Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s really important in life and what I’m really living for.

Lots of things are important, lots of things are urgent…we must work, take care of the house, care for the children, get dinner cooked, finish the laundry, drive this one here and that one there.  We must walk the dog, pick up kids from preschool, clean the bathroom, do the homework, get to the doctor’s appointments, pick up the groceries.  At the end of the day, we fall into bed exhausted and I wonder sometimes aloud–

Did I do what was important today?  Did I do what I enjoy doing today?

Because doing what I want to do, what is enjoyable, is a whole other thing.  We want to watch a movie, check Facebook, play Draw Something or Words With Friends, we want to nap, eat Reese’s cups, visit with friends, linger over one more cup of coffee.  We want to paint our nails or color our hair or read a magazine.  We want to sit in the sun with eyes closed.  There are so many things we want to do that don’t necessarily fit in with the urgent.

The days fly by and all I’m doing is rushing around and trying to Get Through The Day.  

And I want more than that.  I want more than just getting through the day.

I say to John all the time, “It’s another marathon week.” because we have one jillion things planned, scheduled and that urgently needed to be attended to.

But what really matters most?

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know that my inner me is under major reconstruction.  God is really weeding some crap out of my heart and making me better.

This has been a painful and glorious process.

Since Paw has gone on to the Lord, my heart and my prayers have been fixed on the heritage she’s passed down to us.  The heritage of faith and family.  On Easter Sunday, my heart almost broke with love for my family, not just my immediate family but aunts, uncles, cousins.  I saw unique beauty in each one, I saw Paw in us all.  Memories and moments and quirks and strengths and weaknesses of  60 odd people coming together in the most beautiful tapestry that Paw began with her own two hands years and years ago.  This is Important.  This is Vital.  This family is full of love and life and laughter.  This family is a good, good gift.  And what better way to honor our Paw than to keep it close.  Deep inside, I hear a cry, “Do not take this good gift for granted.”

Here is the children singing their hearts out to the Lord in honor of Paw on Easter.

All the kids in attendance!

We watched “the Passion of the Christ” on Sunday and I keep seeing Jesus, beaten and bloodied and just made of love and mercy.  I want to burn the images into my eyes and on my heart and I don’t want to forget how I feel right now.  Because seeing that…remembering Him in that way…it makes all the worries that I worry over, all the stressors that I stress over, all the strivings that I strive for…it makes those things seem almost ridiculous.  And while I’m not saying that I should just stop washing the dishes and doing the laundry and only ever read the Bible and I’m not saying that I should never laugh at “Raising Hope” again…I am saying that all the things that make me crazy (or crazier) throughout the day are just almost nothing.

I’m saying that I must examine my life and get rid of the things that hinder love.

And that’s a tall order and it carries enormous implications.

But when I think of Jesus on the cross…when I think of Paw and her faithful, love filled life…I know it’s the next step.  He died for my sins and my pain.  He died for love.  And He didn’t just take too many Ambien and go to sleep…He suffered and struggled and was separated from His Father and descended into hell.  He was beaten and bloodied and bruised.  And my face was in His heart as He did this.  So was yours.

So…all this rushing around…all this stressing and worrying and panicking…all of this must go.

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”   Ephesians 5:1-2

Real Love

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New Mercy

Yesterday was one of those days.

Do you know what I mean?  A day where all the minor, petty, irritants added up to a sky high heap?  A day where little ones are whining, crying, fighting and fussing.  Where noses are running and the dog keeps getting in the trash and house just keeps getting messier and then you get bills you didn’t expect and responsibilities that this was just not the best day for.  There are toys all over the place and you trip on the boots of teenage girls and you spill your coffee and it’s too hot in here and why is the baby fussing again?  And anyway, you’re not even feeling very well and would kill to lie down for just fifteen minutes.  Naptime seems 100 years away and the dog is whining and barking to go out and the little ones need so many things and you just need to pee and would like to do so without an audience.  You’re so, so tired and so, so frustrated.   You’re cleaning up messes you didn’t make and that no one every should’ve made and it’s only 10am…And then you take a minute to breathe and try and get your head together and someone pours out your Diet Pepsi into your yarn bag.

Days like that are commonplace in my line of work.  Every mom I know except the ones who lie have shared about days like these.  Days like these are kind of soul crushing and draining.  Days like these are decidedly NOT one of the perks of motherhood but they are a reality.

About halfway through the day, I had an epiphany.

I had fallen off the wagon.

Several weeks ago, right before Christmas, I felt God prompting me to work on my attitude.  It started with Kevin Gerald and his podcast series called “Favor Forever”.

I realized in listening to this series that I had the wrong mentality. My “poor me” mentality was stopping me from seeing how “rich” I really was. I was seeing every glass as half empty and not even noting what was in the glass at all. I was missing some of the things God was trying to do and show me. I was seeing the negative first and discounting the positive.

The next step was the negativity fast. I was seeing on friends’ Facebook walls a talk of a negativity fast. I posted about that  a few days ago and it has been very profitable.    I’ve been astounded at how much I had to correct myself on the negativity. How many times I’ve had to catch myself. I had no idea how many thoughts needed to be taken captive until I took the time to look for them.

The next thing was the “1000 Gifts” book and the dare to be thankful.

I have been tracking my blessings, graces, little gifts and big gifts since right after Christmas. I have discovered that my life abounds in beauty, joy and blessing. I have been steadied by this practice. I have been changed by this practice. I am now seeking out things to write in my gratitude journal…I’m reading back over the graces of the day…I’m looking for goodness in this land of the living.

But how quickly it all fell apart. One bad day. One hard day…that really, in the grand scheme of things was just a day of minor drama. I let that string of irritants win…I fell off the wagon. I went on a negativity fueled ungratefulness binge. I complained, I grouched, I even cried self pitying, childish tears, I vented…and you know what? I did not feel better.
The days I’ve studied joy, studied grace, studied happiness and blessing…those are the days I felt better. The days I’ve given the small stuff to God and chosen not to stress over it…those are the days I did better. Wallowing in my own crappy day just made me feel crappy.

So, back on the wagon today.  I ended yesterday with a repentant heart and repentant prayers.  I began today with a hopeful heart and hopeful prayers.  I’ve listed my gifts throughout the morning, I’ve come clean about my attitude and I started over.

Because, His mercies are new every morning.

Every morning.