{gratitude} + ideas & encouragement for time with the Lord

daddy's birthday First, I just want to start the week with a few simple things I'm thankful for...

... celebrating the big 29 for my beloved... great deals at a rummage sale... real, nourishing food... a pediatrician who doesn't give me any crap for skipping the flu shot... scattered moments of creativity... ice cream and a movie...a church that fasts and prays for the sanctity of marriage...

ideas and encouragement for quiet times

A while back, a reader commented, asking for some "quiet time" ideas/encouragement. I meant to respond much earlier, so I apologize for that. So here's a little bit about how I spend my time with the Lord.

  • {schedule.} Gone are the days when I can sit quietly at the beach or linger at a coffee shop with my Bible and journal. I look back on those times, mostly my college days, with nostalgia. But the reality of where I am now, in the trenches of motherhood, is that if I don't schedule in a structured time, it's not going to happen. I need a plan, and a set time. This brings me to...
  • {morning.} I must start my day with the Lord. It fuels my day more than my breakfast does and it sets the tone for my parenting. Boy, do I notice if I get to midday and realize I breezed through the morning without seeking Him first. I still miss days, or there are times when the kids are up too early, or I snooze my alarm. But my goal is to wake up before everyone else and spend time with Him then. A fabulous resource and community can be found on Inspired to Action, with her free ebook, Maximize Your Mornings, and the #HelloMornings twitter community.

“I earnestly recommend that it be in the early morning, unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart. We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” ~John Piper

  • {structure.} Back to those days at the beach or the coffee shop, I often spent long periods of uninterrupted time just journaling my thoughts to the Lord and reading his word freely. Now, more than ever, I need the structure of a book, Bible study and/or devotional. During the school year, I'm a part of CBS, Community Bible Study, and I love the structure their studies give me. Right now we're studying Daniel, and it's been awesome. I have a harder time over the summer because I have to find my own studies, but this summer I focused on the Proverbs 31 woman and read some studies online and also studied on my own a bit. I've found that without particular direction I tend to waver.
  • {prayer.} Let's be honest. I'm tired, I have a million things on my mind and my time is limited. So with prayer, I find mybest tool for being disciplined is again, structure. I try my best to pray throughout the day when I think of it, and I have a prayer board in our kitchen that lists current and ongoing prayer requests. But what works for me best is to start my morning with my prayer journal listing scriptures I've found that I can pray through, for various areas of life. Inspired to Action has two downloadable calendars (for children and husbands) that are similar to the ones I've put together for myself. I have categories in my journal for "Us" (me and hubby), "Children" and "Others." Each day, I pray through a page from each of those categories. Hopefully someday I'll have a downloadable version of mine for you. Prayer is the area I could stand to grow in the most. At this stage of life I have a hard time just waiting on the Lord and listening. Hopefully that is something I will grow in more. I also have a prayer calendar available for praying for your community.
  • {resources.} I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favorite books, studies and devotionals (updated: April 2014). This can be a jumping off- point if any of you are needing some fresh inspiration. I have been blessed by all of these at one time or another, often more than once. By all means, please leave your suggestions or favorites in the comments!!

There are many more I have read and want to read, of course. What I like to do in the morning is pray a bit, work on my study or just read the Bible, and then read a bit from whatever book I'm reading (maybe a chapter, if I'm lucky). All three of these don't happen every day, mind you, but this is my goal.

How do you spend time with the Lord? What are your favorite resources?

Have you missed me?

{this moment}