Archives

Not Our Home

Phil 3-20.001This week I was reminded how very much this world is not our home. I was asked to pray for marriages that are struggling and breaking down. A friend was rushed to the hospital because of a chronic illness. We learned that the son of family friends shot himself and the prognosis is not good. And on a less significant, though more personal level, I struggled with the realization that our oldest daughter is old enough to know a kid who shot himself. (WARNING – This is not the time or place to start a debate about guns. Doing so will see comments deleted.)

It sounds so cliché, but he’s a good kid from a good family. My oldest did not know him well, but did know him. This is, thankfully, her first experience with something like this, but I am saddened because I know it won’t be her last.

So in the midst of all this pain, all this sadness, what are we to do? The temptation is to ask why but I believe I already know the answer. Broken. This world is broken. Broken by the weight of evil. Broken by our own sin. Just broken. And I am burdened with prayer for those who are experiencing more of the broken now than they were a week, a day, even an hour ago.

So how do we go on? How do we keep walking in this our brokenness? Hope. Not that by some magical happening things will “get better,” but in the hope given to us through Jesus, our Savior. Romans 8:24 tells us that our hope is not in the know things of this world but in what we don’t currently see. Our hope is not that the world will get it right, but that our God got it right and offers us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). With that hope we can move forward. We can go on. We can reach out to our broken world and tell them about the hope of Messiah, Jesus Christ.

If you would like more information about a relationship with Jesus, please click here.

So hug your kids a little more today. Have a little more grace for those around you. Take the time to call that friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Reach out to that coworker who seems to always be alone. Yes, the world is broken, but Jesus, who was broken for the world, offers us hope in the midst of the broken.

Advertisements

Back to School?

College word artNot the kids this time! Right now, my husband is pursuing his Master’s degree in an accelerated program that will have him graduating in May, just 12 months after starting. I’m not sure why, but I thought this would also be the perfect time for me to go back to school too. Maybe I was jealous that everyone else was in school? So now all 5 of us are in school. And it is crazy. Plus our ministry has ramped up and we are counseling two couples each week while still leading or hosting 3 small groups and leading a group of small group leaders. Oh, and then there’s our regular activities at church…praise team and the Connections ministry where we are leaders. Plus the kids activities. I’m tired just writing it all out!

I don’t tell you this so that you feel sorry for me. We have made these choices with prayer and purpose. But it is a crazy time at our house. How are we doing it? ORGANIZATION! This season of busyness has brought to light the need for organization beyond menu planning and clean closets. Here are some tips we have learned:

1. Shared calendars. 4/5 of us (the 6 year old is excluded at this point!) have smartphones and we sync calendars. Every family member has their own calendar (color-coded of course) and we have calendars for special groups. For example, there is a wife calendar, a husband calendar, and a couple calendar. Anything that is for us both goes into the couple calendar. The kids all have their own calendars and there is one for activities that involve all three kids. Then there is a calendar that deals with all-family things. Each person has all the calendars that affect them syncing to their phone (and for us it goes to the computer and iPad too). This way everyone knows what is going on, where we need to be and when. We use the notes section to include instructions such as what to wear and if they need to bring something like a book to occupy time or sports gear for the next activity. We parents see all the calendars so we know exactly what is happening in the family schedule. This helps keep us all moving in the same direction as a team.

2. Boundaries. Now more than ever we are also saying no. No to things that take our focus away from our primary mission. No to people who suck the life out of us. No to requests from others when it is our family time. No to good things that just are God things for us.

3. Scheduled family time. We have scheduled Mondays as non-negotiable family night. Everyone is expected to have work and school finished by dinner time on Mondays so that we can eat together and then play together. Whether swimming at the base pool or playing cards or Wii games, we spend time as a family uninterrupted. We don’t answer calls or texts. We just enjoy each other. This recharges us for the crazy week ahead.

4. School schedules – for the parents! Since my husband and I are both in school too we keep detailed plans of each class. Required online meetings go in the calendars. Before a class starts we make a detailed plan of each week’s assignments and schedule each part of larger projects. This keeps us from rushing around at the end of the semester.

5. Staying connected. Not just with each other, but with outside people too. The tendency for many when things get busy is to stop church activities like LifeGroups and service areas. We have found that when we withdraw from fellowship and service with other believers, everything else suffers. So we plan our time, use it wisely, but we stay involved.

The only way to be successful is to put in the hard work. That means doing the organization and planning that will help keep our family focused during this season of life. I am looking forward to Jonathan’s graduation in May. Then we get three months of calm before he starts on his Master’s of Arts in Religion and Doctorate!

Juggling It All

daily choresDo you ever feel like the woman in the cartoon? I certainly do, often on a daily basis!

The one question I get asked most often is “How do you do it?” At the heart of this question isn’t really the need for information about how I do something, but the idea of comparing what someone sees as my “perfect” way to their way that looks chaotic, messy, or out-of-control to them.  Comparing yourself, your family, your style to anyone else’s is immediately setting yourself up for failure because you are not them and because what they present to you on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc is only the perfect-looking version of their life that they have decided to release to the public.

Let me start by saying nothing I suggest works perfectly, even in my house. There are days when assignments don’t get finished, chores are left half-complete, people yell, toys get left out, and on and on…

The first key to juggling it all, holding it all together, is to realize I cannot hold it all together. “There but for the grace of God, go I” rings true in our home. If we didn’t base our lives of fundamental guiding Biblical principles and a relationship with Jesus, everything would absolutely fall apart into total chaos and confusion, and even with that it still does some days! But even with these basic principles guiding our family, we still mess up. Systems in place to help us still fail because we are human, and at our core we are imperfect.

The second key to juggling it all is to recognize that your family, your personality, your season of life, is different from anyone else’s. You cannot copy exactly what another family does. Even if you did everything exactly as I have posted, your results will be different from any other person’s because you and your family are unique. Whether chores or homeschooling, finances or cooking, you must pick and choose what works for your family and throw out the rest. Try my suggestions. If they work, great! If they don’t, try something else. If you have found something that works well, share your ideas with the rest of us. The idea is not for you to follow everything I say to do, but for us to work together to come up with ideas that we can all use to help manage our families.

As wives and moms, we are all over-worked, under-paid, and often under-appreciated. Part of that goes with the job, but part of that we bring on ourselves by comparing our worst to the social-media best image of our peers.

Enjoy the Moment

DSCN4316As I look at my Facebook feed I see most of my friends are complaining about more snow, or their husbands and kids, or some other thing life has thrown at them. Trust me, we are not without the problems of life. We have been through unemployment, financial trouble, marriage problems, sick kids, bad weather, broken belongings, moves, seasons of upheaval, and such. And I too have been guilty at times of airing that all out on social media. But as much as these things happen to us all, instead of posting our problems for everyone to see, what if we really did learn Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13)? If Paul could find contentment chained in jail, surely I can find it even in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life.

Today we have a fresh breeze blowing through the open windows and 3 loads of laundry line drying outside (well, in our 3-season room anyway) and it is 65°F. Yes, I know it will get colder tonight and they have even thrown around the dreaded “s’ word here, but I will enjoy the warm and sun. I will rejoice that we have a home and a washing machine (thanks to a very generous friend). I will be thankful that we have laundry to hang and fold, because that means we have clothes in abundance to wear.  I will be still and quiet, knowing that in the noise and chaos that surround me  children are learning and growing. And tomorrow, I will embrace the cold, the sleet, and snow. I will be thankful that I have heat and a cozy house. I will appreciate the fact that I have sweaters to wear and fuzzy slippers too (thanks Mom & Dad for the warm Christmas gift!). And if it is cold when I go out I will be thankful that I feel it because that means I am ALIVE!

Without all these things that “get in our way” what would our life be anyway? Mine would be pretty dull and boring. There would be fewer funny stories and less laughter for sure (who else but us has a story about a kid getting bit by a donkey while performing in a living nativity?)! But the secret to contentment really is to learn to be thankful, GRATEFUL, in all situations.