Here in Kansas, where we live, the leaves are turning beautiful shades and falling off the trees. Just last week, I was babysitting some little boys and we were playing outside. The area around their home was carpeted in leaves--ready for our enjoyment! We raked the leaves into huge piles, jumped in them, buried people underneath them, and threw leaves at each other. We had a blast! There was almost constant giggling, and no one was ready to go in when it was lunch time. (Except for the babysitter who had had enough leaves in her hair for one day!). Though such a simple thing, our time playing in the leaves brought such wholesome enjoyment. It also served to remind me of days gone by when I was a little girl. Every fall, my parents took us outside and played in the leaves with us. What happy memories!
While being chased by little boys with handfuls of leaves, I couldn't help but wonder how many other children were missing out on such pleasure. In this post-modern age of video games, daycare, fast food, TV dinners, and entertainment overload, have our children been deprived of some of those marvelous "old-fashioned" joys of life?
Almost a year ago, I donned a white dress and walked down a church aisle to pledge my love to the man of my dreams. In doing so, I exchanged one life for another. I am still my parents' daughter, but now I am also Jesse's wife. My childhood is over. I cannot relive those days, nor can my parents. There are no more bike rides to the ice cream store, no more wrestling matches with dad (okay, we only did that when we were little. When we got older, Dad started getting hurt, so the wrestling had to stop!), no more playing in the leaves, no more building snowmen or snow forts, no more piggyback rides, no more walks to the park.
Yes, my childhood is over, but I am so thankful I can look back on it with such happy memories. My parents took so much time for me and spent so much time with me. Instead of sitting me in front of the TV, we made forts in the basement or played with finger paint. Instead of sending me off to daycare, Mom read to us, sang with us, taught us finger plays, and took us to museums. Instead of fast food for dinner, we had home-cooked meals with homemade bread we'd helped knead or green beans we had picked from our garden. Looking back over my childhood, I won't tell you my parents were perfect, but I do know they always had time for us. They realized that more important than our involvement in sports, or their volunteering in the community, was that they took the time to teach, train, and enjoy their children.
Last week, a 19-year-old friend of mine died suddenly in a tragic car accident. Neither she nor her parents knew that Wednesday was her last day on this earth. Although we are grateful Rebekah is now in the presence of the Lord, we grieve that we no longer have an opportunity to spend time with her on this earth, and we are all reminded that our life is just a "vapor." While you still have it, take the time to invest in the lives of your children and those around you. Cherish each moment. You may not have many left.
You may be thinking, "But I just don't have the time." Make the time. Evaluate your life: What activities are you currently involved in that are not going to matter ten years from now? How about 100 years? Simplify your life. Get rid of clutter and make room for joy. Someday when your children are grown and gone, they are probably not really going to remember the presents you bought for them or the opportunities you allowed them, but they will remember the time you spent with them.
There are a lot of good things in life for one to devote time to--but only a few of those things are the best things. My parents chose the best, and I will always be indebted to them.
Don't let another priceless moment slip through your hands because you are "too busy." While you have the time, take the time.
Crystal Paine is a 23-year-old homeschool graduate and the owner of Covenant Wedding Source, LLC (an online retail bridal business). She writes articles on a variety of topics and recently authored her first booklet, The Merchant Maiden: Earning an Income Without Compromising Convictions. She lives with her husband in Topeka, KS. For more information on her business and booklet, visit her website:http://www.covenantweddingsource.com.