There were so many things I took away from the last Created for Care momma’s retreat (a retreat designed for adoption moms–but you do NOT have to be an adoption mom to come!), but one thing that has blessed me most–is learning to live in His gift of coming to Him WITH my children.
One of my favorite verses and the very one we use for the heart of Created for Care is Psalm 84:3…
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Other versions say “where she may RAISE her young”…near your alter…near the Almighty…our King and our God.
I went into the retreat feeling very depleted. So…how does a mom with 4 kids 5 and under have quiet time…or even partially distracted/focused time seeking the Lord, praying for her day, RESTING (for real…resting???) in Him??? I felt like this was something my heart LONGED for…but my time spent with Jesus in quiet time and prayer was so, so scattered–and often I felt far away…and–TIRED.
I had spent months planning with veteran adoption mommas–and I had loved the name Created TO Care. I mean–I felt God called me TO care for my kids…TO care for orphans, TO DO THIS…TO DO THAT…and then–there I sat…tired, alone and feeling like no one understood. My precious friend Susan Hillis (one of Created for Cares visionaries and main speakers) came to me and challenged me to pray about not focusing on the TO but instead the FOR. “Andrea, don’t you know–the Lord created YOU to be cared FOR???
Did you know that God created YOU to be cared for??? And before you can truly care for others–truly be an outpouring of His strength, joy and love…you must allow your Father in heaven to care FOR you…
It made sense…this was most important. And Created to Care–was changed to Created FOR Care.
Yes. My heart knew in needed more of His filling. It felt this. And it longed for all of this. But in my crazy world–it often just felt impossible. We also felt the Lord calling us to adopt AGAIN…(really Lord??? How can I build my cute little nest right next to you if I’m trying to keep up with more and more chicks every day?!)…and then homeschool (um–alone time Lord??? When does THAT happen???) Well, alone time for me–is RARE. And it DOES happen…but not very often during my quiet time any more. But this, for me, is where change has really happened in my heart, my home and where my nest is built this year.
You see, the swallow in the Psalm raises her young near His alter. She doesn’t run there for her quiet time while her chicks are sleeping or while they are at preschool or when everyone has gone to bed. She literally raises her young there. She brings them to the alter WITH her…and she raises them there.
I once dreamed of a time where I’d sit with coffee, my Bible and journal…with worship music softly playing…where I could sit and be still and just REST. While that does sound dreamy–it’s now just tweaked a bit…and the children–they are come with me. We roll out of bed…I plug in my iPhone/ipod playlist and they start there day dancing together to worship music. I know that might sound crazy to some of you–but my kids love it…and they are even some times amused by my lack of dance skills. Some times I sit back and just watch while I drink my coffee. Other times…I close my eyes and take in the words–with their giggles and silliness in between.
My heart longs for more–I take them with me…to raise them at His alter…
We start our school day together…we are still in Genesis together. We pull out old school felt stories (love my Betty Lukens read through the Bible for children felt set) and we read the story for the day. Then we sit…and talk and talk about what it was like…how they felt. Just yesterday Parker told me that he would NOT have wanted to be Isaac–because his parents were SO old…and he just knew it’d be different camping and fishing with a 100 year old dad verses his experience with his daddy. Laney told me she agreed–and although she thought the story of Rebekah and Isaac was sort of fairytale-ish at first–she would NOT just leave with Abraham’s servant without spending a few nights telling mommy and daddy good-bye first. They are soaking it in…and it’s so amazing to hear their thoughts, their perspectives and to give them things to think about. How beautiful it is to sit at His alter together. (And you don’t have to be homeschooling to have this daily time of devotional sweetness with your children…this would be a sweet nightly story time any night of the week! Their devotional has become mine…and mine there’s and for this season–it is just what my heart has needed.)
After our time we share prayer requests and pray together…and then we start our school day. Some days there are times when things just get loud and crazy…you know–the times when you want to just stop and shout, “EVERYBODY!!!! BE QUIET! MOMMY CAN’T HEAR HERSELF THINK!!!” And you would LOVE to just brew a cup of coffee and regroup with scripture, prayer and song. It’s moments like these that I remember our “Date with God” time at Created for Care and how truly…the different stations we went to are just PERFECT for children too! Yesterday, Loobear had a friend over to play and Parker was DYING to play with them. I explained it was HER play date–and he needed to let them have girl time. He did just that for del over an hour–but he was ITCHING to play after that…and as things started to get loud–I decided to do the “Date with God painting station”…realizing their are different ways to have quiet times…to listen to the Lord…to think about Him…opens up a million ways to build your nest close to Him. Each time we paint to worship music, I ask them different questions to inspire their painting time…”What do you see God doing around you?”…”Can you paint what you feel the Lord saying to you?”…”What does the Lord’s love look like to you?”…Here is a little snippet of what this time looks like for my kids–(and I have to tell you it is SO amazing to sit and just watch them as the music plays…or to crack a door in the next room and pray that the Lord will begin speaking to their hearts…or to just open up scripture as they paint and have a sweet time between you and the Lord…)
Some of the other stations at the Date with God time were…a play dough station where you sculpt, a prayer station full of globes where you pray for different countries and world needs, a place to leave your burdens–where you write your prayer requests on sticky notes and leave them on a cross…you get the idea:). You can be creative!
And for me–I am NOT a morning person–so I really do need some help getting my perspective in the right place before we start our day. With our littles there is really NO way I could beat them up in the morning–okay…maybe I could set my alarm for really early…but I’ll tell you–I know me…and that won’t work. And you need to have a plan for where you build your nest that WILL WORK (we were all created differently:). Here is a sneak peak of how we start our mornings…(okay–Frank isn’t ALWAYS this funny when dancing…and Parker some times giggles when Laney puts on slow music and does ballet…but how you NOT start your day with JOY when you start your day to THIS…)
This mom is FAR from perfect…actually–I’m so far from perfect that I really do need His help so much throughout my day–every day. And for those of you with teeny, tiny kids–I just wanted to encourage you during those times it feels hard or impossible to have sacred time…that maybe inviting our littles INTO our time and raising them RIGHT at His alter like the sparrow is exactly what He might be asking and hoping we will do.
May you have a blessed Thursday!!!
Your sister in Christ,
P.S. If you didn’t see these amazing tees on my blog yesterday–GO check it out!! AND if you buy one–PLEASE let me know because I’m adding you guys to a really fun give away that consists of the oh-so-amazing Wiphan cookbook and some other really cool stuff!!! Be a part of a miracle!!!