About eleven years ago, I sat in my friend Brenda’s sewing room, learning how to make my very first quilt for Anna’s first baby, and talking about marriage and motherhood. Nowadays, I go to Brenda’s when I’m home to get ideas for my own kids’ quilts and talk about raising four children with a busy husband! For today’s Mentor Monday post, Brenda is sharing about having a devotional life while in the trenches with little ones.
You asked about ways to keep your devotional life kindled when time and temperament are at a premium. I have a method I’ve used for years and the fruit of its practice has enabled me to weather some difficult losses and disappointments with full confidence in God’s goodness. I read a psalm a day and make a list of what the psalmist believes about God (I don’t have to believe it –or have had to experience Him in that way yet) but I make my list and then I go over it, holding in my mind the images the words create: “O God, you are MY God… You are my refuge… You hear me…. You are worth waiting for…God, You deal with my enemies…God You are worthy of praise.” Lately, after reading that St. Augustine implored believers to “hold onto a constant inner vision of Him”, I’ve asked God to give me one picture from the list to savor during the day from that day’s psalm. It’s been reviving to have that daily focus. This process would only take a few minutes—and what busy woman doesn’t get an endorphin rush from creating a list anyway? But remember to invite God into the process before you begin.
I tend to recall my years with young children (four daughters within a nine year span) married to a busy physician in private practice, hundreds of miles from family support, as a desert time. But, truly as I look back I see great wells God provided in that arid space. We became Christians just months before our oldest was born and fortunately, the people who shared the gospel with us were keen believers in discipling us. This was crucial for me, and it brought me into contact with Christian women my age who were older in the faith but their life experiences were the same as mine. It wasn’t until I got involved in Community Bible Study, a large, non denominational, multi generational bible study that I got to spend time with mature- in- age Christian women and that was so nourishing. To share with seasoned mothers my frustrations and vexations, and to have them pray for me was hugely reassuring. Sometimes it’s just a relief to have a credible witness acknowledge how difficult (impossible!) a season in your life is.
I remember confessing to an older woman that my #3 girl who was five at that time was driving me crazy with her persistence. This older woman, Miss Eunice, prayed with me that I would see the approach of my little daughter just like Miss Eunice saw her little kitten, “frisky, playful, full of energy” –not designed to torment me, just designed to be that energetic, lively sprite. It’s an image I’ve kept and still think of 23 years later as I treasure my beautiful adult child who struggles still with ADD.
So I would counsel a young mother to do what she could to develop a daily devotional life—no matter how brisk—and get into a bible study that includes older women, and not to be afraid to confess her inadequacies and frustrations. I’d urge her to find and really use to pieces a book on praying for her children. That process is a bit like planting seeds in the dark, but it so important and the yield potentially tremendous. I would also remind her that there is no more important work in her life right now than helping God shape a soul.
And that gratitude is a great mood enhancer.
I am wistful now about those times, when at night my head would hit the pillow and my little girls were under their covers, under our roof. Did I savor that sweetness at the time? Fleetingly, perhaps. What I would give to dip into the past and cup their little faces in my hands and with words reassure them (and me) that we’d make it: that each would come to wholeness and discover passions and predilections and there would be joy in the process. That each was a particular gift of God. That I was so happy that she was my girl. And that the most important happiness ever is to really know how good and loving and true their Heavenly Father is.
A stay at home person, Brenda loves helping the women and young girls at her church develop devotional lives and learn how to piece quilt tops. She’s enjoying the boomeranging of her younger two daughters this year and has accompanied her physician husband on “a tour of all the possible complications of hip replacement.” She needlessly pointed out that she never cared for travel.