The habit I couldn’t establish with willpower alone

Two years ago I signed up for my first Hello Mornings challenge. I started off slowly, waking up only 5 minutes earlier than my boys. Then a few weeks later I moved my wake-up time a little earlier…15 minutes before the boys woke up.  I only lost a few minutes of sleep, but I gained a whole new direction to my day.

Then on Valentines Day 2011, I “celebrated” by going to bed at 7:30 p.m. with a fever, chills and aches. For the next week I was bed-ridden with the flu…awful. (my heart goes out to all the mommas who have been hit by the flu virus this year).

Only a month into the Hello Mornings challenge, the flu bug knocked me off my new routine and I stopped checking in on Twitter.

You know who noticed? My accountability captain, Kat Lee, that’s who. 

katandme

photo credit goes to Kat…since I couldn’t find a pic of us on my computer

Kat, a.k.a. my mom coach**, sent me a sweet direct message checking to see if I was okay and if there was anything she could pray for me. Seriously.

Having the author of “Maximize your Mornings” and creator of www.inspiredtoaction.com contact you personally to see if you needed anything because she noticed you hadn’t been up lately…yeah that will get your bottom back in gear.  

If you’ve ever considered waking up a little before your kids, but haven’t signed up for the challenge because you figured you’d be disciplined enough on your own. Let me tell you, if I had done it on my own I would not have established the habit I have now.

Accountability. Positive peer pressure. Community.

Whatever you want to call it, we need people. We need godly people in our lives to spur us on in this walk. God never intended us to pursue Him alone. He created the world with His Son and the Spirit. From before time began, there was community in the Trinity.

(In case this story scares you from joining HelloMornings…don’t be scared. The challenge is set-up to be self-directed with as much support as you desire. If you stop checking in after two weeks and decide you can’t finish the challenge, no one will force you to continue. But if you desire women to come alongside you and encourage you to keep trying even when you didn’t wake early one morning…than this group is for you.)

God is working all around me. He is not waiting on me to get His work done. I have to decide if I am going to join Him in His work. In order to hear His personal calling on my life, I must meet with Him.

I’d love if you joined me this Winter/Spring in meeting with God. Registration started yesterday and the challenge starts January 28th. May we experience the joy of His presence together! (one of the primary goals I have for us here at God Centered Mom this year!).

**A coach is defined as “a private tutor; one who instructs or trains; instructs players in the fundamentals and directs team strategy.” That’s Kat. You feel like it’s a private tutoring session when you read her posts. She gives you a new strategy to approach motherhood. She encourages moms to stretch themselves to pursue greatness. Because our kids already think we are great, we just need to believe it!  

Kat inspired me to wake up for my children. She encouraged me to spend one-on-one time with my boys. She gave me the idea to have my boys do push-ups when they need some discipline. She introduced to my new favorite meal planning program. Let’s just say she’s pretty much the best mom coach ever!! 

Who do you have in your life to keep you accountable? Have you ever shared a new goal with a friend so she would “hold you” to it? 

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Pst, one more thing…wrote more about my Hello Mornings story over at the MOB Society this week. Talking about how to stay one step ahead of our boys (also applicable to girls). 😉

onestepahead

 

When the zipper is stuck on your grumpy pants

My plan was to get 7 hours of sleep. Uninterrupted. Well, that’s usually my plan. But I don’t remember the last time I closed my eyes at night and slept until my phone alarm went off in the morning (you are thinking, “why even set an alarm?”).

Typically another alarm…a sweet baby cry…breaks my REM sleep. Leaving a blurry brain, dark rings under my eyes, and the zipper stuck on my “grumpy pants”  (no matter how hard I’ve tried to shake ’em off they won’t budge).

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture in some countries. I read once that sleep is necessary to break down proteins that build up in your brain. When you don’t get enough sleep those proteins interrupt the ability of your brain to function normally. For me the proteins make me grumpy. Really. really. grumpy.

On this night I stumbled out of bed once at midnight for a date with baby Knox. Then around 4 a.m. I heard Watts’ cries because of a nightmare. He only needed a kiss & a pat, but those required me getting out of bed…again.

I had just pulled the cold sheets over my weary body and settled into the body-shaped indention of my sleep number bed, when my 5:30 a.m. alarm went off. How can an hour & a half seem like only a few minutes?

Multiple thoughts enter my mind in one quick second: “Do I really need to get up? Maybe I can just sleep for 15 more minutes? What good is 15 more minutes if I’m  already awake? This next hour is the only time I have today without kids needing me, I don’t want to waste it sleeping. If I don’t spend time with God, then I’m going to be even more of a grouch.”

My fingers fumbled to turn off the alarm as my legs carried me out of the bedroom and towards the stairs. Using my phone as a flashlight, I glanced down to see this on the lit screen:

followme

I’m not even kidding.

As I walked down stairs toward the light of my office, I was looking at this picture of Jesus walking upstairs towards a light. 

The two words at the bottom of the screen confirmed I made the right decision to wake up that morning: “Follow Me.”

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

My morning ritual varies slightly. Often I open the email on my phone and read the portion of scripture our church sends out (called “Read, Listen, Respond”).

On this particular day the passage was John 21. In these verses, Jesus has resurrected. The disciples are fishing when Jesus appears to them on the shore. Near the end of the passage Jesus is having a chat with Peter. Here are His words I read on my phone that morning: 

  • Do you love Me?
  • Feed my sheep.
  • Shepherd my sheep.
  • Feed my sheep (yes a second time)

THEN Jesus says, “Follow Me” (seriously).

I almost fell out of my seat. Two times that morning this same message appeared on my iPhone screen. Two words: follow & Me.

I’m also reading the “She Reads Truth” YouVersion reading plans on my phone. The Scripture for that day was Psalm 118.

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes…

I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his love endures forever.”

The God who calls me to “follow” stays with me, by. my. side. Most human leaders don’t walk by your side as you follow them.

But God is not a “normal” leader. When He asks me to follow He also gives me strength to do so. He protects me. He delivers me (out of my grumpy pants).

Thank goodness He is good & His love endures forever. No matter how long my grumpy pants stay on, His love for me never ends. He is worthy to follow because ultimately He is good.

Finally after two weeks of being “stuck” I’m squeezing out of grumpy pants and claiming:

“THIS is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice & be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Have you ever been “stuck” in a bad mood? Then you get madder because you can’t stop being in a bad mood? What have you done to break free?

linking up with Emily Freeman’s Tuesdays Unwrapped

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the one thing I can’t live without. seriously.

I’ve told you how awesome it is. I’ve told you how out-of-sync I feel when I DON’T do it.

Today I’m sharing how I truly cannot live (the way I want to live) without morning time with God. Since January of 2011 (for 1 1/2 years), I’ve risen early, headed to my leather chair and spent time in worship and His Word. Not because I’m “holier” than you are. Or God loves me more. Or I’m more disciplined. Nope. I do it because I desperately need to.

HelloMornings

It’s a Christian cliché–‘morning devotions’. If you grew up in the church you may roll your eyes or even feel a tinge of guilt when those words (‘morning  devotions’) are uttered. I imagine you saying, “I know, I know. I’m supposed to wake up and pray and read my Bible. But I love sleep. I have 72 young children. I am exhausted all. the. time. I just can’t wake up early. Stop making me feel bad about it. Alright?”

My response is, “That may work for you. But I’ve found I HAVE to get up early. If I don’t my whole life suffers. It is NOT worth those extra 40 minutes of sleep.”

The past couple weeks I have stayed up uber-late watching Olympics, taking care of ministry needs and following Jon Acuff and Jen Hatmaker on Twitter (really important things). When I stay up late the last thing I want to do is get up early (oh and sometimes I have a baby who wants to eat in the middle of the night). 

I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Just a few days of sleeping in. But then it became a habit…the wrong kind of habit.

I left myself open for lies because I wasn’t daily filling with Truth. My cup emptied quickly because I hadn’t filled up with the Living Water. Every where I turned someone else needed a piece of me, but there weren’t even scraps to offer. I cracked. In the drive-thru line of Bubbas after church, I lost it. Like for reals.

When my boys kept asking, “Why are you crying mommy?” I finally responded, “I’m sad.” Then their question, “Why are you sad?” made me stop my mommy tantrum and think.

Why am I sad. What is sooooo important to make me this sad? I realized it wasn’t really an event or problem that “made” me sad. It wasn’t earth shattering life events. It was just normal life. The true problem was how I was reacting to it. I wasn’t handling life well because I was trying to handle it by myself.

I hadn’t been resting in His all-sufficient, mighty hands. I hadn’t been sitting in His presence. I hadn’t seen myself through His eyes, but found my value in how others see me. I had made the temporary important and neglected the eternal.

Realizing how desperately dependent I am on my time with God I’ve made a commitment to my husband, and asked friends for prayer, to rise early. And in that time I will spend more face-to-face time with the One True God, not distracted by social media.

Fortunately my official accountability starts up again August 20th with the fall HelloMornings challenge. Like I’ve told you 20 billion times before Kat Lee changed my life for the better with her Maximize Your Mornings eBook (go read it).

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

If you have less than 72 children, you feel out-of-control, you need some structure, you feel pulled in 42,000 different directions, then join me in “waking up for your children, not to your children” (Kat Lee) and spending time in His Word. I’ll be checking in using the #hellomornings hashtag on Twitter. If you click on this link–> Fall HelloMornings Challenge, you can sign up for a group in your time zone either on Twitter or Facebook.

What’s keeping you from waking up early to “Meet with Him”? Share in the comments section if you’ve joined over 2,600 women in this Hellomornings Challenge.

*There was a LOT of hyperbole in this post, but that last number (2,600) wasn’t made up. Isn’t God awesome? Will you say a prayer right now for those leading this challenge and the Accountability Captains guiding women? One thing Satan doesn’t want is for 2,600 women to be reading God’s Word every morning and using His Strength to love & guide their families. Thanks.

Few Favorites Friday: Home Alone edition

On Monday I shared that my husband Bruce would soon be going out of town…the truth is he had already left that Sunday afternoon and was gone this week. Fortunately, he arrived back safely last night. Whew. We survived. There were definitely moments that I hope my children block from their memories (don’t know if I will ever forgive forget them myself).

One lesson I learned this week is the value of community & allowing community to step in and help. A few gifts of grace:

  • Phone call from my mentor reminding me: “This is the day the Lord has made…” Which helped me focus on seeing the positive in my day.
  • Offers to have us over for dinner or bring us dinner.
  • Enough food from one friend that fed me for 6 meals!
  • A kind dad at Pump it Up who included my boys while he played with his own child (they needed some big jumping, wild, fun).
  • The worker at Pump it Up who let me slide down the big slide with my boys without wearing the required socks.
  • New exhibit at the Nature & Science Museum…great conversations with the boys about weather.
  • A sister who came over…held Knox while I put the boys to bed, then folded laundry for me.
  • Knowing all the people who I could call and they would help me in a heartbeat.

Here are a few more specific favorites:

1. Frito Salad:

My friend Kari brought us a yummy salad this week. I thought I would share it with y’all because it’s pretty simple, delicious…& just a little naughty. 😉

2. Pizza Making {Mommy Break}

This week I got a text from one of our babysitters. She asked if she and her fiance could come over and make pizza with the boys for dinner. I answered with a: “Um, yes! Yes you can!”

She texted me the day before asking what kind of pizza they liked. When they arrived she looked at me and said, “We’ve got this, you can go do whatever you need to do….even if it’s just sit down & breathe.” <—an angel in disguise, right?

I went upstairs to fold laundry (which did require me to sit down & rest). A few times I snuck downstairs to snap some pictures of their work in progress:

Making Dough

Spreading the Sauce

Voila! Mac Brothers’ Pizza (coming to a street near you!)

Our sweet sitter (& fiance) also completely cleaned the kitchen & took the trash out to the alley! Truly gave me the boost of energy I needed. Amazing.

3. Hot Chocolate & God

During the #hellomornings* Spreecast (basically a video conference call with 78 other women!), Kat Lee ( from inspiredtoaction.com) shared a super idea. One of the participants asked: what should she to do if her child wakes up while she is  having her early morning quiet time? (remember #hellomornings is waking up FOR my kids, not TO my kids).

Kat shared how when that happens she makes her kiddos hot chocolate. They grab a Bible/books to read through. Then they chose a name written on a stick of someone they will pray for.

Well, on Wednesday I told my boys about this idea and they loved it. We wrote names on popsicle sticks and placed them in a jar labeled “prayer”. The next morning, since Bruce was out-of-town, we all sat at the table. They had their hot chocolate and Bibles, I had my tea and Bible. For about 5 minutes we sat and focused our hearts on God.

To be honest I didn’t think such a thing would be possible with 3 boys. However, they proved me wrong. It wasn’t the deepest, most meaningful quiet time I’ve ever had. But it was the sweetest. I will treasure these pictures…

*If you are curious about #hellomornings…check it out here or the link on my side-bar. Sign-ups for the Summer Session are going on now. Session runs from May 14th thru July 8th.

4. Little Lights Missionary Biographies” by Catherine MacKenzie–Ashley

 My friend Ashley (who has 3 adorable little girls) sent me this favorite. I definitely want to check them out & buy some for our “hot chocolate hellomornings”.

“These biographies are sold separately. There are eight books in the series, including biographies about: Amy Carmichael, George Muller, Corrie Ten Boom, David Livingston, and Hudson Taylor. I would recommend them for ages 4 and up. Each book is about 24 pages long and presents the gospel beautifully. I adore children’s books and have many favorites on our bookshelf. I love how these tell true stories about brave men and women who gave so much of themselves in order to further the Kingdom. Good for kids to read some nonfiction!”

What were some of your favorites this week? What are your survival strategies when your husband travels?