First and foremost, thank you for your kind note. I felt the immensity of the burden that you are carrying at the moment and I would like to share some things that may help ease that for you. Those few words you sent reflected my own memories of early motherhood with the frazzled exhaustion and sentiments of insignificance that can accompany it.
Darling, you are precious. Your sweet smile and love for God just flows from who you are. He loves you with an undying love, even when everything around you is messy and loud. I remember those days, and I still have them at times. Through those times, I have been learning the gift of praying without ceasing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17) It truly brings everything into a more God-centered focus when life overwhelms me. Great peace comes to those who pray diligently. We mommas desperately need that kind of peace. So pray, darling, pray whenever you think about it.
God has entrusted you with one of His most sacred gifts and I know as you cuddle that wee babe, you feel so very blessed. The exhaustion of raising a young family can be overwhelming, but I promise you it will get better. Try not to over commit your self, and remember that God does not expect us to carry such heavy loads. His burden is light and He gently leads us.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
Read that again, He gently leads those that have young. Don’t let the world harshly rush you, let the Lord lead you ever so gently. This is your tender moment in life. A wonderful place to be.
Please do not feel badly if you are not doing much from the world’s point of view. Unfortunately, the world displays our value through what is seen and accomplished. We are significant because we are made in His image and likeness. We are highly valued and very precious. Think on that Nessa, you are precious, you are valued, the treasure of great price. Highly loved by God. I learned this when I was very ill years ago, unable to get out of bed for months on end. God spoke to my heart that even if I could never do anything again in my life, I was loved and valued because of who I am in Him.
Okay, you asked for some practical advice on how to manage it all a little better. First of all, remember that we are all different and have different rhythms as people and family units. Some of the things that work for us may not work for you. However, I will share a few things that keep me just a bit more organized and possibly a bit more sane. Now, let’s get to some basics.
I think one of the biggest lessons that I have learned as a missionary momma is flexibility. If you do not learn a bit of flexibility you will crumble under the pressure. I know this because I have crumbled at times, many times, and I do not want that for you.
Remember, love, these are things that suit me and my life but I share them with you in hopes that you can dream up a system that will work well for you. Here is a list of non-negotiable things for myself and my family.
1. Devotions~ Your life is a reflection of your passions, and I want my passion and desire to be God focused. I am not a good momma when I do not have my heart filled with the love, patience and grace that comes from the overflow of a meaningful relationship with The Lord. I have a specific time set aside twice daily for devotional reflection. You may want to consider leaving a few devotional Bibles around the home. Please put your favorite one next to the remote control in hopes that it would encourage you to fill your weary soul with Him and not those crazy reality shows.
2. Personal Space~ I need a clutter free space somewhere in my home that I can go sit and pray or read. For this reason, I make my bed every day, and have the area around my writing desk neat and tidy. I have found that if I feel overwhelmed, clutter can make it intolerable. With a large family clutter and mess is inevitable, so I create a space to go to so that I can keep my life grace focused.
3. Night time routine with the children~ Children need routines and having a night time routine gives them security and a sense of stability. For our family that includes, bath, story, tucking in and prayers. I follow nearly the same routine nightly. I ask them a few questions to engage in relationship, and let them know I care. It is our time and all of my children (even the older ones at times) still asked to be “tucked in”.
Questions we ask them: ~What happened today? ~Did they enjoy it?
~Did they learn anything? ~Who loves them? ~Are they special?
Then I cuddle and pray for them. I tell them I love them and kiss them goodnight. Every single night they hear that we love them. When the older girls are home with us, they do the same with their younger siblings. They have no doubt that their older sisters love them. They have no doubt that God truly loves them.
4. Mealtime Prayers~ We hold hands and pray over our meals. Whether we are out or we dine in, we hold hands and pray. One of the benefits of being a praying family is that the children become accustomed to stopping and being quiet as an expression of respect. Even our special needs daughter becomes quiet and has learned how to pray before meals. As a matter of fact, whenever we stop to pray the children know that they are meant to bow their heads and form their own words of love and faith. This is a tremendous act for little ones to feel confident in their young prayer life. We need to encourage every single step towards faith that our young ones take.
5. The 5 Minute Sweep~ Every night before bed I do a 5 minute sweep through each room. I take a basket with cleaning wipes and go from room to room to tidy. I gather dirty washing, wipe spills and generally try to make things more manageable for the morning. I never spend more than 5 minutes per room. I do this because I tend to be a perfectionist and have a difficult time focusing on the big picture. I could easily spend too much time deep cleaning instead of enjoying my family and cultivating a devoted walk with the Lord.
The discipline of stopping to tidy up at night and make your bed in the morning, should always be seen as an act of gratitude to the Lord for His provision in your life. Think on it this way, many people wish they had a bed to make, things to take care of or a home to make pretty. As a missionary momma, I have lived with those who are marginalized, poverty stricken, and living in destitution. When you live with this day and in and day out, you learn to live on less not more. You also learn rather quickly how important it is to care for what little you do have. As we learn to take good care of the things the Lord gives us, we are cultivating the discipline of contentment because of an attitude of gratitude. It also sets a beautiful example for our children in “taking good care of what God has blessed you with.” (a common phrase in our home)
Nessa, you may feel overwhelmed and insignificant at the moment but you are molding and praying daily over those young lives for the kingdom. And sweetie, you are doing a fabulous job.
Stasia is mother to six beautiful children and wife to a dedicated, loving husband. They have served as a family together on the mission field on four continents for nearly 29 years. Stasia’s passion is to share in true colors the grace of God in her life. You can read more about her and the ministry of the Women’s Bible Cafe here. Meet Missionary Mom and Ministry Leader Stasia Nielsen If this article has blessed you in any small way, please consider showing your support by clicking subscribe in the upper right corner.