A final thought on endurance. Waking up, no matter how early, is so much sweeter when you train your mind. I've trained mine to automatically think, "Today is an awesome day. I can't wait to get up and take advantage of every single opportunity God has prepared in advance for me to do good." (Ephesians 2:10) I learned the wake up thought from Chad Goldwasser, a real estate mentor. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 Have a good one!
Romans 8:6 & 10 "The mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. Your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
I have mentioned creating wide margins in my life to reduce stress. I have adopted this practice lots of places. From giving myself twenty extra minutes on top of what I think I need from soccer games to grocery shopping to aerobics class this is an effective practice.
The only place it has been difficult to achieve a margin is in the mornings. Quite simply, I.am.tired.
I used to get up in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. I could read, pray and clean uninterrupted. It was awesome. I was pregnant. I had babies. I was up at all hours of the night anyway. Then my kids started school. Between dinner and homework I was exhausted. No matter how early I tried to get up, I couldn't.
Literally, could not. I would sleep through my alarm or get up for a few days and then get sick. I could not do without my sleep.
I've read about many successful people lately. From businessmen to inventors to the lady who lost over 200 pounds without surgery, they all had one thing in common. They got up early. By early I don't mean 6 AM. They all got up in the fours. By 4:30 AM, all these high achieving people are awake and reaching for their goals.
When I came to college at Texas A&M, this was a goal of mine. A personal goal. To wake up at 4:00 each morning and begin my day. Back then I reasoned this would give me plenty of study time so I could maintain my active social schedule. Needless to say, a motive like this is less than pure. Ummm, never quite panned out that way.
As a young mother my goal was to rise at four to have my whole house cleaned before going to the gym each morning, have breakfast sizzling by seven and my whole day to do other things...not housecleaning! It never quite happened this way, to say the least. My priorities were a little whack!
I leaned back on the fact that I must be a night owl and hated the heart pounding rush of the morning at any hour. I learned to make time for a decent quiet time. I learned to pick up and check off the list at night. I found time for deeper Bible study in the afternoons when my kids were napping. Until this year. There.is.no.time.
There are no naps. There is always homework, always baths, always hungry people, always a practice, always a game, always a need. There is never time.
That night several weeks ago as I was driving to football practice, I felt the Lord calling me. Telling me to endure. I pushed myself that evening. I went to bed earlier. The list wasn't checked off and the house wasn't picked up. But the next morning I woke up, early. I woke up, refreshed. I felt great. I had an awesome quiet time. My heart was not pounding. I had time. I had found the time I had been crying out for.
I now get up consistently between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning. I am not tired. In fact, I am energized. This is a miracle. A MIRACLE!
I am experiencing peace in every area of my life. I am experiencing freedom that comes as a result of struggling with the frustration that God allows to grow us. Romans 6-8 says our fleshly bodies can be subdued by our spirit man. God in us can reign over our flesh. For me, I believe God showed me this means I can be healthy on less sleep in order to serve Him better. Would you praise Him with me today for this freedom?
We saw the movie this weekend. Finally. It is a great drama. A real tear-jerker! The situations could truly happen to anyone and so many can identify with the characters in the movie...all of them.
Although, I feel our marriage is so strong right now and we did reach a point two or three years ago where we just looked at each other and said, "We get this," I found myself really feeling these characters in the movie.
Their feelings, the words they said, the pain in their faces all touched me on a very deep level. I loved how the movie made it so clear that a good marriage doesn't change those emotions. God does. I liked how people's shortcomings were made clear and the distance was only spanned by God's love. I especially loved the main character's relationship with his dad. Special.
I think the world needs more reminders of the fact that marriages are worth the work, worth the determination, worth the choice.
It's a must see and I can't wait to get the book, The Love Dare.
After seven days of errr, rest, I am back in action. Ya'll can pray for me. I was going strong, had this fleshly thing beat. I could get up early, meet with the Lord, have a great day with an awesome attitude and finish strong.
Then, I woke up with a migraine and vertigo. Two days on my back with my head on a stack of pillows. Lord, what are you trying to teach me?!?
I think it's how to make the flesh subject to the Spirit in the realm of illness. At least, some illness. Do I think all sickness is the result of sin in our hearts? No, some is the result of living in a fallen world. But, yes, some is the result of impure hearts and motives before the Lord.
And, that's the disease I want out of my heart and body!!! So, hold on raging hormones, nauseating headaches and debilitating dizziness, this gal's getting up early to meet with her Lord and you can't stop her. nanananabooboo!!
This is my second post on redeeming time in my life. Click here to get up to speed.
"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Romans 8:20-21)
With four children, life can be rather trying at times. Actually with laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework, carpool, playdates and practices it can be downright exhausting.
I can work steadily in the house all day long and still have dustbunnies, unfolded laundry and only a semi-healthy plan for dinner. Add a few real estate deals, PTO, grocery shopping and weekly Bible studies on top of this and you've got a recipe for major frustration.
This year I've been very frustrated with my schedule. I prayed and prayed about it. Loaded it the way I felt God calling and have felt frustrated ever since. Since spending many weeks meditating on Romans 6, 7 and 8, I have learned to embrace frustration as a way to become mature in my faith. That is, when I'm at the end of myself, I ask God to impart more of himself to me.
Let me explain how this played out in my daily life.
I have to write everything down on my calendar. I'm not neat and color coded with pretty pastel highlighters. I scribble one thing on top of another scratching out as I go, accommodating a crazy schedule and wanting to do more than I should as one person. Andrew recently started reading my calendar each evening for entertainment. It is that.
Seriously, it says stuff like 6-6:45 AM take shower. I timeblock everything from getting dressed and going to the gym to folding laundry and making phone calls. It works.
I have discovered that one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and frustration is to give myself a wide margin. I schedule at least twenty minutes to transition from one activity to another. I write down meetings thirty minutes before they start and add traveling time to each calendar entry.
Because I have been going tirelessly from the time I get up in the mornings until the time I go to bed at night, I have begun to realize this margin should include getting up in the mornings and how I schedule my time with the Lord each morning.
Ooooh. I am not a "morning person." I like to sleep a little later than 6:00 AM. As a matter of fact, I think 7:30 is a great time to get up in the morning. However, that is just not a reality. I have been getting up at 6 or 6:30 regularly. When school started, I began rising at 5:40 each day. My heart would immediately start racing as soon as my eyes opened in the morning. Yuck. I hate that feeling. Even when I've just gotten out of bed I already feel defeated.
Starting my morning with ten deep, relaxing breaths is not my idea of a great day!
I still needed more time. Time to sit in God's presence. Extended time to read and study the Bible. Time to spend in contemplative prayer. More time. But when? How? I began crying out to God on an even greater level. My friends who walk with me know how long I've asking God for more time.
My natural tendency is to stay up later. By 6:30 PM these days it's all I can do to get dinner on and off the table, baths, homework, bedtime prayers, etc. There is nothing left.
A few weeks ago as I was driving to football practice declaring a hiatus on Miley Cyrus for the next twelve hours, I had a thought. Somewhere in the middle of running a race the runner gets tired. Too tired to turn back, he's come too far. Too tired to speed up for the ending's not yet in sight. But by enduring another mile, another leg of the race, another minute of pain, a new level of endurance is reached. By pushing through the threshold, the runner challenges himself by pushing the limit thus forming a new limit. Endurance.
This is key for victorious living.
Tired and thinking I couldn't go on yet knowing I had to finish my day well. This is the current marathon. Pushing through the evening hour to rest would give me the endurance I'd been crying out for. With a new level of endurance would come the runner's high I'd been craving.
Ability to get things done.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
Stay tuned to find out how endurance and time look in my life today.
Any girlfriend who reads this blog is invited to join my Friday night Bible study. This is a time of living room ministry, coffee fellowship and deep relationship.
We are meeting on the first and third Friday nights from 8:00-10:30. We are studying No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. Beth Moore led it this summer online and we will be using her teachings from the archives.
If you're interested in living life with us in a laidback, casual but intentional way, email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me. I'll give the address and password...just kidding. I'll just give you the address. Even if you'd like to start and can't come tomorrow (Friday, October 17), we'd love to get you caught up, get you a book and see you next time. We will be doing lesson one for next time so you wouldn't even be lost!
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)
This feeling has dominated most of my married life. With the changing seasons of life, the systems that once worked for home and time management became ineffective. Once I began serving my family (a very full-time 24-hour job), I could never quite find the time.
Time to play soccer, read a book, bake cookies, have a long conversation, complete chores, make a scrapbook, and most recently have an extended time with God regularly. No matter how much I got done in a day or how early I got up in the morning, I still had a million things on my list come bedtime.
Oh, I've had some great stretches over the years. Things have run smoothly for days, weeks, months and even years. But then something out of the ordinary occurs and I find myself spiraling out of control, out of time and frustrated once again. Over the years, pregnancy, sickness and increased responsibility have always edged out the routine cushioned within the constraints of my calender.
I've also come to learn that this uneasiness in my spirit is always indicative of sin in my heart.
Many years ago, I began to cry out to the Lord to redeem time in my life. As I began to do this he slowly began to loosen my tight ten-fingered grip on my own schedule.
The first thing he taught me was to consult him and honor him with my scheduled activities. For me, this meant taking my children out of a Mother's Day Out/Preschool program. A program I loved. I obeyed. I cried. I got tremendously blessed in return. Now I don't commit our family or the kids to anything I haven't prayed about first.
God has taught me to rely on him before anyone else. I went without a land line, cell phone (I actually went without 5 of them because I kept breaking them) or email for awhile. A long while. I learned to not pick up the phone and to remain busy at home. I learned not to indulge in idle chatter and waste time this way. I learned how to be connected to my girlfriends but not spend the day talking their ears off!
I used to only watch TV when I was folding clothes, a reward for unenjoyable work then the writers went on strike. I found I could go for long stretches without any TV at all. Freedom.
When I was in college I taught aerobics. I was used to spending hours a day at the gym. When the kids were younger, I would spend an hour or two each day exercising with friends. I've had to trim down my time spend there to 30 minutes to an hour four days a week.
I quit reading any book but the Bible.
My house doesn't sparkle like my standards do. It does meet my husband's standards.
My grip is loosened. My calendar has less cushion. I still had no time.
Then I stumbled on this verse in Romans 8.
God was actually allowing me to struggle with frustration so that I would long for more of him. So that I would need him more and become mature in him with a character more like his. Instead of fighting the frustration, I began to embrace it. If embracing frustration was the key to freedom from feeling frustrated all the time, then I would sing and dance every time I felt frustrated and overwhelmed. I was crying out to God to bring the freedom!
That's right. Today was the day for school pictures at our local elementary school.
My prayer on the way to school was, "Twenty-Five minutes, Lord. Twenty-five minutes."
Twenty-five minutes of stain-free, tear-free, buttons up and cowlicks down. Straight collars and crooked smiles needed for just twenty-five minutes. That's it.
I rejoiced when I learned pictures would begin at 8:10, just twenty-five minutes from the minute we left our house.
8:10 is before lunch when professional Gatorade drinkers have learned how to best maximize red moustaches. It's before recess when master sandbox players have asked to go get water and made mud stains on their t-shirts. It's before P.E. when those future pro athletes have sweated their hair into looking like it's full of static cling. 8:10. Please Lord, just twenty-five minutes.
Why am I a freakishly neurotic controlling monster when it comes to school pictures? Two small reasons.
Number one, I have to pre-pay an exorbitant price to capture said moment and to support the school. Number two, I'm just not always sure what I'm getting. Let me explain.
When I was a kid my school pictures chronicled way more than I ever want to remember. Kindergarten sports my first perm. Not a success. First grade looks like a mug shot with a boy haircut (to fix unsuccessful perm) and white under shirt. Second grade looks like I fixed my own hair. Third grade my eyes are closed. You get the picture.
My children's school pictures would be different. Beautiful. Picturing them in ways they would want to remember themselves and show off to their future spouses and children would be well worth the effort. I would get them up early, curl their hair, coordinate their clothes. Heck, I would even pay $20 extra if that's what it would take to airbrush their imperfections.
So, Julia gets up early. She wears that special shirt from Gymboree. I con her into wearing the big coordinating bow. The compromise. Jeans that were too short and her beloved purple boots. Not just any purple boots. These purple boots are shiny with sparkly flowers and they light up when she walks. They were some boots!
But the glory of the situation was that they were boots. Boots never show in school pictures. Just the face. Hair ranks at the top of the importance list for school pictures.
Imagine my shock and utter amazement when Julia's school pictures came in and she was sitting atop a haystack. Complete with high-water jeans and big purple boots. Remember these weren't vintage-western lavender boots. They were bright, patent, purple, prissy-baby-astronaut-of-the-future boots. And they were right on top of a red bandanna laying on that haystack, in front of that antique wagon wheel.
Needless to say, I've learned to support the school with school picture money and forego the $20 airbrushing add-on.
These are last year's pictures...Just before we buzzed Palmer's hair. All things considered, I think they were largely successful. As for this year's pictures, I'll let ya know.
You know, someone who's just not, well, authentic.
I am getting to know all these awesome bloggy people. It's so fun. Really cool how God can use the web to encourage me, connect me and teach me. No, it doesn't take the place of real life but it is pretty spectacular.
Anyway, those who know me in real life know my crazy, forgetful, unfocused and just plain nasty habits. Putting these bad habits in all their badness for the world to see is just a little unnerving to say the least. So, I tend to conquer the yucky and post about the victory. I look amazing. I have it all together. I'm a total poser!
I have a huge mound of laundry on my living room chair. It's laundry from the entire week actually. I rarely make my kids eat breakfast. I use hundreds of dollars in gas running them around in the afternoons and I'd rather pay full price at Kroger and never wait in line instead of cutting grocery bills by thousands over my lifetime by frequenting Super Wal Mart. And, when I hit my head putting groceries in the back of the Suburban...sometimes I cuss.
Shameful, I know but so, so true.
I am a human person. I hate the nasty habits but yet just when I kick one, another rears its ugly head.
Here's another truth.
I still secretly long to be popular.
Yes, I crave the day I have the homecoming queen or the quarterback in my Suburban and sleeping under my roof. I want to be the cool mom. Own the house where everyone hangs out after school.
Mad Libs. That's what $100 at the school book fair buys you. Lots of Mad Libs and Girlfriends books and scrapbooks and diaries.
The questions were fairly easy. Julia chronicled their answers. World-famous violinist or groovy, unknown guitarist? Easy. Guitar.
One day with President of United States or one hour with the Paparazzi? Easy, somewhat shameful but easy, paparazzi.
Flip flops or high heels? High heels.
Clothes or hair? Clothes.
Then the moment of truth.
Would you rather be liked by everyone but never popular or only accepted by the in crowd?
Everything in my head screamed, "Popular! Popular! Popular! In.crowd.No.Question."
You see, growing up, I almost ruined my whole life in my quest to be popular. Part of the "right" crowd. Accepted. Liked. Famous. The kid to be.
Now, as an adult I know that the whole question is ludicrous. The very idea of being popular is that you would be liked by everyone.
I also know that Jesus is all things to all people. Everyone. Every crowd.
I also know that the heart is deceptive and that the true me, the new creation in Christ, wants what God would want for me. The very idea of the in crowd is repulsive to my Lord.
Because this is what the "spirit" me says even though the "flesh" me doesn't feel it. It remains truth.
"Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 11:19
We are currently using this book during our before school devotional time. It is a book published by Child Evangelism Fellowship and has a verse of the week followed by a one page reading with a couple of questions about the verse.
My girls alternate sitting in the front seat and the gal in the front seat gets to read this out loud on our trip to school. We take turns answering the questions and then we pray using the prayer tip for the day.
Last year I prepared a week's worth of verses and devotionals at a time for my kids. They were very specialized for us. If we needed work on our attitude, we chose five verses about attitudes and began our weekly carpool. I loved doing this! I loved preparing for it. I loved praying about which verses and I loved how God gave me just the right things to say and verses to use.
This year is a little different. There are three munchkins to get up, feed, dress and load before this can happen. There are three activities we are participating in each week in addition to our regular schedule. And, I'm finding it more difficult to be as prepared as I'd like each morning. So, I am using some material that somebody else wrote. It's good material. We are now studying the attributes of God. We are defining big words like sovereign and omniscient. We are talking about being holy and sinning and why we really need Jesus. Knowing God's character is awesome. Knowing our need for salvation is crucial. It is working and we are spending time in God's Word.
There is one verse for five days. My kids are saying that is boring but they are all learning the verse. So, memorizing and becoming familiar with scripture is always good. Having less to prepare is helping me be consistent even when I am sickish and don't get up as quickly as I'd like. I want my children to know that no matter how busy we are we can always find different ways to stay in God's Word and we always have time to pray no matter where we are or what we are doing. We keep the book in our car so we never forget it. We are without excuse!
What are you doing to get your kids in God's Word each morning? Please share.
The last birthday before double digits. The last year in the first decade. The end of one thing. The beginning of another. The tweens. Countdown to teenager. Ouch!
I remember nine years ago today. I began the day in the same way that I ended the previous night. Laboring to birth a baby.
I had never known such exhaustion. In an instant all that changed. At 6:17 AM sheer exhaustion instantaneously changed to sheer exhilaration as Julia Christian took her first peek at the world outside the womb, uttered her first screams and gulped her first breaths of air.
She was born, she lifted her little head with her bright blue, sparkling and very alert eyes darting around the room and proceeded to nurse vigorously. She is still the most mature, gifted child who can organize a large group of her peers into order in an instant. She is still all about the food. She'll do just about anything for a dollar or a piece of candy. Still.
Until giving birth I had never experienced such high highs and low lows all in the same day, in the same instant even. I have Julia to thank for that. Unbelievable.
I remember sitting in the rocking chair all day and night for days and nights on end silently wondering if she would ever sleep and secretly hoping she wouldn't so I wouldn't have to put her down all at the same time.
She was the most beautiful baby. Really. I couldn't believe someone as wondrous as her could have my DNA.
Just last week I was sitting in the bedroom in a pile of pictures crying. Julia came and sat down with me and asked what was wrong. I told her I was sad because I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember what Baby Julia looked like. I couldn't remember.
I told her they were also happy tears because although I couldn't remember what Baby Julia looked like, I would never forget how Baby Julia made me feel so much love I thought my heart would explode.
Although I can't always remember what Baby Julia looked like or all the awesome milestones Baby Julia accomplished or all the funny, witty things she said or even the way she looked when she smiled and lit up our lives, I will always remember how Baby Julia taught me that I love being a mom. I will always remember that when Baby Julia was born I wasn't disappointed one little bit in how being a mommy really was compared to how I'd dreamed being a mother would be. It just was. The best.
Even though I made my heart promise it would never forget, time has made even those things fade. But the now things are every bit as awesome. Every bit as enjoyable. Every bit as celebrated. The highs are even higher and the lows even lower. Watching the baby become a child and the child become a little girl is incredible. Watching her personality bud and blossom is thrilling. I still stand in amazement that someone so talented, dynamic and influencing contains my DNA.
Happy number nine, JC!
"Thank God for this gift, his gift...My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." 1 Corinthians 9:15 & Ephesians 3:14-19; The Message