Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time to Stand and Stare

A few weeks ago, I came across an inspiring poem in my reading called "Leisure" by William Henry Davies. It really struck me and I knew immediately that I would continue to think about it and probably write about it. (In fact, I just checked and I started the first draft for this post on January 28 and have been working on it ever since!)

Rather than type out the poem for you, I'm sharing this YouTube video I found that more creatively illustrates it:

I stumbled across that poem just days after my Bible study led me to a very convicting verse: 2 Thessalonians 3:11, "We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies."  And then the second half of verse 13: "...never tire of doing what is right."

How I use my time is something that's been on my mind a lot lately. If one end of the "how to use your time" spectrum is to be idle (lazy) and the other end is to be a busybody (wasteful), then somewhere in the middle must include time "to stand and stare" while being busy working hard at things that matter for eternity. That's where I want to be because those are things I really value - for myself, and for my kids.

Time to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 146:10). Time to soak in the beauty of His creation and how it reflects His character.

February skies...anticipating the spring we can already feel in the air!

Time with my kids to sing and dance.

A little long but I was too lazy to edit it shorter.
And apparently my kids didn't pick up any of the dance moves they learned fom X-Box!

Time to read . . . and be read to.

And to laugh at what you read, thanks to Dr. Seuss!

Time to impress God's Word upon our hearts. To talk about it with my kids when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up (Deuteronomy 6:7).

And when we walk through the woods.

Time to look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).

The popular book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp has also sparked a lot of new convictions in the area of my time.

For a while, I had heard so many good things about this book from people I know but I hadn't actually picked it up myself yet. Then almost a month ago I was given the book to read and speak about in relation to the topic of "The Battle for the Mind" on a small panel with other woman for a women's brunch at my church.

I won't go into that topic much here but instead extend an open invitation for any ladies to come to "The Divine View" (as opposed to the lame T.V. show "The View") discussion and brunch. I promise you'll leave changed for the better! Saturday, February 25, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at North Uxbridge Baptist Church.

So I started reading One Thousand Gifts immediately. I still haven't gotten even half way through it but Chapter 4, called "a sanctuary of time" is what has hit home for me the most so far. Allow me to share some of my favorite quotes:

"Oh yes, I know you, the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life."

"From the time the alarm first rings and I stir on our pillows touching, stretch over bare back and check those relentless hands keeping time on that clock. The time, always the time, I'm an amateur trying to beat time. The six kids rouse. We race. The barn . . . and hurry.  The breakfast . . . and hurry. The books, the binders . . . and hurry! In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear. I have done it. I do it still. Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak, I am weary and I am the think clear skin, reflecting their fatigue, about to burst, my eyes glistening their same sheer pain. The hurry makes us hurt."

"Hurry always empties a soul."

"It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction."

I'm not as harried as I once was when I "juggled it all" with a full-time job, and commute, and daycare - when I was a hamster on its wheel. The Christian life is a race (1 Corinthians 8:24-27) but its not supposed to be a rat race! I can identify with the blurred moments, the pushing hard and the barking hard that Voskamp describes. I know, hurry does hurt!

I'm home now so the pace of life is sweetly slower. Yes, the doctor, dentist, and hair appointments always seem to fall in the same week as ministry meetings. And my few personal social activities are usually feast or famine. But I have made a conscious effort not to fill my calendar with a lot of weekly commitments. The thought of chauffeuring my kids to and from gymnastics and soccer and this club and that makes me dizzy. I've limited our activities to a few with the most value. So then, where do my days go? How can I be so busy yet look back on a week and realize I didn't take enough time to stand and stare? Or that I have nothing to show for my busyness? Or that I grew tired of doing what is right? Or that the busyness of life didn't leave time for the source of life (the Bread of Life - John 6:35, 48 & 51 and Living Water - John 4:10-11)? I hate it when my soul catches up with weeks or months of that!

Granted, being home with three young children does keep me legitimately busy with such noble and glorious tasks as making and feeding meals, changing diapers, wiping bums, nursing... And teaching. And planning for teaching. It it not ironic that one of my daily email devotionals last week was called "Let's Make Time"! Check it out! I am called to take quality time with and for my family, but I'm also called to more than that.

Most recently, my Bible study has led me to a few other verses and convicting questions. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it tells me to let nothing move me and to always give myself fully to the work of the Lord. In Hebrews 12:1 it tells me to throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles. Will Jesus say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"? (Matthew 25:21) Though I need to do these things well, He's talking about more than just cooking, cleaning, and child rearing.

When do I find that time... be still and know that He is God? soak in the beauty of His creation? sing and dance and read with my kids? impress God's Word upon my own heart and the hearts of my family and friends? look to the interests of others? serve whole-heartedly in my church ministries?

The time is there, but I'm either being idle and lazy with it or I'm being a busybody and wasting it. I need to make two concrete changes in my time management and both will be very difficult for me. I need the Holy Spirit's help and friends' accountability!

First, I need to be disciplined to get up earlier when the house is still quiet to shower, read my Bible, pray and plan my day/priorize my time.  I usually leave this all to the evening...if I do it. But that's also time for me and hubby to connect without distractions, so I want to protect that time. I am being idle when I sleep in until my kids wake me up. Which means I shouldn't stay up till the wee hours blogging! Eeek! Hey, that's why long breaks between posts are not so uncommon for me. It's not for lack of content, but when do I find time to blog too??!!

Second, I need to keep away from distractions on the computer. I hate how it sucks my time away without me realizing it! I've whittled down the sites and blogs I regularly read to just a select few - most to encourage and help me with with important goals and a couple just for fun. I never intend to just surf the web for entertainment. And I'm finally okay to go a day without checking my Facebook feed. But when I do plan to sit down for just five minutes to respond to some important emails, read a blog or quick check Facebook, something that is not-so-important always engages me (darn those digital marketing and content geniuses!). One interesting link leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another. And there goes a half hour. Or more. It could be great stuff. I've stumbled across lots of amazing resources that way. For instance, the other day one of these rediculous link trails led me to an interesting critique of the One Thousand Gifts book. (If you have or are planning on reading the book, I recommend reading that critique as well. I'm still digesting it.)  But usually that half hour or more is time that's completely wasted feeding that little materialistic devil sitting on one shoulder. :)  (Soo...I did officially start using Pinterest just to catalog things I happen to come across on the web...)  I need that half hour to stay busy doing what is right! Or I need that half hour to "stand and stare."

"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare." - W. H. Davies

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