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Rest... Even When You Are Chasing a Toddler

My wife is a gift and a sounding board for my own thoughts and reflections on handling God’s Word. This week she wisely asked, “How do you plan on speaking to the moms of small children who desire rest, but have limited time or energy to behold Christ?” What a great question; what a great helper from the Lord. 


My mind traced back through the text of Genesis 2 and other cited passages. How can a primary caretaker, in a unique stage of life, behold Jesus? Here is my attempt to answer that question, though not exhaustively. 


  •       Always redeem time.

Time is given to each one of the saints. What fills that time is both given and chosen. God gives you certain responsibilities, as well as the choice to take on others. In seasons of busyness and rhythmic pace, we need to have eyes to see ways to redeem time. 

With small children in the home, some pockets of time are out of reach. Before creating new spaces of time, however, one should look to redeem the natural events of any given day. Early-rising kids provide a chance to start the day off in song with them. Beholding Christ will not always be alone. When you are with your children you have a captive (although not always quiet) audience. Car rides can persist with thoughts on Christ. Asking your 5-year-old to describe Jesus, is one of the ways you can redeem the time (so much time in the car) and behold Christ. Showers, though not as long as they used to be, are great spaces to think about Christ, and admire his work in your life. Sweet and silent prayers offered up during games, clean up, and snack times are helpful ways to set your mind on Him. I would love to hear more ways that you redeem time.


  •       Less Length/More Frequent.

Before kids trample into the home, who knows what parents did with their time. Think about it, what did you do before kids… Gone are the times when a pocket of 8 hours was yours to fill on a Saturday morning. Sitting down in prayer and studying at a coffee shop may not be normal for you anymore, but length is not the supreme measure of faithful worship. 

As a seminary student, one professor, in a weeklong module (8a-5p class), stated that we would pray for 2 hours a day. He promised that we would spend 10 hours in prayer. I wondered how we would have 40 hours of class and 10 hours of prayer. Little did I know that we would pray for 10 minutes to close each hour of class. Then outside of class, he asked that we continue to close 10 minutes of every hour in our home in prayer. I spent 10 hours of that week in prayer. 

Could it be that your hour-long study takes the shape of 5-10 minute moments throughout the day? Taking opportunities in transitions or free play to open your device and read some Scripture, offer up a word of prayer, or stand in awe of Christ are practical possibilities. Admiring and praying without ceasing is attainable if we allow our minds to think about communing with God as uninterrupted worship…filled with interruptions. 


  •       Play Dates are King…or Queen, Depending on if you have Daughters. 

My daughters have always behaved better when other children are around. If we are alone, my daughters’ hands are always on the nuclear launch codes. In a moment’s notice, rockets are in the sky. But when friends come over for a play date, they seem to get along better than when they couldn’t speak clear sentences (true story, we welcomed a newborn into the home when our oldest was only 1…they played so well together). 

Schedule times to connect with friends in the home or at the park. Use that quiet time to gather with other parents and pray, encouraging each other through God’s Word. If it helps to meet out, to not have to clean up the entire house, then take your faith public. As communal beings, we grow well together. Beholding Christ may be through the revelation of Christ with a friend. 


  •       Drop Perfection 

All my life, I was taught to “not do something if I can’t do it right.” No one seemed to clarify what was right or how to do it. But the idea was embedded in my mind till I would use it as an excuse in life. I only have 30 minutes; might as well wait till I have more time. I don’t have eggs, so making brownies is out of the question tonight. Cleaning up the house…why even try at this point? 

Our time with God will not make most of the Instagram’s most-liked posts. Unfolding the Bible, opening up your great new journal, getting the green plant in the background, and finally capturing the perfect setting for your social media post…may never happen. However if you have time to set up this kind of picture, it is better to have a cup of coffee in the picture. Drop the idea of perfection and just dive in. Scribble some thoughts down. Zero in on one phrase instead of trying to memorize the entire passage. In this season, you may just feel like you are surviving; God sees your faith, your effort, and the ways you are still seeking to praise him. Drop perfection and enjoy the season he has given. 


Now, where are the thousands of verses like in the sermon? I’ll leave this here, in case you are in a hurry chasing small children: 

Psalm 127:1–3

[1] Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. [2] It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. [3] Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 

-Pastor John


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