Working Mom’s Devotional: Not Ready For Christmas?

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Not ready for Christmas?  Me neither.  If I could just stop time this week.  There are just too many gifts to buy, presents to wrap, and cookies to bake.  The teacher gifts alone can drive me mad.  And then there’s my travel schedule.  Four cities in five days.  Who has time to get ready for Christmas?

Not me.

Sometimes, I think if I was a “really good mother” I might finally feel prepared.

But then I look at Mary.

She wasn’t prepared either.

When I look at the birth of Christ I am comforted by Mary’s lack of planning. It doesn’t appear she attended birthing classes or decorated a nursery. She didn’t have a birthing coach, and she was far away from family and friends, traveling to Bethlehem. (She also didn’t bake cookies or run around buying teacher gifts at the last minute!)  The amazing thing is that God had prepared her.

I had read the story of Mary and Elizabeth since I was a child but only recently was struck by God’s complete brilliance in using the birth of John the Baptist to prepare Mary for her own labor and delivery. When the angel Gabriel visited Mary and foretold the birth of Christ, Elizabeth—John the Baptist’s mother-to-be—was already six-months pregnant. (Luke 1:56) Mary went to visit Elizabeth and stayed with her three months. Six plus three is nine, so Mary must have stayed for John’s birth. Assuming she did, she would have watched and learned about labor and delivery firsthand from her older cousin Elizabeth. So Mary didn’t have to attend birthing classes or rent a video. How else would a young virgin in the middle of Bethlehem know how to give birth with an inexperienced husband in a stable?

In other words, God is in charge of preparing the way for Christmas, not us.

So, how does Mary teach us to respond?

She says“yes” and trusts God with the details.  When the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary to announce the immaculate birth, listen to her response:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1:38) 

Can getting ready for Christmas really be this simple?  Like me, are you struggling to get it all done this year?

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[Dear Readers, As many of you have noticed, I’ve taken a break from blogging during this season.  Thank you deeply for the kind notes and encouragement.  Life is complicated, but God is good and I hope to ramp up writing again in 2015.  I miss you dearly!  Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.   Warmly, Susan]


 

***Excerpts above from Chasing Superwoman.

Working Mom’s Devotional: Time To Push The Pause Button?

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There is a season for everything.

A season to play.  A season to work.

A season to spend.  A season to save.

A season to be a mom 24/7 with a busy house of demanding growing kids.  A season to be an empty nester who can’t wait until the kids come home to visit.

Like many of you, I’m in that 24/7 busy mom stage.  Like you, I ask myself, will things ever slow down?

We used to think things were busy when our kids were in diapers.  Then they went to preschool and started play dates. We used to think things were busy when our kids were in preschool.  Then they went to grade school and started homework and organized sports. We used to think things were busy when our kids were in grade school.  Then they went to middle school and started social events and travel sports.

In answer to the above question – Will things ever slow down? – the answer is (probably) yes.  Just not for a long time. Which means we need to push the pause button repeatedly.

Like it or not, we just can’t get everything done.  We can’t do it all.

For me, I’ve had to push the pause button in an area that is near and dear to my heart. Writing. Sure, I know it’s not forever.  My husband tells me “you’ll have time to write again in a few years.”  I know he is probably right.  I even plan to write some this fall when the kids go back to school.  But that doesn’t make it any easier.  The fact of the matter is this. I have to give up things that I love for people I love.  This is just the way life is.   This is my season as a working mom.  A season I wouldn’t trade for anything.

If you’re a busy working mom, you can probably relate.  Maybe you’ve given up your social life (I did that for about 7 years).  Or you’ve given up tennis or sailing or painting.  Maybe you’ve even given up a Bible study or volunteer work (gasp!) so you can spend more time with your family.

That doesn’t mean it’s forever.  Just for a season.

Where have you had to push the “pause button”?  Have you allowed yourself to put something important on hold for this season?  

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To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 

I Want More Mom!

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The lemonade stand did not start well.  Abby started it with a friend, but then her sister joined.  And another friend.  Pretty soon, four girls were arguing over how to make the lemonade, how to approach the customers, and how to split the money!

“It was my idea.  I did all the work!  And I shouldn’t have to share the money with anyone!” Abby cried.

Yes, money talks.  Why does it always have to be about the money?

I know I should be doing more to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and service, but right now, I have too many excuses. I simply don’t have the time. It’s too dangerous to take my kids to that side of town. My own family has enough needs right now. I would just be a Band-Aid to problems that are bigger than I can tackle. It’s not like I can make a real commitment. I don’t want to be one of those people who says she is going to effect change and then do nothing. Isn’t it better not to get involved at all? Maybe when I retire and the kids move out, then I can really focus on helping all those needy families. I’m feeling pretty needy myself these days.

In today’s culture, it’s hard to teach our kids that our lives are about more than our material possessions. After all, having more stuff is cool, isn’t it?  So we read the story of the rich fool who had such a good crop that he tore down his barns, built bigger barns, and thought he was set for life. The only problem? God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Back to the lemonade stand.  I probably should have intervened when I saw them fighting over the money, but like too many working mothers, I’m pretty overwhelmed, so I don’t get involved.  I don’t lecture the kids about the rich young ruler.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I just want a moment of peace.  I am too busy reading a new book on my Kindle.

But just when I feel like a complete failure as a mother, my children surprise me.

“We are giving all the proceeds to charity,” Abby announces.  She asks me how to spell “mission.”   Then she puts all the money in an envelope, seals it, and labels it “Mission Fund”.

This materialism thing is hard.  Sometimes I think it’s harder for the adults than it is for the kids.   In my case, my kids have given me a good nudge.   I welcome the nudge.

Dear God, I want to pay it forward.  Please help me to store up treasures in heaven.

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Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   (Matthew 6:19–21)

The Blessing of a Forgotten Cell Phone

I was driving to Abby’s soccer game when I began to panic.  I yelled out a twisted moan.

“What’s wrong Mom,” Abby asked.

“It’s nothing.  It’s just that I forgot my iPhone.  And I don’t have time to go back home to get it.”

No, I wasn’t upset about not having the camera. (I’m not one of those moms that constantly takes video of my 8-year-old playing soccer.)   My panic stemmed from the fact that I would be disconnected from the world for an entire hour.  Maybe longer.

The problem is much deeper than I care to admit.  I utterly felt naked without my iPhone.  Like a part of my body was missing.  Like I was missing.

Don’t ask me why I’m so addicted.  But I am.  If five minutes passes and I haven’t checked my texts and emails, I start to fidget.   Plus, the soccer game is a perfect time to catch up all of those personal messages I’ve neglected all week.

Now, I am going to waste all that down time!  What will I possibly do for one hour? 

Believe it or not, I survived.  I’ll tell you what I did.

Instead of sitting in my self-absorbed la la land, I actually talked to the other parents.  I introduced myself to a few familiar faces and made several friends.  I connected with my son’s former teacher who was thrilled to learn about Nick’s middle school experience.  And I actually watched the game!  It was no coincidence that Abby scored three goals – and I even saw them because I wasn’t staring at my phone!

Am I going to leave my iPhone behind on purpose next time?

Of course not.  God knows I still have a long way to go – and I’m sure my obsession borders an unholy form of idolatry.  But at least I know I can do it!  With God’s grace, I can do it, and so can you!

God, I so much want your peace to fill my soul.  Forgive me for letting technology get in the way of real relationships.  Help me to unplug – even for an hour. 

Have you ever forgotten your phone and panicked?  If so, how did you fill the void?   

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16.33

Not Ready For Easter? You’re In Good Company

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic.  I dreamed it was Easter morning, and I had forgotten to fill the Easter baskets and hide the eggs.  I almost got out of bed until I realized I had another day.  So I took a deep breath and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me.

I’m not ready for Easter.

Yet in the midst of my panic attack, I heard another voice.  A voice that is much calmer.  A voice that assures me that Easter is not about me, it’s about something much bigger.  Something miraculous that doesn’t depend on my efforts to fill Easter baskets or hide eggs.

Here’s what the voice said:

Keep it simple this year.

I know, this isn’t very profound.  But it hit me hard.  Probably because life is more complicated than it needs to be right now.  Granted, I no longer need to deal with Easter Bunny Drama (I never really liked that sneaky Easter Bunny anyway).  Yet I still feel the pressure to make Easter a big production – to get distracted from the real meaning of the death and resurrection of my Lord.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even ready for Lent this year.  The season has passed so quickly.  In an effort to “keep it simple” this week, I’ve been reading about the last week of Jesus’ life.  Every evening, we sit in the living room and read about the events of the day.  One thing I’m struck by (with some comfort) is this:  the disciples weren’t ready either.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t prepare for Easter let alone fathom the events to come.  But this didn’t stop Jesus.

I may not be ready for Easter, but maybe that’s a good thing.  It forces me to “keep it simple” – to leave room for Jesus to surprise me instead of getting distracted by my own efforts and plans.  To even embrace an Easter miracle.

How will you keep Easter simple this year?   Are you ready for the unexpected?

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  (Luke 18: 31-34)