Saving the Best for Last

Saving the Best For Last

You spent the day washing a multitude of laundry, cleaning the house, running several errands, along with a multitude of other tasks.  Now that it’s evening, you find your strength and your patience waning.  You find you are spent — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  If you’ve taken the time to pay the bills, you may also find you are financially spent as well!

It seems that by the time we can get the evening meal on the table, we are weary and quite crabby.  Trying to make mealtimes special are at the bottom of our priority list.  We’re just trying to ‘hang in there’ and get supper finished, the dishes washed and put away, so that MAYBE (and that’s a big ‘maybe’) we can sit down and rest for a while.  Then, we suddenly remember — it’s bath night.  So much for getting some rest and relaxation.

While reading about the wedding at Cana in Galilee, I noticed it was the third day of the celebration when the host ran out of wine.  When the master of the banquet tasted the wine Jesus had fixed, he commented on how the best wine had been saved until last.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to cram three days of work into about seven or eight hours?  It’s no wonder that we end up ill-tempered and exhausted by the time our husband gets home in the evening.

It’s wonderful when we work so hard to get things done, always making sure that our family has clean clothing, and the house looks cozy for our husband when he enters the door after a long day’s work.  However, thinking back to your dating days, what did he enjoy then?  Pondering upon  when Dean and I were dating, it was that first-love experience of hanging on to every word he spoke, looking into his beautiful, blue eyes while we talked, and making sure he had my undivided attention.  I can remember the thrill of simply holding his hand while we walked through the park.

Back to our story, when Mary hears them talking about having run out of wine, she looks to Jesus, then tells the others to do whatever Jesus said.  It’s the same for us, in saving the best of our energy for the last moments of the day when our husband is home.  We need to learn to listen closely to the Lord, and discern what He wants us to do each day.  In my own life, on those days when I feel exhausted from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, I know it’s best to only do what really needs done that day.  If I had planned to get groceries after we were done homeschooling for the day, I check my list to see if it’s possible to put it off until the following day so I can take a nap instead.  Then when my husband walks in the door, I won’t be on the verge of tears, or in the middle of a tirade — acting out of my emotions which are frazzled from exhaustion.  Rather, I can greet him, feeling refreshed and honestly being happy to see him, and looking forward to spending the evening together.

Can we start a ritual where we send the children to their room for some quiet time so we can be alone with our husband for a while?  Those moments of intimate talking may spark a fire (and energy) for other intimacy later.  I have personally found that tub crayons are a wonderful tool in getting Rachel to occupy herself for quite a while.  While she is in the bathroom playing, I can carry on a decent conversation with my husband.  Occasionally, we do hear, “Daddy, come look at what I drew on the tub!”

Even with our children, it’s important to save some of the best ‘wine’ for the end of the day.  And ladies, notice that I didn’t spell it W-H-I-N-E!  We can use the evenings to do devotions with the children.  This can work even if our husband doesn’t want to be involved.  You can gather the children in another room, giving your husband a little time to himself.  You may even opt to do story time with them so your husband has a break for himself.

When we are weary and worn, it’s too easy to want to ‘veg’ on the couch with the remote in hand.  It takes effort and discernment to work our schedules in such a way to leave us with the energy to ‘spend’ ourselves a little more in those evening hours.  That’s why we must do what Jesus tells us to do.  If we follow Him, we’ll find that we too, have saved the best ‘wine’ for last.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

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Raging Hormones

Raging Hormones

As women, we are faced with a myriad of emotions caused by those wonderful things called hormones.  Most of us would probably admit to only feeling really good (hormonally speaking), for about two or three days a month.  We can become quite pitiful on those bad hormonal days.  We may even go as far as to think some of the very words which Job spoke.

In Job 3:1, he cursed the day of his birth.  Have you ever been there?
In verses 12-13, he asks why there were hands to receive him and breasts to nourish him.  He states that if he had been left to die that at least he could now be in peace.  Have you ever had suicidal thoughts, even for a fleeting moment, thinking of the “peace” you could have, if only you were dead?  We know who gives us those thoughts, don’t we?

In verse 20, he complains of light being given to those in misery and life to those who are bitter in soul.  Have you ever had those times where your hormones make you feel that you are to be pitied above everyone else?

In verse 24, he speaks of the sighs and groans which pour from him like water.  Do you ever have those days when you are just positive that you can’t go any further, where all you can do is sigh and groan?

In verse 26, he is crying of no peace, no quiet, no rest!  Only turmoil!  Oh my, can’t we all say Amen to having had those days?  We have ALL been there!  The baby has colic or is teething, the children are constantly squabbling, and the phone never stops ringing.  The washing machine must run for several hours or there will be no clean clothing for anyone.  We can’t even go to bathroom for two minutes without hearing, “M-o-o-o-o-m!”  Just when we think hubby will be home to help, he calls to say that he is working late.  On top of all of this, we are still dealing with raging hormones.

Here is my own paraphrased version of Ps. 139:8-10.  If my hormones have me feeling like I can take on the world’s problems, God is  there.  When my hormones leave me feeling distraught and in the depths of despair, God is  there.  If I rise with energy that makes me feel like I’m soaring on eagle’s wings, God is there. And on the days when I want to run away from it all, then God is still there, and He even firmly holds me with His hand.

On those days when you feel so out-of-control because of those hormones, remember to cast your cares upon the Lord.  He will sustain you because He won’t let the righteous fall.  (Ps. 55:22)

Mt. 11:28-30 tells us to come Jesus when we are weary and burdened.  He is the one who knit us together, hormones and all.  He desires to give you His rest and His peace.  While your burdens are often overwhelming and heavy, He promises to give you a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Power Outage

Power Outage

Early one morning, our power went out.  I had no idea it was out until I opened my eyes and saw the lights flashing on my alarm clock.

Samson had a ‘power outage,’ and he was also unaware that he had lost his power. (Judges 16)  Just like Samson, we can also suffer from a power outage that can be very subtle in sneaking up on us.

Samson thought that he could ‘toy’ with Delilah and the Philistines, yet maintain his power.  He didn’t realize that day by day, as he played with them, he was becoming self-sufficient and even arrogant.  Next, he became less dependent upon God.

We do the same thing.  We play with worldly passions, and when we don’t see an immediate consequence, we continue in that path.  We think we can handle things on our own, so we quit committing our daily work to the Lord.  Finally, we face a power outage, and we never saw it coming.

The power outage may start like this:

A major event takes place, so instead of reading the Word in the morning, we turn on the TV instead.  We only intend to watch it for a few minutes.  Suddenly, we hear the rest of the family arising and we realize that we’ve been engrossed in watching the TV for forty minutes.  Now it’s too late to read the Word.

We manage to go through our day just fine, so we don’t feel too bad about missing out on our quiet time with the Lord.  It makes it easier the next morning for us to sleep in when we’ve had a rough night.  After all, we did just fine yesterday without our quiet time, so what’s one more day?

Since we still have some spiritual oil in our reserve tank, we manage to gracefully get through another day, even if we didn’t read the Word.

The following morning, we decide to quickly check our email before doing our devotions.  Before we know it, we’ve been online for over thirty minutes.  We realize that we still need to jump in the shower before the rest of the family awakens.  Devotions will have to wait again.  Now we feel a little pressured to get our shower finished before the others start yelling, “Mom!  I need the bathroom!”  The pressure builds during the day, making us feel like a pressure cooker that is ready to blow its lid.

The next morning we still remember the stresses of the previous day, so we opt to get a jump-start on our day.  We get our shower done early.  Next, we focus on finishing some chores.

By this time, we are having a severe ‘power outage.’  It manifests itself later when one child is facing a crisis with a friend at school.  With our power gone, we have no mercy to offer this child.  Our youngest child falls and gets hurt, and we lack in compassion.  As if this isn’t enough, another child is struggling with a new math concept and our patience is waning very thin.  For the friend who is in desperate need of a listening ear, we fail to notice that God wanted to use us to minister to her need.  Instead, we ask her if we can return her call later since we are busy.

The only way to defeat the Delilahs and the Philistines in our own life is to guard our time with the Lord.  We must remain connected to the Power Source so that we don’t experience a power outage.

What Delilahs and Philistines are leading you toward a power outage?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

When I find that I am frequently feeling overwhelmed, I will take inventory of my life:
·    Have I been spending enough time in the Word?
·    Have I been getting enough sleep?
·    Have I been eating right?
·    Have I been spending enough time connecting with my husband?
·    Is it near “that time of the month?”
·    Have I been exercising?
·    Is there anything I need to cut from my life which will help lessen that “overwhelmed” feeling?
Occasionally, I will need to readjust my activities.  However, I recently had some changes that were brought about without my feeling the need to readjust.  Our computer at home recently stopped letting me access an online board that I had been a part of for many years.  At first, I really missed it.  I felt like it was my lifeline.  However, as time has passed, I realized that I didn’t miss it so much.

Granted, it is a great online community that has great value to women.  However, with my current responsibilities, I just didn’t have the time or energy to invest in the lives of the women there.  Honesty, as I would try to read some of the threads, I found that it was draining me.  I knew I had enough things in my own life which needed my undivided attention.  I just couldn’t devote any more time to an online community.

Since computer usage has always been an issue where I’ve had to be on guard, I realized that not being able to access that board was a blessing in disguise.  Since I’ve drastically cut back on my computer time, I rarely have feelings of being overwhelmed.

I share my story with you, not to place guilt on you for using the computer, or for joining an online board.   After all, there are some fantastic online communities that are a great help to others.  Rather, I share my story in case it might be a “light bulb” moment for you regarding some of your own activities.  If you are frequently feeling overwhelmed, perhaps you need to reevaluate and adjust a few things.

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

Overweight

Overweight

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities?  Do you feel like you’re driving through life in the fast lane with a crash on the horizon if something doesn’t change soon?  Do you feel as if your life is out of balance?  It could be that you are overweight.

Proverbs 16:11 tells us that honest scales and balances are from God.  In Proverbs 20:23, we see that God isn’t pleased with dishonest scales.  When we climb on God’s scales, He’s not checking to see how much we weigh.  God uses the old fashioned scales that have the two shallow dishes where you can see if the scales are balanced.

When we get involved in too many activities, we may appear to be leading a very productive, balanced life, but we are really using dishonest scales.  We give the illusion that all is well, but God sees through that illusion to those feelings of despair because we feel like we’re on a fast track with no way of getting off.  God sees all of our activities, many of which we would even claim we are doing for Him.  Yet He sees the emptiness in our souls because we’ve gotten onto to a dishonest scale, trading activity for God in place of intimacy with God.

We’ve become filled up, but we’re overflowing with the wrong things.  The end result is feelings of inadequacy, feeling like we’re spinning our wheels and going nowhere.  We’re overburdened, overstressed, overtired, and overweight.  We are overweight because we’ve put on the wrong yoke.  If we put on the yoke that Jesus came to give us, we find that it’s easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30) Once we put on His yoke, we will find that we are on honest scales.  The result will be a life that is stable, steady, centered, and balanced.

Are you overweight?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Multi-Tasking

Multi-Tasking

Early one morning, as I sat down at the computer, the spyware scan started to run its weekly check.  It reminded me that I needed to run the weekly virus scan.  Once I got that up and running, the computer notified me that there were some updates that also needed to be installed, so I started running those as well.

In the midst of multi-tasking on the computer, a weird thing began to happen.  As new emails would appear, I could see an envelope, alerting me to a new piece of mail, but there was a blank space in the spot where it should show ‘sender’ and ‘subject.’  After I finished my multi-tasking, I had to shut down the computer, then restart it so the ‘updates’ would take.

Multi-tasking seems to be the new buzz word for the myriad of activities which keep us busy.  It seems that everywhere you go, you see people who are multi-tasking.  How many times do you see people with a cell phone glued to their ear?  Whether it’s in the car, a restaurant, Walmart, or even the doctor’s office, seeing someone on a cell phone is a common occurrence.  The cycle seems to never end.  We may stop multi-tasking in one area, and immediately start it in another area without giving it a second thought.  It’s so automatic that we don’t ever realize we are doing it.

I believe that we switch to ‘auto-pilot’ so quickly in our multi-tasking that it causes us to end up missing out on a lot of what God may want from us.  Just as I had blank spots showing up in the ‘sender’ and ‘subject’ information in my emails, I do believe that we are allowing a lot of ‘blank spaces’ in our lives, due simply to our aggressive multi-tasking.  Do we have a blank in the spot called prayer?  What about in the space for daily devotions?  Is that spot also empty?  What about following the Holy Spirit’s prompting?  Would it be blank for the last several weeks because we’ve been so consumed with our own agenda that we failed to listen to His calling?

What about the space for showing mercy or giving encouragement to someone who really needs it?  Would we have a blank space there?  Could it be that when we talked to our friend that we were so ‘surface’ in our conversation due to our own heavy schedule that we didn’t even notice the pain in her voice?  What about the place for praying for one another?  Are we so focused on getting home from church and fixing dinner or getting the children to bed, that we neglect to notice the lady who is at her wit’s end and could really benefit from someone who would take three or four minutes to pray with her?

Just as I had to ‘power down’ the computer to get it up and running properly, we all need to take time in our busy lives to ‘power down.’  Turn off the cell phone, turn the ringer down on the home phone, and turn off the answering machine, the computer, and the television.  Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your front door, and even your bedroom door, if that’s what it takes, but ‘power down’ so that God can minister to you, adding ‘updates’ to you, so that you can function the way HE intended for you to function.
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Loveless

Loveless

“But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”
II Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

I thought it was interesting to note that in the Greek, “without love” actually means to be without family love.  We have sure seen an increase in this over the last few years.  I remember the horror of hearing how Susan Smith had killed her two young sons by leaving them in the car, then letting the car roll into the water.  Yet, there have been countless other stories in recent years of other parents killing their own children.

There was also the highly profiled story of the Menendez brothers killing their parents.  Yet, they weren’t the only ones who have done such an atrocious act.  There have been countless others over the last few years.  Doesn’t it sound like these families are “without family love”?

How does this scripture apply to the lives of Christian families?  Half of all marriages end in divorce, even in the church.  I know of a personal example of a ‘Christian’ man who decided to leave his wife and children so that he could live with his same-sex partner.  I know personal examples of ‘Christian’ men who beat their wives.  These are hard-core cases of families who are “without family love.”

I have a friend who used to work in a battered women’s shelter.  She told me that the top three abusers are policemen, military men, and pastors.  I have heard so many stories of youth pastors sexually abusing teenaged girls.  That brings such pain, not to mention shame, to their families when it is exposed.  It also causes a lifetime of pain for the young ladies who have been violated by a man whom they should have been able to trust.

What about families who are too busy in outside activities to ever sit down to a meal together?  What happened to family nights, where families would play games and enjoy each others company?  Could it be that we have traded family love for outside activities?

There are many families who leave the spiritual training of the children to a Sunday school teacher.  That is contrary to scripture.  Deuteronomy 6 makes it very clear that spiritual training is the job of the parents.  In Proverbs, there are many verses that mention listening to your father and not forsaking the teaching of your mother.  Again, it is clear that spiritual training is up to us, as parents, and not someone else.  When we fail to be diligent to train our children in biblical principles, doesn’t that also show a lack of family love?

We are all very busy, but we must constantly guard against becoming so inundated with activities that we fail to properly teach and train our children.  We must be militant in keeping the family love alive, in both our marriages and in our parenting.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

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