First Responders

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Maybe you’ve noticed this by now, but this blog doesn’t exactly stick to one focus. I wish I could say it was only about fearlessly mothering: boldy mothering when no Mom has, umm, mothered before, but it just isn’t the case. The more I try to focus on this one topic, the more I end up going in a different direction with my next post. Instead of wallowing in chocolate and frustration concerning this debacle, I realized this is because these two topics that I’m passionate about – fearlessly mothering and the awesome presence of God – are quite intertwined. For me, I cannot have the former without the latter. I simply cannot be a fearless mother without the living, breathing presence of God infusing my daily life. If I try to do this without Him, I become legalistic and my perfectionist streak takes over, and I start complaining about ridiculous things, like the fact that my two year old doesn’t know his alphabet yet. See? Ridiculous. I have to parent with His presence, each day, otherwise I become a bit ridiculous. For that reason, I’m informing you now that most likely every other post will concern the presence of God and what I’m hearing from Him, and have absolutely nothing to do with children or Cheerios or dirty diapers entirely. So consider this the non-Cheerios post for now, and let the dirty diaper smell fade into the background.

As I mentioned here, I forewent the New Years resolutions for the month of January and decided instead to concentrate on waiting on the Lord, without an agenda or a Big Fat My Needs List. It hasn’t quite been a daily thing yet (still working on that), but this past month has been so beautiful. Intimate. Restoring. I have learned much about calming my heart and quietly waiting on Him, even though I’m not exactly a quiet person. It’s almost like a tithe of my attention and affection: before I speak or interrupt, I’m learning to give Him the firstfruits of my attention, devotion, love, opinion. He gets the first interaction. I find my words changing from saying things about feeling the presence of God (although we can definitely feel His presence), to developing an awareness of His presence continually with me. Waiting on Him, by myself, somewhat locked away and with no agenda, has brought me to a place where I am not sitting around waiting for goose bumps, but instead am quietly listening for when my Beloved wants to speak (if at all). It is incredible. And normally, yes, He does grace these times with a thick, tangible sweetness and peace, like a cloud. But He’s taken me from seeking that to coming simply to worship Him because He’s worthy.

In the midst of this, I’m starting to hear Him call my heart during other times of my day. I’m sure He’s called me before, but this time I’m actually listening. When I’m frustrated about something and I’m standing in front of my kitchen sink, I’ll hear Him say something like, “You seem worn and tired. Come rest in Me a minute,” or after an interaction with my children that didn’t go well: “That was frustrating. Take a minute to sit with Me.” If I did hear Him say things like that to me in the past, I don’t remember heeding it often. I’d brush it off and continue what I was doing, knowing that the weight of our domestic household rested on my shoulders alone (cue sarcasm font). But now that I’m taking the time to wait and listen in the quiet places, I’m learning to obey in these moments, as well. I’m finding my Father wants every bit, every smidgen of my day – not just those moments I designate “Quiet Time.” I’m realizing that I don’t want to take these tender moments He sprinkles throughout my day for granted. I want to respond to His presence the first time, every time. I want to listen to His words the moment I hear them, even if it’s momentarily inconvenient to my schedule.

On a practical note, this doesn’t mean I run off to my prayer closet every time this happens. I realistically cannot bust out my newest Jesus Culture album and have a worship sesh on the spot while my four-year-old sprinkles milk around the kitchen as she pretends to be a helicopter. But I do have time to slip away to my room for a moment, or maybe just sit on the couch and close my eyes, and let my Father finish what He saying in the ongoing conversation we share throughout the day. As I train myself to listen, I’m realizing it’s not as hard as I thought to hear Him speak. My own fear and doubt were holding me back way more than my inability to hear Him.

I’m don’t write this to add one more thing to a weary mother’s growing list of demands. However, I find that when I respond to my Love’s call, when I heed the voice of my Father throughout the day, His voice becomes clearer, and I rest in His peace more often. I quit viewing my time with the Lord as an event or a moment in a worship service, but instead as an ongoing dialogue in a loving relationship. His continual presence in my life leads me to His rest and emboldens me to be fearless.

What I’m listening to: Waiting Here for You, Christy Nockels; Holy Spirit, Bryan & Katie Torwalt

What I’m reading: Psalm 139:7-90; Psalm 27:8, 14; Psalm 62:1; Psalm 63:1-3

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Taking the Time

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This is only about my fourth or fifth post in to blogging, and I’m afraid that I’m about to sound like a broken record. As a mother of three and a first-born child, I’ve been known to lean towards the bossy side (I call it strong leadership tendencies), and repeat myself. So if this post sounds like something you read here, just know that you’ve been warned. It’s something I do often.

But I digress.  Since coming back from a whirlwind family vacation full of Christmasing, a winter wedding, and Sir Mix A Lot’s hit song (don’t ask), I’ve been mulling over my resolutions and the change I would love to see take place in my life this year. I’ve made a list and am on my way to my usual plan-making and goal-setting. I’m thinking of my one word for the year (thanks, Anna, for the idea) and am trying to figure out how to make a homeschooling schedule that works better for our family. But in the midst of this, I took some time to pause, pray, and reflect, and I realized that I needed to slooow down a bit. For all of my goal-planning and lists, I’m actually a simple person; I can realistically only focus on a couple of things at a time. I multi-task because I’m a mother and I have to; if it were up to me, I would probably reach one goal at a time, and slowly at that. (Changed a diaper? Check. Made supper when I really wanted to order take out? Check and a gold star). When I sat a while and listened to what He said, I felt that for the month of January, I needed to prioritize only one thing: His presence. Sitting and listening. No list of demands or prayer requests or pleading; just taking the time to come before the Lord, just me, and without an agenda.

With my husband finishing college in May (which guarantees huge changes for our family), what I really want to do is freak out and nag God’s ear off with “Could you please just tell me what we’re doing already?!”’s.  I have a list of mothering improvements I should be working at, ranging from being more patient when certain children spill their drinks on the hour every hour to accepting the fact that yes, I DO have to feed them supper every night. But not this month. This month it’s not about me. Instead, I’m going to shut up and listen. Wait. Worship. Just say, “What’s on Your mind today, Father?” and see what He says. That simple.

I originally started doing something like this sometime last summer, and at first it felt somewhat tedious. It was hard to pull myself away from my limited Mommytime to lock myself in my room and sit on the floor. But the more time I spent with Him, removed from the noises of this world – TV, Facebook, whatever—the easier it was to come into His presence. And the more I came into His presence, the more I realized that it is a gift, a treasure, to spend time with the One who loves me more than any other. His fellowship is so sweet, and His beauty is unmatched. There is nothing like it.

God never called us to make a choice between His presence and being a good mother. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Yes, our lives are busy, and yes, it’s true that we don’t always get 15 minutes to ourselves to sit with Bible and notebook in hand. That’s why I’m not focusing on that. I’m focusing on His presence; just sitting and waiting on God. Some days it might only be 5 minutes, but I’m not going to fill those 5 minutes with my own self-improvement requests or demands for answers to life’s mysteries.  I’m coming quietly, humbly, gratefully. I’m coming to wait, to worship, to look into the face of the One I love.

And, hey! For the record, time with God can be awkward sometimes. (Or, maybe it’s just me.) Can I be honest? Sometimes I’ve taken a minute in the bathroom, with the door locked, to check in and say, “Father, I need You, and I want you to know that I love You.” You know, the bathroom, the place with the toilet? Yeah, there. One time, my children woke up earlier than usual and caught me in the middle of a worship sesh with my IPod on. I’d been pouring out my heart in worship, tears streaming down my face, and was interrupted by childish applause and giggles from two little girls who thought I was randomly singing to myself. Super awkward. But, you know what? It’s not about what I look like or sound like or where I have to snag a few minutes with God.  It’s just about being with Him. It’s taking the time. It’s choosing to worship Him because He’s worthy, and not because He’s accommodating.

So, I hope you’ll join me, Moms. Let’s aside the healthy eating and gym memberships till February, and join me on the stinky carpet. Besides, I still have some leftover Christmas cookies sitting on my table, and I’d hate for them to go to waste.