Enough With the Leftovers

It’s 12:30am and I can’t sleep.  Being over 7 months pregnant has a tendency to create such a situation, and I’m hoping to soon get some much needed rest.

But since I’m awake, my mind is going.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my day today.  It was long.  I was tired.  And honestly, my patience was running a little low.  Being a stay at home mom definitely has challenges of its own.  I wasn’t motivated to do much today and just wanted some personal time, some time to rest.

How many of you have experienced days like this?  Maybe you spent the day working hard, putting your best foot forward, giving your all at work, and really working to be a leader in your workplace.  Traffic makes for a long commute home and all you want to do is crash on the couch and tune out.  Yet, as soon as you walk through the door your children need help with homework or want to play, your wife or husband has asked for some assistance, and you think to yourself, “don’t they understand how hard I worked all day?”  And you retreat and tune them out, or show an attitude of disapproval as you unwillingly give them your time.

Your family gets your leftovers…what you believe is left to give, which isn’t much.  And each day continues just like the previous.  Your family gets the leftovers.

I won’t lie, pregnancy has definitely made me more sentimental, but honestly, for a while now I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of Family.  It’s so easy to see family as something you are just a part of rather than your greatest investment.  Your involvement is needed and is important.

Being a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, is more than a title or a role…it’s a great responsibility.

Though I know I’m not perfect and I struggle some days with my attitude, with my patience, with my motivation, with my own selfishness, I must remember that my family deserves my best effort, my time, my love, what I have to give.  I want my husband to see my effort to create a loving, respectful, comfortable home for him.  I want him to know that I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming, honored to be his wife, and help to encourage him and lift him up.  I want my children to know that they are loved, cared for, safe, encouraged, priceless, and worth my time.  I want to be a part of helping them grow into the man and woman they are created to be.  I want to be an example for them, not one of perfection, but one who is honest, learns, forgives, loves, gives grace and understanding, and helps guide them.  I don’t want my family to have the leftovers of the day, my leftovers, but rather have the best of me, knowing that I am an important part of my family for a reason, with a purpose.

mom

Don’t Read This…

For those of you who just can’t help yourself, I assume you are reading this blog post from your computer, phone, tablet, or some sort of electronic device.  And I challenge you to stop.

I challenge you to turn it off just for a moment and look around, take advantage of this free moment to see something you haven’t seen, to do something you haven’t “had time” to do.

intention

For those of you who just have to keep reading, I completely understand.

I know we have all have seen those powerful ads about how our electronic devices, that are marketed to help us connect more, are in actuality disconnecting us.  I looked around the other day as my family had the evening together.  My husband was on his computer, I sat there playing Mahjong on my phone, and Gabriel was playing on his play mat with his toys.  Sure we were in the same room, but we were disconnected from each other.  We might as well have been in separate parts of the house.  It was quite sad, to be honest.  So my husband and I had a conversation about not using our electronic devices after a certain time in the evenings (unless necessary) to really invest in each other and our kids, our family.  You see, we really don’t get that time back.

disconnecting technology

So what if instead of googling articles on how to better communicate with our spouses, we put the phone down and actually communicate with our spouses?  What if instead of reading online forums about how to raise our children, we get off the computers and invest in our children, spend time with them, teach them, love them?  What if instead of liking “feel good” stories on Facebook, we went out and created our own stories?  What if instead of writing posts about social injustice issues, we log off and find a local nonprofit that addresses these issues we feel so passionate about, give our time, and help serve the cause?  What if instead of pinning ideas and wishes to electronic pin boards, we take that time and actually be intentional about trying the creative ideas and recipes we like or going to see and experience the different cultures of the world on our “bucket list pin board”?  What if we used our time intentionally, actively, and actually live and connect with others?

Don’t get me wrong…I’m definitely not against electronics.  I’m thankful for Skype that allows me to talk to family, and thankful for email that allows me to reach out to someone I can’t call or visit.  I am thankful for the resources we have at hand, when those resources don’t become a curtain to hide or cut us off from Life.  We have all said at one point or another…”I just don’t have time”…or “someday”…but that moment is now!

Someday

So turn off that device, open your eyes to those around you, experience the world around you, and remember that Life Lived with others, is really Living.

Whose Approval Am I Seeking?

Thankful

I sit here as my little boy takes a nap next to me.  It’s been a fun morning of playing and having Gabriel follow me around as I prepare food and do dishes.  And now it’s quiet.  I figure I have a good 30 minutes, maybe an hour if I’m lucky, to reflect and share something that has been on my heart.

You see, I had this dream, this plan, this idea of how life would look.  My family spent over a year preparing to move to Colombia to be long term missionaries.  I dreamt of how I would easily manage to be a mom to our 6 month old at the time, balance that with a children’s ministry, blog regularly, and yet still have dinner ready every night.  In my mind it all seemed so easy.

And how does that look now?  Well, I’m blogging for the first time in 6 months if that tells you anything.  Let’s just say I’m not any where close to that plan I had of having it all together.  Each day is different and after spending the day chasing around our now 1 year old, cooking his food and making our dinners, trying to do what I can to invest and encourage those around me, I have to laugh at that nicely packaged plan I once had of how all of this would look.  Some nights we don’t eat until after 8PM, and by the time I sit down to rest for the evening it’s time to go to bed as the next day starts promptly at 6am.

I won’t lie, in the moments before I close my eyes to sleep, I’m reminded of all that isn’t getting done, of all I wanted to do, to teach Gabriel, to be a light in the community where we live and serve, and yet I wonder and doubt what was actually accomplished that day.  It could be easy to let those disappointments tug on my heart and bring me down, and honestly sometimes I’m just too tired to fight them.  But other times I remember the great moments of the day.  The moments where Gabriel wraps his arms around my neck and lays his head on my shoulder…the moments he grabs my hand and brings it to his face for comfort…the moments he laughs while following me around or giggles as we sing songs and dance together…the moments I share words of encouragement, of Truth, with different friends and am able to really listen to them…the moments I get sweet hugs from the children at church.

Precious JewelsNone of this looks like I imagined, like I had planned, but it is even better.  For if I know that I have lived my day with intention, God can use my beautiful and chaotic life to share joy, light, hope, and Love in each moment.

The same goes with our plan to live long term here in Cartagena.  With the wonderful surprise of our daughter who is due to be born in October, and finances that just haven’t panned out the way we had hoped, we know this dream, this plan is changing for now.  As we prepare to move back to the States in August, it’s easy to get lost in the disappointment, but then I ask myself, who am I trying to win the approval of?

Galations 1:10 states, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

We have stayed true to our plans and commitments moving forward in faith and living each day with intention.  Time here is not waisted, but is a gift.  And we know we will be back, visiting every year, investing in the people here, and trusting that God knows our hearts to serve and live internationally and the love we have for our Colombian family here.

Our plans are changing for now, but I know that I will continue to live each day intentionally wherever I am, being a light in my community and especially my family.  I know and trust that God can use my life to share his Love and Truth.  So I remain open to Him…

Be All There