Happy 2008! We are entering into the time of year for New Year’s goals and resolutions. If you are like me you have the thoughts like “Oh great, more goals I can make that I know I will never live up to.” Despite those feelings we still make goals, and when we break the goals, we live with the guilt and frustration of our failure. Many times at the top of the list is “growing and learning more about God.” We enroll in Bible study classes or purchase “Read the Bible in One Year” books with the best of intentions, because we know that is what we are supposed to be doing. But what if you are a Mom who barely has time to catch her breath between diaper changes or between running your kids everywhere? What is a busy Mom to do? Are we supposed to put off getting closer to God until things settle down in life? We can not do it all!
No you can’t do it all, but there are ways to find time for God and become more intimate with him on a daily basis even while life is crazy all around you. Lisa Whelchel has written a new book entitled The Busy’s Mom’s Guide to Bible Study with tips to finding that time for God. Her first book, Creative Correction, was published in 2000 by Tyndale House and sold over 200,000 copies. It received a Gold Medallion Nomination in the Family and Parenting Category.
She is also the author of: The Facts of Life and Other Lessons My Father Taught Me, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, The ADVENTure of Christmas, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Wisdom, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Bible Study, Speaking Mom-ese, Creative Correction – The Bible Study, This is My Story -Bible Study and Taking Care of the ‘Me’ in Mommy.
I had the distinct pleasure of talking to Lisa and I believe her advice for busy Moms is going to be a breath of fresh air to many of you.
Many times when someone mentions the term ‘Bible study’ to a Mom, it invokes guilt or frustration of failure. What do you think are some of the misconceptions Moms have about Bible study?
I think quite a few. I actually wrote the book because I was feeling those same feelings of guilt and frustration.
From a personal perspective I really had wrapped up the idea that “to be a good Christian I had to read my Bible.” What really smacked me right in the face, is that Jesus did everything we needed on the cross; that it’s not part of earning salvation or paying back what He did. Bible study really is part of our relationship with Jesus and part of listening to Him and communicating with Him.
So often I forget, and think it is one of the items on my “to do list.” I think many times I need to pull back and remember that. That helps me not to feel so guilty; also it gets me excited about it.
Often times we think in terms of quantity over quality, and that is one of the main messages of the book. For so long I had it in my mind that I needed to read through the Bible in a year, or Psalm or Proverbs, or at least a chapter a night. And during this busy season in my life, sometimes it can be an all or nothing. If I have to spend that much time, then I don’t do it, or I will do it tomorrow.
I think having the perspective that I am going to take one verse and meditate on that all through the day, that it’s not only going to be good enough, but actually, more times than not–even better, richer, more productive, and life changing than if I read a whole chapter.
You have a writing career, three children whom you homeschool, and you’re a pastor’s wife. You certainly have your hands full. How do you find time to study God’s word with everything swirling around you?
As Mom’s we juggle so many balls, and we feel guilty because we are dropping so many of them. So one of the things that has helped me, is knowing that I am going to drop some of these balls. So instead of dropping too many, I just pull back and put down a few. They are all important, they are all good, but in order to hold onto the ones that are really critical, eternal, and the ones that I know God’s called me to, I am going to have to lay a few of them down. That has been really helpful to me, to lay down some good stuff, to make sure that I really do hang on to the ones that are really important.
It is easy to drop spending time with the Lord, because it is hard to show anything for it. You really can’t check it off your “to do list,” or say “look…” when your husband gets home: “Look this is what I did today; I spent this time with the Lord.” It does not have the same impact as, “I cooked dinner, I organized the closet…” I think that has been the most helpful to me to keep that a priority. To know not only know my heart, but know my weakness and know the challenges.
Your new devotional book The Busy Mom’s Guide to Bible Study is written to help the on-the-go Mom receive some of the “meatier” parts of Bible study in the time she has available. Can you tell me what the difference is between studying the Bible for 10 minutes versus just reading it for 10 minutes?
That is good question. Just reading is kind of like when we drive through McDonalds, get a happy meal and eat it on the road. It is a full meal that fills us up. There are obviously benefits in that, but there is also the opportunity to actually come home and have a really good nutritious home cooked meal. Maybe find a piece of chicken, as opposed to a hamburger, fries and a coke. One is really going to actually nourish your body, both are filling, but one is actually going to help you grow better than the other. We can so quickly sit down and read a chapter and there is benefit in that. But if we take the time to look for the real meat, maybe take one piece of it, take the time and let it go deep to soul, that is going to help us.
In your book, you discuss how we can become dependent on other people studying the Bible and then spoon feeding us. Can you give some examples and explain why that is a problem?
I don’t want to think of it as a problem, it just is not the full picture. I just got Beth Moore’s new study, Psalms of the Assent, and I am getting so much out of it. I love it so much, and I am thankful for it. There comes a time when you are on your own, you need the tools, the confidence and the know how to get into the word to find what you need. If we never learn how to use those tools or practice enough to have some confidence there will be days when someone else’s lesson is not going to speak to us and we will miss out on the fullness of what God has available for us in His Word.
The book introduces the reader to over 20 different methods of studying the Bible. What are some of the ways that work well for you personally?
When my kids were little they were up late at night because they were waking me up, and I would go back to bed and have a hard time falling asleep. Now they sleep really soundly, but I find myself waking up at 2am in the morning lying there for an hour. One of the things that has helped me is to have a scripture by my bed, one that I have already thought about, or one I have already been working on. When I wake up in the night, instead of thinking of all the things I need to do tomorrow or the next day, I can meditate on that scripture. One of the most exciting ways of meditating is taking each word, putting an emphasis on that word to see how it changes the meaning, how it deepens the meaning, how it sparkles in a new way. That has been so much fun Not only am I getting something out of it, and it is getting into my heart but it helps me go back to sleep too.
As we enter 2008, what would be some attainable Bible study goals that busy mothers could set for themselves, without living in guilt? For a Mother with young children what would be a realistic approach to Bible study?
Just yesterday, I went to the Lifeway store and I bought Praying God’s Word. It has 420 scriptures in all different categories and you can go through and pick one. I have it by my computer. I think that is a great idea for a Mom, whether you get something like that, or if you have time to study God’s Word with whatever you are going through, or whatever you need to re-enforce. And just take one scripture and keep it close, whether on your visor in the car, or by your sink, computer and where ever you are going to see it. Whenever you pass it, read it and pray that the Lord would speak to you. It will become hidden in your heart and if you can do a Bible study or do more than that…then great!
Are there any projects in the works that you can tell us about?
There really aren’t. I am taking a sabbatical from writing right now. The Lord is doing a real internal work in my heart, I can not concentrate on writing, but at the same time I think He is changing me so much, that if I wrote something today it would not be the same as next year.
I am letting Him do his work and pulling away from writing at this time. My ministry is going to be very different in future. My ministry has always had to come from inside as a result of what God has been work on in me. I kind of need to wait and see what he is doing.
As we begin 2008 what are some of your New Year goals? I wish you a blessed 2008.
I would like to work on trying to be more transparent and spontaneous in Christ. I am going to let Him lead me in my ministry, and to try not to be so concerned about all the tiny details. I want to just be a child of God and go where He leads.
Lisa, thank you so much for taking time during this busy season to spend time with us here at Christian Women Online. This interview, for me personally, really spoke to my heart about what my goals and desires are for 2008.
Picking up the book The Busy’s Mom’s Guide to Bible Study by Lisa Whelchel is a great way to begin 2008. Lisa’s book does a great job in showing us ways to find time for God and become more intimate with him on a daily basis even while life is crazy. Happy 2008!