There are certain things that God keeps bringing me back to.
Sometimes I’m annoyed by what feels like a very constant theme in my life: “Slow down. Refocus.”
But really, God is just so gracious to keep lovingly reminding me, because my natural bent (further exploited by our culture!) is to be very busy, ridiculously ambitious, exhausting every resource and ounce of energy chasing ends that all appear to be worthwhile. My own weakness and inability to keep up with all my ideals brings me back to Him for rest and strength, and there He has spoken time and again to my wearied soul: “Slow down. Refocus.”
And, this summer is another time when I am feeling a definite call to slow down and refocus, considering those things which are God’s priorities in this season.
1) Being his helper. This is at the heart of the Bible’s teaching for women in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2, though if I don’t focus on it, I easily drift into sort of having my own separate life and priorities, often considering him my helper rather than vice versa (not that a husband shouldn’t live in an understanding way with his wife by pitching in at home sometimes!)….
Lately I’ve been reading “Becoming God’s True Woman” by Nancy Leigh Demoss and found a chapter by Carolyn Mahaney very helpful/convicting…
“Wives, in light of the Lord’s instruction to us, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions on a regular basis: Do I care for my home in a way that helps my husband or serves me? Do I manage my time in a manner that assists my husband or serves my own agenda? Does the way I serve others support my husband or promote me? Do I ask my husband’s input before committing myself to a plan? Am I oriented to him and the work to which God has called him? We honor the Lord when we minister to our husbands in ways that enhance our God-given roles as companions and helpers.”
I am trying to daily ask myself some of these questions, so that I may bring him good and not harm all the days of my life (Proverbs 31:12). Sometimes it seems silly but I find myself considering whether cleaning the bathroom or getting a nice dinner on the table on time would be more helpful to him (or both as time/energy allows!) on a particular day – as well as allowing myself enough time to be rested, happy and attentive when he comes home. It becomes easier to focus on being his helper when I remember that so much of what he does at work is to provide for the kids and I – so in helping him, I am not only obeying God’s word to me, but encouraging my husband as he serves the Lord and supports the kids and I.
2) Raising them at home. There are so many “mommy trains” and priorities for families – giving them athletic opportunities, developing music and art skills, crafting every day, having lots of play dates, teaching them and trying to give them an ‘edge’ academically, emphasizing literacy, being the 100% natural/organic family, having a smooth-running and clean home, learning the Bible, having hundreds of fun and exciting ‘childhood experiences’ or knocking out a comprehensive summer to-do list, etc.
Our family still has a lot of sorting out to do regarding which of these things can and should be priorities for our children, though particularly in this season I am learning that our best days are the simpler, more ‘at-home’ days. When our weeks are more home-centered we are more consistent with Bible reading and memorization, with cooking healthy meals, and inviting the kids to learn simple chores (and they delight in being ‘mommy’s helpers’!). At home we are more able to notice and confront disciplinary issues, and I am simply more relaxed and able to enjoy my children – to cuddle them, to have conversations about things that matter, to allow them to play in an unstructured way that lets their unique interests and personalities grow, and to have the house in order when daddy returns from work.
It’s not that we don’t love trips to the zoo or play dates, and I am very excited for our oldest to begin swim lessons this summer, but I am really recognizing so much value in minimizing our errands, creating margin for lots of family time, and for giving myself enough time at home to complete household tasks more during the day and less in the wee hours of morning or late hours of night which is getting to be taxing on my third-trimester body. When we are more at home I also find myself less irritable because I do not have to rush my little ones through the “dailies” of meals and finding shoes and brushing teeth.
Also? Life is not about entertaining children. It is unhelpful to bring children up thinking they are the center of the universe, and that they ought to be having fun all day every day. I think that is a tempting trap for mothers, as one mother poignantly noted after a trip to Haiti. “Cut Out the Unhelpful” was another encouraging blog post to me in this regard.
What about you? How is God leading you? What do you feel are His priorities for you this summer?