By Contributing Writer, Kim Doebler
In a few months our home will be “teen full”. Our children will range in age from thirteen to eighteen. We enter one season while another one ends. We all recognize that there are seasons to our lives, but do we see the value in each one as we experience it?
Contentment allows us to live each day to its fullest.
Recently, a mom of three little ones shared how she desires to make a difference, to have a “ministry” outside her family. She made this statement as if everyone present should understand. The ministry potential with her children was of little value compared to what she thought she could do “out there”. Because she is discontent, the work she has to do in her home is not satisfying. She wants something more.
When our children were toddlers, I didn’t serve at church. There was some pressure to help out in the nursery, to be a part of a ministry. We couldn’t see why I would leave our children to watch someone else’s. My hands were full and I wanted every opportunity with my children to train and guide them.
Being a people pleaser, I did struggle some with the decision, but the struggle ended when I stopped looking at what other people thought and prioritized my family. Contentment allowed me to serve my family fully, knowing there would come a season later when I would be better able to serve at church.
The season to serve the church is now. Not only can I serve, but I have multiplied my service by bringing four children with me! Because I waited and used the time to be with my toddlers, we can now all serve the church as a family.
Another time the Liar tried to steal my contentment looked like this: It started with some grumblings going on in my mind. I found it hard to get out of bed. Instead of being thankful for a family to serve, I saw each day as monotonous.
As this particular day progressed, I found myself in quite a tizzy as I vacuumed. On and on I rambled to myself about how unfair it was that I had to give and give and no one noticed. Here I was vacuuming, and who cared? All I did was cook and clean.
The children always wanted something and when my husband got home, he wanted something too. I was tired…did anyone care? Dry, the tank was dry! God cared, but He didn’t want to send me to the spa, He wanted to offer me contentment.
As I stewed, the Lord reminded me that it was not serving that was exhausting me, it was my expectations. Jesus came to serve, that was my calling too. By getting rid of the expectations of recognition and praise, I could be content in my day to day.
Commitments can keep us from accomplishing real goals.
During our first several years of homeschooling there were pulls to join several co-ops and extra clubs. We passed on these options while the children required my total attention for school. Until they could read, write and do basic mathematics, we stayed home without extra commitments. We didn’t want to miss laying a firm foundation by running around.
Homeschooling is funny; it has its own social pressures. It always appears that the way others are schooling is better. A family can get caught up trying to better their education by committing to too much, while mastering nothing.
Recognizing that a time is coming when the children are more independent in their school, and extra activities won’t throw them off schedule, provides a parent with peace to wait and not over-commit. There may be a season to stay home and a season to add some extras, it takes purpose to discern between the two.
It has been a few years already since we moved into the season of being able to go more. Still, we must stay sensitive to when going becomes too much. When doing something becomes a stress instead of joy, then we weigh whether this activity is a need.
Some children are easily stressed; thinking of the negative side to anything out of routine comes naturally to them. These children need help stretching themselves. Yet, tears and worry about not getting responsibilities done, can be a sign that the calendar is too full.
Chasing ahead can get us in trouble.
We wanted to start our daughter playing piano at five. Our neighborhood piano teacher said, “I won’t start her until she is eight. I have found that a child started at five and a child started at age eight, are at equal ability by age ten; so there is no need to start so early.” This was a concept we began to apply regarding many areas. What could we wait for and still have the same result?
Although this question helped us use each season to its fullest, we still ran ahead sometimes. One of our daughters had the habit of walking on her toes. She would prance around the house like she had wings. Twirls and courtesies were as common as walking to her. My husband was sure she was a budding ballerina.
At four years old we enrolled her in ballet. Our free spirit stood in a line and marched around the room swinging her arms to the left and then the right; an expensive game of follow the leader.
Her natural talent seemed lost; prancing became nonexistent. We realized we had jumped ahead. We had taken her natural expression and tried to put her in a box. She was too young; if she showed interest in ballet at eight or ten we could reconsider then. This daughter is still very expressive and free, but never did push to do ballet.
Another problem with chasing ahead is we can get burned out. Jumping into too much, too soon, can taint our view of extra activities to the point that we stop looking ahead to what our children need. As long as our children are under our care, we need to be zealous about what will help to shape and prepare them for their future. We cannot risk getting tired and then coasting to the finish line.
Here are some key questions worth asking:
- Am I living this season to its fullest or wishing for the next?
- What is helping us to accomplish our goals for today?
- What is stealing time because it is meant for a future date?
Remember these key points toward joy and effectiveness:
- Contentment is accepting and being thankful for today….each day.
- Having lots of commitments doesn’t always equal effectiveness. Often less commitments is more when it comes to family life.
- Not doing something today, doesn’t mean it will never happen. Instead of chasing ahead, look ahead and see if another time, perhaps in a few years, would be a better time to chase a new pursuit.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24
If this verse does not describe what you are experiencing, then check your contentment, commitments, and chasing ahead to see if they need altering. Ask God to open your eyes to see the value of the season you are in right now, to live each season to its fullest!