This past school year was hectic. After a year and a half of a much more relaxed schedule, my daughters and I were back to maximum capacity with a calendar crammed full of practices and deadlines and projects and rehearsals. Every weeknight was full of driving and juggling and eating another dinner on the go.
As a result, I found myself multitasking more than ever — replying to emails on my phone while also keeping an eye on my daughter kicking and punching in taekwondo class or running to the gas station to fill up the car or picking up another pizza for dinner during another daughter’s guitar lesson. Some nights I even completed the ultimate mom trifecta: dropping off one daughter for practice, then zipping home to spend quality time with the other one (a.k.a., watching “our” TV show while also folding a basket full of towels), then hopping back in the car in time for the end of practice.
After a few months of this intensity, I realized that I’d begun protecting one particular half-hour of the week. On Wednesday afternoons I waited for my youngest to arrive home from school. The minute she got off the bus, I rushed her to the bathroom and then directed her to grab her piano bag. I rattled off directions for making a simple dinner to my oldest, and then the two of us were off to piano lessons.
Every week, I’d pull into her teacher’s driveway without a minute to spare, knowing that as soon as she got back in the car, we’d hurry home to inhale dinner before taking my oldest to youth group. But for those thirty minutes, parked and waiting? I could breathe.
For the first several weeks of this routine, I tried to fill those minutes with my usual approach. However, I realized quickly that I didn’t have quite enough time to dive into a work project and at that time of the day, my brain was too fried to make a good grocery list or arrange play dates. Next, I tried taking a drive and letting my mind wander for half an hour. But after getting lost on country roads and barely making it back in time, I decided that wasn’t my best option either.
Finally, I tried breathing . . . and praying. Not breathing for a minute, then getting back to work. Not breathing so deeply that I lost track of time (and all the turns I’d taken on those back roads). Just taking a deep breath in and letting all the stuff I’d been holding onto and juggling out. Taking a minute to face the worries and fears and frustrations my jam-packed schedule did its best to distract me from.
While my daughter learned to play piano and my car idled in the shade, I took a breath and talked to God.
I told Him how tired I was, how nervous I was about an upcoming appointment, how sad I was over a daughter’s recent disobedience. I asked Him to show me ways to be a better mom, a better woman — and I listened when He reminded me that I am loved just as I am. I asked Him for help, for patience, and for the energy to make dinner and listen to a minute-by-minute description of a child’s favorite movie. I admitted that I wasn’t sure I have what my kids need right now and that I was lonely, wishing for just one close friend in my town.
And not a single one of those conversations took more than a few minutes. Not one of them required a place on my to-do list or the ability to talk clearly without rambling, sighing, or crying. I didn’t need to fix my make-up or put on real pants, and nobody asked me to send a calendar request. I just showed up, in my parked car, in the middle of my busy day in a busy week, and God met me there.
He’ll meet you in the parking lot, too. Or the driveway, those back roads, the bleachers or auditorium, or your pantry that doesn’t really have room for a person but somehow you fit yourself in there anyway.
God isn’t asking us to get it together or to get more done. He also isn’t demanding a formal, standing appointment before He will carve out time to meet with us. Our heavenly Father knows how incredibly draining and difficult parenting can be, and He wants to walk with us, hold us, and carry us through this season. He loves us so much that He will meet us exactly where we are, and if that means our prayers happen in the parking lot, then that’s where He’ll be.
My prayer for you — from my dining room table, my parked car, my closet where I hide from my kids — is that my new devotional, Prayers from the Parking Lot, will remind you that it’s okay to take those “parked” moments to talk to God and will help you find the words to pray.
If you’ve ever found yourself waiting (or hiding) in your car, desperate for guidance, peace, or reassurance that you’re not completely bombing this season of motherhood, Prayers from the Parking Lot is for you. The short devotions will point you straight to the One who loves you so much He’ll meet you anytime, anywhere — even (or especially) in the parking lot.
Get your copy today (and maybe a copy for a mom friend as well). . . and leave a comment below for a chance to WIN one of 5 copies*!
Then join Becky Keife for a conversation with author Mary Carver, tomorrow on Facebook and Instagram! We’ll replay their conversation on the (in)courage podcast this weekend too. Don’t miss it!
Listen to today’s article at the player below or wherever you stream podcasts!
*Giveaway open until 8/12/22 at 11:59pm central to US addresses only. Winners will be notified via email. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
Mary, this is so real & encouraging! I have learned when asked to pray for others if I pray immediately I a) don’t forget to actually pray & b) because I’ve prayed it sticks with me better to keep praying & ask for updates. So many prayer requests come via text I text my prayer back to the requestee. Doesn’t take any longer to text a thanks to The One that can intercede than ur does to text my personal wishes to the requestee. Might as well go to The source, encourage my friend & myself by talking to God. I’ve texted a good bit of prayers in the parking lot of Publix. He really does meet us where we are!
Oh, I so need to savor these moments…
Waving hello from this corner of my parking lot. Grateful for this reminder as our new school year schedule starts in earnest this week.
love this!! thank you Mary. I have learned to pray for all things all day long. But there are moments (many painfully to admit) that I try to ‘fix’ on my own and realize I need to just have a quick conversation with the Lord, who is with me in the joy and the trials. thank you for the reminder and resource… all to Him.. all to Him!
THIS exactly! This is totally me, from the running around to all of my daughter’s activities to the carry-out dinners, right down to the loneliness and wanting a close friend nearby. All of this resonated with me and I feel so encouraged that my exhausted prayers in random places are heard and accepted. I am loved no matter what!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Mary love what you wrote today. It reminds me of Matthew 11:28-30. It says “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you Rest. Take My Yoke upon You and learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find Rest for Your souls. For My Yoke is easy and my Burden is Light” God told me to give that to you. God has given it to me in the past. As even though I don’t have any kids like you. I can find my day so busy. As I do Home help for my Dad who is 81 not saved. I pray for his salvation. As I want nothing else from my Dad when his time up on earth before he goes to know he saved. My Dad is getting with his walking at times better than others. He has dog and I have to walk it twice a day for him as he not able since braking hip 10 weeks ago. As because of his walking not being good that is why he fell one day out walking his dog. But needs alot of things done for him as well round his house. That why I go twice a day to him to do them for him plus walk his dog. I find myself getting tired. My sister’s go in the evening to do help him. But when I get tired I can if not careful find myself too tired to say my Prayers probably or read God word the Bible and spend time with God. Because I having to go to my Father so often. Plus see to my Husband. My Husband is brilliant he can’t cook. He hoover and wash the House and put on wash and hange it out. I do the cooking and ironing as he can’t cook. But I still find myself getting exhausted with going to my Dad’s twice and day and doing what I do at home. That is were I would find myself rushing my Prayers and reading God’s word. Then I feel guilty after words that I not said them probably my Prayer and read God’s word and spent time with God. When he is there for me all the time. So I have to displin myself out of the busyness of my life. To make time for God. Do what the scriptures I gave you say. Or I will end up exhausted and no good to anyone. God time will go out the window I be that tired or I just say a quick Prayer here and there and read a few Bible verses. Say that will do. God understands. At least I Prayed and said read a few verse of his word. I have done that in the past. So I have to make time for God. I find like you Mary in the Parking lot like you Pray. Me saying Prayers when walking my Dad’s dog. I feel so much better and saying them when doing my Dad’s House. I know God smiling at me. Then during the day before I go back to Dad’s in the afternoon again. Taking time to rest in God arms. Get my spiritual strength back again. So as I can after come home get tea to made have time to read God’s word as I not as tired it not a rush job. I say Amen to that. We all have to do that not let me the busyness get the so tired. If not careful the Enemy will keep us so busy we do that. Keep you all in prayer. Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Thank you for this great reminder that God is always with us and we can meet with Him anytime and anywhere the opportunity arises, not just during our “quiet time”. This sounds like a wonderful devotional book!
Brilliant! Remembering to breath and center in God’s love and coherence. My yoke is easy and burden light. The refreshing rest after leaning into even short pauses is coming from a place of renewed peace.
I like the idea of this book for moms. Hope you will right one for grown children now taking care of elderly parents who are totally dependent on them – like children and even babies in many cases as closeness to transitioning draws near but in some cases for many years.
Thank you for your faith and reflections. They are life giving.
Oh thank you for this Mary! I just have one child, but still believe I am not enough. I pray all the time for God to please fill in where I lack.
This was like you were speaking directly to me! This is exactly where I am at and exactly what I needed. To be grounded and centered in this busy busy life! Thank you
Mary, I hope you find that other mom to chat with. And thank you for your writing. My kids are all grown, which presents a whole new set of challenges. But I have been where you are and it can feel isolating at times. You are choosing well. Keep on keeping on.
Sarah Miley says
Needed this reminder today especially as I look at upcoming schedules this school year. Thanks be to God for meeting us right where we are!
Lisa Wilt says
I Love the concept of this book for momma’s! I’ll be happy to leave a review on Amazon for you too!
I definitely need this and already have a list of friends to share with
Brandi S says
This is my life right now. Running from one thing to another and taking the time to catch my breath in the alone times in the car. Reminding myself to savor these times because I know they won’t last for long.
Thank you, Mary, for your willingness to share real life. I wish I had your Parking Lot book when I was a younger mom. I could definitely have used it. My niece is at the stage of juggling time and kids, so will look into getting it for her
Heather Eavers says
This looks like a good read. I’d love to have in my car for the car pickup line at school.
Kayleen Fuller says
I love this idea. I spend a lot of time in my car. Lots of dr appointments for my daughters, classes and waiting for my hubby. This book is perfect!
Janet Williams says
Thank you Mary. I am a Mom of 1 daughter, but a gramma to 5! I would love my daughter to receive a copy of your book “Prayers from the Parking Lot” She is on the go constantly! As a matter of fact…on her tough days, I usually get a phone call from a parking lot…lol. As her children get older and find their voice, she sometimes feels like she is losing hers and she is falling short.
Thank God for all you Moms that walk before her and remind her “God’s got This”
Have a blessed day
Rachel Marie Kang says
A beautiful truth that we (I) always need to be reminded of. Happy Book Day, Mary!
Rhonda K Smith says
I need something to put “my mind and heart at ease” for sure. I have even caught myself at the cemetery at times, no traffic and very quiet! 🙂 How about “Harmony from the Cemetery? “
I love this! Something so simple yet so meaningful personally. A good
reminder that God just wants us to take time for him and by doing that we will feel the peace that can only come from him!
I do believe the Lord directed me to this. I have two girls and feel I am lacking everyday. I am exhausted, tired, weary and burnt out. Motherhood is hard! Thank you for reminding us we can take a few moments in our busy lives and pray for renewed strength.
Gaylene Johnston says
Thank you, that makes so mich sense. Blessings.
Oh how this resonated with me!!! I’ve been retired for many years now and my daughter is now a grandmother but I clearly remember those days as I drove home from work, all the while pouring out my heart to our Heavenly father. Sometimes I was frustrated, sometimes angry, and often times just plain tired. He heard it all!! More importantly I was calmed down enough by the time I got home that together He and I dealt with whatever was happening there. He got me through a pretty rough patch. My mother developed Alzheimer’s and I had to put her in a nursing home, which broke my heart. And as difficult as that was, my 16 year old daughter told me she was pregnant during that time. I was overwhelmed and feeling lost trying to navigate it all. But as it turned out, in spite of all that took place, the most precious gift I was given, this beautiful baby girl, showed me that God is in the middle of our messes and doesn’t leave. I learned that trusting isn’t sitting waiting for God to do something, it’s taking that step in faith that there will a place for your foot to take the next step and the next. He will and does direct our path. It kinda seems like driving a car with a blindfold over your eyes and trusting someone to tell you when to turn or slow down or speed up. The gospel song Through It All says it all. Andre Crouch wrote it during a particularly difficult time in his life. Another song that has helped me through many difficult times is You Raise Me Up sung by Josh Groban. Thank you so much for this posting. It has truly made me smile, remembering all that our Father and I have been through together.
Robin Dance says
THIS will be such an encouragement for moms who find themselves in your exact/not exact season in life. What a gracious God to always meet us where we are <3.
HAPPY book release day (after) :).
Love this. It really can help me get through the day if I take a short, calming break and talk to God. Would love to read the devotional
Oh this is so “right on time” and sounds like a great read! While I’m no longer in the child-running days, I’m now in the grandma days. I watch my grandboy every day plus help care for my elderly mother. She has declined rapidly recently. Only by the grace of God are we managing. I will remember to pray for things other than a parking place as I’m circling the hospital parking lot!
I have raised 2 girls who are now adults and have a grandson coming up so I know just what you’re talking about! I have been there at those piano lessons, gymnastics practices and tennis lessons. I would love to win a copy to share with my daughter! Thank you!
Carrie Bevell Partridge says
I can very much relate to this! Especially as an introverted mama of five. Some of my best times of prayer and meditation happen in a minivan parked at a soccer field or school. Those forced times of waiting are actually gifts.
I’m a new mom who is missing the busy days of hustling to and from work and community activities. This reminded me to appreciate this season of slowing down and staying home and to take advantage of spending time with the Lord!
Nancy Ruegg says
How well I remember those hectic days of getting our three children where they needed to be with only two cars. (Bikes weren’t an option in an area with heavy traffic and no bike lanes.) Your suggestions for practicing soul-restorative rest are terrific, Mary!
Beth Williams says
This is a much needed book for busy parents. We ALL need to realize that we can take time daily to speak to God wherever we are. I often pray driving to work, walking to office, on way home, etc. Our God will meet us anywhere anytime. Prayers for a great book release!