Monday, May 16, 2005

Redeeming the time

A week ago I wrote about living a simple life and a couple of people commented that they would like some "examples" of how my husband and I live this out practically. For Craig and I, simple living means a life not controlled by outside pressures (financial, job, outside activity) in which we are free to do the things we value.

I have found that two things most influence the freedom in our lives: the way we use our time and how we spend our money. ( To avoid a mile-long post, today is about time, tomorrow will be about money.)

-NOTE: Other people do things differently than us and I respect that. This is not a judgment on anyone else's life, just some information on how Craig and I do this!

We have learned many things through books, including the Bible, and through advice gleaned from other people with similar goals. Other things we have learned through trial and error. Our mistakes have been great teachers!

For us, the most important job has been to harness our time. We all have exactly 24 hours to spend each day and if we are not careful, we waste a great deal of it.
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time..."
Ephesians 5:16

Our time is something we need to redeem or take back, make it our own. Ideally, you and your husband have a general direction for your life that includes goals, both long term and short term, that you are shooting for. If you have no direction, you will never arrive at a destination!

A few years ago, Craig and I realized that we were letting too many activities into our life and that we were departing from the road God has placed us on. The activities were related to church and from the outside we may have looked like we were accomplishing a lot for God's kingdom. But in reality, the use of our time was causing us to reap bitter fruit in our home, in our marriage and with our kids. We took drastic measures at that time to get back on the path God had planned for us to travel in the beginning.

Our biggest mistake was not being united in knowing where God wanted us to go. We allowed other people to direct us along a road that was only meant for Craig and I to navigate. Even though we knew better, we stayed stuck in this situation for a long period of time before we took action. These days, we do things much differently than we did before and even our outlook on life has changed, but the fruit that is born in our home is much sweeter!

We have learned that God's plan for our family may be drastically different than anyone else's, but we must stay true to our calling. We have also learned that frantic activity does not indicate that anything of value is being accomplished, it might just mean you are too busy.

Our priorities are our marriage, our kids, homeschooling and anything else that God chooses to bring into our lives. The time we spend together has proven vital for close relationship with each other and our kids. An occasional family night did not cut it for us-we needed more.

Craig's work is a means for us to finance this venture and homeschooling, both spiritual and academic, is a priority that demands an investment of my time, as well as Craig's and we take this seriously. Other activities in our life include church, friends, serving and hobbies, but none of these overshadow or detract from the job that God has placed before us.

The use of your time is a very personal issue and I can't provide very many practical tips because I believe that is between you, your husband and God. The important thing is to have a direction and some goals to strive for. Reducing busyness in order to volunteer, spend time with your family, take a vacation or pursue a hobby, won't just happen; free time needs to be sought after and captured. Redeem your time, it is a gift that, if used wisely, reaps a beautiful reward!

If you have ideas for "redeeming your time" or even a struggle you wish to share, please leave that information in the comments-I will post these on my blog on Wednesday. I know that through sharing ideas we can all benefit!