Do you have your hands full?
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or under water as a mom of little ones, dear soul, you are not alone. I am right there with you; so is our Father in Heaven. This 30 Day devotional for moms with their hands overflowing, is full of real life experiences and hope in the One who rescues us from them all: Jesus.
When Life Gets Full, Go Empty
Ladies, it’s November, and if it hasn’t already life is about to get busy. Full. As full as my Thanksgiving dinner plate. Like eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach-how-did-I-ever-think-I-could-eat all-these-mashed-potatoes kind of full.
I know what it’s like to have my plate and hands full. I’m guessing if you are here reading this you do too.
I also know that sometimes it is inescapable. The season we are in, the job we have, or the kids we are raising, sometimes pile it on for us. We didn’t always choose to load our plate this way. But full hands and plates are heavy hands and plates, regardless of what they are holding.
And here is what else is true: it is hard to DO other things with full hands.
Have you ever had your hands full of things you gathered from inside your van, and then, WHILE HOLDING everything, try to take a drink from your water bottle? Or unlock the front door? Or stoop to tie a shoe or pour a glass of milk?
It doesn’t end well.
It’s happened many times to me. I drop something. I spill something. On myself or the dog. The morning’s coffee mug that gelled over with cream tips and dumps at my feet.
I can’t have full hands and expect to do other things well. It just doesn’t work for me. And I don’t know about you, but the thing I really, really want to do well in life, is know Jesus. I want to go deeper. I want to love Him well, but when I’m clinging to so many other things, it is really hard to do.
So here’s what I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking I need to unload some things from my hands. I need to take less food from the Golden Corral buffet of life. I need to set a few things down and unlock the door for Him.
Sure, there is a lot I cannot rid myself of. I will, by the grace and love of Jesus, continue be a mom. I can’t let that go. I will, by God’s loving kindness, be taking care of five little souls. Thanks be to Him, I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, and yes, I have laundry to fold because there are clothes in our closets.
But there ARE things I can let go of–with God’s good grace.
As life fills up over these next two months, here’s two ways I’m trying to empty my hands, my plate, myself.
One: meeting with Jesus in silence, two times a day.
I’m on day 3, so let me tell you, I’m an expert. KIDDING. This is hard and I am not doing very great at it—although I am trying. I sit there in silence but my mind still spins. I look forward to the day it doesn’t.
Here’s the book that started it all. It’s a 40 day journey of doing the “daily office” with Jesus. What is the daily office? Well, I’m still learning that, but it is regular times of silence and prayer throughout the day. This is what I’ve been needing ladies. Maybe you too?
If you want to dig deeper, I recommend the companion book too, Emotionally Spiritually Healthy by Peter Scazzero.
Here’s another thing I decided to do this morning while blow-drying my hair. (I could write a book about the good ideas I have while blow-drying my hair—I bet you could too).
Here was my genius thought, while I’m practicing silence before Jesus, maybe I should also silence some other voices in my world. Maybe I should turn off social media for the next 40 days.
You don’t have to tell me twice, Lord.
Honestly, I’m not even a big social media gal. I’m there—but more often, I’m not. And while it can be a great place to connect with friends, make new connections, share a beautiful picture or story, and even find life-giving resources, there is so much other noise, so many other temptations that are SO VERY EASY to get sucked into that makes taking a SM break good for the soul.
Two simple changes. Two simple things I am going to try over one of the busiest seasons the year brings. One that I am adding, another I am taking away.
I guess they kind of negate each other when you think about. Time spent scrolling on my phone replaced with time and silence before my Father. I’ll take it.
Would you join me? It’s never too late to start 40 days of meeting with Jesus, or 40 days of turning down the volume on the world. Or both.
Here are some resources for your journey:
The 40 Day Social Media Fast (No, I haven’t read it, but in typical Brooke fashion, if the title and main idea sound good, I’ll recommend it ;). Enjoy.
Emotionally Healthy Spiritually Healthy Day by Day, by Peter Scazzero. Good, good stuff right here. (I’m actually reading this one ;)).
Here’s to a great season friends. A season that takes things off our plates, out of our hands, and makes room for Jesus. Because girls, He’s coming. And when He knocks, I want to have room in the inn for Him.
Numbering Our Days
Hello there. It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote here and I am feeling better. Stronger. More adjusted. And boy oh boy, is it a good feeling. I’ve been able to loosen my death grip on the steering wheel, and the other night we had chili and rolls for dinner and found a way to stream an American football game. It almost felt like a normal fall Saturday.
I am not one to count days and weeks–or really anything for that matter. Maybe that’s because I am more of a words girl than a number one or because countdowns make me nervous. In general, numbers just don’t matter very much to me. Occasionally, however, they do give me perspective.
If I wanted to keep track of the number of days we have been here, it would be easy. We arrived the night of August 1. For a gal who doesn’t like counting, I love it when things are easy like that. Like the fact that we were married in 2005 and three of our five children were born in 2010 and 2015. Woot woot. This word girl can do skip counting.
And so, if we arrived August 1, I can do second grade math and figure out that we have been here 53 days. Or, if we want to be really specific, (since we are being so mathematical here), 52, because August 2 was our first full day in Rwanda.
Why does it matter? Well, first of all, I am not wholly sure it does. But someone once told us it would take 90 days for our family to settle in.
We are over halfway there.
At first, my husband thought 90 days sounded ridiculous. I am not sure I really thought much about it at all, honestly. I knew we were going into a whole new world and my expectations were nil because how could I know what I didn’t know? Now, on the ground for about seven weeks, we are learning, it’s true. It takes a lot of time to settle your family in well.
Why? Because EVERYONE is adjusting. Mom, dad, and five little children with needs, desires, fears, worries, expectations and hopes. We are flexing. We are swimming in the water. We are finding our way in this strange new world where barber’s don’t know how to cut our hair and cheddar cheese is a luxury!
So when I break down in tears, or my son does too, I remember, we’ve only been here 53 days. (or 52 if you want to slice it that way). We are newborns. Still learning how to get milk and how to sleep through the night. Those are both literal, actually.
It takes time. Lots of time. Lots of patience. Lots of grace.
“Slowly, slowly, slowly,” they say here in Rwanda.
They don’t rush. They wait. They are a patient and gentle people.
I am learning to be patient and gentle with myself (and my family) too.
Moses wrote the famous words in Psalm 90, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
I’ve always thought of that in the ways of numbering our days here on earth, because we never know when we may be taken up to glory. And that is what Moses is speaking of here.
But when I think of it in different terms, of numbering the days we’ve been in transition, the number of days we were on the road in an RV, the number of places we’ve visited, the states we drove through or the number of houses we have called “home” in the past year, I think I also can gain a heart of wisdom. Because the numbers start to tell a story. No, they can’t tell the whole one, but they can give a piece of it. They give insight into the struggle our brains have had in doing mental gymnastics time and time again for 52 days and before.
So for fun, here are a few numbers:
In the past year we:
- Spent 170 days on the road in an RV
- Visited 27 states
- Lived in four different time zones
- Drove 9,000 miles.
- Flew 9,000 miles
- Have called 6 different places home.
- Have called Rwanda home for 53 days.
Things we lost track of? The number of places we stopped, the number of people we were privileged to see, and the number of ways God came through and made a way. Those things are counted in our hearts.
Yes, sometimes numbers help. Yes, to 90 days (or more) of adjusting. Yes to hoping we are over halfway there. Yes to going slow. Yes to giving grace. Yes to remembering where we have been and why that is exhausting. And yes to knowing where we are right now. And most of all, yes to the One who goes before, comes behind and walks alongside us as we go.
Here’s to day 54. Whatever it may bring. May He be our constant in the midst of it all.
Welcome to Rwanda
“…Because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
2 Timothy 1:12
We made it. We are here in Rwanda. And by God’s good grace, we’ve already been invited in. Into people’s homes, lives, and even a small group. Grateful for this providence.
But as I sat down on a banana leaf bench on our first Thursday night at worship, I was weary. We had just spent a long beautiful day visiting a ministry two hours outside the city. It was a gift, but honestly, it had been a long two weeks. Car problems, a never-ending visa process, kids, and the major life adjustments that come with a move to Africa piled high on my plate.
A new friend sat down next to me asked how I was doing. For some reason, I didn’t say the usual “pretty good.” I was too exhausted to pretend, I guess. And I knew the more frequently I shared how I was feeling, the less it seemed to well up inside of me.
“Okay,” I sighed. She nodded understandably waiting for me to continue.
“It’s been a hard couple weeks, and I was talking with Darrell the other night and said, you know what, I would totally go home right now. I would gladly pack my bags and head back tomorrow. No problem.”
I paused. “I just want easy, and none of this is easy.”
“I understand,” she replied, and I knew she did. “We have all been there. No judgement.”
Ease. That is what my mind, body and soul was craving because nothing is easy right now. Not even buying milk. Things that used to be super simple, like driving a car, going to the grocery store, or chatting with a clerk behind the counter are no longer that.
I longed to sit on a comfortable couch in a home without bars on my windows. I wanted a dishwasher in the kitchen, a frozen lasagna in the freezer, and to know that when I wake up in the morning I will know where I am going, how to get there and how to pronounce it.
The next day this same sweet friend, whom I had known a matter of days, wrote me this and it was exactly what I needed to be hear:
“Transitioning into life in Sub-Saharan Africa is a huge mental stretch that you really cannot prepare for. You basically get here, go through shock and then the goodness and kindness of the Lord walks with you as you look for the bread, and milk, and vegetables and meat, and navigate the water and electricity shortages.
Slowly you will see beautiful things you have never seen before, and the sun shining through the clouds, and you will get God’s love in your heart for the people and their land and you will be transformed in a way that you never will have been in the U.S.
Good things are coming for you. Right now you are in the dark clouds and seeing the red dirt in your shoes. And tears are the only appropriate response. Welcome to Rwanda.”
Yes, yes, yes. One thousand percent.
My brand new friend gave me exactly what I needed: permission to not be okay. Permission to shed tears over having to go to three different places to get the meat, vegetables, and bread. Permission to dislike lukewarm showers and really, really long lines. Permission to want easy.
I was feeling bad complaining to my husband because truly there have been no major problems and God has been so very, very good and gracious to us here. I can literally list off 20 things right now where I have seen His hand these past five weeks, and here I am crying at the end of every day because—I’m not even sure why anymore.
But guess what? He knows adjusting is hard. He understands. And perhaps that is why He has gently and lovingly paved the way for us because He knows just how strenuous it is to be out of place, to be new, to be a foreigner in a strange land. He very much knows, not just because He is Creator of all—but because He was one too.
I know He has good things in store for us here in Rwanda, because that is who He is. And now I know (thanks to a fellow sojourner) that I am seeing the dirt instead of the hills, and when that happens, tears are the only appropriate response. My gracious, kind Heavenly Father is totally okay with that.
Because soon enough He will wipe away the tears from our eyes and the sun will come out, and slowly, slowly, we will figure out how to do life here. One day at a time.
Welcome to Rwanda.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the FULLNESS of God.”
Hi! I'm Brooke
Brooke lives with her husband and their five energetic children in Kigali, Rwanda; following Jesus after a fairly radical call out of business and into missions. She loves Jesus and pizza, and has a thing for throw pillows. Her dreams are big, her God is bigger, and yes, her laundry room is a mess.