One of the most fun things about parenting is introducing your children to some of your favorite things. Seeing them light up at the things you love, brings a special joy to your heart. In fact, one of my favorite family vacations was when we took our daughter to New York City for the first time. We had the best week, taking her to all of our old haunts and watching her fall in love with the city.
What I enjoy just as much, is when my daughter introduces me to something she loves. Without my daughter, I may never have discovered some of the Indie musical groups she enjoys or Mental Floss magazine. The other day though, she really hit the jackpot.
You see, my daughter is absolutely passionate about serving God and others. She reads about it, lives it, and wants to major in it in college. She has previously asked to attend conferences she feels will give her a new perspective and ideas on how to serve. Because she isn’t an independent driver yet and the conferences are geared towards adults, I attend with her.
Several months ago, she had asked to attend a spiritual conference in our city. It was going to be three days of mother/daughter bonding and listening to speakers on ways to serve God and our communities and share our faith while we are doing it.
I always enjoy attending these conferences with her, because I enjoy a lot of the same things she does. When we attended this particular conference last week, I found myself experiencing a feeling similar to sinking into a warm, comfy couch when you are exhausted. Suddenly, the reality hit me.
The last year has been a blur of serving others, writing Bible lessons and teaching others about God. What I didn’t realize is that I was so busy “feeding” everyone else, I had neglected to feed myself! Yes I was praying and studying my Bible, but it was usually in the context of praying for others or studying to write or teach a lesson.
I don’t know how long it had been since I had really taken the time to feed myself spiritually. All I know is that during those three days I could almost feel God refilling my spiritual cup. I felt refreshed and renewed even though I knew I was in the middle of a particularly rough patch of serving others.
When you are raising children, sometimes it feels like you are running on no sleep most of the time. It seems like someone always has to get up early or stay up late for something (or is up sick all night) and the more children you have, the more it happens.
Mothers, especially, tend to be the ones who nurture everyone in the family through every need or crisis. Airlines figured this out a long time ago. They never say the word “mothers” when giving instructions about oxygen masks, but you know they are thinking it!
In order to have the spiritual strength to dedicate your children to God, you are going to have to take the time to feed yourself spiritually. This is not about taking a weekend off and going to a spa or retreat center (although that would be wonderful!). This is about intentionally setting aside a few minutes each day to be with God.
Stop groaning! I have been and am in your shoes. Most mornings I wake up already behind in what I need to get done for the day. I feel like I am working a difficult manual labor job from before the sun rises until long after it sets. Most nights I plop into bed thoroughly exhausted and fall asleep as soon as I close my eyes.
I have a friend who has a child with profound special needs. I am not entirely sure of everything his care entails, but I know just hearing about the little bits of my friend’s daily life exhausts me. Yet she rarely seems tired. Her ministry is loving her child and showing others how to love unconditionally. We often ask her what her secret is, knowing that were we in her shoes, you would probably find us crying in a corner somewhere unable to move from the stress and exhaustion.
She has told us her “tricks” and I will share them with you. At first, it may seem a little too easy and yet impossible. We have all found that when we do it though, it makes a profound difference in the rest of our day. We still have problems and frustrations, but it keeps us on track. Ready?
The minute your eyes open for the morning, take a couple of minutes and pray. Thank God for giving you another day. Pour out your concerns for the day. Ask for His guidance and for Him to multiply your time. Ask Him to forgive any sins you have committed. Give Him your day.
If you are the type of person who needs an alarm clark, set it a few minutes early. Don’t let anyone, including your spouse take these few minutes, even if you have to lock yourself in a closet or bathroom to get them. Will you pray again throughout the day? Hopefully so, but I find those prayers are usually brief and addressing a critical issue or are prayers of thanksgiving. This early morning prayer is for you to have a daily heartfelt conversation with God.
Try it and let me know what happens. Next time, I will tell you my friend’s other secret!