Learning to Love Mornings

There is not a time in my life where I can recall loving mornings. I have, at times, loved the idea of loving mornings but I have never actually arrived at the place where mornings and love coexisted. I am definitely more of a night owl –  that is when I can accomplish the most. However, I am looking to change some of the ill feelings I have towards morning.

My mornings usually begin with my own quiet time, as long as I can beat my early-riser of a daughter to it. I am usually content to stay in those quietest of moments until the rest of the house awakens and are ready to go. THAT is the part I struggle with the most. It is hard for me to get excited and energized for the day when my brain is still functioning at a 25% capacity.

I decided that this year, I was going to try and be more intentional and purposeful with my – time, decisions, marriage, family, and friends; I didn’t want to have any wasted opportunities to glorify God in any of these areas.

As I began to look for where and how to be more purposeful, I saw that my mornings were in dire need. So, that is where I began. I made a very simple, but nifty, chart that helps me plan what we are going to be eating every day for – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Having a plan in place for what I will be making when I wake up every morning is definitely a motivator for me. I know I won’t stand in front of the refrigerator/pantry for 20 minutes contemplating what to make and then end up just pouring a bowl of cereal. (It also helps with the grocery bill to have everything planned out for the week)

Along with having a set breakfast plan in place, I have also decided to engage the kiddos more in the process. It allows us time for conversation and gives me an opportunity to pour some real meaning into their little lives as well. Here is what our mornings have looked like since I have made a change in our schedule and been more intentional with our time…

We enjoy having this Pandora station playing.

They love playing a part in the breakfast making experience.

Yes, they love to use aprons.   

 

One of our favorite morning meals.

Continuing listening to music we enjoy as we cook (Same station, different song).

Eating is something everyone enjoys participating in doing.

I get to watch sweet little moments between big brother and little sister.

  

Tummies are fed and so are souls. It is a perfect time to read a chapter of scripture while casually enjoying a meal. I have found that our discussions over what I have read are so much more organic and free-flowing than when we are in a forced sit down time. Incorporating this special time into our morning has also helped me be able to weave God into the whole day and not just in those “devotional” moments.

While I still may not be completely head-over-heels with those first hours of the day, I am definitely learning to love mornings and the experiences, moments and opportunities that can come from them when I choose to be purposeful.

 

The Wilderness and Daily Manna

God always gives us what we need. God gave us what we needed most when He sent His son Jesus to rescue us from sin. – The Gospel Project

 

The Wilderness Test. It was the lesson we taught to our kindergarten Sunday School class last Sunday. A shortened synopsis – “God brought His people out of Egypt, and they were on their way to the promised land. But they had to go through the wilderness first. The wilderness did not have much food or water.” (The Gospel Project). As the story continues, we will see how God gave His people food – manna from heaven and quail; He also provided them with water, from a rock.

My mind has been here all week, in the wilderness. It is a place where one is dependent on God.

That can be difficult, especially for people like me. I plan, I save, and I prepare. But then, the wilderness. Living in the peace of my God and resting in His faithfulness is something that my soul has been desiring. My prayers have been to experience Him fully and to have a heart buried in His. So, what happens when you begin to see your prayers answered? You see where you have the hardest time letting go. You begin to see where your faith still wavers. You see where your obedience is in question.

I could have given you a myriad of places where I thought that would be for me. I did not see it being financially, until I had to surrender it to Him. My husband and I decided to stretch our financial giving last year…three times last year we pushed our faith and increased our weekly sacrifice to Him. This is not a “pin a rose on my nose” moment. This is me glorifying my God. I wrestled with sharing this time in our lives with everyone. Conversations about finances always makes one uncomfortable, whether in being the one sharing or the one listening. Somehow, the focus seems to drift from the heart of the matter to things of this world. But, right now…listen with your heart. Be drawn into the wonder of a faithful and awesome God.

The wilderness. It is a place where we have found ourselves, financially. A place totally relying on the Lord…and we feel so blessed because of it. You see, we have always managed pretty well…but we also had never given until it hurt either. We never had found ourselves to the point of sacrifice where we felt it. But then, He began His work in our hearts. We came to a place where we wanted more by having less. That is when, out of a desire to love Him deeper, we decided to give more financially. We saw that though our bank account was dwindling, our lives and hearts were growing. It is something you cannot really describe. I love to paint a picture with words and to help readers capture the essence of something through my writing, but this is truly indescribable. His daily manna for us has proven to be enough. We are at a place where we are fully aware that everything given is provided because of His goodness and His grace. We do not feel despondent in the lack, because we feel full in Him.

The wilderness. It can be unnerving and it is unfamiliar, but it is a place where obedient hearts seek His. It is a place where His manna fills emptiness and His water quenches thirst. It is resting in knowing that He may not always give us what we want, but He will always give us what we need. We can rest in that truth because, “He gave us what we needed most when He sent Jesus to rescue us from sin.” (The Gospel Project).

When your life becomes kingdom-driven, things of this earth truly do pass away. Your hunger for that which is eternal is what drives you. Yeah, the heaviness of tight budgets and all things financial can be overwhelming, but it is in these moments where we seek Him all the more. Yet, even sitting here now, I know there is still so much more of myself to give. There is more work for the Spirit to do in my life. There are still more ways of where I need to let go of me and hold onto more of Him. I am still not at my full giving capacity. He wants all of me – time, money, plans, successes, hopes, dreams…He wants everything that is separate from Him. That is the life I am striving for, one that is 100% percent given to Him and 100% dependent on Him. A life sustained solely on the manna He provides, What a beautiful life that must be. 

Great Things: Why Should I Expect Them?

Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God. – William Carey

This quote was used a couple of weeks ago at my church in a powerful sermon based off the words from John 14:12 (click to listen). I could not stop thinking about it. Like flour slowly making its way through a sifter, were the thoughts my heart finely was processing about the challenge in these words. Do I really expect and attempt great things for God?

Realization. I find myself sometimes expecting God to do great things…that are within my level of comfort and that are within a minimal standard of expectations. Would it not be surprising to then know that what I would then attempt for God, is therein reflective of what I expect from Him? Hmm. 

Over the course of the last week or so, I felt like there was this constant back and forth. Me trying to convince myself, trying to convince God, that I do expect great things from Him. But, as many times as I stubbornly held fast to those words, were the same amount of times He gently set before me these questions: Why do you think you personally should expect great things of me? Do your prayers reflect your expectation of what I can do? Do your actions reflect the great things I can do? 

So, I began to think about these questions and break them down. As I went through them, I began to see and understand. Today I wanted to share with you a few thoughts I had as I went through the first question He set before me – Why do you think you personally should expect great things of Me?

In Isaiah 43:7, I see that those who have received His redemption, through His grace, are created for His glory. Which I note – that while God, as the author of creation, can be glorified through all His creatures, we as the redeemed, who He has called by name, are to reveal His glory. Here are a few things that, after time spent thinking about this particular question, I want to share with you:

  1. My story of redemption is not to be kept a secret. If I am to bring Him glory, then it means to first acknowledge and share the great things He already has done in my life – to show the power of His mercy and grace, the magnitude of His love, and the sweetness of His redemption. It means that when people see me and watch my life, they should be saying – “Wow, God”, not, “Wow, Melissa”. In other words, I should not inspire them, the God living in me and through me should. How could any of that happen if I am not willing to share all that He has done?
  2. I should expect that He can use me to bring Him glory. I know how God can use other people to glorify Him and bring awe to His name, I see it all the time. For me, it is a matter of stepping out in the knowledge that living a life for Jesus is not contingent on my own self-expectations. While my own capabilities are easily limited, God’s are not. Understanding that when I give my all to Him, everything I have to offer immediately changes. When I intentionally come before His throne everyday, I draw closer to Him and I become less as He becomes more. When I seek Him, trust Him and OBEY Him – He can use me in ways I never imagined, for His glory.
  3. My summary of points 1&2: Though I spend a lot of my days changing an unholy amount of diapers, breaking up various spats between children, reading books to little ears, and losing my cool in moments of frustration…I understand that my life is not meant to be one of mediocrity –  it is, in fact, to be a glorious life lived for Him. My testimony is to be shared with others and to reveal a life that shines the mercy and love of God, the father, the redemptive power of Jesus, God’s Son and the work and movement of the Holy Spirit. It is knowing that God is not looking for “certain occupations” or a “certain status” of people to shine His glory. He can and will do great things in all ages, stages, and walks of life. I don’t need to wait until the children are older so I will be free to do more, I don’t need to wait until we are financially secure, I don’t need to wait until I have accomplished x,y, or z. My expectation? It is to embrace where I am and live fully for Him in every part of my life…expecting that He will do great things for His glory.

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