This year our oldest daughter turned 6. How you may ask; I have no idea. I don’t think I’m the only mom of littles that feels this way but somehow it seems like I should have more to show for the last six years. So, as we moved into 2021 with hopes of there being more freedom of movement than in 2020, I began to try and adjust habits to be more intentionally productive with my days and set better long term and short-term goals. For me this has meant writing down 7-10 things I’d like to get down each day including work/ministry items, house/mom duties, and personal things like time with God, a workout and some reading. I think I’ve always had the list mentally but somehow with each passing year I get more forgetful and so writing it down helps keep me focused on the things that are most important for each day.

Overall, I’d say it’s been very successful, but the point of this post isn’t to give advice on productivity. Quite this opposite, actually. Perhaps I’m older and more tired but the hour and a half of supposed nap/quiet time I thought I was going to have to work that turned into 4 potty accidents, stripping bedlinens, cleaning pants, an extra load of laundry, and zero napping is wearing me out this week. So, a little later while cleaning up the bowl of water our 3-year-old dumped on the floor and the kitchen cabinets of our rented house while “helping” me wash the dishes I was reminded in what and where the last 6 years of my life have gone. I flashed back to the many, many times I simply laid 2 or 3 towels on the kitchen floor around our Montessori stool so our oldest could also “help” me wash the dishes. To the times like yesterday when setting them up to paint gave me 20-30 minutes of peace to make cookies for my husband to take to a church prayer meeting. But also resulted in a naked painted 3-year-old who needed a shower and 20 minutes of cleaning up spilled paint containers and a stained dress since the paints weren’t as “washable” as I thought. Oops. But as much as I’ve had to pray for patience the last few days and ask forgiveness of God and my daughters for getting easily frustrated, I’ve also remembered what I’ve been learning about God reading through the Old Testament.

A nation state people in 1 Samuel who are basically living in anarchy and each one doing what they want and have just done what could be viewed as the ultimate rejection by asking the prophet Samuel for God, their King, to send them a king! My response, and I don’t think I’d be the only one would probably have been frustration, anger, defeat. But God, God’s response in 1 Samuel 12:22 was the following. “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” The text still says that he is pleased to have made them his people. What amazing love, compassion, and mercy!

I was challenged recently to make sure as I read God’s word, to look for what it says about Him, more than what it says about me and what I should do. And this picture is one that has been sticking out to me. I know it’s an imperfect analogy, but I read about how much the Israelites turned away and I think I’d want to turn my back on them until I think about my role as a parent and my relationship with my children and suddenly seeing God as father, as a parent, the compassion, love, mercy, delight in spite of all makes a lot more sense. As I sit here writing this our adorable little stubborn whirlwind darling 3-year-old who I have been fighting with all week has finally let herself succumb to the sleep she so desperately needs curled up beside me. And I know I don’t want to blink and have her also be 6 and these sweet moments will be fewer and farther between. So, I let her sleep while I write even though it’s 4:50 pm and this means our bedtime struggles will continue another night and some of my to-do list will get pushed off till tomorrow. The next 6 years might fly by just as fast as the last 6 and my to-do lists might not get down as fast as I want them to but my prayer is the hours spent in training and discipleship (and cleaning up lakes and rivers in our kitchen) will bear fruit greater than any to-do list will ever bring me.

Jessica is Co-Site Director serving alongside her husband Sam Olmedo in Monterrey Mexico. Jessica is a well-established leader in Mexico for short-term mission trips and has a great ministry to Mexicans. She has been administrating mission trips for TIME for over 10 years.