Last night after I put the big girls to bed, I crashed for just a moment on my bed with Esther. After just a moment she did something that broke my heart. She smiled. A beautiful, sweet, loving smile. What hit me like a ton of bricks was the fact that I hadn't seen that smile all day. And as I thought back over my day, I couldn't really remember many smiles at all, from me or my girls.
You see yesterday was a canning day. I felt pressure to finish up our peaches before we go pick blackberries this morning and have to do more jam. Our TOWERING laundry pile glared at me all day. And Ella. Ella is going through a very trying stage. She has taken "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" verse and applied it diligently to her life. Unfortunately her hands seem to find the sugar bag, the glitter, the snacks on the microwave or substances that have caused me to call poison control twice in one week.
With all this pressure of everything I "had" to get done, combined with little ones seeming to undo everything I accomplished, I was one flustered mama. I was short tempered. I was busy. It was just kind of a grumpy day all around. That's why Esther's sweet little smile revealed how ugly things had got.
While praying desperately for the Lord's grace and wisdom, this is my plan of attack for the day.
1. Meditating on the "I'm Stressed" Psalm.
"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern my heart with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with it's mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore."
Resting in the arms of Jesus is right where I want to be. Nothing going on around me is worth stressing out or forgetting that my gracious Father has me right where He wants me.
2. Identifying my "pressures".
There's pressure to get the peaches done, the laundry done, dishes washed, shelves to organize, meals to plan AND execute, socks to sort, a bedroom to shovel out, plus be out the door on time with five little girls with sparkling faces, combed hair and shoes. Let's not forget shoes like last time.
This is my immediate, top priority list for just today (not including jam making and clean up). The ingredient I have to throw out of this mix is the all consuming perfection.
Perfection turns these tasks into overwhelming weights. They are so heavy that my body literally feels like it's being squashed by them. Throw perfection out of the mix and suddenly the fog is lifted. The tasks remain to be handled and completed in a diligent manner, but the heaviness is removed. Today I will probably get the dishes done, make dinner, make jam, do a couple of loads of laundry, and hopefully remember shoes. And I will feel at peace. Tomorrow maybe we will tackle the shelves or the bedroom. If I am remembering Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men." , then I will know I am doing what needs to be done in a manner that honors the Lord.
3. Surrender the anger.
I think most people who know me would not think of me as an angry person. But I assure you, I struggle with it with the best of you. I hate it. I realize how destructive and fruitless it is. But still it returns. So when I say "surrender the anger" it is a daily thing, not a one time thing. My goal this fall is to memorize and meditate on these crucial verses that paint such an accurate picture of anger.
" A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control"~ Proverbs 29:11
"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it's fruit"~ Proverbs 18:21
"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered."~ Proverbs 17:27
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."~ Proverbs 15:1
"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."~ Proverbs 12:18
I can not tell you how many times I have reprimanded my daughters for how they speak to their sisters while knowing in my heart that they sound just like me. Please pray for me in this battle!
4. Smile, Sing, Speak words of joy and truth.
When things get frazzled here, the first thing to go is my smile. Today I'm going to SMILE!!!
And I'm going to SING!!! Singing with your children is a great cure-all. Just simple songs like "He's got the Whole World in His Hands", "My God is so Great", or "I've got the Joy, Joy, Joy".
And I'm going to speak words of joy and truth. No child gets tired of hearing "I love you" if it is spoken from the heart. My girls thrive on praise like sunshine, and everyone likes to hear how much they mean to someone.
I really didn't intend for this to be a confessional, but I also couldn't find it in my heart to write some great recipe, when I knew I had some growing to do! May we all seek to rest in the Lord and to make our hearts right so that we can better serve our families and our homes!