First Things First…

June 24, 2015


“….Martha, Martha, “the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. “Luke 10:41-42 NIV

First Things First

What a special time for Jesus!  He was going to Bethany, a tiny village on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, to would visit His friends, Mary and Martha and He was invited to come into their home…into their family, and for Jesus, a home was indeed a very special place.  When these women heard that He was on His way to their home, and perhaps bringing His followers with Him, they did what all women do with the prospect of a special guest……Oh my, the preparation that certainly would have to occur…food and beverages to prepare…furniture to dust…floors to sweep…tables to set…so overwhelming…so much to do in preparation for this man.  This very special visitor…This man who stirred their hearts with His words and who stirred their souls with His presence… This man who was growing their faith. But the stress of hurrying, and scurrying…of worrying and whining…settled over Martha as she lost sight of the purpose of the visit…she lost sight of her guest…she lost sight of what was His Best! She was stressed-out!

First Things First-Family Time

I think that we can all identify with the experience of “stress” in our lives…and certainly an unexpected guest, event, or development or even an expected guest, event or development can create and often creates the dreaded “stress.” Stress or stressed-out is defined as being anxious, tired and irritable because of too much work, or too much pressure…too much mental pressure…over-work…over-worry…and often…a mis-prioritized schedule…thus, “stressed out.” I am sure that you know…I know!

This term was first used in 1983 and found its way into dictionaries and into the vocabulary of adults and sadly, into the vocabulary of children.  I vividly recall a child, (not one of mine), who, in the early 90’s would constantly complain of being “stressed out”…He was eight years old, and I was distraught that he understood how and when to use these words!  Eight years old…I truly believe that he was really stressed out! It stressed me out just listening to him!

First Things First

The American Psychological Association reports that today’s teens seem to be more stressed than their adult parents, and there is no doubt that our American society excels in the adult stress measurement…and sadly, I’m not sure about the effectiveness of adult stress management.  It is estimated that at least eighty per-cent of the diseases plaguing our society are stress-induced.  The research is staggering…and to think research also indicates that teens and children exhibit stress in similar ways to their adult counterparts.

It is suggested that there are five areas of influence which create stress in children and teens: Pressures of school-work and academics, Sports, Extra-curricular activities, Media culture, and Social Life.  Yikes!  All of these arenas are the ones toward which we as parents feel compelled to direct our children. Aren’t we supposed to?

Yes…these activities are all good when managed and balanced within the capacity of the family dynamic…keeping in mind the needs and capacities of each child…and when priorities are filtered through the Hand of our Mighty God…

First Things First-Family Time

Family Time interrupts busy, stress-full, stress-filled, schedules.  Family Time protects the family members from stress factors…and offers de-stressing time!

I believe that it is imperative for families to schedule into their busy lives, the amount of time and the activities which benefit the needs of their individual family, those experiences found within Family Time.   All too often, it is tempting to ignore the tremendous need to just slow down and to connect.  Sometimes, it means stopping the forward motion…to just sit together…and to do life together as a family.

Stressed and Fussy

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40 NIV

I think that I know where my children learned to be stressed and fussy…Yes!  I modeled it for them…I remember running around the house pouting and stressed because I had so much work to do…especially during times when we were expecting guests…or during holiday times…or, I confess, I could deliver  the “fussy pants” performance with great proficiency on any given day…so, I can identify with Martha as she probably stomped into the room where Jesus and her sister Mary and perhaps other followers had gathered…as she spouted off, clearly frustrated, agitated, worried, and stressed…so much work to do, and so little help…so little time…totally overwhelmed…placing blame on her sister.

Honestly, as moms, we can so easily fall into this trap, and research concludes that children and teens can succumb to this condition as well.  One author suggests that “tension” is contagious in relationships…in the home environment as well.  Certainly “stress” cannot be avoided in this life and some “stress” is by nature just part of the life experience and is actually part of the learning and growing process.  However, it should be addressed…and it should be managed…One of our jobs as parents is to teach our children how to navigate through the stress-filled circumstances they will experience in life…

First Things First…

Don’t you just love how Jesus immediately addressed Martha’s tirade…her “freak out” moment, when she was so desperately wanting to impress and to serve their very special guest…He spoke with His voice of authority…totally consumed with His contagious agape love… “Martha, Martha.”

Oh, how well I remember freak out moments in my life…moments when I absolutely lost it and did not handle my stress well…when, honestly, I completely lost sight of the purpose, the goal, the call which was on my life…My husband has a way of saying, “Deborah”…when I am putting on my “fussy pants” attire. (Unfortunately, they are sometimes my favorite pants…) “Deborah…Deborah…” the voice of reason, of wisdom, and of yes, authority…gently and lovingly addressing my foolishness of the moment. Hmmmmm, that sounds familiar…

Family Time

Jesus clearly addressed the issue of Martha’s stress…of my stress…He did not give Martha the list of all the wrongs of the moment…nor did He address or discount all of the work and all of the responsibilities awaiting her…He did not suggest that she was doing too much…or that she was doing needless chores…He did remind her of the one thing at that moment which was needed…necessary…beneficial…life-giving…stress-relieving…the one thing which would give her life rest…which would give her soul rest…which could not be taken away from her by anything…life, or death, or “stress”…

Sitting at His Feet

When life, is spinning out of control for you and/or for your children…when you are stressed, and your children are stressed with school work, sports, responsibilities, social life…social media…Family Time is the RemedyFirst, your personal Family Time with your Heavenly Father, then your Family Time with your family members and Yeshua Christ, Sitting at His Feet, choosing the very best thing…

When your life is whirling and the calendar is over-filled…or the sticky notes are stuck on top one another, competing for the same time-slots…STOP!  STOP!  Schedule in Family Time, whether you have time or not…Make Time!

The Remedy-Family Time

Research is clear that Family Time, that time of connection with members of the family, is one of the most important components in stress-relief for parents and for their children.  Parents have the opportunity to engage in healthy, direct, effective communication which is helpful in balancing responsibilities of school work during the school year, and of sports and activities, social life, and screen time during the summer time. Family Time for a child or a teen offers the alternative to peer-driven pressures.  And what the child craves, (according to research reported last week in the blog) what a child and a teen craves, is the connection with family members…

Children who experience quality, regularly scheduled Family Time are much more likely to develop a healthy perspective of responsibility and of how to manage their lives. They are much more likely to navigate the maze of their social lives, social media and technology when they are engaged in quality Family time.

Make Family Time a fun time!  Play, laugh, be silly, be crazy, run, jump, play games, exercise, sing and (if you can’t, do it anyway)…Activities done together are stress relievers…for mom, dad and for children because they help to connect and to bring the priorities into focus, helping to filter out the meaningless and useless worries and concerns that can be collected over the course of time… Family Time interrupts busy, stress-full, stress-filled, schedules.  Family Time protects the family members from stress factors…and offers de-stressing time! And, it is wonderful to see the immediate relief on the faces of your children…and it is wonderful to feel the immediate relief in your momma heart…

Family Time-The Show Must Go On!

What happens when a family member cannot be present for Family Time?  Sometimes it is an unexpected interruption, other times it is an occupation life-style.  Bill traveled at great deal during our children’s younger years…and I remember the temptation to just discount Family Time because we were not all present ,and it required a lot more effort (so many of you experience this). But I learned very quickly that Family Time had to go on…no exceptions…no doubt…no excuses…

Our daughter-in-love, Claire is from a beautiful family of five girls and two wonderful parents.  She shared with me some of her experiences growing up in Baton Rouge.  Her father traveled as a horse veterinarian and was frequently away from home.  Her mom was left to manage their family and the five beautiful, lovely, energetic daughters when their dad had to be away.  Her mother made a decision that under no circumstances would they miss the opportunity to gather around their table for dinner.  When Chat was present…they had Family dinner…and when he was traveling, they had Family Dinner around the table…talking, sharing, laughing, often shedding a tear or two…but always gathering…always connecting.  And Claire calls it Family Time, with wonderful memories attached.

Now, when our son Adam is traveling, I get the pics from Claire of their three little girls gathered around a picnic table or the breakfast table…but they have a Family Dinner together, when Adam is there, and when he must be gone, because, The Show Must Go On…

Gather and Connect!

I pray that you and your family are basking in some of the extra Summer Time opportunities with your precious ones.  I pray that the word “stressed” is diminishing in your vocabulary as you laugh, play, run, jump, engage, communicate, talk and “DO Life” with your beautiful family.  And if by chance…some of those silly “fussy pants” jump out of the closet at you…I pray that you STOP…and that you listen for that voice of authority…that voice of love…as your Lord whispers your name…once…then twice…oh yes…

“I will listen to God the Lord.  He has ordered peace for His people who worship Him.  Don’t let them go back to foolishness.” Psalm 85:8 ICB

First Things first with your Father, Sitting at His Feet. Then with your family, Sitting at His Feet…Then that wonderful, fantastic, stress-relieving, connection giving…peace-producing Family Time…as you choose what is BEST!


Abundant, Overflowing, and Peace-giving Joy,

deborah signatuer copy





Over the next few weeks we will be offering a Family Devotional with Activities for any age. We invite you to enjoy these devotions with your whole family…we invite you to enjoy them when you are alone with your Messiah. We hope to encourage you, to inspire you, to motivate you, and to empower you as you embrace the wonderful, crazy Summer Time opportunities for memorable and productive Family Time! We are cheering you on!

Print the coloring pages for your kids to color and then put them together to create a fun memory verse booklet!

devocover      colorcover