What does your morning look like? Do you jump out of bed, heading straight to the window? Or maybe you’re more like me and you press snooze several times before slowly dragging yourself to the coffee maker. You might be busy getting ready for work, meeting the needs of your family, or you might be in a season of life that offers a more relaxed approach. Regardless of how our mornings might look, there is one morning ritual we can all benefit from, and that is acknowledging God’s presence.
I am certainly not a natural morning person, but I do enjoy waking up early to have quiet time with God. I usually start my quiet time with a cup of coffee and a short verse before diving into my prayer journal and Bible study. A scripture beforehand helps me meet God, and remember who He is before I enjoy His presence.
But you don’t have to enter a long study with the Father to find encouragement from a short psalm in the morning. To be honest, I’m not always diligent about making time for morning devotion. I could pour out excuses about the distractions I face with motherhood, but the truth is that I found excuses before I became a mom too. The devil prowls around, wanting to pull us away from our Father however he can. All the more reason why we need to meet with Jesus as we start our day!
With the new year, I have, like many others, set a goal to be more disciplined in my devotion and study time. It is always good to prioritize some quiet time with the Lord! Sometimes, though, we can get discouraged. When we don’t know how to shell out an hour we just give up. God is so much more merciful than we give Him credit for! Yes, He wants us to give him time. He wants us in his Word. That should be more important to us than anything, but there is power in His name. Simply taking a short moment to recognize His presence at the beginning of each day can give us so much power as we go forward. Power to live for him! A short psalm is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Father God.
I want to encourage you to make time every morning to acknowledge God. (I’m encouraging myself to remember this as well!) You don’t have to start out with a long study. Start simple, with a verse and a short prayer. Maybe the morning isn’t a good time for you to focus, and you want to have quiet time later in the day. If so, that is awesome! There is still something so wonderful about taking a moment to meet God in the morning. Ourlittle girl loves to see her daddy in the morning. Her eyes get big and she grins from ear to ear as she runs toward him. My husband loves these greetings. I think that’s how our heavenly Father wants to meet us each day.
So write these verses down or type them in your phone! Read one as you wait for your coffee to brew, dry your hair, nurse your baby, before you start your quiet time, or even before you hop out of bed. I pray they will encourage you as you begin your days!
Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day
Psalm 90:14Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 46:5God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 143:8Let 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 entrust my life.
With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.
I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:
“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray
Help me want the healer more than the healing.
Help me want the Savior more than the saving.
Help me want the giver more than the giving.
Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”
I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.
The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.
He sent Jesus.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.
God’s Presence is Enough
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.
Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough?
Trusting God is Enough
Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.
That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine.
Remember God is With You
Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.
Before my oldest was born I had hundreds of ideas for how to spend Bible time with my children. Of course, my little ones would sit sweetly with anxious hearts for stories, songs, and activities. As a children’s ministry major, I’d even studied Bible class teaching in college. I couldn’t wait to do with my own children what I’d been reading about for years and years!
I can’t help but laugh as I think about my previous expectations. I’d spent plenty of time with of other children in Bible classes so it should have come as no surprise that my daughter would have a wonderful mind of her own! It did not take long for me to realize that Bible time at home needs to be casual and flexible!
The Reality of Bible Time
During Bible time with little ones you can expect wiggles, interruptions, and even resistance. It will feel like they are not listening. They might not sing along with you, or they might want to read a different Bible story than the one you picked out. It’s possible they might not understand the point you are making. Or they might not want to do Bible time at all.
With all of this you might get frustrated and wonder if it’s even worth it. You might assume your kids are just too young and think about putting it off for the future. Oh, sweet momma, this is all so normal! Your kids are probably retaining more information than you think. I encourage you to keep it up because not only will you eventually see fruit from your effort, you are instilling a very important habit in their lives.
Establishing the Habit of Bible Time
Our kids, even at the earliest stages, have little hearts that need to be ministered to. I fully believe that, and I’m sure you do too! Let’s take a look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
The ways of the Lord are to be a part of our everyday life. We fill our time in so many ways: play dates, zoo trips, errands, ballet, sports, school, work, chores. But it is vitally important for our children to grow up with a developed habit of daily praising God, praying to him, and reading his word.
Trying to organize Bible time often overwhelms me. I want everything planned out, and I want to know where we are headed in our studies and have set out goals. I’ve come to realize that my methods for Bible time with my daughter are not nearly as important as the habit of doing it daily. The best Bible program you can do with your kids is one that you will actually do. What that will be for you family, I can’t tell you. I’ve learned not to get bogged down with a system.
Incorporating Bible Time into Everyday Life
We must also remember that this task of impressing God’s way on our children is not something we do ten minutes a day during our Bible time. This mission is to be intertwined into our lifestyle. We must intentionally make God a topic of conversation as we sit at the table with our children, as we are helping them change their behavior and work through their feelings, as we drive in the car, when we find down time at home, and when we go to bed. We must also be a living example for our children, doing all we can to live the way God calls us to live.
Are you embracing the task of raising your children to be part of God’s kingdom? It is surely the most important job we have as parents. Don’t be discouraged if Bible time with your little ones isn’t going the way you envisioned. Keep reading God’s word. Continue singing those sweet songs. Keep talking with them. Lastly, don’t forget to keep praying with them, and for them.
Have you heard of the “One Word Challenge?” It’s not really a challenge so much as a focus. You choose one word to be your focus for the year. As a Christian, this word is so special when it comes after much prayer and with a focus on spiritual things.
“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. ~ Colossians 3:2
This is my fifth year to do this challenge. Each year, God has revealed the perfect word for me.
There are many ways to approach your word for the year. You can use your word to inspire different goals. You could do a word study through the Bible on your word, or even find different books and podcasts for more inspiration. Over these last few years I’ve discovered my favorite approach:
Give God the ropes.
Once I determine my word I like to let God take it from there. It is amazing how he orchestrates my situations so that I can learn more. For example, one year my word was grace. Our ladies’ bible class topic turned out to be on the book of James, which is laced in a message of grace. I spent my summer doing a personal study on James, and then we moved to a different church. Guess what their ladies’ bible class was studying? You guessed it–James. It was as if God knew how badly I needed the message.
The year I chose joy for my word still gives me chills. It was that August we discovered my husband had testicular cancer. We had several months of surgery, recovery, and many tests. I’d been praying about joy all year though. When I was anxious I would listen to songs like Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear,” and I found joy–true joy. Thankfully the surgery removed the cancer, and my husband has remained cancer-free! But experiencing joy amidst scary and unknown circumstances is tough, and I’m so thankful for the way God helped me grow that year.
This past year has been the most exciting! Out of pure faith, I chose the word hope. Believe me, I did not want this word. For some reason, the Lord put it on my heart. God showed me much about hope, but the greatest excitement was finding out just days before Christmas that I was pregnant after dealing with minor infertility issues for most of the year. God is good, and year after year God has shown me his faithfulness through my word challenges.
I enjoy giving God control and seeing where he’ll take me, but I do seek out inspiration along the way as well. Apart from prayer here are some other ways I’ve focused on my one word:
At the beginning of the year I look for a few key verses to meditate on which relate to my word.
Find a special way to keep the word nearby. This past year, I found a tea bag rest that had my word–hope–on it. Seeing that nearly every day was a gentle reminder.
Make a Pinterest board! Fill it with quotes, verses, articles, and pictures that will fill you with inspiration. Don’t forget to check in and browse your board every now and then.
Be on the lookout for books, Bible stories, and Bible studies that relate to your word. (This is something I pray about, asking God to put the right material in my hands.)
Make a playlist of Christian songs that remind you of your word.
The One Word Challenge has truly been a blessing for my soul. I grow in new ways each year and I’m so excited to see what God will show me this year!
You might be thinking, “This all sounds great but New Year’s Day has passed and it’s too late to start this challenge.” No way! Last year it was almost the end of January before I committed to my word. (Remember when I said I didn’t want the word hope? I spent a few weeks wrestling with God over that one!) So if you’d like to shift your goals to something simple but very meaningful, I encourage you to pray about it and see what God has in store for you!
Have you ever done the One Word Challenge? How has God revealed himself to you through it? I’d love to hear your testimonies in our comments!
The holidays for 2017 have come and gone. If you are like my family, you’ve already put away most of the Christmas decorations and your usual routine is beginning again. For me personally, one of the hardest parts about cleaning up the festive decorations is knowing what to do with Christmas cards from friends and family. The giver of each beautiful card put not only their money, but also their love into the card they’ve sent. I usually save pictures from a few of them, but many are doomed for the trash. It feels wrong to just throw them all away, at least so soon. Some of my friends cut pictures from them to use for future gift tags, which is a great idea. But I find myself wanting to appreciate my Christmas cards for a little bit longer.
I recently heard of a wonderful idea for recycling your Christmas cards and extending their joy throughout the year. Place them all in a special box or basket in your kitchen and every so often at dinner, take out a card, talk about the family you received it from, and pray for them. How lovely is that? Talk about how you know them, a memory you share with them, or why you are thankful for them. You might know specific issues in their life that need prayer, or you might give thanks to the Lord for putting them in your life. You could choose to pull out one card a week and pray over that family all week long or perhaps daily until you’ve gone through them all. It’s up to you!
Prayerfully remembering the ones God has placed in our life is a wonderful way to continue the spirit of the holiday season all year long!
We thank you for the people you put in our lives to find love, family, and community with. We praise you for those who help us know you better and encourage us in our walk with you. For those we love who do not know you, we ask that you use us to help them see you. May we see the ones who need life spoken to them and offer them your word. You are so good and we love you.