“…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
A review of Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed, by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore, and Janelle Bradshaw.
This practical book is just as delightful and solidly biblical as everything else I have read by Carolyn Mahaney. She and her daughters declare their purpose in the book’s introduction:
“…We have also learned from God’s Word that it is possible to deal with life’s demands without becoming overwhelmed, miserable, and exhausted. We can surmount the numerous responsibilities that threaten to wear us down. More than that, we can actually do all that God has called us to do.”
It sounds incredible, but they really do lay out a plan that will enable us to peacefully accomplish all that God has ordained for us to do. The Mahaney ladies start with Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Building on the message of these verses, they encourage us “to live like we shop – carefully.”
“We’re to approach life the same way we go after bargains. We need to discern the best opportunities life has to offer. Then we must seize these opportunities and make them our highest priorities. Every day presents us with countless options for how to spend our time. However, only some are truly great deals. Only a few things are really important.
“Our job is to figure out what these prime deals are – these key opportunities – and devote all our time and energy to them. This means choosing not to do a thousand other things. It means saying no to a lot of enticing options.”
After a brief discussion of the many seasons of a woman’s life, the authors go on to outline five main tips to help us move beyond “just looking” as we live our lives.
- Rise early. (Sounds scary, but they make a very convincing case for their recommendation, and even address the objections of those who insist they are not a “morning person.” I have seen the proof of this tip in my own life over the years. This early hour helps facilitate a time of Bible reading and prayer each day, and also allows you to serve your husband and children more effectively.)
- Sit still. Make time in God’s Word and prayer a priority. Don’t think you can live life without the sustenance of this communion with Him. Suggestions are given for getting started and for being creative during the season when infants and small children make this especially challenging.
- Sit and plan. This tip recommends taking a personal retreat at regular intervals. The purpose is not “me time,” but a time for study, prayer, and evaluation. It might be an hour or two alone on a park bench or an overnight stay in a plush hotel. The point is simply to have time alone for reviewing priorities, evaluating how you are doing, and pinpointing areas that need to change. A “Sit-and-Plan Strategy” is even offered as one way to approach this time.
This is the tip that has influenced my life the most, aiding me in regularly stopping to evaluate the direction my life is going. (A side benefit of reading this book grew from the Mahaneys’ description of their family vacation “Outlet Day.” We thought this outing sounded so fun, that it has become an annual tradition with all my daughters and daughters-in-law. We look forward each year to a weekend at the beach, with an Outlet Day as part of the activities!)
- Consider people. This tip focuses on being more intentional and purposeful in our relationships, and offers counsel on friends to choose and friends to leave.
- Plan to depend. Fifteen minutes of planning at the outset of each day will help us use time most wisely and avoid procrastination. The book comes to a close with a discussion of formal and informal planning systems, advice for dealing with interruptions (or “sovereign deliveries,” as they label them), a reminder that we can do nothing outside of our complete dependence on God, and a call to use the time God has given us in a way that will bring His “well done” when we stand before Him and give an account for the way we have lived our lives.
I read this book for the first time when it first came out in 2007. I’ve re-read it again since then, and writing this review has me all revved up to re-read it again! I’ve not engaged in a full-fledged personal retreat for quite awhile. It’s time to reevaluate as I enter a new, done-with-homeschooling stage of my life.
I can’t imagine a woman who would not benefit in some way from reading this book. It’s an easy 94-page read with life-changing potential!
Enter our giveaway of Shopping for Time by sharing one time-saving tip in the comment section. You can enter as many times as you would like by offering separate time-saving tips in separate comments. We will randomly select a winner on July 20!