[Martha Buckingham states, "KEEPERS AT HOME", 6958 No Name Lane, Fairbanks, Alaska 99712. Email: ftjmb1@uaf.edu, Vol IV No 7, Aug, 98]

[Titus 2:3-5]:

''' "The aged women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the younger women to be sober-minded, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, KEEPERS AT HOME, good, obedient to their own husband, so that the Word of God be not blasphemed."

TIME ..... TIME ..... TIME.....

When I was complaining to my dear husband a while back about not having enough time to get everything done.....he kindly said, "I believe that God knew exactly the amount of time we would need when He gave us twenty-four hours in a day. My dear, perhaps you are trying to do some things that God never intended you to do."

Whenever I feel pressed with too much to do and feel overwhelmed, I remember Jim's words of wisdom and seek out what the Lord would have me do. What would He have me do today....this morning, this hour, this minute, this second? I believe our flesh resists the thought that God might be so intimately involved with us that He would desire to direct every second of our lives.... our sinful nature is willful and resists being controlled by anyone - even God!

I can see this resistance in myself when I am interrupted in my work by a little child who wants me to give him my undivided attention, or when a neighbor drops by and I have to stop what I am doing for an hour to chat. If I really believed that God is control of every happening - I would see these interruptions as divine appointments for me from the Lord - Even in this circumstance, He is giving me an opportunity to bring glory to Himself by my right response to His will at that moment. He knows what needs to be done... and interestingly enough, as I submit to His interruptions, He always manages to work everything out so I can accomplish the things that I need to get done in an acceptable amount of time.

Time is one of our most valuable earthly resource....it is given to each person equitably. We all have 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. It is our choice how we spend the time God has given us.

Time, once spent, can never be spent again....only the effects remain. These effects are far reaching; often determining the course a life will take for a day, a week, a month, and for years to come. SPECIAL TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN....

Special Time came about as a result of realizing that I needed to regularly spend time alone with each of my children. It was just too easy to 'grease the squeaky hinge' and then rest until the next 'squeak'. Each of the children needed some of my undivided attention, and I needed to spend quiet time alone with them to better understand the way they each thought individually. In the beginning, I scheduled a child for each week day until there was too many to organize in this fashion. This was to help me get into the habit of spending time alone with each one. The Lord has since impressed the importance of this upon my heart so that now He directs me to the child who has the need for the 'special time' for that day. The children have learned to come and ask for 'special time' if they feel the need of it. I also try to drop what I am doing at the moment to spend 15 minutes to an hour with that individual...provided it is not school time, bed time, devotion time, etc.... This re-enforces in their hearts that they are individually important to me - more important than doing dishes, writing letters, working in the garden, grading homework, etc.

Special Time can be time spent doing just about anything together where we can enjoy each other's company. Depending upon the age and the interests of the child, we do different things. The younger the child, the less time it takes to fill their little love cup. The older children need more time to open up and need to be assured that there is nothing you would rather do than to spend time with them alone. Some children need you to be involved in an activity with them...these are seldom activities that you would chose to do...probably because in their subconscious, they are testing you to see if you really want to spend time with them. Jim and I can remember the days when we tried to get them interested in doing things that we were interested in....they were happy to do anything alone with us - but it was much more meaningful to them when we set aside our own preferences and did what was pleasing to them.

Sometimes you have to make a concerted effort to have time alone with a child. You have to ask them to go with you to town, or to help you bake a cake, or weed the garden, etc. It is too easy to just go about a task without communicating....to let the mind run in neutral and not take advantage of the teachable moment. Last night, my 14 year old daughter asked me if I could explain a passage of Scripture that she was reading in Romans during her devotional time that morning. I had other plans, but realized nothing was more important than responding to her questions. We climbed up in bed, pulled up a snuggle blanket and spent a profitable hour discussing the passage and other related topics. Today another little one wanted to go for a walk....so we walked, talked and while we were at it, picked low bush cranberries and rose hips to make jam. Tomorrow we'll finish the 'special time' with a jam making session. Another child, one who is on crutches because of a cut on his foot, wanted me to teach him how to cross-stitch today. I did not respond immediately and one of my older daughters beat me to that little privilege. I was the loser on that one! The older children valued having 'special time' so much that they have 'special times' of their own with their younger siblings without prompting from me.

If your quiver holds one or two children, you may feel like you are always spending time with them and an extra 'special time' wouldn't be meaningful or would just wear you down even more. I can remember back to the days when I had two children. Sometimes I would be so busy just trying to make everything happen that I failed to connect with my little ones. I forgot that they were little people who had very important thoughts and wanted my undivided attention when they talked to me. Sometimes it seemed like they talked all the time and surely they didn't notice my uninterested "u-hums". ... but they do notice!

There is so much more involved in parenting than meeting the physical needs of our children. We need to reach their hearts if they are ever going to be truly affected by the message of Jesus Christ. Purpose to connect with each child each day - at least once a day. Take a moment to hug them and look into their eyes and tell them how special they are to you. The more quality time you spend with them when they are young - the more time they will want to spend with you when they are young teens and adults. Parents want their children to grow up to confide in them and to enjoy a friendship with them....and yet many never take the time when they are little to build a personal relationship with them. It is interesting how at a moments notice, we'll drop what we are doing to get into a deep conversation with another person outside our family...but somehow, we don't give the same consideration to our family members. When Jim's parents were visiting this summer, I noticed his father had developed a habit of asking pertinent questions to delve more deeply into the topic brought up by one of the children. This immediately gave them the impression that he was interested in what they were saying - because he was willing to take the time to ask for more detail and to listen to their explanation.

I am not always interested in what others have to say - especially when my children rehash the same topic a thousand times. I can say it is because I am busy...but really, it is because I am selfish and want to stick to my own plans. "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." Romans 15:1. No matter how weak we may feel in our walk with the Lord....we are strong in comparison to the little ones that God has entrusted into our care to nurture in the knowledge of Himself. I am praying that the Lord will give me a genuine Spirit-led interest in others - especially my family. SPECIAL TIME WITH YOUR 'ONE FLESH'.........

Relationships thrive on time spent in communication with each other. There are many ways to communicate that you love someone. One way is to spend time with the person you love. It is very easy in the marriage relationship to drift your own separate ways as you get busy and let other things or people divert your attention from your spouse. Unselfish love, that expects nothing in return, does not come easily to our basic nature. We are forever doing the things that we do with some hope of gain or to promote our own interest. In fact, if there is nothing in it for me - We are not likely to esteem the act of love very important.

Husbands love for wives to be interested in everything they do. Your approval means more to them than you can possibly imagine. You may not believe this, because you may have nagged him for years about taking out the trash before it runs over, but the message never sunk in. If he really care about my approval, he would do the things that I ask them to do. This thinking may be logical but it doesn't really work in a marriage relationship. The husband has learned to connect taking out the trash with your disapproval and figures that if he does make an effort to do it, he might receive some caustic comment or complaint that he spilled some trash on the floor....and he would probably be right, because in our frustration of his repetitious failure with the trash, we would probably begrudge him even the spirit of thanks for doing it right this one time.... such is the depravity of our sinful self!

I have found that my husband loves for me to just 'be there' when he is working on a project. He wants me to be interested in what he is doing - to ask questions - to see if there is anything I can do to help. I try to find something to do while I am in the same vicinity - but if I can't, I might read a book to him or we'll engage in meaningful conversation if the power tools aren't too loud. He is going to school right now, and I often go in and listen to him explain what he is learning for his classes at the university, discuss a building project, or talk about some spiritual insight the Lord has given him before preaching a message, etc. I make an effort to meet him at the door whenever he has gone out and come back - even if he has just been gone a short time. Listening to what he has to say - giving him my undivided attention, shows him that he is first place over the children who will demand my attention at the same time. I will try to use every opportunity to spend time with him... if he is taking the trash to the dump or picking up a package from the post office, I'll hop in the car. I used to wait on him to ask me to go, because I wanted to hear that he wanted me to go... but now I just offer. Sometimes the time isn't right, and I am had to learn not to feel hurt or rejected in making myself vulnerable. If Jim comes in and starts talking, I try to completely stop what I am doing and give him my full attention. Though it is not always convenient, I try to fit my schedule around his. On some nights he would not get home from school until around midnight. I took a short snooze earlier so I could be up with him when he came home. We would often stay up and talk for an hour or two....those became some of our most precious times of the week though I had to readjust our daytime school schedule a bit to make up for rising later than I would have felt comfortable with. (These are just some ways the Lord has shown me how I can give time to my husband...for you, it may be very different.....please remember that though I endeavor to do these things, I fail every day.)

By the way, Jim has never asked me to spend time with him in the way I have mentioned. The Lord showed me this when I was seeking His mind in how I could be a better help-meet to my husband. Also, I am not naturally a person who feels the need to be around someone all the time. I probably am the more the loner, independent type - wanting the company of another at my own convenience rather than just for the need of it. It is not easy for me to overcome this natural tendency in reaching out to Jim, my children and everyone else. While Jim's parents were up for a visit, they helped us complete an addition to our log home. They worked almost every minute of the two weeks they were here. I watched Jim's mother as she was always to be found at her husband's side....just waiting for him to ask her to hand him a hammer, a nail, the saw, etc. She continually complimented him on the work he did and kept things cleaned up so that he could work better. It was not a glorious job, but one in which she pleasured to do because it was honoring her husband. Her interest in being near her husband spoke volumes to all of us as we watched her life glorify the Lord in taking the place that He intended her to a take - using the opportunity to compliment her husband by her service to him rather than to occupy herself with her own interests. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..... But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..." Phil. 2:5,6 SPECIAL TIME WITH THE LORD......

We can't even begin to realize the importance of spending time with our loved ones if we do not see the importance of spending time alone with the Lord... He too longs to know that we desire to be with Him. It is for this reason that He promises that we will "find Him when we search for Him with all our heart." As we spend time with Him, we begin to get His mind concerning how to show love to those He has placed around us. He is the one that will prompt us to give another our time, our attention, our tender loving care, etc. "Let no man seek his own, but every man anothers welfare....even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." I Cor. 10:24, 33. May we be in all these things, dear Sister, "a follower of Christ!!!" '''