Time is of the Essence

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called A Mother’s Heart, and in it the author shares this sweet poem by Irene Foster that has recently inspired me to savor moments a bit more intentionally with my little ones. I thought you might enjoy it as well…

(My now-four-year old… just two in this picture… discovering the world upside down and backwards)

Time is of the Essence

Now is the time to get things done…
     wade in the water,
     sit in the sun,
     squish my toes
     in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.
Now is the time to study books,
     how a cloud looks;
     to ponder “up,”
     where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.
Later there’ll be time
     to sew and clean,
     paint the hall
     that soft new green,
     to make new drapes,
     refinish the floor—
Later on… when he’s not just four.

How do you personally find or define balance when deciding how to spend your days as a mother? How do you know when it’s time to play? How do you know when it’s time to work? Are there any personal practices or guidelines that you’ve adopted and might be willing to share that help you savor moments with your kids amidst the busyness, work, fatigue, etc.?

(Post by: Ashley)


14 Responses to “Time is of the Essence”

  1. 1 Danielle May 11, 2012 at 2:02 am

    I check this site often, but I’ve only commented here and there. However, this post really struck a chord with me. This is my greatest struggle raising children on the mission field. As moms, we are literally in the thick of it everyday. In many ways our lives are constant ministry as people watch us everywhere…especially if we are with our kids! There are endless things to be done for the ministry, and often I find myself picking up the slack. The ones who get short-changed are always my kids. I wish I had some great suggestions for how to balance it all but the truth is many days I feel like I can hardly keep my head above water. Recently I had a free hour to spend with my son (who just turned 5…loved the poem by the way) while my daugher was playing at a friend’s house. I wrote about the experience on my blog. This is the link to the post: http://www.missiontoelsalvador.com/blog/?p=1682 . I learned a lot from him that afternoon…not just with my relationship with him, but even things that I can apply to make my ministry better. If I keep going at the crazy pace I miss these moments of learning…for my kids and for me. I know if I don’t take the intentional time to slow down and just “be” with my kids then too many things will get in the way. I’m hoping some other moms have some good suggestions to share on this topic!

  2. 2 Kara Coe May 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Beautiful reminder to enjoy the moments.

    But I do often struggle with how to actually apply the principle in every day life! Even in the last few months, we’ve been deciding whether to homeschool our kids next year or put them in the International School. And I think they’ll do great in either. But the question is how I should spend my time. This year (with the kids in national school three hours a day) I’ve really discovered what I enjoy in ministry. To homeschool, I’ll have to step away from many of those activities. I know my children are my most important ministry. But I also don’t want to limit my ministry to only raising my children. Even committing to homeschool for one year makes me sad, because I know the people who I won’t encourage/mentor/share the gospel with. I have been very dependent on hearing from God, since in this very gray area, I need His wisdom.

    So, I’d love to hear from others how they actually have applied the principle of engaging with their kids… and when they’ve felt led by God to continue doing something even if it took away their time and energy…

  3. 3 Kara Coe May 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Did I find this link here? If not, check out this TCK video!

  4. 4 Ashley L May 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Danielle, thank you so much for sharing! I went and read your post. It is absolutely beautiful and I love how you related it to ministry and learning to see things from different points of view. What a wonderful illustration! I am praying for you as I pray for myself when it comes to taking time to treasure moments with our kids and not miss out on those irreplaceable relationships.

    And Kara, I totally am with you on the struggle to figure out the right balance. Though I think motherhood is our primary ministry, I don’t think it is our exclusive ministry (most of the time… though I think there are seasons for this). I think somehow ministry to our family and ministry to others can happily co-exist, but I think our tendency (or at least my own tendency) is to swing too far one way or the other. I feel like I’ve always looked for a formula or hour breakdown for what this balance should look like, but it seems like the balance looks different even from day to day. Some days I have loads of extra energy to give elsewhere, and other days even with the same schedule, I just don’t. No seeming rhyme or reason. I’ve been trying to accept this fact and have been seeking God’s leading in this ever changing balance. I have lately been wondering if this one of the ways that God allows me opportunities to seek Him and rely on his leading day by day.

    One specific thing that has been freeing to me lately has been to plan fewer scheduled ministry events and to just pray that God would help me keep my eyes and heart open to the opportunities that he brings along, and that He will give me the boldness and intentionality to take hold of those opportunities. Three times this past week, God brought people across my path to talk with or minister to, and it was a joy and fit perfectly into my day. Had it been up to me to actually schedule in those times with people, I probably would have felt overwhelmed. I know this doesn’t work very easily with a lot of types of ministries, but it is one way that I feel like I can experience less burden and more joy in reaching out to others. And two of the 3 conversations happened while I had at least one of my kids with me, so I was able to reach out to others and engage with my kids at the same time. In both circumstances, they actually helped the conversation or benefited from it themselves.

    And as if I haven’t said enough already, I wanted to mention that this poem was inspiring to me because there are things that compete with my attention to my children that are very clearly not as important as my relationship with them. This is where I feel the deepest conviction. For example, I like tidiness and am stressed out by messes in my own home (to me these feel like visual indicators of work hanging over me), so some days it can be a struggle for me to let the house be a wreck and just play with my kids. The computer is also a temptation. There are so many good and edifying things, but I feel convicted not to be spending too much time online while my kids are awake. What sort of message does it send my kids if I sit there reading blogs about how to be a good mom, all the while only half attending to my children! It sounds silly, but I have done it too many times. So, this poem really inspired me to re-evaluate my priorities yet again. Sometimes I struggle with feeling unproductive when I just play and let the work pile up around me, but in my heart of hearts I know that playing or just being with my kids and being in their world is far more important than many things that compete for my attention day-to-day.

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