Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Care and Keeping of ME

I've been focusing on myself a lot lately.  

As a homeschooling mom it is all too easy to put myself last.  In the long run that is the worst thing I could be doing for my family.  Sure, we give up a lot when we become a parent, especially when we decide to home educate, but one of the most loving things we can do for our family is to be the best that we can be.  That certainly cannot happen if we allow ourselves to get lost in the mire.  Unfortunately, I am 100% guilty of doing just that.  I've allowed myself to disappear.

"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you
and that you may be in good health,
as it goes well with your soul."
~ I John 1:2

We are not meant to sacrifice ourselves; our health, our soul, our very being.  Sure, we are here to serve our family and our community, but how do we best do these things?  First we must be in good health, both physically and spiritually.  When things get out of balance that is when we start to fall apart.  We lose touch with ourselves and things begin to suffer.  If we allow it to go too far unchecked then those around us begin to suffer as well.

How patient can we be when we are exhausted and stressed?  How much of a spiritual guide can we be if we've not fed our soul in days, weeks, or even months?  How much fun can we be if we never indulge our passions and interests?  How can we give of ourselves to anyone if we've allowed all the things that make us who we are to be swept away in the current of a busy and demanding life?

Just how important are you anyway?

"For by grace you have been saved by faith.
And this is not your own doing; 
it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Go gives us grace.  Freely he gives it to us.  It is a gift.  We have done nothing to earn, or even deserve, this gift.  Yet, it is freely given.  

I wonder...

Have we accepted the gift of grace?

What does it look like to accept the gift of grace from God?

What exactly is grace, anyway?

Grace - the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners, and the bestowal of blessings.

The favor of God?

"For you bless the righteous, oh Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield."
~ Psalm 5:12

For many years I thought going on a mission trip overseas, feeding and clothing the impoverished, building churches in third world countries, helping those outside of my family - those were the only ways to serve God.  I thought that I had to do BIG things away from home.  Little did I know that the big things are at home.  I am a big deal.  My family is a big deal.  

I accept God's grace by doing the things before me with a dedicated and willing heart.  I am actually honoring God by putting myself first.  Let me say that again.

I am actually honoring God by putting myself first!

How can I put myself first?

For me, right now, it boils down to making time for the things that I enjoy; maybe even learning all over again what it is that I enjoy.  Recently I found this cute sheet:  50 Ways to Take a Break.  There are 50 fun and simple ways to just take some time for joy.  If you are visual person like I am this is the perfect thing to print out and hang where you can see it.  Heck, it's good for the whole family!  Personally, I think it's way better than those 'I'm Bored' lists for kids.  Everyone can find something to do here.

If you've been reading around here lately you know that I've been struggling with focusing on the task at hand, whatever that may be.  It was suggested that I use this sheet as a means for transitioning into something I need to do.  The idea is to find something on this sheet, do it, and then work on what I need to get done.  I have to admit this is a new idea that I've not tried, but I like it a lot and this picture is getting hung right by my desk in my office.

I have decided to accept the grace fully given to me and embrace my life just as it is, glaring flaws and all.  I have decided to put myself first.  You have heard me mention the oxygen mask a time or two, right?  Well, I'm grabbing the mask and putting it on.  Each and every day I will spend time putting myself first; taking care of my health, feeding my soul, indulging my passions.

"For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword, 
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
~ Hebrews 4:12

I'd love to hear from you!

Do you struggle to put yourself first?

Are you in the process of a similar mission?

Have you learned this lesson already?

How do you care for your body?

How do you feed your soul?

What passions do you indulge?

Let's talk in the comments below!


annette @ a net in time said...

Hmm.. I struggle with this.

I do NOT want to put myself first. It's too easy to let that become selfishness.

BUT at the same time I know that sometimes I need to stop and take time just for me.

Sometimes that's in taking time away, and sometimes it's saying GUYS.. I'm working hard here.. LEND A HAND when I ask you to. Makes me feel love and supported. :) And helps them to get off their butts and be useful in ways that "I" can see. :)

But focusing on me.. I don't want to do that. Comes too easy in this "me-focused" world. How do you keep that me-focusedness from simply becoming selfishness?

Leah Courtney said...

This is a great reminder. It's something I struggle with. I recently began coloring in the new adult color books that are all the rage. I put on an audio book and color as a break in the middle of the day whenever I can get it. :-)

Tina Smith said...

Annette - There is a difference between being selfish and caring for yourself. We all need to care for ourselves, and unfortunately we are led to believe that taking time to nurture ourselves be it physically or spiritually is a bad thing. As homeschooling moms it is even more challenging. We work how many full-time jobs? It is not healthy to always be other focused. Somewhere in there things need to find balance. We cannot teach our children to be physically and spiritually healthy if we neglect that in ourselves.

Leah - I LOVE THOSE BOOKS! I have one, and I surely want more. I treated myself to some nice, fine point markers to use as I was not loving the colored pencils. I cannot wait to try them out!

annette @ a net in time said...

I understand that Tina... it's just where does one call that balance? That's what I struggle with. :)

Tina Smith said...

Annette - For a very large percentage of us the greater swing of the pendulum is to the neglect of ourselves. So, just starting to do little things to nurture ourselves is a big step. Honestly, I've never been at risk of being too self-centered as far as taking too much time for myself. I struggle with the opposite in that I neglected everything about myself to the detriment of my physical health, spiritual health, and things that I enjoy. I mean to the point that I never even practiced my hobbies, read a book, went for a walk, anything. Most women I know face a similar struggle. I think what is balance for one woman may not be for another. Also, from personal experience I would say that different season will require different amounts of self-care as well. It seems it is a highly personal venture, but in my opinion one that we should certainly not ignore. Thank you for bringing this to light as it never even occurred to me that some may struggle with taking too much time for themselves at the expense of others. At least right now, my struggle is at the opposite end of the spectrum.


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