Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time: What's It To You

Time is a wheel.
Time is a wheel in constant motion
rolling us along.
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder…
--FROM I Hope You Dance by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers

Defining your philosophy on time is the first step in deciding whether a detailed schedule (or a more flexible routine) is right for you. Should time tell you where to go (time in control over you)? Or should you tell time how it will go (you in control of your time)? In the first approach, you are free to follow your fancy all day long (of course, there will be still be some hard breaks such as appointments and pre-planned activities). With the latter approach, you can still follow your fancy—when you plan to. You are leading the clock. Time is not spinning you in various directions all day long.

Prior to having children, I loved scheduling my day in my planner. After having children, and all the demands of three, ages four and under, seemed so urgent and pressing it felt as though I could not get off the treadmill, so to speak, long enough to take time to plan (and when I did, interruption after interruption threw my well-intentioned plan down the tube—and my mood with it). So we have gotten in the habit of a loose morning routine with the rest of the day pretty wide open. And I am beginning to think that is not the best way for my family. (Let’s just say I am in need of more mercy than I would like to be) :) For one, it really does take a lot of energy deciding what to do with that white space. Two, I waste time deciding as I explained in this post. Three, while I believe kids do need large amounts of unstructured time to let their creativity come to life, I am starting to see that too much unstructured time hampers creativity in my boys. As the saying goes, idleness is the devil’s playground. Part of my job as their mother is lovingly guiding them in all things, and this may mean helping them decide what to play with and when (to a greater degree than I already do).

Recently, I sat down with a friend for tea, and she showed me something both awe-inspiring and convicting. Small chubby notebooks (the kind that are about 5”x4” and available at the dollar store) detailed her days, dating back to 1996. While her lists did not include housework, they chronicled all she had taught her children, beginning with what Bible stories they read each day, what character traits they were working on, what hands-on activities she did with them, and more. When the Bible talks about giving an account of what we have done in this life, she’ll be ready! She doesn’t have to remember; her notebooks tell the story of her days well spent.

So is it better to follow your whims most of the day (follow where the Spirit leads), or is it superior to plan your day in advance as much as possible (remaining open to where the Spirit leads)? This is largely an individual decision, to be arrived at through much prayer and discussion with your husband. Either approach carried to the extreme is probably not healthy; balance is most likely achieved somewhere in the middle. For me, this is starting to look like a flexible schedule—one not dictated so much by the clock but rather the regular routine.

As I have been seeking the Lord’s direction in this area of my life, He recently led me to Haggai, where the people are called to build the house of the Lord. May these words minister to you as they did me:

“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’”

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.’

“ ‘From this day on I will bless you.’”
–Haggai 1:4-819b
In my next post, I will offer some ideas for getting a routine or schedule going if you, too, are a mom in need of mercy in this area!

1 comment:

  1. That is definitely a great passage to consider and pray on! Thank you for sharing that.

    It is possible to go overboard and over-plan.

    The Lord has really convicted me lately of the "all or nothing" perspective I have towards things. I either go crazy until I burn out or don't do anything at all then beat myself up. He doesn't want either of those things for us, but wants us to do things as needed and do them well.

    I pray you find what works best for you and your family so you can enjoy your blessings together.