A Holy Encounter in the Middle of the Night

a holy encounter in the middle of the night

Motherhood is something I have longed for my entire life.

Motherhood is also proving to be far more challenging than I could have ever imagined…and far more rewarding, of course. Yet the most surprising thing is the way in which it is difficult.

Yes, you’re sleep deprived. Yes, you’re covered in bodily fluids and more. Yes, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting.

But the most paramount of surprises in regards to motherhood is this:

Motherhood sheds such stark light upon my own faults. Shortcomings. Selfishness.

History has proven that on many a night spent rocking a sick baby, as a battle has raged deep within me.

I’m tired. I just wish she would sleep so I could sleep. I’m so sick of puke and poo and laundry.

But not this night.

This night, I hold his fevered body against mine and listen to the ragged breathing.

I stroke his soft hair, noting how the silkiness of a babe is gone and the thickness of a wee boy has come.

His head nestles under my chin and my breathing falls in time with his. His breathing, so shallow and strained.

Heat radiates as I rub his small back up and down, up and down, up and down.

No, this night there is no pleading with the Almighty for the sweet release of sleep. No counting the minutes until my head finds the pillow.

This night, I cherish. My heart full nigh to bursting with the gratitude of being in this place; being his mother. Full of awe and wonder that so precious a thing could be entrusted to me. Overflowing with love and compassion for the little man splayed across my chest; and for his precious sisters sprawled, limbs akimbo in their beds.

This night it is not hard. This night the veil of self that so often blinds and distorts Truth is pulled aside and the glory and wonder that is this calling of Motherhood stands bright and stark and clear.

And this night, I embrace it with thanks to God for His good and gracious gift.

Have you ever had a moment like this, when the hard suddenly doesn’t seem so hard, rather a blessing miracle? Or are you in the middle of a night in your mothering right now? How can we pray for you?

Praying for you today,

Jen Deibel

Praying at 3:21 AM

chicken

 

It was 3:21 AM when I first heard the music.

It was Labor Day morning.
It was supposed to be a sleep-in-morning.

I was having a dream about blind chickens…which totally makes sense.
And then somehow the theme song to Jay Jay the Jet Plane overtook the tragic atmosphere.
Eventually I woke up enough to realize that I really was hearing music and picked up my alarm clock.

3:21 AM.

I stumbled down our hallway and saw light streaming from under our 3-year-old’s door.
Slowly…
I cracked the door open just a bit and found–
Lydi dancing with Minnie Mouse to her Jay Jay the Jet Plane music CD.

Toys were everywhere.
Pajamas were removed.
Music was blaring.
Minnie was showing off her moves.
And I was greeted with a big smile.

I wasn’t smiling.

Lydia said: “It’s WAKE UP TIME !!!”

I said: “No. It isn’t.”

Okay, maybe I should insert…

I said, (with a growl).

After clarifying our morning expectations and a long-winded speech about–

…the selfishness of waking up your mom who needs her sleep and you are not allowed out of bed and why aren’t you tired and using a black sharpie to circle the numbers on the clock that DO EQUATE WAKE UP TIME…

I had a difficult time going back to sleep.
Which honestly isn’t like me.
Usually I can sleep anywhere, anytime.
I’m the perfect kindergarten-nap-mat-candidate.

And so as I lay there wondering about blind chickens and such,
 God reminded me that I could use the time for prayer.

And that’s something I’m still trying not to miss…
Those opportunities that God provides for me to pray.

The ten minutes when I’m waiting in the car line at school, and have the choice of checking Facebook or–
The pasta-stirring-moments when I could flip on the 6 o’clock news or–
The times when I’m folding laundry and my mental-to-do-lists are streaming or–

I could choose to pray.

Even those conversations where a friend is asking for prayer and I give my promise.
When maybe better-best would be to not delay.
And just pray.

That night a few years back, was a sweet time for me to talk with God.
And to listen.
Even if it was 3:21 AM on Labor Day.

Prayer is labor.
But I need it.
And it changes me.

I want to always be on the look out for open windows,
when God provides time for me to pour out my heart to Him–
In prayer.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
― William Nicholson, Shadowlands

With Love,
Kara @The Chuppies

 

The Mommy Guilt Cure

hugging mother and daughter

It was one of those really bad parenting weeks for me.

You know the ones I’m talking about. When our patience runs thin, our tone of voice loses it’s softness, and we react with emotion rather than with grace and intention, and it’s literally all we can do to just get through the day and make it to bedtime.

And yet, just when we finally get that moment of peace, silence and solitude, it’s loudly interrupted by the overwhelming emotions of mommy guilt and shame. And every memory of every mistake we’ve made throughout the day haunts our hearts and minds, and we’re certain we’ve ruined our children forever.

{I keep using the term “we”…I think because it makes me feel better to assume I’m not alone in weeks like this….ha!}

In the midst of this particularly tough parenting week, I found myself writing out my heart in the pages of my journal, which often times ends up being a lengthy heartfelt prayer to the Lord. And there I was, confessing my sins and selfishness before Him, asking for mercy and compassion, and hoping with all hope that despite my shameful behavior that week, He would still see my honest hearts desire was to be something completely different. And that, in his grace and mercy, perhaps he could keep my children from hating me and being screwed up all due to my numerous parental mistakes over the years. And…amen.

Just a couple nights later, as we were going over our foster care questionnaires with the kids, Taylor, my 9 year old son, out of the blue asked if we could maybe foster or adopt someone with a different color skin.

“Because, ya know, I just want them to understand that it doesn’t really matter what color we are on the outside, it’s really just about our hearts and how we are on the inside.”

Then he added… “But let’s just see if we can only get someone who has been teased a lot about it, so we can show them that not everybody is like that, ya know?”

And when I asked him if he wanted a boy or a girl, he responded, “It doesn’t really matter, it’s really just whatever God wants for us.” Then when I asked him what foster care would mean to our family, he very matter of factly stated, “It means we will have to work really hard to teach them about the Lord.”

As you can imagine, I was just about near a puddle of tears right there on the floor beside him.

You see, this child saying these wise things, tends to be what many would consider my Strong Willed one, or better put, the Child With Strong Leadership Skills. He’s the one that I’m pretty sure grows my gray hairs and deepens my premature fine lines and wrinkles. And yet, just when I think I have no idea what I’m doing or wonder how I can possibly mold and shape the children God has given me, this child busts out with a whole bunch of stuff Jesus would say and do.

And I am so completely humbled.

My goodness, doesn’t it seem as though the ones we love the most humble us the most?

I mean, how on earth with all the parental messing up I have done, could my children have ended up with hearts like that?

And it was in this treasured moment, that I knew the Lord was showing me just how much He truly does work in spite of us. And those moments where we mess up and we don’t seem to be measuring up to the parental standards we may have set for ourselves, God steps in and with all his love and mercy and grace, He fills in the cracks. He takes the brokenness and makes it whole again. And His ways, His works, His miracles are so much more powerful and life changing than our attempts at perfect parenting will ever be.

And so, we have to keep that truth close to our hearts always, especially because I get just how hard we can be on ourselves when it comes to the area of raising these sweet (most of the time) little souls.

And that truth is: Our God is sovereign, and his grace and mercy never fail.

“We try, We fail.
We trust, He succeeds.”
-Corrie Ten Boom

Blessings,

 Summer Saldana
SummerSaldana.com

10 Unusual Places to Spend Quiet Time with God

unusual quiet time

This week I was thinking about how creative a mom sometimes needs to be in order to spend time alone with God. Sometimes flexibility is the key and it’s not about the number of minutes, but the focus of your heart and mind. Maybe you’ve not thought of any of these places as being the ideal place for a few minutes with God. Honestly, ideal is not what we’re looking at in this instance. Today I’m presenting a few ideas that will jog our minds to think creatively when we consider where we are spending time with God.

1. The Restroom

I know. Did I really think this needed mentioned?  Well, yes. We all know that moms are prone to lock bathroom doors on occasion for more than just the essentials. Sometimes it’s the only place to eat a mini chocolate bar without sharing. Can I get an Amen? Sometimes it’s also the best place to review your prayer list.

2. The Minivan

Whether waiting in pickup lines at school or waiting for ball practice to end, a girl can get her Bible reading game on in the good ol’ family minivan.

3. The Garage

Yes, I’ve sat on the garage steps and read my devotional for the day so that I could avoid everything going on in the house, but no one knew I was there. It’s a great place for that!

4. The Laundry Room

Does anyone EVER go in the laundry room except for Mom? No. If you want to hide out for a few, just hide where the work is and it’s guaranteed that no one will find you. ;)

5. Under the Table

If kids can hold pretend forts under the dining room table, so can moms. I can honestly say I haven’t tried this one. But I can see the potential.

6. On the Trampoline

One night this week when the kids were all in bed,  I went out on the trampoline to pray and stargaze. It’s a beautiful place!

7. Top of the Outdoor Playset

Our playset has a fort on the top, just before you go down the slide. If you can catch a break when the kiddos are playing underneath, then a few minutes in the fort is a great place to have time alone with God.

8. Bedroom Closet

IF you’re lucky enough to have a closet with a little extra space AND you’re not claustrophobic, then a few minutes of prayer time and Bible reading in the closet can do wonders.

9. In the Nursery

One of my favorite places to pray over the years has been sitting in the rocker while rocking or nursing one of my sweet babies.

10. Anywhere…

Hopefully you chuckled as you read parts of this post, but the point is that no matter where we are physically located, we can calm our hearts and minds to focus on God’s Word and prayer for a  few moments. We don’t have to always be isolated and we don’t have to shut everyone else out. Some of the best discussions I’ve had with my kiddos is when they interrupted my quiet time with a small question of “Hey, Mom…what are you doing?” There’s nothing like answering that question with: “Hey. I’m studying this verse in the Bible…. do you know what it says? What does that mean?”

Blessings on your quiet time endeavors- no matter where you may choose to have them..

Rachel at RachelWojo.com

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