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Hey Busy Mamas,
I’ll be the first to admit that finding space in my life for focused, daily quiet time is like trying to find a tiny pearl in a beach full of sand. You look and look, willing it to appear, certain it will show itself, only to find it has eluded you once again. The days pass by and it’s still nowhere to be found. Every once in awhile you think you catch a glimpse of it, but upon further inspection, it turns out its a piece of tattered plastic reflecting the sun. And so you resolve to try again tomorrow to find it.
Even with the best intentions and a well thought out day, I tend to find myself in one of two places as it relates to quiet time. I either become completely overwhelmed with the demands of house and family and my opportunity slowly fades away, or worse, I choose to fill my precious few moments of downtime with mindless inactivity or checking off one more thing on my to-do list. I justify to myself that there is too much to do and I cannot allow myself to stop unless the kitchen catches on fire.
Not only is this totally bananas, its unhealthy.
We’re not machines. We’re not designed to endure stress 24/7. Our bodies and minds need rest and rejuvenation. This is vitally important for all people, men and women alike, but especially for those of us with kids, and especially, especially for those of us with lots of kids (and possibly animals, too). I’m writing to the ladies in particular because we tend to bear a greater portion of childcare and household management simply because we’re moms. However, this definitely applies to the guys too (especially stay-at-home dads) so feel free to share this with your hubbies.
Take my house, for example. Its constantly in a state of motion and it wouldn’t surprise me if a tornado spawned in my living room. The noise can be deafening and the action causes my eyes to constantly dart to and fro. I wish I was one of those moms who welcomed the chaos, handled it beautifully, and even reveled in it. But, by God’s great design, I was not made that way. I’m an introvert, fueled and motivated by silence and solitude, drained by constant noise and chatter. So, for me, quiet time is a necessity for life, especially during these years when we’re in the parenting trenches with many little ones.
And as Scott and I move forward in our journey with our children and embryos, stretching ourselves further and further, taking time to re-center is life giving, not only for us as individuals, but also for our family. But don’t be fooled. Even you, extrovert mamas (and daddies), need a chance to sit in silence and stillness without distraction. Whether you realize it or not, this sacred space affects every aspect of your life.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about why some daily focused quiet time is so vitally important to your existence and to your roles as wife, mom, homemaker, employee, etc, etc. I emphasize “focused” because this is not a time for a power nap or to plop yourself on the couch and zone out to a TV show. Those are beautiful things, for sure, but not what I’m talking about. This time is different. It has purpose, structure, and meaning, meant to fill and sustain you.
1) You need a focused daily quiet time to recharge.
If you’re like me, you’re running around all day with little opportunity to take a breath, let alone think straight. The days start early around here – I’m sure they do at your home too. By 10am, my batteries are already low, sometimes depleted. Stepping away and plugging into God and quiet time is like hooking up to an instant charging station. It renews our strength and calms our racing thoughts, yet mysteriously energizes us at the same time. It fills us with the perseverance we need to keep going. Our small, limited-capacity tanks get refueled back to the brim. It gives us desperately needed life and vigor for the day and night ahead.
2) You need a focused daily quiet time to receive.
Let’s face it, with all the noise and busyness of life, its hard to hear God. He is always speaking to us, trying to connect, but many times we simply don’t hear Him or sense Him. His voice gets drowned out by grocery shopping, homework assignments, a phone call from a friend, an errand that must get done, etc. Fill in the blank for yourself. By allowing ourselves to stop, we open up an opportunity to commune with God. Its not only a time for us to pray, but also to be still, silent, and receive from Him. He has a lot to say to us if we are willing to tune in and listen.
This blessing can extend beyond quiet time because the practice of quiet time helps keep our focus on God, opens up the lines of communication with Him, and strengthens our relationship with Him. This allows Him to infuse Himself into all of our activities where we can receive from Him throughout our day.
During my quiet time, I will often have a verse jump out at me, or have a revelation dawn on me, or hear a whisper in my heart that speaks to the core of my very soul. Sometimes I just feel His unmistakable presence and I bask in His companionship. Whatever I receive, I know it is given especially for me. I have come to know His voice through my quiet time and, as I go about my day, I am aware of His presence even in the most mundane of tasks.
3) You need a focused daily quiet time to reflect.
Maybe you entered your quiet time with something hanging heavy on your heart or maybe you simply have a problem that needs a solution. Maybe you’re feeling down about an interaction you had with a child or spouse. Perhaps you’re full of joy and are just in a great place! Whatever is going on in your life, time for reflection is super important. Without reflection, we cannot grow, adapt, and change. We cannot assess what is going well and what isn’t. You must allow yourself the chance to mull over your thoughts, pray, offer it up to God, and consider solutions. Most importantly, you need time to reflect on you. How could you have responded differently? Is there something that you learned from that situation? What does A, B, or C really mean to you?
Dig deep into the crevices of your life and assess yourself before God. Ask Him to expose those areas within you that need sifting and cleansing. Ask Him to show you where you’re right on track. Be honest and vulnerable, willing to learn the good, bad, and ugly about yourself and willing to be changed. I kid you not, almost every time I read a devotional with accompanying Scripture, I swear God wrote it just for me. There is always something I glean out of it that applies to a situation I am currently facing or a character trait I possess.
4) You need a focused daily quiet time to readjust.
I’ll be honest. I’m in need of an attitude adjustment quite often. I never knew I had such a temper until I had children, nor did I realize just how easily my weaknesses would be exposed. The trials and tribulations of life are many. Focused quiet time is a wonderful time-out. It offers the chance to readjust before jumping back into the demands of your day.
Frustration and anger that have been building up can either slowly fade away or, at the very least, decrease from a rapid boil down to a simmer. Wanting to quit changes to perseverance. Sadness and loneliness can turn to hope and companionship. Helpless adjusts to able. Fear transforms into courage. Weakness becomes strength. Misunderstood turns into being fully known and loved. Joy is simply multiplied. Bottom line, my friends, pausing briefly in your day for quiet time can be powerful, helping you positively readjust your thoughts, actions, motivations, and view of yourself and your abilities as a child of God.
5) You need a focused daily quiet time to properly reengage.
When you take time to disengage from what is immediately in front of you, by definition, re-engagement with the world around you is going to happen no matter what. You return to what you were doing or dive into your next task. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a better state of mind. Be careful not to equate taking a break with quiet time. Taking a break is not the same thing nor does it provide the same benefits. You want to mindfully build yourself up, not mindlessly and unknowingly tear yourself down. Do not choose empty ways to fill your downtime and call it quiet time (watching TV, surfing the net, etc).
Your spirit and your mind will be in different places with quiet time versus when you are simply taking a breather. Now, don’t get me wrong. You need both relaxation and quiet time. Just don’t let your break take the place of quiet time – a lack of quiet time will affect how you reengage with the people and situations around you.
So, get your quiet time in first or commit to doing it no matter how early or late it is. This is key. With quiet time, after you’ve had a chance to recharge, receive, reflect, and readjust, you’re able to reengage with life around you in a whole different manner, centered and ready to handle what the day has to bring with greater ease. It provides a wholeness of spirit that nothing else can, and therefore, its benefits bleed into every role you occupy and every aspect of your life. Trust me.
So, how do you do it and for how long?
Read on, sweet friends.
You might think this is the same as reading a daily devotional. You’re partly right. But it’s more than that. Your quiet time involves silence, stillness, reading and reflection. If you already do a daily devotional, great! Keep it up. But, the silence and stillness may be something you’re not currently practicing. It is truly transforming and takes your quiet time to another level. In total, your quiet time can be as short as five minutes or as long as thirty or more. Its really up to you and whatever you can fit into your hectic day. But before you dive in headfirst, here are some guidelines I recommend in order to make this time as effective as possible:
First, commit yourself to doing this. Show up. Make it a priority.
This is the biggest and most essential step. This must be as important as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. It is a matter of emotional and spiritual hygiene. It will cleanse your thoughts, your heart, and your soul. Without cleansing, we are all subject to decay.
Second, grab yourself a daily devotional to give you structure and focus.
Any devotional that speaks to you will do. There are hundreds out there, however, I tend to prefer a devotional that poses a question after the Scripture/reading to help me dig deeper and reflect more intentionally, such as Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day by Peter Scazerro.
Third, grab yourself some earplugs.
Seriously. Do not skip this step!! Trust me. You may think you’re in a place with total and absolute silence…until you hear the air-conditioning click on, the washing machine spinning, someone’s dog barking outside, or your neighbor mowing the lawn. It’s amazing the amount of background noise that rushes to the forefront when you are trying your hardest to be in silence. Earplugs block out most, if not all of this noise allowing you the opportunity to have a truly distraction-free zone.
Fourth, start and end with a few moments of total silence and stillness, reading and reflecting on the daily devotional in between. If you choose, write down any thoughts or light-bulb moments in a journal.
Your time in silence and stillness may be hard at first, put push through. Start low, with one or two minutes. As you practice it, it will become easier and all of a sudden five minutes or more will have passed. On the rare occasion I have a large segment of time, I can spend fifteen minutes in silence like its nothing.
During silence and stillness, the goal is to keep your focus on God and simply spend time with Him. Breathe in His presence; breathe out your stress and concerns. Pray if you like, but do your best to quiet your mind for a majority of this time in order to leave space to simply be with God and/or receive a word from Him if He chooses. If you are not Christian, no worries. This can be a time of simple meditation.
Now, let’s be real. It’s easy for your mind to wander, so be intentional during this time and focus. For example, if I’m veering off course, I repeat a verse from Scripture in my mind over and over to get back on track. Sometimes it’s a line from a Christian song that moves me and keeps me focused on the Lord. Some people use a single word. Some people imagine a place. Whatever works for you, do that. Start your quiet time this way, with silence and stillness. Then, read your daily devotional and reflect on what it says and how it applies to you. Briefly answer any questions listed. Pray. Then, journal any additional thoughts, insights, feelings, etc if you like. End with silence and stillness.
Fifth, try to do this at least once per day, preferably twice.
Two sessions per day are recommended and definitely have the most impact, but I know it’s often difficult to do that. But keep the 5-minute rule in mind – it doesn’t need to be more than that. Something is better than nothing. This is very flexible and individualized, so it will look a little different for everyone. However, you will find that the more often you do this, the better you get at it, and the more you crave it and realize its benefits.
Personally, I spend anywhere from 5-15 minutes in quiet time, although I would love to spend more. Some days, I am able to fit in a morning session while my twins are at school, my toddler is at preschool, and my baby is down for her morning nap. It’s a great way to connect with God and set my thoughts in positive motion for the day. I try to always fit in a late evening session before bedtime when all the kiddos are asleep to release the stress of the day.
Now, a sick kid or a teething baby can easily throw my plans out the window. Life happens, so give yourself grace. But I can usually always find time for one. I find if I neglect this area of my life, I tend to get grumpy and grouchy pretty quick. It always provides me with something I desperately need…the release from fear, quieting of my temper, peace for my troubled heart, or the promise of hope. So, for me, five minutes is way better than nothing.
Friends, bottom line, your quiet time is necessary. It is precious. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, so give it a try. Grant yourself the gift of focused, daily quiet time at least once a day, twice in a perfect world. You will emerge from your time more centered, more grounded, more balanced, and more prepared to face whatever the day (or night) may bring.
With love and In Christ,
P.S. If you need support or guidance as you consider your choices with your embryos, please join our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group. Here, we talk in real time with other parents about the difficulties of living life with leftover frozen embryos and the options we have moving forward. You can also join our email list to receive support, encouragement, and updates on new content and our personal journey.