Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

IMG_3421I am no scientist, but it sure seems like the world is spinning faster than it did when I was a child. In the good ‘ole days, a week was, well, a week. It wasn’t a blink of an eye like it is now. The lazy days of summer were actually lazy days…we had time to relax, take naps, ride our bikes, swing at the park and trap lightning bugs after dark. Organized sports weren’t yet developed for children in our little town and most of us didn’t even know what a soccer ball was. I probably would have been a klutz on the ball field, but I could outrace anybody wearing roller skates clipped on the outside of my PF Fliers!

What a difference a generation makes! When Grant and I raised our children, sports, extracurricular activities ruled our lives and filled every waking moment. Talk about the tail wagging the dog…with four kids playing multiple sports, we didn’t even have time to meet each other coming and going! Many of my memories are at best a blur…and the busyness is getting worse instead of better. When I served as a children’s pastor at my church, I saw the demands of “gotta do” and “have to be” stretching kids and families to the breaking point. It’s no wonder divorce is at an all-time high and children have to be medicated just to “cope”.

The time for guarding your family’s time is BEFORE it is over-committed with “stuff”. Good as all the many activities are, without boundaries, the good will be offset by stress, lack of rest and a loss of time together…time you can never get back! Take a hard look at your calendar and the number of hours in the day. Schedule family time like you would a soccer practice so it actually happens…be intentional as you plan how many hours you’re willing to sacrifice for carpooling, practices, rehearsals, games, etc. Once you have the answer, give your children choices but don’t let them bite off more than your family can chew!

A final note…don’t forget to put God on the schedule. Teach your children (by example) to spend time daily with God, studying His Word and praying. I can’t tell you how many of my church kids used to say they didn’t have time to read their Bible because of sports, dance practice and homework. God must be a personal priority…without Him, what a mess we make for ourselves!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I need Your wisdom as I plan each hour of my day. Help me put You first and seek Your will before adding extras to my life. Give me the boldness to say “no” and the courage to let go of time stealers that rule my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Fish Story


“Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 NIV

Everyone needs to have an aquarium at least once in their child-rearing lifetime. In the early 80’s, Grant brought home a 20-gallon tank stocked with a half-dozen goldfish, and our short lives as fish caretakers began. We went through the usual life and death experiences you would expect, from the excitement of watching fish eggs hatch into fish “babies”, to the disappointment of finding one of our pets floating lifelessly on top of the water. We named the fish, celebrated their birthdays and had funerals for them when they died. The aquarium provided us with many teachable moments about the miracle and delicacy of life.

One day, my 3-year-old decided playing with our fish would be much more fun than watching them…so he went fishing…without permission. When I “caught” him, he’d already pulled every fish out of the aquarium and was cheering them on as they flopped helplessly back and forth on the cabinet. I still remember how hard it was, getting those slimy, squirmy and probably frightened fish back in the tank. To my surprise, they survived their near-death experience and we all had a good laugh.

I’ve often thought about Drew pulling those fish out so he could play with them. Watching them and having them watch him wasn’t enough. He wanted to touch them, to be with them…to have a real relationship with them. In his innocent effort to be their friend, he simply reached across the barriers of a glass wall and made it happen.

As parents, we must reach across the barriers of life’s busyness to have relationship with our children. Watching isn’t enough. The true measure of our love will not be measured by the words we speak to them, but by the time we take being with them.

Schedule regular family times where your children know they have your undivided attention. Talk, listen, laugh, play, hug and get to know one another. The younger they are when you start, the easier it is to keep the lines of communication open as they grow.

Prayer: Father, I get so overwhelmed with my responsibilities and find myself taking the people I love for granted. Help me redeem the time and be the parent You want me to be. Order my steps each day and give me wisdom to put the right things first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.