it’s rather the thought behind it that bothers me.
Was Christianity meant to be a five minute time slot on our to do lists? Really? When you read the Bible, is that the feeling you get from Jesus’ disciples? Or the apostle Paul? Or King David who wrote Psalm 63:1-6:

“You God are my God, earnestly I seek you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”

These verses tell us that our walk with God was meant to be something more! Our time with God was never meant to be something shoved into a five minute slot in our day! In the Bible, NOWHERE does it talk about carving in a chunk of time for God.
Ever.
Rather, it’s his very presence that continually fills us and gives us meaning, moment by moment, day by day, for life!
It’s only in doing those things that we feel like we don’t have time for, that we realize what is important in life.
I don’t have this all figured out.
My days right now are crazy and full and hectic. Sometimes my times with God are cut short by children that need me, sometimes they feel dry because I’m distracted by everything around me. Sometimes my lists just get in the way of me being able to stop and find the enjoyment in the little things. Sometimes the clock is my enemy. Sometimes my own plans are my enemy. Sometimes the way I think things need to be done is actually just making things miserable for me and everybody else around me!
But today, I’m choosing to remember what matters, because allowing myself time to relax brings meaning to life.
Spontaneous field trips that have little educational value?!? Yes please!!
Random coffee dates?? Bring it on!
Skip another school event to soak in God’s presence? Definitely.
Paper plates and fast food? Sure, why not!
Breathing in the last few nice days of fall? Absolutely.
And if it means smashing the clock and ripping up the “lists” so be it! Life is far too short to let another beautiful autumn day pass me by.