Welcome to a beautiful new day. None of us knows what the day has in store for us and we could face this uncertainly with fear, because certainly bad things can happen...they happen all the time. We could face the day with a spirit of loneliness, stay at home moms often have lots of little voices and lots of big projects (as well as many smaller day -to - day projects) to accomplish, but we tend to be in our own little world, isolated from others, friends are doing their own things, husbands are gone at work, so we're in it alone. Sure, we know God is with us...but... boy oh boy... sometimes it would be nice if God would pick up a broom or do some dishes - because the littlest of our wee ones will certainly not be helping with these tasks... and if they do... well, let's face it, it generally is NOT much of a help because we have to do it all over again. Or, we can choose to face each new day, each new challenge, each new spilled cup of milk or pile of cheerios dumped on the floor with humor and grace. None of us are perfect, and none of us can possibly be perfect at this, but life goes so much smoother when we approach our lives with grace and mercy. The same grace and mercy that our Loving Father God has granted us.
This wasn't at home, but a few weeks back, one of the little Cubbies at our Awana group was sitting patiently for his snack. I poured him a cup of juice and he spilled it. The grown ups chuckled and grabbed napkins and cleaned it up, the other cubbies kept eating their snack. I poured another cup of juice for this little boy, this time not quite as full, and not two seconds passed before his second cup of juice was spilled again. The adults were chuckling a little less, but we gathered more napkins and another snack for the sweet boy, who was doing nothing more than being a three year old, soaking his snack with his juice was simply an unintended consequence of being a three year old boy. The third cup of juice was the charmed one because he drank it without a drop spilled. Can you imagine if we, as the adults in that room, would have treated this little boy with anything less than grace and patience and love? Yelling in an instance like this would have done nothing but startle the little boy (and the other little ones) and is breaking a child's spirit over spilling something really the goal in correction?
This story reminded me that I'm quick to say words to myself that break my own spirit. I'm not nearly as gentle with myself as I am to others. In the day to day grind of all that must be accomplished, I'm not doing my family any favors if I am beating myself up because I messed up a recipe or left something in the oven for too long. My mood (uh... hormones aside, of course) is 100% dependent on my reaction to stimuli. There could be terrible things happening all around, but my mood is dependent solely on how I CHOOSE to react to those stimuli. So in those days of loneliness (and the frustration that rises within us when we tell a friend or (worse) tell our mom that we're feeling lonely and the response is "You've got 5 kids and 4 dogs running around the house, your husband will be home in 3 hours and I saw you talking to a goat and 3 chickens earlier, how can you be lonely?!?!"), when our spirits feel crushed and we feel so small and insignificant, remember two things. Friend, Sister... you are a Princess... Daughter of the Risen King MOST HIGH, He will NEVER leave you, NEVER forsake you and He loves you like nobody else could ever love you. And Two...I love you. You have friends who think about you and adore you all the time. You have people you don't even KNOW that are praying for you and praying for the very best that this life has for you. If those two things don't make you feel loved and cherished and wanted, nothing will. I have taken the drudgery out of mundane tasks in my life. Doing dishes, folding laundry, making dinner, just the things that take a lot of time and are "mindless" activities. I pray during these times. I pray for friends and friends of friends who are going through difficulties. I praise God for all things He's done in my life, all His creation. Each spoon I wash, each little pair of socks I fold, is a prayer going out to a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger who needs to be lifted up. I've found it to be a powerful time of the day for me, knowing that I'm doing the very best I can do for a friend or brother or sister who needs to be supported through difficulty.
As an example of us choosing our reactions to external stimuli...I am guilty of having a bit of a temper. Not usually with the big stuff... but small things that build up over time can send me in a tailspin the likes of which haven't been seen in decades. I'm going to be honest that this is hard to write...to apply to myself, but in a moment of complete clarity and perhaps a bit too much caffeine (with another pot of joe brewing just feet away from me), I know that I get irritated with my husband when he is running late. I don't think it is EVER OK to be late (well, there are a few notable exceptions: if you've died and are unable to call me, you get a pass, if you are in a car accident and your cell phone was thrown from the vehicle, you get a pass (as long as your last words before getting carted off in the ambulance are "Call Jenni...she's expecting to meet me in 15 minutes....cough cough sputter sputter"), if you are speaking to a governmental official and telling them how badly they're messing things up and your raucous tirade goes on longer than expected or you end up in jail... you get a pass... but I had BETTER be the one call you're allowed... I'm probably not going to bail you out, but I would like to know why you're late) ANYHOW... So, my sweet, wonderful husband, who has qualites that any wife would adore (and many most would...nevermind) has a habit of not being on time. To his credit and very hard work, I will say that he has improved in this over the years. But when he is late, I feel lonely. I feel unappreciated, unloved, uncared for, unwanted (insert pity party here). And then SHE enters the picture... mmm hmmmm. HER. Her name is Princess Mood Swing and NOBODY likes her. She is my alter ego and I don't even particularly care for her. But... watch the personality switch from calm, loving mom working in the kitchen, lovingly preparing her family's healthful dinner into HER the second Daddy walks in that door 47 minutes late. It would make your head spin. Nice Jenni is the face behind, happy to forgive, continuing cooking, but Princess Mood Swing is the face out front.... DRAMA RAMA, tears, crying "YOU DON'T LOVE ME..." (Really, I will spare you... she is really not fantastic to be around) but after oh my... going on 13 years of marriage, I realized (yes, this is a VERY recent "light bulb" moment for me) that he NEVER gets angry with me when I am late, even if he has somewhere important to be... Granted, I'm not late very often, and if I am late, it is 10 minutes late because of traffic (hee hee... getting stuck behind slow moving tractors duirng the harvest, generally), but if he were ten minutes late, my response would be an exaggerated, over the top, drama queen reaction worthy of some kind of academy award. And he doesn't bat an eye... His response is ALWAYS "Its OK. I have to go, love you, see you soon." And I'm such a woman... I'm like "Let's talk about this....." or (when Princess Mood Swing is speaking) "Would you just yell at me already?!?!"
I don't know how men put up with us... any more than I know how we put up with them, but I have learned this (wait for it....wait for it.... YES there was a point to this!): Life in the slow lane makes relationships easier. Life in the slow lane makes parenting easier. It makes the day to day operations of running a home easier. It allows us time to examine our selves, our reactions, our behavior, it allows us time to instill desirable traits into our lives and the lives of our children. It allows us to spend our time doing the things that are most important to us, leaving behind or minimizing the "clutter" that fills our time. It allows time for friends, it allows time for people to connect. It has allowed me to allow human-ness in others. I've learned that not only is it not my place to change people, as trying to change someone is as unloving a thing as anyone could possibly try to do, but not only is it not my place to change others, but I don't want to change anyone. We need to love others for who they are, not for who we want them to be.
I leave you with this, a video of a song that brings a tear of joy to my eye every time I hear it. Enjoy, my friends. Be blessed. ♥