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Ask Jani: “How do you manage time with the Lord?”

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Episode Synopsis

Jani answers some questions about spending time with the Lord when you have little kids, how to fight for that time when life is so demanding, and resources that she uses during her time with the Lord.

Audio Transcript

Heidi Howerton: Hello everyone. Welcome to He Restores My Soul. Heidi Howerton is here with you today.

Jani Ortlund: And here’s Jani Ortlund. I can’t wait to be with you again.

What is “Ask Jani”? 00:23

Heidi: I am excited today because we are taking a break from what we’ve been talking about to do a special episode called Ask Jani. Every few episodes we would love to do this. Jani, I know as a young woman that one of my favorite things is to sit down and have tea with you. I don’t know how many of you know that Jani loves tea. Her house probably has a whole section of it with 10 or more teapots, and in her kitchen she has two drawers dedicated to just tea and tea utensils. I just love to sit down and have a moment together where I get to ask you questions and glean the wisdom that God has given you over the years.

Heidi: In this podcast, I wanted a way for our listeners to be able to do this with you as well. And so friends, if there’s a pressing question on your heart that you would love to ask Jani, visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org and type in your question there. Every few episodes we’re going to set aside time to answer these questions. Imagine that we’re all sitting at the table together asking Jani questions. Think of it as a relaxed setting and time to learn from an older woman to younger woman.

Jani: Thank you, Heidi. That is so kind of you. All I can say is what do I have that has not been passed on to me from older women? We don’t want it to stop, do we? We want to keep taking in and being able to pass onto the next generation. But thank you for your kind words. May the Lord give us wisdom today to answer these questions.

Question 1: “What do you do when you have babies?” 2:08

Heidi: Yes. Our first question is this, “Jani, what does time with the Lord look like when you have little kids, especially babies? Do you have any advice for how to fight for that time when little ones seem to constantly interrupt or just need Mama?”

Jani: Oh, that’s such a good question. It brings me back to when our babies were tiny. We had three in less than three years as many of our listeners have, and it just seemed that all you were doing was feeding babies, getting them to sleep, and then they’d wake up and you’d feed them again and then get them to sleep and you’d just have time to brush your teeth and get something to eat and they’d wake up again.

Jani: I’m sure some of our listeners are in that spot right now, and what I want to encourage those young mamas with is to remember that your babies aren’t the problem. They’re a wonderful strategy from the Lord that he uses to show us our own weakness, our own need for him, our inability to control even our own schedules. Babies take a lot of time, and they take a lot of our emotional, psychological, and spiritual strength. So, we really need to meet with the Lord.

Answer: A Few Hints 3:30

Jani: This listener has been asking for some help. I can give you a few hints.


Jani: First of all, I would say ask for help. Maybe your husband is willing to give you every few days, a 15 minute time period where he will get the babies up and change their diapers first thing in the morning and get them playing before they need to see you.


Jani: I would encourage you to try to set a pattern. Those first 6 to 12 weeks. When baby comes, everything is topsy turvy. Oh my goodness. You never know when baby is going to wake up. You never know how long he or she is going to cry. You don’t have a regular schedule for nap times, so it’s hard to set a pattern. During those first 12 weeks, I tried to take one nap a day when the kids were napping, the babies were sleeping, and spend 15 to 20 minutes with the Lord. That temptation is to clean the house, do the laundry, write your grocery list out, cook dinner… but try to set a little time aside during their naptime. Once they get into a more regular schedule, I would encourage you to use the morning. If you know that your babies start waking up between 5:30 and 6, try to wake up 15-20 minutes before them. Get your cup of coffee, or, my drink of choice which is a hot cup of tea, and meet with the Lord for 15 or 20 minutes before your babies wake. Oh, sometimes that can be hard, but it is so worth it.

Jani: I remember our daughter, Krista, who had three little ones as well. I remember visiting her when the youngest was a newborn and she had trained her two older children, who were still very young, that when they came down in the morning (they could get out of their cribs and beds and come down), but they needed to be quiet. It was mommy’s quiet time and they were not to be very loud and play rambunctious games. They could get a book and read, but they needed to let her finish her reading.

Jani: I wonder if our kids ever see us reading the Bible? If we only read the Bible during their quiet times in the afternoon, they may never know that mommy reads the Bible. I loved it when my kids would come down and see me with my cup of tea and my Bible open or see me on my knees. And when they get old enough to begin to understand, we can teach them, “Why does mommy do this? Why is it so important to her to have that time in the Bible and talking to God before she starts her day?” And then encourage them, “Some day, when you know Jesus, you’re going to want to spend time with Him. Some day when you’re older, you’re going to know how to read these words in a Bible. Some day when you’re older, you’re going to have your own Bible and it will be wonderful.” Encourage your kids, help them to look forward to that day.


Jani: There are some other helps that I would encourage young moms to do, such as, set reasonable goals for yourself. Aim for 10 to 15 of minutes of quiet time a day during those early years. When you need an extended quiet time go for that, but generally speaking, on a day-to-day basis set a reasonable time so your kids won’t always feel like they’re an interruption. That’s too hard on your Mama’s heart.


Jani: Have an accountability partner. I remember my dear friend, Charlene Worts, had two little kids the same ages as my three little ones and we were commiserating on how hard it was to meet with the Lord. So we said, “How about this? Why don’t we exchange kids every Tuesday morning. Let’s hold each other accountable that when I’m babysitting your kids, Charlene, you will go somewhere and have an extended time with the Lord. And when you’re babysitting mine, I will go somewhere. I won’t go food shopping. I won’t write my grocery list. I won’t catch up on email. I will spend time with the Lord.” That meant that at least twice a month I was able to spend time with the Lord of an extended nature.

Jani: You know, the Bible says that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We need to spend time with him. It says we should let the Word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts, dwell deeply in our hearts. We’re to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. If we need wisdom and guidance and protection with our kids and our mothering, we need to spend time in the Word. Psalm 36:8 is one of my favorite verses, Heidi, you know that, it says, “They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” Oh, let’s not miss that time with the Lord just cause we have babies! Let’s fight for it. Let’s try our hardest to have at least little bit of time with Him every day.

Heidi: Thank you so much, Jani. That is helpful.

Question 2: “How do you fight for quiet time when you’re tired?” 9:01

Heidi: All right, here’s our next question, “Jani, how do you fight for that time when other things press in such as work, travel, vacation, fatigue…?”

Jani: Oh, that’s a good question. I guess this listener is thinking out beyond the baby years because it doesn’t mean that once your baby starts sleeping through the night and you can get up 20 minutes before them that it’s always easy. I found one of the hardest things for me was when I had to go back to work, but our kids were a little bit older. They were 5, 9, 10, and 11. A bunch of circumstances meant that I needed to go back to work and go back to teaching school, and I found it really tricky to get up, get the family ready, get lunches packed, get the meat pulled out of the freezer for dinner, and have my quiet time before I started my day at 7:30 in the morning. But I determined that it was more important than that extra 30 minutes of sleep.

Answer: Fight like you fight for anything of value 10:02

Plan for it

Jani: The way that I fought for it was the way I fought for anything I valued. How do I fight for food? I plan to eat three times a day. I shop for it. I plan for it. I put it in my daily schedule. How do I fight for my sleep schedule? Well, I turn off the TV and I go to bed at 10 so I can wake up at 5. How do I fight for time with my family? I say no to other things so that I can be with them. How do I fight for exercise? I put it on my calendar. We need to fight for time with the Lord. Just like we fight for anything of value. What we value, we will make happen. I try to plan for it. I set a goal. Where do I want to be at the end of this week in my quiet times or at the end of this month? Sometimes I set an alarm if I can’t wake up on my own. Then, when the alarm goes off, I get up. I try to be a realist. There may be times when one of the kids is sick or I’ve had a very late night where I’ve been up until midnight for some unexpected reason. Well, that’s all right. We don’t have to hit ourselves over the head each time we blow it.

Be Held Accountable

Jani: The other thing that helps me fight for regular times with the Lord is accountability. Heidi, you and I are in a small group together with some other women this year and we’re holding each other accountable. Every week when we meet together we ask, “How are you doing in your quiet times? How can we pray for each other in this?”

Jani: I would encourage our listeners that when you’re quiet times are hard ask yourself, “How do I fight for other things that are of value to me? How do I fight for them?” Then apply the same thing to your times with the Lord.

Heidi: Jani, that is so helpful. Thank you. I love what you said about how do we fight for other things in our life and applying those same principles to our times with the Lord.

Question 3: “What resources do you use in your times with the Lord?” 12:16

Heidi: We have one last question today. It says, “What are some resources you use in your times with the Lord?”

Jani: What a great question. What resources do I use in my time with the Lord?

The Bible

Jani: At the top of my list, of course, is my Bible. I take a pen and I mark up my Bible. I have to get a new Bible every three to four years because I mark mine up as I read through it.

Reading Plans

Jani: One of the resources I use as I read through my Bible is called Daily Walk. It’s a little devotional magazine. On January 1st it starts you in Genesis 1 and (through a pattern of reading three to five chapters a day, six days a week) it gets you throughout the year to read thru the whole Bible. I love to do that. Not everyone does, but for me that’s very helpful. It gives me a set pattern, a goal. I get all of Scripture. I get the bird’s eye view where I can look down and then when I want to go and study more deeply in a certain way, maybe I’m speaking on a certain passage, I can find the context of where it is in Scripture because I know the overview. If you’re interested in that you can go to Walk Thru the Bible (walkthruthebible.org), and you can look at their different resources. I highly recommend them!

A Study Bible

Jani: Also, another resource that I use is my study Bible. I love the ESV Study Bible. When I have a question, I just keep it near. I don’t use it every day, but I keep it near, and when I have a question…for instance, today I was reading in Ezra, at the very beginning, and I wondered about Cyrus. Who was he, and why would he send the children of Israel back to rebuild the temple? What kind of king was he? I was able to read about him in my study Bible.

Two Classics

My Utmost for His Highest

Jani: Some other resources I’ve found helpful when I’m not reading through the Bible each year are some older resources. One is called My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It has a devotional for each day of the year that would maybe take five to seven minutes to read with a verse you could think on throughout the day. This is an older resource. It was first published in 1935. Can you believe it? But people have been using it since then, and if reading through the Bible in a year doesn’t really appeal to you or it’s not something that you find you have the commitment and the time for right now, why not pick up a copy of My Utmost for His Highest and set aside 10 minutes each day? Maybe it’ll be at night before you go to sleep. Maybe first thing in the morning? Maybe over your lunch break? But you could take 10 minutes, read through the devotional, camp on that verse for a minute, and ask the Lord to put it deep in your heart.

Streams in the Desert

Jani: Another resource that’s very similar to that is called Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman. She wrote this in 1925, or at least that’s when it was first published. It’s a classic. It’s just a classic. And again, it’s a devotional for each day that would only take a few minutes to read, but something where you could go a little bit deeper with the Lord. Streams in the Desert.

I would encourage you to buy a copy of each of those and just keep them near for those days when you can’t go deep into the Word to read three or four chapters.

Bible Meditation

Jani: Another resource I use in my times with the Lord is simple Bible Meditation. I try to meditate on a phrase or a Bible verse for a period of several months and let it sink deeply into my heart. I try to read that verse or phrase every morning after I’ve spent time in the Word and ask the Lord to apply it to my heart that day.

Scripture Memorization

Jani: A final thing that I do during my quiet time is work on my memory verses. I’m always trying memorize Scripture. I spend some time, after reading my Bible passage for the day, working on my Bible memory verses.

What’s next? 16:54

Jani: Excellent, Jani. Actually, this is a good kickoff for the next series that we’re going to do. For the next six episodes we’re going to spend some time talking about what it means to go deeper with God. We’ll focus on quiet time, Scripture meditation, and prayer. This Ask Jani gives us a foretaste of what’s to come. Thank you so much for taking the time to go through these questions today. Your answers are really helpful.

Jani: Well, thank you, Heidi. Again, we encourage our listeners, if you have any questions you’d like us to talk about feel free to send them in.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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