Welcome to Day 14 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.
Today’s Parenting Pointer
A Healthy Balance
Running on Empty – It’s the theme of our modern society. We take on soccer for one child, ballet for another and little league for the other and then we have church, AWANA, Small Group and Bible Study (all good, but activities and commitments nonetheless). Then we volunteer for ministry opportunities, go to the gym, and take on leadership roles in one or more of the kids’ activities. We end up with barely a meal eaten together as a family in the hub-bub of all the “goodness” we have taken into our lives in the name of enrichment.
I’m not going to preach that we cut everything out and implode. What I will suggest is that we step back and ask ourselves the needfulness of each activity and whether it is adding to or draining from the overall connection and health of our family. Maybe it will be good to step back from certain commitments for a season. It is helpful to get an overall view of what your family feels is important and even to cast a vision/mission statement through which you can sort out your “yes” and “no” answers. Not all good things are good for YOU. As Paul said, “All things are permissible to me, but not all things are profitable.”
I’ve gotten a hold of a few books which have helped me immensely in the process of learning to cut back, prioritize, organize and slow down. One is a Bible Study put out by Discipleship Journal called “Beating Busyness.” This little study is short and practical as it takes a look at how Jesus managed His time and what we can do to manage ours.
The next is a book written by Tsh Oxenrider called, “Organized Simplicity.” Tsh blogs at Art of Simple and her book takes you through the process of asking yourself questions about what is important to you as a family and then asks about each member of the family – how they were formed and what is important to cultivate in them. She helps you purge and organize. I go back to this book again and again. I’m ready to go back to it again this year.
FindingSpiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray is a memoir of Bonnie’s experience of going from a highly-productive achiever to a woman who was taken by surprise by panic attacks as a part of what she later learned was PTSD from childhood abuse. She goes through sharing her own healing journey and through the pages she leads us to learn what God’s call to rest is really like and how to respond to this call. Bonnie is gentle, wise and insightful and she has a heart to help us all find rest and make room for intimacy with God and our own soul care.
I’m just getting into the book, “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst. It is amazing. To be honest, I had read the title when it came out and thought, “Oh, yeah, that’s good, I need to choose my yes answers well.” Then a dear friend called me and asked if she could read me a chapter one day. I was driving to LA and she spent ten or fifteen minutes reading to me. I was so blessed and immediately ordered the book for myself and got busy recommending it to others.
I encourage you to get one or more of these books on CD if you can’t sit and read. I know it isn’t always time to sit with an actual book – especially when you are living a life overflowing with engagements and need these books more than ever. The irony is that when I have shared these books with friends who would be most blessed by them, the answers I have often gotten are, “I don’t have time to read right now!” If that’s your answer, I get it. I also have to remind you that nothing will change until something changes. These books are great tools for making that change.
I encourage you think through your commitments – your own and your family’s – and consider which are life-giving and which are actually taking more than they give in this season of family life. We are limited people with limited resources and time. When we live within our own boundaries we experience blessings and peace. When we consistently overextend ourselves we will pay the price and feel drained as a result. Believe me I know it can be hard to say “no” and step back from some things. As you do, you will find fresh air and more time to truly pursue what is best for you and your family.
He Cares for You
The other day I was talking to a mom about the emotional weight she carries worrying about her children’s futures and feeling the load of making sure she does her best for each one. She described herself as “weighed down” and I could so relate to her emotions and thoughts as we sat together.
The amount of love we feel for our children can cause us to feel we love them most – more than anyone else on earth could love them, more than even God loves them. We all can give a head nod to the fact that God loves our children. We can say, “They are on loan to me because they are His,” but in our deepest hearts we truly wonder or we are convinced the burden of their well-being lies in our hands. We know, “God has a plan for each of them,” yet we feel somehow that we have to get a hold of that blueprint and oversee the execution of the plan or else. This creates immense burdens which are not from God. Anxiety over our children is the source of mommy burn-out. It robs us of the very energy we need to mother well.
Peter gives us a sweet reminder, “Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you.” All. All your cares. This laundry load of what lays you down, what keeps you awake, what makes you sag – cast it on Him. I love that Peter, the fisherman, tells us to cast. This casting is a throwing far into an unknown place, yet knowing there will be a catch when we do. We can cast our lot on Jesus and know that as He provided nets fuller than Peter could bring back to shore He will provide answers to our cares bigger than we can imagine. And we aren’t to just cast the “big concerns” and work out those little kinks on our own. He wants the whole enchilada.
Cast ALL your cares on Him – for He cares for you.
He cares. You aren’t casting your cares to someone who is disinterested. Jesus cares. He cares for you. What an intimate promise in the midst of a sweet invitation!
So today, as you mother, can you write down those cares? Can you keep a little notepad like the one you jot your grocery list on and just put those cares on paper? And then, as Eugene Peterson says, “turn your sighs into prayers.” Every time a burden comes to mind and threatens to make your yoke hard and your burden heavy, scribble it on your “Casting Cares” notepad and lift it up. Cast it heavenward and know you are sending it to far abler hands – hands that care for you and your children.
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.
photo of fishermen with nets courtesy of flikr.com; photos of books courtesy of Amazon.com; photo of “How I Roll” courtesy of Zazzle.com