Guest Post by Courtney Ellis
Daily life with young children can be overwhelming. Household chores pile up, sleep is elusive, and just when you’re finally ready to load up the car, the baby spits up all over everyone and everything.
Intimacy with Jesus can feel very far away from the daily grind of motherhood and fatherhood. Even daily devotions—sitting with Scripture, spending time in prayer—can begin to seem burdensome when mornings begin all too early and evenings end in utter exhaustion.
Yet it is in these particularly beautiful, trying, holy seasons that God has good gifts to give—gifts of presence and patience, renewal and rest, love and joy. Here are five ways God wants to meet you in the chaos of parenting.
5 Ways to Meet God in the Chaos of Parenting
1. By reminding you that you are seen
In Genesis 16, Hagar—mistreated by Abraham and Sarah—flees into the desert. Alone, vulnerable, and afraid, she feels she has nowhere to turn.
And then God shows up. The angel of the Lord speaks to her, and she is forever transformed.
“[Hagar] gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.’”Genesis 16:13, NIV
So much of parenting goes unseen by anyone but God. Changing diapers late at night, soothing a crying baby in the wee hours of the morning, counseling a troubled preteen, packing (seemingly) eighteen thousand snacks. Don’t even get me started on laundry.
Yet God sees it all. God knows it all. And God loves us through it all. Remembering that God is a witness to all of our life’s moments—even those that go unseen by anyone else—can be a deep encouragement in the weary days of parenting.
2. By giving you daily bread
When God showers manna on the Israelites in the book of Exodus, there is always just enough for the day.
Often parenting can feel overwhelming when we look at the years that lie ahead. Changing one diaper is easy, but changing a thousand? Two thousand? Three?! That can seem an impossible task.
But God gives us the grace we need for each day and will meet us with enough for tomorrow, too. We don’t have to do it all right now. Instead we can accept the daily portion of sustenance from God and take each hour as it comes.
3. By showering you with new mercies every morning
I’ll be brutally honest—there are days my kids use up all my patience. They are profoundly amazing kids—funny and wise and kind and loving—but they are also kids, and sometimes kids can just plain wear a person out. There’s whining, there’s fighting, no one can ever find their shoes…
Sometimes I’m afraid I’ve used up all God’s patience, too. That my whining and fighting and shoe-losing (yes, I do it too) and impatience with my kids has worn God out too much to love me.
The good news is that God never runs out of love for us. His grace is all sufficient. His love is deeply profound. And each morning we wake up to new mercies all over again.
4. By loving your children even more than you do
When my oldest son, Lincoln, was a baby, he struggled to sleep. I was up nearly all night every night nursing him. And then—miracle of miracles!—at around nine months old he started to sleep a little better. But now I couldn’t sleep. I was so afraid he’d die in his sleep, succumb to SIDS or roll onto his tummy and suffocate, that I’d check on him five or six or seven times a night. He was sleeping, but I wasn’t.
Finally my husband Daryl took my hands, looked into my eyes, and said, “Courtney, Jesus loves Lincoln even more than we do. Jesus is standing over that crib.”
Daryl didn’t promise me that everything would be okay. Sometimes the unthinkable happens. But he did remind me of the beautiful truth that God is present to our children even when we cannot be, and that God loved our son more than I ever could.
I could sleep because God never does. What a gift!
5. By loving you
There are days in parenting where I feel absolutely beyond tapped out. My energy is gone, my strength is nowhere to be found. At the end of those days, what I need more than anything is a reminder that God loves me.
And he does! Oh, how he does! Parenthood is a constant reminder that God cares not first about our performance—are we doing enough, trying hard enough, being good enough—but about us, his dearly loved children. Just as we cherish our children on their obedient days and their disobedient ones, loving them far apart from their accomplishments, so God loves us.
At the end of an exhausting day of parenting, nothing feels better than that.
About the Author: Courtney Ellis
Courtney Ellis is the associate pastor for Spiritual Formation and Mission at Presbyterian Church of the Master. She holds degrees from Wheaton College, Loyola University of Chicago, and Princeton Theological Seminary, and has been published in Christianity Today Women. She is a sought-after speaker for leadership and women’s retreats, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and young adult ministries. Courtney resides in Southern California with her family. Her titles include:
Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents
With the honesty of a close friend, the hilarity of a late-night comic, and the humility of a mom up to her eyeballs in diapers and dishes, Courtney Ellis invites us on a journey to draw closer God amid the joyful, mundane, exhausting days of young parenthood. Probing ancient Christian practices for renewal, Almost Holy Mama chronicles one mom’s quest to discover an answer to her most pressing question: Can God use the challenges of parenthood to grow your character?
You long to spend time with God and catch your spiritual breath, but you find yourself honestly wondering how and when? Ellis gets its. It’s hard to carve out space for a “quiet moment” with God, let alone a “quiet time!” Instead of adding more tasks to your plate, Almost Holy Mama will help you integrate your spiritual practices into your daily life. From studying Scripture in the shower to listening in prayer at the foot of Laundry Mountain, Ellis finds that meeting God in sacred disciplines can breathe new life into one of life’s most joy-filled and trying seasons.
Paperback, 256 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, ISBN 9781628627909.
Table of Contents:
- Running on Empty, Longing for More
- Car Rides & Contemplation: Finding Jesus on the Freeways
- Sleepytime & Service: Sacrificial Love at the End of a Long Day
- Eating & the Examen: Finding God at the Dinner Table
- Laundry & Listening Prayer: Because Sometimes the Voice of God Sounds a Lot like the Dryer
- Showering with Scripture: Wash over Me, Lord
- Fasting from Facebook: Giving Up to Gain
- Suffering & Stillness: Because Sometimes All You Can Do Is Nothing
- Getting Ready with Gratitude: Thanksgiving amid Chaos
- Travel & Pilgrimage: Going Away and Coming Home
- Ceasing & Celebration: Discovering the Playful God
- Almost Holy, Fully Loved: Where Do We Go from Here?
- Gifts for expecting parents
- Single mother/father groups
- Foster parents and guardians
- Pastors and counselors
- And more
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