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!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding Balance

I can never seem to do it. Between my to-do list and my children. Between bedtime and storytime. Between how I’m wired and how I’m called. Between the sacred and the secular. My husband tells me that there can be no balance; that something will always get more attention and that’s just how life is. I’m not sure I’m willing to accept that.
Two years ago I was working part-time while a friend watched my two children. Time and time again my boss (also my pastor) saw my struggle between “worker” and “mom” and suggested I stay home full-time. I thought I’d be bored, or go stir-crazy with my littles. How wrong I was. So God turned my heart toward home. I didn’t like dropping my children off at someone else’s home and hearing their antics second-hand. I began to desire the mom role for myself. So here I am.
The struggle comes with how God wired me-a mega Type-A person-with what He’s called me to do; be a mom. I can menu-plan and organize and clean like nobody’s business. The problem is that while I’m doing that, my kids are wandering the house. Some days I’m ready for the kids to just get in bed so I can do x and y, or have some me time, and I hustle them into their beds, skipping reading time and brushing teeth and prayer. And there are moments when I feel like I could sit at Jesus’ feet forever but there is breakfast to make and a dishwasher to unload and I have to “shelve” the sacred time to make room for the secular.
Two books have really challenged my thinking about this lately, namely A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God and Robert Wolgemuth’s The Most Important Place on Earth (What A Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One). Tozer hit on the sacred/secular pull. We are walking in two kingdoms and we feel the strain of walking a tight rope between the two. But you know what? We don’t have to. As Tozer related, the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt, surrounded by idolatry and nothing was holy. They might have kept certain traditions for themselves, but the seeping in of culture probably had an effect on how they saw life. Then, God delivered them from that world into the middle of the desert; nothing to look at but His guiding presence in the cloud and fire. He taught them to follow only Him; He alone was holy. And then when they had the hang of that, He established holy places, holy items, holy days. Fast forward to the crucifixion and the veil is torn in two; there is no difference between the sacred and the secular; all is holy to God. Tozer’s idea is that our whole lives can be holy moments done for God’s glory and honor. It’s not what we do but how we do it. No matter the task-changing a diaper, fixing a meal, whatever-it can be done for God’s glory and with Him in mind. Ann Voskamp (at amazing writing!) says, “All of life flames with God” and I wholeheartedly agree. In theory. My challenge is to see life this way and to have my life flame with God. Hmmm.
And then…
 Wolgemuth used the excellent illustration of renting tools. From the minute he leaves the rental place, there’s a sense of urgency, because every hour is costly and there’s a job to be done before the tools must be returned. Our parenting is similar; we are entrusted with these souls, custom-made by God for us, and we get to touch them before they return to God. I am to parent with, as Wolgemuth says, “urgency. Focus. Purposefulness. Intentionality. Care.”
And then…

Our pastor preached to Dad’s on Father’s Day about “intentional instruction” and how we are always instructing our children; with our speech toward other drivers, when we are tired and cranky, when we are on the phone or computer when we could be spending time with them. It was a cut to the heart, but one I needed. My children are my job, not a distraction from my job!
And then…

The very next day I finished Chapter 1 of Wolgemuth’s book and he talked about wanting an extraordinary Christian home because mediocrity wasn’t the goal. Struck again! (God always seems to hit me from several directions over and over again when I need to learn a lesson.) I am a mediocre mom. I could be doing more with my children instead of with my home. It brings to mind the phrase “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” I am busy making sure the chairs are clean and lined up nicely, while the ship (my kids) go down in the water. Ugh.
And then…

There’s hope. Although I have the annoying habit of just breathing in anything that I read and thinking that I have to institute all of their ideas into my life, and while I completely agree with all three men, I’m taking the time to really soak it in, to let those ideas seep into the cracks in my thinking and living, but more importantly, asking God to change my heart and mind (and priorities) once more. I’d like Him to use my mega-watt Type-A-ness for good and not evil, for tending to my children with as much passion as I tend to my list of chores. Because, I believe there is a balance out there. It might not be 50/50, but it’s God’s balance, and that’s better than anything I can achieve on my own anyway.  

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