Life in the trenches—that’s what I called it, you know. In the trenches. Those days of waking up half an hour early, bleary-eyed, hoping for five minutes in the shower, five minutes alone with the Lord, and twenty minutes to make those two things happen.
Hey, a girl has to be realistic, right?
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Days of little girl giggles, pigtails, and ratty hair. Sweet calico dresses, expensive laundry soap spread across the driveway, and those blissful hours known as nap time.
During those days, I read a quote somewhere that said something like,
Young mothers, you have more time now than you ever will again in life.”
I laughed. I told my Titus 2 mentor about it. SHE laughed. But a few days later, she called me back and said, “I think it’s true. I remember when I had time for crafting and reading a book or whatever. I don’t have time for that stuff now and my kids are graduated from high school!”
I just about cried.
You see, I had this tendency—compulsion, almost—to do many things. I helped in the homeschool group, ran a Bible study at my house, made porcelain dolls, sewed for others’ porcelain dolls, read a dozen books a week… I did a LOT. I can’t remember all I did. And in the middle of it, I always had a nursing baby, a kid potty training, and someone learning how to read.
I hate teaching kids how to read. Thought you should know.
But I remember one day in particular. It was cold outside, the kids were out for the count in those blissful hours known as naptime—an institution in our home. They were non-negotiable, mandatory things until the kid began kindergarten.
I used to joke that it was how I ensured they made it to kindergarten. Joke. Yeah. Let’s go with that.
Anyway, on that cold afternoon, I remember collapsing on the couch, head in my hands, staring at a spot of something on my wood floors—the ones I’d mopped after everyone went to bed, of course. A pile of laundry to my left. Toys strewn everywhere to my right, a half-finished doll dress draped over my sewing machine, and a book calling to me.
Let’s pretend there weren’t bills I was supposed to pay and completely forgot about, okay? Thanks.
But then it happened, of course. It always does.
I sat on that couch, and thought, “I don’t have enough time to do it all!”
Look, everyone knows that I don’t like to say “God said this or that” to me. But I remember feeling like I heard God whisper,
“You have every minute that you need to do all that I want you to do.”
I suspect all the Scriptures I’d ever read about redeeming the time and doing all for the glory of God just culminated in one thought.
That left me wondering just what I was doing that WASN’T what the Lord wanted for me. I, of course, looked at the doll dresses and doll making, at all that fictional reading, at everything that seemed just about “me” and not about spiritual things or encouraging other Christians. I assumed Bible Study and the homeschool group were absolutes and get-togethers with friends—not so much.
But first, I found myself avoiding Tupperware parties—any direct sales parties. Even the ones I kind of wanted to go to lost interest with the high-pressure sales. I felt guilty at first, but over and over again, the Lord showed me through peoples’ other needs that I could serve and support my sisters in Christ without buying stuff I didn’t need or want at parties I hated going to.
When I tried to cut back on reading, I found myself starving—mentally and emotionally. I am so encouraged by Christian fiction that trying to remove it from my life hurt me. A good Christian novel turns me to the Word. It makes me question, investigate, rediscover the love for this verse or that. It feeds me by being my GPS to the next meal of spiritual food.
After a few years, the homeschool group went by the wayside.
That one shocked me. C’mon, I was a homeschool mom! But I found it added little to my children’s’ enrichment and much to our family’s detriment. Bible Study followed—out the door and to someone else’s house. And while I didn’t keep up with doll making indefinitely, I did always have SOME craft project that kept me going.
What? Ditch the Bible study and keep the quilting? Why?
Well, I think it was because I’d go nuts without it. I wanted to do both—felt COMPELLED to do both—to do “all the things” that both appealed to me and my head or heart insisted were important. But I didn’t need to facilitate a Bible Study in my home to study the Bible—even to attend one somewhere else!
And when life got busy and out of hand… when yet another “worthy” thing entered my life, I’d feel drawn to it. But if I was smart (and too often I wasn’t), I’d pause… get quiet before the Lord. And like the mouse and like the cookie book if you get quiet before the Lord, His Word speaks to you.
I don’t have enough time to do that AND everything else I have to do.”
The answer comes softly, quietly.
You have every minute you need to do all that I want you to do.”
Did I argue?
Oh, yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “But Lord! It’s a Bible memory team!” Or, “But Lord, I need to sharpen that skill!” Sometimes it was, “But isn’t that co-op important to the children’s enrichment?” Other times it was, “But how will reorganizing the house, again, bless You?
Of course, I knew the answer. It blesses Him because it would bless His children who live here. All of them. Even me. I count.
In a Pinterest world of trying to do all the things to be “the best mom” or “the best wife” or “the best homemaker” or the best of anything, taking a moment to focus on what things the Lord wants of you is huge. And that you means you… not the single woman at church, not the mom of ten kids, not the preacher’s wife with no kids left at home, not… not anyone else. You.
What has Jesus given YOU the time to do?
Because the world crowds in on you like a merchant at a Turkish bazaar. Each thing screeches for your attention, thrusts its benefits in your face, tempts you to do more, be more. More, more, more pounds your heart and soul until you spin in circles not knowing which one is most important—not knowing where to start.
Time is a harsh taskmaster—there’s no room for errors. No do-overs.
Stuff is a burden. It weighs you down, holds you captive—even just time-fillers instead of space-fillers.
And that desire to be all, have all, do all—it’ll push, prod, poke until you’re driven half crazy by its demands.
You know how 1 Corinthians 9:22 says:
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
Well, Richard Swanson warns in his book, Margin, that too often we take this and try to be
“all things to all men, all at once, all the time, all by ourselves.”
We do that with “all the things,” too. We try to do all the things, all at once, all the time, all by ourselves.
And then we burn out—all by ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. Because I really do think we have every minute we need to do what the Lord wants. It may mean that with the work schedule we have to have to feed our families, we only have time for work, sleep, and time to invest in those relationships.
We don’t have time to serve on this committee or do that other project. It may mean that we have LOTS to do because we don’t have a job or children or aging parents who need us.
But no matter where we are, no matter what the Lord has given us to do, we all have the same amount of time—both in hours and to do whatever it is He wants of us. I’m convinced of that.
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