“When are you going to write a blog about playing Apples to Apples, Mommy?” inquires my youngest. “You should write about me being your favorite daughter,” another chimes. Several blogs post. “Are you writing about playing Apples to Apples this time, Mommy?” she asks again. And again. “Of course, baby. Yes, I’ll write about when we played Apples to Apples.” I just don’t know when.
This one’s love language is quality time. If you want her to feel loved, spend time with her. The game was a Christmas gift from family. Leveraging a captive audience as we licked our plates and wiped our mouths after Christmas Eve breakfast, she sprang, “Let’s play Apples to Apples!” Glances around the table. Who’s in? All inquisitive eyes land in one spot. Dad. Would even he say yes? Other than a continuous marathon of Friday night Monopoly six years ago, I can count on three fingers the times James has played games. He loves his family. He does not look as fondly upon games. When he does participate, he’s very creative in strategy and scoring. A close eye is required. And he’s prone to wander. He agrees! Does anyone have straps? Quick. Clear the table before he can flee. Who knows the rules? “James, are you listening?” We decide it’s best to learn as we go. We might lose him with the rules. The first green card waits for answers. “What do I do now?” James asks. “Just pick a card that contradicts or compliments the one on the table.” Cards greet one another in the center of the table. The game is on. “Where’d Dad go?” someone inquires. “James!” Out he saunters from the direction of his office. A few more cards find their way to the table. “Where’s Dad?” “James!” Here he comes from the garage. And so the game goes. Eventually, we just put cards out for him. Roping him in and keeping him there is half the fun. Laughter’s warmth lingers in the memory.
Why does she keep asking me to blog about Apples to Apples? The thought cycles in the back of my mind. Her repeated inquiries have a definite significance. Monday, I share with my Bible study group my burden for knowledge and wisdom from heaven in disciplining my children, coveting the prayers of my sister saints. Approaching my car to go home, a precious and true friend risks my toes to give me truth: “You’re seeing all this going on with your kids. Maybe you’re doing too much.” Her words register in my spirit. Hugging her tight, I thank her. And I mean it. When she says she only recognizes it because of her own tendency toward the same, I believe her. Don’t most of us wander with good intentions into the trap of over commitment? As Paul calls himself the chief sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), I am a pretty good candidate for chief over doer, allowing good distractions to divert me from God priorities. It’s not a conscious or intentional spar for the top superwoman spot. It creeps in, slow and sly, to the point that I don’t even recognize it has happened. Symptoms scream something is wrong. My heart breaks for the hearts of my children. And a friend dares to tell me the truth. Yes, Lord. Thank you for this friend. Thank you for giving her knowledge in answer to my heart’s cry, and then giving her the courage to open her mouth. I am so thankful for friends who hear from the Lord and have the boldness to speak it in humility and love.
It’s time to clean the temple. Pull every activity and commitment out of the closets and corners. Present it to the Lord and let Him determine each item’s worth to Him. No secret storage. No restricted access. All of it, Lord. Have Your way, especially in the way I am to train up my children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). What is the way, Lord? A whisper. Please Him. What pleases you, Lord? Faith. The focus of Hebrews 11 and our current Bible study. Train up my children in faith. Train up my children to come to Him and believe that “He is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Train up my children to obey, “for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Col. 3:20). How do I do this, Lord? He answers. I love that about God! “Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10). Set the example. In the Greek, He is saying to me and to you: Make your way, Shauna, by using the opportunities I give you, and accommodating My opinions, My desires, and My interests so that everything with which you become occupied, every act, deed or thing done, individually and collectively, will be useful, pleasant, excellent, honorable, agreeable, and distinguished. In this way, what you do will be productive and produce My fruit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). What happens then? We are “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1:11-12). “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22).
So I ask, Lord. For Your grace. For Your charis: “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues”. For me and for them.
Driving home from Bible study, I get another answer. Apples to Apples was a good work.
I call James. He listens. Sure we spend a lot of time in our home at the same time. Our home is our corporate office, school house, and residence. We’re here a lot. But are we spending time as a family? Are we training in the ways of the Lord. “We talk about making family time a priority, but we rarely do it,” I soberly confess. “It’s not that we have to have some unrealistic grand plan, but what about turning off the TV occasionally and playing games?” Agreement! Then a condition: “It just can’t be Apples to Apples!” he begs.
Looks like I better start finding all the Monopoly pieces.
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).
Becoming wholly His through grace,
 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for charis (Strong’s 5485)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 18 Jan 2012. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV.