Please welcome my guest today, Katie Phillips. Blogging over at Operation: Leap of Faith, Katie has a beautiful gift for storytelling. I was captivated by her words when I first read this. And I could totally relate with her experience. Take a look!
My quiet time lately has been ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean, it's been loud. It should be called "loud time" with the Lord. Loud, rambunctious, non-quiet quiet time.
Part of it is my own fault, really. I could get up earlier. I tend to be a snooze button pusher. A stay-up-later kind of gal. I read into the wee hours.
By the time I roll out of bed and make my way to the coffee, Littles (aka The Farmer-in-Training) is up and at 'em. He tends to veer toward silence only when he is unconscious. Meaning: when he's awake, the gums are flapping. I'm usually able to give him a quick kiss and smile before I start into "you know this is mama's quiet time. No talking, Bubba."
The sincerity of his silence lasts nearly until I get my coffee cup to my lips for my first sip and then the chatter starts up again.
"Do you know that my robot can make his head disappear? Where is my flute? Or my kazoo? I'm hungry! And firsty. Why are there no more Lucky Charms in the Lucky Charms? I can't find my soft night night. Did it go on vacation? Can I jump on the trampoline? Why are my feet so dirty?" This. All in one breath.
I make my way over to my chair--my little oasis of solitude--and pull out my Bible. There is a cloud of toddler chit-chat following me like dust follows Pig Pen.
I love my Bible because it is written in and underlined and filled with notes I've taken. It's bookmarked and stuffed with papers and contains circled words and asterisks. It has the occasional toddler scribble and sticky notes that say things like "Stand Firm" (1 Corinthians 15:58) and "You are osum, Mom." And I'm not joking when I say that it is literally duct taped together because the binding broke awhile ago. It's been lived in. It is mine.
I open it up, methodically going through different books. Right now, Deuteronomy. You know, the folks God saved, provided for, showed miraculous signs to, fed, fought for and delivered to the Promised Land (all the while they complained, doubted, feared, trembled, repented, and messed up again and again, wash, rinse, repeat--otherwise known as people I can relate to).
As I settle into the verses I find hope in the journey of these people. Step by step journeys led by simple truths, "Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land." (Dt. 8:6-7)
Their journey. Mine. Sometimes long. Twisting, turning. Full of failure and success and failure some more. Then grace. Obedience, disobedience. Redemption. Thank God--always in the direction of the good land. Step by step.
And then...Middles makes an appearance. He keeps farmer hours as well but has reached a level of maturity that allows him to remain in his room about 7 minutes longer than Littles. He and the young one like to talk in decibels that shake the windows.
I try to ignore the conversation but it's difficult.
Littles: (looking at a magazine) I don't know what these animals are.
Middles: They're wolves.
Littles: Oh, wolves.
Middles: They will eat you up.
Me: Oh. Mercy.
Once they are reminded that I am trying to have my quiet time, they look at me. Nod. They know the routine. Then they immediately continue discussing wolves consuming my youngest born. It's as normal to them as breathing.
I peel my eyes off them and look back into the passage. These people of promise--they were constantly being led and protected and pushed forward into something better--even if they didn't realize it at the time.
Be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. (Dt. 9:3)
Devouring fire. I desire that. God going ahead of me that way--clearing the path, step by step, for my purpose in Him. It reminds me of a quote my Dad loves by St. Ignatius of Loyola: "Go forth and set the world on fire." Yes. Yes. Let's.
And then . . . Bigs comes down. He's the quiet one but I find myself getting distracted anyway. By his untied shoes and pockets that are inside out.
I sigh and close the book. Once all three are in the room, it's time to start the routine. Breakfast, packing lunches, saying the words "hustle, hustle, hustle" and "do you want to be late?" but not really wanting to know the true answer. Hopefully some smiles. Quick prayers in the car. It's like a whirlwind, really. Our life.
And then there's the quiet. They are in school, all. This, this, would make for a good quiet time. Because it's actually quiet.
But somehow, my crazy "loud time with the Lord" right now resonates within me. Because one by one by one, my children see me with the Word, open in my lap, pen in hand. They see me living with it and living within it. They see the importance of an appointment such as this, every day, despite chaos and conversations about bloodthirsty animals and the general circus that is our family.
It won't always be this way, each child underfoot. There will come a time when I can't pull them out of bed or meet them in the early morning before the sun comes up. There will be a time when they look less to me and what I am doing for guidance and more to others around them.
Now is the time they see me and my habits and the book open before me. They see the journey. Step by step. They see the beautiful, imperfect, life-long journey.
For now, it's good. It's right.
And with my coffee cup and rattling windowpanes, we'll do it all again tomorrow.
What does your quiet time with the Lord look like? Do your children see you praying and reading your Bible?
Katie Kenny Phillips lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jeff, and their three hilarious boys (Bigs, Middles and Littles). Their home is made up of two parts Legos, one part dirt/sticks/rocks/acorns and all parts “whose underwear is this and why is it in the middle of the family room?” She and her husband just started an orphan/foster care ministry at their church and are excited to become foster parents themselves in the next few months. Katie writes at Operation: Leap of Faith and you can visit her at www.operationleapoffaith.com.