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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Come and Get It

A friend once shared with me how a family tragedy taught her about spiritual roots. She talked about how deep personal darkness left her without energy for pursuing God – all she could do was try to survive, and in the midst of all the heartache, He was there. Because she had done the work before the hard times hit, she found that her roots went down deep, and kept her steady even when all she had energy for was hanging on to Jesus, one day at a time.

I’ve often thought about that since – I love the idea of finding enough grace and strength to survive because we put in the work and grew the roots deep ahead of time.

roots

Having a baby is no tragedy, but these last two years have been spent in survival mode. During the months I struggled with postpartum anxiety, I saw a counselor who told me, “Give it until your baby is two – you’ll feel normal again. Life will become manageable, but give yourself time.”

She was right – Everett turned two this fall, and while life is still full and crazy, things seem to have fallen into place, and we have come out of survival mode. God started stirring me up and making me long for more growth.

During the last two years, I found little snippets of time throughout the day to read my Bible or a few pages of a good book. There were short times of prayer, and lots of hanging on to Jesus, but this fall, it was as though God was saying, “It’s time for the next phase.”

I was having a great conversation with two of my dearest friends one evening, listening to them share about all the things God was teaching them. It was so inspiring to hear all the ways in which He was revealing Himself to them, through His word, and prayer, and great books or podcasts, and I loved hearing all they had to say. But part of me was also getting hungry, and I found myself wanting more of what they had.

I asked God, “Why aren’t you moving in my life that way? I want you to be teaching me and speaking to me like that. Why am I not experiencing more of you?”

Right in that moment, He said to me, “Come and get it.” Immediately, it hit me – it was time for me to get out of survival mode. It was time to get to work. Everything my friends were experiencing was available to me – I just needed to do something about it.

My first excuse was classic, though – “I don’t have time for more!” I thought I was already giving all I could. But as I thought about it, I realized there were little steps I could take – set the alarm 15 minutes earlier, use a Bible reading app instead of Pinterest, get intentional about jotting down the things God was saying to me, even if it was just in Evernote on my phone, here and there throughout the day.

 

Bit by bit, I started carving out the time. The more I did it, the more I wanted it. It felt good.

But I’ve still been a bit disappointed – I wanted to see more results. I’ve been hoping those times of connecting with Jesus would result in a greater ability to be patient. To be a kinder, gentler mom. To show more love to my family. To have greater self-control with my tongue.

I felt these were reasonable expectations – I wanted to see the fruit of the Spirit. It made sense that spending more time with the Spirit would lead to more fruit of the Spirit. Where was my fruit?! I wanted to see more apples on my tree!

Fruit of the Spirit

I shared this frustration last week with those same friends. As one of them prayed for me, she said something about the work that is unseen, and suddenly, I saw a picture of tree roots. It was as though God said to me, “The fruit is coming, but right now, we’re working on the roots.”

It was exactly what I was needing to keep going. I keep tiptoeing down the dark hall to our living room each morning, carefully avoiding the places where the floor squeaks so Everett won’t wake up. I keep putting in that time with Jesus because there is no way I can do this all on my own – two-year-old molars and homeschooling and potty training and explosive emotions and bills to pay and food to make and laundry to fold and all the rest are teaching me that I need to press in closer to Jesus.

Graham Cooke says, “Our circumstances are sent to us to improve the quality of our relationship with God.” I think about that a lot, because weathering a 30 minute tantrum over a pair of pants looks different to me when I see it as an opportunity to improve my connection to Jesus. I love my kids, I love my life, but there are parts of it that are just really¬†hard. Can I remember to take all those hard parts, and depend on God to save us all? To redeem and restore, and bring peace and calm to our frazzled selves?

I need deep roots. I need the fruit, too, but I can understand how the roots come first, so I keep putting in the time. I used to think my failures as a mom meant I needed to try harder. Now, I’m seeing how I just need more time with Jesus. I’m trusting Him to change me. His job is to bring about growth, fruit, and change. My job is to come and get it. It turns out, it’s always going to be found sitting at His feet.

When God’s Definition of “Effective” is Different From Mine

Quote from Secrets of the Secret PlaceEvery morning, I choose to believe this is true. I take the chance that waking up an hour before the rest of my family, and using that time to do my devotions and exercise will be more beneficial than the extra sleep. I trust that reading my Bible and praying is the absolute best use of my precious quiet time each morning, so it’s the very first thing I do when I get out of bed.

Then I have a day like I had yesterday, and I doubt everything about those words. Everett woke up half an hour early, teething and grumpy, so I got no exercising done, which meant I had a raging headache by lunch. Ben needed help with something before heading out the door for work, so I had to drop everything for what he needed. The girls woke up and didn’t like what we were having for breakfast. Everybody needed the usual morning routine to start, but I wasn’t ready for any of it.

Inside, I was kind of ticked off – I had made the better choice! Where was my extra blessing?! I was supposed to feel calm, peaceful, and productive. I had stepped out in faith, and it was feeling as though it would have been better to spend that precious time in the morning getting a head start.

But in the end, the necessary stuff all got done. Some things had to get left behind. I had to change my expectations for the day, and let go of my to-do list. I needed to remind myself that God defines “effective” differently than I do. His “to-do list” usually looks very different from mine.

And so I do still believe that quote is true, but I needed to be reminded that as the Spirit fills me, it’s an opportunity to become more flexible and open to the circumstances I find myself in, and to the things God brings into my path, rather than get more rigid in my own demands of the day. It had become a trade in my mind – I’ll give you my time if you give me the perfect day! That sounds ridiculous now, but in the moment, it made sense to me!

It’s not a trade, though – it’s an offering. I need to give it without the expectation of getting anything back. The awesome part is that while yesterday was rough, there are also many days when I can see the benefits – verses are coming to mind more readily, or I remember to pray more throughout the day when something comes up, like a decision to make, or a tough parenting situation. Giving God my first hour of the day would be a great thing to do even if I saw no personal benefits, but God in His wisdom and mercy lets me see those, too!

 

 

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When I Feel Too Busy for Morning Devotions

A couple of years ago, before Everett entered our family, before pregnancy and morning sickness, I would get up an hour before my family to do devotions and exercise. Those were really amazing mornings. I loved the quiet, I loved getting myself in the right place to start the day well.

And then I suddenly found myself back in the chaos of nausea, sleep deprivation, and then the busyness of having a newborn baby. Morning devotions quickly ended, and it’s only recently that I’ve started waking up before Everett to have a few minutes by myself in the morning once more.

Through all of the busy months, I’ve kept hanging on to is this: God can get a lot done in a short amount of time.

I loved the days of leisurely reading my Bible, and at first, I felt really guilty when that wasn’t happening anymore. But I also knew I desperately needed sleep. (My family desperately needed me to sleep!) When I didn’t have the energy to wake up early, and Everett was waking up at 6:30 every morning, there was no way I was setting my alarm for 6am.

So I did what I could – I’d snatch a few minutes to read a verse or two, or I’d lock myself in the bathroom to spend a few moments praying and focusing on Jesus to get my mind in the right place to start the day. I did my devotions every evening before I went to bed, but with time, I noticed how important it was to get even a little bit of time in the morning.

I’ve listened to other busy, tired moms talk about how impossible it feels to get up early for devotions, and I feel their pain. For those who are able to, that’s awesome, but for those who feel they just can’t during this phase of life, and to anyone else who feels as though they just can’t fit in one more thing to their busy mornings, I want to say: Do what you can.

I try to keep reminding myself, if I can squeeze in a few minutes here or there for Facebook or Pinterest, or any other distraction, I can just as easily read over a couple of verses. Just a little bit in the morning or throughout the day can change the direction of my thoughts.

This morning, I had a few minutes to myself before Everett woke up, so I grabbed my Bible and started reading Ephesians. I only read the first two verses before I got hit right where it was needed:

I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace poured into our lives…We’ve been lacking some peace around here, and I have not been responding with a lot of grace. I got on my knees, cleaned out a bunch of junk in my heart, and asked God to keep pouring that grace and peace into me until it overflowed. For the rest of the day, I kept returning to those simple words, trying to keep them in my mind and heart in the midst of the busyness.

gracesource

I still look forward to the days when I will once again have an hour of time to myself each morning, but in the meantime, I want to become more intentional about giving Jesus the time I do have, and trusting Him to multiply it.

34 Days of Favorites: Morning Routine

For many, many years, I was one of those people who slept in as long as I possibly could.

Fortunately for me, we’ve been blessed with children who don’t wake up before 8:00 in the morning, so I could usually get away with staying in bed until then. When I’d hear them making noise, I’d finally roll out of bed, and my day would start at exactly the same time as theirs did.

Although this kind of worked, way back in a deep, dark corner of my mind, I knew it wasn’t the best plan.

For one thing, I was always a bit cranky in the morning, because I hadn’t really had time to fully wake up.

Another problem was that I really like to have a bit of alone time first thing in the morning, but it could never happen when I woke up at the same time as the girls.

The most annoying part were all those women who kept talking about their “quiet time” in the morning, starting the day with devotions. I immediately felt defensive when I’d hear about early morning quiet times, because my conscience bothered me. I tried to justify everything by telling myself that prayer can happen any time of day, but really, I knew my day would go better if I would have the self-discipline to start it right.

I stuffed down these problems for as long as I could, and found other times of day for doing what I needed to do. Kaylia was still taking long afternoon naps, so I had time for reading with Anika, exercising, doing my devotions, and taking a quick nap each afternoon.

But one fateful day, Kaylia decided she was done with naps. At the ripe old age of two. I had been expecting a few more years of naps out of her, but it was not to be.

Suddenly, I had no time for exercising or devotions, and I knew something had to change.

I started waking up 15 minutes early. Not much time, but it was a start.

Before long, I changed it to half an hour earlier, and stayed there for quite some time. I got my exercising done, but that was about it.

After a few months, I decided to wake up 45 minutes earlier than the girls, so that I could exercise and do my devotions.

And I’m still going strong. Some mornings I wake up an hour early, if I need some extra time for working on the computer.

The weird part in all of this is that the very thing I most dreaded for many years has become one of the best parts of my day. Now I will sound like all those annoying women when I say how much I love a quiet house on an early, fresh morning.

I spend a little bit of time praying, and then I do yoga. I love that time.

If I’ve ever gotten to bed exceptionally late, wanted a bit of extra sleep, and gone back to waking up at 8 am, I feel completely disgusting.

I don’t know if it’s because my body is so used to waking up at 7:15 am, or if I just really need that quiet time alone before I’m ready to jump into the day, but if I sleep later, I am grumpy.

Finding what works for my morning routine has made a huge difference for how I feel about the rest of the day.

My new goal for this next year is getting to bed earlier! Oh my goodness, is that ever a hard one for me! But maybe by next year, I’ll love going to bed earlier as much as I love waking up earlier!

We’ll see…

What’s your morning routine? And do you have any tips for how I can get my evening routine working a little better?