As I pushed my cart through the Target parking lot, I was frustrated. I was in a hurry and the pebbles under the wheels of my cart caused my coffee to splash unhindered. Just tiny pebbles, barely noticeable, and yet each and every one of them causing an unwelcome frustration at the moment. Life is full of pebbles.

Our days fill up so quickly with so many things. We often don’t even notice the pebbles piling up under our feet until all of a sudden they are causing splashes of frustration. Do an experiment for me – take a jar and fill it nearly full with pebbles. Then take some larger rocks and add them. How many rocks fit? Now empty your jar and put in the rocks first. Then pour back in the same amount of pebbles. What do you notice? When you put in the rocks first, at the end there is room left to add not only the pebbles but also some sand. I have learned that the jar is like my life – I need to put in the rocks first, those things that are most important, before I fill the jar with pebbles. For each ‘good’ thing I say “yes” to, it means I have said “no” to something else

John Mark Comer* writes, “Both sin and busyness have the exact same effect – they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even to your own soul” (pg 20).

My oldest son, Steven, and his wife, Lindsay, have every opportunity to have a life filled to overfull with frustrating pebbles of busyness. As an AF Officer family with four young, active children, it would be understandable if frustrating pebbles marred their path, and their days were left with little time for joy.

And yet as I watch them, they make my heart soar as they raise their children (my precious grandchildren!) with days full of laughter, conversations, and pondering. No day is too busy to miss going outdoors, it’s a must – bikes, rollerblades, digging, discovering. Daily they take time for a walk, finding trails and paths to discover, stopping to admire moss growing; spot a turtle in the pond; or identify a new bird.

Even though the kids range in age from five to almost 10, they take time to stop and have ‘quiet time’ almost daily, to be still and read. TV and electronics are not their ‘go to’ for entertainment; rather my son and his wife have purposefully investigated and purchased toys that encourage imagination to be developed – blocks for building, art supplies, whittling, sewing, and cooking.

God’s Truth invades schedules, conversations, and investigations. And nightly they sit and listen to a story read aloud. They have chosen carefully which rocks and pebbles they place in their family jar and how they will fill their days. And their choices are making an incredible difference in the lives of their children and in the life of their family.

Too often I allow pebbles of busyness to fill my days without noticing the rocks are being crowded out. What rocks are important in my life?

Corrie ten Boom once said that if the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy. But how can you make sure the ‘rocks’ are in place before the pebbles? There are so many life necessities to be done. One of those ‘necessity’ pebbles? Homework. The teachers and I have been contemplating the pebble of homework recently. As we read articles, discuss varying opinions, think through the purpose of homework, we contemplated how we could encourage families without filling their jar with pebbles that would crowd out room for their rocks. It’s a constant challenge for both parents and teachers, but one that we will continue to consider carefully.

What is one rock I would encourage you to place in your jar after God’s Word? – reading a book together. You may ask if this is really a rock worth adding – are there really benefits to reading aloud with your child? Besides being a great family bonding time, reading aloud grows your child’s attention span, aids in their language development, and strengthens their imagination and concentration.

Choose a good picture book or novel, snuggle up together on the couch, and enjoy a good story. Are all books just as valuable for children (and adults) to read? No. So many think that is true though.

“At least my child is reading,” I hear far too often. But I disagree. Just like we don’t allow our children to eat whatever they want and say, “at least they’re eating”, we need to be intentionally choosing healthy wholesome books.

The pebbles of life’s necessities will fit when we put the rocks in first. Consider carefully what rocks and what pebbles are filling your family jar. Consider making reading aloud together an important rock.

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