Last New Year’s I decided to start the year off with a spiritual bang and commit a formerly-believed act of cheesiness by choosing a ‘year verse’ for myself. Why not. 2015 was less than memorable, aside from the blessings we take for granted like our children’s health and a steady job. Oh, and the kittens that still pee on the laundry. Super thankful. But I thought to myself, I really want this year to have more God in it. More of his involvement and spiritual ‘umph’ to my every day. So I made Matt. 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all else shall be added to you” my verse. I decided for the first time in a decade, to have ‘quiet time’ (Christian-ese for locking the kids out of your room for 20 minutes) and read the Bible, pray and worship every day.
And within one single year- every dream of my life has come true. After one month, I was given a raise when my company was on a spending freeze. Couple months later the Lord undoubtedly messed with the credit bureau and I was approved for 100 percent financing for my first house. Three months later I was hired as head of a ministry I volunteered for-which was another dream come true, that I thought I’d have to wait years for. Three months later a book company agreed to publish a book I wrote, proving modern day miracles indeed come true. At one point the blessings were so out of control, I’d look upward and laugh….”seriously, Lord?!”
And those are just the highlights. This continual windfall of blessings is just proof of how much God longs for our hearts, first, before all else. He’s so, so willing to give us even more than we desire, but he wants us to know where the blessings come from. If we don’t talk to him-I mean really spend time with him- how would we experience him when our prayers are answered? And if he blessed us anyways, our faith would never grow, our happiness would depend on our circumstances, and we’d have less of a testimony to share with others.
But what’s even better than any of these amazing answered prayers, is how much deeper my relationship has become, and how much more joy I feel, on a daily basis. Like I cry, every day when I listen to worship music in the morning or driving to work. Not the Claire Dane’s, violent Homeland kind of crying, but just a few silent tears consistently ruining my mascara as I thank God for always blessing me with so much more than I deserve.
Starting your day out with God, not only dispels the instant chaos assaulting our brains within a minute of consciousness-finding the school permission forms, impending deadlines- and places everything under God’s authority. Trusting him to see you through every circumstance, celebrating with you through the minor successes of the day – “found matching socks for all THREE kids…holla!!” and letting him know he’s Lord. It’s amazing the difference quiet time makes, though I’m not sure why we’re surprised how spending time with the creator of the universe could positively impact our day. I’m a more patient mother, a more positive staff member, more effective ministry leader-heck I’m even nicer to my putrid cats-when I start out with the Lord.
At the risk of sounding all Joel Olsteen, I believe the number one way to be your “best self” is by remaining close to God. You + God = happy mama, and everyone-the hubs, the kids, and the snarky school secretary you almost assaulted during last month’s estrogen surge, really do agree.
Whenever friends share about being frustrated at home (or anywhere, really), I always ask how their quiet time with the Lord has been. Especially moms with young babies, because it’s so hard to find a quiet anything, let alone an actual sliver of time spent in the Word and prayer. After my lady parts underwent the irreversible blunt trauma of birthing two babies in less than two years, I went without dedicated quiet time for years. Sure you pray during the bi-weekly shower, or in the car when your thoughts aren’t massacred by Wiggles songs, but without personal time with God, we’re doomed. Looking back I wonder if I consider those early years the hardest because I wasn’t a baby person, or I wasn’t a spiritually strong person.
It makes total sense—when you’re with God, you manifest His characteristics—patience, long-suffering, kindness—did I mention long-suffering? And you’ll be much more equipped to handle your two-year-old dispersing fireplace ash around the carpet, or your son telling you his water fowl report is due tomorrow. And he needs pictures. And the printer’s out of ink. At times like these, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” translates to not crashing your car in fury, driving to Staples for HP tricolor economy ink. That quiet time dose of II Peter might just have saved you.
It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we’re spiritually mature enough to make it days, even weeks, without being in the Word and prayer. Just another crafty lie from the enemy that affects our kids and our home life more than anything. Reserving alone time for God can seem nearly impossible when you’re sleep-deprived with an infant, or working full time, but it’s just worth it. We might have been awake at five, and the house clutter could pass for an ADT security billboard (Don’t let home invasion happen to you!) but God still wants us to make time for him, for our own good.
Even if the only quiet time you have is in your car, praying and worshiping and then reading an online verse when you get to your cube, do what you can to make it happen. It’s been 15 months since I made that daily time decision, as if it was some kind of domestic obligation, and now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.