Friday, November 24, 2017

Teach me to number my days... and my children

"So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
-Ephesians 5:17-20, NLT

B.K., or 'Before Kids,' I loved Black Friday shopping. It was a rush to get those awesome deals, even if I had to hit the shops before the sun was even thinking about peeking over the horizon. After all, didn't my husband, whose college nickname was Furby, deserve the hottest toy of the year since it shared his name? In my early twenties, it seemed critical and totally worth the hours of searching and waiting to get my hands on that talking ball of fur. But A.K., 'After Kids,' I found myself shying away from that early morning Black Friday feeding frenzy. Every shopping trip, even when it wasn't filled with the madness of Black Friday, was a hilarious adventure that seemed more like herding cats and shepherding canaries than it did shopping with a few kiddos. And they never failed to sneak a few extra items into the shopping cart while I was busy counting heads. 

Every public encounter involves counting heads... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. With or without special needs, shopping with 6 kids is definitely an adventure! Why do I count their heads? Well, because I actually like and love them and want them to come back home with me. And just like I number or count my kiddos because they are important, the Bible says in Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (NIV).  We number our days because they are important and we want to use them wisely.

One of the biggest deterrents to wise living is the distraction of busyness with unimportant things. Things that may seem important at the time — like the great deal on that impressive television, or that gossip you just discovered on your friend's Facebook wall, or finding every answer to every question that ever entered your mind through Google, playing with your smartphone — those things probably aren't really all that important at all. Instead of living wisely and making the most of every opportunity, we fritter away little bits of time here and there. We are distracted with meaningless busyness, foolish endeavors, and spend our time on stuff and social media. Time that we could spend investing in our relationship with Christ, our relationship with our children and spouse, and our children's relationship with Christ.

I stopped hitting the Black Friday sales years ago, when I realized how overwhelming the crowds and tension and the long lines were for my little ones with sensory processing issues, ADHD, and autism. It wasn't worth their stress or struggle just to save a few dollars. But since then, I've realized that I don't want them to see the fights breaking out over toys that will probably be broken within days of Christmas, or the long lines of waiting over something as everyday as a television. How is it that we can number our 'stuff' to be more important than our children and ourselves? Isn't that what Black Friday shows them? That stuff is far more important people?

Instead of showing my little ones the anxious frenzied Christmas shopping that takes place on Black Friday, I am convinced that I need to show my kids how to live wisely rather than foolishly chasing after toys and games and hot deals that tend to run out before the line ends. Instead of wanting for more and more, God is showing me that I need to be thankful more and more. Thankful for His presence in my daily life. Thankful that He loves my children more than I ever could. Thankful that He hears my prayers, knows our needs, and grants us hope. Paul shows us in Ephesians that we need to have such an attitude of thanksgiving, no matter what situation we are in, that it bubbles over into a heart filled with song. It's pretty hard to sing when you're jockeying for first place in line, or digging for dirt on someone on social media. It's hard to praise God when you're foolishly frittering away precious time that you can never get back.

So instead of hitting the shops on Black Friday, I'm going to hit the floor and play with my little ones before they outgrow me. I'm going to make up my mind to be thankful for the blessings that I already have that I just can't imagine going out there to chase down some more things to fill up my life. And even if it means giving up the stuff that I want, I'm going to number my days, and number my kids, and number my blessings until my heart just overflows with thankfulness this year. Will you join me, remind me, and help me as I put down my smartphone-grabbing, time frittering ways, pick up a little hand to hold instead?

Dear God,

I'm sorry for the time that I've wasted instead of living wisely and making the most of every opportunity. Please help me to number my days, and number my children, and number my blessings so that I am living wisely and lovingly. Please give me a heart of thanksgiving that overflows into song.
In Jesus name,

Amanda Furbeck

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