Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD.
-Psalm 127:3 CEV
Sunday at Crossroads, we had a Baby Dedication service. (For more on the biblical reason we do that, see 1 Samuel 1:11-28.) It's one of the sweetest things we get to do as pastors. The darling little girl in the photo at right is our goddaughter, Emery Grace. Her mother was among the parents who pledged before family, friends, and congregation to raise their children in a home where God's love and grace are modeled, to give these precious little ones every opportunity to trust Christ as Savior. As I looked at all the babies on the platform with us, I reflected on just how difficult that assignment is when our children are small.
Last week, when I asked what you'd like to hear about on "Titus Twosdays", many of you said you need to know more about balancing the responsibilities of being a mom with other demands on your time and energy. So we'll dive into that just a little bit today, with more posts to come in the future. Let's start today with priorities since everything else will flow out of that.
If you've ever traveled by air, you're familiar with the safety instructions given at the beginning of every flight: make sure your seatbelt is low and tight across your lap, seat backs and tray tables in the upright and locked position, turn off all electronics, etc. Then there is the instruction that perfectly illustrates our point today: if you see oxygen masks drop, please secure your own mask first, then assist your child. Why? Because you must first take care of you to be able to help anyone else. A mother who is spritually, emotionally and physically drained is in no position to lovingly care for her family. But how do you take care of you when the baby is up all night, the laundry is piling up, and romance is a hazy memory? I'm so glad you asked!
I am not a psychologist or counselor, but I am the mother of four children, 3 of whom are very close in age. I remember feeling like I would always be pregnant or nursing! I speak from the trenches of childrearing, having survived the baby and toddler years and lived to tell the story. One of the most valuable things I learned was the oxygen mask lesson. I was no good as a wife or mom without making sure I put first things first. Here are a few practical things you can do today to start taking better care of you, and get your priorities straight so you have more to give as a wife and mom.
1. God first. Stay spiritually full. Make time every day to read your Bible and pray. Even if it's only a chapter or two, thanking Him for your blessings, and asking for strength and wisdom for the day, it will give you hope and encouragement like nothing else can. When my kids were 8, 3, 2, and newborn, the only time I could find for this was in the afternoon when they napped. I had tea and time with God. Sometimes it only lasted 15 or 20 minutes, but that time with God that was my "oxygen". It helped me do everything else.
2. Husband second. Your husband comes before your kids. Putting the kids first is a huge mistake. I can't say that enough! Even though your children's cries for attention are louder than his, a strong and happy marriage is the best gift you will ever give your child. Try to have a "date" every week. On purpose. Put the babysitter and the movie tickets in the budget. If money is tight, take a walk in the park, have Chinese food by candlelight after the baby is in bed, or a plan a romantic night "in". Your husband needs to know he hasn't been replaced by your child, that he is your priority!
3. Kids third. Notice that children come before the house. I know the house and laundry are screaming for your attention. But your laundry you will have with you always, and your kids are only little for a short time. You will never regret choosing to snuggle your baby, play Duplos with your toddler, or color with your kindergartner, over having a perfectly clean house.
Everything else: house, job, church comes after these three. We'll talk about managing those...next time.
Prayer for Today: Father, I know that my children are blessings from you. Please show me how to take care of me, so I can care for my family in a way that honors You. In Jesus name, Amen.