Be very careful, then, how you live -
not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Eph. 5:15, 16.
Today I want to ask each of you to read Mike Cope's blog. Mike's comments today concern a book he is reading by Carl Honore, In Praise of Slowness. I direct you to his comments page, as well, since there Mike posted an essay by Barbara Brown Taylor on Sabbath Resistance.
I learned the value of slowing down from Richard Foster's books, Celebration of Discipline and The Freedom of Simplicity. Foster says,
Many of us would find great relief in discovering our own cycles of activity and quiet. For example, I function best when I alternate between periods of intense activity and of comparative solitude. When I understand this about myself I can order my life accordingly. After a certain amount of immersion in public life, I begin to burn out. And I have noticed that I burn out inwardly before I do outwardly. Hence, I must be careful not to become frantic bundle of hollow energy, busy among people but devoid of life. I must learn when to retreat, like Jesus, and experience the recreating power of God. We are told that Peter tarried in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner (Acts 9:43). And along our journey we need to discover numerous "tarrying places" where we can receive heavenly manna (Freedom of Simplicity, p. 91).
Everyone talks about having less time with their spouse and children, but it seems to be an unsolvable problem. Ten or more years ago Dr. David Elkind addressed the problem in two books: The Hurried Child and All Grown Up and No Place to Go. The cartoon of two children looking into their Daytimers deciding that next Saturday between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. they could meet to play, isn't really very funny.
This lack of family time is a reentry issue all missionary families face. Families do have less time with each other in the U.S. than in other parts of the world, except possibly Japan. Returning/furloughing missionaries need to find a good mentor to help them while they adjust to new situations. This mentor should be able to inform them about the school systems and children's activities that are available, but at some point the family needs to decide about their use of time.
Somewhere Richard Foster states that there is no law that requires us to answer the phone. When I had a land-line phone I had an answering machine. My message stated, "We don't answer the phone. Please leave a message." I didn't promise to call back. It was amazing how well that worked.