Tuesday, February 22, 2011


or do I?

My friend Cheryl is doing a blog series through the book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic, daughter of Nancy and Doug Wilson. Confession: The book is on my kitchen counter waiting to be read. Nope, haven't started it yet, but for some reason that doesn't stop me from blogging about it.

It looks great, alright?

And what can I say; there isn't a lot of time for reading when you're "in the trenches," ironically.

Go here to read Cheryl's latest post about "Me" Time. The gist of it is this: Mommies should get time to themselves. We do well with lots of time for prayer, solitude, Bible study, rest (including but not limited to Sabbath rest), and dates with our husbands. All good things.

BUT... it's wise to keep a watchful eye on use of the word "need." Do I "need" to go to Starbucks for 2 hours with a People magazine? Or do I "need" a pedicure? Sure, they might be nice, and certainly a fine indulgence, nothing sinful about it. But if I feel like I can't function without lots of times like that, it may be a red flag that something is amiss spiritually.

Here is a quote from Cheryl:
"It's dangerous to keep telling myself, "I just need a break." That thinking invades my heart and wants to push out those I love. I begin to see my children as a hinderance. They are keeping me from being a better me. And while, it is important to have a break, this thinking can entrench itself so deeply that we begin to believe that getting away is the answer to having more patience, self-control, etc. "

You did click over and read her post, didn't you? Go ahead; I'll wait here.

I love what Cheryl said about the alone time being "the answer" to becoming a better person. I so often feel that way! If I only had _______ I would be better. Am I still perfecting the flesh? Trying to prove that I'm not so bad, after all; I don't really need a Savior? I mean, if I could just get out more, I would be good....

Who or what do I expect to meet my needs? To give me rest and satisfaction? A sense of self-worth? Is it my husband? Kids? Free time away to myself? If it is anything other than God, it is an idol. Would I dare to make my alone time an idol? (Why not? John Calvin says that "man's nature is a perpetual factory of idols.") If I place the burden of restoring my soul on that little mini-vacay at Starbucks, that is the best way to actually ruin the experience, and ultimately come up lacking.

If I am stressed and burned out, I probably need lots of time in the Word, finding some intimacy with the true Lover of my soul. If I put a band-aid on that pain with a mommy time-out, it could make me feel better temporarily, but what if it actually DELAYS my spiritual growth? If I allow the negative emotions to draw me to the foot of the cross, that is constructive.


"I just want a little freedom."

Remember my posts on femininity ages ago? Here is a quote that applies well here:

"We find our greatest and truest freedom when we loose the bondage to the sinful self. If I can learn to discipline myself to not follow every desire, to not pursue every path that looks nice from my perspective, to not act on every transient emotion, or believe every cultural influence that writes a magazine article, I will ultimately experience much greater freedom. Sometimes we must endure a discipline that at first feels restrictive in order to be released from bondage we hadn't even realized we were in."

I often find myself analyzing my own moods and spirituality, ironically thinking more about myself than about God. Counter-productive, no? Consider this:

"We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God's will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms." (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction)

Does anyone remember this from the women's retreat?: Anxiety is a gift: it is a signpost telling me that something is amiss in my heart. It reveals my false treasure. It warns me that my treasure is vulnerable. (Thanks, Elyse Fitzpatrick.)

Consider that Christ was free to serve because of his security with the Father:

John 13:3-5.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

I find rest and joy in the Lord, and share the sweetness with my family:

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."


I need way more restful quiet than I could get if I depended on sitters. So for me the trick is learning to rest with the kids. If I make hot tea for myself and warm milk for them and cuddle on the couch, or park myself in a rocking chair on the porch while they run around the yard, I can find that peaceful rhythm that I crave. Even if the laundry is waiting. And no facebook. I'm slowly beginning to realize that I can even read my Bible with children in the same room and dishes in the sink; I don't have to wait for sleeping kids and a clean house to claim some rest. Otherwise it may never happen.


What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with "needing" the time away more than is healthy? Does this reveal anything uncomfortable about your heart?

Praise God for His grace to show us our need for Him.

He is that good.


liz said...

this is so beautifully written and full of wisdom...
love it. wish i had realized some of the things you wrote about many years ago...but better late than never?
it is so good to find rest with the kids...and even involve them somehow through scripture reading or napping or playing together. instead of trying to get away or have alone time without them-as if that was the only way to ever have peace.
i used to want to run away from them whenever daddy got home! (3 kids under the age of 3.5yrs will do that to ya;)
sometimes i still have that feeling, but not near as much:)
i'm growing and i'm thankful for God's grace and wisdom...
glad you shared this!

Kendra said...


It's so amazing how the Lord keeps teaching us the same things...seriously! I have been pondering this as I am beginning to have a bit more freedom with not having a little baby in the house anymore. I can actually get things done and then some...making sure those things aren't so that I can receive value as something other than a child of God, wife and mom, as if those aren't enough. Thank you for so eloquently relating to me what the Lord is already showing me. We always seem to be on the same page.

Love ya,

Kristy Moore said...

You speak so beautifully here of what it is to be present and to abide in the Spirit - John 15. It is there and only there where we bear much fruit. I needed that reminder today! Blessings! Kristy

mandi said...

This is wonderful. I haven't clicked over to read the other post, but i want to!
I remember when Dylin was an infant. I struggled with not being able to have my hour long bible studies and prayer sessions. God taught me so much in those early weeks of her life about Him and my relationship with Him. That I didn't need to sit for a whole hour to find Him. That He could be found while I washed dishes or showered, or what ever. And now some precious times are spent with me having my Bible time, with the kids next to me looking over their own books. I don't remember ever seeing my parents in the Word- I want my kids to see this. Not hide it away.
One more thing. I've always thought that "me time" was the work of Oprah. This is not a teaching from scripture. Scripture tells me to die to myself. THe world tells me to find myself. Very contradictory.

Amy said...

I just love this. I've been really, REALLY enjoying my kids, my domestic life, my husband, lately. I think it's been a long process, for me, of wondering what else I am waiting for, what else is there but THIS? I'm just loving THIS day, instead of marinating in those 'needs.' It has been so freeing. Thanks for posting this.

Baby steps.

I could describe it as feeling home, finally, with my babies.

Unknown said...

"... finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God's will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms."

Wow. That is so good and so difficult for me. I ride an emotional roller coaster. My kids do as well, and sometimes I find that I am riding theirs with them. I go along for the ride, instead of being the adult, and end up getting exhausted alongside them.
I am learning to appropriate Christ's righteousness and get it from my head to my heart. I am learning to believe that His grace is sufficient instead of just giving it lip service.
Thanks for expanding on this. I am going to link it to my blog. And I am so glad we are on this journey together, my friend.

Becky said...

I was so frustrated after I had Seattle and was going through some really hard stuff and people would say, "you need some time for yourself." I was eventually like, "NO, I need counseling and more time with God." and it turns out I was right! Anyway, great post, totally agree.

astegall said...

Hi Brandi!
I'm thinking about becoming a physician. I'm worried about my (future) children & husband. I don't want to forget about them! I was going to email you, but it wouldn't let me.

I hope you read this!!!

Mommy, M.D. said...

email me at brandi515 (at) mac.com.