by Angie Tolpin
It was one of those days — you know the kind; itʼs only 2 oʼclock and you’re already exhausted. You’ve just ﬁnished putting the little ones down for their afternoon naps and you look around at all the dishes that need to be done before you can even think of starting dinner. For a moment you think to yourself, I really should spend some time reading the Word, but you have tons of work to do. Bills are staring at you next to the computer, emails that havenʼt even been read, let alone replied to. Mounds of laundry to be washed and folded, errands that need to be run, plus you have a baby shower you are hosting that night. You’re overwhelmed, your mind is scattered. You still have desserts and appetizers to make for the event, but you need to run to the store first. Where do you begin? What chore needs to be accomplished ﬁrst? You’re stressed, and wondering: why did I do this to myself ? Why do I have to make life so complicated? You keep glancing at your Bible, starving for some encouragement, but thinking about the time…
Oh, how I have been there. Pouring out myself in service to everyone, never a moment to myself. Little shadows even follow me into the bathroom. On days like these — ones that are really not that out of the ordinary, but rather a momʼs reality of everyday life — how do we ﬁnd time to be ﬁlled back up again? And what does that look like?
How can we be everything to everyone? Serving in the church, helping our husbands, all the responsibilities that go with home management and motherhood… WE CANʼT! I know for myself, when I attempt to do all that needs to be done in my own strength, I’m not just exhausted, but I end up sinning against those closest to me. I am cranky and short-tempered, and to my astonishment, I donʼt even get it all done.
I still struggle with this daily, but I have learned that in my weakness, that is when God is gloriﬁed. Coming to the Lord as an empty vessel, ready and willing for Him to ﬁll me up, that is when I am living in joy and truly serving those I love. I had to come to a place of recognizing that when I donʼt get ﬁlled up by the Lord, the only thing that pours out is my human nature and it is authoritarian, task-driven ugliness. But when I surrender my schedule, those dishes and tasks to the Lord and I get ﬁlled on the Bread of life, I am a different person entirely. I ﬁnd on those days, the Lord blesses my efforts, and not only does everything that is necessary get done, but the atmosphere in my home is joy-ﬁlled and centered on Christ, ﬁlled with the fruit of the Spirit.
So how do you get ﬁlled up when life is constantly so busy?
Years ago, an older woman once spoke some guilt-releasing and encouraging words into my life. She said:
“Angie, when you have little ones constantly at your feet, try to ‘snack’ on the Word all day long. When you have children, you go from having the ability to ‘schedule’ your quiet time any time you want without interruptions and distractions, to constantly having someone interrupt you. It can be hard to imagine yourself having that focused time of study, but you can meet God all throughout your day. Just leave the Bible open on your counter all day, and snack from it. It is our nourishment, and just as children need snacks in between their meals, we do as well.”
Along with this “snacking”, I have found these disciplines to feed me in those times of busyness:
- Find a time during the day that you can devote to the Lord. If it means you spend twenty minutes reading the Word while your kids are at your feet playing trains with a snack on the table — they are watching you spend time with God. Or maybe you will find it when your little ones are napping. Thriving relationships require time spent together and the same principle also applies to our relationship with the Lord.
- Play worship music throughout the day. (My children know how much of an impact worship has on my attitude and the atmosphere of the home.)
- Listen to podcasts/sermons online while doing chores…it can feed your soul and mind while you work, and it’s good for your children, too!
- Schedule times when you are going to read the Bible to your children. (In our household we always read a Voice of the Martyrs magazine at lunchtime and pray together, before nap-time I read the childrenʼs Bible with the little boys, and at dinner we do family devotionals and fellowship time with song.)
- Join a Bible study or lead one in your home.
- Find a mentor to meet with, teach you and hold you accountable.
- Surround yourself with like-minded sisters in the Lord that are focused on living purposefully for the Lord, holding one another accountable and living in transparent community.
Donʼt live in guilt for not spending hours alone with the Lord. The Lord knows what you are going through and He knows you love Him. Have grace for yourself and recognize your need to be ﬁlled up by Him. He is love and enables us to fully love others.
Angie is the wife of visionary leader and entrepreneur Isaac Tolpin, and a home schooling mother to their six children. Together they enjoy family team projects on their small farm and vineyard in the Pacific Northwest. Angie’s passions include embracing her role as wife and mother, and inspiring and equipping mothers to leave intentional legacies. Angie is a Marriage Speaker & Mentor Coach through Choose Growth, and you can find her sharing what the Lord is teaching her at Leaving a Legacy. Look for her first book, Redeeming Childbirth, releasing this summer 2012. Find Angie on Facebook and Twitter.