It has been an interesting learning curve finding time to invest in my spiritual life now that life is all about being "Mummy". Oh how many times have I wanted I time travel back to when I was a student and shake myself silly saying "appreciate how much time you have right now!!" (How much sleep you have!!) "Read things, do things, travel! Do it all!!" I will be honest, I have really struggled, as an introvert, having little to no "me time" since baby bear arrived. (I love her so much, she is a complete blessing in my life and I cannot imagine life without her, but sometimes I just need some time out and I'm counting down to bed time! That being said, whenever I watch her sleep my heart just explodes and I want to wake her up and give her huge cuddles!) So when I do get some time to myself, my first thought I must admit has not always been "where's my Bible?" (and not because I was so holy I knew exactly where it was)! But having "survived" the first six months or so I realised I really needed to carve out some time for God & I to spend together. I went to older, wiser, more experienced women I know who have older children and asked for advise on how they managed. They came back with some useful suggestions, but as great as they were, non of them really worked for me. I have UCB radio on almost constantly if I'm in the house, baby bear and I sing along to worship music as we have our breakfast... But for me, that isn't enough. It's amazing and inspiring listening to the talks and it's certainly a real source of life in a busy day - but personally I need more. Just like - personally - lying on my bed listening to a podcast during nap time didn't work. Either I was so shattered I struggled to stay awake, or I found myself thinking about all the things that needed doing, like the washing, clean the bathroom etc etc.
Then more recently I spoke to a long term mentor and friend about it, she made similar suggestions and I felt a bit disheartened to be honest - it made me think that these things worked for everyone but me! However she then said something that really helped, she said that when she had her first, she struggled with taking time out for God when they were all the other jobs to get done, but she decided to dedicate an hour each morning in morning nap time to God - listening to worship, reading her Bible, whatever. Apparently once she did, without worrying about how she would get everything else done, she was amazed at how it all started to come together. If she dedicated that hour to her relationship with God she always found everything else did get done and the day was much more productive. That was very releasing and inspiring! Once I had heard that I prayed about it and said to God I would do the same, morning nap time belonged to him, please could he help me to get all my jobs done through out the day! (Risky some might think, as morning nap time is pretty guaranteed, afternoon nap time is very rocky, both in terms of its length and will it actually happen!)
I thought about what had worked for "quiet time" previously and for me personally sewing whilst listening to a podcast has always been very edifying. I have the attention span of a goldfish most of the time, so listening to a podcast alone (no matter how good) is not enough to keep me focused. But if I sew, the sewing takes up enough attention to keep me focused, but I am on autopilot at my machine enough to fully listen to the talk. For me, it's the perfect balance. So I started to do this and was amazed at the difference it made, I felt I had done something for me in the sewing which boosted me and I had also ha my time with God which was an even bigger boost. Plus, I did become more productive through out the day and all my jobs still got done, probably more so than before! It sounds crazy but I really does work for me.
Then at the start of September this year I somehow stumbled across an Instagram account of someone with a journalling Bible. I had never seen one of these before, a Bible with columns to take notes in either side of the text. This lady had used all kinds of scrapbook supplies to create beautiful quotes etc it was fantastic. I then saw the hashtag #journalingBible and clicked on that to see many other fabulous creations. (Then #illustratedFaith and that was that!!) I googled and found some fantastic blogs on the subject. That was it - after checking my local Christian book shop and drawing a blank, I went online and ordered myself one and even paid extra for express delivery! Part of my reasoning was I have always wanted to highlight in my Bible, but always been too scared to in case I mess up. When Bible apps became available I was really pleased as I could freely highlight and note take without fear :) however about a month before I discovered journaling Bibles my phone had needed a factory reset - and with that reset I lost all my Bible highlights and notes! All gone. With that heartbreak I decided to go back to paper, so discovering journaling Bibles so soon after seemed like a real God moment. I have to say, for me, my journaling Bible has totally changed reading scripture. The freedom to highlight, note take and create "art" - really helps me not get distracted and drift off but focus on what I'm reading/studying. Since getting it in mid September I have already read through almost the entire new testament. I'm a slow reader, and quite often hate reading - so to read that much, especially now I have a baby, is a breakthrough!
I have also learned that you need to seize every opportunity you are given. If Baby bear and I are out at nap time, she will still fall asleep but I am left with her in her pram or car seat debating what to do. If I pick her up, that is the end of the nap and she won't resettle, even if she only fell asleep ten minutes ago! This can lead to grumpy bear and exhausted Mummy! So I tend to let her sleep now. If she is in the pram I will bring her into the utility room, still in her pram, unbutton her coat and then potter in the kitchen (which opens into the utility room so I can see and hear her). If we are in the car I stay in the car (through the cooler months only, not when it's hot)! Through this I have learned to pack my journaling Bible when we go out. That way, when she falls asleep on the way home... I can pull up on the drive and turn he engine off, pick up my Bible and have quiet time! It's all about working with what you have been given.
For example, right now, I'm sat in the car on the driveway, baby bear asleep in the back, rain pouring down on us. It's quite relaxing, like being in a tent listening to the rain!
[P.S. She slept for TWO HOURS and twenty minutes! This is unheard of! But it gave me an hour reading, then time to write this post - after I felt God asked me to share how I have managed QT with a babe. I have stressed throughout that things have worked, or not worked, for me personally - because I feel that is key. What works for one, won't always work for another. It's about thinking outside the box!]