My husband and I have been married for nearly twenty five years, more than half of our lives at this point. We have two children, a son and a daughter, who are grown and mostly grown, respectively. Like most parents at this stage in our lives, we will be the first to admit that the years have flown by. Ricky and I enjoy being around our grown children, seeing them make their own way in the world, and watching their journey unfold. Both of our children remain close to us and at this point our relationships are very much ones of mutual admiration and respect. I consider it a great blessing from the Father when I pick up the phone to hear our grown son’s voice say, “Ma, I’d like your counsel on something.” My heart smiles each time.
When my husband and I look back over our years together raising a family, we can honestly say that we have enjoyed every season to the fullest with each new season proving to be even better than the last. We’ve found that setting our hearts wholeheartedly on the Father yields a continuous crop of newfound blessings of wisdom, grace, and joy with each passing year. Deuteronomy 6:4
This, we know, is a result of following Him. Now, mind you, I’m not saying we don’t have our stressors or obstacles, our emergencies and trials, but we have found that, even in these, His shalom is still there and we have full access should we choose it. Overall, in this season, I’d say we have a pretty Shalomy life.
I believe we all want more shalom in our lives and as brothers and sisters in Yeshua, each of us has wisdom to share with one another in this regard. I’ve sat down and thought of some things the Father has taught me that have had a great impact on the shalom in my life and I hope that in sharing them, you may find a nugget or two of wisdom you can apply as well.
Making the Father a Priority
First and foremost, it is absolutely vital that we make time with the Father a priority.
One of the statements I keep at the forefront of my mind when it comes to time in the Word, time in prayer, and time with the Father in general is, “You’ll find a way or you’ll find an excuse.” I spent far too many years finding an excuse and my goal now is to find a way. Every morning that I wake up I must seek Him. This makes an immeasurable impact on my day and I can see a stark difference on the days that I don’t do this.
Whenever we think we don’t have a moment to spare, that is a great time to do an inventory of how our time is spent. If we want Him to be our first line of defense, we’ve got to stop treating Him as a last resort. If we want Him to be our first line of defense, we’ve got to stop treating Him as a last resort.
If we want Him to be our first line of defense, we’ve got to stop treating Him as a last resort.
Seek His heart and His eyes.
One of the most important things a believer can do is ask the Father to transform our heart so that we love what he loves, grieve at what grieves Him, and see what He sees when looking at a fellow human. Throughout my day whenever I find myself operating in my own heart and seeing with my own eyes, I take a mental step back and ask the Father to show me how He sees a situation instead, so that I can better respond and love as He would.
Floating priorities are key.
Floating priorities have always been key when it comes to my family. As a mother and wife, I order my life in what I refer to as floating priorities. I may have a list of important tasks, but if a family member needs me, they become the priority that floats to the top. Once the need is met, my other tasks bob back up to where they previously were and I continue on with my day.
Try to be fully present when family members wake up, come home, and go out.
When our daughter wakes up, my goal is to stop what I’m doing to have a chat with her over breakfast. When our son calls, I try to sit down and take time to focus on his phone call. When my husband lets me know he is on his way home I like to meet him on the porch with two glasses of iced tea to decompress and talk about our day a bit. Not only does this bring shalom into my own life and my home, but it also brings it into the lives of my family as well. Do I always do this? Nope. I do fall short, but keeping my intent strong and seeing the fruit in paying attention to these small things serves as a great reminder to strive for this goal.
When your kids are young
Don’t get so caught up in the daily activity of living and to do lists that you forget to see the wonder of the life in process within and around you.
For parents of young children, it is important to remember that the days are long but the years are short. I know there are times where days on end seem to be marked with exhaustion in caring for a young family but whenever possible, do all that you can to open your eyes to the richness of the moment. Each day is filled with opportunities to take or miss. Each member of your family is growing, learning, and becoming who they will be during that day. It is so important to check in with them as often as possible and find out who they are becoming so that we don’t lose that connection. Don’t get so caught up in the daily activity of living and to do lists that you forget to see the wonder of the life in process within and around you.
Make intentional moments of reflection for yourself, even if it is as simple as sitting down outside for five minutes to drink a glass of iced water while you track the clouds in the sky and slow your breathing. Reconnect, reset, and renew your resolve to live each moment as fully and as intentionally as you can.
Choose your battles
As someone who likes things the way I like them, I have been amazed at how many wise people the Father has surrounded me with who have helped me learn to let things go. Just one small example of this immediately comes to mind when, years ago, I was lamenting on the phone with my mother about our then teenage son’s hairstyle. My mother immediately responded, “Do you know how many parents of teenagers would give anything for a hairstyle to be their biggest problem?” This gave me an instant change of perspective.
Love people where they are at.
This is a big one that I think we all need to work on from time to time.
The Father is working on all of us and we can’t ever know where someone is in their development. They may be a freshly planted seed, a sprout about to shoot up, or a tree about to bear fruit. In our limited vision, we can’t know that. But we can be assured that if we treat people in a manner in line with the fruits of the spirit, and love them where they are at, no matter what stage of growth they are in we will be fertilizing the Father’s work.
In light of how much Grace He has shown us, it should be a small thing to extend it to others.
The Father has shown me an immeasurable amount of grace in my life, which remains at the forefront of my mind. Therefore, it is a small thing for me to show grace to others. I think of it as having a one gallon pitcher holding two gallons of grace. It should naturally overflow and splash out in my interactions with others.
Cultivate a Generous heart
Last by not least, I am doing my best to cultivate a generous heart.
When it comes to all that the Father has been generous in all that He has given us: grace, compassion, kindness, love, mercy, and wisdom. I want to be generous in the giving of these things to others as well. Often, the world tries to teach us to live with a clenched fist, but we can never lose sight of the fact that our Messiah lived with an outstretched hand.
The path I have taken to arrive where I am today has been marked with my own stumbles, but the Father, in His grace, has kept me and led me to where I am today and, by His grace and with a steadfast heart, I will remain in Him. Having this community, through the Bible study, website, and in some cases in person, is yet another gift from our wonderful creator. May we use our connections to one another to bring further shalom into our lives! Our Father has countless gifts He is longing to give us, we need only seek to abide to the fullest in Him to open them.
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