The last blog in our August guest series is written by my own dear daughter Mary. Enter into her world as you read her story of a hard year and a sweet discovery.
This year has been a hard one. Every year has its highs and lows, its moments of victory and its moments of sorrow ... but this year was a whole different level of hard. This year, I was a mama of four for the first time (ages seven and under)—homeschooling 1st grade and pre-K with a two year old on one nap schedule and a nursing infant on an entirely different schedule ... while my husband deployed for 12 months to Afghanistan, and the kids and I left our entire lives behind to move into my parents’ basement. This year was hard.
This year was also, understandably, insanely busy. Just an ordinary day of changing diapers and prepping lessons and making meals and doing laundry and reading books and kissing owies and redirecting big feelings and cleaning up spills and slogging through math lessons and breastfeeding every two hours and staying up late to catch a few minutes with my husband on the other side of world meant I got up at 6 AM and was lucky if I was in bed by midnight. And that doesn’t include the doctor appointments and swim lessons and birthdays and frequent meltdowns because daddy was gone and everything had changed. This year was busy.
But in the midst of the insanely hard and indescribably busy year, God was good and there was incredible blessing and beauty and growth. Getting to share this year with my parents has been such a gift, and not only because it was necessary for survival, but because of the ways they helped the kids and I thrive. My mother founded and runs Sweet Selah Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping women see their great need for quality time with their Savior and providing them with resources, tools, and skills to make that time actually happen. One of the greatest (of many) gifts my mother gave me this year was kicking me out of the house once a month for a Sweet Selah Day, which is basically a day alone with God.
I shared a glimpse of my life above, because I wanted you to see just how impossible and ridiculous a day alone with God, ever, let alone every month sounded to me. I mean, sure, it also sounded luxurious and maybe even selfish ... but practical? Even possible? Absolutely not. Even if she wanted to take on the task of homeschooling two little boys while entertaining a toddler and caring for a baby, I still had things I had to get done ... there just wasn’t space to run away from it all.
But, my mom was encouraging and patient and persistent, and after five months of living with her, she managed to force a date onto my calendar. And I found myself one morning sitting in my car, coffee mug in hand, with a bag full of books, my Bible, journal, markers, coloring books and needing a place to go, because she said I couldn’t come back for at least six hours. And that was the start of a monthly habit I don’t want to ever give up.
That day, I drove myself to a beautiful and quiet hotel with a view of the sea, ordered an entire carafe of coffee and more muffins than I care to share, and I just sat for a while. I did an extended version of my daily devotional, and that took about 40 minutes ... and then I just sat and pondered and eventually told God, “Well, OK, maybe my mom made me do it, but I’m here. Now what?” And, I’m pretty sure He laughed, but regardless, He also just sat with me. He didn’t suddenly tell me great and marvelous mysteries or convict me of incredible sin or release me from deep bondage ... He and I just were there, together.
I journaled for some time (I had a lot more to say to myself than I expected!) and read a few chapters in a couple of my favorite Christian books (one on parenting, one on spiritual discipline) and then spent a fair amount of time coloring. I found that I could pray without losing focus or feeling awkward in public if my hands were busy with a task that didn’t take up too much of my mind. I ended my day with a long walk and some praise music. The time went slowly—and the time flew by. I felt and processed and sat with a lot, and I didn’t feel like I got to do half the things I had anticipated. But I brought my heart and mind to my King and gave it to Him, and He met me with delight and grace and blessing.
Each month my date with God looked slightly different (sometimes starting or ending at a coffee shop or on the beach or sitting in my car to pray and maybe feel some big feelings), but the general idea remained the same. I barely managed to get out the door with my thrown together bag of options ... but once I did, He met with me, and we did some heart work. Sometimes I walked in with big and hard questions, sometimes I walked in sleepy and irritated, and sometimes I was so excited to have a break I could barely focus on more than the delight of silence and sitting! But every time, He met me. And every time, the sheer act of prioritizing that investment to God helped reset my heart and mind. I put Him first, and the order of all the other things took shape. The heavy concerns, the redundant responsibilities, the competing needs of each of the kids ... when placed under my relationship with God, found their right size and value, and I found the strength and wisdom to face them.
Having a Sweet Selah Day is a sacrifice of time we give to our King, and it’s a gift of Spirit filling and strengthening He gives right back to us. I learned firsthand that there are ways He longs to meet us that He just can’t and won’t jam into the 15 minutes I attempt to carve out most mornings. There is a depth of relationship that can only be achieved through time ... the time we think we don’t have, because we’re way too busy falling behind managing all the things He’s put on our plates. But if we will just Stop. And put Him first, like He so graciously and lovingly tells us to (Luke 10:38-42), the direct result will be the wisdom and strength to handle most of those situations and supernatural peace to face the rest.
This particular insane year is about to end—my husband comes home in a few days, and we will move back to a home of our own. But the busyness and the hardness won’t stop. Like we all know, every year has its highs and lows, its victories and its sorrows. And I won’t have the incredible gift of a mother nearby who insists on watching all my kiddos so that I can get that precious time alone with my Savior. But I am leaving armed with the knowledge that fighting for that time is worth it. That first things need to be put first, if we want all the others to be in their proper place.
I don’t know what this next year will hold. But I do know that God longs to equip me for it, and that deep equipping can only come from deep relationship. Relationship that requires time. So, I don’t know how yet, but I will keep fighting for those days, even if I can only manage to get a couple of hours, because it is the thing that makes all the other things work. And, I am way too busy and life is way too hard to manage it any other way.
Note from Sharon: Our dear son-in-law is now safely back in the USA. We thank God for His watch care over this precious family the past year. Will you pray with me? ... Dear Heavenly Father, You are good all the time. We thank You for the way You meet us right in the middle of our busy days and call us away for a while to be still. Help each of us to heed that call and to reap the blessings of quiet listening times with You. Teach us, Lord, and help us to stop. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
If you’ve been blessed, keep the blessing going!
Click over to our Donation page … and thanks.
Pin it. Quote it.