I went on a personal retreat in the beginning of July to St. Christopher’s Camp and Conference Center in Seabrook Island, SC. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place to retreat with a warm staff who looked after me well.
During breakfast, I had the opportunity to dine with an Anglican Bishop and his wife. He was warm and charming with a lovely dry sense of humor, and she was open and authentic about mothering and ministry.
They had raised five children and I asked her for any words that she could offer me in mothering during the middle years of life. Her words were simple, nothing lofty, but tangible and practical. After listening to her and pondering the simplicity, I realized that if I actually did these things regularly and daily (if possible), then, over time, these acts would build a foundation of faith and relationship with my children.
I always seem to be looking for the flashy aha parenting moment, but mothering well is grounded in the reality of daily choices to model Jesus and engage our children.
Angela said that being invited into a Bible Study as a young mother in a new town was life-changing for her. The mothers were about 10 years older than she was and being able to listen to their words and prayers is what shaped her mothering for years to come.
Takeaway: find your spiritual people and take notes.
When their children would come home from school each day (and this can apply to a homeschool mom because we can get too busy with tasks), she would sit down with each one and listen. She would be careful not to demand or fall into task mode, but engage them. I tend to be a listener that says “uh huh, uh huh” and am hoping that they will hurry up and finish talking so that we can move on to chores, dinner, productivity.
Takeaway: Slow down, trust God with the schedule, and listen to my children.
Finally, Angela said that she prayed. She prayed in front of her children a lot. They would even joke about her praying about so many things out loud. She said that often we keep our faith quiet and personal without modeling it. Her husband chimed in at this point and said how important it was that they prayed with each other as a couple in the mornings and in the evenings. They would pray every January that God would provide a vacation for their family and for trusted childcare for a vacation for the two of them alone. My purpose for my retreat was to rest in prayer, and this was a beautiful encouragement to not only pray alone, but practice praying with our children and with our spouse as a rhythm of our day.
Takeaway: Pray out loud with those I love.
I love these words. Get connected with wise women. Listen to your children. Pray. These are habits that build intimate connections with the Lord and people. Because of their simplicity, it’s easy to me to neglect them or to think that I am doing them when I am not.
Father, give me grace to connect this week, to give my children eye-to-eye, unhurried attention, and the rhythm of praying with Mike and with my children in small, intentional ways. Amen.