Do you, or someone you know, struggle maintaining your joy when taking care of your family? Read this.

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If we are honest we will admit that we don’t want to wake up everyday and clean the kitchen again, do laundry, take out the trash, cook dinner, clean the cat litter box, do the dishes, and the long list of responsibilities that we have when taking care of our family.  We do the same things day in and day out for years and it’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like you are the “only” one doing anything.
I come home from work and my husband is sitting on the couch resting.  I have MBA homework to do, want to write a post for this blog, need to fellowship with God, pray for like a million people, do a quick manicure with my worn out nail file, and slap on some clear coat I bought at Dollar General.  I also have piles of laundry calling my name.  In fact they haven’t stopped calling my name for 28 years!  Who knows what the animals have done to the house, what needs cleaned up, and what other lovely life surprises are waiting for me.  Mom do this, mom do that.
Somehow I need to think of my husband and see if I can be that awesome helpmate.  I can feel my energy drain just writing this.  Meet his needs, make him a pot of coffee after dinner (because it encourages him), ensure I am uplifting to him, and later look nice in case we are able to “unite” which seems completely out of the picture considering I am exhausted and just spent twenty minutes cleaning up cat poop.
So what are we doing to do to maintain our servant heart, but not over do it.  Love them and not get angry and do the whole thing as unto the Lord.  Be honest.  When you are cleaning up your kids stomach flu accident, another dirty diaper, or spilled cereal how can you maintain your joy?
1.  Set boundaries.  Soft respectable boundaries.  God wants us to love and serve others, but not enable them.  He wants us to teach our children how to take care of themselves and he wants both spouses to share the responsibility of the house and children.  What if my husband won’t help?  Decide realistically what you can do, what your children should do, and let the rest go.  I can’t take care of the house, the kids, the bills, get groceries. work 40+ hours a week, work on my college homework, cook, clean, do the laundry, and mow the yard.  So we make some lists and decide what we can reasonably do.  They might not complete things as good as you can and that’s okay.  As long as it get’s completed.
2. Rest & enjoy.  Mother’s often get a martyr’s heart.  I am going to do it all for the sake of my children!   I tried this for many years.  I took up the martyr’s  mantle and rode high on my chariot.  I did everything!  I took the kids to church, on walks, cleaned, did all the cooking, laundry, dishes, read to them, painted the house, wrote out the bills, got groceries, and systematically exhausted myself.  I forgot how to enjoy life and I neglected rest and in the process lost my identity as a woman.  This in turn hurt our marriage.  I was so busy being the martyr that I forgot how to be me and neglected developing myself as a woman.
3.  Stay connected.  REALLY!  I really want to write this:  read your Bible, pray, fellowship, etc., but it sounds cliché.  Stay connected to God.  It’s not cliché it’s real.  I have had seasons of drought in my life.  Seasons where I just “felt” close to God.  I went to church on Sunday, picked up my Bible for a few minutes here and there and shot up quick prayers when I promised to pray for people, BUT I spent no time in serious prayer, no serious Bible reading, no nothing.  I knew that I was just getting by when trial hit.  The minute the cancer diagnosis came, she left for another state, we weren’t sure where our daughter went last night, when our daughter left for Africa and a few weeks later our son left for Japan I came to the realization I wasn’t connected.
Nothing has the opportunity to bring us closer to God than a trial.  As soon as the heat is turned up we jump for something solid.  We need Him in the everyday as much as we need him when we suffer.  We need Him to help us maintain our joy as we do the same things over and over again for years.  We need Him to help us do things when we don’t feel like it and we need Him to help us do all things as unto Him.  In and of ourselves we are not prone to serve as unto the Lord, but with Him we can do all things.
Set boundaries, rest & enjoy, and stay connected.  When you do you will be on your way to ensuring that bitterness doesn’t set in, anger doesn’t erupt, and you are able to serve your family with a humble and joyful heart.
Marcy Pedersen

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