"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

19 April 2009

Take Back Your Time!

I've been meditating on the topic of "time" these last few days.

During my Spring Break I was reading in my "Fresh Grounded Faith" devotional book by Jennifer Rothschild, about how she once lost a talking watch. She is blind and so relies on this watch. She said she felt as though her independence had been stolen as she was now forced to rely on someone else to let her know the time. She did end up finding the watch. She then goes on to talk about "stolen time" in the figurative sense. This led me to think on the Scripture:

Therefore, be careful how you walk,
not as unwise men, but as wise,
making the most of your time,
because the days are evil.
So then do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is."

Ephesians 5:15-17, NASB

Just like the picture above shows many clocks, there are many phrases we use, with the word "time" in them:

Time flies; time slips through my fingers; time flies by so fast (especially used by us moms when referring to our child growing up); time drags; borrowed time; back in time; time stood still.

And one I say alot:
"I wish time would stand still". (my children are growing up and the time with them is just flying and I want to capture each moment and freeze it.....need I go on?!)

And sometimes I find, or have found my self in the past, saying "I wish I hadn't wasted so much time on________" (browsing blogs, shopping online, chatting on the phone, watching tv, using Facebook, cleaning, highway traffic).

These things I put in the blank are things that "steal" my time.
These things are not bad and are not sinful. BUT....if I am making any of them an idol in my life, then they become a sin. And even if I am not making them an idol but find myself saying this phrase over and over again on a daily basis, then perhaps I need to look at my time and where/how I am spending it.

We cannot go "back in time" but I do believe we can take it back.

I am finding that I want to simplify my life. And I have in many ways. I know some of you have too.
I no longer feel the need to be in every ministry. (first of all, I can't in our current church because there are more ministries than days of the week months of the year). I have had to learn to seek the will of God for which ministry He wants me to serve in. I serve in one church ministry and in one connected to church. I have learned this is all I can handle in my current life style, with 2 very active children, a busy husband and a part time job.
I no longer feel the need to keep an absolutely perfect, "better homes and garden" kind of house. I mean, who the heck cares if there is some dust on the piano?? My friends are not going to mind. I would rather have the time to fellowship with a friend sitting with a great cup of coffee than worrying about the amount of dust that is on the furniture. I do dust, don't get me wrong. We do need to care about our homes and treat our things well so they last. But we don't need to obsess. I used to obsess about cleaning....and then reality hit. I had a toddler in daycare, a full time teaching job and was in the music ministry, a Sunday School teacher, plus hosted a small group here in our home. After one year of this, I learned to let some housework go. Later on, when I had my 2nd child, I learned to pare down which ministries to stay involved in. And by then I had stopped working full time and was just doing part time volunteer work!

My point is: we need to know what God wants us to do with our time and when. We are in different seasons for reasons.

This time of my life is my season to minister to my teen and preteen. And to their friends. And to serve in 2 ministries that I feel are vital not only for the church but to me as a person. And to work outside my home to help save for college, pay for my car, etc. I am fortunate that I only have to work part time. And actually I don't "have" to work. We learned how to live on one income. But..the Lord gave me the chance to get a Masters and a permanent certification and gifts to use with special needs children....and at this point..that is where He has me. And I LOVE it. BUT.....with all of these roles, comes balancing my time.
Time management books are sold ad nauseum. In secular as well as Christian bookstores. From online webzines to community newsletters. This is a big topic it seems like.

How DO we take back our time??

Well, besides Simplifying our lifestyles, try some of these tips:

  • If you like Facebook:, allow your self a certain number of days to be on or a specific day, or even a certain amount of time. I tend to like to "catch up" on all my friends, especially my long-distance friends so I allow my self 15 min. on FB. It is tempting to remain on there longer, especially if challenging my sister or my daughter to a word game. But....as the novelty of FB has diminished for me, and the outdoors beckons to me, it has been easier to stay off. This is a conviction area my friends! (do what works for you)
  • Do you blog daily?? I used to think I had to. During the school year I have way less time to daily blog than in the summer. But last summer I felt as though I was "wasting time" (another phrase!) by being on the blog or browsing other friends' blogs so much. So, again, I limit my self now to certain days of the week or I use the post option thingy or I only browse my absolute fave blogs. I also no longer comment on each and every post out there that I read. I usually allow my self 30 minutes if I am creating a post or 15 min after work to read some faves. Do what works for you.
  • Cleaning: I am way more loose on this now that I have been married for 18 years and have 2 very socially/academically active daughters. They both engage in extracurricular activities (each child is allowed 2 per semester plus their "spiritual training" which includes Sunday School class for my 10 year old and life::group followed by Emerge for my 15 yr old). Because my oldest has her small group and Youth group event on Saturday evenings during the school year, that is my time to either do something with my husband while my youngest plays, etc. or he and I do board games or rent a movie with my youngest. We have set aside that evening as "family time". Anyways...I used to dash around all day on Saturdays running errands, having family time, people over, and housework. NO MORE! Rather, because I work part time, I focus on cleaning 1-2 rooms during the work week (or as needed) and vacuum every other day. I never vacuum on weekends anymore unless someone has reallydropped a ton of crumbs on the dining room floor or something. SO....if you pop in on a Saturday afternoon, I am free to chat! because I am no longer obsessing about my house. It also helps that my oldest is now doing her own laundry/sheets, and usually her own dusting. For example: we often entertain on the weekends. We have a home where teens like to hang out. My youngest daughter has friends over frequently. My husband likes to invite people from church over... usually on a whim! I have learned that because I keep up on major housework during the week, I can enjoy the fellowship and cook a good meal to be hospitable on Sundays. And Saturdays seem to have turned into my "sabbath" meaning it is my day of rest. I believe it is much more important as a Believing wife and mom to have my home organized and neat but not necessarily "perfect" looking. I think it is much more important to be available to minister in the areas of mentoring, hospitality and friendship. Real friends really won't mind if your coffee table is a little dusty or if the library bag is overstuffed! and trust me....teenagers hanging out at your house will not care if the bathroom floor was not mopped this week!
  • I no longer browse at online stores or websites. I save the internet for just ordering when I know what and where. This has saved me huge amounts of time. Example: when time to order my new supply of eyeliner, I simply go to my avon page I have bookmarked, place the order and get off. At Christmas I do shop the sales online as much as possible due to the free shipping that is often offered but...again, with a list in hand of fave stores and a list of what I am planning.
  • I no longer chat for hours on the phone. I had one friend I talked with every single day. I have learned to not do this. HUGE waste of time especially if just chit-chatting. I would much rather see my friends in person:do a power walk together, have them over for coffee, meet them at the lake with our children and a picnic, go out to lunch, go hiking, go biking. I have done all of these things with friends or family and love it. Much better than chatting on phone especially now that the phones have become smaller and are too difficult to hold while doing housework! So...limit your phone time (except for you, Erin...I still need our weekly hour talks and hey...we only talk once a week!) :)
  • Watching TV: this is an easy one for me. I have cut way back since the days before children. The main reason is I no longer have cable and haven't since I was single. In my opinion, it is a waste of time and money and there are not many shows that are appropriate for my children anyways. We would rather go out to the movies or rent them. We're cheap! (some people say frugal). Either way: I don't watch TV every evening any longer. Nor does my husband. My children do not watch on a school nite other than American Idol. We do this one show together because it is our "girls only/bonding time" and we LOVE the show....we love to laugh at all the people who believe they really can sing! My oldest and I enjoy Criminal Minds so we do watch that when we can. And my oldest enjoys Numbers mainly because she is a math whiz but she watches it online as she is usually with friends on Friday evenings. I watch/listen to the news while prepping dinner and our tv is almost never on during the weekends unless my hubby is watching a ballgame. Again, this is gonna be different for every one. It, too, is a conviction area. If there is a great "tear jerker" movie on tv on a Sunday evening, then YES..I watch it. My children are extremely limited as to what they watch and so I am now too. I would rather read or fellowship with friends or my children/husband. You can try it: next week is "National TV TURN OFF WEEK!"
These are the main "time stealers" for me. I am "taking back my time" this spring more than ever. I want to be available for my husband, my children, their friends. I want to keep mentoring the 2 women I am mentoring and reaching out to my neighbor. I want to keep volunteering at Claire's school and staying informed about stuff at the high school. I want to have energy for my job. I want to keep serving in a ministry that is active. I want to stay in my Moms in Touch group. I want to start my own small group (hopefully) or join one. I like working out to keep my body healthy and now it is so much easier than ever because I have these other things "under control". I want to keep establishing friendships and stay connected to the ones I already have. I want to have the time to be open to whatever God puts in my path.

This all takes time.

Hopefully, by reading this, you haven't felt like you are wasting time!

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:10-11

To fulfill this Scripture, I cannot allow anything to steal my time. I need to be available, energetic and spiritually full to serve.

What is stealing your time? What kinds of things might you need to change?


Darlene said...

AWESOME Post!!! I need to look more closely how I spend my time. I know that I don't manage it wisely and this really makes me want to do a better job!
Thanks for the encouragement!
Have a Fabulous Week!

Kimberly said...

I love how you tied in the Romans 12:10-11 verses in at the end...and how you said that you need to be available, energetic, and spiritually full to serve. Good, good stuff! And, no, I definietly don't feel like I wasted time reading this...it is all stuff I need to be keeping in check and thinking about!

Oh...and just so you know, I can see my piano from where I am sitting...and it is dusty. :)