Monday, 11 June 2018

Squish the Mom Guilt

I've been spending a lot of time lately in self reflection, trying to figure out how to do it all.  Most of these inspired thoughts come between 1 and 4 AM, as I try to get my non-sleeping 3 year old back to bed.  You know, when you're completely rational and not at all stressed.

I wonder why out of my 3 kids, only 1 has slept through the night before the age of 4. 

I wonder why they all have to be so different that I feel like I have to learn how to parent all over again each time I deal with a different child.

I wonder how to fit in more work.  More housecleaning.  More decluttering.  More fitness.  More quality time.  All of those things that bombard us every day.  More.

And as I've been reflecting on my last 10 years as a wife, and 8 years as a mother, I think I may have tried it all.

And you know what's worked the best?  The one thing that has made my marriage better and my parenting more connected and relaxed?

It's something that is so very easy to push aside in the quest for the ever elusive "enough."

Taking care of me.

With the struggles of marriage, and parenting 3 incredibly diverse personalities, it seems counter-intuitive to think about me.

I realized the other night (early morning), that the times I've been a great spouse and parent all have one thing in common.  That I stop believing I have to sacrifice me to be better for them.

That when I was making the effort to get up early in the morning to exercise, I was benefitting everyone, not just myself.

I had more energy and time to get the grunt work of life done. 

I'm healthier and less like to fall sick to annoying little bugs that make their rounds.

I got to choose when I was waking up rather than always feeling annoyed to be woken up.

I had more day to day stuff done earlier, so I had more quality time to spend with my kids.  They in turn had their tanks filled, and were happier and more secure in general.

And my mental health and fitness level were both improving to the point that I was more comfortable in my own skin, which, as every wife can attest to, makes them feel more confident in pursuing their husbands.

I know I'm not the first one to point this out fellow parents, and I'm likely to fall to old habits at some times too. 

It is so easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  And it's so easy to overlook the benefits to everyone around us when we do take care of ourselves.

Please join me in remembering how happy we are, and in turn how we can pour into those around us, when we actually take the time to take time.

And I promise you, I know that getting up earlier in the morning is detestable to many of us.  That those extra minutes of sleep seem like the very thing you need the most.  And at some stages, you really do.  But maybe you can take a couple weeks to try out doing something for yourself.  Even something that seems really small, but important.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Gather Together

We have been blessed to have some friends of ours move back to town after almost a decade away.  Real friends.  It is such a huge gift in life to have real friends, isn't it?  The kind of friends who offer help and actually mean it.  Who truly care about you as a whole person.

These were actually friends of my husbands more so than mine.  They moved back to have a more stable, less frantic style of life for their family.  And it has worked.  

My husband grew up with his friend in the church, and then they both kind of wandered away.  Myself and his friends wife both had limited experience with the church growing up.  It never really fit.  I always felt a little bit less than all of the other people there, like I didn't quite fit in.

Then I met my soon to be husband, and it all changed.  We started going to bible studies, and did a marriage class at his family's church.  The church family began to adopt me.  And it fit.

Our friends never joined us at church, other than our wedding day.  And then they moved on to a totally different pace of life.

When they came back, she let me know that her youngest son was interested in going to church, and she had always told them that she would support them in whatever decision they made.  And that she was willing to go with them to church if they chose.  She was more of a spiritual person, believing as many do that doing no harm was really all that was needed.  A relationship with God wasn't really required.  

So they started to come to church with my and the kids.  I introduced her to study bibles, which I've always found much easier to understand.  We became the sounding board for her discoveries, which caused us to dig into the word more ourselves.  It caused us to discuss things that we hadn't before. 

She went from coming just to support her child, to encountering Jesus for the first time.

She was baptized recently, jumping in with both feet to this beautiful new relationship.  She has renewed my desire to dig into this relationship that all too easily falls to the wayside.  She has finally found where she fits.  And it has been so beautiful to watch.

Friends, I know that it is oh so easy to neglect spending time building our relationship with Jesus.  It feels like one of the balls that you can afford to drop.  That thinking is the result of living in a fallen world, where we are convinced that things will make is happy.  That the time spent working is time invested in acquiring all of the stuff that are supposed to fulfill us.

What would your life look like if you focussed on the people in our lives, and building relationships?  What if we purposefully gathered people together instead of gathering more items?  I think you would realize that the popular thinking isn't necessarily the right thinking.  That maybe an older, simpler lifestyle, if adopted, could be more fulfilling than you can imagine.  As the old saying states, people won't remember the colour of your couch at your passing, but they will remember the time you spent with them.  

I implore you to create a better, more caring world by refusing to participate in the hoarding of stuff.  To stop working yourself to the bone for the things that will never complete you in the way you hope they will. 

Let's spend our time gathering together to invest in memories.  We can enjoy simple, filling meals at the same time that we pour into each other. 

We can let go of the clutter that makes us feel like our houses are too messy to have guests.  We can spend less time shopping for stuff to fill our houses, and simplify.  Less time cleaning will also lead to more time spent gathering together.  And you can bless someone out of your overflow of possessions at the same time.  Isn't that a wonderful thought?

I truly believe that times like these are given to us to remind us that we have a truly loving Father who desires more for us than full closets.  He wants us to have full hearts, that can pour into others.  He wants us to have community.  He wants us to reach out to the broken, the people just like us, that need to experience the grace that we have already received.  

I don't know what your life looks like right now.  I don't know if you have an amazing group of people to share life with, or if you are desperately praying for just one person to do life with.  I do know that all of us would benefit from more time spent with our Heavenly Father.  And that having people to share our burdens and joys with are what we were designed for.  

Heavenly Father, I pray that you would open our eyes to the things we can let go of.  That you would give us opportunities to unclutter both our houses and our minds.  I pray that we would find meaningful relationships to build in to, and that we would maintain those relationships that we already have.  I pray that we would learn to give grace as freely as you do, and that you would fill our hearts to overflowing, so that we could share with others.  In faith I pray.  Amen.