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

Church is not the Feast…

What words come to mind at the mention of “Feast”? Choice foods…Best quality…delectable treats…luscious desserts…more than enough…fully satisfied…special occasion…invitation only…

It’s quite the ‘christianese’ phrase, and we hear it all the time…”I go to church to be fed.”  But is that really the place we are supposed to be fed?  Is this the location we go to feast?

I’ve recently been contemplating this idea of what is the true purpose of gathering together on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night…you know what I mean)?  Are we to be gathering together on one particular day because that is the only time we are being fed?  A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting statement and I have not been able to get it out of my head.

“Church is the menu.  Church can be an appetizer.  But, Church is not the Feast.”

There are over 1500 mentions of the word ‘feast’ (or phrases that indicate a feast) in the Bible.  Most of these references are talking about all of the amazing Feasts that God set in place in the Old Testament.  These were specific opportunities for the Israelite’s to stop what they were doing in their every day life and create space to worship and honor the Almighty God.

There are seven annual sacred Feasts of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the “Feasts of Remembrance.”  These 7 Feasts are: Passover (Signified the Redemption of Israel); Feast of Unleavened Bread (Signified the Sanctification of the Israel); Feast of the Firstfruits (Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people); Feast of Weeks (Pentecost: Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh); Feast of Trumpets (Signified the calling Israel to judgment); Feast of Atonement (Signified the Atonement of the Covenant people); and the Feast of the Tabernacles (Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah).*

All of these feasts were filled with celebration (AND lots of eating) of what God had done for the people. How He had freed them from Egyptian slavery, how He had given them a new land, how He saved the people from the Angel of Death, and simply how He had provided for them year after year, generation after generation.  But they were also filled with times of offering sacrifices to God through the Priests.  This is, of course, a very very brief overview on the Feasts of the Old Testament.  But my point is this ~ these feasts were special times set aside to do one thing and one thing only…to worship and honor God.  This is the same kind of attitude I believe we need to have today, and I don’t think it only happens on Sunday.

The word feast can be a noun or a verb.  As a noun, we see that it means: “any rich or sumptuous meal; something highly agreeable; a periodical celebration or time of celebration.” As a verb, it means: “to have or partake of a feast; to east sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight.”  I love that last part of the definition!

To feast with the Lord is to dwell in the presence of your Host with a grateful attitude, delighting to be at the table and enjoying the richness of the sumptuous bounty He has to offer us! (R.A.B.)

I’m not saying here that you cannot be fed by the Word while you are at church.  This is what the speaker that I referenced earlier meant as well.  We need to go church and worship with the community of believers for several reasons.  First and foremost, God calls us to be together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us how important this is. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is incredibly vital to the life of every Christian to be in fellowship with other people who worship the Lord.  Most often this happens when we attend church services together.  Collectively praising God in song with a congregation is a visceral experience.  Being in the presence of like-minded people whose goal is to honor the Lord joyfully in song is a beautiful thing.  Guess what though?  The singing part of the church service isn’t the only “worship” part of church.  The ENTIRE service is WORSHIP!

A friend of mine recently had a funny experience, well, maybe odd is a better description.  She was about to go into the church service which was already in progress.  The singing portion was in full swing.  There was a woman already in the foyer area and said to her, “Oh, I’m not going in yet.  I’m waiting until all the worship singing is done.  There is so much of it.” (I’m paraphrasing here…but that was the gist.)  My friend looked at her in disbelief for several reasons: 1) her husband is the worship Pastor, 2) this woman’s husband played with the worship team band, and 3) this woman is involved with the choir ministry!  So my friend smiled at her and before going into the sanctuary said, “Well, the whole service is a worship service!”  She said that the woman looked horrified.

I share this story because it is a perfect example of the “menu/appetizer” mentality of so many church-goers.  They pick and choose what parts they want to be a part of.

They want to sing, but only if it’s from the traditional hymnal.

They won’t sit in worship to sing unless they are singing contemporary songs that you can hear on the radio.

If the ‘wrong’ songs are played, or if the message preached that morning doesn’t agree with them, they feel justified in withholding their tithe check that week. {Sadly, I know this one first hand as I worked as the Admin to a previous pastor and read some of the most disheartening letters to the pastor after a “failed” sunday morning.}

Not to focus on the negative…here’s some thoughts on the positive side of the church being the ‘menu’ or ‘appetizer’ ~ through the worship songs and the sermon that is delivered to the congregation, we are given delightful morsels from the Word of God.  We are given a taste of the goodness and greatness of our God.  We are able to sample a portion of what the Lord has to offer us in His Word.

Your church pastor has been given an amazing job, in that the Lord has given them the ability and opportunity to share with others all the wealth of the Feast that IS God’s Word. The pastor is not supposed to be the only person you learn from.  The church is not supposed to be the only location from which you learn in.  The pastor and the church experience each week are supposed to be the jumping off point…the place of fellowship where we can be recharged in order to go out through the rest of the week, encouraged to delight in personal time with the Lord and His Scripture.

This is where the Feasting comes in...

Personal times of worship in prayer and in song to the Lord are just as vital (if not more so!) ~ this is why I feel this is the real feast!  When we are in a quiet place, spending time in His Word and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lavish spiritual nourishment to our soul.  When we spend time with the Lord, we are making a statement…that we want to be more in tune with the Lord and all He has for us.  Sometimes those prayer experiences have us saying nothing at all but declaring the holy Name of Jesus.  More often than not, when I have prayed a verse or passage out loud, or sang a Psalm to Him, or just sat quietly asking the Lord to speak to my heart ~ those are the times that I have felt the closest to Him.  Of course He wants to hear from us:  what our hearts are desirous of, what we are hurting from, who or what we are having a difficult time with. But if we are always the one talking…we are unable to listen to what God is wanting to whisper to our heart.

This my friends is the Feast.

To be made aware of the voice of God and how He speaks into our lives.

exodus-12-verse-14

All those feasts that the Israelite’s of the Old Testament were called to observe were due in part to the fact that the Savior had not come to earth yet.  There was a strict process in the preparation and the enjoyment of each Feast and why/when they were observed.  But with the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we were given in Him the true Feast.  He is the Word in flesh. (John 1:14)  He is the reason we celebrate our salvation. Through Him we gain the abundant knowledge we need in order to walk through this life.  We are given the Fruit of the Holy Spirit with which to feast on.  But this can only happen when we spend time with Him and in scripture.  And the best part…we can come to Him every moment of every day!  We don’t have to wait for a special decree to enter the throne room of God and worship at His feet! What a beautiful gift and privilege!  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y!!!

The time of feasting in the presence of the Lord is not meant to only happen a few times a year.  It is not even meant to simply happen on Sunday mornings. It is not something on our schedule to check off.

Feasting is to be a daily experience.  All throughout the day we are to be feasting in His presence.  To be so close to the Lord of Hosts, that we can smell the aroma of His love.  To be so close that we can feel the brush of His hands on ours, as He directs our path. To be so close that we can recognize His voice as He calls us to dwell with Him.

Come to Him and enjoy the Feast!

Blessings,

René

 

* http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts