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Lessons in Love: Jesus Others You

I had this song in my head last week and really thought about the words:

“Jesus and Others and You.
What a wonderful way to spell JOY.
Jesus and Others and You.
In the life of each girl and each boy
J is for Jesus, for He has first place.
O is for Others we meet face to face.
Y is for you and whatever you do:
Put Jesus first and spell JOY.”

I remember learning this in AWANA when I was very little. My mom sang it around the house, too. It’s a cute song but has a really great message, too. The perfect way to view people is to think of Jesus first, then other people and THEN ourselves.

Such a hard thing to do sometimes! I have really been trying to think of Arthur and girls before myself the past few weeks. I really try to keep in mind how hard Arthur works. He gets up very early so he can fit in his exercise and marathon training, so he doesn’t have to take away from family time in the evenings after work. I just assumed that was the way he would do it, but I didn’t really think about it too much until about 3 weeks ago. He is getting up at 4:45 to go to the YMCA. 4:45! I am definitely not up at that time. But he’s up and at the gym to swim and cycle or run and then comes home to shower and eat and get everything ready to go to work. He’ll even take out the recycling or trash that’s ready to go out to the bins. Then he starts his car to warm up; he’ll shovel the driveway and front porch, if it’s snowed. He rushes around to do little things for me…and he’s already been up for 2 hours! Then he has to drive 45 minutes to work and deal with a less-than-nice boss and grouchy coworker for 9 hours. He then drives another 45 minutes (or more!) back home.

He is stuck in a pretty rigid schedule to fit in any of his “me” time. I have the luxury of making our schedule and changing it to suit my and the girls’ moods each day. We get lots of time to do the activities we want, but Arthur has to push himself to get up super early to fit in his hobbies. I didn’t really think of his dedication or sacrifice until recently. He really does a lot for us, so we can enjoy me being home and saving any childcare costs.

For me, his dedication and sacrifice meant that I should give more than 100% to do all that I can here at home, so he doesn’t have to ‘work’ on anything here. I’ve been trying to take care of everything around here – all meals, making his lunch, preparing his coffee, fixing any small issues with the house (clogs, lights, minor repair, etc), keeping the car up to date (windshield fluid, wipers, gas, car washes, etc), and trying to always have the girls’ baths done before he’s home. He really likes to do their baths, since that is part of the time he gets to spend bonding in the evening with them, so if he’s wanting to, I’ll save the baths until he gets home. Otherwise, I don’t like for him to have to do anything when he’s here, except enjoy his family.

And after trying to do more for him, I’ve been trying to focus on the girls’ needs more too. Family breakfasts are turning into a habit for us, and I love it! We have had breakfast all together for about 2 1/2 weeks straight now. It’s great – I’ll get up and cook or bake breakfast and we all sit down together to eat. I’ve been working on making sure the breakfasts are not cereal or pop-tarts, too. 🙂 We haven’t had any “convenience” style breakfasts lately. I’ve been planning ahead and preparing homemade pancakes (from scratch!), breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs and sausage/bacon, french toast or breakfast sandwiches. I want to try to eat more healthy in the mornings, since we’re taking the time to eat together. Everything is either made that morning or the evening before. And then I add some cut up fruit as a side and we’ve got a whole meal! It helps Arthur, too, to fill up on those things, since he’s working hard at training and his body needs a good, calorie-filled meal first thing after exercising or running. Pop-Tarts are now snack foods (for me, mostly. lol). And all the cereals I stocked up on are kind of just sitting there. I’ll have a bowl every once in a while in the evenings, but I want to get away from cereals for breakfasts completely. I’ve also noticed a change in the girls’ attitudes and eating demands in the late morning, if they’ve had a good homemade breakfast. They’re less grouchy and not as eager to snack. I’m positive it’s because now they’re eating good, filling meals first thing and with WAY less sugar. That makes me really proud to know that I’m making the effort and it’s having a great impact on the kids. 🙂

I really like to cook and bake, so adding breakfasts in to that isn’t a chore at all for me. It gets me up and moving, if I know I need to feed everyone! And being able to sit together before our crazy days start is really great for us. Especially because Arthur isn’t always able to get home in time to eat with us for dinner.

Some days, though, I do struggle to keep Arthur and the girls first. I think “maybe I’ll skip making dinner and just order something”. But, really, that doesn’t help us at all – it doesn’t save us money and it really doesn’t feed us anything healthy. I try to remember to plan ahead to keep our meals filling and healthy, so we’re not just falling back on snacks or whatever to make us feel full. And I’ve been baking more for snacks and desserts, so when we DO eat them, at least they’re homemade and not pre-packaged stuff. Sure, homemade cookies can be sugary, but they don’t have the preservatives or hard-to-read ingredients. 🙂 I know exactly what’s in them.

I know I have needs, too, but making sure I put their needs first actually benefits me. If I’m working to feed them well, then I’ll be fed well, too. If I’m thinking of them first, I have a more positive attitude and feel better about myself and the day’s chores. If I think of them as Jesus’ gift to me to take care of, then I definitely feel great about putting them before myself. 🙂

As women, I think sometimes all we here is to take time for ourselves and be independent and to not rely on a man for anything. Have a career. Have your own money. Take care of You.

All those things, independently, might not be bad things, but I think we (as women) have gotten away from our initial design. God created us to be helpers to our husbands. To be caregivers to our children. Yes, saving money or making money for our families is great….we’re called to do that (Proverbs 31), too, but our main priority is our husband and children. If they’re first, our households run much more smoothly. I know if I am thinking of my husband’s needs first (physically, emotionally, spiritually), things make so much more sense around here. If I am catering to him first, even when I’m not in the mood to do anything for anyone else, I feel so much better about our marriage. If I am taking care of my children before myself, I can know I’m doing the right thing and feel great about their health and their education and their spiritual lives. If I’m doing all I can to help my husband and kids, I have a lot less stress.

That’s just me, though. These are the things God’s been showing me lately….not to just be a stay-at-home mom but to be the best wife and mother I can. I have many talents that I should be using daily to benefit my family. I have a lot to give, and if I’m giving all I can then I have a lot less worry and stress. 🙂

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