Morning Routine

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this series so far! I’ve been sharing my favourite things of the year in honour of my birthday, and anyone who comments on these posts will be entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card. I have loved reading everything you’ve had to contribute! If you have any favourite things to share or thoughts on the topics of these last two weeks, please feel free to comment! You have until Friday, July 21!

This was the year I got serious about my morning routine. It’s so hard – I totally get it. Having young kids who wake up early makes it very hard to wake up even earlier. For the longest time, I just couldn’t do it.

But, as I’ve been talking about a lot this week, I’m an introvert, and waking up at the same time as Everett and having no personal time to get my day started on the right track was not working well, and I knew it was time for a change. I decided to start waking up just 15 minutes earlier than when Everett usually woke up. Even that felt super hard, but I knew in my head that 15 minutes wouldn’t make a huge difference in my energy levels, even if my body felt like it was a bad idea!

I stayed there for a long time – 15 minutes wasn’t much, but it was enough for me to drink some water and read my Bible for a little bit before Everett woke up. I don’t know how long I would have kept things there, if God hadn’t given me a big nudge! For some bizarre reason, I suddenly went through a phase last fall where I woke up at 5:30am, every single morning for a week or two! Oh my word, I was so tired! But I could not fall asleep again, so finally, I just gave up and climbed out of bed. I didn’t want to be out of bed that early, but I tried to make the most of it, since it was happening anyway!

It turned out to be amazing. I had all the time I needed for morning devotions, and I got my exercising done before the kids were up. By the time I went back to sleeping normally, I was hooked. I craved that alone time each morning, so I asked Ben to start setting my alarm 20 minutes earlier, with the intention of working my way earlier very gradually. Finally, I told him one day that I was ready to wake up at 6:30, and he cheerfully told me I’d already been waking up at 6:30 for a few weeks, because he’d kept setting it earlier and earlier without telling me! I guess I stumbled out of bed so bleary-eyed, I never looked at a clock!

Fortunately, my body has adjusted, and I usually wake up before the alarm now, happy to get out of bed at 6:30am. There was a time in my life when I would NEVER have thought that would happen, but here we are, and it’s been one of the biggest turning points of my life this last year. I start my day with intention, I get more alone time, my relationship with God has grown because I’m spending more time with Him each day, and I’m exercising very consistently. It’s been a process, but totally worth it!

So here’s how I start my day:

  • Drink two cups of water first thing, and take any supplements I need to on an empty stomach
  • Read my Bible and write in my Five Year Prayer Journal, which is a new thing I started this year
  • Exercise for 45 minutes, or as long as I can until Everett wakes up, while listening to a message (which I shared in my post on podcasts)
  • To keep my mind coming back to where I want it to be throughout the day, I use an app that has an hourly beep. I got this idea from a Bridgetown podcast on hourly prayer, and it’s been so good! Every time I hear that beep, it’s such a great reminder to pray about whatever is on my mind right at that moment. I’ve found it to be very helpful for keeping my thoughts more on track.

That’s all been working well, but my goal for this next year will be to get more sleep! I listened to a great podcast this week called “Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet and Exercise Combined”, and it was a huge kick in the pants!! Yikes, I have some work to do. It’s pretty amazing how much sleep impacts absolutely everything, so I’m setting out to improve my evening routine, and get to bed earlier. I’m excited to see how this will go!

Do you have a consistent morning and evening routine? What works well for you?

 

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God Speaks

I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people lately about hearing God’s voice. It seems to come up a lot as a result of our baby story, when I talk about how I felt God telling me to surrender my desire for a baby to Him. And then lots of people say, “I don’t really hear God’s voice.”

This makes me sad, because I think we hear God’s voice a lot more than we realize sometimes, but we miss it.

I’m reading an awesome, life-changing kind of book right now, called Can You Hear Me? What I’m realizing as I read it is that we each have this set idea of what it would be like for God to “speak” – we have expectations, and when an experience with Him is different than what we looked for, it’s easy to think He doesn’t speak.

Can You Hear Me?

But there are so many ways to “hear” Him – or sense or feel Him. I’ve never actually heard an audible voice – I suddenly just knew in my mind what He was saying. In the beginning, I thought these were my own thoughts. But as time went by, I began to realize it was actually God, putting those thoughts into my mind, my soul, and I started to recognize Him more.

Hearing God For the First Time

I can still clearly remember the first time He “spoke” to me – I had just started dating a boy I met at camp, and while I was doing my devotions one day, I got a very, very strong sense that I should break up with him. It was a thought that popped into my head out of nowhere, and I remember thinking, “What?! Why would I think that? Why would I do that?! We just started dating! I’m not some fickle girl who can’t stay in a relationship longer than two weeks! I’m not breaking up with him!”

So I didn’t. And three months later, I believe God told me again to break up with my boyfriend. I was doing homework in the dorm lounge at Bible school, and suddenly, I just knew I was supposed to end the relationship. But I didn’t.

A month later, my boyfriend came home from college, and painfully dumped me. That rejection hurt so badly, and yet looking back on the whole thing, I could see how God had tried to save me from that pain. If I had listened, it would have been disappointing for me to end the relationship, but I would have been spared much heartache.

I would say God “spoke” to me. But He didn’t really speak – I just knew in my mind what He was saying.

I think that kind of thing happens often, but we pass it off as our own thoughts or conscience, or a random idea that popped in our minds.

The Ways in Which He Speaks to Us

Brad Jersak, the author of Can You Hear Me?, lists lots of ways in which God “speaks” to us:

  • Anyone who is a Christian has “heard” God’s call in their heart
  • Many people hear Him while reading the Bible – a certain verse will jump out, or lead to a convicting thought, or just seem to speak into the right situation, at the right time
  • Listening to a preacher or a teacher, and feeling like the message is meant just for you
  • Through a song, experiencing a really close, touching, beautiful moment with God through worship
  • Being convicted of sin
  • Feeling a strong need to pray for someone, or suddenly thinking of someone specifically, or thinking positive, encouraging thoughts about someone that could be shared and would bring blessing into that person’s life

These things have happened to me for most of my adult life, but I never used to clarify them as “God speaking”.

As soon as I started giving Him the credit for these small, everyday things, I became so much more aware of God communicating with me, each and every day!

The more I listened for Him, the more I heard Him.

And then….things got really crazy, cause I started asking Him to tell me things! I asked Him to speak to me through Scripture, or to give me guidance as I prayed for things. Suddenly, everything started changing.

So when people say to me, “God doesn’t speak to me”, I want to say, “YES, HE DOES!!!” He speaks to you through nature, and other people, and the Bible. That might not be what we expect, but once we stop expecting certain things, I think we start recognizing Him in everything.

The Fear of Hearing Wrong

I was terribly afraid I’d get it wrong – which is completely possible. It’s very scary to say, “God spoke to me. This is what He said…” What if I’m wrong? I’m human, and I mess things up, and so to play it safe, I held back, even when I felt pretty sure that God had spoken to me.

But one day, a verse came to mind:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

I suddenly felt this desire just to trust God. Yes, I might hear wrong, but isn’t God big enough to correct me? And if I’m continually going back to Him, and trying to hear and follow Him every day, can’t He speak again, and say, “Hey, you got it wrong last time! Let me say that again!” If He can convict me of sin, can’t He convict me of other things? Like being wrong about what I heard?

Can I be humble enough to admit that I might get it wrong? I think as long as I’m continually going back to Him, and willing to admit I mess up sometimes, He will be able to correct a soft, teachable heart.

I decided to try trusting Him. And the big thing is this: Pretty much everything I’ve heard from Him has been something good and kind and loving and awesome. If, by some chance, I heard wrong, doing nice things for people, or saying encouraging words, or praying for people, can’t ever be a really big mistake. I’m willing to do those things, even if I made a mistake, and God didn’t actually tell me to do it.

So I’ll keep practicing, and keep listening, and the fear gets quieter. Maybe that’s because I get more excited. I keep having these awesome experiences of God saying things to me, or other people around me, and it’s fantastic. It’s addicting – I never want to go back to the way I was living before.

And I really believe that God is speaking to you. Often. How amazing that He comes after us, and pursues us, and whispers these things into our minds!

Let Him speak to you! Ask Him what He wants to say. I bet He’ll surprise you!;)

 

Water in the Desert

A few weeks ago, I attended a Prayer Retreat at my church, and a passage of Scripture was read to us that has stuck in my mind ever since.

It’s the story about Moses striking a rock and water miraculously coming out of it.

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephicim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

God goes on to provide for them, and water rushes out from a rock, but there was something before this that struck me as being very interesting: God led them to this camping spot.

He knew there was no water there.

And He didn’t do it because He had any intention of leaving them to die in the desert.

He put them right where He wanted them, which happened to be in a spot with no water – and then He provided it for them.

How often have I found myself in a situation where there wasn’t any water? I get stressed and frustrated, sometimes even fearful, because I don’t want to die in this desert. I see no way out of the predicament.

But how often have I also received the miracle of water rushing from that rock, where there was none before? How often does God make a way where there seems to be no way?

At the Prayer Retreat, my pastor provided a bunch of rocks for us to take as a reminder of whatever God might be saying to us through that passage. I put it on a shelf by my bed when I got home, and I see it every morning, and every evening.

rock

Whenever I catch sight of it, I still seem to be catching my breath a bit – the idea that even in the driest, most impossible circumstances, there is the possibility of miraculous water.

It’s changing the way that I pray. I spot that rock on my shelf, and I start asking for the eyes to see the miracle. I’m reminded to look for it, rather than jump to the conclusion that because it’s not right there, it won’t ever be there.

He’s waiting, and He has no intention of leaving me to die in the desert – the water will burst forth! Watching and waiting in faith seems much better that complaining and despairing!

In what area of your life are you waiting for water today?

Been Thinking About the Unexpected

Hey Friends! This week I’m getting ready to speak at a retreat on the weekend. In order to give more time to preparing, I’m taking the week off from blogging, and will be sharing some posts from the past instead. I’ll catch up with you next week, and let you know how the weekend went!

I was running errands in Winnipeg yesterday, and was in a parking lot trying to get Kaylia to stop screaming and arching her back while I buckled her into her car seat, when a lady approached me.

She spoke so quietly, I could hardly hear her (although Kaylia was still screaming, so that might have had something to do with it.) She said, “Could I have two dollars for the bus?”

I stood there, pretending not to be distracted by Kaylia’s screaming, or by Anika’s attempts to get my attention, and was mentally going through my purse, trying to remember if I had anything I could give her.

And I had to tell the lady, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any change.”

I bet she’s heard that a thousand times before. (And I wanted her to know that I wasn’t lying – I really didn’t have any change! I had just been at Safeway, and couldn’t get a cart, because I didn’t even have a quarter in my wallet.)

Before I had even finished answering her, she was already turning away, looking for the next person she could ask.

And it made me think about how she wasn’t even expecting me to help her – she kind of knew my answer before I even gave it.

Then last night, I was reading my Bible, and I read that story in Acts about the crippled beggar sitting by the temple who asked Peter and John for some money. They also told him that they didn’t have any money. And I bet that he’d heard that a thousand times before, too.

But then they told him that they could give him something else – they could heal him.

I started imagining what that would have been like – to be completely dependent on people to carry you around, and to spend your life begging for money, knowing that most people would ignore you and not give you anything, to come to the point where you wouldn’t even expect good things from people, ever – no matter how many times you would ask.

And then one day, to have someone say, “I can’t give you money, but I can give you something SO MUCH BETTER!” And then to be healed – to be able to walk – to go wherever you wanted to go  – to be given freedom. That’s huge!

And I wondered if sometimes God wishes that I would approach Him a little less like a broken-down, dejected beggar, and a little more like His child, confident of His love and the good gifts that He wants to give.

See, I ask for things, but I don’t really expect a lot. I go through the motions of asking, cause that’s what I’m supposed to do. And sometimes I want things, and ask for things that aren’t really that great for me. And sometimes, it seems like God says, “No, I can’t give you that…but I can give you something SO MUCH BETTER!”

And you know what’s silly? Sometimes I want my own way so much that I don’t want what God wants to give me!

It would be like the lame beggar saying, “No thanks, I don’t want to be healed – I just want the change.”

That beggar was not expecting to be healed – wasn’t even asking for it. And then he was surprised with something so amazing, so unexpected, that it changed his life forever.

I would like to have the kind of relationship with God where I expect the unexpected. To pray like I’m always remembering that I’m talking to the Creator of the universe, and to ask for anything with faith. But to always remember, too, that God can do “immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine”. That means that I’ll never find Him predictable, or be able to expect His next move.

I want to ask for huge things. I want to be healed, in every sense of the word. I want to experience all of the unexpected, and to stop expecting the left-over change.

The Size of a Life

Hey, Everybody, it’s “Retreat Week” around here! That means this is my last week to prepare for spending an awesome weekend with the ladies of St. Vital EMC at Winkler Bible Camp. In order to devote my attention entirely to preparing, I’m going to be doing some re-posting around here – some favorite posts from the past which I hope you can enjoy! I’ll catch up with you next week to let you know how the weekend went!

Anika and I have been reading the Bible story of Esther. I don’t know what it is that’s got me seeing it in a new light – if it’s the combination of thoughts in my head right now, or if it’s stopping to explain and trying to put ideas into words Anika will understand.

Whatever it is, I’m loving Esther right now.

I had never, ever thought about the fact that she was forced to go to the king’s palace.

The Bible says, “…Many girls were brought to the citadel of Susa…”(Esther 2:8). As I read that chapter to Anika, it suddenly hit me what it will have meant for Esther to have been chosen as one of the beautiful virgins brought before the king.

It would mean leaving her family, and never living with them again. She would have to spend the rest of her life living in the palace with the rest of the king’s concubines.

She would never be able to get married and have her own family, her own home, her own life.

And she was Jewish, living according to her people’s laws and customs, so I’m sure spending a night with the king was not an appealing prospect.

But she didn’t have a choice, so she went, and spent her first 12 months in the palace with the kind of attitude that “won the favor” of the people around her.

In our culture, winning a beauty pageant and chosen to become royalty would be seen as desirable and successful, but I doubt Esther will have felt the same when she was chosen to be queen. (I often find myself wishing the Bible included more details on the emotions people experienced in these stories we now read!)

So there she was, living the life of a queen, and God gave her the chance to save her people. She was scared to do it. She was human, she experienced fear, and she did not jump at the chance to be a hero.

But her cousin Mordecai said to her,

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

So she had her brave and shining moment, and she saved her people. She was amazing.

But Esther was still human. She did not seek out the opportunity for greatness.

She simply lived her life, and did what she needed to do, when opportunities or expectations presented themselves.

That’s also very different from our culture. There is such a pressure to do great things, to build a platform for ourselves, to get noticed, and be great, influential people.

And those things can all be fantastic…if the opportunity presents itself.

How much do we pursue it? How much do we long for it?

And when we long for it, do we do so in a way that doesn’t breed discontentment for all of the simple, small acts of faith done on a daily basis, because we desire something big and more “significant”?

What about Ruth? Her great move was being loving and faithful to her mother-in-law. She left her home and family to go with Naomi, and showed amazing loyalty and kindness. But her big finale? She got married. And had a baby. And then turned out to be in Jesus’ family tree, but she never knew that while she was alive.

She was just living her simple, small life.

I live my simple, small life. I love my husband and our girls, and I look for joy in all the little things.

But I also dream of greatness, even though I know being a wife and mom is important, but sometimes I dream of different things – “bigger” things, that don’t involve quite as much laundry, or cleaning scrambled eggs off the floor.

What is my big, important, noble purpose, besides being a mom? Why am I here? How is God going to do huge, amazing things through me?

What will I do with this life of mine?

Well… I’m doing it. I’m living it every day, and maybe it doesn’t need to be great and glorious. I don’t think it’s wrong to dream about the future, but I do wonder if we put too much pressure on ourselves to want more than what we were meant to want.

Ecclesiastes says we should love our spouse, and work hard. And if we’re faithful in the small things, God will take care of the rest, right?

He makes some to be like Esther, well-known and in a position of power. And He makes some to be like Ruth, living a quiet life with family.

Both women powerfully impacted the world.

One knew it, the other didn’t.

Do I really need to know my purpose, or my impact? It might be revealed later…if at all.

God knows – is that enough for me?

Oh, to find joy in whatever circumstances come my way. To find contentment in the small, simple things, while always being prepared for the moments of courage He brings to me, whatever size they might be.

Say Yes.

Well, today is the big day.

I’m packing my bags, and heading off to Camp Cedarwood to spend the weekend with the ladies of Ridgewood EMC.

tree branch

Many months ago, a lady from their retreat committee sent me an email, asking if I was “available, and capable of deep spiritual teaching”.

My word. It was the “capable” part which undid me. My stomach did some kind of weird lurching thing as I read that email, and my immediate reaction was something along the lines of, “Capable??! Nope!!!”

I fully intended to turn down the opportunity. I’ve spoken publicly many times before, but the words “deep spiritual teaching” were a bit too intimidating, and I could immediately think of a number of other women who could do a much better job.

I sent a polite email back, suggesting we talk on the phone the next day, but I intended to say no.

The next morning, I was reading my Bible, and stumbled across a verse which said,

“Do not fear disgrace…”

And I thought, “That’s EXACTLY what I fear!”

A few verses down, it said,

“You will not be disgraced.”

It was for me. I own it now. You know how that is? When the Holy Spirit just jumps off the page at you, and you know those words are meant for you?

And I wondered if it could really be true….No disgrace?

My phone call came, and I think I still kinda wanted to say no, but the Holy Spirit must have been speaking on the other end too, because this lady I had never met said everything I needed to hear, and I knew this was a God-thing.

I still don’t feel deep. Or capable.

But I feel like God is leading, and for some reason, He wants me to do this, so I will go with a “yes” in my heart.

Yet again, Bob Goff sums it up for me:

Am I the right guy? I don’t know, but I’m the guy being asked, and the last thing I want to do is miss an opportunity or make God mad, so I just keep saying yes. Maybe God is doing some inexplicable things in your life. Each of us gets to decide every time whether to lean in or step back – to say yes, ignore it, or tell God why He has the wrong person….We were all meant to save many lives. God is always trying to save lives, and it seems like He usually uses the least likely people to do it.

Have you ever felt unqualified? Afraid? Incapable?

Say yes! You don’t want to miss anything!!

(Ben and I talked about whether I should wait to post this after the weekend – first find out if I’ll be disgraced or not!! Then we decided that honesty and transparency is a good and beautiful thing, so I’m laying it all out there! I’ll let you know how it went on Monday!)