by Karen Booker Schelhaas
... invest in the friends that I don't have to clean house for -- a good indicator that I feel loved enough to show them my mess, and that they're strong enough to sit in it. It's good to have friends who love you pretty or ugly.
... teach and discipline my children without shaming them. It's too bad they can't be perfect like their mother... hmmmm... long way to go on this one, wretch that I am. Glad John Newton and I have one little thing in common -- both self-described wretches, desperately in need of grace. If only I could write a lovely song...
... exercise even when I don't feel like it, knowing that discipline is something children catch rather than hear. And physical discipline spills over in to so many other areas.
... call my 95-year-old great aunt more frequently, because she has stories from her years serving God in Africa that have the potential to change my life and the way I live it.
... drop my issues with my appearance once and for all (the scars, the acne, the muffin top, the cellulite, the miniature raisins that were once my breasts, the non-shiny thyroid diseased hair, etc), and focus instead on having a heart that looks beautiful to God. No more wasted minutes on things gravity and aging will make me surrender anyway.
... learn from my mother's wisdom instead of fighting her over it. After all, she's usually, if not always, right.
... respect my husband in front of our kids by keeping my mouth shut most of the time (it is most often seen open, and gapingly so). Somebody recently told me that the difference between a good marriage and a great marriage are the two or three things you don't say every day. True.
... dance more, and in a way that completely embarrasses (yet delights) my children and adds years to my life. Perhaps it will jiggle off some of the above body issues. Wait, I'm not thinking about those any more.
... let go of the past instead of dragging it with me, like an ugly elephant, in to my present. No one likes to look at an elephant, really, at least not in the zoo that is my life most days. Elephants serve no purpose other than to sit there, and look big and ugly. Really. Enough with taking up too much space with my junk. I am even tired of looking at it.
... study and ponder what real freedom feels like -- and resolutely silence those voices in my head that snicker at what I know is true in my spirit. Shut up already.
... quit obsessively washing my car. It just doesn't matter in the greater scheme of life whether or not my car is clean, and having five children makes it nearly impossible anyway. My neighbors think I have a Windex problem, and I'm not even Greek.
... cook with ingredients that nourish my family and remind us that real food is art, created by God. It's meant to bless us, not make us fat. We pray that God will bless food to our bodies -- not dimple our thighs with it. Time to throw out the grey garbage, and eat colorful portions that satisfy, not stupefy.
... listen to my friends. Not listen in the way that I sometimes do, figuring out how their current topic relates back to my life and how I can snag something from it, and then shooting it back to them with a cute spin and sometimes a curtsy. But instead, choosing to be filled by my friend's joys and struggles, waiting for God to prompt me, or not. Quiet listeners are a gift to all people.
... ponder my baby's decade in heaven, and how God's grace has helped me purposely share my pain time and time again. Pain hogged all to oneself seems wasteful.
... invest in a make-the-Griswalds-proud amount of icicle lights to finally oblige my children's Christmas desire to have OUR house be the one people drive to see... in 10 years, I won't have anyone left to care about that. The time for gaudy, cluttered gutters and lawns is NOW.
... judge less. I remember watching a woman with a screaming child at Disney World, the happiest place on earth, and forgetting about all the times I've been the one with the shrieking child on the airplane that nobody can calm down. 45 minutes in to the Disney World screamfest, I said something snide about the poor woman's parenting abilities. My sister-in-law just looked out the window, her head shaking side to side and said "no judgment, no judgment..." I have never forgotten her perfectly executed words about that stranger in distress... nothing but love, people. Nothing but love.
Quite the list. I heard a sermon recently, though, that exhorted me to invite the power of God in to my life, just as David so majestically described it in the Psalms, and to start by laying down my own abilities. I usually get that equation backwards. My feeble attempt to tackle this list can certainly be made perfect through His power. It is power available to me to do and be all of the above, as He wills for me to do and be it. This is a resolution I can get behind, inviting this power in, and it's one that's full of God, and less of me. Always a good thing.