Early to Bed and Early to Rise…

Ben Franklin may have had it right….except for one small thing. “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man and a woman healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

With two small kids, one of the hardest things for me is finding quiet time to read and reflect on God’s Word and pray each day. I’ve unfortunately gone through long stretches of time (especially when my children were infants or when I had morning sickness) without reading the Bible much. (As an aside, a wise older woman in our church once encouraged me by reminding me that God gives us special grace in those seasons of life. That’s of course not an excuse to give up, though!) So, I’ve found that the best way to make this God-time happen is to….yes, I hate to say it…get up early.

I can’t tell you what a difference having alone time with the Lord in the morning makes on my attitude and consequently our family life. Having His perspective first thing in the morning gives my day purpose and somehow enables me to be less selfish. I find myself complaining less, worrying less, working harder, and thinking first of my husband, my kids, and others a lot more than usual. That must be why Nathan doesn’t mind getting the kids up and changing the poopy diapers while I finish up each morning. He’s a smart man.

I’ve had to set my alarm and get up earlier and earlier to find this sacred time each day. Right now, my goal is 5:45 a.m. but honestly it usually ends up being after 6:00. For some of you whose kids get up before the crack of dawn, I fear this time may need to be even earlier. It’s certainly not easy rising at this time (even for a morning person like me), but I’ve found a few practical helps.

– Put grounds in the coffeemaker and set the brew timer the night before. That way I wake up to the aroma of my sweet blessed coffee and don’t waste time making it in the a.m.
– Plan out the next day and to-do list the night before. That way I don’t get distracted by those thoughts during my morning time with God. This has made a huge difference!
– Get in bed earlier. I have a rule (which is hard to enforce sometimes) that I have to be in my bedroom getting ready for bed by 10 p.m. The longer I have been rising early, the easier this is because I’m so tired! Depending on how much sleep you need, your “rule” might be different.
– Keep my time with God simple right now. I have about 40-45 minutes, so I haven’t been doing an extensive Bible study. Instead, I have found a few online resources handy to help me set my mind on God and prepare for the day. Admittedly, I’m a computer (specifically a Mac) girl and like to spend this time with my laptop at hand. This does mean resisting the temptation to check Facebook or email, though! Here are a few resources I enjoy:

http://www.oldlandmarks.com/puritan.htm – These are Puritan prayers that soften my heart before reading the Bible. I haven’t found anything like them. You can purchase the book version of these in our bookstore.

ESV Study Bible online – Nathan bought me one of those huge, honkin’ ESV Study Bibles from the church’s bookstore. It’s pleather cover is attractive, but I think it weighs 20 lbs or something. The best part of this gift, though, is that it comes with free access to an online version of this study Bible. Now, I can read it from my computer (or you can from your iPhone if you’re one of those people). I use this almost exclusively and have learned a ton from it.

http://www.girltalkhome.com/ – One of my favorite blogs, as it deals with issues pertaining to my life stage—wifely stuff, motherhood, God, Jesus, you know all those things that are important. I find it very challenging and applicable. In fact, this is where I initially found motivation to rise early.

http://livingchrist360.com/ – Bryan Chapell is the president of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO. This is where Dave, Nathan, Ryan, and Justin all went to seminary. Dr. Chapell is a man who constantly reminds me of God’s grace and so do his devotional blog posts.

If you decide to give this a try, you may want to start by rising 20 minutes earlier than usual and progressing to an earlier wake time. I think you’ll find that this sacrifice is so worth it and that you will become “healthier, wealthier, and wise” in so many ways!

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