A letter to my friend who is a young mom, and maybe to you:

Dear Friend,

I love the way your care for your young family. You have a flair and passion for meeting the needs of your little ones, and it’s obvious to me that they’d rather be on your lap than anywhere else on earth.

I also remember how demanding your stage of life is. You just moved into a bigger house (more to clean/decorate/manage). Your oldest is in school now, so you have a whole new set of ‘homework’. You don’t yet have the luxury of being able to ask your daughter to clean the bathroom or your son to mow the grass (I can do that now, and boy is it nice!). The ‘To Do’ list belongs to you, and you alone, and it can be exhausting.

And now that fall is around the corner, it’s time to decide how you will fill the boxes on your calendar. I know you want to protect the fleeting years with your little ones, and each ‘extra’ that finds a place on your calendar needs to be worth the time that will be siphoned away from caring and spending time with your family.

So you asked me about ladies’ Bible study. Should you sign up? You long for the spiritual growth that you know will result from participating, but you wonder if it might be better to just study the Bible at home. In your jammies. Maybe you could join a chat room or something. You wondered what I think; and how I handled my schedule when my kids were preschoolers.

I only have my own tiny sliver of experience to share, but I’m happy to do so. So, here it is:

From the first year that I brought a baby home until now, I’ve been involved in some sort of women’s Bible study or mom’s group. I’ve also helped with leadership in various ways–leading worship, serving as coordinator, large group teaching, and leading small groups.

If I were to compile all of the hours I have devoted to connecting with other women around God’s Word, it would be an enormous chunk of my life.

It has definitely crowded out other activities. For example, before my kids started kindergarten, I never put them in any sports or music programs, or even in preschool. The childcare during my Bible study was the only structured weekday activity that my preschoolers ever attended.

Some may have criticized the way I arranged our calendar–prioritizing my own time with other women at the expense of providing enrichment activities for my kids. But I think that the ‘chunk’ of my life spent on women’s Bible study has contributed more to the tenor of our home than any other factor. In fact, if all of those hours were retracted, I believe I would be a completely different mom and wife–which would obviously have influenced our whole family.

My time with other women spent refreshing our faith, reminding ourselves of Truth, and praying over struggles has been like a weekly reorientation. I walk out thinking, “Oh, yeah! This is why God gave me life! And this is how I’m supposed to spend it!”

Now, I do recognize that I have been given certain gifts which make it easy for me to participate in Bible study: I have the option of not working full time, I enjoy good health, and I have a husband who is fully supportive of my involvement. But I’ve even watched those who lack one or more of these gifts, and who sacrifice to be part of the group, and they always seem to be so rewarded by their efforts.

Obviously, you and the Lord need to sort out your calendar. But the Christian life is a group effort. Off on our own, we tend to get disoriented and discouraged and entangled in a million other things (like American Idol or Candy Crush). If the Lord makes a way for you to tether yourselves to other women who want to follow Jesus, I say, “Go for it!” I can’t think of a better gift to offer your family than the gift of linking arms with other women who help you keep your eyes on Christ.

Love,

Shannon

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