Often I think about the apostle Paul’s dismay. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:15, 18. I know EXACTLY how he feels. Almost daily…or maybe even several times a day I feel just like that.
This is what I want to do… I want to help my kids get off to school with everything that they need for the day, including a good lunch packed with love. I want to be present for them, and get them to, and attend as many as possible of their activities. Check…I usually succeed at this. But what about the time in the middle of the day? The time that they are at school before we start getting CRAZY BUSY after school? I want to write. I want to devote my day to my “work.” Just like I would if I were at an office, I want to work on the books I have going. And, to switch it up on occasion and write blogs and articles and devotionals. Mostly, I want to add value to somebody’s day… including mine. I want to generate some thought or some conversation about topics that, in my opinion, are important …like Family, and Faith, and Friendship, and Love. And I want to break all of my bad habits… eating junk, not exercising regularly, staying up excessively late…and on and on.
When it comes to “carrying out the good” that I “desire to do”… as my twelve-year-old son would say… I am “An Epic Fail.”
Why? Because I am a creature of habit? Because I can’t “work” until my work space is tidy? Because I like junk food and having quiet-in-the-house- after kids are asleep time? Because I am human mom me and I simply can not help it because I am HUMAN… I am compelled out of a sense of responsibility to do things I hate! Some things that I hate are not “sinful” things like Paul is talking about… quite the opposite. What I hate doing is necessary and actually sacrificial. I do them because I CARE about my family and I Love my family above all things. So I spend my time cleaning up their rooms…and doing their laundry… and washing their dishes, and planning meals, and going to the grocery store… and paying bills with the money I don’t have… and going to the post office to get stamps when I run out from all the bills I pay…and eating junk because it is easy and cheap… and not exercising because I rationalize carrying laundry up steps as lifting weights and taking a walk. I am a gerbil in a tiny cage. There is a main section of the cage where I spend most of my time doing my busy work (the house). The big wheel is located here. I run on that wheel for hours and hours and hours and never get anywhere. Then there are the tunnels where I travel to get to the other few places that I need to get to… the little extra cubby holes represent all of the other places where I might be found on any given day ( a school, a sports field or arena, a bank or library)…you get the picture. I don’t go very far in any direction on any given day. Most everything I ever do is within a ten-mile radius from my house. And, what I do HAS to be done. It is my number one job. My kids number one jobs are being students…they are at their “place of employment” from 8am-3pm. Their second job is being a kid… and that might mean playing a sport, or an instrument or doing a project. They are busy. They do work… and they don’t always love it either. So, my number one job…at least for the next few years that they are still in my house is to support them by keeping them clean and fed and sheltered. That is why I do what I do…and the WHY I try to do my busy work with a happy heart. The WHAT (ie. scrubbing toilets or cleaning cat barf off the rug) is not always done with a happy heart. But it is done.
My days from 8am until 3pm are PLENTY busy. (FYI: I NEVER …let me repeat N E V E R EVER turn on the TV. NEVER.)
Let me describe my ideal day from 8am until 3pm. Again… I said, IDEAL…Once I take the kids to school, I would come back to a miraculously clean house, sit at the table and write all day. I would drink two cups of hot coffee, one glass of iced coffee with peppermint flavour syrup that I bought at Starbuck’s and I would snack on dark chocolate chips… maybe adding an extra large spoon full of JIF creamy peanut butter if my tummy gets grumbly. I would also take a 45 minute to an hour walk with my dog. If I am extra energetic or the day is exceptionally sunny and brisk I would hook his leash to a street sign at the top of a steep hill, and I would walk down and then sprint up the hill at least three times. On my ideal day I happily return back to a flower ladened (gerbera daisies, zenias, sunflowers) yard, carpeted with soft green grass, dotted with large shade trees and hammocks… my house is a white country home up on a little hill, with a wrap around front porch, and a back yard that gradually slopes into a lake… and a view of the mountains across the lake. Sunshine is flickering on the lake like a trillion dancing diamonds, of course. Upon my return to my ideal home from my perfect brisk walk on the 75 degree sunshiny day, I take a quick shower. If my husband is home (and he would be on an ideal day) I would kiss him thoroughly, hug him close, and then I would write some more.
One day when I finally finish the books that I am writing, I will add “read a good book” for a couple of hours during my ideal day…or go see a movie.
And since this is an IDEAL day, not to be confused AT ALL with a REAL day, in between my writing /”work”, eating and walking…etc. I would send letters to people just to let them know that I am thinking about them and that I care about them. Because I DO think about people ALL DAY. I wish they knew how often they were thought of and how often good wishes are sent their way. And I would call people. If you know me at all, you know that this is indeed an IDEAL scenario and would never actually occur in the real world… unless my body was abducted by alien invaders. If I wasn’t actually me, but somebody else who could remotely tolerate talking on the phone, I would call the people I love often. See, the real/ not the ideal me hates the telephone. I always have. But, in THEORY, I LOVE the thought of calling someone just to say hello. My husband does this, and not only do I think it is thoughtful and kind for the other person’s sake, , but it feeds him too! He gets as big a blessing out of his random thoughtful action as they do! If I were a phone talker, I would plop down on the couch, put my feet up and I would ask my friends and family how they are and what’s new. But REALITY is that I don’t ever even sit on the couch or put me feet up. Almost never… but I would like to plop and call and keep up. I guess if it’s not likely that I will send cards or letters or call people on the telephone, I could send a quick text, or message on Facebook. I COULD do any or all of these things and I WANT TO!!! But, I don’t. I just don’t do it. I HATE that about me:( so, if you are a contact or a friend or family just go ahead and consider this the call, card, letter text or email that I should send if I were not human and pathetic like Paul describes. I think about you all…and want to let you know I care. I love you, and I’m sorry I don’t tell you like I should.
But today is a new day. I see my failings and the first step to change is seeing the problem…And I recall the crayon on construction paper Bible verses that I decorated my childhood walls with: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. Writing is my natural way to communicate… not the phone. Please accept this blog as my hope at shining a little light today.
Also on my wall was: “”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men.” Colossians 3:23. In my real day I am working for my family…for their benefit. But I do it the best that I can because God sees me even if they don’t. God understands the desire of my heart and appreciates it, even if the family fails to notice…or does not comment. Sadly, I am not the best at letting people know they are appreciated either… so I am ok with not getting words of confirmation. I am letting my light shine by letting my love show in the things that I do. Nothing is “Not my job” if it needs doing. nothing is too mundane, boring, dirty or disgusting…if somebody is going to have to do it, it might as well be me. And I am not keeping score of who does what, or how much I do or how much or little someone else does. I take care of what I can take care of and hopefully when my children HAVE to take care of things for their own family they will have learned from my example..and hopefully when I need help my husband will gladly oblige. I do not believe that “Do as I say” has any power… but I believe “Do as I do” can move mountains if it is done with the right attitude , a loving and giving attitude. I AM NOT great at this…but I want to be. That is part of my ideal day too.
I want to expand on this. Colossians 3 starting with verse 18 is titled: “Rules for Christian Households” says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves (aka, in my opinion, “mom”, students, athletes, employees, politicians, preachers…anybody that works for another etc.) obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 18-23
In an ideal world…wives would respect and trust their husbands to take care of them and make good decisions for the family and wives would in turn be GLAD to do as much as humanly possible to help and show support… and husbands would appreciate and be grateful for all the things that the wife does to care for him and their family… and children would see the good example of mutual love and concern from their parents and they would know that their parents have rules to protect them and help them grow and learn and become good men and women…and children would be encouraged and taught with firmness but fairness… and everyone who works for another would always give their very best regardless of whether or not they were being watched or whether or not the work would ever even be acknowledged. The reward should be in doing the task to the best of our God-given ability to show honor to God for the ability itself.
It may seem random, and a strange thing to mention in this blog, but by right now there is a country music song that is very popular that I loved the very first time I heard it…I don’t love it for all of the words, but there is one line that just melts my heart and every time I hear it I say to myself, “That is right!” The song is called “Cowboys and Angels” by Dustin Lynch. It is a meaningful song to me for several reasons… first the song starts out, “There’s a want and there’s a need / there’s a history between/ girls like her and guys like me…” Since I was just speaking about The Christian Household I want it to be known that my husband and I have a history. I have known who he is for more than 30 years and I have known his heart for my whole life and maybe even longer. I don’t just want him. I need him…and it is the last sentence of this first stanza that says it all…”I’d die for her and she lives for me…” I KNOW that is true. For both of us. Just as Christ died for the church… and just as the church works with the hope that all will come to know Christ… THAT is RIGHT. That is how it is meant to be. I don’t have to say it or be told it… I have to show it and be shown it. We are the best witnesses when we never open our mouth at all. “Tell everybody you know about God! About Jesus… and if necessary, use words.”
I am trying to do both… I hope you “see” Christ in me.
There is no such thing as an ideal world. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep trying… that we shouldn’t keep striving. We have more control over people than we know. If we work hard, if we handle difficult times with grace, if we help someone or show concern, we are being a light in a dark world…we are adding value whether we know it or not. A small choice to act or not to act, to say a kind word, send a letter, pick up the phone, write a blog, send a text… An act of kindness is never a sin. It is one small pebble in the water that can have a long-lasting ripple effect. It is one seed planted that might grow into a tree that will feed and nourish hundreds or even thousands for years and years to come…well after you are gone.
Today is a new day. Yesterday is done. It is gone… and we don’t know if tomorrow will ever come. But we have this minute. What are we doing with it? Are we doing something that might seem mundane, but is necessary? Are we doing something that is making us a fortune but has no long-term value? What are we doing with our day? Are we doing everything with ALL our heart, as for the Lord? I want to. I really really do. But the first step is acknowledging that to see a change, I need to be a change. I have to make a small change in my everyday…try to make what is my reality more of my ideal. And add value. God sees me. All that I do. I want Him to know I’ve done the best that I can whether anybody else notices or not. And, I want YOU to know that I care. You are my brothers and my sisters… so may the Father of us all bring you Peace.