Sometimes, I may be a little slow when it comes to picking up on lessons God has for me. But, honestly, I'd have to be pretty daft to miss this one. It's flying at me from four different directions.
1. I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker's For the Love (is this woman not a hoot?). In it, she discusses how many of us are super involved in our communities and in various types of service to others; and, while these are noble pursuits, we can sometimes allow them to stretch us so thin that we no longer have/make the time for things we more highly prioritize. I sometimes find myself where Hatmaker does, where "Any new yes I give means a no to my family and sanity." So, I had this on my mind.
2. Then, I'm talking with my mom while I'm out for a run (isn't Bluetooth amazing?), and she mentions to me a devotional she and my dad had read together that claims that time and touch are the two most important tools of parenting. And, I'm reminded of how Hatmaker discussed seasons of our lives. We may WANT to be involved in countless things. But, this just may not be the season of our lives for some of them. A "no" to something today does not have to be a "no" to that thing forever. Now is when I have little ones that desire my attention and time. Are they getting enough?
3. THEN, my dad goes ahead and forwards me Swindoll's actual devotional in an email (no, I was not the only recipient so I don't think he was trying to single me out here!) and this sticks out to me: "When you are tempted to get involved in some energy-draining, time-consuming opportunity that will only increase the distance between you and yours, ask yourself hard questions like, 'Could my time be better spent at home?' and 'Won't there be similar opportunities in the years to come?'" Smack.
4. And, so I ponder all these things. I do my best thinking while running and milking. I'm milking Nutmeg and she begins to stomp at me about midway through. Ugghh. She drives me crazy with this. She's a pretty cooperative gal most of the time -- more than happy to jump up on that milk stand and provide us with fresh, sweet milk, day in and day out. But, she has done this particular thing all milking season.
Midway through milking, she begins to stomp and resist. I pull my hands away for a second then try again. Same thing. I decide to try milking one teat at a time. Right teat -- no way. She's not having it. But, then I try the left, and she's totally fine with it. She lets me milk on without a fuss. Crazy! I switch back to the right, and she's promptly kicking the pail again.
Baffled, I go ahead and milk out the right side without so much as a sideways glance from her. I berate her a little for being so dad-gum finicky, then I release the head gate, and she trots back out to the field. . . where she is greeted by her wee one, Mrs. Hughes, who runs around her momma, searching, until she finds just what she's looking for -- milk from momma's right side.
You've got to be kidding me! I began to watch more closely, and sure enough, every time I saw Mrs. Hughes on her momma, she was on the same side. It seems that all milking season long, Nutmeg has been more than happy to give of herself, but as soon as it nears the point of stealing from the one who matters most, she quite literally puts her foot down.
So, I may be a little slow picking up this lesson and running with it. Nutmeg has been quietly showing me all spring and summer, but it took me being hit by it from 3 other directions to finally put it all together.
Our family is blessed to be a part of this little community here. And, John and I are pleased to be a part of so many different aspects of it. Sometimes as these meetings and commitments pull us, they pull us along as a group. For example, Girl 1 remarked recently as she helped me set up for a community giveaway of school supplies, "I'm really glad to be John and Ashley's daughter because it means I get to be apart of cool stuff like this!" But, when our community involvement pulls us in different directions and cuts into valuable times we spend together, it's time to kick the pail and re-evaluate. Personally, I'm having to work my way through the list and weigh some things out.
Thanks to all those who helped bring this to my attention -- although it's so many that it almost feels like an intervention. Mom, I know you love my goats -- were you and Nutmeg in cahoots on this? :)