August 20, 2013

Check Your Priorities (aka. Make God #1)

Welcome and thanks for joining me on day two of the encouraging "How Do I Teach..." series!
As I introduced on yesterday's post, this week I'm spending time discussing a question near and dear to many homeschooling mom's hearts--

Today's post is going to be possibly the most important of the week because it gets right down to the foundation of my life and most likely yours too...before we can dive into the aspects of fulfilling our roles as wife and mother, there is something that has to be done first.
make God number one

Let me start with a little story...

Sharon's alarm goes off at 6:45am. She rolls over and turns it off...then stretches and thanks God for another day on this earth. She gets up and gets herself dressed and brushes her hair. Then she goes ahead and tosses a load of laundry into her washer as she passes through her laundry room and moves to the nice and clean kitchen. She sets out the beginnings of breakfast, and pours herself a mug of freshly brewed coffee. She looks at the clock--7am. Sharon smiles and says to herself "Right on time!" She goes to the kitchen table and sits down with her Bible and notebook. She is working on part 7 of a Bible study course and she's enjoying having this daily morning time to spend in God's word. After 45 minutes of study, she heads to her bedroom where she gets on her knees and spends time talking with God about her day, her plans, her future, her family...praying for His guidance over her day and wisdom. After getting up full of love for her heavenly Father she goes into the kitchen and starts breakfast. Then she heads into the bedroom to wake up her three young beautiful boys who are still lost in the land of Nod. She says a prayer of thankfulness before gently kissing each one awake. It's time to start the day!

Hmmm...let's move to this scenario...

It's Monday morning 7:30am. Becky's alarm goes off and she hits the snooze button for the upteenth time...She was up all night with her baby that just WOULDN'T go to back to sleep. She saw way too many numbers on the clock during the night and the last thing she really wants right now is for it to be time to get out of bed. But it is. So she rolls out of bed (amazingly free of any children for a change) and stumbles to the bathroom where she manages to pull the brush through her hair. She's grabs a pair of yoga pants and a T-shirt out of the pile of clean (or are they dirty?) clothes to put on. She suddenly remembers that little Joey peed through all his underwear yesterday and she didn't get a load in the washer before bed, so she scrambles to find all the dirty pairs and toss them in the load. As she makes her way through the kitchen, she sighs and looks longingly at the coffee maker that didn't get turned on last night. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow. Becky tiptoes over to the kid's bedroom and peeks in--amazingly all four of her little ones are still sleeping, even the baby. So she goes back into the kitchen and after tidying up the pile of dirty dishes to FIND the counter, she gets out something for the kid's breakfast. Looking at the clock she sees that it's 8:15...15 minutes past time for everyone to be up--but wonders if she can get some Bible study in since this is a rare moment of peace. As soon as she sits down with her Bible and opens it up--"Mommy, Joey peed the bed!" So she sighs, closes her Bible and begins her day.

Which one is the most like your day? If you are like me, you know that Sharon is CLEARLY a character of fiction--I mean, waking up to a clean kitchen and pot of hot coffee with the kids STILL asleep? Obviously make-believe! LOL!

But even fictional, I envy what she has. Time with God every morning. Because you know what? I don't. No. This is definitely something that I am continuously dealing with. The desire is there. The plan is even there (I set my alarm for 6:45am every day to make it happen). But when it comes down to it---I just don't follow thru! So because I don't get up and spend time with God before I start my day, I'm left with "leftovers" of my day to give to God. Or sometimes nothing at all just like my character Becky. 

Most of my mornings are like Becky's. Maybe not the kid crying all night (there HAVE been those), but definitely that overwhelmed feeling she's got. She's not even really STARTED her day, but she's already overhwhelmed! She clearly WANTS to spend time with God, but doesn't seem to be able to get the time in.

 I stay up too late (I'm a night owl) and so I'm "too tired" to get out of bed when my alarm goes off. So I tell myself "I'll work it in later." But then something else comes up, some other demand on my time pulls me away from my intentions to spend time with God. I can't tell you how many nights I climb in bed--way too late again--and then just spend the moments before I go to sleep apologizing to God for not spending time with Him that day.

And the sad thing is that it happens again. And again. Until I realize that I can't remember the last time I had a one-on-one talk with God. As I really look at myself I realize that I've put so much of my life AHEAD of God, that I am doing nothing more than giving Him lip service.

It brings to mind the Apostle Paul's admonition in Ephesians 4:1

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called...
How can I profess to be a Christian to others when I spend more time planning out school lessons, doing chores and planning out meals for my family than I do spending time with the God who GAVE me the blessings I am working so hard to take care of? How can I "walk worthy of the calling" if I don't take time to even set my feet on the "right Path"?

So what do I do? What can YOU do?

Ask the Lord for Help

If it's hard for you to "work in time" for God, then start by getting on your knees ASAP and TELLING God your heart! Tell Him how much you want to have Him in your life. Tell Him how much you DESIRE to have a relationship with Him and Christ Jesus. And tell Him about why it's hard to do it! Pour your heart out to God--He TELLS us to!

"But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears." 
Psalms 18:6 (NLT)

Did you get that? "He HEARD ME!" As someone who has much experience with asking God for help in this department, I can assure you...He WILL hear...and He WILL help. I have asked Him many times to show me how to set my priorities straight. And you know what? He has always swiftly shown me where I am WASTING my time. If I can easily spend an hour on Facebook, why couldn't I have spent that hour with God?! If I can spend 30 minutes reading a fiction book, why can't I spend even 15 minutes reading scriptures? If I can listen to music on Spotify all day long, why can't I listen to audio sermons or the Bible on CD all day long?

I can. You can.

He will show you where you can make changes. Just ask.
Check Your Priorities
What are you putting AHEAD of God? Is it your housework? Your husband? Your homeschooling? Your children? Life in general? Remember that God demands the first and foremost place in His children's lives.

 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'  
Matthew 4:10

"I [am] the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." 
Exodus 20:2-3

Anything that I put ahead of God...has taken His place as God in my life.
That is incredibly sobering, serious and a major wake-up call!
Even as I type this out I realize again areas where I have fallen short and need to clean out.

Take the time to think or write out ways that you can make God be a priority in your life. 

Not an early bird and able to rise before the kids are up? Then take time for God every afternoon or every evening. Set up a "quiet time" in your home when you can do Bible study--even if the kids are awake. It's good for them to spend time just learning how to be quiet.  Get everyone together during the toddler/infant's naptime (if they still do it) and give them things to work on. Maybe Legos? Maybe coloring pages? Maybe books? Encourage them to sit still and just peacefully working on something. You can sit with them and read your Bible to yourself...or maybe even out loud. You are showing them through your example that God is important in YOUR life.

Not sure you can get in any quiet time? How about doing a FAMILY Bible Study every day? We are initiating that into our own household with this upcoming school year. I know I have a weakness when it comes to making time for God and I don't want to pass it on to my sons. So every morning after breakfast, we are going to sit at the table and have Bible Study time together. I purchased a few books to help us with this that I will share during my 2013-2014 curriculum post next week.

Find something that works for you...something that you can be accountable with! I have found some great studies as part of the Good Morning Girls program. They are free bible Studies where they give you a daily plan that goes for a period of weeks (7-12 depending on the study) and you join a group and study online together. Sometimes it's going through books in the bible. Other times it's working through a devotional book. I have benefited GREATLY from these studies and I know others have too.

Make Changes and Move Forward, But Accept That You Might Fail...Again.
This might be the most important and the most discouraging thing...knowing that we are constantly battling human nature and we will continue to "forget" about God. Did I mention our great adversary the Devil who desperately does NOT want us to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father? So accept right now that even if you make changes and they are working, that they might fail and you will have to start all over again.

But that is OKAY--God's way is not an easy way to go. And life itself is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. But God is there every step of the way. He will never leave you, nor forsake you as long as you are trying to follow's a promise He's made with His brethren.

For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 
Hebrews 13:5
'"...and lo, I am with you always, [even] to the end of the age."' 
Matthew 28:20
  Above all, allow yourself a measure of grace...there WILL be days when bible study and time with God just doesn't happen. Don't beat yourself up over it--God forgives you, so forgive yourself too! Remember that you have tomorrow to start over again. Anne Shirley knew what she was talking about when she said "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."

Also remember that God likes to chat with you all day keep a running commentary with Him! Talk to Him while you are loading your washer--while you are hanging out clothes--while you walk to get the mail. He's always listening. Don't think there is just one set way to pray or to study. Find what works for YOU and go with it!

Even if you decide to take baby steps in adding God time to your life, I can assure you that you WILL see a difference. The days I spend more time with God are the days when things just seem to work out better. I never regret the time I spend with God. It's the absolutely best use of my time. Period. It refreshes me. It heals me. It changes my attitude. When I spend adequate time with my Father, my whole family is blessed and the feelings of being overwhelmed fade. When I put God FIRST, everything else falls in place--whether being a teacher, a wife or a mother.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. 
Matthew 6:33
I want to take a moment to close with the lyrics to a song my friend (and fellow homeschooler) Cindy wrote. The lyrics are rich with meaning and very fitting as an end to today's subject:

Put God First by Cindy Phelps
Running to and fro,
The days get faster as we go.
So much on our minds,
The little things take all our time.

So how do we cope?
And let the stress go?

 Put God first,
Bend our knees throughout the day.
Just keep quiet for awhile and meditate.
Lay down our lives,
Be a living sacrifice.
Let the world see our light shine.
Put God first.

Where does our treasure lie?
Is our hope eternal life?
Are we consumed,
With the cares of this world?

When the walls come closing in,
Where do we begin?

Put God first.
 Bend our knees throughout the day.
Just keep quiet for awhile and meditate.
Lay down our lives,
Be a living sacrifice.
Let the world see our light shine.
Put God first.

In the words of Christ:
“My yoke is easy,
My burden is light.”

Put God first.
Say a prayer to start the day.
Just keep quiet for awhile and meditate.
Read God’s word,
Think about it through the rain.
Every answer to our cares,
The keys to making our life work,
He is there to heal our hurt.
 Put God first.
I hope that this post has encouraged you and given you hope!
Join me tomorrow as we continue in the next part of the five day series with "The Power of Two" where I will share how I balance the role of being a godly wife in with my responsibilities as mother and teacher. See you there!

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