By Sherry Graf
About a year ago I took a weekend retreat with a good friend. We spent our days alone with God. Our evenings were filled by eating choclate (big surprise!) and watching chick flicks. During that time I skimmed through a parenting book I had been wanting to get to, enjoyed extended time alone with God, and took long prayer walks alone in the snowy woods. I remember leaving that time with a clear challenge from God to try to enjoy more this blessed life He has given me. He didn’t tell me how, mind you, and I wasn’t sure where to start. Over the next 6 months, I pondered with the Lord on how I might “enjoy more” when I had so much on my plate (and nothing was going to give for quite awhile).
My life was flowing-over with good things. I was homeschooling 3 boys, halfway through a 2 year leadership program which included lots of reading and writing with deadlines, leading the mommy missionary ministry, helping plan the NCC, trying to be a good wife, mom, friend and also reach out to our neighbors. When these responsibilities didn’t occur all at once I would enjoy them immensely. Isn’t that how it always is? On top of all this, I was struggling once again with chronic anemia so my energy level wasn’t where it needed it to be. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed out loud on a daily basis and wanted to get back to the carefree woman I had once been.
As time passed, God slowly revealed an action plan to me. It is simple but might also be of help to you too as you juggle all the responsibilities of motherhood and running a ministry through your home.
1. Choosing to Be Present
I read recently that, “ ‘Stop doing’ lists are more important than ‘to do’ lists” (Good to Great by Jim Collins). I couldn’t agree more! God asked me to be more disciplined in being mentally present to whoever was in front of me by not doing 2 things. First, I had to choose to stop multitasking (at least with things that light up on a screen or distracted me mentally). This meant keeping my phone on silent in another room during homeschool hours. Secondly, I had to choose to not worry about the dozen other things I had yet to get to. I needed to leave those in His capable hands and do one thing at a time. This has freed me up to be enjoy what is right in front of me more.
2) Choosing Fun
Being more present also freed me up to build in some refreshers into my day as Linnette challenged us all to do in her recent post. Since I wasn’t jumping on my phone to respond to a text or email while my kids finished a math sheet, I had to figure out a better way to use that time that allowed me to stay present and available. One of my top strengths is positivity and actually demands I do something FUN in my day. So I started knitting again and dusted off my guitar. These are two activities that I could easily pick up and put down while waiting for a boy to finish an assignment so I could teach the next lesson. As a result I made a sweater that I greatly enjoy wearing this winter.
3) Choosing to Love
Loving well has actually been a longer-term goal for the last few years. I found a key in being able to better love my sons with Christ’s love was a direct benefit from doing the first two aforementioned steps. When I don’t allow myself to be mentally pulled in multiple directions and build in things I greatly enjoy, I’m better positioned to love well.
On the mornings I spend time with the Lord in my bedroom praying through the day ahead, I often hear His voice nudging me to do this (take that class I love at the Y) or not do that (skip that library program because my day is full enough!). He helps me figure out what we all need (i.e., that boy really needs some alone time with Dad soon) and I am better able to love those I encounter on the other side of my bedroom door.
I’m happy to say that I am ENJOYing more of the life He has given me. It hasn’t gotten less crazy (will it ever?), but He has grown me in how to better abide in Him and enjoy it all. I pray these thoughts encourage you mamas as well. I’d love to hear from you too – what do you do to help you enjoy this abundant life He has given you?
Sherry joined staff in 1997. She robbed the cradle and married a handsome student (gasp!) named Jeff in 2000. Since then they have served in WI, SD and now in CO. They have 3 boys ages 8-13 and there is never a dull moment in their house. 3 years ago Sherry finally got her girl, a black and white lab mix who is her constant shadow. Jeff works with operations and training for collegiate. Sherry enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn’t busy homeschooling.