Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35, 38, 39 ESV)
Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Not angels or deamons, tribulation or persecution and definitely not my crazy-beautiful exhausting life. No. If there is nothing in all of space and time that can sperarate me from God then I am without excuse when it comes to my day by day. Even in all my distraction and mess God is still my everything.
So how do I live the "come" in my busy life right now? I wrote down some ideas - these are meant only to encourage and inspire you that it is possible to get lots of encouragement in your every day whatever that day is like. If you begin to feel the creep of condemnation remember to look at it for what it is - remind it of God's word:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 ESV)
and move on. Pick one thing. Do that one thing every day, and if you miss a day do it the next day. Eventually you'll build a habit and habits have a snowball effect - one good habit attracts another good habit and another and another until down the line you have a life you could not dare to imagine from the place you're in. Or maybe this will help buttrice the practices you already have in place. I was so encouraged and challenged about the pockets in my day that I have to spend with God.
How do you start your day? I am not a morning person. I've tried the whole "get up early to have your quiet time" thing and it did not work for me. However there are other ways to begin the day with God. I have a friend who encouraged my small group to listen to a chapter of the Bible as you begin your day you can use an app like the YouVersion Bible app, or online you can buy an audio version of your favorite translations. Or listen to worship music as you start your day. Create a playlist or channel with quiet early morning music (I love Christy Nockles and Adie Camp for this) or high-energy blast-me-out-of-bed music like Brit Nichole. Can you hang your memory verses on the mirror to work on while you dry your hair?
Do you visit the gym? If this is your prime time away from the kids try to think about what you can do to also make this a time to spend with God. I have tried lots of different things some worked better than others. I love some great high-energy worship music for pounding out the treadmill. Lincoln Bruster's greatest hits was my power jam (am I dating myself here?) and I had a couple other albums (also Big Daddy Weave) on my iPod that got me through my workout in a more worshipful frame of mind. You could also try listening to sermons. You can subscribe to podcasts to listen to while you work out or again you could try to listen to the Bible at the gym.
What do you listen to while you drive? Is there something more encouraging you could be listen to? What do you listen to while you walk? Could it be scripture songs, hymns or worship music? What do you listen to when you clean? Turn off the TV, turn on the worship music! Or could you listen to a sermon while you fold the laundry? My church publishes sermons in video format, maybe that would be easier to focus on than just an audio. You can also find a lot of your favorite teachers on YouTube. If you're caught up on recent sermons try going back and listening to past series. I have a friend who listens to the Psalms while she folds laundry, and once again, you could listen to the Bible while you dust or wash dishes (I'm thinking I could listen to the whole Bible in way less than a year if I did this!!) I have tried printing out passages of scripture to meditate on while I wash dishes, you could tape a bunch of verses you are wanting to memorize or pray for yourself or your family or particular friends you are interceding for, or on a particular topic or a whole Psalm or a chapter of the Bible, you could also tape some scripture cards up on the inside of your kitchen cabinets if they become too familiar swap them out for some new ones.
When do you have a quiet time? This is a tricky topic, because during the changing seasons of life this time (and format) has changed a lot for me. My favorite time to have a quiet time is after everyone is up, dressed & fed. The Hubs is off to work and the day is getting started. I'd sit my little ones down for their half hour of TV time and I'd sit in the other room and read my Bible and journal my prayers. This is my "start of the day" like a first fruits offering of my time to The Lord. If I can get my quiet time in during this time I'm super happy. Another friend gets up with her husband and has her quiet time between the time that he leaves and her children wake up for the day. These days I typically do my quiet time during the first minutes of nap-time. Other times I've done it at the end of the day after everyone is in bed while the hubs is working on his end of day paperwork. If you are in a season of life when quiet times are becoming practically impossible (like when you have a fussy newborn baby!) I highly recommend the 1000 gifts daily devotional. You can download it right onto your smart phone into the Kindle app or order a hard copy. The daily readings are short, sweet and terrifically encouraging. I love it almost more than the book! Whatever time of day you choose, try to make it the same time every day. Be prepared - what works in one season of life isn't going to work in another and what works for one person might not work for another.
Participate in a Bible Study this is one of my anchors in my walk with God. I have been in the same small group, with the same people for about two years. I've built a lot of closeness and trust during that time. It is so important to have this type of relationships. If you don't have this at your church either find some friends who can meet weekly for Bible study, join one that's already formed at your church or find one at another church you can be involved in. Online Bible studies are great but in-person are way better. I have enjoyed the Bible studies I've done by Kelly Minter. I've also loved my Beth Moore Bible studies. Find a 1000 Gifts Bible study, or a MOPS Bible study group.
Be intentional with social media this is the type of thing that can either suck a ton of time away from what you should be doing or it can become a source of tremendous incouragement! Follow people who post (and re-post) encouraging words & pictures. Go ahead unfollow, unlike or mute the people and pages who bring you down or distract. Seek out and find the people who lift you up. If one of your friends re-posts something encouraging go back to the source and follow them. Fill your Facebook news feed with encouragement! Same thing with Instagram & Twitter!
Take smart naps. I'm a huge fan of naps. I am a better person when I've had time to decompress, rest and fall asleep for a bit but we've all had those days when we laid down for a nap and woke up sleepier, grumpier and more of a brain-eating zombie than when we laid down. A friend of mine told me that she usually takes short naps, she sits down in a chair or lays down and let's herself fall asleep for a few minutes, but when she wakes up she doesn't roll over to catch a few more minutes, she gets up! I have done this now and then and I've found it to be helpful. I usually will lay down with Eli in our bed for his afternoon nap and let myself fall asleep with him on the bed, I usually wake up maybe twenty minutes later or so and I get up, drink some OJ (or eat a piece of chocolate) and start my afternoon. If I'm still sleepy I go sit in the sunshine while I drink a tall glass of water or a hot cup of tea.
Don't get sucked into a TV habit. This one is hard for me, because I really enjoy and often look forward to that moment at the end of the day when I sit down, whatever I got done is done, whatever didn't get done isn't, I'm going to sit on the couch with my hubs and watch TV. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, unless you're willing to sacrifice your time with your Savior for your favorite show or if it becomes your all night, every night habit, and don't even get me started on those shows that don't even start till 10pm! Y'all this is what a DVR is for, (or Hulu, or Amazon Prime or Xfinity on demand or whatever on demand option you have from your cable provider) if exhaustion is your #1 reason for not being able to spend time with God but you're staying up until eleven or twelve every night - maybe there's the problem. This has been my problem. I've struggled to find a balance - to have the time with my hubs (and kids) watching TV (or reading blogs or editing photos) but not let it take over my life especially when it's the easiest thing to do.
Let's choose best over easiest.
Let's choose best over easiest.