I personally know that it is all too easy to get tied up in the busyness of parenting or to get distracted by the state of the house or the work that needs to be done and then we take our eyes off Jesus. It is in these busy times that we, as Christians often find ourselves saying ‘Lord where are you?, I feel alone, you said you’d never leave me’. Logically we know that He never leaves our side, the bible reassures us through all its promises that God will never forsake us or leave us. But our hearts yearn for Him and we feel deserted and alone in the stresses of parenting.
Of course what has happened is the reverse of what we imagined. The truth is that we forgot Him. Our God is not a demanding or tyrannical God, all He asks is that we have a relationship with Him, he loves to spend time with us, to chat, to listen and to know our desires, frustrations and joys. We allowed ourselves to just look inwards and to be absorbed by the busyness of everyday life.
Having travelled this rocky road for quite some years now I thought I’d share with you the ways I found to ensure that I’m still spending time with God even when the children are under foot or the washing is pouring out the machine! I’ve put them under rough age brackets but actually many go through the ages so take a peek at them all.
When you have a young baby in the house
I know that the thing you most want to do is sleep and that is fine, go ahead and do that but what about putting on some headphones and listening to some worship music or a Christian podcast as you fall off to sleep?
Or how about using those precious feeding times to both bond with your baby and with God. My children had a mixture of breast and bottle and both worked for this, I would close my eyes for a few moments (especially easy once breastfeeding is established) and would be in that wonderful halfway place, not really awake and not asleep but just sharing with God my gratitude for my babe and the things that He had provided. Gratitude really works, even when your nipples hurt and you feel as if your life is falling apart it feels much better after you have looked for the Grace in small things and appreciated what you have. I have become an expert at playing the Pollyanna game.
Remember that in everything you do you should be doing it to the glory of God. When the twins were babies I read Barefoot in the Kitchen by Alie Stibbe and I found this very helpful, that principle that when I cook, clean and wash I am doing a Christ given job and therefore I must do it to my best. Keeping that awareness is a transforming thing.
Finding time with an older baby/toddler
That tricky stage where you might not be quite as tired because babe (hopefully) at least sleeps a bit but now they are on the move and you are exhausted and they are into everything. I had an agreement with my husband that when he got home I would just disappear out the door for a walk for just 15 minute and this would clear my head and give me clear perspective.
I also started to read the bible in a year and this would mean I set my alarm 20 minutes early each morning and spent that time with God, praying, chatting and reading. I found it really effective when I used to drop to my knees by the side of my bed and bow in full submission.
If I allowed my babes to nap at home in the afternoon I know that I ran around like a headless chicken and I’d do as much household chores as I could and then when they would wake I was grumpy as I had not had any rest or renewing. I’d advise you at least once a week to pop your baby in the buggy and go for a mammoth walk. Take some music to listen to as you walk, listen to the Lord, chat to Him and really enjoy His presence as you push your sleeping babe.
Children of school age
This is where I am now, all three of my children are in full-time school and I luckily was able to move from my 4 day a week job to working freelance and being at home. Even with time on your hands it is no easier to make sure you are giving God your full attention. You have to be purposeful I find.
Currently I make time to read my bible each day and I do this at the kitchen table straight after I see the kids off to school. I also make sure I have little reminders in lots of places so that if I have a free few minutes I spend it with God instead of checking FB. I have a daily thought on my windowsill in the kitchen which takes seconds to read but then it says in my head and allows the conversation with God to open and progress as I cook our family dinner.
I also have a daily readings book in the bathroom and yes I do grab this when I go to the loo, it takes me about 2 minutes to read the one page and again helps me to be closer to God. I’m also reading a Christian book at the moment (How to have a Mary heart in a Martha world in case you are interested) and I might just grab 15 minutes with that before I fall asleep at night.
Probably one of my favourite times of day is when I go to pick the kids up from school. I have to drive because of where we live and each day I arrive 15/20 minutes before pick-up and have a read of the magazines that I keep in the car. I get Christianity and Woman Alive magazines each month and I enjoy reading those and being encouraged and challenged by how God is working in the lives of others.
The last thing I would say is not to forget to bring your older children into your times with God. I love lying in bed with my girls and we take turns to pray, saying sorry, thank you and please help. It is such a privilege to hear their innocent requests and know how deeply they are thinking. Get the kids to take turns to say grace at the table, ask them at dinner time what was their best and worst parts of their day and then use that to talk about how our Lord works and pray together. You know what they say ‘a family that prays together, stays together.
Of course I am incredibly lucky now in that I live in a Christian prayer and conference centre and I have 220 acres of amazing God-inspired grounds to walk, prayer meetings I can attend every day, worship sessions three times a week and about 80 committed Christians to share my prayers with, I won’t lie to you this does help. But equally I’ve had the last ten years of being a parent without that and with working and it is therefore possible to still find time for God every day.
I pray you find what works for you, please do leave a comment if you have something different you do and let’s encourage each other. Mich x
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