Parenting Spiritual Growth

Day 9 – Coming Up for Air … I Shall Not Want


Welcome  to Day 9 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers. 
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom.  Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him.  Sit with God in this moment.  Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.  
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Today’s Parenting Pointer
Coming Up for Air
Pouring out into the lives of your children, your husband, your friends and others can take almost all you have to give.  You may wake up with a little pair of eyes peeking over the edge of the bed announcing something important like, “Mom, I need more crayons.  And, Mom, Buffy is eating my cereal I spilled in the kitchen.”  As precious as your children are, your feet haven’t even hit the floor and your day of mothering has already begun.  
Depending on the ages of your children, your everyday life consists of getting them meals, putting bandaids on boo-boos, loading up strollers, feeding, wiping, cleaning, instructing and playing more games of Jr. Monopoly and Trouble than you can count.  Then your husband comes home from work and you cook supper, serve it up, get the kids to bed and fall flat on your back. 
Life may seem mundane and sometimes draining beyond words.  We don’t always see the fruit of what we are pouring into our children.  Instead we can feel frazzled and wonder when we will be able to come up for air.  
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life – from watching people in ministry fall and from experiencing my own falling apart at times – is that our inner life must always be larger than our outer.  What I mean by that is we need to have a reserve from which we pour out.  If we don’t have filling, we are pouring out from emptiness.  As the stewardess always says before the flight takes off, “Put on your own mask first so you will be able to help those around you.”   

There will always be plenty of needy people – as Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you” – and if you raise your hand to help on every occasion without being sure to refresh yourself before and after, you will burn out.  We don’t need to talk about the ugly side of burn out – if you and your family have lived through the “Mamma ain’t happy” moments you know.  
It is important to fill.  We are filled to pour.  We aren’t filled only for our own blessing and comfort.  As God told Abraham, “You are blessed to be a blessing.”  But, just try to be a blessing without being blessed.  Then you are doing what Jesus warned against, “Without Me you can do nothing (of value).”  
How do you fill your tank?  How do you come up for air?  If you don’t know, it’s time to try some things on for size.  A lot depends on how you are wired.  If you are introverted, you may need some time alone.  If you are extroverted, you may need coffee with a friend or a long talk on the phone with someone who means the world to you.  If you have a passion like painting or gardening or reading, it may mean getting some time enjoying the very thing you love.  All of us need connection with God and that usually doesn’t come on the fly.  We need to make time to be with God – to linger in His presence, not worrying about performing, just enjoying Him, confiding and abiding.  Don’t give up trying to find what gives you the refreshment you need.  
Before you go worrying if this is sheer selfish indulgence, know that Jesus Himself took time alone with the Father.  He spent time having supper with friends.  He filled His tank – filled to pour out.  
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Be Refreshed
I Shall Not Want
This past year I had the blessing to study through Psalm 23 with a dear friend.  First of all, I have to tell you how we came to study this Psalm that could be overlooked for its familiarity.  We had been discussing the challenges of getting to a formal Bible Study since we both home educate and have young children at home with us all day, every day.  Our husbands participate in the same ministry one night a week.  I’m a big fan of the every-other-week plan.  It helps not to have to do anything “every Monday” or whatever the day.  So, we came up with a plan to meet every other week for Bible Study together on the nights our husbands were out.  The kids could play or watch a movie and we could sit and fill our hearts with God’s Word and mutual encouragement.  
We had a plan, now we needed to determine what we were going to study.  One Sunday I was at church and a friend walked up to me and gave me a present.  It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas.  This was an out-of-the-blue gift – so it seemed.  She said, “I don’t know if you have this book, but it was my favorite last year.  The book was A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.  That afternoon I was checking my email and my friend with whom I planned to do Bible Study had sent a “thought” … “What if we study this book I’ve had for a while called {you guessed it} A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23?”   

God speaks.  Don’t ever think He doesn’t.  I’ve had plenty of seasons where His voice was the still small one and I was in need of hearing aids.  But don’t be deceived, He speaks and He moves.  Shortly after this “coincidence” of choosing our book, my friend found a totally unrelated study guide by Juanita Ryan called The 23rd Psalm: The Lord, Our Shepherd Between these two beautiful books, we were immersed in reminders of the sweetness and power and provision of God for almost a year.  I plan to share some of what I gleaned from this study with you over the next few days.  

We all know how the 23rd Psalm starts:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
How much do we feel we “want”?  In this verse it really means to have want – to lack in something you need.  Because God is our Good Shepherd, we will not lack any good thing.  Hearing this you may want to pull me aside, throw cold water in my face and remind me of all the times you have experienced “lack” in this life.  What about all the people around the world who lack food or clothing or adequate shelter?  What about the people who lack safety or inner peace?  What about the lack you feel in certain areas of your life?  Yet we have this bold promise that because God is our Shepherd we will not want.  
I think of my own children.  Sometimes they really think they know what they need.  They may take issue with me if I deny it, but my eye is usually on a bigger picture and a longer-term gain for them.  When I am truly thinking of their best interest, they may feel like they lack because they are experiencing a “no” answer to something that means the world to them.   I would do anything for my children.  Really.  I’ve never loved as fiercely as when I became a mother.  I love my husband up to the moon.  I love my friends with devotion.  But, when it comes down to it, there is something about the quality of mother-love.  Yet, I have to deprive them of things they think are best because I know better.  

God wants your ultimate good – your eternal good.  That doesn’t mean He won’t lavish you with good things on this earth.  He often does.  At times, though, He has to allow us to feel lack so that He can draw out the more important and deeper blessing He is after.  
The Lord is your shepherd.  You will not want.  If you can, throughout this day, ponder those words.  Tell yourself the truth behind them – that God is for you and not against you and that He loves you and laid down His life for you.  If He has done the greater, won’t He surely do the lesser?  I pray you find comfort in His promise of loving provision as you look beyond your circumstances to your Good Shepherd.  
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery.  If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here.  Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher.  And, as always, I do love hearing from you.  Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you.  
Air Mask photo courtesy of Dvorak.org
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