desert mum revisited

I properly started this blog around four months ago. Recently I’ve been thinking about what it was intended to be about, and whether it’s still doing that (or if I want it to). My conclusion is that I do want it to do what I set out for it to do – but maybe I need to revisit the concept of ‘desert mum’ in order to get things straight for everyone.*

I named this blog because I was struck by how arid one’s spiritual life can become during the first stressful few years of motherhood. It’s an experience shared by many of my Christian friends as we seek to be disciples of Christ through the haze of nappies, sleepless nights and toddler tantrums. Church services are often spent entertaining our offspring, being on creche duty, or simply being too tired to focus. Evening cell groups become near impossible to attend: children won’t settle well enough to leave the house, or spouse works too many evenings to make it viable, or you’re just too tired (spot the trend?). Personal quiet times are a huge challenge because…well, you try working the words ‘quiet’ and ‘time’ into a small child’s schedule.

And I don’t wish to be exclusive: things are problematic for Christian Dads too. Often they are the ones chasing offspring round the church on a Sunday morning, giving mums a break. They struggle to get to evening groups, perhaps out of guilt that they’re having an evening ‘off’. As to quiet times: I can only imagine what it’s like to work a full-time paid job, then return home to be flung into job no.2, with little personal space.

So how do we continue discipleship during this time? How do we ensure that we become even more distinctive and Christ-like through our parenting experiences? Because this is my issue. I can see how my life, since becoming a mum, might have turned out differently. The problem would never have been a loss of faith – but more that my faith wouldn’t have gone anywhereAs if stored in a bottle, my faith would have been intact, but there would have been no growth. And, as we’re all called to be disciples of Christ, we cannot afford to have a few years ‘off’ while we rear children.

Several things are helping me through, which I hope to share here over the next few months. But I’ve also blogged on ‘regular’ aspects of parenting – of creativity, of failing, of celebration, of hum-drum-ness. This is all part of ‘desertmum’. God is in the practical and the everyday, the down-to-earth and the ugly. Through blogging about these things, I get to share some of the fullness of life with Him. These more ‘frivolous’ blog posts are not asides to the story. They are the story. My prayer is that you will be encouraged and provoked by this blog, and – ultimately – that you will join me as we journey through the desert together.

Therefore…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 

(Philippians 2:12-13)

* You may have noticed that I’ve changed the tag-line on the blog header to something which I feel better sums up the purpose of this blog. Feedback very welcome!

6 Replies to “desert mum revisited”

  1. A very worthwhile endeavor! As a survivor of the desert I appreciate your heart for mothers during this amazing time. Though the pursuit of faith as it had been pursued in the past was all but impossible, the fruitfulness of living life in dependance upon God’s daily provision of strength and grace grew my faith in leaps and bounds. Blessings on your work.

  2. Lucy, what a creative way to address the issues you have ben struggling with. It’s so important to get the message out there that discipleship is not about our accomplishments but remaining faithful in the desert. I first began thinking about the desert when I was at College. I remember an exasperated fellow-student saying “Jesus spent 40 days in the desert – he didn’t live there”. But of course he did live there throughout his ministry and chose to go to the ultimate desolation of the cross. The 40 days was not an escape from, but a preparation for, the desert of the world and an intentional choice to go to the place of faithful endurance.

    1. Daniel, I LOVE this reflection – thank you! I’d never properly considered the idea of the desert actually being a positive place, somewhere you’d choose to go, rather than merely circumstantial. But of course, in Jesus’ life – well, it’s obvious!

  3. Thanks for writing this Lucy and keep the thoughts flowing. I can totally sympathise with the feeling of spiritual wilderness following children (ours are approximately the same ages as yours) – it’s so hard to keep up any kind of spiritual walk when time and energy is in such short supply.

    At the same time I’ve found myself challenged by my children (and not just because they are “challenging”!) in terms of my own selfishness, patience and even my understanding of the gospel (explaining the cross to an inquisitive 3 year old really tests what you actually think about it!).

    Looking forward to future posts,


    P.S. Your thoughts on Dad’s ring true here as well – the sense of trying to shove everything in and the guilt of escaping to do spiritual stuff (small group/prayer triplet/church meetings, whatever) when you know it makes life just that little bit harder at home.

    1. Phil, thank you for your encouragement – what a blessing to know that the post has struck a chord with Dads too. From now on, I will try and be gender-non-specific in my language. I am a desert MUM, but hopefully many desert DADS will engage in the discussion too.

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