Four years ago, I was a mom of three. My youngest, Andrew, was just over a year old. My days sort of went like this: I woke up to a screaming Andrew somewhere between 6 & 6:30. Every single morning he would do this! I would be SO annoyed! I'd get up, and very sleepily try to figure out (while not operating on all "cylinders") how in the world to get him out of his "funk." I'd take him to bed with me... that'd make him madder. I'd try a drink... sometimes that would work. Sometimes cheerios would work. Sometimes something else. I never knew what it was going to be, but long before he got un-grumpified, the change of hands occurred and I would go through the rest of the morning really, really GRUMPY! I tried to spend time with the Lord when I could, but with three kids ages 6, 4, & 1... it was really hard! There were always interruptions and not very often did I have very good quality time sitting at His feet. I was trying to figure out how to school my 6 year old, and since we butted heads every day, I thought about how nice public school would be almost daily. I had always wanted to homeschool! I had envisioned myself doing that from the time I was a teenager. But the reality of it was crushing my dream-world. What was wrong??!! Why couldn't I pull it together!? I didn't want to be that grumpy mom I had become, but I didn't know what to do.
Now, the picture I'm painting seems pretty bleak... like I was really stressed out or something. I was... but the only thing that kept me from really being the absolute, awful stressed out mom that you are envisioning, is that I happen to have a bit of a strong will myself. I cannot tell you how many people told me during my pregnancy with Andrew that having three kids was going to be hard and stressful. Sometimes I wanted to "HUMPH.." and say, "Thanks a lot... Joy-killer!" I'm not sure why people think it is their obligation to tell you such things, but I'm not the only mom who has heard such comments... so I'm being real about them, in case you are that mom too. The more people want to tell me things like that, the more I want to say, "Just watch me!" So, I sort of held it together, especially in public... but even at home as much as I could, but I was horribly inconsistent. Sound familiar? How about this? I was mostly operating in my own strength... NOW does it sound familiar? You've been there too, I'm sure. I was virtually trying to figure out how to do "life" while only spending a few moments of interrupted non-quality time asking for wisdom.
"My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God. "
Was I seeking wisdom as silver and truly searching for hidden treasures in those moments of non-quality time? He was faithful to me... So faithful to me that He remained the jealous God who wanted my whole heart... not just my gasping for spiritual air that I did when I couldn't take it anymore by myself ;)
There was a book I read that December called "Managers of their Homes" that is devoted to helping homeschool moms figure out how to schedule their days. Though the book itself, is not what I want to share with you, it is what I was reading when I began to "get it." Over and over in the book, other moms of way larger families than mine were saying, "You have to spend time with the Lord... and you've gotta do it alone." Most of them chose, even though it can be hard, to put that time slot in the morning before their kids got up. I am a true advocate of morning time with the Lord, especially now that I've realized its benefit in my life. I used to more often read the Bible and pray at night. That's not a bad thing... Any time with the Lord is better than none, but when I began to give Him the first-fruits of the morning on a regular basis, it was amazing how much better my day eventually went (more about that later ;). My personal decision to do this in the morning meant that I would have to wake up at 5. My primary goal at first (selfishly I suppose) was to not have such a grumpy day! I already knew how much better it was on those mornings I would get up early (4:45). Many times I would fix breakfast for Whit before he went to work, but then I would go back to bed. On rare occasion, however, I would stay up and was awake when Andrew woke up MAD. It was amazing how much better I was able to deal with him then! It didn't seem to matter that I got so little sleep, because my day was so much better!
I wasn't a stranger to spending time with the Lord in the morning, but motherhood had changed things in that department for the-not-so-great. So at first it was really, really hard... The very first day that I dedicated myself as a MOM, to wake up early to spend specific, on purpose, quantity AND quality time with the Lord... guess what happened? Remember that third child I wrote about in the first paragraph? Andrew woke up that early too... Mad as ever! I dealt with other issues too every day for two weeks. It was always something! I can't even remember them all now. I just know that every morning there was some crazy thing that happened that kept me from doing what I really believed God wanted me to commit to. The straw that "broke the camel's back" happened two weeks after I tried to start this commitment: My carbon monoxide detector went off two minutes before my alarm was supposed to! Whit was working nights, and I, in disbelief did several things. I took the alarm outside, and brought it back in. It wouldn't stop beeping. I thought, "Am I REALLY supposed to grab all of my sleeping children up and leave the house?? I mean REALLY?" So, I called Whit. He told me to do several different things to the detector, and all of the things still resulted in the same thing... it eventually went off again! He finally told me, "Well I don't know what to say... The other day when the wind was blowing in the same direction, it went off too, but it didn't last this long. Maybe everything will be fine." MAYBE? He basically had no advice for me and I was scared. What I did after I hung up the phone, you might not agree with. I mean HELLO carbon monoxide can KILL people!!! You would have probably advised me to call 911 and scoop my babies up into the car and leave. But there I was in my living room... after TWO SOLID WEEKS... TRYING to have time with God. I knew in my Spirit what this was about. So, as ridiculous as I felt, I spoke, OUT LOUD to that beeping carbon monoxide detector... I am NOT making this up... I remember exactly what I said. "SATAN! You are JUST trying to scare me! You have been KEEPING me from doing what I KNOW I am supposed to do. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE... in the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST!" As soon as I finished speaking Jesus' name, that stupid detector shut up. I laughed HYSTERICALLY, knelt down, and began to pray... An amazing thing began to happen over the next couple of months. See, the more time you spend with the Lord, the more you want of Him... and the more He gives if you ask. Andrew began waking up later and later and began waking up more and more pleasant, at that!
Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." I'm a believer! And if anything encouraged my belief in verses such as this one, it was this particular time in my life!
I have had my share of challenges over the last four years... and I've had my struggles with giving Him the morning, but I am forever changed and challenged. I couldn't survive without His wisdom... and I sought Him this morning over something else entirely. Needing to readjust... reprioritize... Needing to remember the impact of December 2007 and I'm desiring to encourage your December 2011... I encourage you to seek Him in the morning too.