You're probably wondering about the daughter Isabella loves to clean-she comes by it honestly. I am a shameless clean freak. One morning I was working away in the kitchen while she had the mop I'd left out overnight to dry. And I look over to check on her and my then-7-month-old son, and say the five words I never thought I'd say as a parent, "Isabella, don't mop your brother!" He didn't mind, and she just wanted to make sure he was sparkly. So welcome to my world!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Breathing God

I recently began God's Wisdom for a Mother's Heart, a Bible study by Bobbi Wolgemuth. Of course it starts with my priorities, and of course the verse to infuse all those with power is Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," ESV. The word "heartily" kind of threw me off. We don't use much "heartily" anymore. So, the definition in my mind was a little sketchy. Off to the Greek to check it out.

"Heartily" comes from the Greek transliteration of psychē. The very
first entry is "breath" which refers to breath of life, being, soul, etc. But the very word breath got my attention. If I work heartily for the Lord, I'm working with my breath. How often do I breathe? All the time. All day. All night. I am to be serving God with all of me, all the time. If I am "praying without ceasing" as I Thessalonians 5:17 tells me, that means to pray all through the day, with every breath. Let's see what some of my typical duties could look like with this mindset.

Up early to have quiet time. Sure, it's easy to "breathe God" now. But as my son keeps popping out of his room (as I've told him not to), I sometimes let him sit in the hall. But that's disobedience. Serving God heartily means being on His agenda, and He wants my children to obey their parents. So, breathe-then calmly discipline him so he learns to obey.

Start a load of laundry and breakfast. Thank God for a machine that works (and maybe stop obsessing over the new, fancy, shiny ones at Lowe's), and for food for our family.

Cleaning the house. Working heartily means doing the best job possible, so being lax or lazy just didn't fit in with this description. Pray for the people in my family while cleaning their rooms, or doing the mind-numbing job of vacuuming.

When I'm upset with my kids-then I breathe harder and more often. Hmmm…so this means I need more of God in these situations! My daughter is almost four and endlessly curious (as all almost-four-year-olds probably are). Some days I run out of patience before she runs out of questions. But I need to remember that she doesn't know how this great, big, crazy world works, so questions are her only way to unlock the mystery. Before I yell a, "Because that's just how it is!!!" at her, as I'm breathing harder and more rapidly with my rising pulse, that means more God. Quick: remember Proverbs 15:1 and then answer her in a way that pleases God.

Playing with the kids. Oh, praise God for warmer weather! To work (or play!) heartily, to breathe God, means instead of just saying, "What a beautiful day!" I should be, thanking Him for it. I can be pointing Him out in creation to my kids as we look at budding trees and crawling worms.

Bathtime. There are days when my kids splash around happily and as I'm cleaning the kitchen, enjoy a concert of peals of delight. Then there are those days it sounds like a wet battle and I walk in with water all over the floor. Yelling. Mopping. Threatening. More yelling. More mopping. Breathing God? Nope-breathing my righteous indignation that my children would dare to disobey me! Breathe God. Still mop, but instruct (and discipline). Thank God for running water and healthy children.

Bedtime. Review the day. Remind them of the God moments, pray and thank Him not just for all the "stuff", for the material blessings, but for who He is. My kids need to learn that God is more than some divine gumball machine that doles out treats when we toss in a quarter. We can thank God for His faithfulness, for His love, for His creativity in making all the things around us, for grace to get through the rough parts of the day.

This is by no means a recipe for happiness. It's not like you can give a Sunday school Jesus answer and suddenly Disney bluebirds are helping you fold laundry. There are hard days. There are days when it's hard to be thankful, and you offer a sacrifice of praise. But getting into the practice of breathing God will remind you that He gave you this life, and He gave you His breath of life, and you need Him more than…well…breath!

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