Balancing Act

It seems that there is a operation manual for almost everything, complete with troubleshooting guide.  Wouldn't it be nice if we had a "life" manual?  Make no mistake, I know one could argue that the Bible is just that guide, but let's face it, the Bible isn't what I would consider an quick reference.  I'm talking more like "How to Be Sure You Make All the Right Decisions All the Time for Dummies" kind of manual.  Or better yet, I'd really love an "EASY" button like on the Staples commercials!  I've been challenged to find the right words to express the following thoughts, so I've surrendered to just "dumping them out" while at my computer. 

I heard someone who has six kids say about a family with 13, "How could you give each of them the attention they need?"  I thought it was comical considering I've heard that same comment about our family since we've had three!  I guess God just gives you what you need to handle what He's given you, whether it's one or 21.  I can't imagine having 13 kids the same way someone with three can't imagine having seven. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking this last week about what life has thrown my way.  They're probably thoughts that are inevitable when you face the loss of a loved one.  All of my thoughts have led me to one question:  How do you find a good balance?  That is the million-dollar-question!  I've mentioned before that we routinely modify.  I wish we always knew what the right modifications were...we'd probably be much more efficient in all of our parenting techniques and our children would definitely be well-adjusted. 

How does one effectively maintain a friendship?  I will be attending my 20 year highschool reunion this summer (yes, I graduated when I was 12) and I will likely rekindle several friendships quite easily, but chances are, when the weekend is over, my relationship with old friends will remain as it is currently, which is heartfelt, but one that nurturing is not needed because we keep in touch through Facebook or word of mouth or the occasional phone conversation or Christmas card, but we don't live in the same circle.  We used to, but in twenty years, our circles have grown and shifted and now they just bump into each other.  We all seem to be ok with that relationship.  I have friends from later in life that are closer because our friendships were formed based on more mature similarities such as college majors, post-graduate degrees, marriages, children and church.  Many of those circles have spread out too, but there might still be some overlap and there are some that there is a lot of overlap.  When there is a lot of overlap, it is not hard to nurture that friendship, but what happens when you want to maintain a maximum level of closeness with one whose circle only overlaps a little?  I've realized recently that it requires work.  It's really a rude awakening when you're not used to things working that way. 

Kind of like when you're 19 and an athlete and all you have to do to work off a bowl of ice cream is keep breathing and all of a sudden you're thirty-something and just the thought of a bowl of ice cream adds a pant size to your rear end.  Now you have to reduce the snacking AND exercise just to maintain! 

As life continues to happen I find that I have to work at more and more things a little harder than I used to.  Finding balance is one of those things.  I can no longer fit as many things into my day as I did when I had two toddlers.  Back in those days I could actually welcome my husband home to a fairly clean home with a stocked fridge, a closet full of clean clothes, a hot homemade meal on the table and the promise of time for him when the little ones were in bed.  The bills were paid, the checkbook balanced, the rosary prayed, an hour of Sesame Street entertained the children until they napped and then we went to the zoo.  There was time for deep phone conversations with friends and somehow even extra time for a home-based business. 

Is that where I lost it?  At two kids??  In just a typical day, I must figure out how to balance electronic screen time, reading, piano, chores, sleep, prayer, discipline, fun, friendships, physical health, volunteer time, baseball, swimming, meal planning and prep, not to mention consumption, appointments, financial obligations, leisure time, home and yard maintainence, memory archiving, pet care, and then anything else that may come up out of the blue. 

I really don't even know how to ensure the right environment to create and grow a tight bond between our children and their siblings.  I want them have each others be each others best friends.  I'm sure it's a process, but how do I know we're on the right track?  Especially when they're just being nasty to each other regularly?

I often wish there really was an Easy button.  I may not learn much, but the cartoon birdies would be sweetly chirping as they flit through my house where everyone smiles politely all day long. 

I must reduce computer time (for me) and increase prayer.  I must limit the number of ice cream bars and kick up the intensity of exercise.  I must cook when I don't feel like it, especially during baseball season so that we don't eat PB&J EVERY SINGLE meal.  I must let my kids sleep until noon on occasion, but be sure that they practice the piano for the full 15 minutes.  I must allow cake for breakfast just to change things up, but make sure I set aside 15 minutes before bedtime to read to my kids.  I must pay bills on time and be sure to set aside a little extra for a random trip to Chuck E Cheese (or better yet, Starbucks).  I must make a point to make a date with a friend that I don't see regularly and then make one with my husband even though I might see him daily.'s a lot of work.  I must learn what my capacity is and not expect too much of myself.  Bottom line, I must do what God wants me to do. 

Funny how I've been thinking of these things all week and then this morning this is what the preschool devotion that I shared with my little kids said:  "Kaitlyn is happy to be outside on a warm, sunny day.  She wants to do what is right and please God today.  Do you know how to please God?  If you do what God says in the Bible, you will please God.  He wants you to be kind to your friends and to do what your parents ask.  He wants you to pray and sing happy songs for him.  When you obey God, it's like following in his steps.  Following God is the best way to be happy."    "When a man's steps follow the Lord, God is pleased with his ways." --Psalm 37:23

Hmm...The Holy Bible...AKA "How to Be Sure You Make All the Right Decisions All the Time for Dummies"?  Well, I know that it isn't THAT easy, but it's a good place to start to find balance...oh, and of course, I must add, "One day at a time"  (I don't seem to do so well with the idea that "from now on I'm going to do _____.")