“How do you keep going with these disciplines when it is tough?” Dawn asked us last week:
“I really wanted to try it out but circumstances have only served to discourage me. The alarm waking my 3 year old so I spend the whole ‘quiet time’ is spent trying to settle him and stop him disturbing the others, then both we both have a harder day because of the extra tiredness. How do you keep on? I am convinced it is a good thing but feel like I am letting my whole family down because I am tired and so discouraged. Sorry just wonder if I am the only one who can’t work it out.”
You certainly aren’t the only one! All four of us know exactly how you feel! With small children, it is hard to do anything consistently. The only thing predictable about our days is that they are unpredictable! But here are a few ideas (all from Mom) that we’ve found helpful:
1. Change What You Can – Small, practical changes can make a big difference. Consider potential solutions like buying a quieter alarm clock or placing it where the kids are less likely to hear it. I’ve even set my phone alarm to ring and vibrate and then slept with it under my pillow! My husband and I have run “tests” to see what noises in the house (walking on hardwood, flushing toilet, opening closet) sound loudest in our kid’s rooms. And training our children to read books on their beds until a set time each morning has made a huge difference. However, some problems aren’t so easy to solve, that’s why it’s good to…
2. Have a “Plan B“ – If your ideal plan doesn’t work out, have a back-up plan in place. Plan “A” might be to meet with God before the children wake up; but if you’re up half the night with a sick baby, you need sleep in the morning! Plan “B” may be to read God’s Word and pray during your children’s naptime.
3. “Do What You Can”- If both “Plan A” and “Plan B” fail (which may happen often with small children!) then do what you can. Read this great story from Donald Whitney about how one mother’s hunger for God’s Word led to some creative solutions. Liberating and inspiring!
4. Try Again Tomorrow – Even if you only rise early two times each week you are doing more than if you never tried at all—that should encourage you!
5. Preach the Gospel to Yourself – This will lead to joy. God is not more pleased with us on the days we rise early or less pleased with us on days when we sleep late. We are accepted and approved because of Jesus Christ.
Finally, as Mom is fond of reminding us: this is a season. It will pass all too quickly and the three year old who wakes up early will be a thirteen year old who you can’t get out of bed in the morning. Until then, remember that God’s grace is more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:19). He daily bears us up, and promises that “as your days, so shall your strength be” (Ps. 68:19, Deut. 33:25).