Friday, August 7, 2015

Dear Mama, How to Fill Your Cup When Your Hands Are Full: Finding What Works For You {Guest Post, Printable, Giveaway, & Winner!}

Maybe today your hands were full? Mine too.
Hopefully you're working hard on having the right perspective?
Are you seeking the help of the Holy Spirit?
If that's the theory, today we're coming to the practical.
How in the world are we supposed to find time to do everything us mamas have to do AND spend time in God's Word?

I remember the day I realized that all these jobs, the chores, the duties were never going to end as long as my children were living in my home.
It struck me right between the eyes that at no point was I ever going to be completely "caught up."
There was always going to be something more that had to be done.
I admit, I staggered under the weight of that realization.
A mama's work is never done.
Up to that point, I'd just assumed that one day I'd get the last thing crossed off the list, and then I'd have all this free time to spend with my kiddos, read my Bible, pray, study, write, create, and read.
When it hit me that this wasn't going to happen, I did the first sensible thing I could think of ~ look for a solution.

Have you ever read a post or article about how to spend time with the Lord when you have small children?
I read one once from a lady who said she got up at 3 a.m. every morning to have quiet time with the Lord.
I am not knocking this lady, but I'm not even in my right mind at that time of the night, much less able to think clearly about reading my Bible!
Another article said that I should do my devotions with my child on my lap.
That lady does not know MY child.
It would end in a wrestling match with baby trying to rip every page out of my Bible.
How about staying up late to spend time with God?
Have you ever drooled all over the pages of your Bible? It's gross.
I tried getting up a little earlier {not 3 a.m.} for a while, but little one's mommy radar would always sense my presence.
Foiled again.

Are any of these bad ideas?
No, not necessarily, but I think maybe they might be a bit short-sighted.
While some of us perfectionist types would like a nice blog post about "5 ways for busy mamas to stay in God's Word" or "8 things you can do to study God's Word with a baby in the house", those are really just nice-sounding titles. They can't guarantee me what I need.
What I really need is to try to find what works for me, and then accept the grace to try it out.

The first thing I learned about myself was that I could read my Bible while nursing my newborn.
I could do those two things at the same time and be awake enough to gather at least something from God's Word.
It worked for me. Does that mean it would work for you? Maybe, maybe not.

While I don't have a newborn, but I do have toddlers, I've learned to keep my Bible in the bathroom.
This may disgust you {sorry!}, but sometimes the only "free" time I have is when I'm doing my duty {ahem.}.
Enough said.

I've tried reading my Bible at night for a while, but my mind was always way too distracted. It didn't work for me, so I stopped doing it.

It's okay to try different things. The most important thing about spending time with the Lord when your hands are full is to never quit trying! Don't give up! 
Sooner or later you'll find what works for you, but rest in His grace while you're searching.

To that end, I've asked an old college friend to share some things she's recently added into her life that work for her. Maybe they'll spark a tiny flame in you......

HI! I’m Tascha. I am humbled and honored to have been asked to share a blog post here. Patty was a strong Christian example to me in college, and I have enjoyed the glimpse of her life in Africa these past few years via her blog!
A little about me: I’ve been a wife for 12 years {married to my best friend!} and a momma for 11... and a Child-of-the-One-True-King many more years than that. ;) We are currently on our second year of homeschooling. Before that I was a mom who stayed home with the younger children and volunteered around our church while the older ones began school at the church-school. 

One question I was asked to address is sharing struggles I’ve had with having a devotion time since becoming a mother. That’s a loaded question. 
Children take time. Some days, LOTS of time {and not always because they are being destructive or are in need of constant correction, but I have 3 out of 4 that could literally talk… every-single- moment-they-are-awake!}.
And spending time with my Lord requires time. It’s best when that time can be UNINTERRUPTED. 
If you’re reading this and not a mom, perhaps you can begin to see my personal dilemma :) 

Another aspect I was asked to share about is how I’ve made God’s Word a priority in my life.
I think I’m going to begin with that one… because both of these thoughts intertwine greatly.
God’s Word being a priority in my heart began… when I was a child and saw my own mother taking time to read God’s Word. 
She often [and still does] wrote a verse on a 3x5 card and stuck in in the window sill above the kitchen sink, sometimes stacks of them. 
She printed verses and taped them to the back of the bathroom door. 
There were stacks of verses on 3x5 cards on side tables in our living room. 
They were on her bathroom mirror. 
You may see where I’m going with this.
God’s Word IS important to me BECAUSE it was important to my mom. 

I have often struggled with regular study time. I go through seasons. 
But because of this foundation my mom laid {that I really noticed as an older child and teenager}, I had Scripture in my heart that has carried me through many times of deep struggle as a mom myself. {I mean, it’s hard not to memorize words that you see every time you wash dishes—when you ARE the dishwasher :) }
I realize, some may suggest that you “get up earlier” or “carve out a time” during the day when the children are otherwise occupied in which to do regular study; but I will not be one of those moms. You see, I’ve tried that, and was quickly discouraged {feel free to call me a wimp. lol}… I can only get up so early before I am literally sick the rest of the day, and I seem to have 1 child that is sometimes up and ready before I am, no matter how early I rise!  And there truly IS a season in which not every child will be occupied for the same consecutive 10 minutes, let alone 15-30 {and if they are, I usually try to catch up on laundry or something… or just fall asleep}.

This is why I I believe a true key for me during this season of motherhood [and any ‘busy season’ we have] is having Scripture in our hearts that can be recalled when it fits the circumstance.
I think the Lord {& Psalmist} knew what they were saying when these words were penned:  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. …and I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. …and O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Some that I recall often are: A soft answer turns away wrath… or the LORD is the strength of my life… or What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost… therefore glorify God in your body… 
…or, one of my most oft remembered: And whatsoever ye do [laundry, cooking, picking up that toy for the 27,000th time today], do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men… 
If you are a new Christian, I will list a few verses at the end that I have found a great recommendation for memorization. And you can find a printable for them here.
{Any one of these passages would be a great place to begin a personal study, if you need some direction.}
I recommend getting a pack of 3x5 cards and writing these verses out (or printing them)… set them on your window sill [or above your sink] in the kitchen, tape them to a mirror you frequently look in, rotate every 2-3 weeks or whenever you think you’ve got one down… but don’t forget to bring it back out for a refresher. :) Print some out on a full sheet of paper and tape to the back of your bathroom door :) 
one day, you will see the impact it can have on you and others in your house!

Another key that I learned from my own mom, was to constantly have a prayer in my mouth. I do not succeed at this, but I strive to call on my Lord as a first response rather than a last. Even breathing the words of a verse as my prayer. 

Over the years, I have also done a few Bible studies. Most of had to do with being a wife, the right kind of Biblical friend and help-meet, to my husband. I’ve done portions of studies found online about the women of the Bible. I’ve learned much about submission, motherhood and Biblical womanhood… which is what I need to teach my own 3 girls. 
I’ve enjoyed a few studies with Good Morning Girls  and Time-Warp Wife has a chapter-by-chapter study on ESTHER  and RUTH with FREE study guide!
I’ve done a verse-by-verse study of much of Proverbs 31 {that “classic” wife chapter, but it’s about so much more than that!}. 

What I also come back to time and again when I am feeling rushed or between structured studies and in need of refreshing is reading a Proverb that coincides with the date. 
I also enjoy reading portions of the Psalms [especially chapter 119, which is broken into 7 verse segments], the Gospels [where I learn about Jesus and how to love like Him] and the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament [where I learn about growing in Christ] which give me much to think about in just a few verses at a time. 

I have also tried to look up subjects, such as happiness and self and study them out by looking up words in my Strong’s Concordance {this book will give you every reference for a particular word as well as the Greek/Hebrew word & definition}. 
But above all…. having God’s Words already hidden in my heart [memorized] has been what has carried me through many… MANY… days.
I must admit here that having Bible verses all over my home has not been a priority for me this first decade of motherhood [how has it been a decade already?!]. But we {my husband and I} have attempted to make it a priority to have our children memorize Scripture {beginning with Ephesians 6:1 and 4:32 and John 14:6}.

This leads into the last topic about which I was asked to share… Bible Journaling, or incorporating drawing and art into Bible study.
I have not drawn anything beyond very basic shapes since high school… and even then, I did not do much. I preferred reading a book. 
If you’d asked me a year ago if I could draw a picture to illustrate anything, I would have laughed and said, “sorry, I’m just not an artist.”
But then I came across this blog post about leaving a legacy letter for our children… in the form of a Bible with intentional notes—decorative, artistic notes—called Bible Journaling. 
It touched my heart—and I wanted to do it!
I started with just some basic embellished lettering with swirls and dots. 

Then, I wanted to do more, so I watched youtube videos on drawing flowers and banners and came across ideas for embellishing simple lines, called Zenspirations. That’s what this one is patterned after. 

From there I made the decision to just go for it! It was fun, and it helped me keep a verse in my mind during the whole process of deciding what and how to draw it. And ultimately, that’s what Bible Journaling is about in the present. Later, it can {and prayerfully will} be a legacy for my children. 
I’ve written a little more about my process on my blog.

I chose Proverbs {my “go-to” study} to read through the month of July 2015, and my goal was to choose a verse every couple of days to try to embellish, simply. The Lord has blossomed this into an almost every day occurrence this month, and He has given my mind ideas of what to draw and guided me to photos from which to draw inspiration. 
This is my latest as of the typing of this:

It has become such a blessing to me!
It’s not about your ability to draw; it’s ALL about spending time meditating on His Word
Each evening when I am able to attempt my drawing before too late, my children love to watch. They ask what the verse says, or just read it as I’m sketching the words. They often ask for me to make a copy before I color it—so they can color it too. :) 
In a way, this has become to my kids what my mom’s verses on a 3x5 card were to me. At least, I pray so!

I pray that something here is a blessing and encouragement to someone! 
Our devotions do not have to be a long-drawn out study every day, though there are times for that, and certain seasons lend that time to us… but each day, we just need to drop at Jesus’ feet and claim a promise from Him… then go and BE for our family, with His help.

Thank you so much, Tascha!

Tascha has kindly included a free printable of the first one she ever drew JUST for her children to color! It’s an apt lesson for us all :)

And just to help us all get started memorizing more Scripture, I'm giving away a digital download from Tascha's collection. Winner will be picked next Thursday! To enter, simply look at Tascha's beautiful work and leave a comment here or on Facebook telling which one you'd pick!

When you have a few minutes, go check out the rest of Tascha's blog or her Instagram account!

*And the winner of Loving the Little Years is.......Jess Scott! {I'll shoot you a PM through FB and get you your book!}


  1. Love them all, but especially Psalm 150:6. :)

  2. Patti and Tascha - you both are such an encouragement to me! I love keeping up with you both via blogs/posts, etc. Your words have often blessed me when I feel tired and dry. I have been admiring the beautiful illustrations, and one of my favorites is Proverbs 18:10 - I am thankful for our Strong Tower!