Alone Time. Quiet Time. Me Time. On Time.
These phrases in my vocabulary have been replaced with things like Bed Time, Bath Time, No Time and Time Out.
A friend of mine recently posted “Nap Time = God’s Grace to Mothers”.
These days, the most time I get to myself is probably in the bathroom and even that isn’t a guarantee. When Nature calls she seems to beckon an audience as well, be it a child or a dog or all of the above. I know you moms out there feel me because I hear you and your little audience in the stalls next to me.
The story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the lake in Luke 8 so resonates with The Mom in me. Jesus was tired, as He should be from all the walking and preaching and loving He was doing, so he lay down for a nap. But while He was asleep a storm came upon them and the disciples freaked. “They rushed over and woke him up. ‘Master, Master, we are sinking!’ they screamed.” (Luke 8:24)
Of course, Jesus was not concerned. He simply told the wind and waves to “quiet down” and they did. Then turning to the disciples said, “Where is your faith?” (vs. 25)
I try to say things like that to my kids, only it’s more like, where is your head?
Needless to say, Alone Time with anyone (including myself) became a rare commodity once I became a mother. As I’ve recently confessed, time alone with my husband is hard to come by in this season of life and the truth is, so is my time alone with Jesus.
Oh how I used to spend an easy hour with the Savior and Lover of my soul… Early in the morning while the world was still. Hot cup of coffee. Comfy reading chair. I’d pray, journal, cry a little. It was cozy and intimate and special.
Then came Motherhood.
Pulling all-nighter after all-nighter with a newborn makes it rather difficult to rise before dawn to spend an hour in prayer and Bible study. Even through the toddler and school-aged years it seems there either aren’t enough hours in the day or not enough fuel in my tank to make it happen. Like Jesus in the boat, I’m tired and I want a nap.
The fact that I struggled with this embarrassed me. Good Christian moms spend at least an hour a day in prayer for their children, don’t they? I felt so incredibly guilty, I dare not share this secret with anyone.
I thought I HAD to be alone for my quiet time, in that special place. The Rule Follower in me wanted to force it to happen “like it’s supposed to.” The idea of spending a mere five minutes reading and praying left me feeling ashamed. I felt Jesus was disappointed with me, that I wasn’t juggling all the Pins of Motherhood well enough if I couldn’t even keep my scheduled time with The Savior Who Died for Me. I felt I was failing as a Christian and a mother.
But The Holy Spirit knew my secret.
“Do you think God is upset with you or do you think The Creator of the Universe might possibly understand the season you’re in? Don’t you see? Even Jesus’ relationship with The Father changed when He left heaven to spend 33 years on earth. It’s okay that your time with Me looks different. I want it to.”
“This is a new season with a new way.”
Author, 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom
Girls, by God’s grace The Spirit has spoken truth to my heart and removed my guilt! Though I’m still a work in progress, these truths have liberated me more than I can say—I’m finally out of the box! (Or at least I’m starting the climb.)
If you’re struggling like I was, I pray this post will bring comfort and freedom to your heart as well. We have more in common with Jesus than we think…
Jesus’ time with The Father changed, so it’s okay if mine does, too. Jesus, once by His Father’s side, face to face, walking and talking with Him—One with Him—willingly gave up that intimacy to become a man and live amongst God’s children.
“Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God.”
~ John 1:1 (Living)
“I and The Father are one.”
Talk about a change! Jesus gave up the best seat in the house for two reasons:
1—His love for The Father
“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of Your Son so that He can give the glory back to You.”
2—His love for us
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love.”
~ John 15:9
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
~ John 15:13
If Jesus could give up the comfort of Heaven and change His ways, then I can do no less. Remember, Jesus said, “A slave isn’t greater than his master!” (John 15:20). I must embrace this season and all its change if I want to be effective.
Imagine if Jesus had tried to live on earth as He did in heaven, demanding a crown and a throne with angels flanking every side. He didn’t! Rather, He changed and became like us in order to reach us, because He loves us.
“Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
I love my children, so I will change my ways, too. I will become like them with a childlike spirit and faith so that I may reach them with the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus shared His relationship with The Father, with His children. Jesus openly showed His disciples and everyone around Him how to love and honor The Father.
“Jesus said, ‘Pray along these lines: Our Father in heaven, we honor Your Holy Name. We ask that Your kingdom will come now. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food again today, as usual, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen.’”
~ Matthew 6:9-13
“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and looked up into the sky and gave thanks…”
~ Luke 9:16
“I am the Agent of my Father in everything…”
~ Luke 10:22
I get to share my relationship with Jesus—and my husband—with my kids. My love for both God and my kids’ earthly father should be an open book because my children are watching me, learning how to love them, too. I must model honor and respect for both Jesus and my husband if I expect my kids to do the same. Whether I like it or not, they do as I do, not as I say.
“I will be careful to lead a blameless life…I will walk in my house with blameless heart.”
~ Psalm 101:2
“You must be an example to them of good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect your love of the truth and the fact that you are dead earnest about it.”
Jesus was rarely alone with The Father and that was a good thing. Although Jesus “often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer,” (Luke 5:16), He was constantly with His disciples, giving them a living example to follow because He knew He wouldn’t always be with them. My kids are my disciples and I will not always be with them, either. They are following in my footsteps today—literally! (Enter the bathroom audience, stage left.) Being with me 24-7, I realize they are either learning or not learning how to love Jesus, to serve Him and include Him in their day, their life.
“…He took Peter, James, and John with Him into the hills to pray.”
“Then, accompanied by the disciples, He left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives…He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed…”
“…Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
~ John 15:15b
There’s many a time this blog is written with a toddler in my lap, reaching for the keys as I type one-handed. (As I type this very sentence there’s a two year old to my immediate right, beating the dog with a chocolate bunny-on-a-stick and shouting, “No! No! Ma’am!” How’s that for solitude and focus?)
Since scripture reveals Jesus was rarely alone, away from his disciples, I realize there must be a happy medium for me as well. I can either find a way to be flexible in my faith walk OR let my kids become an excuse to put it away completely. (Sorry Jesus, see ya after graduation!)
The truth is there will always be an excuse not to do it.
“Parenthood is quite a long word. I expect it contains the rest of my life.”
~Karen Scott Boates
I don’t have to keep my Quiet Time “quiet.” What used to be an hour of solitude and prayer has become a 10-minute devotional read—if I’m able to rise before the clan, because I’m never guaranteed that much time alone in the mornings. I’m not even guaranteed a shower every day. (I KNOW I’m not alone on this one—just yesterday a fellow mom at Walmart testified to this with me!)
If that quick time alone with Jesus (or my shower) doesn’t happen, I don’t fret. I simply throw on a hat and find another way to spend time with Him that also includes my children. I’ve adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. Rather than try to keep them out, I invite them in.
“But Jesus called the children to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
“Then Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”
One trick I’ve recently discovered is reading the kids a quick children’s devotional while they are in the tub. It’s not uncommon for me to read to them while they splash, but this way we all spend time in God’s Word. I am using the book Momma used with my brother and me, “The One Year Devotional for Kids.” It has daily readings that include scripture, a short story and discussion questions.
Before my kids were old enough for this, I would bring music to the tub. I didn’t realize this could be considered “quiet time,” but now I see that it is. A “Quite Time” is merely a focused, intentional time with Jesus—but it doesn’t have to be quiet! Turn on your favorite worship music or find a fun kids worship cd. Pandora also has kids’ worship stations.
Physical and spiritual cleansing can happen simultaneously!
If I abide in Him, He will abide in me.
“Abide in Me, and I in you.”
Here’s the kicker. What I thought would be a lesson on time management and prioritizing has actually been a spiritual growth spurt in abiding.
The lump sum of it all is this: learning what it means to abide in Him, finding practical ways to abide, and understanding how He abides in me.
“Abide” literally means to remain, continue, or stay. God is able to remain with us continually (omnipotent), stay beside us throughout our day (omnipresent), and be part of each moment and breath (omniscient). This is the very nature of who He is and how He abides in us.
I on the other hand, must be intentional if I want to abide in Him. My nature is to abide in myself, so each day I must choose to mindfully walk with Jesus and listen for His voice. It takes a purposeful attitude and deliberate action, but He gives me the power to do both.
“Then Jesus said, ’Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!’”
Abiding happens when I “keep close” to Jesus in my actions and thoughts. When the kids and I sing along to our favorite Veggietales worship cd we are abiding in Him. When we spend a quick second reading a scripture I’ve strategically plastered around the house, we are abiding in Him. When we turn on Christian radio outside while we play or Pandora on my phone as we clean, cook, etc., we are abiding in Him.
“Jesus said, ‘If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this…’”
So Jesus, You mean I can actually bring glory to God by exchanging soothing, quiet solitude for loud, noisy, interrupted time with You?
Sister-Moms, We Can Do This! Contrary to the way our legalistic, fleshly minds tend to think, God is not out to make life harder than it naturally is. He loves us and is on our side!
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Just like my Quite Time doesn’t have to be “quiet”, Family Devotion Time doesn’t have to be either. That June Cleaver, black-and-white portrait painted in my head is just not going down in this house. You know, the one where all the children are clean and dressed, seated mannerly around the dinner table as Father calmly reads The Word aloud?
If that’s not likely in your house either, it’s okay! God is more pleased with joyful, heartfelt noise than heartless, perfect somberness.
“Make a joyful shout to The Lord…serve The Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”
“Therefore The Lord said, ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me…’”
So bang the pots and clang the pans! Swing from the monkey bars and splash in the tub! Be mindful of Jesus and include Him in whatever you do! What matters is not that it’s perfect, just that it happens.
“The thing that shapes them more deeply is that you and I pursue God in the everyday of living—that our spiritual lives become the backdrop for their childhood.”
~ Angela Thomas
Remember my life motto for this season?—Just go with it. I am still learning to do this. On those rare occasions when that calm, quiet morning with Jesus does happen, I relish in it. It is sweet and it deepens my love for Him even more, just like a rare Date Night does with my husband.
The key is to be okay either way, to enjoy whatever I get. Like I tell my kids, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. I’m finding time together can be just as rewarding as time alone. As the song says, “The more we get together the happier we’ll be.” Indeed.
“What will your children remember? Moments spent listening, talking, playing, and sharing together may be the most important times of all.”
“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.”
~ Samuel Johnson
Sometimes I refer to my children as “Gift” and “Reward” because that is what they are! (Psalm 127:3) And, sometimes I need that reminder. I have been entrusted with two little “vacant souls,” to teach and lead in the ways of The Lord. I want to do my very best in this, even in the midst of chaos and noise. I know I will never be a perfect parent, but if I abide in Jesus and He abides in me, they will see Him in me and my prayers for them will be answered.
Look at the last part of John 15:7 again. “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
My wish is that my children will love Jesus even more than I love Him. That they know the joy of His salvation, hear His call to service and find His plan for their lives. That they boldly proclaim The Truth and are a blessing to their generation.
If you have the same wish for your children, won’t you pray this prayer with me?
Lord Jesus, I want to intentionally share You with my children, regardless of what we are doing or where we are at. I want them to be able to recognize You when I’m not around to point You out. And that they not only recognize You, but feel comfortable with You, too. If this desire of mine can be fulfilled by abiding in You—Lord, help me abide! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“O God, You have given me a vacant soul, an untaught conscience, a life of clay. Put Your big hands around mine and guide my hands so that every time I make a mark on this life, it will be Your mark.”