If you follow me on social media, you know that this week I started trying to be a morning person. Really it was a combination of my family just needing me more present in the mornings, and me needing some focused time to make sure I’m “filling my cup” so to speak before I’m pouring out all my energies meeting everyone else’s needs in the house. I need this.
I have continued to not set an alarm to wake up, not because I’m against alarm clocks (well, they’re not exactly my friends. I have killed and decapitated a few.) but because if I set an alarm, it has to be loud for me to wake up. And if I set a loud alarm, everyone else in the house wakes up, and “alone time” is no longer alone. I’m returning to a previous system I had with God before, where I asked him to wake me up at the proper time. That’s just it. I have the tendency to get hyper-legalistic, and what is the proper amount of time with God? 30 minutes? An hour? 10 minutes? How much “God” is enough? Then there are seasons in my life, like after a birth of a child where I honestly just need to sleep. I remember on several occasions setting my alarm, and my pious self would try to get out of bed, and it felt like the Holy Spirit was pushing me back, saying, “No, this is the time to rest.”
So I don’t have a set time in the morning. I just get up when God wakes me up, trusting that he will give me the right amount of time with him for preparation for that day. This system works surprisingly well for me. I don’t run it. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have charts or rules or goals, just grace. God says get up, and I get up. It’s about as simple as it gets. When I have no intention of spending time with God (as the last few months have been) I just sleep in. I don’t ask God to wake me up, and if he tries, I roll over and go back to sleep. Then I feel awful, and my day is ruined, because I think about what I missed.
So I got up about 6 on Sunday. It was just lovely. I had about an hour before the rest of the house got up. I had set out the night before a scone and a thermos of hot water for my tea. If I stick a toe outside my room, kiddos come flooding in, so I have a sanctuary space in my bedroom, where I have my little breakfast/tea set up, as well as my Bible, my journal, my prayer cards, and my “thankful” journal where I just list moments I am grateful for. That journal has been going for a few years.
Monday I woke up about 6:20. Then Knut got up, and decided to have devotions in the chair next to me. I’ll be honest, part of me was this longing wife who was so excited that my husband and I were doing devotions together! How special! The other, larger part of myself was like, “Um…this is my alone time. Key word: alone.”
Actually I held my tongue, and am glad that I did. It was so good. We prayed together. It was uniting. I’d do it again.
However, my day with the kids on Monday was terrible. It was our first day back at full time school at home. The kids argued every step of the day. It was rough. By around supper time I had carved enough space to listen to a new podcast from Sally Clarkson while I was in the kitchen. It was about decluttering your soul, and thinking about this new year. She talked about just examining our hearts for grudges or things that we were holding onto that God never intended us to keep. We are to cast all our cares on Him.
I nearly wept through the whole podcast, and that evening after the little girls went to bed and Knut was playing games with the big kids, I went back up to my sanctuary space in my room, and journaled about a few grudges that I was carrying around like boulders throughout my day. I just poured out my hurt and my fear. I said, “God, I see no solution to these problems. It feels a bit selfish, but I’m just going to give them to you, and let you figure it out. I know you already have it figured out. I’m just saying, I can’t carry these any more. These are now yours.”
I walked out of that room light as a feather, and the rest of the evening was just peaceful. I wasn’t carrying those boulders anymore. I set out my tea and scone for the next morning, and went to sleep.
This morning? God woke me up at 5am. FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. When my eyes popped open, and I was wide awake, I looked at my clock and literally said, “Oh, God, you have to be kidding me.”
I don’t claim to hear God’s audible voice. Like Sally Clarkson has said many times (I’m not sure if she was the first) “the Bible is the Holy Spirit’s vocabulary.” If you want to hear God speak, open your Bible. But I do have these thoughts impressed on my heart that I feel are from God, specifically for my situation, and never contradicting Scripture. This morning, when I asked God if he was joking, He responded with, “You gave me a lot last night that you had no solution for. I do. We have a lot of work to do. Wake up.”
“But God, today is a crazy busy day. Can we not tackle these issues in my heart another day…or in like, an hour? I’ll be running like crazy today. It’s full.”
“Yeah. It will be a crazy day. You need this extra time. You will be pouring out a lot. Trust me.”
He was very right. I had 2 hours with Him before the rest of the family got up. I usually read through a chapter of the Old Testament every day, and a chapter from the New Testament. I’ve been reading through Ezekiel the past few months for my Old Testament reading, and let me tell you, it isn’t fun in Ezekiel. I felt the same when I went through Isaiah and Jeremiah, but then I got to a certain point in each book where it felt like the solution to all these problems just showed up and God’s love pours out like rain. It’s amazing if you can get to those points of some difficult books.
So this morning, I got to the part in Ezekiel where that happened. God’s love just poured out. The Good Shepherd showed up and took care of his sheep. Oh it was amazing! There were tears. I reached my favorite part. Then I moved onto where I’m at in 2 Thessalonians in the New Testament. I refreshed a lot of my prayer cards that were really out of date. I journaled a lot. I listened to my worship mix on my iPhone twice. It was freezing in our room. Knut woke up at one point and gave me an extra blanket for my chair. The whole thing was exactly what I needed.
This whole morning person goal for the year has been amazing so far. It’s imperfect because I’m imperfect. That won’t change no matter how many new years turn over. The key has been to put my ear buds in and listen to music before I even get out of bed. I listen to Matt Maher’s song “Lord, I Need You” to wake up to, because it’s almost like the heart of why I’m doing this. It’s this constant reminder that I’m giving to myself on why I’m getting up: because I so very much need God. I’m really, really bad at doing this whole Christian life thing on my own. I’m such a bad mother, wife, and just person when I start relying on myself. I literally need Him, and the moment I feel like God is just a luxury on the side of my life, I feel myself start to fray.
The other key has honestly been sitting down to my “feast” with God. I look forward to just eating in quiet, sipping my tea, and lighting a few candles. (This idea also came from Sally Clarkson’s new book The Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. I strongly recommend you pre-order the book. It’s even better than I was anticipating. I was lucky enough to get a preview.) [That is an affiliate link for Amazon, but I wasn’t reimbursed for a review or anything. I’m just sharing from friend to friend.]
The thing about the food, and the nourishment, is sometimes that’s just what I need. Like when God would tell me after giving birth to just go to bed. I was thinking that first morning about the Biblical story of Elijah after his big show on Mt. Caramel. He was battle weary and exhausted and he ran to a quiet place, and God ministered to him, and sent him food. I feel like my battle weary self just gets tended to by my maker and it effected me more than I anticipated.