Friday, July 31, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: A Change in Perspective {+ a Giveaway & Printable}

I was quite the spiritual person when I was in high school and college. 
My spirituality started shaking a bit after I'd been married a few months.
But my spirituality took an absolute nose-dive not long after giving birth to my first child.
At least.......that's how it seemed to me.

Before having children I always had time for reading my Bible.
Even if I was running late in the morning, I would plan to spend time in the Word before going to bed.
Being a night owl, that wasn't too hard for me.
If I wanted to, I could clear time for hours of reading, studying, and praying.
I had a notebook in which I was working through a study of all the women of the Bible.
I had inspirational quotes and Scriptures hanging where I could see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night before drifting off to sleep.
When I found out I was expecting my first little peanut, I thought about lots of things, but staying in God's Word after baby arrived?
I'd learned to do my devotions at a young age.
My parents had taught me well, and I'd even read the Bible through in a year a few times!
Why would having a baby change any of that?

By this time, all you mothers out there are probably shaking your heads.
You KNOW what I'm gonna say next, because it's happened to you.
I gave birth to my first child.
She decided to arrive at 1:47 a.m., and yes, I know the exact time, because all mothers do.
After being cared for, I was taken to my bed to sleep out the last few hours left of the night.
The nurses kindly {or maybe not so kindly} shook me awake at 6:00 a.m., and shoved a squalling {seriously} infant into my arms with the words, "She's been screaming for food since she was born. We've been dripping glucose water into her mouth for four hours. She's hungry! Feed her!"
I tried to rally my scrambled brains, but all I could think was how tired I was.
Why couldn't they take care of her while I got some much needed rest?
Didn't they know I'd just given birth four hours before?!?
And then it hit me.
My life was no longer my own.

I quickly learned that it wasn't just my sleep I had to give up to be a mama.
I had to give up my body, my desires, my agenda, my schedule, my time.
Over the next few days, every time baby would fall asleep I'd pick up my Bible to read......and be asleep in less time than it takes you to finish reading this sentence.
I had never been so tired in my life {I now know it is possible to get tired-er. I do have four children!}.

The hard thing was that I was sure it would get better......but it didn't.
Babies don't sleep through the night right away; mamas get more and more tired.
Within a few weeks I got very sick and had to have two surgeries.
I was actually put on sleeping pills for a short time, because the wounds from the surgery were so painful, but I still had to care for my little one in my half-drugged state.
I had to stop nursing my wee one, which made my hormones go crazy.
We were new young missionaries with no one to help us.
When baby was six weeks old, we found out our government paper was all wrong, and we had to leave the country {Ghana} immediately to get it straightened out.
That was one of the lowest days of my life.
I knew I needed God in a major way, but I couldn't feel Him.
Everything I'd done in the past to feel "close" to God, I couldn't seem to manage.

We boarded our plane, got settled in our seats, buckled baby into her wall cot, ate our dinner, and began our overnight flight to London.
As the lights were dimmed for sleeping, I began to weep.
I shoved my head into the scrawny blue airplane blanket and sob-prayed for almost an hour.
At that moment, it was the best thing I could have done.

I felt so guilty for all the emotions, the seeming failures, the loss of control I was feeling, but none of those feelings were from God.
What he wanted from me was surrender ~
releasing what I thought my life should look like, what I thought a mother should be, and what "being spiritual" really meant.
After dozing for a bit, I watched an in-flight movie with my hubby, and we laughed 'til we cried {literally!}
Tears of sadness and happiness, fear and joy, hope and discouragement all came gushing out.
It might sound funny, but the laughter that night really was a medicine.
God gave us a mighty big dose, right when we needed it most.

At that moment I didn't need to read my Bible {though I did do that later}, I didn't need to do a Bible study on all the mothers of the Bible {though that would be a good thing to do}, and I didn't need to spend an hour in deep prayer {though prayer is extremely important to a new mother, I was not physically capable of that}.
What I did need to do was to find a few moments of relief from all I'd been going through, be reminded that God did really still love me, grasp the truth that God is as near to me as I desire Him to be, and rest in the joy that only He could give me.
I needed a change in perspective.

As a mother now for over 11 years, I'm learning that some days a change in how I look at things can shift my whole day for the better.
Around our house we call it "thinking truth."
When I catch my attitude souring, my temper rising, and my anger boiling, by God's grace, I ask myself one question ~"What's the truth in this situation?"
If I take a few moments to think about the answer, the Holy Spirit will often guide me to the problem.
And if I'm listening to Him, He'll then point me to the next step.
Here's the truth, now what am I going to do about it?
When I change my perspective, I can usually see what's causing the struggle.
Once I know the source of the problem, I can take the steps to fix it.
It's a simple practice, but it's a powerful one, too.

The more I think truth, the less draining my days are.
Instead of constantly pouring out my opinions on the matter or trying to keep a smiling face while gritting my teeth or trying to figure out who did what to whom and how am I going to make them stop, God's truth takes over.
If I can think His words, then I won't have to figure out my opinion on the matter.
If I can see with His eyes, I don't have to grit my teeth in frustration, but can rest that tensed jaw, knowing that His Word shared with my children will not return void.
If I can reason with His mind, I don't have to know who did what to whom or whatever, I just have to share God's wisdom with my needy children.
And as I think on truth, I'm filled up with Him.
Looking at things with His eyes equals a full cup!

One of my favorite resources {besides the Bible} for giving me a change in perspective these days is a little book called Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic.
She writes about motherhood in the trenches, because many days us mamas of little people definitely feel like we are at war!
Her book is funny, down-to-earth, and easy-to-read {short chapters for busy mamas!}, but more importantly it's honest, encouraging, and full of wise ways to shift our focus away from the messes and back to the truth.

Not because I'm being paid to do so, but because I want to share this excellent resource, I'm giving away one copy of her book today!
I'm not quite techy enough to do a fancy giveaway button-clicker-thingy, so I'll make it {hopefully} simple.
If you'd like to enter this giveaway for either an e-book version {open to anyone} or a print version {must have a US mailing address}, please leave one comment either here on the blog or on my facebook page. For a second entry {just tell me in your comment}, you may share this post on facebook.
I'll announce the winner next week Thursday/Friday {depending on where you live on the ol' globe}.
And since I love this book so much, I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from the book with you in printable form {just click on the picture if you'd like your own}!


  1. Isn't it great that God still uses people to inspire, encourage and uplift us! I love the saying with the brooms, so I know I will love other parts of the book, too.

  2. Hope I get it, haha! I've heard of the book but not read it. Great post!

  3. Please enter me! I also shared on fb.

  4. So needed this today. Very overwhelmed recently. Thank you!

  5. I would love to read the rest of the book after reading the quote. Sharing on FB too!

  6. I've heard this book is excellent.

  7. Patty, this post is really good. I believe we don't always understand what "spiritual" means. I've been a Christian a long time, and it seems that only this past year am I finally understanding how to "pray without ceasing." Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is chase ponies--did this this morning with my husband, so they wouldn't ruin our garden. Sometimes, cleaning a floor or washing a pan is spiritual. Sometimes, playing with a baby is spiritual. All the time, communion with God, casting our cares on Him is spiritual. Loved your illustration about the plane trip! Yes! God bless you!

  8. Love this latest post! The book sounds wonderful and just what I need to share with my g'daughters. Am sharing this with my FB friends.

  9. Love this post and your complete honesty! Sharing this with my FB friends.

  10. So true and what I needed! Thanks you for encouraging me! - Wendy

  11. Wow! I needed this today (and every day).

  12. Wow! I needed this today (and every day).