Marble Jars: Treasure Your Time

Marble Jars

Thanksgiving was my first holiday in Africa far from home and family. It’s not celebrated here. I had a difficult time making it feel like Thanksgiving without the emotional connections I had to certain traditions–that either required more or certain people or certain foods I couldn’t get here–like turkey. Ever since then I’ve thought about traditions–their importance, as well as what traditions I could establish for our own family. Certain traditions wouldn’t work here; I would have to make my own.

Then I read a book by Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions. I was again impressed with the value of traditions and determined again to plan some lasting traditions for our family.

Our newest traditional idea came from a pastor friend in the States. While visiting his office, Seth noticed jars full of marbles on a high shelf. When asked what they were, our friend explained, “I have one jar for each of my children, with one marble inside for each month of their life from birth to 18 years old. Every month I take out one marble from each jar and pray for that child. The jars are a visible reminder of how much time I have left with my children.”

We liked the idea so much that it was one of the first changes to our house when returning to Africa. We placed our jars in a very visible place in our house, and we added a jar for our marriage. Every month we add one marble to our jar to signify how much time we’ve invested in our marriage, and every month we remove one marble from each of the children’s jars to show that our time with them is fleeting and should be treasured.


We set up the jars with the kids’ help, and Seth and I were shocked at how much time with Caleb had already passed for us–1/3 of our time with him is gone! Often as I pass the jars in such a noticeable place, I have a visible reminder that this day counts; and that my words, actions, plans, and prayers for my children on this day are important!


We just performed the Marble Removal Ceremony for the second time since beginning this new tradition. After the kids were in bed, Seth and I took out a marble from each child’s jar and prayed for that child, begging God to bless them, call them, cause them to prize Christ more than anything or anyone, and to keep them safe from the many spiritual dangers around them.

There is a lot of nostalgia connected to this tradition. As I remove that marble, I remember…cherish…treasure the time that I had that month with each child; and I feel humbled and convicted about the time I have left. Oh, God, make me worthy of this incredible, challenging calling of motherhood! I fall on my knees in awe of God’s goodness to me and in humility and hope for the future.

And I praise. I thank God for time–the time I’ve been given with these precious children, and the time I have left with them.


Creative K Kids

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and homeschooling mother of five children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
This entry was posted in Thankful Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Marble Jars: Treasure Your Time

  1. Lois Ruley says:

    What a very special tradition you are observing ~~ May God continue to bless you as you rear your sweet children to Love God with all their hearts ~~ Praying for you today~

  2. ann bedford says:

    What a wonderful tradition.

  3. This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I kind-of want to start this, but I don’t want to see Kaylin’s jar. I think I would be too sad!

  4. Christie says:

    Wonderful! So powerful.

  5. Rhonda Hester says:

    I love this idea! I’m going to see if I can find all the supplies needed at our small Walmart (I don’t know if I can get the marbles here.) and do this next week and place them on top of our bookshelves.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Amy says:

      Oh, good, I’m glad! We are really loving this tradition. We found the marbles at our town’s sorta-kinda-version of a dollar store. They were kids’ toy sets. I used canning jars, and a bit of ribbon with homemade name tags. I’m sure you’ll be better at making them pretty than I!

  6. Rachel says:

    Oh, Amy… thank you for this beautiful tradition of prayer and thankfulness for the time God gives us with our children… Like Tammy I cannot help but think how hard it will be to see how little the amount of marbles left in my older three’s jars. I was weeping reading this post and then Havalah interupted to show me a little lamb toy someone had covered in my lipgloss… sigh… even amid tears their is laughter 🙂 Thank you so much!

    • Amy says:

      How funny about the interruption! Just when you feel emotionally attached, reality hits! Rachel, I look up to you so much! Thank you for your example of loving motherhood.

      • Rachel says:

        That is waaayyyy too kind a statement to make to this struggling Momma… to God be the glory He certainly humbles me with my failure and causes me to pray that He will make me a reflection of His awesome love… LoL 🙂
        Amy, I so look up to you, sweet Wife and Momma, for your loving and self-sacrificing service to our Lord as a Missionary and as you do what already calls you to self-sacrifice in just being Wife and Mommy! Every time I read your blog posts I think How does she get all of that done! Our God powerfully fuel your heart and life, Sweet Sister!

  7. Tammy says:

    oh my what a wonderful tradition to start. I love this idea and what a special time to spend with God. Especially when it comes to praying for your children. My son is grown and gone and I wish I had known about this then.

  8. Pingback: Learning and Growing | Ita Vita

  9. Shirley Wood says:

    This is such a great idea and wonderful daily reminder to pray for our children. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Zan Turner says:

    Thank you for that post, Amy! Kids grow up way too fast!

  11. I linked it up to the Bloggers Brags Board (I had already done it to my personal boards) It’s a must-read, and I’m glad you got it linked up!

  12. Pingback: The Family Hymn-Sing: Honoring God at Our Table | Ita Vita

  13. Love that idea. If I were a pinterest person, I’d pin this one. I think I’ll make some, too!

  14. Pingback: Evaluating 2013 Goals | Ita Vita

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