Saturday, October 18, 2008

Precious Investments

The leaves are burning with color. Today, brilliant shades of red, orange and gold danced in the wind against a sky of blue. This is my favorite time of the year. I love taking walks in the crisp autumn air. I love the smell of the cracked leaves that have fallen off of the trees early. The fall is always so nostalgic to me. Memories of football games, the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch always find their way into my mind as the coolness fills the air. My parents used to have backyard parties with bonfires and hayrides. We would all gather up into my dad's little trailer that he filled with hay and he would pull us with his small tractor through our property and into the park that sat adjacent to us. The park was about one half of a mile long and at the far end, nestled in the corner there was a graveyard, an old-fashioned one with tall headstones. Apparently the people who used to own the land that the park was on were buried there. We had so much fun telling scary stories and roasting marshmallows. I love these memories. My mom and dad filled my childhood with so many wonderful times. They put their all into raising us.

As I recall these special times, I am reminded of how important it is for me to invest time into my children's lives. I am so busy. I want to get involved in so many things. I want to serve God in ministries that help people come to know Him. I feel like I am being pulled in so many directions and struggle so much with feeling guilty about not committing to more. There are so many opportunities at church to serve, but I really feel like God is pointing me toward serving my family, especially my kids, at this time. When I am over-committed and trying to balance working, with the boys' hockey, with Joe's work schedule, with cleaning the house and doing the laundry, with catching up on a lack of sleep-due to an 18-month-old not sleeping through the night (who should not be screaming like a banshee at 5 am!!), I feel like I am going to lose my mind! ...And I take it out on the people who I care most for. We have such little time with our children. Before I know it, they'll be driving off, waving goodbye, moving out and leaving our house! I have such a prompting to slow down and invest in my children. They are my ministry right now. So often I forget that they are not my own,but they are God's children. He has placed so much responsibility into my hands. As cliche as it may sound, I need to lead my children to Christ, to come to know and love and accept Him into their hearts. I yearn for my children to desperately seek God and His ways all of the days of their lives and if I am so over-committed that I am crabby and irritable all of the time then I am going to fail at what is most important in life to me as a mother. We lead by example. If words are spewing from my tongue, but actions are greatly lacking, my efforts are meaningless. Talking is not going to exhibit what compassion and grace are to my children. They are going to learn mostly from my interactions with them and with their daddy and with the people closest to us. These relationships are models that will shape them into the wife and husbands and mother and fathers that they hopefully will one day become.

In the next few weeks, as the leaves start to shrivel and descend from the trees and the branches hang bare against the cold gray skies, I hope to die to myself a little more. As the trees shake off their dead leaves, I hope to cast off my worries and cares about hurting people's feelings if I say no, and say yes to my family, yes to my God and His purpose for me at this time. Pleasing Him is what I want more than anyone's approval and praise on this earth. Loving Him completely. Showing His love to all, especially my precious little ones, is what I long for!

Deuteronomy 4:6-9 (The Message)

Attention Israel!

God, our God! God, the one and only!

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that's in you, love Him with all you've got!

Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home, or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.