Yesterday we asked: AM I DOING THE MOST ESSENTIAL THING?
Thoughts about essentialism and how it squares with my job as a mom have been swirling in my head for weeks.
Saturday, it all came to a head when I realized I didn’t have my phone. My hands patted and searched, frenetically panicked like Bilbo Baggins’ hands when he’d misplaced the ring of power. WHERE IS MY PHONE?! (You could almost hear the echoing words– “My only? MY PRECIOUS?!!??!?!”) My eyes scanned the kitchen counters as my hands patted my back pants pockets, the hip pockets on my jacket, and still didn’t come to rest on the phone.
You know what makes this all the more ridiculous? I was searching for it out of habit– not because I needed to connect with someone or take a photo. Simply because I was bored and didn’t have it with me.
This one moment in time showed me the truth about my heart: TOO ATTACHED TO A DEVICE. A stupid (“smart”) piece of plastic, glass, microchips, and metallic pieces. How is it that 3-4 years ago, I didn’t even OWN one of these, and now it has become my habitual, go-to time waster?
On Sunday, we dedicated our sweet Luke Ebenezer at church. What a great reminder, right?, of our responsibility as parents. Really, it’s a parents’ dedication– a sign that we want our church’s accountability in our commitment to raise him in the ways of God.
See how happy he is about that? 🙂
RE-FOCUSING ON THE ESSENTIALS
The main thing that I realized this past week is my own lack of focus on the essentials.
I used to be good at this, y’all. Good at just DOING the basics:
- loving my husband and children with great delight & purposefulness
- disciplining my children consistently
- reading books in HUGE quantities
- dependably planning meals
- reading aloud to my sweet kiddos
But lately, I’ve:
- been acting like, “oh, I’ve got big kids, we’re all in this together; I can let things slide.”
- taken on more writing jobs, written more books.
- gotten to 5:30pm WAAAAAAAYYYYYY too often, without a dinner plan
- been very, very slack on reading aloud to the kids.
- gotten too far away from our “sweet spot” in homeschooling
- been so into my phone that I’ve (sadly, confessionally) hardly read any books at all
- not been purposeful about sharing the GOSPEL with my children
So, is it OK for me to write books? Sure. I used to do it and not neglect the essentials.
But is it OK for me to neglect the basic things in order to do that?
Now’s the time for me to buckle back in and not give in to exhaustion. Now’s the time that my almost-13-year-old oldest son needs me to be redouble my efforts to be intentional for his final 5 years in our home. Now’s the time that my 7-year-old needs me to be just as committed to HIS education by reading aloud regularly as I was with my 13-year-old when HE was 7.
Of course, I have to balance this reminder of personal conviction in this area with the FACT that I’m 2 months postpartum right? This IS still a time for rest. I’ve been lecturing y’all about this, so I Have to do it myself. 😉
That said, when I have energy now, I’m on my own, naturally, drifting toward the “fun” things– the things that come “easily” for me… writing out my thoughts comes easier than getting up off the couch and tidying the mess at the high chair. Staring at this cute baby face totally wins out over planning dinner.
So, today, on Day 1, when I consider the question “am I doing the most essential thing?,”
I WANT TO REMEMBER THESE ESSENTIAL THINGS.
These are the things I want to DRIVE MY ATTITUDE & ACTIONS each day:
- God called me to be His child. I need to be my Father’s daughter… spending time in His Word daily.
- God gave me to my husband to be his helper. I am able to give Doug GREAT and POWERFUL aid and be a great encouragement and source of wisdom to him.
- I want to LOVE MY HUSBAND WELL. This is God’s will for me, each day. I don’t have to wonder about it. He’s made it plain by making Doug & I one flesh. I can KNOW with absolute certainty that this is God’s desire for me, each day. I don’t want to reach the end of my life with regrets on this one.
- God gave me these children. He didn’t give me every child in the world, or every child in the city I live in. He has given me these seven children on earth. These are the ones I’m particularly responsible TO and responsible FOR.
- This is a time to be shaping and sharpening my arrows. Just like “they” say, they’re only little for a short season. This time will pass so very quickly. I don’t want it filled with screens and devices. I don’t want it filled with distracted “uh-huhs.” Sooner than I think, the time will come for me to shoot these arrows out into the world, at the “targets” God has built them for and prepared for them. Now is my opportunity.
- Every student, when he is fully trained, becomes like his teacher. Who/what is teaching my children? Am I being purposeful about that? Am I seeing to it that Doug & I are the primary ones pouring into them? So I MUST BE what I want them to BECOME. Am I being a faithful disciple? Committed to my family? Delighted and enthusiastic about my church? Self-sacrificing? A lifelong learner? A hard worker? Am I not just saying, but BEING, these things?
- I am called to LOVE them well. Snuggling? Responding with kindness? Interacting with them?
- I should be DISCIPLINING them biblically. Children don’t raise themselves, and if/when they do, it’s not good. Unfailing love & consistently firm discipline must go hand-in-hand.
- This is my opportunity to pour the GOSPEL into them. Each day in my home, are they learning not just about the rules, but also about the GRACE that GOD GIVES, that we ALL NEED? Am I teaching them to place their hope in GOD, not in people, not in stuff, not in pleasure, not in good times, but in GOD?
- I should be faithfully TEACHING THEM, according to the priorities and convictions God has given Doug & I? Reading aloud is important to us. I need to be faithful to do it. Discussing the big ideas and putting sin and grace in the context of real life is important to us. I need to be faithful to do it. These are day-in, day-out concepts, and I need to get back to doing this faithfully.
- God has given me this home. It has been given for us to use, enjoy, and steward well. Am I doing that well?
- Rather than being a busybody on Facebook, checking in on everyone else non-stop, I should be busy here, in my home. Titus 2, though controversial or sometimes pish-poshed because it’s so oft-referred-to, gives a helpful 7-part “gauge” for godly women to know where to devote their time/efforts. (Those 7 areas are: love husband, love children, be sensible, be pure, work at home, be kind, be subject to husband.) Working at home is something that is just that: WORK. It’s not necessarily what we want to do. Or even if it is, it’s easy to slack off 13 years into the job (ask me how I know). I’ve gotta redouble my efforts here. Meals. Clothes. Tidyness. These things are never “done” and yet this is the work God has given to me.
I need to be living in light of these 12 truths. Sometimes some of it may not be perfectly or optimally done, especially if I’m in a season of survival mode. But when I take the long view, these truths should be evident in the way that I live.
THEN OTHER STUFF.
Writing, AFTER that.
Phone, AFTER that.
Thrift store jaunts, AFTER that.
So this is where I’m at, this week.
Today was all about getting my head screwed back on straight. Think right, THEN do right. Tomorrow we’ll get into practical stuff.
Any of this resonating with you? Tell me about it in the comments.
4 thoughts on “12 Things Every Mommy Needs to Remember (Mom On Purpose, Day 1)”
Yes. It’s resonating! I have 6 little ones (5 boys ages 12 on down and a 6 month old baby girl!) and my husband is the pastor of a small church. All of these thoughts have been hitting me lately. Thanks for taking time to type these priorities out. Have a great week!
Thank you for this good article. I will write this 12 points down and ponder about them during the week! I need this reminders in order to get back on the right track.
Great post Jess. Our families are constantly evolving, but they need us just as much, maybe in different ways. The thing that has challenged me so much as a parent is how you are constantly adjusting to a new routine or a new normal, and they need less input in some areas, but more in others, need re-enforcement of the basics, but also moving into new and challenging areas. It is easy to slip in an area without realising it, and I love the way your incident with the phone brought you up sharp. (Incidentally, I WILL NOT get a smartphone or tablet, partly because I am aware it can become such a distraction. When I’m out and about, people can ring or text me if they need and I have my phone on me, but it keeps me focussed on what I am doing and the people I am with. I do get mocked at times, but that’s OK by me!).
And when you say ‘work’ – I find running 5 kilometres to work, doing a 13 hour shift in one of the busiest areas of the hospital and then running home again a completely relaxing break compared to some days at home. (My husband who does the opposite days to me agrees!) People who delegate a lot of their parenting simply do not realise this to be the case!