Tent Work | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tent Work

Last night I attended our Stake Enrichment activity. I'd have to say that it was one of the more Enriching Enrichments that I have been to in a while. The theme was "It's about TIME" we could choose one of the mini-classes to attend. I chose "Motherhood....a TIME of great joy" and I am so glad I did, even though I was reduced to a crying fool driving home.

So, let me just explain what I learned. There is a scripture in Genesis 26:25 and it says this:

"And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants digged a well."

At first glance this scripture doesn't appear to be much....Isaac and his family have arrived in a new land and this is what he did when he got there. The order is what is so important. First, he built an altar and thanked the Lord. I don't know about you, but I don't think that naturally comes first to me...if I had just arrived in a strange land, I would want to be worrying about my physical needs....shelter (tent) and nourishment (well) first. But all throughout the scriptures these great men always build an altar and thank the Lord first.

So, as a mother, I need to go to the altar every day before I even think of doing anything else. That's not so hard for me, but I do know I need to spend more time there. It is the next part that pierced my heart and helped me realize what I need to do in order for me to realize the full joy of motherhood and for my children to be taught the way I want them to be taught.

Pitching the tent symbolizes all of the work we do in the home with our children...teaching them, loving them, helping them, being there to kiss their owies and drop everything when they need a story read or to tell a story. Digging the well symbolizes all the other "housework" we do...the stuff that always takes up the majority of our time and energy...the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, the endless cleaning up of toys and books, cooking dinner, watering the garden, grocery shopping....do I need to go on? You get the idea. And notice that Isaac's servants were the ones to dig the well...it wasn't important enough that he needed to do it himself. So I can hire someone to clean my house without feeling guilty, but nobody will ever be able to replace me in the job that only *I* can do....mother Bria and Chloe.

How many times have I basically ignored my children's needs because I wanted to get the darn dishes done? How many times have I said, "Just a minute, let me finish making the bed, and then I'll help you."? This really, really spoke to me. I need to spend more quality time doing tent work...teaching my children, learning from them and just being more present with them than I am now. Which brings me to another favorite scripture, Luke 10:38-42:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Now, I have this picture hanging in my den to remind me...Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha stands over them with her serving bowl. I used to think this scripture was all about The Altar vs. The Well. Am I spending enough time reading my scriptures and praying? Spending time at the feet of Jesus, so to speak? Or am I busying myself too much with a clean home, and being cumbered about? I had a lightbulb moment when it was pointed out last night that The Tent can definitely be considered a part of this, too. The scripture says that Martha was "cumbered about much serving"...making sure the tablecloth is ironed, each piece of silverware is matching and shining, napkins folded perfectly, beautiful flower centerpiece, and on and on...that stuff isn't necessary! We can use paper plates if it means spending more time doing the all important tent work. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the "good part, which shall not be taken from her." I don't care how many times I do the laundry, it will be there tomorrow. It doesn't matter how often I clean up the toys, they'll be all over the floor again soon enough. Clean dishes, mopped floors, made beds....these are taken away from me every five minutes. Quality time with the Lord and with my children will NEVER be taken from me. Ever.

This is why I cried all the way the home...I begged for forgiveness because I ignore the tent work too often. It is hard for me to sit on the couch watching a Disney movie with my kids when I know the dishes are calling. I have a hard time drawing pictures with them when my email inbox needs attention. Even a noble hobby like scrapbooking sometimes takes too much time out of my life that should be reserved for these precious children. I gotta get my priorities in better line, and learn to live in the chaos, and learn to do the hard things. I must learn to cherish my children NOW, because if I don't, that will be taken from me, too.

18 comments :

  1. That is right, noone will ever take your place. It's your turn now darling. You and only you are their mother. Just be careful to listen to others who have experience, they may help you in ways unknown to you. I love your thoughts and feelings. Love Mom

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  2. I think this is my new favorite post of yours!

    Last night we had occasion to do some "tent work" in our home. Everything was left undone while we played together as a family and helped Kenton with his math facts.

    Thank you for this reminder.

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  3. I may have to come back and reread this post. I packed all day yesterday. Sloane begged me to do a puzzle with her. I had my deadline and goal and I meant to keep it. I kept telling her tomorrow I will help you. Then last night an accident happened. I thought all night about how siily my goal was. I am glad that I do not have to regret not spending that time with her. I will not put it off today.

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  4. What a fantastic lesson! How visual a way to get our tasks prioritized. I need to remember this one. I am ashamed to say that I often get to that altar very last. Because the altar doesn't need to get to the bus on time or turn in it's homework in the morning or put on clean underwear after it's shower. I clearly need a shift. I do think it's interesting that there is no deadline for devotion. The only thing that makes it a priority is what is on our hearts.

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  5. Wow. Was that in the Cedar Ward?? If it was, i must have missed it! That is a wonderful lesson. Thanks for posting that because it has made me realize a few things! Take care

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  6. What a BEAUTIFUL and POWERFULL lesson. Thanks for reminding me that I need to cherish the time that I have with my children.

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  7. Wow Lara, that was a very powerful post. I think of this often but never put it into words before. I know that I say far too often, "Okay, in just a minute." then I forget about it. It is true, they are growing up so fast and we really need to be there for them now. Thanks for picking this one to repost.

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  8. Our sacrament theme this past Sunday was on the scripture in Luke. We need everyday reminders of what's important! Thank you for my reminder today!

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  9. I have come to learn that if I have to choose between washing the dishes and reading Lael a story. She will always come first. One of my mottos is that "It will be there when I get back" but this moment in time with my baby won't.

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  10. I always feel like I need to spend more quality time on "tent work". It's so easy to get caught up in everything else that we have to do. We need to step back and realize that it's ok for the laundry to wait until tomorrow.

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  11. What a great way of looking at things. I definitely need/want to do this more often!

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  12. I am a strong believer in dropping everything to spend time with my kids when they want to. Yes, my house is often a mess, but that just shows that it is lived in, and loved in.

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  13. Lara, I love this post...

    When I had Lisa, she became my priority. It was painful to be a working mom and a single mom at the same time. I cried everytime I was at work because I couldn't guarantee anything while I'm away. I had a hard time trusting people, even my mom when it came to her.

    Now, that they're a little older and I'm back in school, a little "tent work" is more obvious, hence the vow to have weekly no-fail FHEs, movie nights, game time and dinner togethers. It's a work in progress.

    Charlie once told me, the best way I can show my love for them is to be myself. And that self includes Feng Shui and tablescaping, so it works for me! LOL It's certainly ramping up the quality of my cooking so no one's complaining. ;-)

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  14. What a beautiful and wonderful post. I am so glad that I had the chance to read it. Have to go now ... crying. :)

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  15. It's funny how annoying that well digging is anyway, but how much we let it consumer out attention. I don't even like digging the well...but I too am guilty of spending too much time doing that when I could be doing the tent work. Nice post. Thanks for sharing it with your recent readers.

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  16. Lara, I remember that Enrichment night and that lesson on TentWork. (4 years ago, wow!) It made a profound impact on me too. Thanks for reminding me to put my kids above all else!

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  17. What a great lesson!!! It is always great to get enriched at those things.

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