Of all my weekly duties as a stay at home mum, there is one that I habitually defer over and over again.
The shopping list.
Sometimes it's quick and easy; tick the staples, plan the weekly menu, a quick check on the supplies and off I go, enviro-friendly bags in tow. Other weeks I just sit and stare at the page in front of me, mindlessly doodling little daisies up and down the freezer column. I decide to focus my attention on the menu for the week; spag bog? tuna mornay? frozen chicken tenders and chips? Ooh, it looks like we're having daisies on Thursday and Friday. Excellent.
No matter how long I stare at the list I just cannot get inspired. The pantry is no help either; half-empty packets of risoni, macaroni, penne and spaghetti lay amongst the copious bags of flour - white and wholemeal self raising, white and wholemeal plain, corn, not to mention the bag of breadmaker's special hiding in the back corner.
Completely devoid of any ability to focus on my task at hand, I do what anyone in my situation would do - put on the kettle, grab the double-choc-coat Tim Tams and indulge in a Tim-Tam-Slam . . . or two. The shopping can wait until tomorrow. Of course, 'tomorrow' arrives and so the cycle continues; sit, stare, doodle, brainstorm, rummage, reach for the Tim Tams. After a day or two more of procrastination the situation becomes dire; nourishment levels begin to wane, sending out alarms quicker than I could hide the empty Tim Tam packet - "Muuuu-uuum, what's for dinner?" "I'm hungry, can I have a sandwich?" "Muuu-uuum, we're out of milk!" followed by the final chorus in perfect unison . . . "Tim Tams!"
Oh how I wish I had taken the time to focus on the basic needs of the family, the everyday dietary essentials - topped with a couple of sweet surprises - required to keep their bellies full and their bodies growing strong.
In many ways our families' spiritual needs are just the same; some days prayer and devotions are easy to stick to. Everyone is attentive, the kids aren't fighting, and the topic is quite light on and easygoing. And, as there are relatively few engagements scheduled for Saturday night, making it to church - on time - is equally effortless.
Then there are those times where it becomes almost impossible to stick to the routine. The kids are fidgety and bickering with one another; the daily devotions feel stale and uninteresting and a string of late-night parties makes the early Sunday mornings next to impossible to conquer.
So how do we manage to stay the course in these times of spiritual starvation? We prepare well in advance! Just as doing the shopping list five minutes before I'm due to leave is ineffective, if not irresponsible, so is trying to muster up spiritual nourishment with no thought or planning going into it first. Here are a few ideas you might like to try over the next few weeks.
Firstly, plan ahead. This sounds so simple but it really is a great way of ensuring we keep the basics of our faith. Make time to read the Word and to pray, both individually and as a family, even if it means getting out of bed ten minutes earlier.
Secondly, cherish devotional times with one another. This might be formal, sit-down devotions after a meal, or it might be looking for small, one-on-one moments throughout the day; either way take the time to feed your kids' spirits, and those of yourself and your partner, with the ways of God.
Finally, do all you can to make Church a not-negotiable weekly appointment. Shopping online is great but most people want to be in the store, feeling the clothes, trying them on, sharing the experience with others around them. Listening to great sermons and music online in a fantastic option, and I'm so grateful we have access to these, but there is something beautiful about engaging with others, in the flesh, worshipping God and growing together in life.
Just try not to drop your Tim Tam in your coffee during supper.
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