Having quiet time with Jesus.
I used to think “once I have kids and I am a stay at home mom I will have time. Then it will be easy….”
Then I had kids. Wow. Was I wrong! hahahahahah!!!
Oh kids. I mean, I am at home often, but the schedule… Ummm….. did I say schedule? Wait what is that again?? Wait… what was I just saying?… hold on I need to take care of the spilled milk and the screaming baby and the toddler eating the cereal off the floor.
Yep, quiet time with Jesus got even harder! How am I supposed to spend time with the Lord when everything changes and everybody needs me and “I’ll get to it later” turns into, well the day is over… I need to go to bed so I will have the energy to do this all over again.
Every day I’m bombarded with how important my children are. And don’t I know it! They mean the world to me. But between social media and well-intentioned comments, I start believing that I need to make every moment count. They’re only young once after all. Besides, they all need to grow up to be astronauts and if they aren’t it’s because I didn’t spend an hour with them each individually every day nurturing confidence and expelling fears, or they weren’t in every sport, or I looked at my phone one too many times during the day.
I can reach near panic mode when I feel like I’m missing the boat here or there with things I haven’t been living up to for my children.
Often, I felt that I needed to fill all of the moments in the day with meaningful experiences, and always put my kids first. Because after all, they will grow up and this time is precious. And when they are gone I will miss these years. All of this is the truth.
So, when they ask if I will read to them I say yes, I take them to the library, to the park, to play dates, to the bakery, we make cookies, we finger paint, I teach them their numbers and ABC’s, and chores. And then somewhere in there I need to find time to keep up the house, exercise, do my job and love my Husband.
But all these things, while they are well intentioned and good. And not at all bad on their own, pushed God to a lower rank in my life.
Sometimes they push my husband to a lower rank.
Putting my kids first was never on the forefront of my mind. It happens in all well-intentioned ways. It just creeps in and takes over without my knowledge.
It is very prevalent in our society today. We feel so much pressure to be everything to our kids. And being a mom can become my sole, or main, identity without my really even realizing it.
Even though all of the things I was doing, with and for my kids, are good on their own, they are not good when they come at the cost of not having time for my marriage.
And they become especially not good when they come at the cost of not having time for the Lord.
They are not good, when they become my idol.
Those first months in Fergus when Daniel started seminary were hard. The summer started out hard. (You can read about that in this blog post) And then there were other circumstances that made it really hard, and I wondered if things would work out, are we going to be able to make it here. We have no jobs, and 4 little kids.
Nothing like hardship to remind you how much you need Jesus.
At this point in time I knew I needed to spend some quality time in prayer and in the Word. But I was having trouble because I didn’t know when to spend time with the Lord. I didn’t know when or how I was going to pour out my heart to Him like I needed to and be fed by the Word. I tried getting up early in the mornings. I hear wonderful things about the dark quiet before your kids get up, you can get a bit of time before the crazy of the day starts. So, one morning I tried it. I set my alarm for the wee hours of the morning. When that puppy went off I was so tired (I also had a newborn at this point: Silas). But I did it! I actually succeeded in getting up early! My plan was working!!
And then you can guess what happened… My kids must have got the memo…It’s like their internal clocks were set to my body motion. They got up with me… yeah….
Then I tried again the next morning…. Yep… same thing….
So, the next morning after everyone was fed, changed and Daniel had left for school. I decided to try a new tactic.
I said “Boys, I need to spend some time with the Lord. You are going down stairs and play until this timer goes off. And I don’t want you to come up unless it’s a dire emergency!” They looked at me with their surprised little faces. “Ok, Mom.” Then they headed down stairs. Two minutes later, “Mom! Mom!” Me “Nope, timer isn’t done.” A few minutes later. “MOM!” Me “Did you hear the timer? Go back downstairs.” This happened a few more times. And then they finally started playing. And I got my time with the Lord.
I started doing this somewhat regularly, maybe not every day, but often. And it became part of our routine for that time in my life. It was a wonderful time, where I wasn’t incredibly distracted and I could actually pray and read in some “quiet”. It breathed new life into my relationship with the Lord. It reminded me that He is my friend and my Father. That He is close to me and I am the one who wanders far.
It also reminded me that He comes first.
Taking time away from my kids, and spending that time with the Lord, told my children that He comes first and not them. It is not ignoring my children. It is modeling truth for them.
That alone time is something that I forget is so important to live out and be an example in. I want them to put God first in their lives. What we put first trickles down into the rest of our lives. When God is first they will have the courage to say “no” when they need to, to stand up for someone when its important, to put others before themselves, to shine in the dark places. Not every time. Not all the time. As humans, my children will struggle in this as well. But giving them a firm foundation will help them to recover from their mistakes, from their shame. As the Word trains their hearts and minds the understanding, reasoning, courage and forgiveness of the Lord will grow inside them.
I want them to know that God’s Word will feed their soul. I want them to know that prayer is a life line, and God really does meet you there. I want them to know that you need to plug into church, the body of Christ, even though you may be bored there, or feel disconnected, or even when they hurt you. I want them to know that the church is for them, that it is their community.
I want them to know that the most important thing is not ourselves, but glorifying God.
If God is first the other things will fall into place.
If I teach them to put themselves first, I am setting them up for failure. I am teaching them that they matter more than anything else or maybe even anyone else.
I am a firm believer that God should come first, then your husband/marriage and then the kids.
Ultimately when I am filled up from spending time with the Lord, it gives me what I need to pour out to the other incredibly important things in my life. My husband, and my children.
And when I’m putting my husband and my marriage first, when we are a team, we are able to love and pour into our children so much more. We have more fun, more patience, and ultimately more love all around.
Now it’s a few years since this time, and each year it has looked a little different, with boys starting school, work and schedule changes here and there. Believe me it’s always a work in progress. I don’t do it perfect, I slide back and still wrestle with my sin in this area. But I know that the Lord needs to come first. And being aware of that has made all the difference.
1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God