Beating the Sunrise!

            By Victoria Duerstock

            The clock reads 2:36 p.m. and I’m finally sitting down to write a blog post that my planner said was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Where does the time go? 

I wish I knew.

I suspect it’s with those missing socks that never find their mates.

            As a creative, I find it difficult to always block off the necessary time to accomplish the many tasks I juggle. Between being a wife, a mom, a homeschool educator, author, business owner, and more, I often lean heavily on my “plan.” Often, I’m guilty of working through my writing time because I have a tendency to put off my creative projects in favor of accomplish the task/goal projects that can be easily checked off my growing lists.

            But God grabbed my attention a few years ago regarding the fact that I wasn’t walking out my talk and reminded me that my time was a resource a lot like money. You’ve probably heard it said that you can find out what someone most values by opening their checkbook – well the same is true with how we manage our time.

Psalm 119:111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.

I realized that I hadn’t been giving Him the best of my time in prayer and daily Bible reading. Inconsistent at best, and non-existent at worst, the struggle to make time for this important part of my life was hard. Every season I thought – it will get easier. But guess what my friends, it doesn’t.

            My children are no longer small and yet I still have to be very intentional to spend time daily with God. In order to lessen this issue, I made a radical change in my behavior and life to settle this battle once and for all.

            Two years I started getting up at 5am.

                        I am not a morning person.

                                    I need 10 hours of sleep to be a kind and generous human.

            No I am not perfect. And yes, there are times when a measure of grace is needed in my routine, but my habit is established even if it will never be easy.

            Early mornings are vital to my schedule because without it I am not an obedient follower of Jesus. I had to learn that sacrifice was a part of this process in my life. It is most definitely a discipline – a beating down of the body into submission – like Paul reminds us.

            I generally get about two hours on my own before the rest of the house stirs. Sometimes less but generally I get a good chunk of time. I look at the stars and then watch the sunrise. I drink a cup of coffee. Ok, ok – more than one. I dwell on how great my God is, and I pray through the various thoughts/fears/requests that invade my quiet space. I read my Scripture for the day and sometimes read from a book on prayer. I pray some more, and sometimes I sing and journal.

            Five a.m. now holds an incredibly special place for me. It’s my “me time” that I searched for for so long as an adult! Funny though because it’s all about Him and less about me – and it’s what I needed all along.

            Want to do this in your life too? You absolutely can – here’s my top 3 suggestions for making a radical change in pursuit of Christ.

1.     Prepare the night before.

·       Get the coffee maker ready.

·       Clear the chair/sofa you will sit to meet with God.

·       Grab a pen, journal, Bible and put right by that spot.

·       Grab a blanket in case you are cold

2.     Set the alarm, and don’t hit snooze.

3.     Ask God to help you stick to your commitment.

Honestly, if left to my own devices, I’m going to stay in my comfortable bed until I’m forced up. But when I got serious about my desire to pursue this time faithfully, I watched God bless my efforts by providing the strength and ability to “just do it.” Sometimes that strength was in the form of a bird pecking the window or an alarm going off, but either way – He provided and still does today. I urge you to walk out your faith by committing to be faithfully obedient in your quiet time each day! 

Owning my Inadequacy

My current Bible reading plan has me reading 10 chapters a day. Mostly you move ahead to the next book of the Bible as each is completed, with readings through the Old and New Testaments.  The only difference is the book of Acts and Proverbs.  When you finish those you start again.  It’s a little confusing to explain, but if you google Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading system you can find some more info there.  I have really enjoyed this method this year. I try to change things up each year as I read through the Bible, because I just find new and wonderful nuggets along the way.  This morning was just such a time for me but it happened in my first chapter – so I was stuck just pondering the passage for a while.

Has that happened for you? You’ve read something before, but never has the thought struck about the way things are worded or why Jesus said or did something the way he did?  It’s so exciting for me after all these years to continually be shown new things, and to have new thoughts leap up from the pages to my brain so I thought my encouraging word for you today would come from what I read this morning – I hope you will be encouraged by it.

Luke 9:10-17 Sets the scene once again for the feeding of the five thousand.  This is such an exciting time in the gospels as Jesus is teaching and leading and healing the people coming to him for help.  This is also not the only time we read of this story – it’s just from Luke’s gospel this time.  This record of events states that the 12 disciples came to Jesus asking him to send the large crowd away.  They needed food and lodging and the disciples were concerned because they were in a desolate place.

Now mind you I’ve read this account multiple times before but I was struck today by Jesus’ reply – vs. 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.”  Now Jesus was already aware that they had no provisions for 5,000 men but they responded anyway with the fact that they only had five loaves and two fish.  I found it interesting that instead of Jesus just saying, yes you are right, we have no food I need to perform a miracle with the little we have, his first response was to tell them to feed them.

For me in that moment, I couldn’t just keep reading, because I know that is exactly what God does with me in my life.  He reveals my complete lack. My emptiness, and brokenness. My weakness and my failures. My inadequacy to do anything meaningful on my own. My complete mess of my own making with no answers in sight, so that He can reveal His glory in my story.  He took the little they gathered and blessed it and fed the crowd WITH LEFTOVERS afterward.  He revealed to them what they could not do so that they could see His vast omnipotence and miraculous hand in and over all.

How exciting!  Let me be honest though, it’s not often that I want to count up my failures and weakness.  Truth be told, I’m rather a “take charge” and get it done kind of person and  I work to get things figured out.  He reminded me in the quiet this morning that He already has it all figured out, and He is just waiting for me to realize it.

What a gift our relationship is with Him. My encouragement for you is to please – take the time to sit in His presence.  Nothing will help you face your day better than to dwell with Him.

Bible Studies & Giveaways!

The recent Bible studies released through Women of Faith include 3 titles – Building Your Strengths, Praying with Power and Giving God your Future. Each study includes twelve weeks of lessons with easy to understand illustrations.  The questions for each lesson have you turning in your Bibles to find the answers and prompt deeper thought about each topic.  There are multiple insets throughout the book with a quote or verse highlighted for special focus. Each lesson also contains three smaller sections at the end helping to dig deeper into the topic for the week, how to meditate and pray, and a trinket to treasure – an object designed to help us remember the lesson.  The format is easy to follow and the consistency between the books make each one an easy transition to the next.  With forwards written by Patsy Clairmont and Thelma Wells, the name recognition give to each study should help it be very successful on shelves in bookstores.

Each lesson is fairly short.  The illustration/explanation is usually just the first page, most of the study relies on answering the questions which are firmly based in Scripture.  These studies will not take an enormous amount of time each day to complete and can be easily added to your ongoing Bible reading without creating too much additional work.  I appreciate so much that the majority of the questions in these studies leads you back to your Bible – the answers aren’t found in the book itself.  This is a feature that is a huge benefit I believe for encouraging actual study to take place in our Bibles.

Included in the back of the book is a leader guide, in case someone chose to do this study with a small group – no extra purchase is necessary.  It is extremely convenient, not to mention a great savings for those of us used to having to purchase an additional leader’s guide to conduct a study.

After having planned on reading Praying with Power first, I decided to sit down one afternoon and take a quick glance through on Building Your Strengths.  Instead of glancing through though, I stopped and did the study and read the book in its entirety.  This is a very practical guide to thinking through our strengths and how God can use them to further His kingdom.  Not just stopping with our own strength though the author does make sure to acknowledge the Divine Strength that we as children have access to in God our Father.  The practical application of all the chapters is an outward focus which I believe is an important one for us women as we can many times become consumed by the demands on our time and energy. I look forward to finishing all 3 of these studies in the days ahead.

From the foreword Building Your Strengths –
“If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.” Corrie Ten Boom

IF you’d like a free copy of each of these three studies – you are in luck!  I’m giving away one set of these three books to one lucky winner!  Follow the instructions below – do all three things:

  1. Leave a comment on the blog by sharing which book you’d be most interested in reading.
  2. Like the Encouraging Women Today Facebook page –
  3. Share this giveaway with others –either by sharing the links to the website or the Facebook page link to this blog post.