Embracing Serving Our Children, Because Time Goes Quickly

Joy dressed as Anne of Green Gables, just a few years ago

“Six years passed between my third child, Nathan, and my fourth child, Joy. I had had three miscarriages and didn’t think I would ever have another baby. By the time Joy came, I had lived through the early youth of my other three children and had seen that they really did grow up quickly. Finally, by experience, I understood that the dependent stage of early childhood was only for a season. I could see how important it was to enjoy each day and treasure these moments of early life with my children, because the years did pass quickly. How I wished I could take back all the impatient words I had said, all the guilt I had imposed on my older children just because they were acting their age and taking up my time. Fortunately, they remember mostly the good times and not my immature responses to their normal behavior.

I was much more patient with the interruptions that Joy brought to my life because I realized that I might never have this opportunity again. I cherished our time alone while she nursed. I enjoyed the sweet moments when she would crawl into bed with me and snuggle close. Having made my peace (mostly) with the reality that giving my children time is a part of serving them, I was able to relax and open myself to the joys of being with them.

These days I have no baby in the house. Instead, I have an exuberant seven-year-old and three teenagers. And these beloved children still take up all of my time, but in different ways. Yet since I know that this is a necessary sacrifice, a part of my service to them and to God, it is easier to bear–partly because I have made the choice to embrace the task of mothering, partly because I have come to terms with the natural demands children make on my time, but mostly because my attitude has changed.” ~ The Mission of Motherhood

Of course if you know our family, you’re aware that the seven-year-old I mentioned is now in her first year at Biola University, while the teenagers have grown into lovely adults who are my best friends. And now, even more, I realize how swiftly time flies and how quickly our opportunity to serve and nurture and shape the hearts of our children in such an intensive way, 24 hours a day, passes by.

Looking at Jesus interacting with His disciples; with crowds, pushing and pulling, demanding, shouting, jostling most days for three years straight; reading of how He took children on His lap when others would have pushed them away; amazed at how He washes 120 toes the night before He is sentenced to death–all of these things give me a picture of what my life as a mom is all about. True joy comes … sometimes slowly … in fits and starts … two steps forward, one step back … when I develop a long-range vision and believe His promise that my work will not go unrewarded.

 Praying for you today, that the Lord would give you a vision, soften your heart, and strengthen you for the days ahead!

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  1. Mom to four says

    Sure wish you would bring a Mom Heart Conference to FL. I know, so many are able to and can afford to fly/ travel, but so many more cannot.

  2. Marie says

    Hello Sally!
    My name is Marie, I’m French, 36 years old and a mother of three (aged 11,9 and 5). I grew up in a Christian family but my faith was “sleepy” those past years. Jesus touched my heart again last summer, and I’ve come to Him with all my soul and I’ve decided to walk with Him forever! My uncle, who’s a pastor, helps me a lot, praying with me and guiding me in reading the Bible. My dearest will now is to have my three sons and my loving husband with me in that wonderful relationship!! I bought your book (The ministry of motherhood, french translation) and I read it in two days, despite my work as an English teacher in High school! I couldn’t stop! And I’m taking the opportunity of your blog to thank you, Sally, for your message and help! Your book is a blessing for mothers like me who need mothers like you to show that it is wonderful to have our children sharing our faith in God… I ‘m thankful to my Lord that he put your book into my hands because it made me realize so much! Take care, Sally! Marie.

    • says

      Salut Marie – je suis américaine, mais j’enseigne le français dans une école chrétienne. ça me fait du bien de lire que tu as été réveillée que tu aimes notre seigneur et que tu veux que tous les membres de ta famille deviennent des croyantes aussi. God is truly sovereign..and we can trust Him AND keep praying. You have such a good vantage point to be able to pray for and encourage your family and model to them what a great Savior we have. Bon courage!


      • says

        Merci pour tes mots Maria!
        J’ai offert leur première bible à mes garçons, et mon fils cadet se met à la lire avec moi! Quelle joie pour mon coeur de maman! Je rends grâce à Dieu!

        He is ou Savior indeed!
        Take care,

  3. Christy says

    Thank you so much for this post! What an encouragement to me (5 kids six and under.) These years are so precious while my children are little. I do not want to waste this time by wishing they would “grow up” faster. Every day, every diaper change, every meal, every load of laundry, every nighttime feeding is a GIFT!!!

  4. Katie says

    I feel like you spoke my heart exactly. I’m currently enjoying the sweet precious snuggles of my 6 week old baby girl who God has blessed us with after 5 long years of trying and losing two sweet boys, each at 20 weeks of pregnancy. With my older 2 children now being 8 & 10 years old I have this overwhelming sense of just how quickly it passes, and how amazingly precious each day is with them. I am so thankful The Lord has shown this to me before anymore time passed in their lives! Praying The Lord helps me and us all to continue cherishing this time- loving and serving our children!

  5. Monika says

    Thank you so much Sally. I thought I knew this truth so well, especially with my youngest children :) I have 7 blessings ages 18-6, I homeschool them all, and my husband is currently working 3 states away, so I’m alone with them much of the time. I have been having to drive my oldest back and forth to Running Start (she is studying to be a nurse/midwife) and have been resentful of the extra time it takes out of my schedule, especially from schooling my other children. But she is almost grown and is officially “courting” a wonderful young man, and they are very serious, so I can see my time with her is especially short. Thank you for the reminder. For this mom of 7 sometimes it’s easier to cherish the time with the little ones, but reading your writings is inspiring me to not only cherish my time with my “little” one’s but with my “big” ones too. God bless you Sally. Your ministry has made a huge impact on my life.

  6. Noel S. says

    This was so timely for me! I was broken hearted after reading a seemingly innocent post about someone whose child was in the “terrible twos.” it had about 35 comments on it- all except one wonen were complaining about how awful and terrible their two and three year olds were. I now hate the term terrible twos. Kids are never terrible. they just sometimes need more patience and prayer and love at times! I have a 3 yr old, a 2 year old and a baby(2 1/2 mo) right now and can say in ALL HONESTY that I am full of joy and peace. Truly it is a work of the Lord that I am as it was much more difficult for me to adjust with the first 2. The Lord gave me a verse near the end of my pregnancy in Isaiah. to paraphrase from memory: He keeps him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on you because he trust in you.” Yesterday I was again reminded of that verse and given an additional: “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God and the peace that passes understanding will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.” These are not peaceful times, when you have little ones, but through Christ they CAN be peaceful and restful despite these energized little ones :)

    • Sarah C says

      Thank you for your comment. You are me last year (3,2, baby)…and now a year later I struggle regularly with my 3 yr old and often lose heart. Thank you for your encouraging verses.

  7. Joy says

    I linked to this through Ann Voskamp’s site, and I just have to say how much I love you — your ministry, your words, and you as a woman even though we’ve never met. I was just thinking about you and The Mission of Motherhood last night, specifically how you spoke of washing your kids’ feet as I bathed my two youngest. My almost five-year-old is certainly old enough to bathe herself, but I thought of your words as I scrubbed her little toes and shoulders. And honestly. Truly. It filled my heart with delight, as it always does. It gave me a chance to meditate again on the words “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
    I have four kids, thirteen to one, and I KNOW how fast it goes. Yet even I forget sometimes, and how desperately I need to slow down and take those moments! Thanks so much again for writing such a great book and sharing these truths! God bless!

  8. Lorie says

    Oh, how I needed this reminder today. I NEED to delight in my children. Being able to do this comes and goes but today has been one of the toughest days in quite a while. My 3yo DD was sleeping in our bed and peed in the bed and I got wet which startled me out of sleep at 5:30AM. I’m not a morning person so this was NOT a nice way to wake up and it took me a good part of the morning to shake it off.

  9. says

    Love the post! Mine are still “littles” and I choose to enjoy the now- No more saying “when the can….. when they are older….. if a few years we can ……”

  10. Judy says

    Thank you Sally for always reminding moms that our children are a treasured gift to delight in – the more so because the days pass quickly.

  11. says

    Oh, Sally, this was just the reminder my heart needed today. Your story, and your life serve to inspire me (over and over again) in the truest sense of the word. He has used your words to *influence* my heart for Him and for my children. Thank you.

  12. says

    Daily this is my battle,… The war between wearily wanting my own way and yet knowing my six-under-seven will quickly be growing out of needing me. Thankyou for the reminder to cherish the serving years.

  13. says

    A wonderful, timely reminder reading this! My hunny and I are on a mini vacation right now with our 6, 4, 2, and 4 month old….lets just say in this stage one really has to redefine ones meaning of what a vacation is. :)
    Lord help us live joyfully in each moment…
    Teach us to number our days
    To Find satisfaction in Your lovingkindness morning by morning
    That we may sing for joy
    And be glad ALL the days You have appointed for us
    Ps 90

  14. says

    Ahhhhhhh…I have my last of four daughters preparing to leave the nest for college. Can so relate to where you are in life. Its true we are always mamas, but it changes so very much as they grow and go. So I’m shedding a little tear, though I could throw myself down on the floor and weep at times. But not now, not here at allume…blessings!

  15. ro elliott says

    OH great word…I too have a wide age sapn…30- 16…one left at home out of the 5…such a needed reminder for young mommas…nothing will compare to having a lovely friendship with your adult children…but these friendships are built in their childhood…lovely words and blessings to you

  16. Gerry says

    I have been thinking about doing something like you’re doing for quite a while, until the Lord directed me to your site – and trust me, it was a complete “accident” ha! But I LOVE IT! I am recommending it! I would also like to recommend a wonderful pastor’s wife in Austin Texas who blogs about such things. She is really good!!! Here is her link. I would highly recommend you adding her to your list on the sidebar! Here is one example of a recent post:

  17. Lena says

    I have never read your book. but the quote from it could have been from my journal. I have a 10yr old boy, 7 year old girl and an 11 month old baby girl. I am in dreamland with her after a hard and unwilling transition to motherhood. I so wish I could re-do my time with my older 2 kids and I am soaking up my baby girl everyday. Thanks for your reminder that motherhood is a call to serve them. It was a long hard lesson for me to learn, but by the grace of God, I AM learning it.

  18. Keesha Doss says

    Mother of 1 – He turned a year last month. I’m so new at this. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing. I loved it! I try to enjoy every moment! I love being a Mom. There are times when it threatens to overwhelm me, just because I’m still learning so this article I loved! Thank you!

  19. Kathryn says

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Dear Ann Voskamp,

    Because of the e-mail that you sent to me this morning, may I have the pleasure of introducing to you Daniel Jose’ Ramos…my brand new 5 year old Compassion Child who lives in Brazil!

    I have been so happy about this decision that I am weeping for joy!

    Thank you…thank you…thank you!

    I am looking forward to writing to Daniel and lifting him, his sibling and his parents up daily in prayer!

    I am unemployed and didn’t know how I could contribute to my church and “adopt” a Compassion Child also. I wrote a letter to a good friend of mine who is the Administrative Assistant to the pastor of my church to get her “feedback” and she told me to step out in faith and take my offering from the church to support Daniel Jose’ Ramos. That is exactly what I hoped she would say!

    God does continue to work in the most mysterious ways!

    Yours in the light, love and faithfulness of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

    Denver, CO


    Compassion International
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Phone: 1-800-336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
    Compassion International is headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO

    Daniel José Ramos
    Birthday: November 3, 2006
    Age: 5 years
    Birthday: November 3, 2006 – he will be 6 years old on 11/02/2012!
    Gender: Male
    Location: Brazil
    Center: Cidadaos do Mundo, Cidadaos do Reino de Deus
    Child ID: BR4450399

    Waiting: 239 Days for a sponsor.

  20. says

    Good Evening!
    I enjoyed reading this post about serving and enjoying our children. It is true: They are gifts from God, given to us to love and cherish, even during the toughest of times. I have two boys, 16 and 22, and I have enjoyed being with them….growing with them. Yes, there have been “trying” times, but I can’t imagine my life without them. When I am at a crossroad with my children, I ask the Lord to allow my “lens” to be more like His, that I may look upon them with love and patience. Motherhood is a gift, indeed. Many blessings! ~Cynthia

  21. says

    Thank you so much for posting this, Sally. I, too, probably have spent too much time in impatience with my older two…I’m determined with the Lord’s help to reverse that AND do a much better job with my others! :)

    Love the picture of Joy! :)

  22. says

    Thanks…I too regret the times I was impatient with my older kids. My oldest is off to college in about 7 months….my youngest will start kindergarten as my oldest starts her freshman year of college! Thank you for your encouragement and ministry!

  23. says

    Thank you for this much needed encouragement just when I needed it! :)
    I too am enjoying our “grown-up” 5 boys ages 19-25 and know how the time flies. Especially today as I was having one of those, “I AM DONE!” days with our 5 littles (ages 8 and under- 4 adopted from Ethiopia and home a year!) I was trying to remind myself this phase is labor intensive and I can make it through :) Intentionally LOOKING for and SEEING the moments of grace, beauty, laughter, and JOY helps in the nitty gritty of life and remembering I can’t do this alone but with God I can :) So thank you again from a middle aged Momma whose done this all once before but needed a timely reminder to count my blessings and name them one by one :)
    Love, Tracy

  24. larissa says

    I do treasure the kids… but am so overwhelmed by the logistics they create… and I am not sure the time passes so quickly so much as God grants us holy amnesia – forgetting the hardest parts when feeling nostalgic!

  25. Esther Hawkins says

    Beautifully written, and thank you for the encouragement that they remember mostly the good times and not my immature responses – that’s where most of my guilt lies.

  26. says

    Thank you for these encouraging words, Sally. Each and every day I am striving to slow down and savor these days with my three young daughters (ages 6, 3, and 6 months).

  27. says

    The nightly you are llkiey running is 4.0b8pre since the tree on Beta 7 build was closed earlier this week. Beta 7 should be out sometime in November. possibly as early as this coming week. RC1 is llkiey what won’t be until December.


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