You see, I believe that homeschooling and being a mom and a wife are all a part of my calling. If I didn't believe this, you can be sure there would have been many times by now that I would have thrown in the towel. I couldn't do any of this in my own strength and for my own purposes.
But even though I know the truth of this, the important act of spending time with God, time to strengthen my own heart, gets pushed out of the way, often, in the midst of day to day living. I've learned that when I'm feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed, it might be because I need to regroup and make sure that I'm spending time with God.
As with most things, I've found that I can do this much more faithfully when I have a plan for it. All you non-plan people are rolling your eyes about now. But I'm not saying that you have to have a set in stone, never to be changed time and place for spending time with God. I am saying that if you don't have a plan, a time in your regular schedule, that you're going to pray and read Scripture and spend time with God, it probably won't happen.
That plan is probably going to look different for those of us in different stages of life. What worked when I had young kids is not what works for me now. And I know moms with kids who are even older than mine- some in college or moving out- that have an even different look to their days.
If I were to take a little survey and ask, "What is the right way to do this whole quiet time thing?", what would you say? I imagine there would be many different answers. And I also think there would be at least one person reading this who would think she's doing it all wrong.
Let me tell you a little story about my journey to making time for a quiet time.Once upon a time there was a young mom who wanted to have the "perfect" quiet time experience.
For many years as a young wife and mom, I struggled with the fact that I hated, hated, hated trying to have an early morning quiet time. I would read books- and later blog posts- with descriptions of the author, up in the wee hours with no one else in the house stirring, coffee in hand, sitting serenely on a front porch sipping coffee and reading the Bible and praying as the sun came up. Maybe it was just my defensive nature, but I often got the impression that the authors viewed anyone who didn't do this as less than spiritual.
I am NOT a morning person. But I tried this approach many times- because I didn't want to be less than spiritual.
I would determine to get up when my husband did. He's always had early morning jobs, and it's been rare for him to get up later than six. The alarm would sound, and he would roll out of bed and head to the shower. I would push snooze. After about four or five snooze cycles, he was out of the shower and headed to work. I was finally dragging out of bed.
At times I had a sleeping child latched on to my breast. I would try to move stealthily, dislodging the child without waking her. After all, the whole point was to be up before my family. Usually said child was awake and screaming by the time I made it up.
I would stumble to the kitchen with a baby attached and pour a glass of iced tea. (I hate coffee.) I would pick up my quiet time journal and Bible. With sleep blurred eyes I tried to read. Heaven help me if I closed my eyes to pray because I'd just fall back to sleep. About the time I was reading through the first few verses and trying to write down something meaningful while maneuvering the nursing child and blinking my unfocused, sleepy eyes, the rest of the crew would emerge, clamoring into the kitchen and demanding breakfast.
So much for my quiet time.For a long time I struggled with guilt over this.
I read my Bible and prayed before I went to bed at night, in the solitude of a sleeping house. Or I waited for those blessed few moments when everyone was quiet at naptime, and then I stole in my room to read. But I felt guilty all the while.
I finally realized, as I matured spiritually and, frankly, began to care less about what people thought, that the time of day of my quiet time did not indicate my spiritual state. The fact is that I'm not a morning person. I'm just not. I am a night owl. And I love my mid day nap- even now when my kids are older and I'm the only one who actually takes a mid day rest. Those are times I can find to make a quiet time. I can also read my Bible on my Kindle when I'm waiting in the car to pick up a child or when I'm sitting in the gym, waiting for my gymnast or when I'm at a long sporting event
I've come to realize that the time isn't nearly as important as making time.
I've learned to choose a time that works and try to be consistent with it. When I'm faithful to read Scripture and pray and just be still with God, I can tell that I am refreshed. So, what do I do in that quiet time? I also need a little structure there. Just letting my Bible fall open to a verse has never really worked for me. I like to have a little focus.
What to do during quiet time
Reading through the BibleThere are many places that offer Bible reading plans that you can print out or plans that allow you to go online and read the day's reading. One of my favorite is Biblegateway. They have a variety of plans. You can print them or read online in all different versions. You can also have the day's reading delivered to your inbox.
If you have a little more time on your hands, you might want to try a 90 days reading plan. I've done this quite a few times now. It's much more reading on a daily basis, but it is a great way to get a big picture view of the Bible.
Memorizing ScriptureI think that Scripture memory is important- even for me. I'm very thankful that I grew up in a church and Christian school that stressed Bible memory. I'm fortunate to be able to recall many of those verses now. I like to try to keep my mind sharp with continued memory work. I loved it when the kids were in AWANA because I was always learning some new verse with them.
We aren't doing AWANA now, so it's a little more difficult to come up with memory work. I found a site a few years ago that provides some structure for Bible memory-Memverse. This site helps you practice your verse(s) in an organized way until they are completely memorized. It doesn't give you the verses to learn, so you'll have to pick verses or a passage- maybe from your regular reading- but it does make for a really nice way to keep up with the memory work.
PrayingIn a Bible study when I was a young mom, the leader showed us how to make a prayer chart. She had taken a blank piece of paper and written the days of the week across the top. Down the side, she placed categories- family, church, friends, missions, etc. For each day of the week she filled in people and requests in each category. She updated this regularly so requests for people in her church or specific missionaries were kept current.
I loved the idea. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers of people that I would like to pray for- not to mention the regular prayer for my family. This prayer chart is an easy way to break up the requests and make time for them.
Studying the BibleBesides just reading through the Bible, I like to take time to do more in depth Bible study as well. I've done this several ways. Sometimes when I'm doing the Bible reading plans- which are more overview than deep study- I'll mark or jot down some verse or passage that I want to know more about. After I finish the reading plan, I go back to the verses and do more in depth study by looking up words in a concordance or using a commentary or study Bible to read more information. I like Blue Letter Bible for finding commentary notes or word meanings for verses and passages.
Writing ScriptureRecently I've picked up the idea of writing Scripture. Think of it as the copywork you give the kids. I write a section of verses out each day during my quiet time. It's a great way to keep me focused on the meaning of what I'm reading, instead of just skimming over some verses and then not even knowing what I read.
I got the original idea from Heidi St. John- The Busy Mom. She has a Scripture writing section on her blog, and you can download beautiful schedules each month that have a set of verses to write each day. I started with her charts. But I began this year with the goal of writing through the book of Romans. It's a book I've enjoyed studying and even memorizing parts of, so I thought I'd like to write through it.