June 16, 2012

priorities

Sometimes I'm a little slow. And I'm not just talking about recovering from major surgery. Which, by the way, since you asked, I am doing fantastic. Taking the lead from my daughter and my nephews, I tried running around a bit (I mean, literally. I was running in circles at the park). It was super awkward. Probably even more awkward to watch. Last night I tried running some more (also after my daughter at a park. She loves to call out, "Mama come GET me!" How can I deny her the pleasure of hunting her down and tickling her?). I'm getting better at figuring out how to move right, so I look like I'm running and not flopping.

Slow. As in, slow to get things. As in, I just got a concept that probably everyone else on the planet already understands, and I'm just having this, "Oh! THAT'S what you mean" moment. I'm a little slow.

I want to talk about priorities. I can't tell you how many times I've heard Christians say "God needs to be #1. First priority." I mean... what? What does that even mean? I would always agree because, well, it sounds like a really good thing to agree to. But I'd always walk away thinking to myself, "How do I put God first? Does God know I have 2 babies that aren't super into rational thoughts?" I would even see over and over in books, online, wherever, lists like this:

My Priorities:
1. God
2. My family
3. Work
4. Blah blah blah

How in blazes does this work?

Well, let me share with you what I just realized. And how I realized it. Here is how my typical day starts:
12:30 am - Baby Sam wakes up for a bottle.
3:30 - Baby wakes up for a bottle.
6:30 - Baby wakes up for a bottle (here I always put him back down hoping someday all my dreams will come true and he will sleep longer).
6:45 - Take baby downstairs for fear of him waking up Millie. Change diaper, listen to chatter about his night, and cuddle.
7:00 - Millie calls for me. Chances are, she's been up since Sam started clamoring to get up.
7:01 - Millie announces she is starving and needs to eat. Right now.
7:10 - Millie is eating, Sam is begging for morsels from her bowl, and I can sit down.
7:12 - Sam is not satisfied with his sister's brush off.

...Aaaand on and on it goes. I have actually chronicled an entire day like this. A few times actually. Anyhow though, I hit the ground running. At 6:30 when Sam wants to get up, I'm not up in the kitchen sipping tea ready to embrace the day. No, when he cries, it usually takes me a few seconds to get out the whatever fog I'm dreaming and jump up . By the time I hit the bathroom (I usually actually hit it. I run into the wall a lot. I'm pretty tired.), my brain is just starting to warm up. I get the warm water going, add the proper amount of formula (I hope) and get in the kids' room just in time to hear Millie start to fuss at Sam's noise. Once the bottle is in place I reassure Millie isn't not time to get up yet and exit stage right. Now, in a world where I slept at night, I would get up now. Instead, typically I lay in bed and listen ever so intently to see if today is the magic day he will go back to sleep. I am starting to loose hope in magic days.

Clearly, I'm not really in a season of life to wake up before the kids and spend a thoughtful hour with my Lord. I mean, I could, and I tried at one point, but here's the thing: sleep = better mama, no sleep = grrrrr (insert bear growl here). I need to sleep. My body is designed to have rest. As choppy as it is, I have to take what I can get. Though I'm starting to think magic days are in the same category as the cleaning fairy (things I wish were real), I do have faith that one day, my little boy will be able to eat solid foods. Which means, he'll be able to eat enough to keep him from waking up starving every 2-3 hours. Which means I will be able to sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time. I honestly believe this will happen someday. But for now, I need to work with what I've got: a dairy intolerant, formula only 1-year old and a ornery,  smarter-than-she-should-be 2 1/2 year old.

So what does all this have to do with priorities? Nap time! God would not expect me to not take care of my children. He does not want me to neglect them. Of that I am certain. (Sam just woke up and is having a bottle, gotta type fast!) But those moments I do get - like when the kids are napping, those are the moments I get to chose my priorities. So often my nap time priority list looks like this:
1. Eat.
2. Sit.
3. Check e-mail.
4. Internet blah blah blah
5. About 5 minutes before the kids wake up think, "oh, I should read my Bible..."

I've heard about giving God our best hours. I don't do this. My "best hours" (as in, time with no other interruptions) are nap time. So often, God is last on my list. IF He even makes the cut. What backwards thinking! I'm always feeling so worn out, and I use that as my excuse. So practically, nap time needs to look like this: (-Oh, he's done eating... I hope to someday finish this post....)

5 Hours later...

Phew. I'm back. Ok, where was I... napping? Oh, nap time.
1. Get food
2. Eat while reading or watching a sermon on youtube.
3. Read. Pray. Listen.
4. Do 2 chores
5. Email/Pinterest/whatever.

I'm learning that, like all new habits, it's a little awkward at first. I need to remind myself what my goals are. Sometimes I find myself doing the opposite of what I want to be doing. Those are the times I am glad my God is gracious and merciful. All I have to do is realize my mistake, confess it to God, and move on. If God's not going to beat me up over it, I don't need to either. The important part here is that I am learning and growing.

The reason this is important - the whole spending time with God thing - is because that's how He can perfect our character. And that's really important because as parents, we're pretty powerful people. We are shaping who these little people will become. What kind of big people they will become. And they don't learn from our words - they learn from our actions. We can tell our kids to play nice and don't hit all day long... but if we are angry and spanking, they will too.

So maybe everyone else in the world has figured this out. But I like I said, I'm a little slow. We're all in different walks of life. Some are dreaming of starting a family some day. Others, like me, are just starting their parenting journey. Others may have been parenting for many, many years. And others still might feel their parenting years are over. No matter where you are, know that it's not too early - or too late - to begin being an example of Christ to your family. We are called not just to know Jesus, but to reflect Him.

That's what I want to do. I'm going to fail at first, but as time goes on, and time with Him goes on, I'll get better and better. Cause I might be slow, but it's just the right pace for God.


4 comments:

Kelli Jean said...

Thanks for this, Cas. I'm attempting the same thing for my own spiritual growth. Praying strength and endurance for you!

Becky said...

Wow, I really appreciate this post, Cas! The phrase that stopped me in my tracks:

"If God isn't going to beat me up over it, I don't need to, either."

My priorities are backwards, too. And your "five minutes before the kids wake up" is still better than my "never ever thinking of reading the Bible and in fact, may not even know where my Bible is."

It's time I fix this.

Adina P said...

Do you never get to eat at the same time as your kids?

Sara Little said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you. I really need to remember to put God first. How much time do I spend on Facebook or Pinterest when that time could be better spent reading my Bible? Seems I always *make* time for that unimportant stuff but have trouble putting the most important things first.

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