Chasing rabbits

I must be brief this morning.

maggie napping while sick 9 11 13My toddler is still quietly sleeping in her crib, curled up in a little pink ball. Last night, she resisted her normal 7:30 p.m. bedtime and wanted to watch an extra episode of Curious George, her current favorite cartoon. After that, she pitter-pattered around the house, dragging her “Good Dad” by the hand, insisting that he follow her and accompany her the entire time. An hour later, after exhausting both of us, we coaxed her back into her crib (not without shedding of tears), sang a song, and reassured her that we’d see her again in the morning.

5:15 a.m. felt early today. It took me a few minutes to adjust to the notion that getting out of bed was a good idea and that spending time reading, praying, and meditating would benefit me. However, having benefited from reading, praying, and meditating and spending chunks of time alone with God each morning for several years in a row now, I knew that getting my tail out of bed was the best decision.

decaf._Cat._prod._pg.So I did. My sister recently gave me a one-cup instant coffee maker, and today was its christening. The chance to use my new gift was almost exciting enough to motivate me to get out of bed without a grumpy attitude. One minute later, presto! I got back into my warm bed with my hot cup of coffee, my Bible and other reading material, and my glasses. I was ready to go.

My normal RPM time–reading, prayer, and meditation time–takes about 30 minutes. I normally read a short passage.  If I read the Bible, I read about one chapter or less. I don’t try to digest too much information because I want to retain something and carry it with me throughout the day. If I read other devotional material, I read a one-page devotional entry, and I read it three times: once quietly, once aloud, and once again, looking for one piece of good orderly direction to jot down to carry with me on a slip of paper. I learned to do this from a woman who is my mentor. This method really works for me, so I continue doing this daily.

This morning, and other mornings when I happen to have lots of extra time to devote to my RPMs, I allowed myself the luxury of chasing spiritual rabbit trails. I did my normal RPMs, and then I just started reading whatever I found interesting. I opened the Bible randomly, and the pages fell to Psalm 84. The entire chapter is beautiful and contains some of my favorite verses, but this morning verse 5 stood out to me. Last night at a meeting of friends, we talked about the fact that one of the definitions for salvation in the Hebrew language is to come home. Verse 5 and the reference to going on a pilgrimage seemed to relate to this in my mind, and I was intrigued. I decided to look at the footnotes; they referred me to Jeremiah 31:6.

It would be silly to read just one verse, right? So I read the entire chapter. And man, what a tearjerker. Jeremiah 31 was chock full of language that spoke to my heart. It must have spoken to my heart many times before, too, because there were several verses underlined, marked, and highlighted. Some of the same passages that brought tears to my eyes this morning were marked, but many of the passages that were significant today were not underlined or marked, which let me know that God is continually showing me new things and deepening my relationship with Him (if I let Him).

At 6:50 a.m., I finally finished my time of reading, prayer, and meditation and had nothing but a few sips of cold coffee left in the bottom of my mug.

At 7:08 a.m., I’m thankful that I decided to get up regardless of my grumpy attitude this morning. I’m thankful for the coffee maker my sister gave me that helped me overcome my grumpy attitude. I’m thankful that I learned how to benefit from doing RPMs from my mentor, and I’m thankful that I developed the habit of spending time with God every morning since starting out my day with God not only benefits me but also benefits everyone who comes in contact with me, too. I’m thankful for the insights God gave me this morning. And I’m thankful that my toddler slept all this time.

I might still have time to brush my teeth.

Getting the morning back

Yesterday I had a relentless migraine that materialized before I ever got out of bed. My goal was to complete my last research paper for graduate school by bedtime yesterday; I finished six of eight pages, but I decided I’d be better off finishing it minus the nausea, pain, and throbbing which overwhelmed me. I went to bed last night after taking what little medication I’m allowed to take while pregnant and hoped–rather, prayed–for the best. Okay, let’s be honest–I BEGGED for relief!

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (one of my many nightly breaks from sleeping) and ate a small snack, thinking a full belly would be more conducive to completing the six hours of sleep I had hoped for.

Fortunately, God had other plans. As I lay there attempting to get cozy enough to lull my exhausted self back to sleep, I found myself humming hymns to our baby, praying for people I hadn’t even thought of in months, and contemplating a potential plan to earn extra income after the birth of our baby. After making coffee and reheating my corn pillow heating pad, and realizing that attempting to fall back asleep for a mere 30 minutes was futile, I succumbed to my apparent refusal to sleep and got up out of bed.

Me in all my morning glory while camping with my family, 2010

As I poured my one tiny cup of coffee for the day, I found myself whispering, “Thank You!”

In that moment, I recognized that God did for me what I could not do for myself. He woke me up, without any nausea (which is no minor miracle for me these days), and gave me a reprieve from the unbearable pain I’d been feeling for over 36 hours. He wouldn’t let me go back to sleep, but in exchange for another hour of sleep, I gained valuable solace with Him and the opportunity to get my mornings back–even if only for today.

I wasn’t always a morning person, but the past two years, I’ve slowly evolved into one. Prior to pregnancy, I woke up every day, regardless of my plans or schedule, at least an hour prior to beginning my daily duties and routine. I spent this hour reading the Bible, meditating on Scripture, and blogging about the blessings in my life.

Since becoming pregnant, I’ve been plagued almost non-stop with a multitude of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms forced me to adapt my schedule and sacrifice my precious morning time with God. I still found ways to sneak in time with Him, but for me, it hasn’t felt the same.

As I took my first sip of the one tiny cup of coffee I’ll have today, I literally almost cried. It actually tasted heavenly. Coffee, as many of you know, is one of the great loves of my life. Since becoming pregnant, I’ve often become nauseated at the smell of it brewing. The fact that I actually savored a sip of coffee this morning struck me as a gift from God.

Time to sing to my baby and pray for my friends. New ideas. A sense of physical well-being. Nuggets of wisdom from digging through God’s word. Enjoyment from a sip of coffee.

These are all gifts God has already given me today, and I haven’t even technically begun my day.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Thank You, God, for giving me the morning back.