PRIORITIZE

This morning I woke up to a nice little pudge in my belly, which I have unaffectionately begun to refer to as “Christmas 2014”.  My people are just too good in the kitchen.  My brother is home and so dinners are meat with a side of meat.  And everything has its own butter based dipping sauce.  And every meal requires that you eat seconds.  Because food that good is meant to be devoured until it’s gone. Also my mother-in-law made these delightful things which involved a bacon, cream cheese and generous mounds of brown sugar all nestled in and around a jalapeño pepper and baked just long enough to make you angry that they weren’t already in your mouth.  I simply called them “breakfast”, three days running.  I coupled my  breakfast poppers with pecans which were coated with several layers of cinnamon and refined sugar as well as homemade cheesecake that I would fist fight you for.  My sister-in-law also had a creamy buffalo dip that I hid from Michael so I could eat it all by myself.  I bought heavy whipping cream for my coffee only because it was Christmas and I felt obligated to use it in place of it’s more slender cousin, half-n-half.

Going back to work today DID NOT EVEN HELP.  I brought the leftovers with me, which I enjoyed alongside all the candy that people have given to my children. YES, I ATE THEIR CHOCOLATE.

I actually think that eating fast food might lower my caloric intake.

The obvious goal here would be to get rid of “Christmas 2014”.  However, that would require scales and numbers and a thing called a diet.  I went on a diet one other time in my life. It wasn’t good for the people around me.  So, I’m going to try to just eat less than a football player’s portion and hope things even out before March.

Besides all that, I do not ever make New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not a very good ‘maintainer’, which I have come to accept, so I generally just try to keep right on doing what I was doing in December. My goal is always the same: To love God and love people.

Even though I try to steer clear of resolutions, I feel like God is whispering something to me.

PRIORITIZE.

Everything to which I am committed gets a little portion of me, and lately the things that are non-urgent seem to be taking more time than I honestly care to give.  I must prioritize my time.

All the clothes and gadgets and toys and shoes have consumed so much of my home, there is scarcely any room left.   I must prioritize my space. 

The luxuries that are considered ‘must haves’  by the Jones require energy and resources to purchase and to maintain. I must prioritize my finances.

I don’t have a goal or a number or a limit to assign any of these categories.  It’s not about a number.  I am simply to prioritize them.  

When I look at how I spend my time, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my calendar reflect my goal to love God and love others?

When I look at how I use my space, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my home and my office space reflect my goal to love God and love others?

And when I look at how I spend my money, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my checkbook reflect my goal to love God and love others?

I started with my space.  It was bogged down with things.  I went through the closets in total Tasmanian-style purge mode. I don’t know where it all came from. But I can tell you where to pick it up: GOODWILL INDUSTRIES.  I’ll be dropping a load off in the morning.

My space already feels so much freer.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

I’m tackling time next. Me and the calendar have a longstanding love/hate relationship.  But God is clear.

I MUST PRIORITIZE.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua 1:8

How can I meditate on the His Word day and night when I fill up my time with so many useless, meaningless things that will not make a Kingdom difference?

And what about my money?  C.S. Lewis’ words from Mere Christianity haunt me:

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

He gets his lesson from the widow to which Jesus refers here:

“Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’” Mark 12:41-44

I am so thankful for having been able to quiet down the past few weeks to hear Him whisper.  I am so looking forward to giving Him more time, space, and resources. I can only imagine my obedience in prioritizing for Him will result in a blessing that cannot be purchased or consumed. Or maybe it will be a jalapeño popper.

I’m good either way.

 

 

 

 

 

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GROWING

Michael and I were sitting on the couch having a conversation.  All the kids were home.  And we were having a conversation.  Zachary was in the room with us.  All of a sudden we heard from downstairs,

“Moooooooooooooom!!!!!!  Someone clogged the toilet with SOOOOOO MUCH toilet paper!!”

Zachary stopped what he was doing, looked intently at both of us (somehow), and confessed,
“It was me……..accidentally” (which is an incredibly overused word in our home).

You know that feeling when you find an unexpected $5….nay, a $20 bill in your old coat pocket? This was exactly like that.

Michael and I locked eyes.  Michael’s voice lifted an octave, “Zachary!! Did you wipe your own bottom????!??!?!?!?”

“Yes…” he replied tentatively.

“That is awesome!!!!” we both replied, holding hands and skipping.  Fairy dust fluttered through the air.  Angelic music and confetti filled the room simultaneously.  I remember trumpets.  I’m not sure that even learning to read gets so festive a celebration in our home.

Do you know what this means?  We are henceforth relieved of bathroom duty!!!  We have been in that business for the past 2,976 days.  What will we do with all the extra time, you ask? Write a book. Invent something.  Solve cancer.  The possibilities seem endless.

These days, I say to my kids,  “Kids, get in the car.”  And they do it.  Buckle and all.

They walk.

They walk upstairs.

They cut food.

They brush teeth.

They put on shoes.

They shower.

They zip, button, tie, unlock, lock, open, shut, close, turn off, turn on, cook…..things.

They’re growing up.  We seem to have entered into a new phase of parenting, almost suddenly.  Because my body was used as a jungle gym, a feeding system, a pillow, a home, and a carrier, I spent the first 8 years feeling drained and exhausted.  Meeting the basic physical needs of my kids was an all consuming, all encompassing, incredibly rewarding existence.

And now we have moved into the emotionally challenging phase.  There are constant arguments, explanations, exhortations, cautions, information, directions, discussions, and form completions.

Side note: Filling out forms may not be hard and emotional for some of you ultra-organized types who love to fill in a box, sign, seal, and deliver something.  But for me…it’s pure torture.  OH….with the ‘primary email address, secondary email…’  x 3 boys x 2 schools x 3 sports/season + the doctor’s office + the dentist.  How many places could I possibly have to put my email address???  You know you won’t use it!!  Next season/year/vaccination, you’ll print off a piece of paper and ask me to fill out a form!  PLEASE…take the email OFF OF THE FORM, PROGRAM IT IN YOUR COMPUTER and just email me (CHOOSE EITHER MY PRIMARY OR SECONDARY) for crying out loud!! Keep my records ELECTRONICALLY!  Why is paper even still a thing???

As they grow, we are navigating friendships, wrestling with theology, expecting self-control, and nurturing empathy.  These are difficult concepts and we stumble through most of it.  But in a very real and tangible way, our kids are growing and maturing.  Their little beings embody little minds that have the most amazing, complex thoughts.  They make predictions, assumptions, oppositions and decisions.  They don’t always make the right ones.  But when they make an automatic right decision, after having been wrong so many times before, it amazes me.

Our kids do not have independent access to any electronic device.  We have to enter the password each time they play.  The other day Nolan asked me to play his iPod.  I agreed and he handed it to me.  He immediately turned his head so I could enter the password secretly.  There have been so many times when he tried teasingly to peek, or indiscreetly tried to figure it out.  But this time, he just turned his head away.  This is a small thing, but I almost cried.

I wonder if our heavenly Father is as pleased whenever we deny the flesh?

‘But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.’ Gal. 5:16-25.

When patience blossoms instead of outbursts of anger, peace instead of jealousy, kindness instead of selfish rivalries, goodness instead of hostility, self control instead of sexual immorality, and love instead of murder, we truly are living by the Spirit.  Just as my kids are growing and maturing in front of my very eyes, so should I be ever growing in the Lord.  Ever seeking to put away childish things and grasp for solid food in place of milk (Heb 5:12).  May my thirst for Him be as for water in a desert land.  May my pursuits all lead to knowing Him more intimately and making Him known to others. May I never be complacent in my walk with him, but growing all the more in His grace and knowledge (2 Pet 3:18). Amen.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to retrieve a Monopoly hotel from an unflushed toilet.

They’ve still got some growing to do.

And so do I.