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Putting Family First

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A friend of mine, who also happens to be my nail lady, called me one day last week to reschedule my appointment. She started out the conversation by telling me that she was going to be honest and was basically, hoping that I would understand. You see, she felt guilty because the reason she wanted to reschedule the appointment was to go to Disneyland with her family for her son's birthday. Her children are grown and have moved out of the house and her son's girlfriend had planned not only a day at the park but lunch at a special restaurant as well as a night in a nice hotel.

She and her husband had been asked to join them but had declined because of work and other issues that made them feel that, as much as they would like to go, they probably shouldn't. Then, during the week before, something happened that had reminded her of the importance of family and she changed her mind. Two of her clients had passed away. One she knew was ill but the other one was unexpected. This deeply affected her because she is not just the girl who does our nails, but someone who truly invest herself in the lives of her clients and sincerely cares for each one.

Of course, I told her to go and have fun. My nails were not nearly as important as the memories she would be making with her husband, son and future daughter-in-law. Before we got off the phone we chatted a bit about how difficult it was to call each client and how she had asked herself; do I be honest with them, or vague, do I tell them a lie because they may accept that better than the truth? We quickly came to the conclusion that, honesty is the best policy, but also knew that not everyone is always as accepting of the truth as we would hope they would be.

As women, we are doers, fixers, problem solvers, helpers and organizers. We use these skills with our families, at work, volunteering at our kid's schools, sports teams, churches and in our communities. Generally, those of us that do, are asked to do more and those who are asking, will always accept our help, but, at what cost?

Often times, we say yes to all kinds of activities and we get so busy doing so many other things, that we tend to leave our families fending for themselves. We rationalize that we can always help them or spend time with them tomorrow, or as soon as I am done with this project or event, I will take a break and focus on my family. Until someone comes to us and says that we did such a great job on the last project, we really need you for the next one. The fact that we are doers and helpers coupled with the fact that we don't want to feel guilty or disappoint anyone, makes it very difficult for us to say no. How do I know all of this so well? It comes from 30 years of experience and still, I have a hard time saying no.

Like my friend, we feel guilty, we are afraid that others won't understand or, if I don't do it, then who will? We think to ourselves, they need me but consider this. Most likely there was someone else doing the work before you started doing it. That person stepped aside, for whatever reason, which allowed you to step in to use your talents and abilities to serve others. When it comes time for you to step aside, you will be allowing someone else to learn what you have learned and to use their talents and abilities as well.

While we are raising little ones, school-age children and teenagers, we think that it will be forever until they are 18 and move out of the house. We have plenty of time to make memories and teach them how to be strong, honest and compassionate men and woman. However, in reality, time passes so quickly and before you know it they are grown, off to college or are married and have children of their own. Or tragedy hits and they are gone long before we ever expected they would be.

It just so happens that the day my friend called me was a special day in my family as well. My daughter has named it "Celebrating Emma Day". The sweet little girl you see pictured here is my 3-year-old granddaughter, Emily or Emma as she likes to be called. It was 2 years ago, on November 9th that this precious girl nearly died by drowning in a jacuzzi. It is only by the heroism of her mother and the awesome mercy and grace of God that Emma is with us today. The celebration is not a big production, usually just some special time doing the things that she likes. This year it was a trip to Yogurtland after lunch. Since Papa couldn't be with us at that time, he had his own special time with her, making her favorite popcorn and snuggling up with her to watch a new movie about an orphan girl learning to be a ballerina, which was perfect for our little princess dancer. The kids don't even really know that it is a special day, as it is more of a time for us adults to reflect and be thankful for this precious little life. This has forever changed our perspective on time with family.

My husband has made the comment in the past; "Will (fill in the blank) make a difference next week or next month?" I have found this to be helpful when prioritizing my time. Will what I have to do at work, or paying bills, cleaning the house, grocery shopping or getting that volunteer project done tomorrow instead of today, make a difference next week or next month? Often times, it won't, but the time that I spend with my family, strengthening relationships, teaching life lessons and making memories with my husband, children, and grandchildren, those are the things that last a lifetime.

It's not that we can't be involved in other activities, we should be involved, but there needs to be a balance and we need to remember that family comes first. If someone doesn't understand or is upset because of our decision to say no, then that is on them and we shouldn't feel guilty about it. God has entrusted your family into your hands to love them, take care of them, teach them and to cherish them. They are a precious gift and a blessing that we should enjoy and make memories with as often as possible.

2 comments

  • Sherri: November 18, 2017

    You speak to my heart….. it is all about the journey…. along life’s way….the lives you touch… and those that have forever changed you… for the better or sometimes worse… . We are sooo much more than anyone else can ever truly see…. hold tight for the ride… remember to breath…. remember to take mental pictures along the way…. they will serve you well… in the quiet of your inner oneness… deep inside…. who your heart truly is….
    It all goes by…. and by…. and then …. there’s this amazing yardsale to toss the stuff of our lives and display all those Earthly treasures- and it won’t mean a thing after we are gone-…..but the memories…. sweet memories….. hold onto those memories… the important people along the way….. we will treasure them in heaven, too….

    Be still and know that I am God……… and you…. are not…. alone……

  • Janet Johnson: November 15, 2017

    Beautiful. “Cherish” is one of my favorite words. While I have trouble with a simple definition of the word, it conveys a special perspective that no other word captures.

    By the way, I cherish you and the friendship God has given us. Bless you.

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