This year has been a blur. Life seems to be speeding by and I can barely think straight some days. For some reason, whether it be family or work or ministry activities, my “to do” list keeps growing and I just can’t seem to catch up. If only I could push the pause button for a while and catch my breath. If only…
But I can’t. For better or worse, our society thrives on activity and I’ve bought into it hook, line and sinker. In so many ways, our family is overloaded with tons of stuff to do (much of it my fault) and what gets lost in all the hustle and bustle of life is the big stuff. And by “big” I mean “BIG!”
Most days I seem to major on the minors. I put out small brush fires here and there and totally miss the big picture. The story of Martha and Mary has great relevance here! So as a family we’ve decided to ditch some commitments, and start majoring on the majors.
What will that look like for us? Here’s a short list we’ve come up with. If you have other suggestions please chime in. We would love your thoughts in this quest to re-focus our attention on what is truly important.
1. Electronics: Turn them off! They’re killing us. They distract us from our spouse and our children. We made a “computer covenant” at home. Daddy and mommy can’t use computers (or iPhones) during certain times of the day (usually family time such as mornings and evenings around dinner and bedtime). If someone is violating the covenant, the other spouse just whispers “CC” as a gentle reminder.
2. Family Devotions: It always seems tough to find the right time to do family devotions. The day starts and ends hectic so when do you find time for this? We want to begin and end each day with Scripture so we’re doing our devotions in the morning – first thing. Once the kids are up we have a short devotion based on a passage of Scripture (Proverbs is a great place to hang out) and discuss a few ideas of application. We end the day with Scripture as well, usually by reading from one of our story Bibles.
3. Spouse: Don’t neglect your spouse! It’s easy for us to lose our spouses in all the craziness of life. Make sure you are finding some alone time with each other. We have weekly date nights (thanks to parents who allow us to do this!), which helps a lot. But we’ve also learned daily alone time is important too if you can make it work. One of the best things we can do for our children is nurture and tend to our marriages, and setting aside time for one another is non-negotiable.
4. Prayer: This is where men need to step it up. As the head of the home, we need to lead in this area. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that most men are not regularly praying with their wives. I only say that because I’m one of them. You may pray as a family but prayer time with your spouse is critical for spiritual growth and healthy marriages. Our pattern (if I could be so bold as to say that) is to pray together at the end of the day. It’s hard but vital.
5. Activities: This is a tough one also. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you probably have too much on your plate. List out your activities and commitments and see where you can cut back. Obviously a lot of it is going to be great stuff or you wouldn’t be doing it. But keep in mind that only “one thing is necessary.” Luke 10:41. Focus on the majors and see if there are some things you can take off your plate. Joy and I are still struggling with this but making progress.
6. Work: We should admit that many of us are workaholics. For some reason, it’s more culturally acceptable to be a workaholic than some other form of addict. Maybe because we work so hard “for the family.” The bottom line is addicts are addicts, and a workaholic can destroy his or her family as easily as an alcoholic. If this applies to you, try to draw a line in the sand (wherever that may be for you) and start “working” towards a more healthy balance. I’ve just started walking out of the office at an hour that can get me home in time for dinner with the family. It doesn’t always happen but we’re shooting for a modest goal of 4 nights a week to sit down as a family for dinner.
7. Play: We all love to have fun so why not do it more often. Play with your kids. Be silly. Chase them, throw them, treat them to a daddy breakfast or ice cream cone. One recent event sticks out to me. The other day we scheduled a pool outing with some friends for about 3 hours. It rained from the minute we arrived until we left. Stinks, right? You know what, the kids loved it. The park near the pool was full of puddles!! The grown ups griped while the kids had the time of their life jumping and sliding in big huge soggy puddles. So go jump in a puddle with your children – and do it often.
These are just a few of the ideas we had. The Hartys are stepping it up by cranking it down a notch. In all this, our hope and prayer is that God will be honored in our marriage and our home. We want our marriage to reflect the love of Christ and we want our children to truly know Him, but it’s hard to do that when your distracted and not focused on Him.
We hope it encourages you and look forward to thoughts you have about how we can all be a little better at majoring on the majors.
Footnote: From what I can tell, most men don’t write or read blogs. So feel free to share this with your husband. Sorry, guys!