Like most working moms, my every minute was accounted for. Over those years I grabbed any advice that might achieve that allusive balance between work and family. It was the advice from a woman – Jill Briscoe – a preacher, wife, mother, grandmother, author, radio host, etc., that ended my chase. In my Christian circle I learned priorities go as such: God, Husband, Kids, Work.

A list.

But Jill spoke of a circle.

“Every morning I wake and ask Jesus ‘Which family today, Lord?’” she says.

rodi-freeway-9x4-hatsokerek-622-hatso-kerekThere are ah-ha moments in life and this was one of them. I got out a napkin and drew a circle—more like a spoke wheel with God in the center and everyone else on a spoke. It made sense. It meant reliance on Jesus every day—all day. And when I thought about it, we really don’t live the list. Who puts their husband first when their kid is upstairs puking all night long?

Over the years Jesus would say, “Go. Preach the Word” which meant missing the kids sports games, school plays and or school Christmas parties. That advice – “which family?”- was an anchor in those times. I’ve been living in a circle sense.

Now my kids are grown and out of the home but there are still times I ask -“Which family today Lord?”

Sunday at 8:50 I found myself asking.

I was headed on a three-week trip to East Africa. While there I would research four East African organizations that transformed the view of women and girls in their communities. My question for them was what, if any, were the contributing factors for their success?

My suitcase was packed. My backpack ready. Errands completed. Christmas prep done. Doggy care finalized. At 6:25 PM I would load a plane from Dallas to London – London to Uganda.

But there was a text that came in the middle of the night. It was from one of my children. There had been a rupture in their life.

He’s old enough and mature enough to handle it. (Sometimes we mother’s don’t let our kids grow up.) But I couldn’t settle. Something was nagging me. Maybe it was all those times I had missed and I didn’t want to miss again. Maybe it was just a mother’s ache for her child.

A professor once said he believed Genesis 3:16 –

I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.

– meant a mother’s ache for her kids would be till death do her part. Not sure if his translation is correct but I do know it’s true in real life.

Or – maybe the nagging within was from the Spirit. (Jn. 16:13) Sometimes it’s hard to know, isn’t it?

I asked Steve, “Should I stay?”

“Let’s pray,” he replied. It was in prayer I sensed I was to stay – not to solve anything but simply to be available. To be sure I sought wise counsel. Scripture says, “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.” (Pr. 20:18)

I called mom.

She seems to be one of those “good counsel” God uses to speak in times of uncertainty. She listened, then without hesitation responded, “Stay.”

“This sounds like it could be a missed opportunity. In twenty years your son will remember that you were available.”

I canceled my flight. Postponed my meetings until late spring. Unpacked.

Repacked – this time for a road trip. I will clean, cook and be available. Not quite like meeting withhappy_house_cleaner the assistant to the Queen of Buganda or learning from Priscilla Nangurai in Kenya – but just as valuable.

Every day we women face decisions – how shall we spend – expend ourselves? To whom and for what will I give my skill, time, energy and money today?

Sometimes Jesus says, “Go. Preach the Word” – other times he says, “Stay. Be available.” Asking him is the key to knowing.

Live in the circle.