Nothing like the holidays to spur a post on distractions. It seems like these days, everyone and everything is pulling at me: cards to address, cookies to make, presents to purchase and wrap, and...oh yeah...then there are the everyday chores with my kids and household.
The holidays also offer up the perfect stirring in our souls to do good for others - whether that's volunteering, writing a note, sending a gift or simply making a phone call. But do you ever find yourself on the way to do the very good deed that's been on your mind when...
the phone rings...
your child has a dirty diaper...
the toilet overflows...
the doorbell rings...
you just check Facebook real quick...
And after you get done with whatever the distracting task was, you've suddenly lost your motivation to do the good deed or whatever positive thing you set out to do in the first place. Does this just happen to me?
I'm guessing probably not.
I believe that the devil uses every opportunity to distract us from being good and he must hate Christmas time the most because almost everyone walks around with joy in their heart and good will towards most men...
And so he distracts. Need an example? Of course you do. And you want to hear about my children, I'm sure.
We got in from Las Vegas yesterday - which ends up being a two hour time difference. I am not ready to write about how horrific the flight home was with cranky, exhausted Rachel...but let me just tell you, it was bad.
So last night, Scott and I were more than thankful to put down our vacationed-out little girls by 8 p.m. and sit back and watch something mindless like National Lampoon's Christmas and relax on the couch for a bit.
We didn't complain when they slept past 8 a.m. this morning, pouring large cups of coffee to greet the day. Rachel woke up in a foul mood and, because we attend the early church service, I think we probably both knew without talking about it that we wouldn't make it to church this morning.
And then Elizabeth came down the stairs.
"Are we going to church? I need to go to church! I need to see Piper!"
Piper is Elizabeth's best friend and they are in the same Sunday school class. Piper's family and ours are perfect bookends and we do a lot of functions together - as the kids take off playing well together and the adults get along and can have a moment's peace and socialization.
I looked at the clock. It was 8:20 a.m. Church started at 9:15 a.m.
I tried rationalizing with the three-year-old.
"Honey, we slept too late to go to church. Rachel is cranky and your daddy has a cold (stupid airplane petri dish). We're not going to go to church today."
"Nooooooooooo!!" she yelled. "We have to go! You said! I need to see Piper!"
Ok, I DID tell her the night before that we'd go to church this morning...but I didn't count on so many...distractions.
I looked at Scott and he emptied his coffee cup in a couple gulps. "Ok," he said. "Who wants Cheerios?"
Now, I wish I could tell you that this was the only hurdle we faced all morning in going to church. But even though our child was ready, she wasn't necessarily willing eat quickly and get dressed or brush her teeth or hustle through the process. Oh, and Rachel wasn't quick to get out of her foul mood. Naturally.
But 9:10 a.m. found us dressed and in the car, pulling out of our driveway. I prayed the whole way that Piper would be there and indeed she was, and was thrilled to see our daughter walk through the Sunday School door.
That could have been ugly.
Scott and I walked as if hungover to the sanctuary, still dealing with the whirlwind the last hour threw at us. We had battled the distractions and just as we were empty with exhaustion from a trip and not feeling good and the stress of rushing two toddlers to get ready, we were filled with such a strong, powerful message from our preacher that the events of the morning washed away.
You know the messages that seem just aimed at you? The ones that hit home and keep your attention? This was one of those: full of the message of John, the story of the birth of our savior, and even with a quote from Ricky Bobby about little baby Jesus.
Ah yes, this was one the devil really didn't want us to hear. Like a pep talk before a big game, we both found ourselves ready for the busy week ahead and, more importantly, ready to face our children again.
The time ended up being positive for them as well and we retrieved them from their classes to find them them happy as well and we had a great rest of the day. But how easy would it have been to just stay home? To have let the distractions take over our day and missed out on something truly positive and important in our lives?
Seriously, no one would have blamed us. We would have had a great excuse. But we would have missed out on so much.
So let me ask you, my friend: What are your distractions? What are the good deeds that you know you need to do...that you should do? Maybe you have an idea and you just haven't been able to pull the trigger.
Pull it today.
Make the phone call. Bake the cookies and take them to the workers at the nursery. Buy an extra present and donate it to a family who needs it. Buy a cup of coffee for that Salvation Army worker, ringing the bell in front of the store.
Today, I was behind a woman with a overflowing cart in Aldi. She had food, diapers, toys...the whole kitchen sink. The line was long, so I was able to overhear her talking about how it was all going to a needy family. She looked to be in her early 30's and had a young teenager helping her. They talked about how excited the family would be.
I wonder what distractions she battled in getting there...
What is distracting you? And if you're not sure, pray and ask... We are promised to be provided wisdom in James and I can't help but think that this would apply.
I guarantee you the reward is great - even if you get nothing in return. You will receive plenty of recognition - even if you don't tell anyone. And you will inspire other people to get over their distractions and do good for others as well.
And that, my friends, is a priceless Christmas present for sure.
Have a wonderful week!