Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 12

I've been so blessed by what each women has shared about Bible Reading these last weeks. I'm going to end this series with some words of wisdom from a mother of eleven. I never met Laurie, and only know her through her daughter, Sheila but her words encouraged me.

She softly closes her Bible and kneels by her bed to pray.For nearly fifty years she has done this every day.”

Am I the only mother that has ever felt frustrated with the words of this song? Did this dear old mother never have morning sickness, fussy babies, or other disruptions to her schedule? Was she never so tired that she could barely think, let alone read the Bible and pray consecutively. Or maybe she only had model children, all five years apart in age? How did she possibly manage to get away to her bedroom and privately read her Bible and pray every. single. day?

A mother’s personal devotions is something very close to my heart, and probably close to the heart of every Christian mother. While my youngest child at home is now twenty years old, I well remember the frustration and guilt I felt when my children were young. The many cares and responsibilities of motherhood—cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, pregnancy and nausea, fussy babies, demanding toddlers, school schedules, marriage obligations, winter colds and flues, summer canning, and much more can leave a young mother exhausted. There seems to never be enough time for the countless tasks. So then, when do we spend time with God?

There are seasons of life when it is very difficult to find sufficient time and space for a daily, prolonged, private time with God. And while a scheduled time is certainly ideal, often it is just not possible. But there are many little random slots of time when we can find nourishment from The Word. Busy young mothers should try hard to not let one day go by without utilizing some of them:
  • Memorize scripture. Write a verse, or several, on a paper and tape it to the mirror, the refrigerator or above the kitchen sink. Read it often to rivet it in your mind. 
When I was a girl, my mom printed verses on 8 1/2” x 11” papers and put them on the wall like mottos. I always thought it was to help her children memorize verses, but when I have done the same for my family, I realize it blesses me too. Maybe use a colored paper and add a border or stickers to make it attractive.
  • Read your Bible or a devotional book while feeding the baby. Sometimes this is a good time to read to toddlers but children can and should be taught to entertain themselves also. 
  • When the baby keeps you up at night, spend some time reciting Bible verses and passages. 
The middle of the night, when all is quiet, is also a good time to pray. I like to try to be in an attitude of prayer continually, breathing words to God whenever something comes to mind. But when my children were small and I found it hard to find time for longer periods of prayer, I often prayed in the night while caring for my baby. 
  • Sing hymns to your baby while you rock him to sleep. Meditate on the words.
  • Slip a small Testament in your purse and read it while waiting at doctor appointments.
Don’t forget to ask your husband for help. When I was expecting my tenth baby, added to the normal (for me) twenty-four/seven nausea, I also suffered with depression. At that stage of my life, with my oldest a fourteen-year-old daughter, I was able to find more private time to read the Bible. However, because of the depression, I found it very hard. So at night, after we were in bed, my husband read aloud from the Psalms. I would lie quietly, resting, and soak it in. I probably went a couple of months without personally reading the Bible but I remember that as a very special time. I felt spiritually nourished.

If you are truly unable to find the time and energy, tell God about it. One mother of twins said she was so exhausted by the time she finally got her babies to sleep that she simply said “Dear God, You know my heart,” before she fell asleep. She knew that God understood this season of her life. In those brief words she was telling Him that her prayers in the past and her prayers in the future was her prayer tonight, when she was too tired to pray.

In less busy seasons or as our children get older and we are able to find more time, there are many exciting ways to study God’s Word:
  • I enjoy writing my own devotionals. I write out a verse or passage and then add my inspiration from it. Maybe I read from a Bible commentary and copy thoughts that stand out to me. Sometimes I write a poem or a small rhyme about the verses. This study is a blessing to me at the time I write it and when I read it later.
  • I like to underline and shade Bible passages and write thoughts in the margins. This is an extra blessing to me later, when going through difficulties. At times when I feel battle-weary, I open my Bible and just read places that are marked. 
The downside of marking in my Bible is that it can be a distraction. So I occasionally like to read from another Bible, that I don’t mark at all, to help me find new treasures. 
  • Once I read one section of Psalm 119 each day. I spent time thinking about the verses and chose and underlined a favorite verse every day. Psalm 119 is a beautiful passage and means much more to me since that special time of studying it. 
  • Sometimes I will choose a chapter and read it every day for a month. I think the first time I did this was with Romans 12. I remember being amazed at all the new things that kept popping up. It was really exciting. Currently, I am reading Hebrews 4. Some days I read something else but I am reading it often. There is so much I need to learn from Hebrews 4 about true rest.  And I am learning that there are many facets to the word “rest” in this chapter.
  • Word studies are also interesting. Some good words to study are Mercy, Grace, Redemption, Sanctification. And Rest.
  • In times of deep grief or stress it can be a blessing to simply copy a special verse or two in a journal, filling the page with the words. Or maybe just one special word—Rejoice, Hope, Blessed, or Grace, and adding a one-line prayer. Drawing small flowers and designs around the verse or word while we reflect on it can be relaxing and rejuvenating. After God called my youngest child to Heaven, and again when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found this type of journaling very precious. Sometimes our hearts and minds are just too overwhelmed to absorb much more.
  • And don’t forget to read the Bible like any other book. We enjoy reading other books for an hour or two (or more) so why not God’s Word? While the Bible is certainly different than other books and should never be taken lightly, I believe it can be profitable to sometimes simply read it to enjoy the interesting stories. The Old Testament, especially, has stories full of mystery, romance, murder, treason, war, infidelity and deception—stories with captivating plots and twists and unexpected endings. While some of these  are probably not the type of stories that we normally like to read, they are fascinating,  true stories and the omniscient hand of our mighty God is always there. What more could we want in a story? 
Young mothers, please do not wallow in guilt or discouragement because there isn’t more time to actually read your Bible. Your service to your husband and to your children brings glory to God in itself. Your work is very important to Him. However, do try hard to find time to hold your Bible in your hands and read from it, if only once or twice a week. It is important. We need the fresh insights and inspiration that only comes from personally reading God’s Word. Looking back, I regret not trying harder to find more time for Bible reading when my children were small. And I’m ashamed to admit that I still fail sometimes. 

The battle is huge and real. The hand that rocks the cradle must hold the hand of God. -Laurie L.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 11

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration. 

I have found my devotional life changes with my seasons of life. After the birth of my first child, a set time for an orderly devotions disappeared. As babies were added to toddlers, Bible reading usually happened while nursing, and prayer was short sentences and breathes uttered between changing diapers and picking up blocks. Some days any Bible reading was Gospel signs or church signs while driving to town. 

My goal was to keep afternoon nap-time for a quiet devotional time, but some days a nap myself was needed more and Bible reading didn't happen - creating guilt. But then our bishop spoke words I've never forgotten. He mentioned that mothers with busy families need to not feel guilty for days when maybe a brief prayer is all that happens. The Lord knows our hearts and he sees the intense days of busy moms, and understands. The Lord is not judging a worn-out mom on the time she spent or didn't spend reading the Bible. Through the years, I've learned to not focus on when and how, but to focus on finding worship moments through-out the day. An extra beautiful sunrise, joy from a child's smile, the first robin's song in spring, a parking spot right at the front of the store when heavy with child -- all these things feel like a touch from God and are a worshiping moment. Prayers are uttered when a friend's name comes to mind, or I think of a prayer request from prayer meeting, or as soon as a prayer text comes to my phone.     One year I decided to do the One Year Bible plan, but it turned into a Three Year Bible plan! But that was okay. I found joy in accomplishing it and felt rewarded to be able to say I had read through the Bible. I would recommend it although it is a lot of reading and I found myself reading to just get the reading done and not focusing on what the words were really saying. I can have just as meaningful devotions pondering on only one verse. 

I have tried to get up early in the morning since I often hear that devotions should be first thing to start your day. But I am not a morning person. (There, I admitted it.) I found myself falling back to sleep while trying to read and pray. After again fighting guilt, I decided that just like my husband doesn't care what time of day I talk with him, so my Heavenly Husband will enjoy conversation any time of day!

Now that my babies are grown up, afternoon nap-time devotions still work best because the interruptions and questions of my four-year-old still doesn't work for morning devotions. My biggest challenge I now face is to keep Bible reading first and not let other to-do list take over those quiet moments. - Regina R.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 10

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

It is easier for me now to have an uninterrupted block of time to sit down and read my Bible than when I had preschoolers. I usually wait until my husband leaves for work, or, depending on the activities of the day, may wait until after the children leave for school. Even so, I have to make this a priority, or it will slip through the cracks. There is always something else calling for my attention, and if I start on my To Do List, sit down to quickly read an email, make a phone call, etc. I start going from one project to the next, and find that my prime time for reading the Bible is pushed off and may not happen for the rest of the day.

I remember the days of being interrupted with babies crying and children fussing. My encouragement to young moms would be to daily read something from the Bible, but not to feel guilty if you are unable to read it through in a year.

My biggest challenge in Bible reading now that I am middle-aged is when we have guests and when we go on trips, which happens frequently. Distracted thoughts are another challenge.

Some tips that have helped me:
A little is better than none, but always try for more.
Keep a devotional journal. In one section record daily what I have read.
Have a plan-Read through the Bible; do a study on a topic, word, or a personal area of struggle; study a Bible character or book. Use variety.
Breathe a prayer before reading, asking God to “show me His ways, teach me His paths”…(Psalm 25:4)
If a devotional book is used, make sure some of the reading is the pure Word of God.
Make it a priority.

The Bible is full of hidden treasure. We only need to prayerfully spend time mining the gems. The more we read it, the more we love it. The seasons of life partially determine the amount of time we have for this, but the devil would like to make our time minimal in any season. It takes diligence, perseverance and discipline.

Some days we may have to snack on verses picked up here and there…daily calendars, snatches of songs, inspirational poetry. But many days we can read with discipline while feeding the baby; rising early; while children are napping; or after the washer is humming and the children are in school.

Some days our brains are foggy with pain, illness or grief and we are unable to concentrate on words on a page. During those times we reach up to God with parched lips, asking Him for living water to meet our need for the day. And He answers in ways that swell our hearts with worship even in weakness. As we persevere daily, we find the Word of God growing more and more precious. It is woven into the very fabric of our lives, enabling us to live with grace, strength and victory. - Timna H.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 9

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

This is something that I have struggled with over the years…. For me, the very best time is if I get up ½ hour before the rest of the family. But it takes discipline to read my Bible and not spend my time filling in my planner book or something else. I enjoy writing, so the reading and journaling comes easier than concentrated prayer. It takes double discipline to stay sitting and "do nothing." (When in reality, I might be moving mountains.)
I’ve used devotional books some over the years but when I do, I prefer to read the Bible passage first, before I read what the author's interpretation is or I feel like I’m reading processed food.

At the beginning of last year I took the Fruit of the Spirit, one per week, and a Strong's Concordance and looked up various verses, the meaning of words, etc. I did the same with other passages such as Titus 2 on the woman’s role. (If I take a week or more per word, I’m not so overwhelmed on any single morning.) Maybe I should do it on the Virtuous Woman in Prov 31 next.

I also enjoy finding ‘twins’ and ‘triplets’ in Scripture – such as “mercy and truth”, see how many times they show up together and study them out. What other twins are there? Triplets are more rare, but such ones as “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God.”
Having a specific passage that I am reading or topic that I am studying is much better than randomly opening my Bible and saying “Hmmmm, what should I read today?”-Jenelle S.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 8

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

Today we will hear from two moms of young children. I think many of us can relate to this season of life. 

Guilty, yes. Discouraging, yes. I have this idea of how it will look: early morning, a quiet half hour, a clear mind. But it never works that way for me. My mornings are all different. Quietness is impossible to find. If I do read early I'm so tired I end up falling asleep. And feeling more guilty. If I read during the day there is no quietness, and my mind is crammed with other things. More guilt. I wish I had something positive to share, but honestly, all I feel in this area is need.  - Amy E.

I have many regrets about my Bible reading habits in these interrupted-night years. I remember the daily newspapers I have skimmed, some 300 or so, while I supervise play. I picture how tall the stack of periodicals would be that I have read, cover-to-cover, here and there between tasks. And I wince when I recall the few books of the Bible I have read and fewer I have studied. My goal is to try harder to stick to a specific time and routine for my Bible reading, and/or purpose to rise earlier than the short people in my house to make it a priority then. How do others make it happen?  - Kathryn S.

Do you have any encouragement for young mothers like these two?

The next couple days we'll hear from some moms who are past this stage in life who might have some tips for us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 7

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration. 

When I was a teenager, I often only skimmed or skipped sermons in books and the Bible verses in articles or stories. Church signs with Bible verses were more boring than church signs with jaunty little sayings. As life becomes more crowded, though, I value those bits of Scripture more.

It is something I rarely confess—that I face a constant struggle to have my personal devotions every day as a mom. (My teenage self would be appalled.) Yet I can say honestly that I pray without ceasing, all day long. And I find myself “reading without ceasing,” too.

Now the Bible verses in the stories are the bits I reread. A nearby church sign says “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and the verse invites me into it every time we pass—I’ve yet to reach the outer edges of those words.

It’s also important for me to place scripture around me to read as I “run.” I like the flip calendar on the kitchen sink to have Bible verses on it. I put a verse on the chalkboard. Verses on the walls. I read my preschooler’s memory verses for the quarter, which hang on the fridge. I remember, often guiltily, that bits of scripture such as these can never take the place of daily Bible reading, but in this season, they feed me without ceasing.
As a reader, I always, always find time to read—something. For other moms who are readers, they might find it helpful to do as I have done in some seasons—I set aside a day a week in which I read nothing but the Bible.
I was inspired by these words by a grandmother recently: The more we do something, the more we will desire to do it. Perhaps if I am not desiring the Word, I am not reading it enough.
Among other things I have done to make Bible reading more real to me is to hand write it. I also like to paraphrase it, putting sentence by sentence into my own words. - Sheila P.

Are you looking for Biblical inspiration for young women in your life? I've enjoyed The King Daughter magazine which Sheila edits.

The King's Daughter, a quarterly publication, containing stories, inspiration, and discussion for young women ages 13-18. Rates are $12 for one year or $23 for two years. Send subscriptions to The King’s Daughter at P.O. Box 127, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Send a 6x9 SASE and $3 for a sample copy.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Choosing His Words - Part 6

For the first week or two of the new year I asked some friends to share on the topic of Bible reading. Often we women feel guilty and frustrated about our Bible reading habits and I hope this can bring inspiration.

Since I have been married, my husband signed up to receive Beside the Still Waters devotional.  I have not found them to be outstanding in inspiration, but I like the small scripture portions that do not confine me to my favorite books that I tended to stick to when I choose a chapter to read each a day. 

Personal devotions are more special when I am facing tough situations, and I have marveled at how a random Scripture can meet my exact need during these times.  When a special verse/promise blesses me, I like to write (or paraphrase the verse or idea) in my plan book so that I can review it throughout the day.  

The virtuous woman who rises early while it is yet night to look well to her household has been my meditation lately.  I confess that I do not rise very early, but the best time for devotions for me is first thing in the morning after I am dressed and combed for the day.  At times, my youngest joins me before I have finished (or started) my devotions.  She always asks for her Bible, and I give her an old Beside the Still Waters to keep her quiet.  

I try to make prayer a way of life.  Any mother knows that it is a necessity to call on God all day long.  When I read about a prayer request, I breathe a prayer immediately.  When I wake up in the morning, I pray before I crawl out of bed.  I pray until I fall asleep at night.  Some days my prayers are shorter than others, but I try to stay in tune with God all the time. - Stephanie A. L.


Related Posts with Thumbnails