The Tyranny of the Urgent

“The tyranny of the urgent frustrates every goal we hold.” - Mike Porter, The Time of Your Life

It’s surprising how easy I can get off track. How about you?

I have a goal for the day and then the urgent pokes at me screaming, “Do me first!” And I follow the command, do all those things first. When I get to the end of the day, I sometimes find I didn’t do what I intended to do at all. I end up frustrated and cranky. 

Does this ever happen to you? 

Does this quote from Marlene Bagnull, author of Write His Answer, hit home?

“Clutter greeted me everywhere I looked. Crumpled homework papers, crayons, toys, dirty socks. My husband didn’t mind the way the house looked. I did. It was a reflection of me! I resented my children for being so sloppy and accused myself of failing as a homemaker and a mother.”

This isn’t an article containing three steps to decluttering your home, or how to organize your house, or the best schedule for you. I do love all of the aforementioned topics. I think those topics are important. It’s not what I want to talk about though.

The Importance of a good attitude

More important these all of those practices – decluttering, organization, and schedule, is putting first things first. What’s more important than having a perfectly clean house and schedule, friends? Our attitude. Yep.

I’ve had my share of angry cleaning sessions. You know the kind when you vacuum vehemently? Or scrub the toilet while muttering under your breath about you’re the only one who cleans, no one else helps, or fill in the blank. I once asked a counselor what I could do about the angry feeling that sometimes came over me while I was cleaning. I wanted her to dig deep, maybe find some event in my past triggering my feelings. I wanted an excuse for my anger so I could blame someone other than myself. She didn’t give me one. She simply told me to change my attitude and think about something else while cleaning. Durn. It was on me. I had to do something.

The point is – a clean house doesn’t produce a peaceful feeling unless you have a great attitude. In the culture of our country, we women are told to create a picture perfect home. Just turn on HGTV ( I will, thank you) and you will find the best colors, counters, centerpieces, you name it for a gorgeous home. I love home design. I love to paint, decorate, make book wreaths, etc… As long as I keep in mind those are the fruit of my purpose, not my purpose. Then it’s okay. It’s better than okay. It’s amazing. Keeping my home to bless my families and others is a great use of my time.

Here are three tips I need to be reminded of in my life. They may seem elementary but sometimes I need the basics! 

  1. Put Christ first. I can get off track when I just plow into my day without taking some time to acknowledge God. I need to ask Him every day what He would like me to do. I’m a list maker. I make one every day. Sometimes the list becomes an idol. Instead of listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to slow down, I look to the list. Guess what happens if the list doesn’t get finished? I feel as if I am a failure. I am frustrated. Peace is not being my umpire. As I have said before – You don’t have to work all the time. I need the reminder. Maybe there is something you need reminded of daily. Put Christ first and ask Him.
  2. Put your purpose second. If you are a wife and mother, obviously this comes next. What does that look like? I mean we quote it as our theology. We say “Family first” and similar sayings. We need to ask, what does it mean for my family? If you’re single, widowed, or an empty nester, the same guideline applies. Figure out what your purpose looks like lived out on a daily basis. For instance, in Marlene’s quote, she says her husband doesn’t care if the house is messy. Mine does. He likes things neat and orderly. So, I should try my best to keep it that way. Not because he dictated it to me, but because we are to consider the needs of others before ourselves. If your husband considers you the home administrator, then you have some liberty to make decisions like, let’s go hiking this afternoon and let the lunch dishes wait. Let’s have pancakes for dinner. Let’s clean first and then pull out the games on this rainy day. Amerey and I did a great podcast on this topic – Moms you are the boss and the employee. Which leads me right into tip number three.
  3. Add in some creativity to your day. As I’ve said many times before, hubby and I were both raised in work oriented families. It’s hard to break the mold and do something different. It’s as if we were both hardwired to work, work, work, eat, and then collapse. There’s no question about the work needing to be done. The way we do the work and the amount of time we set aside for the work is something we can have control over. Here’s a few examples, when we first moved into our new house in March, I was working all day. Literally. Unpacking, painting, cleaning, and repeat. After a few weeks I had a bit of a CFS crash. My body just shut down. One day, when my body felt as if I was in quicksand up to my neck, I took the time to evaluate the time I had spent working. Turns out, with packing and moving, I had spent six weeks without any real breaks or fun. Not good. So, I did something different after my recovery. First of all, I set a timer while I was working. I pre-determined how long I could work.  Second. I picked one fun thing to do a day – a walk, a swim, sauna time, reading time, or sitting down by the lake with my journal. My newest creative thing? I take my typewriter out on the porch in the evenings and work on some writing. Love it. Here’s another thought, work can be fun. I do love to work. Maybe I’m weird. I’m okay with that. How can work be fun? Turn on some music – my fave – Opera for People who Hate Opera. Make chores a contest. I used to have timed challenges for my kids getting dressed. Not only did it make getting dressed fun, it sped up the process. Add your personality to your work and make it fun!

Urgent poke

As far as the urgent poking you -there will always be dishes to wash, clothes to wash, smudges on the windows, and fill in the blank. It’s up to you to decide what to do when (to a point). When you make a choice -whether it is to leave the dishes while you play outside, when the urgent screams, remind your brain you chose this instead for now and it’s okay. 

Get Intentional About Playing and Moving

Are you suffering from circumstantial depression?

Are you too tired to move?

Too worn out to play?

Or maybe you never learned to play as a child?

Some seasons of our lives, we just don’t feel like moving.

Why get intentional about moving and play?

One thing we have to get intentional about is playing and moving. We moms can get so caught up in the doing, that we forget about being. I’m not talking about vegging on Netflix or Amazon. I’m talking about intentional play for you and your children. Play builds brains, fuels logic, and gets bodies moving.

Play Therapy was developed in the 1970s to help families learn how to do intentional play with their children. It’s an important part of parenting. It stimulates brains and the relationship part of the playing grows the brain. Did you know that? Relationships grow the brain. So, the play I’m talking about is interactive.

  • A walk on the trail picking up nature and identifying it together.
  • A tea party.
  • Playing with Play doh.
  • Archery practice.
  • Board games.

All of these activities are work for children. We all have jobs. A child’s job is to find out how the world works -what the physical laws of nature are, how relationships work, how to get along. how to win, how to lose, how to build character.

These are all done through play/work. 

Have you ever thought of play this way before?

I’m not talking about “go to your room and play by yourself.” There’s a place for that. In fact, kids are more willing to play by themselves after their emotional tank is full. We mom are the gas that fuels their tank. If you have boys, the last sentence should hit your funny bone. We co-regulate with our kids, we teach them how to play.

YOu’re never too old to Play

Some of us don’t know how to play well as adults, because no one taught us or we think we are too old for play. We’re never too old to play. It’s okay. We can have fun. We can make a mess. Remember Moms, we are the boss and the employee. If the boss says we can have a water fight, we can. Then the employee can clean it up ( that’s us too).

One year, we had moved to a new town and didn’t know anyone. I was suffering some of my own circumstantial depression and God told me to do something fun with each child every day. It was hard. It was fun. We grew closer that year as a family, more than any other time.

We had squirt gun battles, game nights, roller blades on the driveway. Hiked. Biked. Did scavenger hunts at Cabela’s. 

The point is, don’t wait to want to. Do it when you don’t feel like it.

Moving.

Mamas, we have to move. We do a lot of moving with babies, laundry and dishes, cooking and the like, but with all of our servant appliances, we don’t work as hard as Moms of the past used to. We can easily become couch potatoes in between jobs. Couch potato-ing makes us feel sluggish. Our lymph nodes fill with toxins that don’t drain without proper exercise. We get headaches, backaches and cranky attitudes. We need to move. Guess what, it takes the investment of time and energy. You can do it! You can! Find an accountability partner. If you want to see your children grow up, graduate, get married, and have children, you have to start working on moving today. Not some day when you have the time. Now is the time to move and play.

Basics of Motherhood – You don’t need to fix your child.

This week on the podcast, Amerey and Kathleen finished up the Back to Basics Series with Basics of Motherhood.

Are you a mother?
Do you often feel isolated or alone?
Do you feel as if you need to “fix” your child so they are like everyone else?
Do you have doubts, struggles and wonder if other mothers have the same issues?
Then this is for you!

You don’t need to fix the child.

On the The Whole House Podcast  this week, Amerey and Kathleen talk about a lie that mothers often believe. What is that lie?
That your child needs fixed. From the time our child is an infant we encounter people who tell us:

The child isn’t sleeping – fix it.
The child needs to be rocked to sleep – fix it.
The child is not reading by the time they are 4 -fix it.

It’s a never ending list.
While there are guidelines and stepping stones of development, your child doesn’t need pushed through them. God made her the way she is. Your job as a parent is to meet her where she is, not to fix her.

Your child can’t be wrong in her makeup. She is born a certain way. You can’t say that a baby’s sleeping/eating/coping patterns are wrong. You don’t need to fix the child. Don’t stress yourself. Don’t say, “Her child is right and my child is wrong.”

If you just accept your child as she is then you will feel free. You will be free to parent the child the way she needs parenting.

Don't believe the lie that your child needs fixed

You have probably already found things that work for your child.

Don’t feel guilty for doing those things. Don’t look at other parents and measure yourself against their yardstick.  You’re not failing just because you aren’t parenting like another mother is. You are doing exactly what your child needs right now. That’s good parenting.

 You are doing a great job! Go YOU! Your job is to make them feel safe, secure, and cared for. If a child has a capital letter syndrome, then we make special accommodations for her (or we should).

Even if a kiddo doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, we should parent her in the way she needs parenting. Cecilia is Amerey’s little one who has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, but at age five, she uses a weighted blanket and needs melatonin to sleep.

Adults are picky. Why can’t kids be picky?

Our culture expects kids to conform to whatever we tell them to do. Kids are humans. Each child has a personality. They will have likes and dislikes just like adults. It’s okay. Don’t force your kiddo to like something because you think she should. It will backfire. Don’t try to shove a square peg in a round hole.

Eating Issues.

You want your child to feel comfortable at the table. So, if she doesn’t like what is always being served, don’t make it about the food. Make it about nutrition and relationship. Family dinners should be about connection.

Do unto other’s as you would like to be done unto you.

Listen to your kiddo when she is expressing a need, fear, like or dislike. That’s what adults want. Kids want the same thing. Think of your child as a person.

Motherhood is steeped in whatever is going on in the current culture.

When you’re born, whatever your culture is doing, we naturally do it. That is dangerous.

We have a family culture. A church culture. A culture.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why are we parenting this way?

What is my purpose as a mother?

What are my morals and values? What are my morals?

Am I living out those values.

Pause. Examine yourself. We should be laying up our treasures in heaven. Do we want to not invest in our children so when they grow up they are floundering. They are asking – is this the right religion? Is this the right religion?

Find a Group of Moms who support you.

You can feel isolated. You can feel like a lone wolf.  Then you isolate and the then hyper focus especially if you are a perfectionist.

Moms tend not to talk about the things they really struggle with. They tell poop stories and other things, but are often afraid to tell the truth about the struggles they are going through.

 You need to reach out to other Moms and find some who are going through similar situations.

Walk away from groups/friends that don’t encourage, equip and educate you! Friends who support your on your journey and don’t judge your child or want you to fix her are the kind to keep around.

Keep in mind your mission is to raise up a well-balanced child. Your mission is NOT to create a carbon copy of everyone else. Parenting a child as if she is “right” not “wrong” will help her navigate life with confidence. The end goal is heaven and a “Well done good and faithful servant” from God, not an “Atta boy” from the world.

Want the rest of the story? Listen to the podcast!

 

 

 

How to Respond When Everything is Going Wrong

When everything in life seems to be going wrong.

When as soon as you finish one trial, another one starts.

When even good things in your life fill you with fear because of past events.

How do you proceed?

It’s okay to be real. 

In this world of picture perfect Instagram accounts.

Or those over sharers who make you feel as if you should have nothing to complain about.

There is a real you. You don’t have to share it with everyone. You don’t have to shout your troubles from a rooftop. You do need to share with someone.

“I was terrified that if I let my struggles and true emotions show, God would be disappointed in me. Fear held me back and held up the corners of my smile, like strings on a puppet.” – Holley Gerth via You’re Loved No Matter What

Something’s got to give.

For most of my life, I put on the external facade. I was like a puppet on a string. I was strong and didn’t show my emotions because I thought I shouldn’t. I was a junior in college and under a ton of pressure with my upcoming marriage and finals, my step-father Bud warned, “Something has to give. It might be you.”

I didn’t fully understand it at the time. And years later when my doctor told me that stress was a factor in worsening physical symptoms, it was another warning. When we internalize all of our worries, our thoughts, our fears (and those of others if we have a burden bearing personality) without any release, it will come one way or another.

For some of us, our stresses come out in anger. Others it’s tears. Some bury themselves in work so they don’t have to be alone with their thoughts. Many turn to entertainment, Some of us have physical symptoms – migraines, joint pain, digestive problems or fill in the blank. Others turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. One way or another, something’s got to give. Don’t let it be you.

 What’s the solution?

When my kids were little, I helped them all memorize Psalm 100. It is such a beautiful word picture.I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart.png

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 100

 

You may be wondering why I am bringing up thanksgiving and praise when we were talking about disappointments, fears, trials, burden bearing, and stresses.

If you want to enter into God’s presence, complaining and negative words won’t do.

You can’t be grateful and negative at the same time.

Thanksgiving is the key to entering God’s yard.

Praise opens the inner courts into God’s presence.

 Search for Truth.

Find scriptures that apply to what you are going through. Write them down. Study them.

Journal your thoughts and prayers so you can move from emotional to logical thinking.

 God does not waste pain or suffering.

This is both my favorite point and least favorite. Is that possible? When the cup of suffering comes my way, I’d like to say “pass.” But, that’s not realistic. We all have pain and suffering. Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune to suffering. It’s what we do with our suffering that should be different.

Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

God comforts us so we in turn comfort others.  We are like a toddler who rocks a baby doll because she was rocked when she got a boo-boo.

When trials come our way, we are told to rejoice (James 1). We may not be able to rejoice and be grateful for the distress, pain, or suffering. We can rejoice in the midst of the suffering. We can enter the gates of God’s house with thanksgiving. We can enter His inner courts with praise. Praise His attributes. He never changes. While everything in our lives constantly changes, He is constant.

 

 

How Having a Large Family Taught us to Have Joy During Trials

Ever have one of those moments when you look around and time seems to be in slow motion? You have one of those sparks of realization that your life is different than those around you? I had one of those recently, concerning trials.

I was sitting in church and Pastor W. was talking about suffering. We have had some serious health things come up in our church body and everyone is reeling from the stress of it. We did a massive prayer service a few Sundays ago which I highly recommend. The following Sunday, Pastor W. gave some super helpful tips about suffering. I looked around and realized how many people only experience suffering in blips. It’s not an everyday occurrence. Weird. Not like my life at all. My life has been a series of trials. Not on a daily basis, on an hourly one. I’m not complaining. Just a fact that my adult children and I have talked about before. We’re used to trials. They’re pretty normal to us. I’m not talking about major trials, although we have had our share of those as well, I’m talking about those “death by paper cuts” ones. The trials like storm clouds that keep rolling in.

My elder brother and I were catching up over the holidays one year, I shared about three of my seven kiddos. “Ania almost drove into the ditch and had to get help, Gregory wrecked his car and Amerey had a baby!”

“All in one month?” he asked.

“No. All in one day. Actually within a few hours.”

Raising a huge family with some kids from hard places can be chaotic. It can be organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Let’s just say, the sort of chaos I’m talking about is suffering/trials of various levels. Those are good teachers.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.- James 1

 

Large (Adoptive/foster cause that’s my experience) families face trials of many kinds on a minute by minute basis (especially if you homeschool). This scene from Cheaper by the Dozen is real life for us. We did this whole scene minus the frog with spaghetti. Five plates of spaghetti on the floor.

 

Three Things Large (Adoptive or Not) Families know about trials/suffering.

 

  1. We take on the belief that “This too shall pass.” We get used to the waves of trials. Large families realize that milk can spill, be cleaned up and spill again. I’m sure other families do the same. We just have more trial runs (pun intended). One year we had a Christmas party at our home for friends and a toddler pulled an opened liter of sprite off the counter. I remember so distinctly because of her mother’s expression. Yes, I would be horrified if my toddler spilled something at someone else’s house, but it’s a minor trial, not a major one. If there isn’t someone hurt, it’s just a thing, a mess that can be cleaned up. People are more important than things.
  2. We learn how to be calm in the midst of the storm. This point really goes back to number one. I think of Jesus sleeping on the boat in the midst of the storm (kind of like a mom trying to get a few winks on the couch while kids are playing) and the disciples wake him up, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?” Our kids have a similar version of this “Mom, don’t you care if _________.” Moms with multiples learn how to stay calm in the storm. Why? Because, there is always a storm. You have to have a big perspective and little actions. And also, expending energy for things that we can’t control becomes way too counter productive. WE learn how to persevere. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” that God has given him to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul has asked God three times to remove it…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.– 2 Corinthians 12: 9Text placeholder (3).png

 

  1. We learn to set aside our self interest for those of others. We become spiritually mature. It’s sink or swim. Trust God or remain in constant stress. You either rely on the grace of God or you fall apart. You either set aside your self or you end up frustrated and angry all the time.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3, 4

It’s an interesting dynamic. Once you get used to telling yourself “no” for the interest of other’s a few times, it gets easier. After a while, it gets downright joyful. I am not talking about letting someone walk all over you. I’m talking about sacrifice. Staying up late to make a costume, help with a project or bake cookies with your kiddos or turning off Netflix to read aloud with a child on your lap.

4. We realize our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. This is a biggie. I will be the first to admit, this is almost an hourly struggle. It’s hard to admit that God is in control when my circumstances are out of control or feel as if they are. Often we get the big call of God on our lives, to raise children, stay home, homeschool. start a blog, write a book or volunteer at the food pantry and the list goes on. Those are the big picture things. You can write them on a sticky note and put them on the calendar. But, what happens when you know you are supposed to write a book, but circumstances keep getting in the way, those circumstances might even be your children. What if you blocked off a chunk of time and a child ate up that time, literally and figuratively. My experience has been when I wallow in frustration, it effects me physically. I feel sick. My muscles ache from the tension.  When I realize that God directs my path and I accept it, things go so much smoother. If God gave you a job, He will equip you for it. He will if you trust Him.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].- Proverbs 3: 5,6

I’m sure you can learn all of these lessons without having a large family, but having one definitely offers many more trial runs. I’m speaking from my experience. I’m sure you have your own. However you get there -practicing perseverance helps us work towards maturity. Trials are opportunities.