by Phil Callaway
It was the perfect summer Saturday. Joining sticky hands around the breakfast table, we thanked God for the sunrise, and the cheesy omelet I had created from scratch. Proudly I watched our three little ones devour it. Since these three little blessings entered our home in three short years, we have learned to seize moments like these. Peaceful moments. The calm before the scream.
As if she’s reading my thoughts, my angel daughter grabs my omelet with both fists and hangs it from her little brother. Within seconds, milk is everywhere. Plates crash to the floor. Hollering ensues… the kind that peels paint from walls. I stand quickly to resolve the situation, banging my left knee hard on the underside of the table. Clutching at the wound, I accidentally smack my knuckles on the sharp table edge. My wife Ramona appears from the bathroom, watches me dance about the kitchen and asks with hands on her slender hips. “Hey, who put grape jelly on my hairbrush?”
“Me,” admits Stephen, the eldest, smiling.
“So you ready to go?” Ramona is looking my way, holding the hairbrush, her eyebrows raised. Aha, now I remember. On Wednesday she scheduled me for a Little Procedure. I am to see the doctor in an hour. “It’s really nothing,” she assures me. “Just snip-snip.”
The screaming is louder now. More omelet is being distributed. The phone rings. It is a telemarketer. I hang up on him. The phone rings again. I pick it up and yell, “We’re having breakfast alright? Call back in 2012!” It is my mother-in-law this time.
“Will you come over for lunch?” she asks.
“We’ll be there in an hour,” I promise, apologizing profusely: “Keep me in the will…please?”
“But what about The Procedure?” asks my wife as I hang up.
“Next Saturday,” I reply, “It’s really nothing. Just snip-snip.”
The car we own is a recent upgrade. The door jam is lower than I am used to. Climbing in, I smack it hard with my eyebrows. This is the funniest thing the kids have seen since The Roadrunner. They are pinching each other with delight. And laughing. I can see them in the rearview—despite the swelling.
“How much farther,” says four-year-old Stephen. “I gotta go.” We’re five miles out of town and nearing the crest of a hill. Suddenly, the tape machine dies. So does the engine. The power steering ceases to function too. I bang the steering wheel with my sore knuckles as we coast to a halt. “Dog biscuits! Engine trouble!”
“It’s the gas thingee,” says Stephen. “I was watchin’ it.”
“Daddy,” he asks, “Where’s the gas station?”
Good question. One I’d been asking myself lately. Perhaps you’ve asked it too. Where does a tired parent go when you’re running on empty? When you badly need a jump-start, an oil change, and a tune-up? When the one-minute devotional is too long? When you fall asleep on the treadmill and hit the wall hard? Here are three simple keys to help you find the missing peace:
1. Learn to walk. When my son was in first grade I believed the most important thing on earth was my job. One night my son watched me work. He said, “What you working on?” I told him. He asked, “Why?” I patiently explained that I had so much to do that there weren’t enough hours in the day. He squinted at me and said, “They should put you in a slower group.” Micah 6:8 is the perfect verse for parents who need a slower group. It says, “…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” We get so busy running, we forget to walk with God. But life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Ask yourself a simple question: Who will cry at my funeral? Then hang out with them. The housework will always be with you, the children will not. Take a humor walk with them. Don’t come home until you’ve laughed about something. Be careful here. My own mother started walking when she was thirty-eight. She’s eighty now, and we don’t know where she is!
2. Seize the evenings. Whenever possible, keep your schedule free after dinner. Our children are teenagers now and I’m convinced our relationship with them is strong in part because we often said no to the demands of others—so we could take delight in them. We discovered that TV wired our kids, but books helped them unwind. We invested in Bible picture books and ended each evening reading together on the sofa. Cherish these sticky moments while your children are young. Soon they will be teenagers. The only way you’ll be able to keep them home in the evening is to let the air out of their tires!
3. Live on your knees. Recently I asked myself, “When was the last time my children saw me on my knees when I wasn’t looking for the remote control?” How about you? When Jesus was inundated by a thousand demands, He often took time out to pray. So go where Jesus went: to the Father. There is no better place to find peace, power and purpose for living. When I was tempted to stray far from God, I could not erase from my mind the memory of my mother praying for me. God answered those prayers. He will answer yours too. He will fill your tank with courage, strength, and hope as you walk with Him.
Now I’d better go. I’m writing this on a Saturday morning and my wife is calling. Looks like I’m scheduled for a little procedure.
Phil Callaway is a best-selling author and popular speaker.
Visit him at www.philcallaway.com