Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Waking up early….

I’ve recently been getting up an hour earlier than normal time…

{hold the applause…my “early” is 6:20am!}

…to make sure I’m spending time with the Lord. It was hard the first few days, but now I’m starting to kinda wake up even before my alarm goes off! It’s the beginning of a new routine that I’m committed to keeping. It’s so worth it!

You may not be in a season where you can spend an hour sans interruption & I get it…this is a new season for my husband & I as our last kiddo moved out a few weeks ago to live in a dorm…yeah…she’s like 22 minutes away from our house (in SoCal, we count travel by minutes not by miles) and I still miss her like crazy!

I find myself now in the place of being able to have an uninterrupted quiet time for 30 minutes, or an hour (or sometimes more!) and I remember the younger mommy version of myself ~ when I would hear things like that I would just roll my eyes and frustration and wonder how that woman could talk like that?  She was clearly deluded in not being able to remember the difficulties of having a house full of kids. “Quiet Time”? Seriously?

But I do… I do remember…and I do get it.

I remember thinking when my last child went off to full day kindergarten that I would suddenly have all of this time to myself between the hours of 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted…Or quite frankly to not do anything at all!

But even so, I would find that my day was still packed with this parent meeting I needed to attend, for that class party, or the never-ending 15 loads of laundry that still wasn’t done or having to go to the grocery store again for the third time that week!

And some days I just simply wanted to take a nap!

Those are the seasons that I had to get creative about Bible study and my time with the Lord. There were plenty of times where I force myself to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning so that I could have 45 minutes to finish my Bible study because after all, I was the leader of the whole Bible study and how bad that would look if I showed up without doing my homework! And inevitably, as I’m sure you have found for yourself, you read something in that Bible study homework that definitely could have helped you to have a better week. And it was a constant reminder when I would have that thought, “Well, if I would just do my Bible study every week, every day that I should be committed to, then I won’t be missing out on those daily blessings that the Lord intends for me to have that day.”

Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. UGH!

So how did I get creative with three kids at home? Then with three teenagers at home…

In the days when my youngest was still half day preschool, I would choose a day that week to bring my Bible study material with me and after dropping her off, I would find a little coffee shop to go to… And that was back when Starbucks really was the only place I could go…and I would commit those 2 1/2 hours to reading scripture and working on whatever Bible study it was that I had going on the time.

As my girls got older, and we never seemed to live in a place where we are five minutes away from church, I still wanted our girls to be as involved as possible. So on the evening that they had their small groups during high school years, I again would pack up my Bible and study material and find a coffee shop or restaurant to hang out in for two or three hours…because come on here, we are dealing with high school girls with A LOT of emotions and Bible study small group never lasted for only two hours. But who am I kidding, when I go to meet a friend for coffee as I’m walking out the door my husband says, “Have fun at your five hour coffee date!” He thinks it’s quite funny but it’s totally true and there’s always more to talk about as the timers start ringing on our phones to remind us that we have to get back to “real life”.

But I would enjoy that weekly time away from the house, knowing that I could enjoy (or at least deal with) the 30 minute drive in traffic taking my daughter to small group because I knew it would be beneficial to me as well.

So take a look at your schedule, your week, the activities that your kids are in. Instead of begrudging the job of being a chauffeur for many many years, use those opportunities to read your Bible, dig into your Bible study, or simply to just read a good book. If you can’t see a window of opportunity, pray and ask the Lord to help you carve out that time you desire to spend with Him and He will absolutely answer your prayer.

As my girls grew older and began leaving the house to go to college, I realized that my daytime hours were so busy, and then they started driving themselves to small group.  I was losing my ‘time away’ opportunities. Then I realized what I had to give up…one of my most precious commodity…Sleep!

I love to be able to wake up without an alarm, knowing that I have woken up naturally, rested, and ready for what the day ahead. I really hate waking up to an alarm! But I began to do this, I has never disappointed by my time with the Lord. An afternoon nap sometimes needed to be worked into the schedule! LOL! Isn’t it funny how when we are little children we fight nap time tooth & nail. And then when we are adults, we crave naptime! I saw a bumper sticker one time that said, “Nap time is wasted on the young!”

Can I get an AMEN on that!

I did that just about every day for about 1 1/2 years (not the nap time…the waking up early thing!) and then I stopped.

There was really no rhyme or reason, except it was summertime and the schedule of the family was more relaxed. I kept thinking I would pick it back up ~ I didn’t. My heart and soul suffered for it.

I became a ‘collector’ of books and bible study material. Not a reader of them or even a real reader of the Word. I downloaded a few bible study apps on my phone, but even those were haphazardly read, if at all.

What was wrong with me? I loved the Lord and I always love to read the Word to see what new nugget I can learn about God and who He is. I’m involved with several different ministry areas, so why on earth could I not get myself together to be consistent and disciplined to be with my Father.

For the past year and a half actually, I knew what something off in my life and I knew the solution needed to be the simple act of waking up early.  For the purpose of  spending time with the Lord and find out how He wanted to direct my day.

So I am back at it!

I started about two weeks ago and it has become so precious to me! I’ve already started thinking about how we are going on vacation soon and I want to make sure that I keep this going. I am committed to doing this ~ catch my Instagram and you all can help me stay accountable!

So why are things different this time around? How have I gained a renewed commitment to waking up early? Oh, and by the way I’m not talking about 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM… My early is 6:20 AM. Why 6:20am?

The first day I set my alarm for 6:30am, because after all that was an hour before I usually book up. AN HOUR!!! And yes momma’s…there will come a day when you will be able to sleep past 6 o’clock in the morning, it’s coming! But for now enjoy those little faces they come into your room at “o’dark 30” breathing into your face saying things like “I can’t find my teddy bear” or “Can we have pancakes for breakfast?” I do so miss those little faces, even when they would be nose to nose with me and completely freak me out when I sense that “someone is watching me” feeling! You know what I’m talking about!

At any rate, back to the plan. I set my alarm for 6:30 AM on that first day and I decided to prepare the night before… I know, what a novel idea! I set the space as if I was setting up for a special seat for a guest visiting our home. I put water in the kettle, chose a special mug, and picked out some wonderful smelling tea and got it already for the next morning so all I would have to do is plug in the kettle and let the tea steep. After that first morning I realized it took me 10 minutes to get up, brush my teeth, have a glass of water, get the kettle and tea ready. Those ten minutes were cutting into my precious hour with Jesus.

The next day, I decided I would get up at 6:20 AM. Seriously those extra 10 minutes early felt like a HUGE sacrifice for the first week! But not only would I get all of my tea items ready, I would also get “my spot” ready. I still have the rocking chair that I rocked my babies in and it now sits by the window in our living room. There is a little desk next to it that has a small lamp on it that I can turn on in the morning without completely disturbing are sleeping dog.

Hot tea in hand, I make my way quietly through the house and get settled in the rocking chair with a nice soft blanket over my lap and I close my eyes and pray and ask the Lord to show me Himself and show me how I can be a light and honor Him during the day.

It is absolutely the best part of my day!

One of the funny things that is happening now is that I am beginning to wake up a little bit even before my alarm goes off.  What??? That is so funny to me! Remember how I said before that I absolutely hate waking up to an alarm? God is so good to whisper to my heart that it’s time to wake up. However, there are plenty of days that I need that alarm to wake me up! Even in this, the Lord has blessed me because as my alarm goes off instead of dreading the day ahead of me, He reminds me that I am waking up FOR Him. Which means I am waking up for my family, for myself, and for the opportunity to serve Him the best that I can. That is a miracle for sure!

There’s a book I’ve been reading (and following the author/ministry on Instagram) about setting aside intentional time with God. (Not paid to say this…but go get Kat Lee’s new book called Hello Morning & follow on social media). It’s so practical and I really believe that is the key. Find something that works for YOU and stick with it. The timing will change, the study will change, and all that is okay ~ it all depends on your season of life. The beauty of God’s Word is that it DOES NOT CHANGE! No matter what time of day, or study, or book that you study, His Word will absolutely come alive for you every day that you intentionally spend with Him.

God bless you in your journey of time with the Lord!  I’d love to hear how you work out a new solution too ~ message me here or via social media spots. You will always come away refreshed!

Blessings,
René

Psalm 143 verse 8

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Spiritual Amnesia ~ the struggle is real!

Do you remember cramming for those final exams?  Putting together material for a 10 page research paper?  Running bible verses with your little ones on the way to Awana so they get their patch? (Yes…I was “that” mom that would forget to help my girls with their Awana homework until about 2 hours before they needed to be at church.)  Let me ask you this….do you really and truly remember any of those things that you studied?  I think you can call that “Situational Amnesia.”

Or my personal favorite….after just a few weeks of driving 16 miles (which in SoCal speak = 35 minutes of drive time) on 3 freeways to get my girls to school (for seven years!), it didn’t take long for a certain type of “amnesia” to set in.  Fairly soon, I knew the rhythm of the morning and afternoon traffic, and my car seemed to “just know” how to get there and back.  It was actually a bit disturbing when on occasion, I would pull into the driveway back home and wonder, “How did I get here?”  EEK!

Have you or someone you know, ever experienced amnesia?  Or maybe just selective amnesia?  I think all young children fall into the latter category at some point in time.  A mom will ask, “Did you remember that I told you not to walk through the house with mud on your shoes?” And the child will answer, “No.”  Mom ~ “Well, I’ve told you everyday this month.  You don’t remember?” Child ~ “I don’t know.”  Good times!  Translate that to conversations we have with our Heavenly Father, “Do you remember that by grace you have been saved?” Our response, “No….I have to work hard to prove I’m worth it.”  ~ that my friends is Spiritual Amnesia!

Okay ~ we’ve read our bible during our morning quiet time; we’ve read over our scripture verse of the week to memorize; we have our time of prayer with the Lord.

Then….

…..we walk out the door to begin our day (and sometimes don’t even make it that far) when we are hit with a situation or person, which causes us to forget everything we just did!  WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN??? How can we so quickly forget the goodness and grace of God!?

I think partly this happens to me because I’m not really spending time in God’s Word, I’m speeding through it to check it off my “to do” list.  I’m being honest here.  I’m not proud of that and I don’t recommend it all.  Now, I don’t think there is anythign wrong with putting “Quiet Time” in your planner or on your iPhone calendar ~ but right now, please join me in choosing to enjoy this time spent with the Lord instead of as just something we have to get through to get on with our day.  That’s the attitude that causes spiritual amnesia.

Amnesia literally means: loss of a large block of interrelated memories;complete or partial loss of memory caused by brain injury, shock, etc.

**In no way in this blog do I mean to diminish the reality of amnesia that some people may have to live with everyday.  It’s very serious, and I do not wish to make light of it.**

That said, what could be a “brain injury or shock” that we can encounter as a Christian that causes us to forget who God is and who He has created us to be?

*You prayed for a loved one to be healed and they died.

*You lost your job and it’s been months or  years since you had full time employment.

*Your child disobeyed you AGAIN for the same reason.

*Your marriage suddenly erupts with the uncovering of years of being lied to by your spouse.

*Your child tells you that they don’t want to see you anymore.

*People you thought were your friends have been gossiping about you behind your back.

And I’m sure you can add a few more to the list.

But guess what ~ as horrible as those things are, they don’t have to define you.  These are the moments in time when it is imperative to have been having true time with the Lord and allowing His living Word to saturate your soul with HIS TRUTHS!  So that when we come across those incredibly mind-bending experiences of pain, grief, aggravation, or fear ~ we can call out to the Lord and ask Him to remind us of who HE is and who we are in Him!  But we also have to be mindful of keeping scripture first and foremost in our mind.  The only we can do that is to be reading the Word everyday!  We may not always be able to think of the book a scripture is in, but when we need to reign in our negative thoughts, turning to God’s Living Word is the only way to redirect our thinking to that of what is positive and pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s just a few of those reminders to get you started:

Isaiah 55:8-9, ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Right here ~ God is reminding us that what He thinks about is totally different than what we think about.  Meditating on His Words are the only way to make sure we are making at least an effort to think how the Lord thinks.

**Please know the context in which I’m using the word “meditate.”  If you have a picture of someone sitting cross-legged on the ground with their hands in a funky position, chanting….STOP!  That is NOT biblical meditation!  Eastern mysticism & meditation tell you to “empty your mind.”  That is the exact opposite of what God calls us to do when He tells us to meditate on His Word.  Biblical meditation calls us to FILL our mind with scripture and to think on how we can be obedient to the Lord by weaving those scriptures in and through our daily life, to live a life honoring to Him.  If you spend time emptying your mind, the enemy is waiting nearby to fill it with his version of the truth…and you will be led astray.**

I Corinthians 2:9-12,However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

Hebrews 4:11-13,Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

I hope these verses are encouraging to you ~ they are key verses in understanding how and why we need to keep our thoughts focused on the Lord and not on the circumstances or situations around us.  Not to go blindly walking around saying, “The Lord will figure it out.” (He will by the way…but He wants to work with us!) Our Heavenly Father wants to join with us, His children, because He loves us!

When you are tempted to give into fear, sadness, or anxiety ~ make a choice to run to God’s Word.  Speak out loud the truths of scripture.  Give the devil his notice that he cannot control you.  Praise the Lord that He is good and that He has called us to be His own!  We are create in HIS image and He was happy and satisfied in His creation! You are royalty ~ all the negative think and feelings of guilt and condemnation are not who you are…so toss that all in the garbage!  Rejoice that He calls you by name and He loves you so very much!!

Hebrews 4 verse 12

Blessings,

René