Thursday, August 13, 2015

Living Life on Purpose - "Isn't It Exhausting?"

  • Tiring, yes, but that's not a bad thing
  • Being realistic & preparing for it
  • It's an investment
  • The sacrifice
  • More quality and value
  • Having a goal 
Are you approaching this next school year wondering if you want to take on the work of homeschooling again? Or do the hard work of character development with your children and yourself? Or getting your home organized? One of the primary purposes of Large Families On Purpose is to answer the question "How do you do it?". Sometimes doing life ON PURPOSE can seem like it might be harder than just winging it, or letting things go and dealing with things as they arise instead of being proactive about it.  *smile*  I received a question the other day which I think is probably a common one,
"Do you ever get exhausted doing everything with purpose? Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I think about parenting with purpose and all those moments that are missed. Any tips? comments? I guess what I mean is I'm a planner by nature. So that inclines me to come up with all these great ideas and ways I can teach my children and model Christ-likeness. However... reality is even with my best intentions and plans it never seems to work out and I feel like a failure most of the time. (Yes, I know in my head God gives grace, I just have to receive it daily.) I think also in those moments of reflection at the end of the day I realize I corrected my child far many more times than I "caught" them displaying the character I'm trying to teach and praise them for it. " ~ Renee'
Let's have virtual coffee over this *smile*.

Tiring, yes, but that's not a bad thing

Yes, it can be hard to do life on purpose - but that doesn't mean it's not right and good. The Lord intended for us to do good work.
"Then God said 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created Man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves in the earth.'" ~ Genesis 1:26-28  (emphasis mine)
That sounds a lot like a life lived on purpose - not one that is full of procrastination, delays, lack of planning, laziness, living victimized by life circumstances or captive to the plans of the enemy. The reality is it is far more tiring for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, not to mention discouraging to live life on the receiving end all the time. Reacting to life rather than living it proactively, being on top of things to the best of your ability, is God's design for man on the Earth.  

It's going to be work either way. But we need to ask ourselves, do we want to live in a home that is chaotic because the routine is unpredictable, children don't know what is happening next, they don't know what to expect and what is expected of them, and when they will have attention next?  No one wants to live in a home that is chaotic and which cannot function in a time-efficient way. That feels unproductive and unaccomplished because there isn't time to get things in order and clean - all because we are trying to "wing it" and react to life rather than taking it by the horns and mastering the problem.  *laugh* Have you caught the vision?

We live in a small home so in some ways necessity has been the mother of invention but the principles apply to any size home with any number of children in it.  When we are disorganized and unplanned we waste our time, energy, and finances looking for or shopping for things we already own but can't find.  Life is always going to be work. But how do we want to live while we work? On top of life - on purpose; or battered down by life and defeated. I guess you end up tired either way...but those are each totally different kinds of 'tired' and one ends up with fruit and the other with something not usually so sweet and lovely.

And really, doing good work and being tired at the end of the day is good - like being tired because we just ran a marathon vs. tired because we have the flu.  "Good tired" has several great benefits to it. 

At the end of the day I am so tired and I collapse in to bed. *smile* But I sleep well and deeply, and I feel like my efforts were valuable and purposeful that day. There will always be things I feel I could have done differently or better, but I know that I did my very best that day in every way - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have a lot to learn especially spiritually in my approach to life and parenting and being a wife, and in my character (was I impatient that day? or did I respond with a spirit of anger?). But I did my best to be purposeful in fulfilling what the Lord has placed before me, putting all of myself in to it.

Being realistic & preparing for it

Learning to have realistic expectations of myself is I think one of the biggest lessons I've had to learn while learning to live life on purpose.  How much should I expect of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually? And how much should I expect from the children? And how can I be my best in the areas that are important?

~ Physically: I needed to find out how much sleep we all each need in an average day to help ourselves feel strong.  For example, How to adjust our bedroom to best enable good sleep, how to orchestrate making sure our family gets good sleep. I needed to figure out how to serve my family a whole foods diet and not eat too much sugar so that we can feel our best. What is a time-efficient way to get household jobs accomplished to maximize my time and energy?  I do this by pursuing having an uncluttered home; getting organized; being in a routine and having a schedule for our days and weeks.  One of my biggest priorities for myself and therefore for my family is to do life with vitality.  When I'm at the best I can be physically, then I can easily determine how much I can take on in a day and how much to expect from myself. There is a way to do it if we pursue it on purpose. *smile* *hugs*

~ Emotionally:  When I begin each day with the Lord by reading His Word and in prayer, then I am prepared to be as emotionally ready for life as I can possibly be. The Lord is able to help people begin each day new. To forgive our mistakes, help us learn from them, hold us close, and then move forward.  This has been a life verse for me for encouragement,
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." ~ Isaiah 41:13
Being my healthiest emotionally then helps me determine how much I can expect from myself - and what is unrealistic for me - so that I can be successful each day pursuing only what the Lord has placed before me, and with His guidance and direction and vision.

~ Spiritually:  I can do all things [the Lord asks me to do] with Christ's strength and enabling power (Philippians 4:13).  As my mom always said to me growing up and still says to me today, "We need to learn to be an A+ clinger" to Christ, depending upon Him fully to teach us, strengthen us, show us the way in which we should go, and give us wisdom, and the ability to lead our little charges to Him.  And when the Lord gives a direction to me I need to ask myself how I can do that well, not ask myself whether or not I want to do it.  *wink*  Learning to depend upon the Lord and to love Him deeply helps me know what He expects of me - and what He doesn't.  Sometimes I feel like I'm failing in an area and then the Lord gently reminds me that it is because I am taking on more than He intended for me to; my burden is too big for me, but that is because I made it so, not because He made it so.  Knowing Christ helps me have accurate expectations for my days.

When I know what to expect realistically in all of these areas, so as to avoid expecting too much, then I can more easily feel and be successful at the end of the day. *smile*

I also have to be realistic in how parenting children goes.  It does often feel to me, like Renee' who asked the question above, that I'm correcting way more than I'm praising the children.  I've heard popular psychology say that we should be praising five or ten-to-one in praises vs. corrections.  But either that is not realistic, or I just haven't figured out how to do that yet. *chuckle*  There is simply so much to correct and shape in young children!  I hope as the children get holder there is a lot more to praise than to correct - but our children are not that old yet (our oldest just turned 17).  *sigh*  I wish it weren't that way.  But that seems to be reality, at least in our home just like in Renee's.

I do try to keep in mind, however, that even when it seems like I'm constantly correcting people at home, all of my correction does not go to one person.  It goes out to 9 separate children in our family.  So I may feel like I am speaking correction constantly, but really that is all going to varying people so each person does not receive all of what I'm giving out.  They do all receive correction, and they do all receive praise, and affirmation, celebration, and squeeze hugs and butterfly kisses.  And I think it's balancing out for them pretty well so far.

Another thing I try to do to better regarding "catching" children in their accomplishments of character is to implement some fun strategies at home with incentives and rewards for behavior.  This makes catching them fun for me, and for them.  And I am always grateful that sometimes when I miss an opportunity to catch a child in his or her success, they catch themselves and point it out to me! *laugh* They'll say, "Hey mom!  I sat on my bottom through the whole meal!"  (And earn a sticker for their chart)  Or, "Hey mom! I drank my whole 24 oz. water bottle today!"  (another sticker/reward opportunity).

It is necessary to have realistic expectations of both ourselves and our children, and we can do so when we are on purpose about doing so.  And I think it's good to have strategies to not only accurately measure our success, but to even see some of our success through a home that's generally orderly, a plan for our time during the week, and even stickers on charts to remind our own hearts that we're doing well.

It's an investment

Doing life on purpose is an investment. Yes it takes intentionality - but the "fruit" is so  good!  *beam!*  If we desire to have a return later on of having produced quality people, then we have to invest time and energy in those people now. Do we need to talk about how much the world needs quality people? We need to recognize that someone will be training up that child - will it be us...or someone else?  They will be trained one way or another.  
"A student is not above his teacher, but every one who is fully trained will be like his teacher." ~ Luke 6:40  
Who is training up our children?  The daycare center or a preschool perhaps?  Maybe an organized sports coach?  A youth group leader?  Public or private school teachers?  We are training up our children in the way they should go. We have to decide that we are going to be the ones to train them up.  Giving them a Christian world view so that God will be able to use them for His kingdom as He intends.  *smile*  Yes, doing life on purpose can be tiring - but it's an investment a lot like training for a race.  We train our body in preparation to do well; we invest our time and energy likewise.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  ~ Hebrews 12:1

"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."  ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27

The sacrifice

There are sacrifices to living life on purpose.  There is less free time.  There are only single-income financial resources when we commit to being at home raising our children.  We put out extensive efforts and huge character training efforts.  And...the hardest sacrifice of all...facing our own character flaws and striving to grow, allowing ourselves to be molded by the Lord for His use and our blessing. Yes, there is are sacrifices - but when we embrace life and we do our best to be proactive and on purpose in our approach, doing our very best to complete the task the Lord has set before us, we hope to hear from the Lord one day saying, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  That is what I long to hear from my heavenly Father - and which makes all the sacrifices worth it.

More quality and value

In living life on purpose we can also have more quality and value in life for our applied time and energy. High quality time together as a family, high quality and more meaningful education at home, high quality activities.  And high quality experiences increases children's appetites for more - more good work, more learning, more personal growth, and then more effectiveness for the kingdom of heaven. If you choose to have a garden but do nothing in it, things will grow there but trying to enjoy or eat from it will be difficult, and the produce will likely lack the nutrients we were hoping for when we started. A garden proactively maintained with a plan is more work in the beginning but the results are not only more abundant but very nutritional.

The goal

Bob and I encourage parents to prayerfully spend time together and decide what their end goal is for their children, home, and family life.  What do they want those things to be like?  How is God calling them to live?  Would they like it to be peaceful (not that there's not time when it's not so peaceful, but as a life style the majority of the time it can be)?  Would they like their children to have success in their emotional, spiritual, and behavioral growth because life is generally predictable, consistent, and they know what is expected of them and when?  (And can then enjoy spontaneous activities even more because there is security in the foundation of their life.)  Would parents like their children to develop character and know how to keep their rooms orderly and clean as well as the rest of the house; know how to fold laundry and put it away on a regular basis; how to prepare healthy meals for the whole family; know about how to build and fix things because they had time and the desire to be on purpose in learning important and fun lessons with dad; to learn all kinds of career-developing skills so that when they are grown they will have a whole selection of things they could do to earn a living for their family?  Would they like their children to be socialized so that they can have intelligent, quality conversations with children and adults alike of any age (not just peers their exact same age)?  Would they like their children to learn character such as delayed gratification, selflessness, serving of one another, and to value doing good, hard work?  These are some of the benefits of doing life on purpose.  Is it worth it?  We think so.  We encourage parents to define the goal and pursue it - on purpose.

Blessings on your efforts,

Recommended resource:

Managers of Their Homes, by Steve & Teri Maxwell

You may also be interested in my posts,
Sleep Better - How To Make Your Bedroom a Better Place To Re-Charge


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