intentional living

Morning Quiet Time Practices

April 27, 2017

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My morning time is everything. I couldn’t be the person I need to be for my family if I didn’t rise early and get a jump on the day.

I always feel a huge shift in my attitude and the tone of our day when I don’t get out of bed in time to be alone and get my stuff done. It’s kinda like dealing with a stomach ache after you make the choice to go off your healthy eating plan.

Unfortunately, just showing up for my early morning won’t cut it. It’s super easy to wake up and get out of bed. Believe it or not, the hard part is being intentional and not just staring into the eyes of my coffee until it’s time to serve everyone breakfast.

What really matters is how I spend that time- what am I going to do with this precious silence?

It really sucks to do the work of making time and waking up, and then not honor it by letting time go by without doing anything worth waking up early for.

I prefer to do things with my morning time that I can’t do or would be hard to do with the kids awake in the middle of our day. Quiet time is one of those things.

My quiet time usually consists of two or three of the following: reading my Bible, praying, taking a walk, writing in a journal, exercising, listening to worship music, or spending quality time with my hubby.

Quiet time, for me, is the time I get to sit in silence, reflect on what’s going on in my life, and spend time with God. Being a homeschooling mom of four means there isn’t much time for me to think, process things, reflect, or pray without a serious amount of background noise. It just is what it is- this is my season. So if what I need is quiet time, I have to work pretty hard to create it, and it is so worth it!

There have been seasons of my life in which daily quiet time just wasn’t a reality (sleepless nights spent rocking and breastfeeding one of my babies, pregnancy), but right now is not one of those seasons, and I really look forward to tending my soul before the sun wakes up. There’s something really soothing about this time I get to myself with my thoughts and my Savior.

My quiet time is separate from the other things I need to get done in the early morning hours. I don’t choose between my quiet time and working or my quiet time and my exercise time- it’s its own thing because it’s super important.

I have a lot of thoughts throughout the day- business ideas, family plans, homeschooling decisions to make, what to make for dinner, what should I do about my son’s terrible attitude lately, how can I tone my arms, why did I react the way I did yesterday in my marriage, what should I wear for date night next weekend… Usually the important and the mundane get jumbled and can easily overwhelm me and then just get lost in the busyness of life.

Journaling is a simple practice that helps me sort through them and get some clarity. I’ve always been a writer at heart. I kept journals as a kid all the way through my childhood and adolescent years. It’s so easy to get caught up and just go through the motions, letting ugly things like ingratitude and bitterness and overwhelm take root and grow before you even notice. Journaling gives me the gift of connecting with my heart and emotions as well as redirecting them where they need to go as I move through the seasons of life.

There have been so many times that I have been in a circumstance and through journaling, have realized how I really felt and been able to make calm, stable decisions in the midst of life’s craziest storms.

Writing out my thoughts as they are or thoughts focused on something in particular (like gratitude) is such an amazing way to start the day. Coupled with my Jesus time, I always feel focused and inspired and encouraged before my family even wakes up.

Life is crazy, and I’ve found that if I am not regularly focusing on what I’m grateful for, what God is doing in my life, and how I can be my best self in each season, I lose it. I am not the wife or mom I know I am called to be, and I don’t feel right. I’m off-center and cranky and can easily turn into a person I don’t want to be.

Here are some of my favorite morning time routines that help me start the day off right and stay focused on what matters in the middle of a very full life.

My Morning Quiet Time Practices

1) Prayer

I’m gonna be frank here… If I am not regularly giving God my time and seeking Him in all I do, I am just not a good person. I can’t give to my family the way I need to and my attitude generally sucks. I don’t have any kind of strict routine with this quiet time in the mornings. I just show up and invite the Holy Spirit to do the same, and He always does. I talk to Him about whatever is on my heart and He leads me to pray for whatever it needs to be that day.

Journaling is a large part of my prayer time. My thoughts too easily stray to something other than what needs prayer, but when I’m writing out the things I feel led to pray over, I stay focused.

2) Bible Reading

My Bible reading is usually led by the excerpt of the day from my favorite devotional book Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman. I start by reading the day’s devotional and then following the Scripture included and reading the entire chapter the given passage is found in. Sometimes I’ll read more than that, sometimes less. Sometimes I find myself in a random book of the Bible just reading what the Spirit led me to.

3) Gratitude Journal

I’m naturally kind of pessimistic, and I work really hard to fight that tendency! I find that I am so much happier and able to take on the chaos of life with grace and joy when I start the day focused on what I’m thankful for. I’m one of those people who can find something wrong in everything, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to actively counteract that part of myself. Have you ever read up on the effects gratitude has on a person? It’s absolutely astounding, and I’ve seen it actively working in my own life.

I set a timer for five minutes (borrowing from the popular idea of the five minute journal) and jot down whatever comes to mind that I am grateful for. I go beyond things like my family, a roof over my head, etc and really try to dive deep into the details. The smell of coffee on this extra groggy morning, my husband’s carpentry skills that provide beautiful handmade furniture…whatever comes to mind.

It starts the day on a very positive note and makes me feel so blessed when my kids come out for breakfast. It makes it very difficult to have a bad day when you start it out this way because the way you respond to other people is radically different than if you had woken up to tiny hands pulling on you and loud requests for breakfast.

Scroll to the bottom for details and an exclusive discount on this beautiful journal and others like it!

4) Affirmations

At one point in our life, my family was in a very dark place. I remember standing in our driveway, dirt poor, unsure of how we were going to have what we needed for dinner that night and saying the sentence, “I am extremely wealthy. I can pay my bills, live a full life, and have money leftover. God has given us wealth so that we can change the world and live out the gospel.”

Do you have any idea how stupid I felt on the inside saying that out loud with all we had going on in our reality? Very, very stupid. But we had dinner that night and we never didn’t have what we needed, and about two weeks after I began speaking provision and truth over our circumstances in Jesus’ name, we had a multiple five-figure bank account and that money consistently poured in from our business. I never doubted the power of my words again, and I started carrying this over into other areas of my life. The point is, our mouths are powerful, and they’re directly connected to our thoughts and our hearts.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

— Proverbs 18:21

Speaking truth and positive words over ourselves is one of the most powerful things we can do. By saying things out loud you’re shifting your mindset, and your actions follow your thoughts.

This is another thing that has earned a place in my morning practices. Every morning I take a walk and speak things over myself and my family and our life. It’s a very special time between me and my God of calling good things into action in His name and saying YES to all the amazing things He has for me.

5) Movement

I do not like to exercise. I downright hate it most days. What I do like is the way it makes me feel after I’m done, and that, coupled with the fact that I used to be very overweight and unhappy, is why I make it happen. I think people over complicate things like exercise and make it into a formula you have to follow for it to work, which I think is dumb and a great excuse to procrastinate. I prefer to just do it (oh hey, Nike).

I like yoga, and walking, and I’ll usually run a mile before heading into squats and push-ups, but I keep it simple. I go based off my mood and what I did yesterday. If I spent the previous morning running and doing push-ups, I’ll spend this morning doing yoga and tomorrow I’ll focus on squats and lunges. Some days I skip exercise, but I rarely let myself skip more than one morning in a row.

My biggest suggestion on bringing exercise into your mornings has already been said- keep it simple. Just do something.

This is my favorite workout of all time. And let me tell you from a place of much less cellulite than I used to have….it works.

6) Dawn Dates.

Now that Brian and I run the business together and his normal 9-5 (which was really more like a 6am-midnight. so glad to be done!), we have a lot of time together. What we quickly learned is that being physically near one another all day long does not mean that we actually spend time together. It’s harder than ever to talk during the day! Our family is big and loud and chaotic and our kids are literally always with us (#homeschooling). When Brian left his job, we immediately saw the need to dedicate a specific time of day to our marriage other than our date nights.

Our mornings have become about our marriage a couple days a week. We feel that since our relationship (aside from our individual relationships with God) is the foundation our family stands on, it’s important. We dedicate at least one morning per week (it usually ends up being two or three) to our relationship. We call these times our dawn dates. I know I know, we’re super annoying. But when it’s 5AM and you’d honestly rather sleep, you have to call it something cute.

Usually, on the days we’re going to have a dawn date, I shorten my personal quiet time to like five minutes or skip it altogether. Otherwise I’d be spending four hours of my morning in different variations of quiet time. Plus, our morning time prayer and conversations are so restoring for me, I don’t need much else.

We travel full-time, which means we live in a camper, so when our alarms go off, we either stay in bed and bring the coffee to us and talk there, or wrap up in sweatshirts and sit outside together. The kids know they are not allowed to make sounds if they can’t fall back to sleep or to come out and talk to us at all. House rules, yo.

We bring our Bibles and marriage journals and just share thoughts and emotions with each other regarding where we’re at in life or whatever’s going on. We pray together and for each other and read a passage of the Bible or a devotional. Then we just have a really relaxed time of talking and hanging out over coffee like people who actually like each other, because we do!

Sometimes you just need to get on the same page and talk things out, and it’s really refreshing. Other times one of us is angry or hurt and this time is spent working it out. Either way, this time is marked out each week and we both know it’s there for us and look forward to it.

I wish we had taken up this habit before he quit his job! It would’ve benefitted us so much during a season that was totally chaotic in a different way. You can do this whether your husband works a lot or a little, in person or via Facetime!

I tend to keep a marriage journal throughout the week even when we aren’t spending time together as a couple. Marriage is so emotional and tricky sometimes, and being a writer, I really enjoy writing out how I feel and what’s going on in our relationship- both amazing and difficult things.

Obviously, I’m a big believer in paying attention to your thoughts and emotions and keeping a journal (or three). I feel that as a busy mom it’s all too easy to neglect yourself and rarely look at what’s going on with you. That’s how you have a breakdown or become bitter and resentful- we don’t want that right??

Some of my favorite journals come from Val Marie Paper Co – they’re so beautiful! They’re the kind of journals that inspire you to use them, and she has a journal for each area of quiet time, which I love. Plus, I love supporting other small businesses, so this is a real win-win.

Val has kindly agreed to give an exclusive discount code to you beautiful mamas to help inspire you to be more intentional about your quiet time- a passion we both share. You can take $3.00 off each journal when you purchase three or more.

If you love these journals and you’d like to snag a deal on some of them, head to her website and enter code 3ORMORE at checkout.

Don’t forget to snag your free copy of my favorite morning affirmations!

Do you have any morning rhythms you look forward to? Share in the comments!

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