Distractions, Sacrifice, and Service

Distractions are a fact of life. And what could be more distracting than driving around with three kids in your car? I’m telling you, texting while driving has nothing on my kids.

 

As soon as Jonah gets in the car in the afternoon, he and Vivienne start bickering:

“He’s trying to kick me!”

“She’s trying to take my toy!”

“I can’t concentrate! Vivi won’t stop singing!”

“Mom, I’m trying to tell you something!”

 

And then, when Brienne gets in the car, she wants to tell me all about her day. Now, I really love that she eagerly shares all the drama and details, but she often talks nonstop and the little kids can’t get a word in. So they start screaming, “I need to talk to you!!!” from the backseat. It makes my head spin.

And I haven’t even mentioned how many times during a 10 minute jaunt around town that one of the little kids will drop a toy and expect me to get it. Or they’ll finish drinking their juice or eating their snack and expect me to turn around and take their cups from them.

Chauffeuring three kids is exhausting…

And some carpooling days are particularly demanding. Over Christmas break, we had one of those days. We had been making ornaments for our advent tree but the kids wouldn’t stop grabbing all the art supplies while I was trying to read part of the Christmas story to them. So I yelled at them. While I was reading the Bible. I’m pretty sure that’s not a good sign.

After finishing our ornaments, we decided to make Christmas cookies. It was fun but afterwards, my kitchen looked like it had exploded, which may have stressed me out just a wee bit. After our cookies were done, we decided to take some to the local firestation. But guess what? No one answered the firehouse door. (Do fire stations actually close?)

Since we couldn’t give our cookies to the firefighters, we stopped at Smoothie King to get strawberry smoothies (seeing as we were right next door and all). We then decided to take the cookies to the gate guards on the base. On the way to the base, however, Vivienne dropped her entire strawberry smoothie on the floorboard of the van. Well, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt about that.

We got to the base, delivered the cookies and headed to the car wash so I could attempt to clean the carpet, but the machine ate my quarters. Once we finally made it home, I sent the kids to the backyard while I sat in the garage and pretended to clean the van with the shop vac.

As I’m sure you can deduce, I wasn’t very happy or joyful in that moment.

You know, I used to think things would get easier as the kids grew older. And I’ve often put off participating in fun activities or serving others until “life settles down a little.” But…

It Hasn’t Settled Down Yet.

Sure, in some ways, life is a lot easier. I don’t have to carry around diaper bags or bottles. I don’t have to worry so much about feeding and nap schedules. But as the kids have grown, we have different issues to contend with. Bickering and talking back and meltdowns just to name a few. And opinions. Oh, the opinions…

We are beginning to venture out and serve more in our church and our community, but I often need to remind myself  that I am serving right now.

In this season of life.

In my own house.

With my own little family.

When I radiate joy in the chaos, I’m serving. When I wipe snotty noses and kiss away booboos, I am serving. When I make healthy meals, when I play with my children, and when I tell them about Jesus, I am serving.

This past summer, the kids and I enjoyed reading different stories from the Bible and then acting them out or playing games with them. One of the stories that particularly stands out in my mind was the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain. I thought we had a very meaningful discussion (or as meaningful as you can have with a three year old and a four year old) about being willing to follow God’s commands and how God always provides for us. So after the story, I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and a few minutes later I walked back by the playroom. This is what I saw.

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In case you can’t tell, Vivi had taken Jonah’s pirate doll and was about to sacrifice him with a small sword. I’m not sure my message really got through to her…

Sometimes I feel like what I’m doing is in vain. Moms of littles, do you ever feel this way too? (Please tell me I’m not alone.) We work so hard teaching our children to share, to be obedient, to be kind to their siblings. One of our main goals should be reaching and training their little hearts. But how often do we wonder if what we are teaching will ever sink in?

But then my kids will surprise me. I will find Vivi helping Jonah complete a puzzle when he is having difficulty. I will observe Jonah giving Vivienne one of his favorite toys so she can play with him. And when I see glimpses of their obedience, glimpses of how God is reaching their hearts, it gives me the encouragement I need to continue pressing on.

Titus 2:7-8 says this:

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching, show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned…”

In this passage, Paul was encouraging the Christians in Crete to continue in the faith so that nonChristians could see the power of Christ working. But we can also apply his words to us as we parent our children. We must set an example to them by doing what is good and we must continue to teach and train their little hearts.

Sometimes, it seems that our kids will never get it. That they will never learn to love each other or obey with a happy heart. But don’t be discouraged, moms of littles. Don’t give up. You are doing a good work. You are serving in your home right this very minute.

There will come a day when your words will sink into their little hearts.

There will come a day when you are able to serve in different ways in your community.

There will come a day when you can do more than just give money to a cause or make a meal for a friend who is ill.

But all of those “little” ways you serve every day count too, because frankly, they are not “little” things. They are mighty acts of service. And your children are watching and learning what it means to serve others.

You are setting “an example by doing what is good,” my friends.

So keep serving your family. Keep loving those around you.

And keep pressing into Jesus.

 

 

For more encouragement, grab your copy of Mommy Has Crinkles.

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