My heart goes out to mothers of young children in many ways, but today I’m thinking of the area of trying to have any kind of time in the Bible. The time of life when my children were small was one of the hardest in which to have devotions.I hit one of my worst spiritual slumps after I had my second child. When my first child was asleep, I would try to decide between catching up on housework, reading my Bible, or sleeping. Often sleep won out. 🙂 With my second baby, I also had a little preschooler, so “quiet time” was at a premium. I would get to the end of the day and tearfully say, “Lord, I just don’t know when I would have had time to have devotions!” I felt I began to “dry up” spiritually. I don’t think anyone noticed anything from the outside — at least, no one said anything. But I knew on the inside that I was just going through the motions.
The following is an excerpt from Climbing by Rosalind Goforth. This book shares a very human view of a woman after God’s own heart who also was “of like passions” as we are.
A devoted Christian missionary, Mrs. S, was holding a series of special meetings for our Christian women at Changte. On one occasion, this dear woman, who had no children, told me that I could never have the peace and joy I longed for unless I rose early and spent from one to two hours with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.
I longed intensely for God’s best — for all He could give me, not only to help me live the true Christian life but also for peace and rest of soul. So I determined to do what Mrs. S. had advised.
The following morning, about half-past five o’clock, I slipped as noiselessly as possible out of bed. (My husband had already gone to his study.) I had taken only a step or two when first one and then another little head bobbed up; then came calls of, “Mother is it time to get up?”
“Hush, hush, no, no,” I whispered as I went back, but too late; the baby had wakened! So, of course, the morning circus began an hour too soon.
But I did not give up easily. Morning after morning I tried rising early for the morning watch, but always with the same result. So I went back to the old way of just praying quietly — too often just sleeping! Oh, how I envied my husband, who could have an hour or more of uninterrupted Bible study while I could not. This led me to form the habit of memorizing Scripture, which became an untold blessing to me. I took advantage of odd opportunities on cart, train, or when dressing, always to have a Bible or Testament at hand so that in the early mornings I could recall precious promises and passages of Scripture.
Somehow the Lord helped me to change from that mindset of depression because there was no time to what Dr. Walter Fremont calls a “positive faith attitude.” I realized that if this was something I needed and that God wanted me to do, then there would be time somewhere in the day. I began to pray at the beginning of the day for the time and for the ability to recognize it.
Normally I need for things to be relatively quiet when I read my Bible, but He enabled me to be able to get something vital from the Word with children playing at my feet. I thrive best on some kind of regularity of schedule, but He enabled me to catch the odd moment here and there.
When there was a minute free and I wanted to relax with the newspaper or a book or the TV, and the Lord reminded me I hadn’t had time with Him yet…I am ashamed to admit my reaction was not often a spiritual one. A former pastor once said that one of his best times of prayer occurred when he had to begin by confessing he didn’t feel like praying. So sometimes I would have to put aside the book or magazine or remote control and confess that lack to the Lord. And so often He would give me something precious in those few minutes.
A friend with three little ones used to keep her Bible open in her kitchen and read a little off and on throughout the day. Some nursing moms have found that they could prop a Bible up on a nearby end table and read a little while feeding the baby Some listen to the Bible on CD while they dress or drive.
As my children got older, I could again get up for that early morning time (my preferred time – some people prefer later in the day), I would get discouraged if one of them woke up early and toddled out. But a friend told me an experience she had of accidentally walking in on her mom while she was praying and of the impact that had on her. So I thought then perhaps this might be of the Lord — maybe the sight of of mom in prayer and in the Word would be a blessing to my children. Often in that half-asleep state, they were content just to cuddle up beside me or on my lap, and I could continue quietly reading or praying. Sometimes when they were with me I would read and pray aloud. Even though I still preferred to have devotions alone with no distractions, God enabled me to put that aside and to concentrate and have some precious times with Him.
I just want to encourage you that somehow the Lord will meet you in your need. I had to realize that the regular schedule I thrived on just wasn’t going to be possible, and I had to trust the Lord to open up those little opportunities throughout the day and that He would meet with me then and give me what I needed. Even though I still prefer my “quiet” quiet time and my routine, those early-baby experiences stayed with me in later days when the usual schedule was overturned for some reason. He wants to meet with you as much — actually more — than you want to meet with Him, and He’s willing to do so at odd hours. And, as Elisabeth Elliot has written, He doesn’t mind of you bring your children along.
Oh Barbara, I love this post (in fact going to forward it to my sister). I soooo struggled in this area when my kids were little. I would go from trying to have a study time (and falling asleep during it), to totally not doing it all all (why try when you fail). I had a sweet older woman said “oh honey the Lord knows what stage of life you are in, just talk to him. When you are doing laundry talk to him, when you are washing dishes talk to him.” And if possible, and if time then read something. But the Lord understands. Oh how this freed me of guilt. Great post.
Thank you so much for the encouragement. I just stumbled across your blog on a google search. This is 100% where I am.
“Why try when you fail?” That’s the feeling exactly so many times.
Thanks, Laurel. 🙂 I hope it’s a blessing to your sister as well.
Hi Barbara, I found your blog through BooMama and am enjoying reading through it. Lots of good stuff! Those of us who are ahead on the journey need to leave signposts for those coming after, and you are doing that. I’m a novice blogger, still trying to figure it out, but with plenty of life behind me, I want to be of help to someone if I can, too. Blessings!
Thanks so much, Rosemary! I’ve only been blogging a little over a month, but I do hope to be a blessing and encouragement to folks.
Barbara – Thank you for this! As I think about all the changes ahead for me when Peanut arrives later this month, I’ve thought about how my spiritual life will change and need adjustments as she grows. Thank you especially for the reminder that God often gives us an extra blessing when we do what we know we need to do, even when we might not feel like it. I needed that this week!
Sallie, thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. 🙂 I’m so glad the post was helpful to you. It was an area I struggled with a lot when my guys were little.
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Oh, I needed this encouragement! I found this post through Sallie’s “Gracious Home,” and it’s just what I needed to hear. I have a four month old, and things are so different and scattered and unpredictable now. Far too often I feel guilty for not spending time in His Word as much as I would like. I struggle with knowing the balance of reading the Word and being a proper help meet to my husband and mother to my child. The Lord is good to bring this post to me JUST when I needed it! Thank you!
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Thank you so much for this post! This has been my most difficult spiritual struggle since the birth of my 3 small children (in 2 years, i went from 0 to 3 kiddos!).
What a powerful encouragement this post has been to me on *THIS* morning! Thank you!
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Thank you very much! What a great encouragement for those of us wondering where our day goes! And finding that end of the day difficulty at 1030pm trying to decided between sleep or maybe 20 or 30 minutes of Bible study.
Thank you for this post . I really enjoyed it
Keep ’em comin!
Here from NobleWomanhood…
I needed this TODAY…a tired, discouraged mama I am. Thanks for writing it so many months ago. God is faithful in HIS timing, right??
Lauren in NC
Thank you for this article. That story sounds just like my life right now. It seems the children will only wake up early when I wake up early. God knew I needed this. God bless you.
In Christ, Rosa
Thank you so much for this posting. I feel like I am going though most of things you talked about. I have 4 kids ( a boy 3, twins 21 monthes ana boy 5 monthes) I am a pastors wife and am only am only 24. I find it hard to read my devotions or spend the right amount of time with GOD. He has been the centre of my life for so long that to now stuggle it has been hard and I know I do a great job covering it up because people have commented about it.
I know God lead me to your site and this article, thank you for it.
You are so right. Also, Elisabeth Elliot always says that God never minds when a young mother brings a child along with her when she comes to spend time with Him.
Thank you so much. I really needed this. I am pregnant with my second child and some days are just overwhelming. I am learning to not be a perfectionist but I really beat myself up for not doing the quiet times I think I should. I have recently given myself a break because I realized I was fitting it in out of duty not out of joy. Slowly, I am returning to feel the joy of the Lord’s presence. It is helpful to realize that our loving Father knows exactly what season we are in.
I have found that giving my best and most precious time to the Lord as a sacrifice has been the answer to my struggle for finding time to spend with Him… for me this is in the evening, just when the children have finally gone to sleep and I have a moment to myself… I give this moment to Him… shutting my bedroom door, sitting down with a cuppa, my Bible and journal. Hopefully I can return to early mornings oneday when the children are older.
Thank you so much for this post. I am a mother of three young children and am grateful for the encouragement.
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As I was sitting here at my computer desk tonight, I just put my three little one’s to bed, I felt a tug on my heart from the Holy Spirit. I’ve always had a close relationship with the Lord, but these last couples days I go to wake up early to spend time with God and my two year old wakes up. I’ve felt very frustrated these last couple days from not getting quiet times with God in the mornings. I feel as though the desire is dwendling away, but God knows my every thought and He sent me here to this post first thing, and it was the very thing I needed. Thank you for sharing your experience with so many. Sometimes we feel that were all alone and were the only one’s who may struggle so much in being a mother to young children. God is amazing, we always need to follow our hearts, because God is trying to talk to us in His still small voice.
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Thank you for this post! It is sparking much encouragement that I need at this time. I have a 2.5 year old and a 11 month old and am having a hard time discipling myself to spend my time with God daily. Thanks again!
Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know the Lord used this!
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I am very blessed by this post, I am in school of ministry at my church one night a week, and while its the only few hours that I am away from my children I often feel discouraged when I cant get our reading assignments completed, let alone my own reading and study done, you have really encouraged me! Thank you for this post!
I’m so glad! Thank you.
Thanks for sharing this and linking it up again, Barbara. I think I’ve read it before, but it was encouraging for me to read it again this afternoon as I “try, tray again.” 🙂
Thanks, Amy. When mine were little I had to remind myself of these things often, too.
Argh this really speaks to me. Thankyou!
The noise and Never ending work of looking
After four boys all alone (their dad works away) is stopping me reading the bible and
Any other good book too!
I find myself staring at the same sentence over and over again not having taken in what I just read.
Then when they’ve finally left me alone late at night I’m just too tired to study the Word.
The thought of getting up at 5am to do it sounds like torture to me, especially as I probably only would have gone to sleep three hours before that!
I’m wondering how many more years I have to wait until my children learn some consideration and allow me to do some things for me!!
Perhaps you could arrange a time they could play quietly by themselves for a few minutes. That’s a good skill for them to have anyway. Even though I don’t advocate using a movie as a babysitter often, maybe even that would help sometimes. Or a promise that “We’ll do such-and-such together as soon as Mommy gets done here if you’ll be real quiet til I’m done.” Children need to be taught to have consideration for others — it doesn’t come naturally — but gently, not harshly, so it doesn’t cause undue resentment in them.
And in that season of life, sometimes just getting a sentence or two that you can really meditate on might be all you can do some days, but I think God meets us there and gives what we need when we can’t read longer than that.
I just wanted to say what a blessing this post was to me. I have two young ones and I definitely feel that way sometimes. Thanks for the suggestions and the encouragement!
Thanks so much for writing. I’m so glad to know God used this to bless you.
Oh! I love this post,in fact i foward it to my mum.
thank you so much for your post.. I just came across it on google search. It was such an encouragment to me! And so many things you wrote about is exaccly the way I feel some days as a mother of two children.. May God bless you abundantly for sharing this!
Thanks so much, Marlene and Khadijat, I’m so thankful this was a help to you.
I came across this article on google search as i was looking for a devotional to share at a baby shower. Your thoughts echo mine, from when i was a mother of three young children. i too, often felt such guilt at not having a structured devotional time but now, looking back, being the same age as you, i see what a blessing it was to try and find a few moments here and there throughout the day. it is something that sticks with you and you truly learn that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother(or sister). i have learned to talk to Him all day long. Thank you for sharing,; i am sure many moms will be encouraged!
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I literally have tears running down my face. I found myself here in this post so clearly. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that I am not alone. God bless you!!!!
I felt like this was me..thank you for the post!
Thank you, Eva, R&R, and Liana. I’m so thankful God has used this to bless and help others.
Thank you, Barbara!! That was, indeed, a tidbit of what I needed. I especially like the idea of leaving the Bible open in the kitchen. 🙂
I needed to read this. Thanks for your transparency. Its hard as a young mom of three (2.5, 4 and 1) to have ANY alone time. I’m learning the importance of constantly praying and finding a scripture to keep on my mind daily.
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Well, the Lord definitely sent me to your blog this morning! This was such an encouragement. Thank you
I can completely relate to this blog. Thank you so much for sharing it. It really encouraged me 🙂
Thank you for these words! It is exactly where I am at, witha 3 year old who is giving up naps and a 7 month old.
As tears are streaming down my face, all I can say is THANK YOU for your words of encouragement! I, too, am a SAHM of 3 under 3. I have been looking for a quiet time but have refused the early morning since I am up during the night with the baby. But lately, that is when God is not only providing the time, but I am ignoring Him. THANK YOU!
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I almost couldn’t see through my tears to finish reading this. Thank you for letting God speak through your writing. So encouraging.
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Thanks for sharing this as a #tbt post today. LOVE IT! So much truth in it!!!
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