As I go through each day determined to be as productive as possible, I often feel as if I don’t have enough time for the things I want to do. Sure, by day’s end, much was accomplished.

I’ve gotten children to and from school, made meals, cleaned the house, done laundry, driven to many activities, ministered to those in need, met with coaching clients and tucked everyone into bed to do it all over again tomorrow.

I long for the days when my schedule was, well, mine. When I did what I wanted when I wanted and for however long I wanted. It seems like a distant memory…

The longing doesn’t last, though, because those were the days before marriage and children, when life was much quieter and certainly less exciting. Less fulfilling, too.

One afternoon as I drove to school with a friend to pick up my children, we were chatting about the busyness of life. As she was in a different season of life, she had ample time to spend reading, sewing, connecting or whatever she chose to do. We were talking about the things of God and how reading the Word has impacted us. Frankly, I was a bit envious of her time as my days were filled with all the things a mom of young children is filled with.

As I responded to her, I realized that, while I may not have the luxury of spending hours in prayer or reading the Word, God was teaching me through what was available and accessible—my children. I’ve learned a lot from my children over the years. Some of it good, some of it not so good, all of it valuable. I could sum it up this way:

I’ve learned patience. You’ve heard it said that one should not pray for patience. You learn patience as you wait. While waiting for a response to particular situations from the Lord, I have learned to wait patiently. His timing is perfect. I tend to rush things. I’ve learned trust. While I am waiting, I have chosen over the years, to trust that God knows what he’s doing and that His plan is always better than mine. I’ve learned to let go of the need for an answer to “Why?” and instead trust that it is all part of His plan. And that He can even do great things with the parts that I added which weren’t originally a part of His master plan if I trust Him for the outcome.

I’ve learned to have faith. In spite of all that might be happening in and with my family, I have faith that all will be well in the end. I believe that all things happen for a reason and that we can learn something from pretty much everything and everyone. In spite of what I see with my own eyes, when I choose faith and look at my family and the world through the eyes of God, I am encouraged.

I’ve learned to enjoy each moment. Life is made up of a series of millions, even billions of moments, each one lasting only a short time. I’ve learned to be patient in the challenging moments because I know they don’t last and I can probably learn something in them also. And I’ve learned to enjoy the good ones while they are here. Not to worry about the next moment to come or what’s around the corner, but to be totally present in this moment and enjoy it to its fullest. So when the children are arguing and complaining, I practice patience, because in just a few minutes they are on to something else.

I’ve learned forgiveness. There’s something quite humbling about forgiveness. Humbling and honoring at the same time. I have asked my children for forgiveness so many times, I’ve lost count. And every time, they have freely forgiven me. I also have forgiven them many times, so they would learn that forgiveness, while free, is so very valuable and life changing. We all need it at one time or another and we all need to extend it to others. It is a gift we give to others, but mostly to ourselves.

I’ve learned to celebrate uniqueness. My three children are so very different. Sure, they have some characteristics or expressions that are similar, but their personalities are so very unique. I’ve learned that trying to relate to them the same way or put them in the same category for most anything doesn’t work. Instead, I’ve learned to appreciate them for who they are, challenges and all, and celebrate their personalities and strengths.

It’s amazing how different we can be, even from the same family! I have six siblings and we are alike and very different at the same time. God has created each of us as one-of-a-kind, unique and special in our own way. And while there may be times when I wish there were more of me to go around and get the job done, my children are sure that one of me is more than enough :)!

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of “Lessons from My Children.” I look forward to seeing you then!