All posts in Working Mom’s Devotional

Working Mom’s Devotional: Are You Present At Home?

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Some of my friends are picking one word this year.  A single word to sum up a goal or intention for 2015.  A simple way to stay engaged after New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten.

What’s the first word that comes to mind for 2015?

Here’s mine:  PRESENT

No, I’m not going to focus on this word for an entire year.  I’m way too impatient (and I have too many words I’m excited about) so I’ll focus on one word a month.  Want to join me?

This January, I’m asking myself if I’m really present – at home, at work, with others, and in my relationship with God.  Am I engaged in the moment, or am I constantly preoccupied with everything else?  More often than not, I can tell you what’s happening on my email, what’s going on on the other side of the world, or what’s on my calendar next week.  But can I tell you what the person sitting beside me is thinking or feeling?  Am I connected in real time?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for months.  So much that I haven’t been blogging.  I haven’t been writing.  And I’ve backed off considerably from social media.

But this is about more than unplugging.  Unplugging is a knee jerk reaction to something bigger.  Unplugging is about pushing the pause button so I can stop and think.  And listen.  Fortunately, I have plenty of people who are willing to give me advice.

Starting with my third grade daughter.

“Mom, yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.” (Author Unknown)

Pretty timely, huh?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some serious down time.  I’ve had the luxury of connecting with my family in real time.  And I’ve learned an important aspect of living in the present.  Being present means putting other people before yourself.

Several times over Christmas break, I have spent time jumping on the trampoline in our back yard.  Not by choice.  It’s freezing outside.  I get dizzy jumping up and down.  And I twisted my neck and broke my fingernails playing this crazy game on the trampoline called “Ga-ga.”  It’s much easier to be selfish with my time.  Being present requires me to engage.  It requires me to consider the thoughts and give in to the preferences of others.  It even requires me to play Ga-ga.

But my daughters love it.  They light up whenever I jump, and they say things like, “Mom, this is so cool.  I can’t believe you are actually good at Ga-ga.”    You see, when I’m jumping on the trampoline, I have a singular focus.  I can’t multi-task, I can’t take a phone call or text, and I can’t even carry a conversation.  I just jump, laugh, and try not to get hit by the ball.

Do you make similar sacrifices to be actively present at home?  How can you best engage in real time with your family in 2015?

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

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

Working Mom’s Devotional: Not Now God!

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“Your license expired over a month ago.” My husband boomed as I walked into the door after a long week.

“That’s impossible, I just renewed it two years ago.”

“No, really.  We just got a notice in the mail.  It expired on your birthday.”

Rats!  I hate it when he’s right.  Worse yet, I just don’t have time to get my license renewed.  At least that’s what I told myself all weekend.

I’ll just get it done Monday morning.  I’ll get to the license bureau right when it opens, and it will take me ten minutes.

Unfortunately, Monday had its own set of issues.  In addition to the usual scramble of early morning emails, packing lunches, and getting three kids out the door for school, I woke up with an eye swelled up the size of Texas!

Really, God?  I don’t have time for this!  Not right now.  I already have a busy day, I’m already driving around with an expired license, and I’m going to have to live with this picture for four years!

(As Bob Costas knows all too well, eye infections can sneak up unannounced.)

All vanity (mostly)  aside, most of us don’t have a spare minute in our schedules to wait in long lines at the license bureau or take care of unexpected eye infections.  When the ophthalmologist told me I needed to put warm compresses on my eye four times a day, I almost laughed out loud.  I’ll get right on that.  In between carpool and conference calls. 

Yet in the midst of my chaos, I hear God calling.

Stop.  Slow down.  Listen.  Come to me.

It’s a big relief.  But it’s also harder than it sounds.

During this season of Lent, I am reminded each day how far I have to go.  Even though I wrote Chasing Superwoman some six years ago, I wonder.  Has anything really changed?  I’ve traded in daycare and diapers for carpool and texting.  And I have less time that ever!

Yet in the midst of my struggle, I feel God’s grace stronger than ever.  I need him more than ever.  And I’m reminded why Jesus went so far to mend my broken Mondays.

So I take a license picture that gives me a good laugh for the next four years.

“Be still an know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

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Do you feel annoyed by the unexpected demands on your schedule?  Am I the only one who struggles to find time for doctor appointments and license renewals?