“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
The start of a new school year brings many opportunities to serve. With 5 kids ranging in age from 16-5, who are attending 4 different schools, and all involved in all sorts of different activities, there is an endless list of good and worthy organizations that need volunteers. Not to mention our amazing Church, which is alive and thriving, and overflowing with ministries constantly calling to the Martha in me. My husband and I love to serve and especially together. That is how we met and fell in love so many years ago, so it really renews our sense of purpose and togetherness when we are working together for the Lord. Personally, I love to serve. I love to be involved, and I love to be around people. It is invigorating.
We had decided at the end of the last school year that we would continue to help with High School Faith Formation as our main service once school began again. Other opportunities came by, and I said no because we already knew where we were supposed to serve. I knew it would mean that my 12-year-old would have to care for her younger siblings on Sunday evenings, but I reasoned that it was ok because this is where God wanted us. I knew that my 5-year-old might struggle a little with us not being home as she went to bed on Sunday nights, but again, I thought God could handle it. We had a great year last year and started to build relationships with some of the young people, so we looked forward to continuing on the journey with them. We felt peace and satisfaction, even knowing that there would be sacrifices on the part of our family. Sometimes that is what God calls us to.
At our first HS Catechist meeting, our incredibly excited HS Coordinator laid out his plan for the new youth program, and my husband and I both got sinking feelings in our stomachs. We quickly saw that this would not be something we could commit to. It was a wonderful plan, and the youth will benefit from it, but it would require a large chunk of time away from our younger ones on Sunday evenings. We worked through every possible scenario to see if there was some way we could divide and conquer the commitment. After MUCH prayer and a little heart-break we discerned that this is not where God wanted us. I was sad and disappointed and a little frustrated.
Once again, having a large family, with many different ages was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do, what I thought God wanted us to do, and what I thought we would be good at. How many times over the years have I heard about something worthwhile, and I couldn’t accept it, or even try for it because of my duties to my family. What I want to do is different from what God is calling me to. Which is crazy, because really in my heart of hearts I want to desire His will over mine. I just get a little lost sometimes in the world of good intentions. The world tells me that being super mom is what is good, but God tells me being my kids’ mom is what is good. Giving to each of them all that I can, is what pleases Him most. There are so many things I want to do or I want to be, and yet the commitment that I’ve made to God and to my kids is where my real sanctification is worked out. It is in all the times I have to say, “No,” that I know the Lord is working out my salvation. The Lord put it on my heart long ago to serve my family first. Whatever gifts and talents He gave me are first for my husband and kids, and then for whomever He puts in my path. It is in the anonymity of my home, where there are no accolades, that the Lord wants me to be salt and light.
So now that the year has officially begun and I haven’t officially signed up to volunteer anywhere, I realize that I am exactly where I need to be for this season. As the school year opened up so did the flood gates of tears in my house hold, and I know that right now, right here, my kids need me more than any other group, no matter how good its mission is. This semester, I am committed to reading to my kindergartener, making sure she gets to bed on time, helping my middle schooler navigate these new waters she is swimming in, not being too busy with “important” stuff to listen to my 4th grader tell me his struggles or listen to his excitement over his Lego creations, and being home in the evenings when my High Schoolers are good and ready to talk.
But, Dear Lord, next semester I’ll have a list ready of all the places you might want to send me.