Devotional Time

Finding Your Rest

By Joy O’Neal

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Summer, summer, summertime…the song I’m sure every teacher is singing right now. I surely am! It’s summer! Us moms have a love-hate relationship with summer, don’t we? If your children aren’t school-age yet, then it’s just a warmer part of the year with more opportunities to play in the sun, but if they are school-age, then your entire world just changed for the next twelve weeks into beautiful chaos. The game of tug-of-war between relaxing vs. go has already begun. For me, summer has already whispered a beautiful soul lesson of restoring peace and surrendering to God’s presence inside of motherhood.

The school year ended, and the excitement for a much-needed break was rising throughout my home, but I continually heard the shout of one word, STOP! I knew where it was coming from. I knew why this four-letter word was all I could hear. I knew that my soul was weary, but I resented the wrestling match that would follow. A collision I’ve felt many times as an ambivert. I was empty. I sat the kids down and explained to them that this summer, our theme was rest. I told them other than a few local attractions we wouldn’t be doing much. I was extremely surprised when each one met me precisely where I was. It was clear. We all needed rest.

Cue wrestling match. Each morning I would sit and attempt to usher in the silence. Only a few days passed, and my mind battled between the thoughts of how many tasks I could complete this summer and resting. I would enter my office and see all the lesson plans and books and for a moment contemplate diving into the space. Again, STOP! I knew I needed to go the extra mile. I began to pack up my office and remove everything that called me into teacher brain. I searched Facebook Marketplace for an oversized chair. Once I cleared out my office and found my chair, the word shifted from STOP to SIT. I don’t know about you, but as a mom sitting is hard! Doesn’t it seem like once our bottoms hit a chair our children have an inner alarm system? Then the most beautiful thing happened—it rained! And I love the rain. Growing up in South Carolina afternoon summer rainstorms were a daily occurrence. Each evening it rained, and each evening I would sit.

Once I started to get the hang of sitting the word quickly switched to SEARCH! This beautiful rest and peace that was being restored caused me to search for the deeper why behind its previous exit from my life. How did Jesus manage to stop when He was being pulled? How did He choose to sit when He was sent to this world to spread a message? As I searched through Scripture, I found beautiful similarity between the life of Jesus and the cry of my heart. Verse upon verse, it was clear. Even Jesus knew He needed to slip away. Scripture refers to these places as a Solitary place (Mark 1:35), Lonely place (Luke 5:16), Quiet place (Mark 6:32), and Certain place (Luke 11:1). Jesus knew the importance of having a spot.

How as mothers and professionals do we maintain a quiet spot? How do we bring this certain place into the school year? How do we acquire time of solitude amid so much activity? We can’t. We can’t until we let go of the fairytale quiet place we’ve mentally created and replaced it with Susanna Wesley’s prayer apron.

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Susanne Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley. These two men grew up to lead millions to Christ. Now there’s a mom goal! John and Charles weren’t her only children, though. Susanne had 19 children, but only ten lived through infancy. Studying her life feels a bit like a chapter out of Job. Her marriage was in constant conflict; one of her children was crippled, and another couldn’t speak until they were six. Susanne’s husband couldn’t manage finances and provoked the anger of his congregation, which lead to multiple attacks on their home and livelihood. Finding time to stop, sit, and search would seem impossible in Susanne’s life. When Susanne was young, she made a vow with God that she would never spend more time in entertainment or leisure than she did in prayer with Him. A house with ten kids doesn’t seem like a setting for a quiet place, but Susanne created her own spot by telling her children that when they saw her with her apron over her head, they were not to bother her. Two hours a day, Susanne would meet with God in her apron tent and pray.

Just like Susanne, we have to be creative with creating our places of solitude and quiet. Maybe it’s the car ride to daycare? Maybe it’s waking up 20 minutes before the house gets busy? Maybe it’s folding the towels or creating a ‘Do Not Disturb’ apron moment of our own? One of my favorite songs right now is “You Are My Hiding Place” by Selah and each time I hear this song I am reassured that it’s in our moment with God when we are restored. However this practice of stopping, sitting, and searching looks for you, I am convinced that when our hiding place is in Him, then our peace can be anywhere. Cheers to summer!


Tuning into God's Voice in Motherhood

By Brittany Rust

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Washers and dryers running. Kids yelling as they chase each other around the house. Hungry baby cries. The inner to-do list for the day running through your mind. There’s no shortage of noise in the life of a mom. And that’s just the practical. You might also struggle with cultural distractions to mother with a certain finesse and play supermom. Comparison, fear, doubt, and insecurity clamor for your attention. You’re bombarded with voices all the time—and it can be both overwhelming and exhausting.

Elijah was bombarded with great acts that many assume God would be in. Yet, God wasn’t in the fire or wind—He was in the gentle whisper.

And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
— 1 Kings 19:11-13
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In motherhood, it’s easy to be distracted by all the things. However, it’s never more important than in parenting to silence the noises and tune into one: His. It’s this intimate connection that gives you strength when you are weak. That gives you the tools to parent in grace. That sustains you in the exhaustion and discouragement. And it’s this connection that leads you in wisdom when it comes to discipling or correcting or leading your child. It’s vital to your role as a mother.

So, how do you tune into God’s voice and push away all the others? They are practical and may seem obvious, but these three practices are foundational to hearing His voice.

How to hear God’s voice

1.Read the Bible.

The Bible is God’s only definitive word we have and by reading it, you can learn about His character, discover what He cares about, and uncover His revealed will for your life. There is no doubt that if you aren’t in Scripture, you will have a hard time hearing from Him.

Even is it’s a few verses at a time, try to get something in you each day. This will help you in hearing from Him and lend to you flourishing in parenthood.

I know when you’re chasing kids around it can be a challenge to carve out a devotional time but it’s also the single most important thing you can do each day. If you’re not in His Word to be refreshed, you’ll start operating out of your own strength and in that limitation, struggle in your parenting. You need Jesus! And your kids will be better off with a mama who prioritizes her spiritual walk with the Lord.

2. Pray.

Regular communication is necessary for any healthy relationship and it’s no different in your relationship with God. Conversation helps to know one’s voice. When you take time to communicate with God regularly, and listen in return, you will be cultivating an ear for His voice.

3. Practice.

If you feel the smallest inkling to step out and act, do it. Put your faith into action. By practice, you will learn what is and isn’t God’s voice. Maybe you step out and find it wasn’t God’s voice—that’s okay. In that experience you’ll learn what isn’t God’s voice. You can learn from what worked and what didn’t work—and the more you practice, you’ll discern what God’s voice sounds like.

If you will start implementing these three practices in your daily routine, I am confident that you’ll cultivate a greater intimacy with God, learn to discern His voice, and have His guidance in the matters of motherhood.

** This blog is based on a portion of Brittany’s new book, Here I Am: Responding When God Calls Your Name. Grab your copy to further learn to discern His voice, how you can overcome doubt and fear, and learn how to step confidently into your calling.


5 Things I Do Everyday (to keep my sanity with a toddler)

By Lindsay Barnett

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If you have a toddler at home, you know that you can never really prepare for what kind of a day lies ahead. Between spontaneous temper tantrums over the wrong color sippy cup, cleaning pen marks off your white cabinets, and the never-ending snack requests, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing all sanity.

There are a lot of great blogs out there from moms who share their toddler’s daily schedules and list certain things they do every day with them. An example of this might be: read every day, get out and enjoy nature, encourage independent play, etc. I turn to these often to help come up with new activities to keep my 3-year-old busy and off a screen. But these 5 things are less about what my kiddo is doing, and more of what I need to do for MYSELF every day.

1. COFFEE WITH JESUS

I wish I could say that every morning I dive deep into the Word and spend a said amount of time in prayer. But in reality, my morning looks more like this: nurse baby, change diapers, feed toddler, clean up after toddler, run errands, repeat. The quiet mornings are few and far between. While I’ve accepted this season of survival mode and I’m learning to give myself more grace in that, I couldn’t use that as an excuse to stop connecting with my Savior. Just as I need that cup of coffee to keep up with my 2 little ones, I need those few moments to simply just pause and say Thank You Jesus.

2. CALL A GIRLFRIEND

I didn’t really appreciate the gift of having girlfriends until I had my first baby. Before I became a mom, friendships seemed effortless. It was easy meeting up with a girlfriend after work or for brunch on the weekend when I didn’t have tiny humans needing me. That shift in priorities became isolating, and I longed to have those deep, meaningful conversations again. I am so blessed to have found some incredible godly women I talk to almost every single day, who push and encourage me to be a better wife and mother. And mostly just remind me that I’m worthy and my identity lies in Christ. “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”- Proverbs 27:9.

3. SING

Worshiping through song is when I hear God’s voice the loudest. You won’t ever hear me on the radio, and I’m not trying to win any singing competitions. But as I’m getting older, and hopefully wiser, I’m caring less about my ability and more about my heart and giving it all in worship daily. “I will sing to Lord all my life I will sing praise to him as long as I live.” -Psalm 104:33

4. FLIRT WITH MY GUY

My husband and I were married 7 years before we decided to start our family. We got to have a lot of fun together during that time, but right now is our messy season. Sure, we have a 3-year-old who gets into everything and a 6-month-old who is just starting to explore eating solid foods; but the mess that we get into is when we give each other the leftover energy at the end of the day. It’s not likely I’ll be able to stay up late after the kids go to bed to snuggle up and watch a movie without falling asleep, but a simple text or phone call during the day goes a long way to keep us communicating so we can make it out of the messy season without any built up resentment, and enjoy our time together again when our kids become more independent.

5. FAMILY BEDTIME

My favorite part of the day is after dinner, right before lights out. As a family, we crawl into bed and talk about our day. Some days we may have had a rough day of temper tantrums and frustrations. But no matter how the day ended, it is always said, “we don’t always love the things you do, but do you know why we love you?”…. and she replays, “because I’m your daughter!” Just as our sweet girl doesn’t have to earn our love, we are reminded that our Heavenly Father loves us the same and we end the day in love.