I woke up earlier than usual on Sunday and decided to snatch a few precious moments to journal and ponder. With four little ones, this uninterrupted time of stillness has to be gathered in bits and pieces and used when it comes.
I found myself thinking about Time–my elusive “frenemy.” I love my friend, Time, but there never seems to be enough of her to go around.
My mind wandered back to my college days and how when I learned the sacred act of consecrating my time to the Lord, He always made it just sufficient. No matter how much homework I’d been assigned that day, if I put the Lord first and studied my scriptures before completing my schoolwork, there was always enough time for the other things and the other people. And if ever I ran out of time, a test would miraculously be canceled or an assignment extended. I saw God’s hand time and again in those days. I considered my time as a resource like my money–a resource to be tithed. Just like I paid tithing to the Lord on my income, I paid tithing to Him on my time–by not studying on the Sabbath and then always putting Him first on other days. And just like my money stretched to meet all of my needs, so did my time.
My time now has become “a bit” more complicated. Juggling the needs and demands of marriage, 4 children, homeschooling, church service, ministering, landscaping & gardening, homemaking, budgeting, shopping, cleaning, writing, and resting (plus a dozen other things I want to be doing but haven’t found time for yet) has become the eternal balancing act. My habit of putting the Lord first has been a foundational stone upon which I’ve built my life, and so day after day I strive to put Him first.
But it was much easier to delineate things back in college. I made time for the Lord, school, and my sweetheart–and then family, friends, and church service filled in the cracks. Every day I could literally “check things off the list” and feel pleased with my accomplishments.
I know you would agree that motherhood and homemaking is a whole different ball game.
Nothing can ever get permanently “checked off the list.”
So how do we balance it all when the amount of balls we’re juggling has increased dramatically and our “time” has not?
First, remember that as we give our spirits more and more nurturing and begin to silence the “natural man” within us, we feel to pursue more and more pure, holy, and saintly desires. This, I believe, is because our spirits are infinite and not restricted by mortal barriers–so our ideas are lofty and glorious. But for now, we are still mortal and thus have mortal barriers and limitations on our time and energy. Our infinite spirits must feel restricted sometimes by our finite mortality. But such is life. We cannot choose everything to which our spirits desire. We worry constantly that we will pick and focus on the wrong desire–even though they all are good and praiseworthy choices.
So today, let me offer you a pattern that the Spirit taught me as I journaled on Sunday:
1- Focus first on your faith. At any given season, choose one desire (not 10), that will grow and nourish your faith. Then as you master one area of faith, move on to the next.
2- Focus one desire on your health and well-being. Spirit, body, and mind must be nourished. This is not optional. You must take care of your health or you will never be able to accomplish all the missions the Lord has for you.
3- Nurture your marriage one step at a time.
4- Follow a desire for your family. And once you maintain a habit or practice in one area, move onto the next–moving through your desires to enrich your family one by one.
5- Minister to your church and family and friends and neighbors in small and simple ways. A little goes a long way.
6- Focus on one thing to bless or improve your children’s learning (for me in this case it is homeschool.)
7- Focus on one project for your house and land.
8- Focus some time on your gifts and talents to bless others. (for me this is my writing and teaching–for you it could be any of your gifts or your work).
These 8 areas, an octagon of sorts, encompass all of our desires. If every week we are working on these areas in small ways, then we are doing enough. I know it feels like there are not enough hours in a day. But do not despair. If you turn your days over to the Lord, He will consecrate them for you! Pray each morning and turn your day over to Him, then start planning your day around these 8 areas.
I’m in the midst of trying it out and experimenting on this “life consecration.” I would love to have you join me and tell me how it goes for you as well. As we act on the Lord’s pattern of consecration, I believe the witness will come.