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

Sewing and Stitching…

Last week, I was working on finishing a quilt for my oldest daughters’ 21st birthday. She wanted me to make her a special T-shirt quilt using her favorite tees from high school ~ and there were A LOT!  So this past week, she turned 23! Yeah…its been that kind of project!

I found a quiet place to work on this lap quilt {which actually turned into a QUEEN SIZE quilt} and a location where I could spread out. I went to church! I unloaded everything from my car, set up three 8ft banquet tables, plugged in my sewing machine and went to work.

About two hours in, something went very wrong. Suddenly, the machine wasn’t working. If you’ve ever worked with a sewing machine, you know how crippling it can feel when “for no reason” things stop working.  And when you are in a time crunch, that is a sickening feeling.

My. Heart. Sank.

The machine got stuck…SIX TIMES!  Needle stuck in the fabric, fabric jammed in the lower mechanism ~ nothing was moving.  Like, not one thing!  Very, very carefully I had to lift the fabric up enough to cut away the thread. I could be frustrated AFTER the fabric was free…I didn’t want to cut the wrong part.  I was on the brink of packing it all up and quitting. But I didn’t. I prayed so I wouldn’t  cry & then…then I called my mom! She’s an amazing seamstress & I knew she could help me. I told her what the displayed “code” on the machine said every time it jammed…she looked it up online since I didn’t have wifi, and she started laughing. I did NOT see the humor. She said, “Well, it says that E6 means that the machine is jammed.”

No duh!!!

[Insert scream here!]

She encouraged me to take a deep breath & keep looking for the problem. I got some scrap fabric & that machine jammed about FIVE MORE TIMES!!! Then on the sixth attempt, the machine didn’t jam but the thread coming from the bobbin was a complete mess on the underside of the fabric.

That’s when I saw the problem.

The bobbin was the wrong size and was bouncing around inside. Oh, and I had set the stitch size improperly.  It was at this point the Lord began to reveal to me the similarity between a jammed sewing machine and a jammed life.

I realized how sometimes, on the outside of my life “the pretty side,” everything looks great but underneath the surface my life is stuck, out of control, and operating with improper settings ~ I’m stuck.

So how do we get “unstuck?” We have to allow the Lord to gently lift our tired souls away from the problem and cut away all that is wrong.

If I had yanked the fabric instead of being gentle with it, I would have ruined the top part of the quilt that I had spent countless days and hours stitching together.  Had I hastily cut away the bad thread, I would have cut a hole or two in that same fabric.

When we are “jammed,” the Lord does not toss us about to and fro, yanking or tearing.  We may feel that way, but let’s be honest…aren’t we the ones causing us to be tossed about underneath the careful hands of our Maker?  When we feel cut to the core or ripped apart, could it be that sometimes we are not willing to be held gently and allow the Lord to take His time to remove those parts of our life that are causing us harm?

While we’re still here in this land of symbolism, let’s think about what parts of our own life are not in sync with each other?  Do we have parts that we have borrowed from other people?  Are we trying to be a different “model” than who God created us to be?

When you put the wrong size bobbin in a machine and try to sew, it just won’t work.  Well, it may work for a while when the bobbin is full-up with thread, but as time goes on, that thing is just gonna spin in circles, and not the good kind.  It’ll get to spinning so fast that it will come unraveled.  So many times I have been ‘unraveling’ and didn’t realize it until it was too late and life got majorly jammed!

Just because another friend, a fellow church member, your ‘mom friends’ at your kids’ school, or a an office mate can function at a particular “life speed” ~ it doesn’t mean that you can too!  And you know what…that’s okay!  God has calibrated your life to run at a certain speed ~ the only fuel you need to run at top speed is what you get from spending time in His Word and time in prayer with Him.

You have been created for the purpose that God has FOR YOU!

Just like a quilt, each square is painstakingly measured and planned out.  The fabric pieces that are chosen are done so ON PURPOSE in order to enhance the quilt as a whole.  Each fabric square that is created for a quilt is done so ONE at a time.  It is truly a fascinating experience to put one together, and as each row comes together, the beauty of each separate square becomes more intense as the pieces are sewn together.  For as much time the front side of the quilt takes to put together visually, I actually think more time is spent looking at it from the back side; the side with all the cut edges, the ends of threads, the reverse side of the fabric looking faded.  If all I focused on in sewing that quilt was the back side, I think I would have become dismayed at the true beauty it beheld.

My friend, God spends a lot of time on the underneath side of our life.  The side we don’t want anyone to see.  The side we feel is unkempt and faded.  HOWEVER….if we allow Him to show us His purposes for how everything is ironed out and stitched together, we are given the spectacular privilege to have a front row seat when God turns our life right-side out, and we see the beauty of our own “life quilt” ~ the beauty He already knew was there.

Blessings,

René
{My daughter Caitlin & I with her quilt💗}