The Two Most Important Things

When I stand before God after I die, He’s not going to care as much about how well I worked at my jobs or how spotless I kept my house (thank goodness!). While those things are important, He’s going to care first and foremost how well I love Him, and second, how well I loved others.

Part of loving Him and loving others is working at my jobs with excellence and keeping our house welcoming, inviting, and a haven to come home to after a hard day’s work. However, those things mean nothing if I spent all my time and energy on accomplishments while ignoring the people He asked me to serve.

There must be a balance. I realize that. Some seasons are busier in one area than others. Last summer and again this year we’re working harder on our house than usual. Last summer my husband rebuilt our deck (with four available assistants) and then we all worked on painting outside. This season we’re focusing more on the inside, while spending some time outside to maintain what we created. Because of the intensity of the work last year, it’s easier and faster this year.

Our family enjoys spending time together and we have developed a rhythm over the years where we work really well together. Whether it’s volunteering at church with the little ones, a combined shopping trip to help my in-laws, or just a weekly trip to fill up water bottles and recycle cans, we have a rhythm that flows.

It started when the kids were very young. We had a lab who developed epilepsy and would have seizures. When we saw one begin, we all had an assigned job, down to the toddler who held the door open after the older kids got a towel ready so my husband and I could half drag/half carry his paralyzed body outside as soon as it was over so he could get his sea legs and relieve himself.

We’re a family that works hard together and plays together, too. Hiking, family vacations, game nights, binge watching TV or movies, puzzles, bean bag toss, bonfires, or just sitting around talking. We were blessed to spend a week out of state together this spring. I was telling a friend when we came back some of my favorite parts were when we were sitting around laughing, joking, and just enjoying their company. We have some great kids that make us laugh with their comical comebacks and volleying back and forth.

We make time to spend with our extended family too. Due to the pandemic and traveling restrictions, we haven’t seen my sister and her family for almost two years, but we still try to connect via phone when schedules allow.

We live close to both sets of parents and in addition to helping when needed, just enjoy getting together to build those memories. I hope to have some coffee dates this summer with friends, maybe a trip (or two) to the zoo, and a few other excursions. I know I’m already looking forward to the “little more relaxed schedule for a few months” to spend a longer than usual quiet time every morning.

Loving God first. Loving those God has blessed me with well. That’s my real purpose in life. When I focus on that, and let God plan my schedule, everything else will work out according to His plan.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

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