The below question and responses were compiled by fellow graduate wife reader, Laura Lee. She surveyed several women on the journey and is sharing with us their answers. You can see her original post here, where she outlines her journey towards discovering the answers of a ‘balanced’ life during this season of being a graduate wife and beyond. This is part III of the ‘What does a balanced life look like?’ series. Enjoy!
2) If developing and deepening your faith is important to you, how do you find time to do that with jobs, families, and supporting your grad student spouse? When do you take time and what do you do during that time?
- Devotional time – this one has suffered greatly since my son’s birth. I used to put enormous pressure on myself about spending time reading my Bible, praying, etc…to the point where I was getting no sleep trying to do it all, and feeling like a bad mother and horrible wife, and frankly, that was true. I spoke to a mentor of mine – who has 5 grown adult children – and she basically said, “God extends grace to mothers.” For whatever reason, that put a new spin on things for me, and I didn’t look at it as such a chore. So now, I look for pockets of time in the day to reflect and pray – I find my runs to be a good time for that – and I usually read my Bible at night before I go to bed. And, by serving my family, I am serving God. I’m finding that God is meeting me right where I am in this current season of life – he sends little nuggets of truth my way all the time. I also listen to sermons when I run as well.
- I am far better at making time to run than to spend time with the Lord (I am willing myself not to delete that comment). That being said, I have found that my most ‘centered’ times are when I am running, so I will often listen to readings or sermons while running. Here are two sites I frequent for sermons:Tim Keller’s free sermons and Lyle Dorsett’s sermons (an old prof). Also, I enjoy using a study or commentary to guide my reading, like Tom Wright’s ‘for everyone’ series. I’m a school girl at heart, so I love filling in blanks and completing lists. It’s always been easier for me to read during the evening sometime, even though I’ve always wished it was the morning.
- I try to spend time with the Lord throughout my day. I am the queen of “breath-prayers” which are just a sentence or two speaking to God. It has been a challenge for me to have a set “quiet time” with the Lord where I’m not praying and doing something else…but it looks like I’m not alone. I tend to pray in the shower and when I’m on walks with my son, or on the treadmill. I also like to listen to sermons from our church back home when my son is napping. My husband and I recently decided that we are going to spend an hour in the evenings, after our son goes to bed, reading the bible and praying together. We used to do it before our son was born and started it up again. I love the Psalms and Proverbs and enjoy reading those before I go to bed.
- I think I’ve mentioned this before but I am NOT a morning personal by nature. Morning is not the best, freshest time for me to give a chunk of my time and attention to God. So I often do this before bed (assuming I’m not passing out on my pillow exhausted from the day!) Occasionally, and this is my favorite way to do this, I make myself a cup of tea and spend my daughter’s nap time reading/in prayer. But mostly I just pray about 800 times a day… trying to include God in each small choice I make (and attitude I assume) all throughout each day. My husband and I always pray together before we drift off to sleep. I’m not big into ‘devotional’ style books but I do enjoy reading and there are lots of good books out there which challenge me to read the Bible in fresh, deeper ways and cause me to hear God’s voice in new ways too.
- Someone talked to me about ‘seasons’ when my first son was little bitty baby and I have to say that was the single best piece of knowledge I got about having kids and being on a graduate student schedule/lifestyle. Life comes at you in seasons and having little kids in your home is a season like none other! I can remember amazing times with the Lord sitting on my steps in our little flat in Cambridge while I was breastpumping in the middle of the night. BREASTPUMPING!!! As my friends in East Texas might say, ‘Who’da thunk it?’! Regarding seasons, I do have to say about a year ago, when my last one was 2’ish, I realized that I was out of the ‘baby season’ but that my time with the Lord hadn’t progressed past that season. So I kind of had to kick start myself since I realized I was beginning to have more time to invest in spiritual disciplines again. I’m a one book at a time kind of girl. I love to be absorbed in a good book and I read, read, read until I finish it. I find this is how I like to do my Bible study. Whatever we’re studying in church or my Monday Mums group, I like to just bury myself in it. So for example right now, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into Isaiah as we go through the book in church. My husband is a biblical scholar so he will give me a good book to go along with whatever I happen to be into at the time and it helps me through the hard bits or historical stuff. Also, I’m not really a ‘doer’ but more of a ‘be-er’, so I find passages like John 15 where Jesus tells us to ‘abide in Him’ really encouraging. I just want to be connected to Jesus. I want to interact with him, complain to him, talk in my head to him and rest with/in him. But I also want to be stretched by him. I’ve been learning over the last couple of years to allow the Holy Spirit to use my spiritual gifts in ways that I know are not my own ideas. Often times I find it really easy to operate while using my natural gifts. I even find it energizes me. But I’ve been praying that God would use my gifts (hospitality, mercy and giving) in supernatural ways to benefit his people and his kingdom. Last year I felt urged to call a friend and tell her I was bringing them dinner one night. I knew she was pregnant (and due soon) but I had no idea all 3 of her children had had the stomach bug and that she hadn’t slept in 3 nights! That meal was like a love letter to her from God. Then there was a time I felt God lead me to buy one of my best friends back in the states some make-up. I obeyed (with trepidation wondering how I was going to explain to my husband why I spent $80 on make-up for my friend miles and miles away), but then was astounded that she (who’s hubby is doing a PhD and they are on an extremely tight budget) had been praying specifically that God would send her some new make-up! My husband couldn’t argue with that! In fact, he rejoiced with me that his hard-earned money was used by God to love on our friend. Sorry, that was kind of a tangent, but I’m very relational and to see my relationship with the Lord benefiting others is a real motivating factor for me.