Monday, April 13, 2015

Getting Your Morning Started Right

It has been said that each person is either a 'morning person" or a "night owl", mainly referring to the time of day they are most effective. Morning people wake up alert and ready to tackle the day, night owls wake up slower and as the day goes by gain their energy and momentum. 

Regardless of which group we find ourselves in, each day we must get up and face each day.  We usually develop a morning routine that works well for us. Being a morning person, I get up early enough to have 2 hours before I get out the door. And alot can get accomplished in that time!!  Coffee and devotion are first followed by exercise, household chores, breakfast, dinner preparations and getting ready to leave for the day.  It is not uncommon for my family to wake up to the dishwasher and washing machine running, breakfast cooking and their mom a blur, moving from task to task in between hair and make up!  Plans for the day are set in my mind and the day gets off to a great start.

I recently came across an article that started with the thought...“How you start your day is how you start your life.”  I was all in after reading that!!!  There were 7 suggested questions to ask yourself each morning. Let's take a look!

1,  If I could only get one thing done today, what would it be?
This question can help scatter distractions and get our focus on the biggest priority of the day.

2.  Have I set aside quiet time with God to pray, reflect and read His Word?
To me, this is the most important thing of the morning.  During times of prayer, our worry is released, our hearts receive peace and our faith is increased.  Reading God's Word can equip us with God's power to face the day.

3.  Is there any unconfessed sin in my life that I should confess?
That unsettled issue/attitude  that always seems to come up, could it be something we need to confess and move on from?

4.  Are there any relational issues with others that need rectifying?
Ouch!  Another area that may be difficult to deal with, but will be well worth it in the end!
5.  Am I eating a healthy breakfast with plenty of protein and healthy carbs?
I've been practicing this and can tell a huge difference by adding more protein to my breakfast.  Turkey bacon, turkey sausage, oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese or protein smoothies are my favorite healthy breakfasts. 

6.  Am I focusing on the positive, good things in life and ministry, or do my thoughts immediately turn negative?
So much of our day depends on our attitude and what we focus on.  May we be diligent to practice and keep our thoughts positive.  For the Christian, it is powerful to claim Bible verses that remind us of God's greatness and unlimited power.

7. Do I have a consistent routine like getting up at the same time, eating at the same time, taking a shower at the same time, etc., or is each morning dramatically different?
A good routine is of great benefit!!  My 2 hour morning routine is divided up and I know what should be done by what time.  If it gets off, it is easy to re balance!

What we do first thing in the morning will dramatically affect the rest of your day. The Psalmist offers great advice with these words.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul". (Ps 143.8, NIV)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Day I've Dreaded All of My Life

My family tells me I'm a worrier.   They inform me that I always think the worst about what can happen.  I can't help it, I get it  honest!  I still remember being a teenager and my mother giving me grave warning about 'what could happen' in almost every circumstnace of life!! Now that I am a mother the preferred explanation is to help them to 'be prepared'. 
As a Christian, I understand about faith, trusting in the Lord and knowing that He is ultimately in control.  Age and maturity have taught me that most of the time what we worry the most about never happens, but it is the little things that sneak up on us is what we are unprepared for.
I've debated about writing this post for 7 years now, as it is a sad post, but as each year passes, the continual glimpses of God's grace through it all is something I want to cherish in writing.
March 2007 found us preparing for my husband's neck surgery on a Thursday.  The Saturday before, my mother became ill.  Early Sunday morning she went by ambulance to the hosptial diagnosed with first pneunomia, then a blood clot in her lung.  She was transferred to a hospital an hour and a half away from home. Through the week she continued to decline with infection in her blood and host of other problems. 
Thursday came and my husband and I headed one hour in the oppostie direction for his surgery.  While seeing him off to the operating room and getting on the elevator, the call came that they would have to put my mother on a respirator.  Hubby came through surgery fine and while in the recovery room waiting for a regular room (8 hours later!), another call came in that mom's hands were turning blue, she may be having a heart attack.  Talk about stress....and the midst of these days, many prayers were felt as God's strength carried me along with the encouragement of pastors in the waiting room and a very special phone prayer from my sister in law.
Friday got us home and on the road to recovery.  Saturday was back to mom and a conference with the doctor.  We had been in touch all week, but mom was getting worse.  Septic shock had set it, emphysema, infection and now her kidneys were shutting down.  She was on life support and in an induced coma.  They had done all they could do and needed a decision from the family about whether to remove life support.   Only those who have walked in the valley of the shadow of death understand about the intense struggle to keep the loved one here with us while realizing they would not want to stay in this condition.   The pain of releasing them to go while knowing this is a moment you have dreaded all of your life - losing them.  The family knew she would never want to live in that condition and made the decision to remove life support.  She quickly passed peacefully away.  The day had come - the day I"ve dreaded all my life - losing Mom.
Looking back at the whirlwind of a week, God sent so many blessings to uphold us.  From church family who prayed, called, sent food, cards and visits to family who gave so freely of their time to drive the long drive to the hosptial several times.  In the midst of sorrow, God always provided just what was needed.
There will have to be a part two to this, because God worked so mightily in the following week.  But as I write this on the 8th anniversary of Mom's death, a friend shared that she had recently been to a funeral of a friend's mother and it was stated "this is the day I have dreaded all my life", no truer words have been spoken.  A mother holds such a special place in our hearts and to try to imagine life without her is almost impossible.  But although there is no way to prepare for such sorrow, pain or loss, Christians have a Heavenly Father who is a God of compassion and mercy.  There is no limit to the comfort He gives.  He is beside us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  He gives strength to face uncertain days, He gives hope that we can continue on despite our pain.  He matches grief with grace.  He takes the day that has been dreaded all of our life and reveals Himself in ways we have never seen before. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Work of Our Hands

I've always loved this verse about the beauty of the Lord being upon us, followed by asking Him to establish the work of our hands.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,And establish the work of our hands for us;Yes, establish the work of our hands.
It sounds so encouraging and uplifting and beautiful.  But...sometimes our work is not pretty, it can be mundane, boring and anything but beautiful!  

But, when the beauty of the Lord shines in our hearts, our attitudes can change. His love is powerful enough to change our minds and hearts. A recent post from Revive Our Hearts brought out some transforming truths from this passage...

"As we lift up our day's work to the Lord, some days that work that we're doing seems pretty lofty. Some days it's exciting things that we get to do, big tasks. And then, as we look at this passage, we're reminded that even when we're doing stuff that we think is pretty important, that we're really just a vapor, that our lives are really so very short.  And then there's some days when the work that's set before us seems very trivial and insignificant. That's when it helps me to be reminded that when He establishes the work of my hands, then that work becomes an act of worship, and it is sanctified by His presence. And then there's some days when the work that's set before us seems very trivial and insignificant. That's when it helps me to be reminded that when He establishes the work of my hands, then that work becomes an act of worship, and it is sanctified by His presence. And then we thank Him that, by His grace, He is able to transform that sorrowful, short life into an abundant, joyous, not always easy but hope-filled, life that looks forward to all of eternity in His presence."

I love that we whatever our tasks may be, God's Word can bring truth and joy and transform our seemingly insignificant work into something beautiful and worthwhile.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Home Is Where Your Happy Is

Are you 'happy at home', or does is sometimes feel like a place that when you get there, you are in overdrive to get things done?  As women, when we are home, usually we are busy!  There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.  

I love my home, love my family and enjoy doing those tasks to show them my love, cooking, cleaning, keeping order etc.  If you have read about the 5 Love Languages, mine is "Acts of Service".  I feel loved when someone does something for me and that is how I express love for my family.  

Recently, my 13 year old (who's love language is affection), stopped me for a quick hug as I was dashing to the kitchen. Struck by the thought that these hugs may not be around much longer due to his age, I sat down on the couch to hug him and by accident, brushed his ribs.  Being ticklish, he laughed.  It had been a long time since I heard that sound.  His mp3 player, his typical teenage boy lingo, complaints about doing chores are the sounds I'm accustomed to. This sound of laughter was like music to my ears.

Those homes, filled with smaller children hear lots of happy sounds.  As our family grows up, the less 'happy sounds' are heard.  It can be easy to just move along with these more serious sounds and forget about what happy sounds like.

A recent decorative box caught my eye..."Home Is Where Your Happy Is" struck a chord in my heart.  Is my home happy? What can I do to make it 'more happy'?  

What we are at home is truly what and who we are.  The good, the bad and the ugly are seen and shared with our families.  While we cannot choose our circumstances, we can choose our attitude. Even in the midst of darkness, we can find light.  For Christian families, there is the assurance that God knows us and desires our good.  He is always with us and invites us to trust Him, know Him and love Him.  When His love is in our hearts, it overflows into our home.  Even when we get a little turned around, get a little grouchy, get a little off-centered in our priorities, His love sustains us and will keep us. A simple prayer and adjustment to reflect on His goodness can remind us of His goodness and His blessings.  That will always be our deep seated joy that is expressed and make our homes happy. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Daybook Online Journal

Up until a few years ago, the word journal  immediately me back to 5th grade, where I can vividly recall sitting at my desk looking at the assigned writing essay.  Mind blank, no creative inspiration, only an assignment for writing which I absolutely hated!

Years later as I became active in Bible Studies, journalling became an active word that was used often.  Often I would skip over the idea simply because I hate sitting down with paper and pen. As time went on, the purpose of keeping a journal and benefits of it became clearer, especially as life's moments were going by so fast, it was hard to catch and cherish them.

So... I began writing down things I wanted to remember.  Although I'm not faithful to journal, there are some great moments, thoughts and inspirations jotted down to look at now and again!

Writing is a chore, but blogging, now that is something I love to do!  Thoughts pouring through the mind, fingers flying on the keyboard, no stress, no writers cramp, and a blog post completed, that I can do!  But again, time keeps flying by and the older I get, the more I love to look back and see what things were going on in my life and recapture life's fleeting moments.

Last week, I stumbled upon a blog that shared a weekly "Daybook Online Journal".  Now, I won't bore you each week, but I am excited about the opportunity to sit and ponder what is going on in some areas of my life right now.  So here goes...

Thanking God for…good health, energy to do daily tasks especially through a few busy weeks. Valentine's Day and the opportunity to love and be loved.

Praying…there are a few tough situations on my heart that only God can fix.  Praying over these and believing nothing is too hard for God and that He is magnified in and above every issue.

Jobs…Enjoying a seasonal job with a tax office.  Getting to know some new co-workers and meeting a variety of customers, getting some problem solving skills.  Loving the interaction with others.

ReadingThe Power of Persistence by Micheal Carr, Be All You Can Be by John Maxwell and The Virtuous Life of a Christ Centered Wife by Darlene Schact

Bible Journaling…Jotting down notes from "Be All You Can Be"

Around the House…Planning this week to plant some herbs, need some fresh basil and oregano!  Have lots of kale growing. 

In the Kitchen…Working hard to eat clean!  Finishing off the many BOGO cookie and brownie mixes.  Keeping a good supply of healthy snacks, fresh fruits on hand.

Church Ministries…So excited to be a part of a new ministry starting in March.  Family Ministry nights will involved the entire family. Working to reach our young families and engage them in not just church attendance, but to become families strong in the Lord that live out and pass along great faith. 

Saving Money…trying to stay out of the grocery store!!  Making an effort to use what we have in the pantry and freezer.    Working to use leftovers creatively and with no waste. 

Healthy Living...Working hard on a clean diet and picking back up some running.  A local 10K will be held in our town next month, trying to increase endurance to run it.