Journaling Can Be Dangerous!

Unbelievable. I was just trying to comment on Anne Jackson’s post about simplifying and I must have hit a nerve with myself. Initially trying to recount an experience I had in simplifying my life, it morphed into the following 6 years of what my kids teach me about serving in the church. I have seen people grind their kids and their marriages into the ground because they prioritized church work over family. I always thought I’d do the same because I thought that was teaching my kids about sacrifice and giving your life to Christ. I was so stinkin’ wrong about it. I decided not to write a book on Anne’s site and ramble on my own. Here’s how it turned out…

I don’t know if I ever simplified my life by choice. When I had my first daughter, I was put on mandatory sabbatical of 90 days from church service. I thought the pastor was insane and that I wouldn’t have a place to serve when I came back. I didn’t return to serving for 4 months and could have taken even more time out. He’s a very smart man.

Surprisingly, when I was forced to do the thing that was my passion and priority(parenting), the other things I thought so important and that couldn’t live without me, actually were fine and — gasp– the church didn’t crumble without my input!! I know. Hard to believe.

For me its a little easier to prioritize with kids in the mix. Most things that mess with our family relationships take a back seat–with a few mistakes and “well we can’t do that again”s. I don’t have an outside job that demands my time and I feel the freedom to maintain a simple volunteer schedule.

Still, there are seasons of sacrifice where we can’t have it all perfect and restful. Its at those times I think we try to communicate to our kids that they can participate in serving too—praying for rehearsals to go well, that everyone has “safe travel home”, that parents would have extra energy to give to the kids and that the kids would work extra hard to follow mommy and/or daddy’s instructions. I don’t know if they “get it” or not. I know Maddie is good at praying for the first two—those are direct quotes from her prayers. There are informal times when we served others—delivering meals, running errands, childcare—that I explain to the kids what we’re doing and why we’re all piling into the truck again. I don’t tell them that God wants us to do these things but that this is how we can show God we love him by loving other people. It’s a subtle difference but important.

After all the above preaching, the following thought side swiped me and took me to a different place.

Probably where I fail the most, is remembering my kids are part of the “one another”s—love one another, be kind to one another, be compassionate… So while it’s easier to prioritize time for my kids, its harder to prioritize my heart toward them when we’re together. If I’m really honest about it, I worry more about what others see in my life rather than what my kids see. This is completely counterintuitive to my idea of my family being my ministry. I hear them yelling at each other and listen to their tone of voice and my stomach turns because I know where they learned it. And I hate the confusion on their face as I tell them “that is not the loving way to talk to your brother/sister”. Then we have to sit and talk about where they learned how to do that. And I have to apologize and tell them “mommy was wrong and needs to ask for forgiveness”.

In March I attended the Hearts At Home mom’s conference and heard a speaker say, “practice hospitality to your family first”. I took the workshop because I wanted my home to be a comfortable place for others to visit. Didn’t think about it being a comfortable place to live. So now I need to step back once again, pay attention to myself and make some changes. How on earth do we humans ever get anything accomplished?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Great insights Joni! This hormonal roller coaster I’m on has me shorter-tempered than usual and I’ve been more aware of my own example–not such a good one. However, another way to look at it might be that kids need to learn that their parents aren’t perfect early on, and maybe commuicating to them how we’re feeling too (“Mommy’s angry/sad/disappointed/frustrated, etc, now and I’m just not in a good mood right now, but I still love you!”) Not sure exactly where I’m going with this, but maybe it’s constructive?


  2. This is a great reminder. I will probably struggle with the same mixed priorities when I have kids and it’s good to hear these truths before that time comes so I recognize it early on.


  3. GREAT thoughts Joni! Thanks for letting us glimpse into your journal!! What else do you have in their that we can learn from? 🙂


  4. awesome post girlfriend!


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