Her Children Arise and Call Her Busy
Sandy Cooper, She Speaks Conference Graduate

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” I Thessalonians 4:11&12 (NIV)

“Mom, will you please tell me a story?“ my eight-year-old daughter asked me recently. It had been one of those insanely packed days, full of errands, chores and activities… and it wasn’t over yet. My mind strained to keep everything in order for the remaining events we had planned for the evening. I was coordinating our homeless outreach followed by plans to attend my husband’s softball game. Kids had to be fed, pottied, properly clothed, and in the right places at the right times. I had to remember to bring supplies, snacks, drinks and driving directions to our various destinations. There was no brain reserve left for creative stories.

“I’m sorry, honey. I can’t tell you a story right now. I just have too much on my mind.”

“That’s okay,” she said. “I’ll tell you a story. Once upon a time,” she began, “there was a very busy mom.”

Uh oh. This ought to be interesting…

“She woke up every day and she was tired. She made a big pot of coffee and went into her room to pray. She prayed and prayed and prayed…but nothing happened. She did the laundry and went to Target and to the grocery store where she spent lots of money. She made dinner and cleaned the house. She went to help the homeless children. At the end of the day, she was still tired so she went to bed. The end.”

Wow. I’m like a twisted version of the Proverbs 31 woman, only much less effective.

I managed to fake a smile and kiss my precious daughter on the head as I blinked back tears. Is that really how she sees me? As a tired woman with a futile prayer life? Overwhelmed and overscheduled? I had always taken pride in the fact that I wasn’t busy. Years ago I learned to say “no” to activities that ate into our family time. I value simplicity and solitude. I had even taught Bible studies about it! Yet, somehow in the midst of my un-busy life, I managed to get very busy. And now the children were taking notice. This was something I promised myself would never happen.

That night I couldn’t sleep (a very rare thing for me...being as “tired” as I am and all). So at 1:00 am I got up and began journaling. For two hours, I poured out my anxious thoughts to God as I sifted through my schedule to identify where and when things had gone wrong. I listed every activity in which I am currently involved, as well as every household responsibility that was taking up my time. The process was very revealing. I discovered that it wasn’t one nasty “culprit” I could quickly cast out of my life, but a series of little culprits to address:

o Mismanaged time—like checking and responding to e-mails over ten times a day.
o Commitments which were longer than anticipated—like the freelance job that was supposed
to be completed two months ago.
o Time management systems I previously put in place, but failed to maintain—like my mail
filing system and my “write-everything-on-a-master-list” system.
o Piles of clutter in my home—which often left me feeling exasperated because they
represented areas of my life that were out of control.

That night God helped me identify a few key areas I could immediately cut in order to be less busy. He helped me draw up and prioritize a master list of projects to tackle, as well as new chores to delegate to my children. But mostly that night, He reminded me - for what seems like the millionth time - that my children would only be little for a season. And in comparison to the pages of other tasks and responsibilities I had just written in my journal, my commitment to be a Godly wife and mother stood far above them all.

And then He reminded me that He doesn’t view me as some kind of “ministry production machine.” Nor does He value me because of what I can accomplish in a day. He cherishes me because I am His daughter. When I remember this, I’m much less inclined to add many things to my plate. Instead, I rest in the peace of knowing who I am in Christ and what He has purposed for me to do and be.

Dear Lord, I offer my schedule today to You. Help me remove from my schedule things not in Your perfect will for me. Help me add anything to my schedule that I may have overlooked but is important to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Out of the Mouth of Babes by Wendy Pope

Becoming the Mom I Always Wanted to Be, by Renee Swope

A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
Prayerfully look over your week’s schedule. Decide what can you do to simplify your life.

If time, money or “reputation” were not an issue, what kinds of things would you want to do?

Power Verses:
Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- that was powerful. God knew I needed that today. It is so hard being a mom and balancing everything! I need to remember that my daughter will only be little for so long. Time for a tickle fight!

Thanks for your comment Debby! Yes, tickle fights are good!

Be blessed today.
Sandy Cooper

I was SO excited to see this devotional this morning! Completely unexpected!

I love your reference to mismanaged time, clutter, and just a general slide towards letting small and mundane tasks get away from us.

I used to be so organized and detail oriented, and a recent change in job and life situations threw me for a loop and I spent a long time "just surviving" my days.

I have learned that placing God first each morning and seeking His will and direction to my day changes it from "just surviving" to "living and giving freely, with God's grace and strength!"

Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Thanks Lindsey...I didn't know you subscribed to these or I may have mentioned it.

Can't wait to meet you in person at Girls Night Out!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Debby & Lindsey, God knew I needed to read these words. Before reading this devotional this morning, I was already feeling overwhelmed at the number of tasks I have to accomplish today, this week, this month. I will make sure I review this 'To Do' list, prioritize my tasks & make sure I set time aside for the important people in my life, like my daughter!

Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for your honesty, Sandy. Your story has encouraged me to once again prioritize my life. It's amazing how quickly I can get distacted from the important stuff. I clear out the clutter only to have it slowly reappear until I'm treading in busyness again. Whew! Life is such a process.

Blogger Trish said...

THIS is my struggle daily ... and for the last several years. I keep 'trying' to say no but end up committing to something. I am you in your devotional ... I pray that I will TRULY follow through with ridding myself of all these things I don't need to be doing!!!

Dear Anonymous, Carolyn and Trish...

I'm so glad you felt you could relate to this. I think busyness is such a common problem in our society.

I originally wrote this devo June 2007, and it hit me in the face all over again today when I reread it myself! It is amazing how we fall back into old habits so easily.


Blogger Gina said...

God's timing is, as always, impeccable. After one week back teaching after Christmas break, I'm already fighting a serious case of fatigue. Just this morning, having my 5 a.m. cup of coffee and talking with the Lord, I really felt him telling me to limit my time spent working on household chores to an hour a night, in order to maximize time spent building relationships and avoid this tiredness. Balance is something I struggle with - you put it very nicely in this devotion. Thank you!

Blogger Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

This was so beautiful Sandy...a message I really needed to read!

Blogger Ruth said...

I really liked this devotion today! It made me laugh and cry because that seems so much like me at times but sad because I know those are times that can never be brought back again to change.
It does seem that life is so busy for us moms and if we just focus on what God has given to us in this season of our life and ask Him to guide us with our daily tasks knowing that our steps our ordered buy Him all would be well (easier said than done) but we tend to lean unto our own understanding and make so many commitments to so many other things except for our families. May God continue to give all moms the wisdom, strength and the commitment that we need to give to Him and our families daily.

Blogger MaryBeth said...

Even though I see from the other comments that I'm not alone, I feel like this could have been written just for me! It was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks, I really needed it!

Blogger Joanna Peck said...

thank you for a lovely reminder to take time to watch the children grow... so easy to forget that!

I fear at times..my kids see me that way too...it's hard to change with so many expectations!
-sandy toe

Thanks for your insightful comment. I just love reading all this feedback.

Blessings to you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am at a loss for words...this really spoke to me. I am a full time mommy who is so blessed to have a career that allows me to work from home, throw in a couple of church activities I struggle with balance. When others tell me I am busy I do not see it...I feel it is all part of my job...that I am supposed to do it all.

I love to see God's perfect timing unfold before me. Just this evening I told my husband I was going to sit down with daily planner and set a schedule for all areas of my life...now I will do it prayerfully.

Thank you for sharing so openingly.

Mary T

Blogger Jennifer said...

A great post, Sandy. I linked to it from my blog.

Blogger AnnG said...

WOW!!! That was a POWERFUL story your daughter told. They always see things from a "different" perspective, don't they?
Thanks for sharing it with me/us. I think it is something I definitely needed to read today.

Blogger Monica said...

Beautiful, absolutely. I love how our children sometimes challenge us to become better.

Blogger CalvaryGirl said...

What a great article! I can identify that. Our kids are known to be a mirror of us. Maybe it's a good idea to get them to be honest with stories like that on a regular basis?

Calvary Girl Devotions

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found this devotional and it's really timely. My bible study group is working through the concept of "addictions" and "idolatry." One that has come up for a lot of us is CONTROL. Control is really an illusion. We can't control anything -- time, people, events, etc. There's never enough lists or organizers or anything that can control our world. Despite how much we try. Only God has control. Satan would like us to think we can be in control (dare I say, "be like God") and fools us into believing that we have that power. We waste a lot of our lives trying to gain that illusive control and never do. God is in control. I pray today that I can ask him for the daily (or hourly) assignment and I will do it. To His Glory.

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