Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Spiritual nourishment

I feel like I could write pretty much the same post every month when I take my retreat. I always head into it tired and discouraged, and come away feeling much more calm and peaceful. As great as these monthly retreats have been, I'm learning that I need to experience that calm and peace much more often than every few weeks. I'm not sure what that looks like--how to incorporate "mini retreats" into my life. I'd be interested to hear from any of you who are willing to share: (How) Are you intentional about time and space for true rest and reflection?

As usual, the book I've been reading during my retreats offered great challenge, insight and encouragement on this journey. Author Ruth Haley Barton writes, "He waits patiently for us to stop flailing around until we can relax and receive the nourishment of His presence."

I was in tears as I read a paragraph in which Ruth poignantly described life with her newborn daughter:

"Charity was a very intense child with little patience. She had her own ideas about where she wanted to be and was generally trying to squirm her way somewhere else when any of us held her. This was disappointing and frustrating at times when my whole self longed to cuddle and cradle this beautiful girl."

Our son has been just like that--intense and impatient, and it has been a very challenging year for us. Ruth's point in sharing about her daughter, of course, is an example of how we can act with our heavenly Father. And how I relate to that as well! Please teach us, Father, to stop flailing, to relax and receive the nourishment of Your presence.


Anonymous said...

Wow ~ the description of the author's daughter does sound familiar, doesn't it? I hope that in itself was encouraging ~ to know that you aren't the only parents to travel this road.

It is challenging to find time and space for true rest and reflection in the busy world we live in. My way of trying to pursue that was staying up late at night when everyone else was in bed ~ which gave time for reflection but not for rest! It is definitely something we need to be intentional about because it won't just happen by itself! I look forward to hearing suggestions from others...
Love you, Mom

Leanne said...

this is an area I have struggled in since I've gotten married and had children... there is so much going on and the time I do get...I tend to use for me and not for God...thank you for the reminder of intentionally nourishing my spiritual life! 5 minutes a day is better than NO minutes, I'm finding out!

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

I believe that we can learn great spiritual lessons through parenting! I know I have. My kids teach me so much about myself! Glad you had an uplifting retreat!

Susan said...

Golly, this is really tough for me to even find time. There is a different standard for parenting I am finding in Germany. You take your kids everywhere with you. You do not leave your children with babysitters. I have been balked at for suggesting someone babysit JR for a retreat time that was not doing something productive like sleeping or shopping etc. My husband is supportive but travels a ton during the week and realishes being home. So I have really tried after 7pm baths, blogging, reading and not scheduling things in the evenings. As you know from being in France, life is slower paced here. I think in US it is just busier and people really need retreat time. I am interested in hearing from others.

Katie said...


What an insightful post. It hit home with me! I like how you paralleled our relationship with God to that of the squirming child wanting their way NOW! I must say I can relate on both levels as well. Our one year old daughter sounds very much like that child too. She's never been one to lay her head on your shoulder and just want to be cuddled...she's always squirmed and now is entering the "independent" stage. My son was completely opposite - he didn't want me to put him down! It's been a real adjustment for me, but I think I'm learning to love their uniqueness and thank God for her enthusiasm, energy, and desire for exploring the world around her.

As far as taking time out to reflect, your posts have really got the wheels spinning in my head thinking that I need to do something along these lines. Thanks for planting a seed in me to do this - I know God wants that time with me, and I need to make Him the priority.

You're a blessing Carrie!

Jthemilker said...

How profound. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Now that am retired and no longer have the daily care of anyone besides myself, my "Quiet time" alone with the Lord is the first thing in the morning after getting up. Somtimes I get dressed first, & sometimes I read/pray in my robe.
Of course, if I am going someplace at 8:30 or 9:00AM, I don't have as much time for reflection. My problem is I don't think deeply enough & don't seem to remember what I read very long!!
I know it is extremely difficult though, when you are caring for a husband & a little one. All can say is try to grab whatever time you can, to be alone & reflect on God & His Word. (Before Nathan gets up; naptime or before you go to bed at night...of course, that time should be spent with Eric.) I think your monthly retreats are a GREAT idea, too, as long as you can manage to do that. I think you're doing a GREAT job, though.
Try fixing yourself a cup of tea in the afternoon when Nathan is napping. That seems to relax one.
I have a book called "Teatime With God". I'm afraid I don't do it nearly enough though, myself. I'm very guilty of trying to cram too much into my day, as your mother well knows!
Bottom line is: "We're never too old to learn." I'm trying!!

I love you, Grandma

justabeachkat said...

I think we all could use mini retreats, especially this time of the year.

Great post!


Overwhelmed! said...

"Please teach us, Father, to stop flailing, to relax and receive the nourishment of Your presence."

Carrie, I absolutely love that prayer you've offered up! I couldn't agree with you more. :)

Hey, I wanted to let you know that I've got some free books up for grabs as part of my December Pay It Forward Book Exchange. Stop by if you're interested in a chance to win. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I find myself daily at my wit's end in my job with my little girls--ages 3 1/2 and 2. I want to be patient with them so much, but sometimes it just isn't in me. That's when I must always remember to "whisper a prayer." Thanks again!

WorksForMom said...

A-men sister. A-men!