Thursday, September 03, 2009

Quiet Time with Small Children

A sweet friend emailed me today and said it had been a long time since she'd had a quiet time, especially since the birth of her baby. She was asking my advice on how to start spending time in God's Word again. I thought I'd share my answer here because I know that the two of us aren't the only moms of small children struggling to find quite time with God in the midst of dirty diapers, cranky babies, and toddlers who don't stop talking from sun-up to sun-down. I surely don't have all the answers, but in the almost 4 years I've been a mom of small kids, I've learned some things from other moms, more seasoned moms, and from my own struggles...

"Well, I'll tell you that I don't have a quiet time every day. While that's my goal, it doesn't happen. I go through periods where I do pretty well, but I just can't seem to discipline myself enough yet where it happens every day. BUT, I have been in the Word more lately, which is a good thing. It always helps if I'm a part of a study with other people because it forces me to get my work done by the next week! I lack seriously in the self-control and discipline areas.

If you're like me, you struggle with an "all or nothing" kind of personality sometimes. It can be so detrimental to our walk with God. Let me tell you NOT to start one of those Bible in a year things. I tried to do that recently and am already behind, so that's just not gonna work right now; it just makes me feel guilty and I don't need anymore of that. While I wish I could read the Bible in a year, and hope to do so regularly just as a part of my everyday life, it's not happening right now. Since Levi got up at 6:15 this morning, every plan I had to get up early and get my quiet time done before the kids got up just went out the window. I recently started getting up an hour or two earlier than normal, and about 9 times out of 10 Levi has been up within 15 minutes of my new wake time. It's very frustrating. And the middle of the day for me isn't much easier a lot of days. Caleb stopped napping when he was 2 1/2, so there hasn't been a break in the middle of the day in a long time. Now that he's older, he can entertain himself for a while, so sometimes I can grab a little time to do my Bible study then, but it never goes uninterrupted. That's just life with little kids!

I think you and I might have to let go of the "quiet" in quiet time for a while. There's just so little time for quiet in my day, and when Justin gets home, I need to spend that time with him. A lot of times I will stay up after he goes to bed and do my Bible study, but we don't like going to bed at different times, so that's not a good option most of the time.

So, here's my advice:

1) Pick a book of the Bible. Any one. Don't stress...pray about it and see where God leads you. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." ~Psalm 119:11

2) Don't set a goal to read the whole thing by a certain date, just read some each day.

3) If you can find 5-30 minutes of retreat in your day, GREAT! If not, then just be in His Word. Read to your kid(s) as you're playing or eating or whatever. Listen to the Bible on the Internet or on CD as you go about your day. God understands our situations as moms of small children, and He wants us in His Word. That's what He wants. He doesn't want us to be legalistic about trying to have 30 minutes or an hour of quiet time like we did before kids. That is not the season we're in, so let's stop beating ourselves up about it. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." ~Hebrews 4:12

4)Just read His Word. That's it. Don't plan to read 3 chapters a day or 10 verses or whatever. Just start reading. When something strikes you, stop. Meditate on it. Repeat it. Write it down and memorize it if that would help. Think about it. Pray it back to Him. "Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." ~2 Tim. 2:7

5) Read a little more the next day or later the same day.

6) Don't let Satan make you feel like a failure because you made a plan and fell through with it. Just pick it back up and keep going. God desires for us to be in His Word to know Him and be able to share what we know with others. It's for our encouragement and benefit. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." ~2 Tim. 3:16-17

7) Pray and ask God to help you find time in your day to be quiet before Him.

8) Don't make reading the Bible another box to be checked off on a to-do list. Ask God to help you fall in love with His Word and crave it like you do food. I want to be able to say each day, "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word...Your statues are my delight; they are my counselors." ~Psalm 119: 16, 24

9) "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. " ~ 1Thes. 5:12-18. This is the legacy we want to leave our children.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers. ~Psalm 1:1-3

Now I'm off to take my own advice...

Anyone out there have any more/different advice about how to stay in God's Word with little ones around?


The Johnsons said...

I don't have any advice on this because I am so there right now. I just wanted to say thanks for your post and encouragement! And the Psalm 119 verse - that's going on my bathroom mirror. Exactly what I need to be reminded of.

Melanie said...

Thank you. I truly mean it when I say I read this at the PERFECT moment. I tend to be "all or nothing" and it doesn't work, ever. THis was inspiring and motivating.

Dave and Lisa said...

Thank you again so much, Jenn. I am thankful that you -- along with a handful of other dear friends who are generally more gracious towards me than I am towards myself -- have helped me to see that while "all or nothing" does not work, it is quite freeing to realize that SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. With that in mind I am back in the Word regularly again, and it is so good. Thank you for taking the pressure off and helping me to see past my own far-fetched goals to something realistic and helpful. I love this gift that God has given you!

Reflecting Him

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