Today as I was kissing our 1st grader goodbye at the bus stop, I encouragingly said to her, “ALL you have to do to earn a smiley face (a.k.a. achieve success) at school is to sit quietly and complete your work.  Take care of yourself first – before you help others.  If you need help, ask your teacher.”

As I heard these “wise words” come out of my mouth for my daughter, I knew immediately that they were also for me.  While we’d like to believe our children do what we say, and although at times they do, it is what we do – that they really do.

The stress I have in my life is self-inflicted – much like that of my daughter’s in school.  How can she at the young age of 7, be wired to help others before she helps herself, as I do?  How can she be putting her need to do her school work second?  It’s ironic and humbling (and maybe a tad alarming, too) to see the parallels.

As we move into the fourth week of January, I am suddenly stressed by the various calls to give my time in service.  Volunteering is beginning to feel like work – too much work, that is smothering my joy.  I do this to myself with my great intentions.  The truth is I receive great joy in saying “Yes I can” and in showing up for others.  Doing so is in alignment with my value system – to be a Matthew 5:16 kind of person, to use my life to be a light for others, and to be of service with the gifts God has given me. And I get myself in trouble when I don’t take care of myself first.  It seems like it all happens so fast – and always at the same time.

Inspired to be the best role model I can for our children, I pray that I am aligned with Proverbs 31. I pray for space to do my “school work” and to clarify what I’m available for – before I say yes to others.  It is a great privilege to be of service, but charity must begin at home first. I must put my own oxygen mask on first.  Case in point, I’ve been averaging over 10 hours a week of volunteer time, yet seem to have no time for my hobbies or crafts at home.

It’s time I do as I say!

“He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5