Ok, so maybe “NO EXCUSES” in big capital letters was a bit hard-core. I guess I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of girl. In re-reading my last post (in response to kind, grace-filled comments by a good friend and mentor) I can see I did come across rather militant!
Well, if I’m going to start a new habit, I do need a good plan. I need good motivation. And most of all, I need accountability. I guess flinging this March Morning Challenge out into cyberspace and committing to regular updates in this space is one way for me to keep myself accountable. This early-to-bed, early-to-rise is something I’ve been wanting to adjust in my life for a long time-- ever since before my kids were born, actually. And I finally feel like this year, in this season, God has given me the doable combination of a realistic goal, good tools, and good motivation. I might actually get there. I’m excited.
In her note full of love, my friend asked a beautiful, appropriate question:
“Can you give yourself the grace that Jesus gives you?”
In other words, where is the grace in all of this challenging and charging? Where is the rest? Where is the abiding in Jesus and enjoying His presence all day long? Can I live in His grace enough to be kind to myself the way He is kind to me?
Recently, the word grace has been mysteriously appearing over and over. Paired with this March Challenge, it's another thread God is weaving in and bringing to my attention. Apart from my friend’s email this afternoon, my most recent "grace" sighting was this morning, in a local acquaintance’s car en route to a friend’s house in a neighboring town. Perched on the dashboard of the car was a round glass container probably containing air freshener, if the car’s pungent atmosphere was any indication. Printed in a ring around the glass (and remember, we are not in an English-speaking country) was a string of English words. The only word I could read clearly, lit up by sunlight streaming in through the right-hand side of the car was… you guessed it… GRACE. I am not kidding.
Even - maybe especially - in taking on new challenges, there is always grace.
From a fabulous book I’m devouring (in my new, quiet, morning hour):
Jesus said, “Come to me...and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28)
So how do we go to Jesus? How do we get the peace and rest that he promises? In the cacophony of voices that shout for our attention, how do we discern which is his?
Hearing God’s voice requires a new way of listening, a new way of seeing. In my life that perspective was often provided by the chaos itself. When I am able to see difficulties and everyday struggles as God’s way of honing my character, I am better able to appreciate the lessons that life’s messy and chaotic moments have to offer.
But that is only half of the equation. If I intentionally withdraw from the chaos on a regular basis, I am a more patient mother, a more loving wife, and a gentler person. By spending time alone with God, I allow him to care for my soul so that I can better care for those he has entrusted to me.
And later on, in her chapter on Solitude, Keri writes:
As the mother of young children I’m often tempted to give up on solitude or meditation. I can’t do those disciplines, I think. I’m like Jesus, always interrupted with other people’s needs…
So should I just give up on solitude because I am in a serving season of life? It is precisely because we can’t typically get to the bathroom alone that we need times of intentional solitude. Times when we get someone else to watch our kids, draw a line in the sand and say today, for an hour or two or even three, I’m going to be alone with God.
Does it seem impossible?
The more it seems impossible, the more you need it.
(quotes from God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos, by Keri Wyatt Kent)
For me, my daily craving for solitude is being filled through committing to and protecting my early morning rendezvous with God. This will not be the same for every young mom. Each of us has to discover (and listen for) God’s specific direction in our individual circumstances. One friend I know listens to the One Year Bible while she nurses her 4-month-old. Another friend uses her kids’ morning video time to have her quiet time alone. God will give us each a different strategy. My goal is to create a habit of doing something every day towards my spiritual and physical health, and... early mornings are a really good goal for me right now.
So.. it’s 9:08pm. My pillow is calling. Keep sending your words of grace, to me and to each other. As my friend said, “Breathe deeply. Breathe in the love of the Holy Spirit.”
Grace. And peace. To you. From God our Father.