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The Next Step

>> 7.05.2011

Within the very first hours of becoming a parent -- in which I mean seeing the two pink lines on the lovely white stick -- the words "transition," "next steps," "journey" all take on a completely new meaning.  Life is just never the same as a whole new world opens up to us and we learn about the changes in our bodies (and in our babies' bodies), the changes in our schedules (particularily the change in our sleeping habits), and the changes in our responsibilities -- children require a lot of priority!  As a good friend of ours once said, "I never knew how selfish I was until I got married.  And then I never knew how selfish I still was until I had kids."  We learn quickly that life is now, at least for a short 18 years, a lot about our children and teaching them to transition in their lives well -- which requires a very healthy marriage! 

This week is all about transition for our family; in some ways, taking our final steps to complete these last four years of transition.  So I thought I'd take a few minutes to talk "ministry" here, for those following who are headed that way, and for the benefit of really anyone with a family-- which can mean simply a spouse with whom they share life.  As I've been processing what it will mean to enter back into the world of full-time vocational ministry, I've realized our family is in a different stage than we were when we left a few years ago.  New priorities need to be realized and new boundaries need to be put in place BEFORE we start this new phase.  Not doing so could have devestating results for our marriage, our family, and in the end, our new ministry.  So my husband and I took advantage of a 3 hour trip both ways for picking up a new bed (to be shared in the room where we'll put all four children for awhile=), and talked "priorities" and "boundaries".  We each shared with the other our thoughts on what was "most important" at the stage of each of our children and what they needed-- and of course, what we needed as a couple to maintain a healthy, growing, FUN relationship.  We settled on a few specific things (which I wrote down to keep us more accountable) and I had peace in just communicating with my husband the various needs I was sensing and in hearing his.  In each of our major life transitions, we've taken time to do this activity (and I admit, I think it could have been done a lot more often).  When we entered seminary, and usually to some degree each semester, we took time to look specifically at each family members' needs and consider what might be done to make sure important needs were met.  We trust and pray that God has filled in the gaps where we have fallen short.  I encourage each of you to do this same activity as you find yourself in times of transition to help alleviate the stress on everyone in the family and to PROACTIVELY invest in the most important foundation to society: the family.

I could go into all sorts of specific priorities and tips on how they could play out, but each family has different needs as we are all in unique situations and have unique needs for those times.  Here is the KEY PRINCIPLE to follow: 

 ALL priorities should come in light of our FIRST priority: God! 

     Deuteronomy 10:12-13, "And now...what does the Lord your God ask of you but to serve the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good."

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek FIRST [God's] Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things {earthly provisions found at the heart of our need for working}will be given to you..." (NIV, italics added=)

For tips in helping to make your marriage a better priority see Jill Savage's Blog (founder of Hearts At Home, an organization that encourages, educates and equips moms of all ages and stages of motherhood)

For tips in helping to "balance" family and ministry life make sure to check out former pastor and ministers to missionaries all around the world, Stuart and  Jill Briscoe's online magazine Just Between Us and Stuart's quick take on the issue.

And then leave me a message and let me know some specific ways you and your family have been able to better prioritize the important "things" of life!


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