A Season to Stay

I sat there in the Costco parking lot and felt like a complete failure. I had just pulled into a spot and was taking a moment to breathe when I noticed a woman walking from her car to the front doors of the gargantuan store. To the “normal” person, there wouldn't have been anything particularly spectacular about her to note. But to me, her black “shooties”, long jacket, fresh face and bouncy hair said it all: she had it together. She wasn't some young thing either – I imagined she was also a wife and mother, all-be-it of older children than mine. (Wow, there's a lot of assumptions in that observation, aren't there?)

After all, this was post-dinnertime. A time of the day when my husband counts himself lucky if I'm still wearing something other than pajamas. I couldn't remember if I had glanced in the mirror at all on that particular Tuesday and I wasn't even quite sure if I had managed to brush my teeth that morning. It didn't really matter at this point – in a few short hours I'd be doing it as part of the bedtime ritual anyway.

You see, I almost hadn't made it out of the house that night.

Once again, every one had picked at their dinner, causing the time we sat at the table to stretch on forever and ever (which of course only succeeded in me consuming more food than I had intended). Once again, someone started having a bit of a meltdown when I reached for my shoes after asking my husband if I could just simply “get out” quick before he left the next morning for two nights out of town. And once again, I had glanced at the clock as I grabbed my keys thinking Is it even worth it to run out right now? Bedtime is in less than a hour.

But there I was. I had made it OUT. And I hadn't even journeyed more than 2 miles from our front door. And I definitely hadn't stopped to think about my appearance before venturing into the outside world – after all, that would've wasted precious minutes which I could be spending wondering the Costco aisles in peace.

This particular Tuesday had been a bit of a mental struggle. Tuesdays happen to be the only day of the week that my four children and I have the entire day together – the others I am either at work or running my twin daughters to and from preschool in the afternoon. We hadn't left the house the entire day, nor had we done anything particularly excited while at home. I had woken up feeling overwhelmed by housework, bills that needed to be paid and the ever-looming issue of what we'd be eating for dinner that night (by “we” I guess I really mean my husband and I since everyone 4 feet and under in our house seemed to be on an eating strike). We maybe had read a book or two (which someone most likely couldn't see well enough), broken out the crayons for a 10-minute coloring session (which took about the same amount of time to clean up), taken a stroll around the block (while I panicked about my two-year old boys getting too close to the curb), and watched a little Netflix (after everyone finally agreed on the same thing) while I sat at the table looking for comfort in a cup of lukewarm coffee. I had many-a conversations with God that day about why He hadn't made be better at this whole "mom thing."

Crayons

Needless to say, I wasn't feeling very proud of my day at home in that moment. And then this put-together woman had the audacity to walk right past the front of my minivan! How insensitive. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see a million fly-aways framing my makeup-less face and my messy bun falling out of position (wasn't that the style?). Oh Mel, I thought, why can't you get yourself together?

My trip to Costco proved to be successful – both in purchases (as it always is!) and for my emotional well-being. When I returned home not more than a hour later, I was greeted by hugs and delighted voices, enough to make a person think that I had been gone much longer than 45 minutes.

They didn't care that we had spent another entire Tuesday at home. They didn't notice that I hadn't even bothered to put in my contacts and looked much the same in that evening moment as I did when I pulled myself out of bed that morning. They were happy they had gotten an hour to spend with Daddy. They were happy I was now again home.

They. Were. HAPPY.

My husband and I are currently in a season of our lives where we don't “get out” much. Neither of us are members of any adult volleyball, basketball or kickball leagues. We don't have a gym membership. We don't do swim lessons with the kids. Our girls don't do gymnastics or dance or horse back riding or 4-H . And it's not because we think any of these things are a waste of time or a bad idea. With four kids under the age of 6, any event which necessitates one, some or all of us to leave the house at a specific time requires an incredible amount of preparation, planning and patience. You should see us on Sunday mornings just trying to get everyone to church! In this season of our lives, my husband and I have decided that committing to any additional, regular activities would simply be too overwhelming. But it's a decision I struggle with constantly.

Are we doing enough? Are the kids getting enough interaction? Are they sick and tired of being home? Why don't I have the energy and stamina of other moms I know who seem to do waaaaay more with their kids? All of these doubting questions run through my mind on constant replay.

But then I look at my children's faces on a night like that Tuesday. I see happiness. I see a feeling of security. I see the knowledge that they are loved. I see children who know and love Jesus. It is in moments like those that I realize that if I'm being completely honest, the guilt I feel over “not doing enough” is placed there as a result of my own insecurities, feelings of inadequacies and desire to “keep up with the Jones's” – it really doesn't have much to do with my children at all.

I try hard to know and understand my limitations. I know that between work, home, keeping up with family and friends and keeping everyone well-fed, I've got enough on my plate right now and there's not a lot of room for “extra” – at least not if I want to keep my sanity. If I manage to sign each one of my children up for a new class or activity but end up over-stressed, overwhelmed and over-extended, what good is it? Am I really enriching my children's lives by denying them a more emotionally available, loving and relaxed mom?

Gabes Eyes

If you run from here to there with your children, from tennis practice to dance class to fencing club and back again, more power to you. Truly, I admire your abundance of energy and ability to balance it all. But if you don't, look into your children's faces: are they happy? Do they know you love them? Most importantly, do they know their Savior loves them? If the answer is yes, then rest easy, my friend. You're doing exactly what you should be because God made you exactly as He intended. And I'll try to remind myself of the same :)

MelBioEdit

Too Adventageous? My Advent Schedule

AdventFBcover Can something be too beneficial? too good for you? too perfect?

Let me break it down here... can too much of a good thing be harmful?

Advent did not catch me by surprise this year as it has in the past. Our Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts have been swarmed with ideas to prepare my family for Christmas during this Advent season. There are so many good ideas! They seem promising (and fun!) for my family to focus on Jesus during this busy and materialistic season that our culture promotes. GOOD!

Most Advent ideas are countdown calendars. There are simple calendars with paper doors that open to bible passages or some mediocre chocolate that somehow tastes better because of its adorableness. Whoever came up with that idea is genius! Anyhow, there are other Advent countdown calendars that guide families to create ornaments for their Christmas tree with bible readings, paper link chains with bible passages to read on the inside, hymn sing togethers, daily advent devotions, Jesse Tree journeys, and even some that have a countdown list for good things to do for others. I have used some of these Advent activities and recommend them. GOOD!

So, how can good preparations for Christmas become bad for me? How can I become too "adventageous"?

When all of these good preparations for Christmas take my focus away from Jesus - the source and heart of Christmas.

And ladies, I sit here typing with only one hand while my other one is raised because I am guilty. I am SO guilty of over scheduling myself and my family. It is the first week of Advent goodness and already I have rushed to events, practices, and pulled an all nighter preparing for this coming Christmas. I want to echo Amber's words, "I Can(t) Do It All!" I have learned a lesson.

My checklists, Jesse tree ornaments, music performances, Advent by Candlelight, children's Christmas service plans, family get togethers and Christmas dreams have me burned out.

If Jesus came back today am I ready? Like Jesus' parable about the 10 virgins in Matthew 25, my oil lamp feels empty.

AdventSchedule

Now, this post isn't written to make us feel stressed out or guilty but rather that we find peace. If we never miss a day on our Advent schedules, or if we skip a couple of days, or start with the best intentions and do not complete our tasks... we can find rest this Christmas.

A successful Christmas does not rely on how many things we prepare to do this time of year. Christmas was successful 2,000 years ago!

God prepared his Son to come to this earth at the exact time that was necessary for our salvation.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:6-8

Are we ready for Advent? Are we ready for Christmas? Is that really the important question?

I pray that above everything else during Advent we remember that God prepared FOR our salvation back then and is preparing FOR us even now.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. - John 14:1-4

We don't know when Jesus will return, we can't see God's calendar, but we can always trust his schedule. God is perfectly "adventageous" for us.

Click here to print off the bible study that goes along with this blog post!

1. Share! How do you prepare for Christmas during Advent?

2. Discuss! How can good preparations for Christmas become bad for us? How can we become too "adventageous"? 3. Read Matthew 25:1-13! How can we be prepared for Jesus‘ second coming? Give specifics.

4. Discuss! How can we properly balance Advent to avoid burnout?

5. Read Romans 5:6-8! Where do you find peace in these passages? Where do you find hope?

6. Read John 14:1-7! In verse 4 Jesus says that the disciples knew the way to the place where he was going. What is the way to the Father? (vs. 6)

 

Amanda2

*If you use the bible study in a group or share it with another please give source credit to me and the blog. Thank you!

The "Too Adventageous" series is made up of four bible studies: 1) My Advent Schedule 2) God's Advent Menu 3) God's Christmas Decor 4) God's Christmas Gift

During the rest of the week you can find me at our private online bible study Facebook group where we dive deeper into God’s word and talk about it. If you want to be a part of the bible study I highly recommend being a part of the Facebook group where we get to know you more and be mutually encouraged! The Facebook group is private so any information that you share will be seen only by those allowed in the group.

You can join the Facebook online bible study group by clicking here.