by Ruth O’Neil
Rachel looked out the window as she chewed on her pencil. She so much wanted to be outside playing or doing anything rather than being stuck inside doing her schoolwork. Especially math. Math was not one of her favorite subjects. Sitting on a blanket in the yard, soaking up the sunshine while she read a good book sounded a whole lot better than adding and subtracting.
As she looked out the window, she saw a hot air balloon rising up higher and higher into the sky. Rachel wondered who was in it and what they were thinking. Could they see her house from way up there?
She smiled as she thought about what a wonderful thing it would be if she could take a ride in a hot air balloon. Someone had once told her that you could see for miles and miles from way up there. They had said the land down below looked like the squares of a patchwork quilt and the houses were not bigger than small dots.
Then something else caught Rachel’s eye as the balloon floated behind some trees and out of sight. It was a couple of robins. She was so busy watching the birds playing tag with each other that she didn’t hear when her mother called. Rachel didn’t hear the second time her mom called her name either. By the third and loudest time, her mom said, “Rachel!” she heard.
“Yes?” Rachel answered, turning her head toward her mom.
“What are you doing?” Mom wanted to know. Looking over Rachel’s head, she added, “You haven’t done one more math problem on that page since the last time I checked on you.”
Rachel looked down at her paper. Her mom was right. She had not been doing her work, as she should have been.
“Do you understand what you are supposed to be doing? Or do you need me to show you the directions again?”
“No.” Rachel shook her head. “I know how to do it.”
Mom put her hands on her hips. “Then why haven’t you worked on it, Honey?”
“I don’t know.” Rachel shrugged her shoulders.
Sighing, Rachel’s mom asked another question. “Are you not paying attention to your work because you’re staring out the window?”
She had been caught. “Mom, it’s such a beautiful day outside. Wouldn’t you rather be out there relaxing than in here working right now?” Rachel pleaded with her mom.
Nodding her head, mom said, “Of course I would. But first of all I need to finish my work inside the house. And part of that work is making sure you get your school work done.”
Mom reached for her Bible that was sitting on the table and asked Rachel, “Do you know what the Bible says about our time?”
Rachel shook her head.
A Time for Everything
Turning the pages, Mom found the verses she was looking for. “Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says, ‘There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.’f”
Looking up at Rachel, Mom asked, “Do you know what that means?”
Rachel answered, “I think so.”
“Your dad and I made a decision to home school you because we thought it was the best with all our moving around for Dad’s job. We didn’t want you to have to move from school to school all the time. But you have to help us make the most of home schooling by making the best use of your time.”
Rachel nodded to show she was listening.
“As the Bible says, ‘There’s a time for every activity under heaven.’ There’s a time to do schoolwork and there’s even a time for daydreaming and enjoying the outdoors.” Mom explained. “God would have even children be good stewards of the time He gave them. Watching things outside while you’re supposed to be doing your math is not a good use of your time.”
Then, putting her face close to Rachel’s, grabbing a hold of Rachel’s chin and looking her right in the eye, Mom said, “I’ll make a deal with you.”
“What’s that?” Rachel wanted to know.
“If you can work hard on your math for the next thirty minutes while I finish cleaning up the kitchen, I’ll let you do the rest of your schoolwork outside. How does that sound?”
Smiling, Rachel said, “Okay, mom, I’m going to finish this whole page of math in the next half hour. I bet I’ll even be done with it before you’re done in the kitchen.”
“We’ll see about that! Let’s race, but I want you to do these problems correctly. That’s more important than doing them fast. Even if it takes you the whole thirty minutes, just keep working on it until it’s done.”
“Okay,” Rachel said nodding her head. “Ready?”
“On your mark, get set, go.” Mom jumped up to go and make good use of her own time.
© Ruth O’Neil
Ruth O’Neil is a freelance writer from Lynchburg, Virginia.