In this issue:
Sleep deprivation, the endless laundry mountain, crazy to-do lists and diapers and dishes made young mother Courtney Ellis wonder what it would look like to be closer to Jesus and enjoy spiritual practices of prayer, studying Scripture, and more. In our interview, she talks with Michelle about how she met Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.
Inspired Life: Holy Mama - Almost
In this episode, I interviewed author Courtney Ellis, this time to talk about how she pursued holiness and found it in the middle of the flaws of real life. If you haven't listened to my other interview with Courtney Ellis, be sure to check out episode 19 - Uncluttered: Free from Overwhelm
I just have to put this out there. A conversation with Courtney is fun. So fun! She is witty and right there with the perfect comment. She writes that way too, for the record.
In our chat, Courtney talked about what it was like to run on empty and long for more. She talked about the books out there on spiritual disciplines (something she calls spiritual practices because the word "discipline" can be misunderstood sometimes.) She came to realize those books were written by monks, childless people, and men who haven't had full responsibility for raising toddlers. There were no hours of silence and solitude available for her as a weary mom.
So Courtney decided to bring the moments into her everyday life. She did little 30-day experiments where she looked for Jesus in the midst of the chaos. Sometimes it was writing Scripture on her shower walls. Sometimes it was praying in the car. She and her husband (both pastors) brought an ancient practice of "the Examen" to their evening meal and have taught their children to share their ups and downs, successes and failures of the day.
Courtney learned how to make it work even though her son is what she calls "a toaster child" who pops up alert and ready to take on the day before most other humans are ready. Getting up to spend time with Jesus before this boy would have meant getting up at 4 am. Uh, no.
Thus how she ended up showering with Scripture. But let me back up.
I have to share this from her book, Almost Holy Mama. Prior to her holiness experiment Courtney's husband, Daryl, had started asking if she was ok in the mornings.
"Is everything okay? Did I say something that's bothering you?"
I'd answer it in the same way each day: "You're not bothering me; being awake is bothering me." Apparently my normal morning face tells passersby that I might commit homicide.
Realizing that she was not going to find some miraculous extra time in her day, Courtney found a way to make it work by writing Scripture on the walls in the shower and meditating on it. It filled her soul with something she had thirsted for.
Courtney was willing to make her life an experiment in order to find a way to incorporate spiritual practices into her crazy life. She is raw and real in how she tells about her experience and isn't afraid to admit that failure is a part of life. She was like that in our interview and her book as well.
In the middle of her experiment, Courtney discovered she was pregnant with baby number three. Unlike with her other pregnancies, she was so sick that she could barely function. All 30-day adventures had to be put on hold in favor of simple survival. But she was honest about that too in the book. Making it work for your situation is a theme in Courtney's help for others.
How did these spiritual practices change Courtney? She says, "I began to see them less as things I did and more as opportunities to meet with Jesus, to let him fill me back up when my spiritual gas tank was empty. To enter in, drink deeply, show up and quiet my heart, waiting with expectation for the wild, windy Spirit to blow afresh over my stagnant, weary soul" (pg. 243, Almost Holy Mama).
Courtney doesn't pretend that this process "fixed" her or turned her into the perfect parent. She still runs out of patience and "small humans" exhaust her sometimes. But she has discovered how to refuel when she needs to.
I love this quote: "The secret to a sacred life is that there is no secret. Every day we come to God anew. Every day he meets us again. Fresh manna. Daily bread" (p. 244).
Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents by Courtney Ellis contains her whole journey of looking for God in the mundane tasks of life. She journals her process, but also invites the reader in with activities to try on their own with a Join the Journey section at the end of every chapter.
From the back of the book:
With the honesty of a close friend, the hilarity of a late-night comic, and the humility of a mom up to her eyeballs in diapers and dishes, Courtney Ellis invites us on a journey to draw closer God amid the joyful, mundane, exhausting days of young parenthood. Probing ancient Christian practices for renewal, Almost Holy Mama chronicles one mom's quest to discover an answer to her most pressing question: Can God use the challenges of parenthood to grow your character?
You long to spend time with God and catch your spiritual breath, but you find yourself honestly wondering how and when? Ellis gets its. It's hard to carve out space for a "quiet moment" with God, let alone a "quiet time!" Instead of adding more tasks to your plate, Almost Holy Mama will help you integrate your spiritual practices into your daily life. From studying Scripture in the shower to listening in prayer at the foot of Laundry Mountain, Ellis finds that meeting God in sacred disciplines can breathe new life into one of life's most joy-filled and trying seasons.
Also by Courtney Ellis and features in a previous episode of Life, Repurposed: Uncluttered: Free Your Space, Free Your Schedule, Free Your Soul.
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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.
Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
All blog content copyright MichelleRayburn.com
This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.