The Way to spell stress--FAMILY

The days after Christmas are always so very interesting. Sweet Moms have expended so much energy, trying to make everyone happy, cooking, cleaning---again, loving, giving, giving, giving in every way and then the adrenalin is all spent. What goes up, must eventually come down, is the saying that comes to mind. Expending so very much can logically make one empty. And then there are all the interesting factors of each family. When children are little, too much excitement, sugar, stimulation eventually takes its toll on them and they can't help but express their own physical exhaustion by grumpiness or agitation. Same with older kids. We can only take so much entertainment and celebration before we crave the normal, routine, productive.

I had such a great time with my kids and I think that they even want it to all be good on the holidays, because somehow it makes them feel they have a strong foundation to depend upon when they are far away. But by Sunday morning, they were all chomping at the bit, engaged in what is ahead--what they need to accomplish, already looking to the day they will go back home to their real lives. It is not because they do not love me, but it is the life God has called them to.

There is undeniable stress amidst it all.

Yet still, in my home this week,  Boston, classical music Joel was in the same room with Hollywood, contemporary Nathan; boys humor verses the girls humor, twenty somethings with teenage sweetness, introverted, used to the "quiet" Daddy  adjusting to loud opinionated house full of our own children; lots of angst about jobs, school, money, futures, present activities, and it is like riding the ups and downs of a roller coaster, extraverts amongst introverts.

Because of this normal pattern of stress amidst the wonderful celebration, it is why we scheduled our Mom Heart conferences in the early months after Christmas. I always needed to regroup--to remember my ideals, to refocus, to keep inspired to finish the rest of the year well. I do find this regrouping and re-inspiring to be an anchor for the rest of my year. So, consider attending as a shot in your mother-arm!

My personal place in all of this home reality, though, is to be as an un-moveable mountain amidst the raging waves and storms and flurries. As I look back over the years, I realize that I have taken on the role of peace-maker, and conducting harmony in our home. Soothing this one, encouraging that one, pushing the toe of one under the dinner table to gently encourage them to stop talking! But ultimately, it is the normal jousting of a family, all sinners, redeemed, but at different points of maturity. I cannot make all of these sweet ones be at peace--but I can be at peace.

As I was pondering all of this in my quiet time this morning, I looked out the window and there was a beautiful, crimson sunrise. It was as though the gentle voice of the Lord called out to me. "I am here. Look for me today. Look for my presence in the midst of your messes, moments of relationship positioning and the life of your family. I am responsible for each of these precious ones--you are not. You walk with me, extend my love and be my servant. All will be well."

My family is His responsibility. I am responsible to keep my heart and body as healthy as possible to be an anchor of His presence in the midst, but He is at work. All families are a work in process and one day or one hour of conflict is not the measure of the overall family.

I think many of us need to give ourselves grace, a break from all the work, and rest as far as possible--and choose to see the little ways of His beauty and joy in the midst of it all. I always come back to this,

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, " Psalm 131:2--I picture myself as a young child, snuggling up next to my Father, quieting myself and all of the buzzing thoughts, because I am next to Him, and He will be strong enough to manage my affairs. I choose to still and quiet my soul as I hide in the secret place with Him.

Peace, be still. The Lord is near.