About three weeks ago, I started early rising so I could devote some time to ME, to my personal development. I think it started out more as a need for physical development (exercise) and mental development (free time to read books by authors I love who motivate me to improve myself). However, I thought, “Surely I should start my mornings by reading my Bible?” and so, because I felt dutiful, that’s exactly what I did.
Interestingly enough, I pulled out the Becky Tirabassi “Daily Bible” I got at a Women of Faith conference about a dozen years ago. I was attending a fabulous church (First Christian Church in Hutchinson, KS), where I attended the bulk of my daughters’ “early years.” I had wonderful lady friends, participated intensely (leading Sunday school classes, volunteering in the nursery, studying with the older women) and felt incredibly fed. As I first sat down with that “Daily Bible” (which, I confess, I haven’t opened it at least 8 years), I vividly remember when Becky Tirabassi was leading a conference session, she asked us if we could commit to reading in God’s word for 10 minutes a day, every day, for the rest of our lives. Like all the other women, I raised my hand. Sure! I’m on fire for Jesus! I think many of us rushed out to buy the “Daily Bible”, which breaks down for each day’s reading (with a daily Calendar listing) some Old Testament, some New Testament, some Psalms and some Proverbs. It even came with a “Prayer Partner” book (you could buy refillable pages) where you could journal your responses to each section, fill out your praises and your requests – so incredibly organized! This would make it EASY for me to get into the Word. Fast forward 15 years . . . .
I’ve found that I look forward to pulling out that “Daily Bible” each morning. I don’t use the “Prayer Partner” journal. I’m actually just writing in my lined notebook (which has cartoon pictures of pirates all over it) that I grabbed from my children’s notebook stash when I started on my Fat Journey (weight loss path I’ve been on several months). It’s the one notebook I always have handy, so I thought – hey, I can read my praises and requests throughout the day as I’m recording my food consumed and exercise for the day. Well, it’s as organized as I’m going to get now, anyway. But I digress . . . .
I have essentially abandoned my quest for physical and mental development, and am just adoring this solo time each morning to get up and read in His Word. I lay in bed this morning thinking how I really didn’t want to get up early, because we had some wonderful friends over last evening and admittedly, I stayed up past my bedtime. However, as I lay there (5:30, and I ordinarily get up at 5) I thought, “If I don’t get up now, I’m not going to have any time to read my Bible and work on my Bible study without children clamoring for my attention!” I jumped up out of bed, rushed through my ablutions, got my coffee and got to the table with my study goodies in record time. How fantastic is it that I am so enjoying working on my spiritual development I greet it eagerly each morning? I think it’s fantastic. I’m pretty sure God thinks it’s fantastic, too. I can just envision Him thinking, “HEY! Look at that McGuire girl! She’s getting up early AGAIN to spend some time with me. I think I’m going to bless her day with peace and serenity!” *Two caveats – yes, I always think God envisions me as a girl. Am I just trying to maintain my youthfulness, perhaps unrealistically? Eh, maybe. Am I really expecting my day to be rainbows and unicorns (thanks for that phrase, sister)? Eh, maybe not. But I like to think it pleases Him, and if it pleases me simultaneously, win-win!
Now, another phrase that may have stood out there is about my “clamoring children.” Bad mom? No, I don’t think so. The Bible study I’m working on now is “Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lisa Terkheurst. I confess – I miss my Bible studies with my girlfriends to no end! We used to meet every other week, and it was a sensational group of ladies (you know who you are, Christy, Angie, Lisa, Barb, Donna) and I felt really fed then, too. However, everyone’s just too busy now. I get that – I really do, so no judgment here.
But I am enjoying the online Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry Bible studies because, well, hey – I’m still getting in the Word! It’s kind of like a Hershey Bar. I love a Hershey Bar. Preferably a king-sized Hershey Bar with almonds. When I have one, I’m happy. When I have to share it with someone (like those clamoring kids) and I only get a piece for myself, I’m still happy. A more apt example might be when I get a sugar-free carob nutrient dense protein bar that no one else really wants a piece of (I’m still on the Fat Journey, remember), I’m still happy. So, an online study where I am not with my besties but still digging into a topic (like motherhood!) still provides the chocolate – I mean, the Bible time.
The examples Lisa T. uses in the book “Am I Messing Up My Kids” are just hilarious, and I can relate to so many of them! It really makes me pause throughout my day to question how I’m responding to my children, and I think that’s healthy. Right now, my step-children are staying with us for the summer (a longer period of visitation than we get through the school year) and I am really needing to focus on my relationships with them, in particular. This is how they see me, and how I see myself:
I don’t think I’m a bad mom (or a bad step-mom). I do treat them the same as I treat my other children, it’s just that it’s so different from how their mother treats them. (And as a good sociologist, I would argue perception is key). I think I just get tired of all that needs to be done every day (paid work, house work, chores, meals, laundry, helping hubby, homeschooling, etc). I also get exhausted from the responsibilities of raising up three distinctly separate “batches” of children (his, mine, and ours) and trying to ensure they are all physically/mentally/spiritually healthy. I’m sure many would argue that there shouldn’t be any differences between the “batches” of children. Ideologically, I hear ya. But my oldest girls were essentially raised when I was a single parent, my step-children are inevitably going to have some issues to work through from both Dad and Mom’s remarriage (and, Dad remarried first) and my youngest two just have me scrambling to ensure we’re eating vegetables (this battle AGAIN?) and have clean cloth diapers on (because it’s good for their tushies)! I am especially working on God “filling my gaps” today (my many, many gaps).
So, it’s a lovely Wednesday. I think tomorrow I’ll jump out of bed again for my clamor-free quiet time. I’m excited to read about Solomon building the temple (I think we’re finally past the list of who begat who), and Paul writing to the Romans (very chastising) and see what fresh humor and insight Lisa T. can provide about her experiences as a mother (it IS good to see other moms have ‘those’ moments). It’s nice to start the day fed.
I’m visiting from the blog hop! Oh how I would LOVE to jump out of bed willingly each morning! Thank you for sharing part of your story! Clamor-free quiet time would be so much sweeter than the crying baby, and hungry and bored older kids! I have been doing my quiet time at nap time while my oldest two read themselves … but it never fails, someone doesn’t know a word and I go to help, forget my place and re read! Which sometimes .. may not be so bad. 😉
Thank you for hopping over, Jess! My house is so chaotic from about 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., even during nap time I seldom get a free moment! At least you’re making the best of your rereading. 😉 How amusing to think God may have the kids stumble over a word *just so* you’d revisit a concept!
Oh, how I enjoyed your post! It made me chuckle and want to set my alarm tomorrow for some clamor-free time. (Even though I deem summer the alarm-free season). 🙂
Thanks for responding, Cori! To be honest, summer seems just as busy around our house (farming and such), I wish I had an alarm-free season myself! However, I’m admittedly guilty of putting my own needs on the back burner (uh, year round), so if I want to be “selfish”, alarm it is . . .
I loved your post. You are awesome.
I LOVE YOU! You see I gave you some props here, right? Because I totes miss my time with you. 😉
I love you honesty, insight and joy for digging into the word. I have a son with my first husband and 2 daughters with my current husband. Although my blended family is different than yours, I can appreciate the challenges you face and totally agree with your comment about perception. I am so happy that this study is speaking to you and that you have found a wonderful community of moms who love The Lord!!! My you continue to be blessed and be a blessing 🙂
Thank you for responding, Helen! Blending families is always challenging. I remember, right after my divorce, thinking “no one would want to marry me with children”. Then I went through a stint where I thought, “I don’t want to marry anyone with children!” Fortunately, God dropped this incredible man into my path and all the challenges have been worthwhile. It is indeed fantastic to have such a neat Mom-community (even if it’s virtual, and we can’t actually get together for coffee)! Mom-munity? I may use that elsewhere . . .
You are so inspiring, Lisa! I want to be an early riser. I keep trying but it is not taking. Over the summer, I’ve been sleeping later than ever. It would be a dream to me to rise every morning at 5am like you do and have that precious alone time with God. I’m not giving up though. You have been a sign to me today that it is possible! Thank you for that hope :).
Thank you for the kind words, Candace. I confess — I’m a woman who loves some sleep. It would be a dream for me to be able to sleep until 8 a.m., but I imagine as long as the kids are still in the home (and since we started back over with our brood, that will be some time), early mornings it is. (Just this year, though, I told my older kids for Mother’s Day I wanted to sleep in, so THEY got up with the babies that morning — it was lovely, just lovely. I think I’ll ask for that on Mother’s Day each year, in lieu of presents). I will say, though, that the first few mornings of rising early to focus on my needs were rough. As you’d expect, however, God was so blessing my days (and fortunately, I had the wherewithal to recognize it had to be His work), that it’s gotten much easier because I know my day will be better! But yes, those first few days are like a month without chocolate.
I love that you recognized you could spend time in God’s Word. All too often we are too busy to do so, but it is about priorities!
Thank you, Natasha! We really are too busy to take time for ourselves, and there’s certainly a culture out there that discourages it. E.g., the best moms are those that give up everything for their children. I just kept looking at it like the airplane take-off, when the stewardess tells you to put your own oxygen mask on first, and then your children’s. If I pass out, I’m no good to them, and I’ll have risked their lives in the process (to extend the metaphor, their spiritual life is my biggest concern right now). As I keep reading through Lisa’s words, I think it makes sense, because I hope (pray? pray fervently?) that when I get that oxygen coursing through me, I’ll be a much better mother and wife. And, to be honest, I need all the extra help I can get in those regards some days!
Loved reading your blog. I love jumping out of bed each morning too, but that’s because I’m retired and I can’t wait for my hubby to leave for work so I can start my study by 545. I love sitting here watching the sun come up – not so this morning – some much needed rain. Your life seems FULL and I agree with you, even though I haven’t been through it, that it has to be tough to be raising 3 sets of children with different needs and love languages. Oh my. It seems to me though you are doing an amazing job and hey I know God is pleased looking down at that McGuire girl and this Williams girl. I love those Hershey bars too but oh so much better with the almonds but those snickers and pay days call me too. Your wicked witch and Mother Teresa pictures could probably apply to all of us with our kids at some point in time. Thanks for sharing. Debbie W. (Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS Team)
Thank you for the kind words, Debbie! I keep telling myself how much “looser” the schedule will be when I retire, but that’s a ways off yet. I try to build in a few minutes sitting outside on my porch (weather permitting) because we have a really lovely landscape here — it helps me counting my blessings. 🙂