Monday, January 25, 2010

A Little Piece of Quiet

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30 to a quiet house. I slipped out of bed and peeked in Brett’s office. He was putting a few final touches on his sermon, and all three kids were still sound asleep.

Finally! I thought. I woke up before the kids and don’t have to be anywhere for a while!

Feeling almost giddy (well, as giddy as one can feel before a cup of coffee, that is) at the rare treat of having some time to myself in the morning, I grabbed my Bible, notebook, and still-warm electric throw and headed for our oversized recliner. Although no devotional time seems complete without a steaming cup of java, I knew that the whirr of our grind-and-brew would probably awaken the kids, so I decided to forgo the joe . . . for now, anyway.

About five verses into my Bible reading, I heard the slap, slap, slap of my three-year-old son’s bare feet approaching through the kitchen. (Why do little boys prefer to stomp instead of just plain old walking?) Still tussle-headed from sleep, he groggily climbed into my lap.

I sighed. Loudly. Then I adjusted my Bible and notebook around my curled-up son, read a few more verses . . . and saw the wide-awake eyes of my six-year-old peering over my Bible.

“Mornin’, Mama! What’s for breakfast?”

“Yay, Bwek-fast! I want cereal,” Buddy piped up, suddenly full of energy and clambering off my lap.

“I want cereal too . . .” came the voice of my eight-year-old, who was wrapped in a blanket and padding her way down the stairs.

Why do my kids always wake up early on the days I'm trying to have some quiet time? Do they have some kind of sixth sense?

With another sigh, I closed my Bible and said a silent prayer, asking God to give me peace . . . and patience.

* * *

Eight and a half years ago, equally exhausted and exhilarated, I looked into the bright blue eyes of our tiny, squirmy, beautiful firstborn. At that moment, I signed a permanent leave of absence from my former position of  Boss of My Own Schedule.

(Funny, they don’t tell you these things before you have kids!)

Ever since then—and especially since welcoming two more tiny, squirmy newborns into the family—my days (and early on, my nights) have been variously filled with feeding schedules, napping schedules, bedtime schedules, and so on. Now that the kids are getting older, I’ve added school schedules, homework schedules, carpool schedules, after-school activity schedules, and Mother’s Day Out schedules to the ever-growing list of demands on my time. Not to mention my work schedule (editing around fifty books a year) and, of course, the schedule of the growing church my husband pastors.

I don’t know about you, but these days, it seems everyone wants a little piece of me.

And all I want is a little piece of quiet.

* * *

“Our culture seems to be getting louder and louder,” observed songwriter/musician Fernando Ortega. “It’s not only loud, it’s in your face. It is growing increasingly more difficult to be in a meditative state.”

(Ah, I’m guessing Ortega must have kids.)

But the truth is, it’s not just my kids keeping me from a “meditative state.” It’s everything else that clamors for my attention.

Whether it’s responding to e-mails, catching up on Facebook, or listening to the news while I get ready in the morning, I have dozens of time-wasters at the ready, eager to gobble up what little spare time I do have.

Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with e-mail, Facebook, or the news. These are just a few of the ways I fritter away the time that I could be spending with the Lover of my soul.

It’s so hard to tune out the various demands on my time . . . and tune in to God.

Earlier this year, I posted about how my rising blood pressure and restless nights prompted me to make a New Year’s resolution to stop working at night and instead spend that time letting my soul rest and linger on God through Bible study, prayer, and writing. To help me stay focused on my goal, I underlined in my Bible verses such as “Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still . . . In peace I will both lie down and sleep” (Psalm 4:4, 8) and, of course, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

And then I posted about how quickly I broke that resolution

Because there are far too many things vying for my time. I thought I could do “just one little thing” before diving into my Bible study . . . only to discover two hours later, I’d wasted my whole evening. Well, not wasted, exactly. I finished a work project that night, but at what cost?

Earlier this month, my doctor put me on blood pressure medication. Because there’s a high price tag on a life devoid of peace and quiet.

So as I turn my calendar today to this last week of January, I’m revisiting my New Year’s resolutions. I’m renewing my commitment to stop using my evenings to squeeze in a few more work hours, another load of laundry, or catch up on e-mails.

Because, while those things are good and necessary in their proper time, they’re robbing me of my soul’s deepest need.

What I really need is just a little piece of quiet.

(P.S. Please pray for me, that I’ll be able to rest in the Lord and trust Him to work out details such as how to meet all these book deadlines without working evenings. If He can multiply loaves and fishes, surely He can multiply my work hours during the day, right?)


  1. Jennifer,

    I am struggling with the same things. My petition and prayer is the need of some rest and quietness and most of all to trust that God will work out all the details as I surrender to his call and act in obedience. Thank you for sharing, it has blessed me.
    Love you sister.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Angela! I'll join you in praying for rest and quietness and trust. (Things that sound easy but are oh so hard...) Our God is faithful! Love and hugs to you too.