How God helps me to not be Lady Tremaine

About three weeks ago, I started early rising so I could devote some time to ME, to my personal development. I think it started out more as a need for physical development (exercise) and mental development (free time to read books by authors I love who motivate me to improve myself). However, I thought, “Surely I should start my mornings by reading my Bible?” and so, because I felt dutiful, that’s exactly what I did.

Interestingly enough, I pulled out the Becky Tirabassi “Daily Bible” I got at a Women of Faith conference about a dozen years ago. I was attending a fabulous church (First Christian Church in Hutchinson, KS), where I attended the bulk of my daughters’ “early years.” I had wonderful lady friends, participated intensely (leading Sunday school classes, volunteering in the nursery, studying with the older women) and felt incredibly fed. As I first sat down with that “Daily Bible” (which, I confess, I haven’t opened it at least 8 years), I vividly remember when Becky Tirabassi was leading a conference session, she asked us if we could commit to reading in God’s word for 10 minutes a day, every day, for the rest of our lives. Like all the other women, I raised my hand. Sure! I’m on fire for Jesus! I think many of us rushed out to buy the “Daily Bible”, which breaks down for each day’s reading (with a daily Calendar listing) some Old Testament, some New Testament, some Psalms and some Proverbs. It even came with a “Prayer Partner” book (you could buy refillable pages) where you could journal your responses to each section, fill out your praises and your requests – so incredibly organized! This would make it EASY for me to get into the Word. Fast forward 15 years . . . .

I’ve found that I look forward to pulling out that “Daily Bible” each morning. I don’t use the “Prayer Partner” journal. I’m actually just writing in my lined notebook (which has cartoon pictures of pirates all over it) that I grabbed from my children’s notebook stash when I started on my Fat Journey (weight loss path I’ve been on several months). It’s the one notebook I always have handy, so I thought – hey, I can read my praises and requests throughout the day as I’m recording my food consumed and exercise for the day. Well, it’s as organized as I’m going to get now, anyway. But I digress . . . .

I have essentially abandoned my quest for physical and mental development, and am just adoring this solo time each morning to get up and read in His Word. I lay in bed this morning thinking how I really didn’t want to get up early, because we had some wonderful friends over last evening and admittedly, I stayed up past my bedtime. However, as I lay there (5:30, and I ordinarily get up at 5) I thought, “If I don’t get up now, I’m not going to have any time to read my Bible and work on my Bible study without children clamoring for my attention!” I jumped up out of bed, rushed through my ablutions, got my coffee and got to the table with my study goodies in record time. How fantastic is it that I am so enjoying working on my spiritual development I greet it eagerly each morning? I think it’s fantastic. I’m pretty sure God thinks it’s fantastic, too. I can just envision Him thinking, “HEY! Look at that McGuire girl! She’s getting up early AGAIN to spend some time with me. I think I’m going to bless her day with peace and serenity!” *Two caveats – yes, I always think God envisions me as a girl. Am I just trying to maintain my youthfulness, perhaps unrealistically? Eh, maybe. Am I really expecting my day to be rainbows and unicorns (thanks for that phrase, sister)? Eh, maybe not. But I like to think it pleases Him, and if it pleases me simultaneously, win-win!

Now, another phrase that may have stood out there is about my “clamoring children.” Bad mom? No, I don’t think so. The Bible study I’m working on now is “Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lisa Terkheurst. I confess – I miss my Bible studies with my girlfriends to no end! We used to meet every other week, and it was a sensational group of ladies (you know who you are, Christy, Angie, Lisa, Barb, Donna) and I felt really fed then, too. However, everyone’s just too busy now. I get that – I really do, so no judgment here.

But I am enjoying the online Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry Bible studies because, well, hey – I’m still getting in the Word! It’s kind of like a Hershey Bar. I love a Hershey Bar. Preferably a king-sized Hershey Bar with almonds. When I have one, I’m happy. When I have to share it with someone (like those clamoring kids) and I only get a piece for myself, I’m still happy. A more apt example might be when I get a sugar-free carob nutrient dense protein bar that no one else really wants a piece of (I’m still on the Fat Journey, remember), I’m still happy. So, an online study where I am not with my besties but still digging into a topic (like motherhood!) still provides the chocolate – I mean, the Bible time.

The examples Lisa T. uses in the book “Am I Messing Up My Kids” are just hilarious, and I can relate to so many of them! It really makes me pause throughout my day to question how I’m responding to my children, and I think that’s healthy. Right now, my step-children are staying with us for the summer (a longer period of visitation than we get through the school year) and I am really needing to focus on my relationships with them, in particular. This is how they see me, and how I see myself:

CinderellaMom                         MotherTheresa

I don’t think I’m a bad mom (or a bad step-mom). I do treat them the same as I treat my other children, it’s just that it’s so different from how their mother treats them. (And as a good sociologist, I would argue perception is key). I think I just get tired of all that needs to be done every day (paid work, house work, chores, meals, laundry, helping hubby, homeschooling, etc). I also get exhausted from the responsibilities of raising up three distinctly separate “batches” of children (his, mine, and ours) and trying to ensure they are all physically/mentally/spiritually healthy. I’m sure many would argue that there shouldn’t be any differences between the “batches” of children. Ideologically, I hear ya. But my oldest girls were essentially raised when I was a single parent, my step-children are inevitably going to have some issues to work through from both Dad and Mom’s remarriage (and, Dad remarried first) and my youngest two just have me scrambling to ensure we’re eating vegetables (this battle AGAIN?) and have clean cloth diapers on (because it’s good for their tushies)! I am especially working on God “filling my gaps” today (my many, many gaps).

So, it’s a lovely Wednesday. I think tomorrow I’ll jump out of bed again for my clamor-free quiet time. I’m excited to read about Solomon building the temple (I think we’re finally past the list of who begat who), and Paul writing to the Romans (very chastising) and see what fresh humor and insight Lisa T. can provide about her experiences as a mother (it IS good to see other moms have ‘those’ moments). It’s nice to start the day fed.