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It started with a whisper...

They were right.  Being a mother of two is vastly different than being a mother of one.  I can also see how once you get over that hurdle, the concept of adding a third or even a fourth seems easy-peasy.  Yes, I am nine weeks out from having a baby and I'm already talking about more.  You can't help what you're made for.

Tonight I learned yet another valuable lesson.  It's the one you seem to learn over and over again once you have little faces turned mirrors staring your true self right back out to you.  You tell them over and over again to be patient and to not interrupt, to not shove when they're mad, to not yell at the baby.  And then you find yourself doing the exact things you're trying to train out of them.

Pot.  Kettle.  You know.

My Mom likes to tell the story of how when I was a toddler, she found me in my room once, eye to eye with my baby doll, holding her firmly.  My little voice tinged with adult-like force, "You hear me?  You hear me?"  She was amused and chastened all at once.  Where had her little girl learned those words?

I thought of all this tonight, a blur, as I knelt in front of my toddler, touched his knee and said softly (after I had been anything but speaking softly), "Joel?  Can you look at Mommy?"  When he did, a Cinnamon Teddy Graham shoved between his teeth, I told him in all sincerity, "Mommy is sorry for losing her temper.  I wasn't having self-control.  That's Mommy's fault and I'm sorry."  

After we said prayers and just one more prayer and two rousing rounds of, "Jesus Loves Me", I exited the darkened room and thought I had just had one of the best "quiet times" that I've had lately.  Once I had Joel I realized how fleeting my true devotional time was, up until he got older and slept a little later and allowed me to either get up before him to meet with God or to use his nap time for that purpose.  And now with a new baby and night time feedings and the like, making it up before anyone in the house means before 6 a.m.  It's a little hard to focus on anything at that hour (I frequently grab the baby's bottle instead of my coffee), let alone God's truths.

I know for myself and a lot of friends the loss of focused seeking time is frustrating.  We feel the need, more than ever, to be close to God and to hear Him, to seek Him out, to beg for patience.  And we're lost in a whirlwind of midnight feedings and early mornings and tantrums and crumbs everywhere.  We're challenged with how to teach and how to best grow our little people and it's demanding and consuming and at any point when we do get a break we either want to pass out, find something mindless like Pinterest or Facebook, or just plain go to bed when the babies do.  We desire to join Bible studies but then feel frustrated if we can't keep up with the curriculum or show up to class realizing this is the first time we've touched our Bibles.

It feels shameful.

And we tell ourselves and each other that God knows we're mothers and God meets us where we are.  But then we still carry the guilt around that we're not really being the good Christian girls we've always known ourselves to be.  And that means you have a quiet time.  That means you read a book with more than two words and bright pictures on the pages.  It means you dig deeper than the kernel of truth in this afternoon's viewing of a Veggie Tales classic.  How do you dig out the books and the journals and the pens and highlighters when you can't even manage a shower on a daily basis?

My point is this:  God really, really, really does meet us where we are.  And He really, really, really gets that we're wives and mothers and home keepers and sometimes bread winners, too.  I read once that, hey, how did we come up with the concept of "quiet times" and is that a Biblical thing or a "Christian" thing?  I'm not saying dedicated prayer and Bible reading isn't vital.  It so is.  I'm only questioning our methods and what we feel is "good enough" to make the cut at the end of the day.

Last night I kicked on a children's Bible song CD while I bathed the boys.  While Joel was lining up his ducks and whales and blowfishes, in the background were Biblical truths, bouncing off the walls of our  upstairs bath.  And tonight, as I apologized to my son for my behavior and as we held hands and prayed and I transparently asked God to forgive me for my slip-ups and mistakes of the day, and we praised and sang how yes, Jesus loves us... I was struck with the truth that this is maybe exactly how the days are supposed to go.

When we're commanded in Deuteronomy, in the Shema, to "... teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  (Ref: Deuteronomy 6:7, ESV)  Is being part of a women's Bible study and having a dedicated quiet time for yourself important?  Um, yeah.  Totally is.  But what I'm realizing more and more is this: don't miss the daily devotional that opens up when your children's eyes do every day.

Tonight I was reminded that God is still working in me.  I don't have the Fruits of the Spirit perfectly formed and exhibited in me (obviously!).  It's good to have the reminder that I have far to go and good to have the reminder that God is continually working in me.  It was beneficial to humble myself and ask forgiveness from my two year old.  It was a blessing to pray with him and have him request we pray one more time for, "MommyDaddyJoelBabyTravis"  (yes, he says it all in one word).  God reminded me of the work He is doing in me, of the mercy that He offers, and that this is exactly how we do the day to day learning and growing and teaching with our children.

And when I came down the steps and the day was done and both boys tucked in... I sat here at the dining table with the sunset edging over the trees... and I thought how I had had such a good quiet time today.  I learned lessons.  I was reminded what matters most.  I was shown a little glimpse of how I can live out God's Word more with my children.

Sometimes we make things way more complicated than they need to be.  When I am talking to Joel about God making the thunder while we sit in our house or how we thank God for our home when we are walking by the way and when we return, or how we proclaim God's love when we lay down and thank God for another bright day when our feet hit the floor... we don't do it flawlessly.  Sometimes it's messy.  Sometimes we forget to thank God for our peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  Sometimes it's at the top of our lungs and later it's on our knees.  But that's real and God hasn't called me to be some perfect, do-everything-and-never-miss-a-beat kind of girl.  Which is good, because I could never, ever make that happen.

And I don't want my boys growing up thinking that's how it has to be.  That they have to do x, y and z to be used or to be a blessing or to honor God.  I don't want them to grow up thinking Mom was perfect  or super controlled or organized or had it all figured out.  I want them to know truth... to know the truth about me and the ways I trip up.  Because that's how they learn about God.  That's how they learn about God's grace.  That's how they see that Mom doesn't have the answers, but God does.  They don't learn how to be a good Christian from me.  What they learn from me is, hopefully, a necessary dependence on God.

So, tonight I'm going to drink my chai, let the sun set and probably go to bed early.  I'm not going to worry about the to-do list that didn't get done or how maybe I feel my earlier devotional time was lacking.  Because what matters is that I sought God today.  I tried to be focused and grateful.  I begged for things and gave thanks for others.  I got entangled in behaving exactly how I felt and felt the mercy of forgiveness - both from my precious boy and my loving God.  And I take comfort, not shame, in the fact that God saw and was part of this day.  He didn't leave me, He didn't forsake me and He's not the one judging me if I don't read through my Bible in a year.

I'm looking forward to my "quiet time" tomorrow.  How blessed I am that my time learning about God isn't just relegated to an hour every morning or just to a Wednesday night, but instead it takes the form of twelve to sixteen hour days.  It's not just in words, but in deeds, real life application and simplicity.  There were seasons of my life, especially when I was single, that I felt God was so close and that I was learning and growing so much.  And I was.

But if I thought that was my introduction to a college of sorts in terms of learning God, then mothering is me going for my masters or my doctorate or whatever one of those higher educations would be.  It's like being in med school.  Exhausting.  Demanding.  You're draining coffee to keep your eyelids from slamming shut and you're just running and trying to not forget a thing.  Because everything you're learning is vital and necessary and it's about saving lives.  It matters.  Everything you're learning, every test you're taking, every surgery you're observing or performing - it's just plain everything.  It's training your hands and training your eye.  Same thing.  I'm in the whirlwind right now.  I'm training my hands and my eyes and my heart.

It's total immersion, day after often exhausting day.  But it's such a huge tremendous blessing.  I feel as though I got accepted to the most sought after school and I want to take advantage of every moment.  If I seem to spend too much time with my nose in the books or if I seem to be too serious... that's only because I wanted it - all of it - so badly.  This season of my life is not just about the times I give birth.  It's about the life I offer - my own - to my family.  It's for them and it's for me and it's all for His glory.  And it doesn't happen in just an hour a day over quiet and coffee.

I don't know what pocket devotional could possibly compete with that.

"To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area,
deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays;
to be Whitley within a certain area, providing toys,
boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a 
certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology,
and hygiene; I can understand how this might
exhaust the mind but I cannot imagine how it 
could narrow it.  How can it be a large career to
tell other people's children about the 
Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's
own children about the universe?  How can it be
broad to be the same thing to everyone and
narrow to be everything to someone?
No, a woman's function is laborious,
but because it is gigantic, 
not because it is minute." 
~ G.K. Chesteron


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