Amy @Hope is the Word is hosting a bookclub through the summer for Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson. It's not too late to join in! This book is proving to be exactly what I need in my reading life right now!
Just a word of warning: This ended up being more of a journal kind of post more than anything, so it's kind of long. I do want to record my journey through this book, though.
I'm feeling pretty grateful that as I write, I'm sitting all alone in my room propped up in my recliner. The house is quiet! I'm guessing 2 out of 3 little ones are napping after their long morning/afternoon of exploring. Since Jonathan is home today, I traded alone time with him. I took the boys out to see some of their grandparents and great-grandparents, pick blueberries, and do some nature exploring. Frogs were caught and enjoyed. One was smothered, despite my warnings to be gentle. More blueberries were spilled and eaten than we managed to keep in the buckets. When I got home, I got to sneak up to my room and play some much needed catch-up while Jonathan put the little ones to sleep. This is such a rare treat that I'm truly feeling blessed.
I've learned that Sally has an amazing way of relaxing me as I read her words. She talks of beauty quite a bit, and I always leave her books with the desire to light a candle, or take a bubble bath. I honestly don't recall the last time I've taken a bubble bath! I'm guessing before children. She puts the desire in me to be a better mother to my children, and the desire to get into God's Word more. I feel guilty that I need motivation to read The Bible, but I do. The selfish part of me finds it entirely too easy to pick up a fictional book that I'm enjoying over The Bible. I always find myself more peaceful when I choose God Word, though.
"Keeping my well filled up with restful waters is not always an easy task. I am constantly drawing from it to minister to my children who are always with me, to keep my home-domain in order, to feed and cloth my family, and to be a helper to my husband. In the same way that Jesus often retreated from the needy crowds to spend time alone with God, I realize I need to get away from the needy crowd in my home to be with the Lord, and to draw from his restful waters."
"I know I have to make time to be with God-to read the Bible, to pray, to worship God in my spirit, to sing songs of praise. If I'm not taking in, I'll have nothing to give out, much less to sustain my spirit through the times when I most need to live by faith."
As a momma to 3 little ones, I'm finding it difficult to find that precious alone time. Being up through the night makes it difficult to get up early in the mornings. I tried it for a week. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed those mornings when I didn't have a little one get up with me! It was wonderful, peaceful, and I felt like I got so much more accomplished. Life felt a little less hectic when I was able to mark a few things off my list before taking care of every need of 3 little boys. But, I was exhausted. When I find my head falling over as I nod off over and over(while I'm feeding Bumblebee), I know I need some sleep). Plus, more often than not, little feet followed right behind me as I tried to sneak downstairs alone.
"You need to determine when you can best be alone with God and organize your life to make sure it happens."
I'm thinking I'll have to make this "time trading" arrangement happen more often! :)
One of my favorite quotes so far has to be this one:
"Trying harder to be happy or content will not make you happy and content; trying harder to rest in God and depend upon His grace will. It is a spiritual issue, not a practical one. Contentedness will not come from being more organized, sleeping longer, being a better wife, having a better home, using better materials, having more time to yourself, or whatever it is you think might help. Contentedness is learned in the process if daily accepting life as God gives it to you, and adjusting your expectations to life's limitations."
I got to that part and read it over and over trying to mold it into my brain. It's not easy advice to take! I struggle constantly with thinking around the "if only" moments in life. I struggle with thinking that if moments aren't as perfect as my mind has fantasized about, they aren't worth doing. I struggle thinking that after I get "this" mess and "this" mess(and on and one) cleaned up, then I'll read that book to the boys or play that game or explore in our yard. I'm *learning* to just do it. It doesn't matter that there are clothes and dishes piled up. Just enjoy the little years and delight in their constant amazement at the simple things.
When I'm feeling ill and mad at the world, because my "to do" list never ends, my boys' giggling always brings a smile to my face. It's usually over a bug of some sort they've found! ;)
Of course, I also enjoyed this quote from Sally in balance to "playing":
"But what does it mean to 'celebrate life'? Does it mean that I can let my house be a wreck so I can enjoy my children, or that I never have negative thoughts and attitudes, or that I never discipline my children? Does it mean that I simply overlook the myriad difficulties that inevitably spoil the best days, or that I ignore the burdens I carry as a stay-at-home mom, or that I close my eyes to intractable sins that won't go away? Of course not!"
So far, there is much wisdom found in this book! I'm thrilled that I get to slowly meditate on it through the summer and mold it into my mind deeper. It has given me the opportunity to re-read parts that I wouldn't have otherwise done if we weren't focusing on a few chapters at a time. I think I might try this method with some of my other books, too!