Sunday, August 30, 2015

For the Ugly Days....

Our days before school begins again are numbered.
We're excited about the upcoming school year {minus those few scheduling details that are stumping me...}, but are a little hesitant to want to leave behind our days of "masterly inactivity."
While the girls are working on their chores, I set a plastic tub of water in the sun and take the two littlest to hang clothes with me in the back of the house.

By the time the house is tidy, the plants are watered, and the clothes are hung, the water is warm.
I call the girls, grab any thing I think might work as a canvas, my box of nail polish, some old towels, and the container of toothpicks.
I quickly sort through my old nail polishes. Some were left with me by mission trip-ers who wanted just a little more room in their suitcases for souvenirs; some I bought long before I had 4 kiddos and had time to paint my nails; some were lovely in the bottle....and ugly on me.
I quickly outline what we are going to do.....what is supposed to happen.....cross my fingers.......and dunk.

The first paper I pull from the water amazes me.
The colors are vibrant, and the print is the most delicate pattern of swirls, arcs, twists, and twirls I've ever seen.
As we skim off the paint and drip new combinations for the next piece, we laugh in awe at the beauty that can be found in so much mess.

This week my husband met with some of our youth to talk about their next level of education.
One of our young men has just passed the road they must now take, and he tells about the evil he has seen.
When my husband arrives home, I sense the anger held barely in check.
I send the girls outside to play, and sit down to listen as my husband pours out his heart.
He's overwhelmed, disgusted, shocked at what he has heard.
He is careful to not tell me too much.
He knows my shoulders weren't meant to carry every weight his were, but I see the haunting in his eyes.

As I leave our room to prepare lunch, his words stay with me.
I think of the sin we see here on a regular basis.
My mind lists those we know who've fallen recently.
I think of the things our own family has faced, sinners that we are,
and I wonder.
This worlds seems like such a horrible, broken, bloody mess.
How can anything we do really make a difference?
The questions are twisting my insides into knots.

For days I carry this burden, this crushing load of what these boys are going to face, what so many others have had to pass through.
I ponder the implications of my new many others have had their souls sucked down into this mire?
How can anyone come through this without being scarred for life?
The words, "What can we do about it?" continually play in my mind.

Finally one afternoon the dam bursts.
My hubby is there to see the raging torrent of emotions and help slow the tears.
He reminds me of how God kept the young man in the first place.
He tells example after example of miracles God did in that young man's life.
And he helps me to remember that even in the ugliness of men's hearts, God never loses control.
Yes, anyone who desires to live righteously will face the hideousness of sin, but God can make something beautiful out of anything, even dirty, spent ashes.

We dip item after item into the scum floating on top of the water.
We scrape it off and add some more, ignoring the sticky, gloppy gunk stringing from our finger tips.
It makes no sense, really.
How can such exquisite beauty come from these lumps, blotches, and squiggle of leftover nail polish?
I may be the artist, but I certainly don't know.

What can be done about this sin-cursed place I call my home?
I may be the Christ-follower, but I never know how He's going to work it all out.
I ponder as we paint.
I must keep doing the job He's given me to do.....
accepting that I'll not always understand how He's going to do it....
trusting Him alone for the outcome....
patiently waiting for Him to finish these
beautiful portraits of His grace.

* We had so much fun marbling with my old nail polish! If you are interested, this is an excellent tutorial with some helpful thoughts in the comments.

Friday, August 28, 2015

For the Days When You Just Want Some Me-Time..... {and the last winner!}

It's time for mama's daily run.
Though I run, I'm not a runner.
Some laps around the house, some exercises to try to whittle away this "mama-middle", and a few stretches are my entire stay-healthy regimen.
It's also a bit of quiet for mama, some time to empty my head of the noise and chaos and demands being a homeschooling mama of four brings.
I crave this tiny bit of calm in an otherwise hectic schedule.
Just me, my very unconventional running shoes, the slap of soles hitting concrete, and the rise and fall of my breathing.
I try to slip out of the house unnoticed.
Today I've got less time than usual, and the kiddos have been exceptionally wearing.
I'm ready for some peace, quiet, and sweat.
That's when I hear the patter of little feet and a tiny voice say, "Mama, I got my wunning shoes!"

Lili's first request for her birthday was that we pull down the hand-me-down bags from their hideaway and get her some "new" shoes.
She's a clothes horse, that one.
When she spotted the pink shoes that looked just like mama's she couldn't have been happier.
The rubber bottoms pulled away from their strappy tops the first ten minutes she had them on, but that was soon remedied by daddy walking them down to the cobbler on the corner when he went to buy bananas for lunch.
A heavy-duty needle, an awl, and some waxed thread made them as good as new.

After waiting a whole day to get her precious shoes back, she'd been waiting for her chance.
Time to go running with mama.

I should have been happy she wanted to join me.
A running buddy....those are great motivation, right?!?
But I wasn't.
I wanted just a few minutes of alone time.
It wasn't much compared to all the hours I spend with my children.
Why couldn't she just let me go solo today?

I opened my mouth to order her back into the house.....but I caught myself.
I swallowed the frustration I was feeling.
Maybe I could dissuade her.
I'd state THE RULES:
"I'm not holding your hand, and I'm not carrying you."
A quick reply, "I know, mama. I'm a big girl now. I got wunning shoes!"

Off we set, her blond head bopping along in front of me.
She didn't giggle or whine.
She was for serious today.
She wanted to be just like her mama.
Good thing she couldn't know her mother's thoughts.

As my blood began to warm with the exercise, so did my cold heart ~
this was the baby I'd prayed for for years.
As my heart rate rose, so did the reminders of her broken heart ~
this was my child I thought might not survive.
As we circled the compound, I recalled the fears I'd felt ~
this was the child that didn't walk until a day before she turned 19 months.

We rounded the corner, breath coming fast, mind slowing to freeze-frames....
Lili's bright waves of hair bouncing in the sunlight...
purple house dress with ties undone streaming behind her...
brown eyes twinkling with love for an undeserving mama...
and pink wunning shoes...
doing more good for this mama-heart than 20 minutes alone could have ever done.

*Aleassa, you won the giveaway from Sunday! I'll send you a message soon!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: How Does a Busy Mama Find Time to Pray? {and a giveaway}

I think I left the hardest part of this series for very last.
Do I hear a collective guilty sigh when that word is read?
If you are anything like me, prayer is something you desire to do.
But somehow, it seems to get pushed out of the way far too often.
When your hands are full, who has time to pray?

As a mother of young children, I know I need to pray.
I start my day knowing I need God......
But then the first one wakes up, or I need to change a diaper, or take a trainer to the potty, or turn off that pot that's boiling over on the stove, or answer the door, or break up an argument, or haul a child out of the mud, or plunk another muddy one into the tub, or get started with school, or answer the gate, or hang the laundry, or wash the dishes.
Soon my day is over and I fall into bed exhausted, a prayer that never gets finished on my lips.

I try to pray through the day.
These are quick prayers, usually prayed in desperation ~
God help!
God, I need to keep my mouth shut!
Please help me stay calm!
Forgive me for my anger!
I don't know what to do. Show me!
Help me love _______ {whoever needs it most at that second}!
These prayers do help me in those moments, but they do not constitute a prayer time.

At times I've tried prayer lists, but they often turn into a rote series of names that I just try to "get through". By the time I'm done, I feel like I can cross it off my list, but I don't feel like I've communed with the Lord.
I'm surrounded by needs. So many people who need to hear the gospel, others who need to grow.
Decisions that need to be made for God's glory. These children I've been given to parent who need instruction and godly wisdom. A husband fighting on the front lines needing the Holy Spirit's filling. Family and friends and supporters far away who need encouragement.
If it was just others I wasn't praying for that would be one thing, but I need to pray for myself too.
God tells us that without Him we can do nothing, yet most days I manage to slog through it all on my own.
I want to pray about all these things.........but I rarely do.

I want a time to talk with God, not just shout emergency messages at him.
I desire a prayer life.........a life.
Not a moment, or a time, but a life.
I want to pray in such a way that I actually live out those words about 'praying without ceasing.'

I'm no good at praying.
I'll be the first to admit that.
But I desire to be.
I think over these words from John Chapman:
"The only way to pray
is to pray;
and the only way to pray well
is to pray much.
If one has no time for this,
then one must at least pray regularly.
But the less one prays,
the worse it goes."
How can I make this desire, this yearning, into something more than wishful thinking?
If "the only way to pray is to pray," then I have to find a way to get started praying, and I need to put into place a way to keep praying once I've started.
God given responsibilities never conflict, so there must be a way that I, a mama with my hands full, can make time to pray.
I often hear the suggestion to just get up earlier.
If you are able to do that, that's great!
For mamas who are already running really low in the sleep department, that's probably not doable at this time.
I've recently come across some helpful resources that are slowly changing my prayer life.
In hopes that something here might be the catalyst you need, I'd like to share a few ideas with you...

When It's Hard to Find Time for God & Prayer ~ an excellent post on why we don't pray

How to Build a House of Prayer ~ some excellent thoughts on making prayer a part of every day life

Kari's Prayer Binder is something I'm working on putting together right now.

Gina's video has been a great help in setting up my prayer binder, and she will email you a packet with directions and specific things to pray for if you email her at the listed address under the video.

The biggest blessing to me recently has been the book, The Hour That Changes the World. It's practical, insightful, and doable. It outlines how and what to pray for so that you can spend an hour each day in prayer {or half hour, as Kari suggests in her tutorial}.

*I've been hesitant to write about his, because I'm not a prayer warrior.
I feel so often, though, that us young mamas know we are supposed to pray, and know we need to pray, but don't have much practical advice on how to make it work during this busy season of life!
Maybe some of these thoughts will be a blessing to you?

*Our last giveaway then, is the awesome book, The Hour That Changes the World.
You are free to enter wherever you live, but if you live outside the US, you must be able to receive a Kindle copy of the book. Just leave a comment here or on facebook. The winner will be chosen on Thursday night/Friday morning depending on where you live.

**The winner of Kari's Doodle Bible Studies is Kari Showers!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: Seasons

Dear Mama,
I don't have anything really profound to share today, but maybe it's a simple reminder we all need?
This time when we find our hands full is just a season.

My last few weeks have included sitting in traffic in a very full car, because our car battery was dead.....again.
Three times in one week.
That's the same week that included three flat tires.

Having to use a taxi means me in the back with the kiddos.
No car seats here, just mama having to wrestle the two little ones who both "need" to sit on my lap so they can look {aka hang out!} the window.

We've had house-fulls...
twenty-four married {or very soon to be} adults with no electricity and no fans.

And church-fulls...
with long days, and packed schedules, and tired kiddos.

We've had birthdays that needed to be celebrated, whether that was convenient or not.
Because really? You only turn four once.
This particular day required a pink cake and pink ice cream and pink balloons and every single person to wear pink....except daddy, because he couldn't find any.

We planned a family "stay"cation for this week, with lots of ideas of how we could rest and enjoy just *us* together.
It included a zoo trip....

and more traffic {because there is lots of that where we live!}.

While I had all kinds of grand ideas about how relaxing this week would be, they haven't all panned out.
Okay, most of them haven't.
With a "stay"cation there is no maid and no cook except me, and the house has to at least stay livable.
As I'm trying to cross something off my list so I can go play Monopoly with the girlies, another pressing task slips into its place.
I rush to just do that next one 'real quick', and then it hits me that there are two buckets of tomatoes that are going to go bad if I don't get them roasted, and the fresh milk my hubby picked up this morning has to be processed, and I have to figure out supper for tonight for 8 instead of 6 because it's Thursday......
you get the idea, I'm sure.

I don't know what your list looks like, but I can guess your hands are full.
On days when my expectations aren't met, and I feel discouraged about the state of just about everything, I try to keep in mind Solomon's wise words about seasons:
seasons are a part of life, and right now I'm in a very demanding one.
I must accept that fact.
There are days I'm going to fail.
There are days I'm going to make unwise choices.
There are days I'm going to feel like everything I want never seems to work out right.
There are days when I'm going to be completely overwhelmed by life, children, housework, needs, demands, and responsibilities....
but it won't last forever.
And you know what mama?
The Lord of the seasons will give you the grace you need for this moment.
Take heart!
While you may feel like weeping and mourning today, the laughter and dancing are right around the corner.

*For those of you who haven't entered the last giveaway, please do take a minute and look over Kari's awesome resources ~ you won't regret it!
*And for those of you who've won the last giveaways, my hands have been a bit full lately {ha!}, and I'll be getting with you on those as soon as possible! Thanks for your patience!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: What to do When You're Ready for a Bit More Bible Study {plus a giveaway and an update on the Conference}

Growing up in a good church with a godly pastor and assistants, a loving Christian family, and a truly Christian school, I heard often about "devotions."
Maybe you've heard it called 'quiet time' or 'time with God.'
I was taught that it was important for every Christian to read the Bible daily and pray to God, too.
I remember some times at camp being given a devotional booklet that gave us Scripture passages to read and asked some questions about what we'd read.
Once I was given a small binder that had pages for keeping track of prayer requests and answers.
I was given the ACTS plan for prayer time {Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication}.
My Bible teacher in high school was amazing. He knew God's Word, and he taught us to think.
He instructed us in using a Strong's Concordance and a Vine's Dictionary. 
He taught us doctrine ~ what we {as Baptists} believe and WHY we believe it.
He trained us in how to prepare devotionals and Sunday School lessons.
We even had to share these lessons with elementary students and bus classes.
When I went off to Bible college, I heard people talk about doing deeper Bible studies.
Most of the time the ladies who mentioned these things were talking about working through a study guide based on a topic.
I even bought a couple books that I could work through that would teach me ____________ {you fill in the blank ~ there are lots of them out there!}.

All of these things were good.
I learned the importance and the habit of reading my Bible on a regular basis.
{Habits aren't bad, by the way. But that's another topic for another day!}
I took in a lot of truth from God's Word simply by being in it almost every day.
When I left home, I knew what I believed. I could also give Scripture reasons why I believed it.
I could use the tools I had to prepare lessons to teach others.
I'd filled in blanks in  good books, and I knew that prayer lists were helpful.
But you know what?
Even with all that training, all that knowledge, many days my "devotional" time was just that.....
a time when I sat down, read my Bible, prayed a few lines, and crossed it off my list for the day.

I was a "good" girl.
I'm a people-pleaser by nature, and I didn't want to get in trouble.
I never ran with the "wrong crowd" or dated the "bad boys."
I had moments when something I read in the Bible was exciting.
I had definite times when the Holy Spirit convicted me, or guided me, or taught me something.
But most of the time, devotions was just a thing I did, because I was supposed to.
That's what good girls did.

When trials came in my life, I'd spend more time in my Bible.
I'd search out verses to encourage me in hard times.
I even had a small notebook of them that I'd share with girls in my dorm when they came with questions.
But most days, I felt that my normal routine was "good enough for now."

Then.......I grew up.
I thought for sure that suddenly my Bible time would become amazing! fulfilling! exciting! spiritual!
That somehow the day I became a grown woman I'd suddenly have this quiet time figured out.
I read how-to books on devotions.
I tried the fill-in-the-blank-ers.
I'd read lots of great Christian biographies about people who had deep relationships with God.
I knew godly men and women who spent time in their Bibles and were always excited to share what God was teaching them.
My devotional time wasn't like that, though.
Oh, I kept doing what I'd been doing, but I didn't really remember much of what I'd read before the day was half over.
There were flashes of greatness ~ times when something would really stir me ~ but in time, it would fade away, and I'd be back to my same-old, same-old.
I'd get nervous when I had to share what I'd been learning in my Bible with others, because really?
I didn't feel like I was learning all that much.
I wanted more, and at times I tried different things to get more, but nothing really clicked for me.

About this time, God decided that it was time for me to see who I really was, what I really needed.
He moved me half-way around the world and dropped me here in Ghana, West Africa.
Five months later, I became a mama for the first time.

I found out that I wasn't the "good girl" I really thought I was.
I struggled with crippling fear, seething anger, deep disappointment, a sharp tongue, horrible meanness, overwhelming sadness, and on some days, dark hatred.
God used my new realization of the sin in me to drive me to Him.
And He was enough.

Over the years, God sent more lessons to teach me to come to Him in His Word.
Baby #2 arrived, and then a long season of hoping and praying for another child. 
Surgeries, a miscarriage, new co-workers, furloughs, a baby with a heart problem, dyslexia, a surprise baby #4, a heart surgery, discouragements, set-backs.....all these seemingly hard things were really cords God was using to draw me to His side.

His way worked.
In seeing my need, I learned how much I needed to spend time with Him.
Devotions became more than just crossing something off a list.
It became a soul-need, something that had to be satisfied in me.

Now I have a regular time with the Lord each day.
I journal what He's teaching me.
I journal my thanks.
I journal some of my prayers.

But not long ago, that old ache began to trouble me again.
That desire to take the next step.
The need to dive deeper into God's Word.
As baby became more independent, I knew without a doubt that it was time to find a way to get into my Bible and dig things out for myself.
I wasn't sure where to look, or even what exactly I was looking for.
I didn't want it to be a book about the Bible with handy-dandy study guide.
Though those aren't bad, I was craving a way to get it straight from God, not from a person who had done all the studying for me.....does that make sense?
That's when God lead me to Kari.

I had hoped to have her guest blog here today, but she just couldn't work it out.
She did give me permission, though, to share how God has led her to study His Word, and I believe it could be a blessing to you, too!

She started by "ruining" her Bible....

From there she began looking for a way to organize all her thoughts and notes, and came up with a Do It Yourself Bible Journal.....

And now, she writes Bible Studies to help other ladies just like herself {and me} get more out of the Bible, whether we have 5 minutes or 2 hours!

To be honest, I wasn't really sure I had time to fit in a full-on Bible study, but I believed I should try.

Each Bible study is written with 3 levels.
If you are a busy mama, Level 1 is for you. It only takes a few minutes, but it really helps you think about what you are reading.
If you have a bit more time, you can move on to Level 2 or save it for later and just continue through on Level 1.
Level 3 adds a bit more, and there are also extra studies for each chapter if you are at a time in your life when you have a good block of time for Bible study.

I decided to try out the five minute challenge, and Kari was right! I could fit in 5 minutes of study, learn something, AND remember it! {That's saying a lot to a mama with 4 busy kiddos, including a 22 month old, and lots of responsibilities!}
For full disclosure, I usually have to shove aside a million other things to get it done, but it is worth it!

For all of us homeschooling mamas, she even shares ideas of how to use doodle studies with your kids to help them get more out of Bible time!

For all you weary mamas of newborns, this might not be for you, but tuck it in your back pocket for later, maybe?
But for those of us who have a tiny bit more time for Scripture {even if it's just 5 minutes!}, maybe this is a great way to start studying God's precious Word more!

*Because I really believe Kari's Bible studies will be a blessing to whoever tries them, I'm giving away a copy of any one of her Bible studies AND a copy of her DIY Bible Journal Workbook {Just in case you are a perfectionist like me, it really, really helps!}.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog or on facebook telling which Bible study you would like to start with.
You can obtain a second entry by going over to Kari's blog and looking around, and then coming back and leaving a comment telling me you did so!
*For those who don't win, Kari offers a FREE full-length Bible study for the book of Ephesians for anyone who subscribes to her mailing list {right side-bar of her blog}!

*The winner of the free Scripture download is Snowy Devkota!
*For those of you who were praying for our Love & Marriage Conference, thank you so much!
Though we didn't have lights on Friday night, it wasn't too hot, and our rechargeable lamps worked just fine! God held of the rain for all of Friday night, and it didn't start sprinkling until the last session on Saturday. We believe a good foundation has been laid, and hope and pray that God will use these messages to build strong, loving, godly marriages in a place that has very few.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Please Pray?

I'm going to pause our ongoing series for today and ask you to pray for the Love & Marriage Conference we are hosting Friday and Saturday at our church.
We will be having a special couples night at our house Friday night, and then a day of special studies at our church all day on Saturday.
We have a few important prayer requests:
1. We need electricity for the meeting at our house. We will have a lot of people in a very hot, dark house if the lights are not on tomorrow night. Doable, but very uncomfortable.
2. We need clear skies for Friday and Saturday. Rain makes it very hard for everyone to get to the meetings. Please pray that the the rains hold off until Monday!
3. Holy Spirit leading for John and me as we teach on Friday and Saturday.
4. Lastly, please pray that any unbelievers who attend will hear the truth and accept the greatest love ~ Christ's love, that people's hearts will be open to the teaching and that they will be willing to learn, and that these studies will open the door for more counseling in the future.

I'll be back Sunday night/Monday morning {depending where you live} to share how the conference went, tell you the winner of our Scripture giveaway, and I'll be sharing the MOST AWESOME SOLUTION TO BIBLE STUDIES EVER!!!! {Can you tell I'm excited?!?}

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Mama, How To Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: Setting Boundaries {a guest post}

As a mama it's my job to set up boundaries and lots of them.
"No, you cannot smash bananas all over the wall."
"No, you cannot eat chapstick."
"No, you cannot color your skin with markers."
"No, you cannot only eat bread all day every day."

At times, I get tired of setting up those fences, those perimeters of what I will and won't allow my kiddos to do.
What can we do today, mama?
Can we....
Make a tent? Yes.
Out of my couch cushions? Yes.
Using bed sheets? Yes.
Painting the sheets? No.

And how about snack time?
Can we have a snack....
like apples? Yes.
with groundnut paste? Yes.
will you cut the apples? Yes.
will you carve them into shapes. Nope!

I'm learning as a mama that as much as boundaries are important for my little ones, they are important for me too.
I wish that spending time with the Lord during these busy days was a simple matter, but usually it's not.
As a mama of young children {and older children, too!}, my time is not always {okay, rarely} my own.
Part of being a mama is being flexible, but when it comes to spending time with the Lord, we should only bend so far.
I've learned that while I have to find what works for me, I need to have some guidelines in place so that I don't slowly lose that habit that I so desperately need.
While I may not be able to spend lots of time in God's Word during this particular season of my life, I must still keep it a priority.
If I don't, soon I won't spend any time at all, and it won't take long before those times of filling are a distant dream.

Today I've asked Maria to share a bit of how she manages to fill her cup while being a missionary mama to 5 kiddos in Jamaica. She has some excellent guidelines she's set for herself to make sure she can spend time with the Lord daily....

Hello, I’m Maria. I’m a very happy Christian lady and missionary wife married to my Cajun Prince Charming from Baton Rouge.  After getting my college degree, I now spend my days tying on tutus, building castles out of chairs, and dressing baby dolls...all while remembering the phonics rules and burning dinner.  I love being raised by my 4 princesses - Moriah, Alexis, Eden, and Brynlee…..and my little guy, John Truman.  I'm a country girl from North East Missouri that God placed on a tropical island.   I love the Lord, my  handsome husby, my kids, and life.  I miss my family overseas like crazy but try to live elbow deep in God's plan for us now.  I like pretty, vintage, feminine things, I Love Lucy, the sound of the sea shore, and my rose bushes.

I feel honored to write on my favorite blog!  One of my real life heroes.

Here it is…. ME time.  I sit on the front veranda overlooking my rose bushes.  Somewhere in the house I hear the washing machine hard at work and the scent of fresh coffee drifting towards me.  I snuggle into my porch swing and open my Bible.  {game show buzzer} “Eeeehhhhh”

Dream over.
Little One #4 has a cough. All through the night I steal into her room over and over.  Quietly feeling her fevered head, laying my head down to hear her strained breathing, and just staring at the beautiful little features in the pale light.  After a few minutes I stumble back to my own bed only to jerk awake an hour later to stumble back down the hall at the sounds of her coughing.
  It feels like minutes later my closed eyes feel a presence close by. I crack my eyes to see the sunshine bursting through my windows, and a little white-haired boy sitting with his nose close to mine.  “Psst, mom, what do you want to do today?” Another chipper little voice pipes up from the foot of the bed, “I want oatmeal with cinnamon and jelly toast shaped like dinosaurs!” And so the morning starts.  Burning oatmeal, brushing ponytails, balancing a little one on my hip, etc.  I never get to punch a time clock, I’m always on call.  I haven’t had an uninterrupted night's sleep in over a decade.

Where is the “quiet time” you hear about in church songs and read about in devo books?  What is wrong with my life and my organization of my household?  

Sometimes we have the mistaken thought that our personal time with the Lord has to be scheduled at the same time and for a certain amount of time every day.  This works for some….but not a busy mama with a house full of unpredictable responsibilities.  As a mommy many times we feel invisible or maybe even used by the little ones we love so dearly.  Scrubbing dishes and floors and washing laundry in our faded house dress.  It is so important to stay close to the Lord and here are a few tips that have helped and encouraged me in my faith.

  1. Talk to the Hand When Mommy has her Bible open you don’t talk to her. Unless you are on fire… and even then you know where the rain barrel is.
  2. Multi-Task it, Sister  My prayer time is sporadic.  It is custom in Jamaican church services to sing….like forever.  This has given me the opportunity to learn so many prayer choruses.  I sing pretty awful, but the Lord doesn’t care, and singing to the Lord as I go about mundane chores helps me keep a right spirit about me.  Yes, I sporadically break out in a prayer chorus at the top of my lungs.  My neighbors worry about me.   Singing to the Lord is a special way of talking to Him, and I feel His presence in a special way.  It’s kinda hard to yell at the kids for putting the chickens in their bedroom or splattering mud on your clothesline when you just were singing about how the “Lord changed me.”  Or better yet a muddy chicken in their bedroom….yeah….it’s happened. 
  3. Give Yourself A Sticker I keep myself in check by taking away “rewards” when I don’t make time for the Lord.  Hey it works with kids, so why not?  I promised the Lord a few years ago that I won’t go 24 hrs. without reading my Bible.  I’ll admit I haven’t always kept this, but after I promised the Lord this, I feel deep conviction when I try to go to bed and I know I didn’t read my Bible yet.  I also promised the Lord I would never write a blog post unless I’ve done my devotions that day.
  4. See the Handwriting on the Wall  Not the blue crayon that magically made “B’s” all over my hallway.  I journal prayer lists and special verses and tape them in places that catch my eye.  Above my kitchen sink, on the wall going into the dining room, the front door, etc…anywhere works.

A few years ago I came to my husband and my heart was broken as I humbly asked, “Am I backslidden?”  I was comparing myself to my Bible college days when I would spend hours each week studying my Bible and memorizing Scripture.  Almost every waking moment then was sensitive to the Lord’s voice and His leading.  My sweet husband explained to me how this season of my life is different.  I’ve grown to understand exactly what he meant.  The time I have as a wife to a young man and mama to little ones will pass quickly and it is such an important job supporting and encouraging my man while molding little lives.  To properly do this and with the proper spirit we can’t forsake or excuse away our quiet time.  You’ll not regret it.

Boundaries are necessary. Maria put it so well!
Go take a minute and look around Maria's blog ~ you'll love both her words and her pictures!

So I'm curious ~ What are some boundaries you've put in place to make sure you spend time with the Lord? Please share!