Morning Person

Are you a morning person?  I mean one of those people who can’t wait to get out of bed to start singing or whistling?  If the answer is yes, let me give you a heads up on something—you drive those of us who are not morning people crazy!  While I am not necessarily grouchy in the morning, I am a woman of few words and would prefer those around me to follow suit. When I first awake, all I want is a cup of coffee and solitude.  I don’t need to know what has happened in the world or what the weather will be like.

​Unfortunately, I am married to a morning person who can’t wait to get his day started.  But, desiring to be the total woman, I had tried not to make this a point of contention—that is until I noticed that as our girls got older they shared the same opinion of morning people that I had.

​It all came to light after Waylon decided to take a sabbatical from his teaching position at the seminary and stay home to write a Hebrew grammar textbook.  One morning shortly after his time off began, the girls and I were in the kitchen trying to eat our cereal in peace when Mr. Sunshine waltzed into the room.  He was whistling and had turned on every TV he passed.

I looked at one of the girls—someone to commiserate with who like me longed for the good old days when dad used to leave for work in the morning as we were getting up. Commiserate she did, not with words but with a look. Without making a sound, she communicated, “Tell him!”  I then turned to her sister and she concurred, “Yes, by all means, tell him!”

Knowing I had allies, I said, “So Waylon, you are going to be home on your sabbatical.”

“Yep, a whole year!” he said with glee.

“Oh dear,” I thought, “how will we ever survive this intrusion into our peaceful morning paradise?”  Determined not to let the opportunity to deal with this issue slip away, I continued, “Well, if you are going to be home this YEAR, that means you are going to be on our turf, and the number one rule is  you don’t get up getting happy all over everyone.  We have five acres here, and you have a study.  You have a choice.  You can go outside with all God’s creatures and whistle and sing with them, or you can go into your study and be as happy as you want to be.”

​I was on a roll, but before I finished expressing all my pent up emotions, Waylon interrupted and said, “Martha, you’re serious, aren’t you?”

​“As a heart attack!” I replied without blinking an eye while glancing at the girls to make sure my support had not defected.  “You are driving the girls and me crazy with all this morning chitchat!”

​Even though it was obvious Waylon couldn’t completely understand our grievance, he was a repentant Tigger temporarily. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before he reverted to his usual Tigger personality—bouncing all over the place.  Since it was apparent we weren’t going to change him, we decided to love him anyway—at least after nine a.m.!

blog imgIn Philippians 4 when the apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Paul was not saying we all should be Suzie Sunshine from the moment we wake.  Rejoicing has nothing to do with whether you are a morning person or not.  Let’s face it; some days just stink from the getgo.  From the moment we wake it seems the day is already going downhill.

​Do you know Paul’s circumstances when he penned those famous words?  He was under house arrest in Rome knowing full well he was suffering unjustly for a crime he did not commit.  Although he lived in hopes of being acquitted, he knew there was a great possibility he would spend the rest of his life incarcerated in a Roman prison.

So, what did Paul mean when he commanded his beloved friends at Philippi to rejoice? I think we find the answer in the next verse when he said, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  You see, Paul knew that while he was a prisoner whose destiny was seemingly in the hands of a pagan government, his ultimate destiny was in the hands of a sovereign God.  Not only that—his God was near.

When he awoke every morning Paul had the consolation of knowing the Lord was with him, and He wouldn’t ever have to face anything alone.  He, just like Jeremiah who lived hundreds of years before, knew that, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your [His] faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3: 22-23)

​So whether you’re a morning person and have gotten off to a bouncy start like Tigger or a slow starter like me I hope your day is a “10.”   But even if it isn’t, I pray you’ll take heart in knowing the Lord is near.  There is nothing you will face today you and the Lord can’t make it through together.​

Dear Heavenly Father, we know You gave each one of us a unique personality.  Some of us are naturally bubbly while others of us are not.  We’re so thankful all of us can rejoice not because of who we are but because of who You are—Emmanuel—God With Us.  Thank You for being our faithful God.  We can always count on You to be near.  “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 NKJV).  In the Loving Name of Jesus, Amen.

From It Hurts but I’m Okay by Martha Bailey (Insight Press, 2012)

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

Beat Up or Built Up?

I am honored to have Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart, as my guest today. She will be our speaker at our women’s conference this weekend. Please make plans to join us.

godisforusgraphicWhat, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31, NIV

One morning I woke up feeling beat up by discouragement. My mind was being bullied by thoughts of doubt: I can’t do it all! I am not cut out to be a wife, mom, and leader of an organization that ministers to women all around the world! My thoughts were against me and my feelings were too.

As I lay in bed feeling completely inadequate, my radio alarm came on. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by Twila Paris singing to me. With confident assurance, she spoke truth to my soul, telling me this was no time for fear, but time for faith and determination. She challenged me not to lose my vision or be carried away by my emotions, but to hold on to all that I had hidden in my heart, and all I believed to be true. Then she reminded me of the most important truth of all: God is in control.*

As I heard these words, my thoughts were aligned with God’s truth. It changed my whole perspective. I went from feeling afraid to feeling determined, from feeling out of control to knowing God is in control. I was really glad I had set my radio to a Christian station the night before, so I would be awakened by encouraging music and truth that morning.

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photo credit: Alan Klim via photopin cc

In the same way a radio has an AM and FM frequency, so do our thoughts. They are either AM (against me) thoughts or FM (for me) thoughts. The truth is, we are often our worst critics and have a lot of AM thoughts. And if our thoughts are against us, our feelings will be too.

When thoughts and feelings of doubt come, stop and ask God for His perspective. Compare your thoughts to His thoughts, reflected in scripture. Do they match? If not, look for a promise in God’s Word to replace the lie that has filled your heart with doubt. Here are two AM and FM thoughts to help you get started:

When doubt comes against me, saying I’m weak and all alone, I will focus on the truth that God is for me! I can be strong and courageous because the Lord my God is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deut. 31:6).

When doubt comes against me, saying I’m not good enough for a certain role or position, I will remember that God is for me! He says I am His masterpiece, created to be new in Christ so that I could do good things He planned long ago. (Eph. 2:10)

You and I have a choice: we can let doubt beat us up or we can let God’s truth build us up.

If we have Christ in us, we have full access to God’s power and His promises to live with a confident heart. But it won’t just happen because it’s possible. We have to take action. Just as I had to choose ahead of time to wake up to encouraging music, we need to get intentional about tuning our thoughts into God’s thoughts toward us, every day.

Lord, teach me how to rely on the power of Your promises. Help me remember today that you, my God, go with me, to fight for me against my enemies of insecurity and inadequacy. You want to give me victory! In all these things, I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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© 2014 by Renee Swope with Revell Publishing. All rights reserved.

* “God Is In Control,” © 1993 by Twila Paris. All Rights Reserved. From He Is Exalted: Live Worship CD.

Like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

In Judith Viorst’s beloved children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander awoke to find gum in his hair and tripped on his skateboard as he got out of bed.  To make matters worse, all his siblings had prizes in their cereal, but, of course, not Alexander.  It all went downhill from there.  School didn’t go so well, and at lunchtime he discovered his mom forgot to include dessert.  When he went for his dental checkup after school, Alexander, of course, was the only one with a cavity. It didn’t help his feelings when the shoe store was out of his size in his favorite tennis shoes.  Alexander had to get plain white ones while his brothers got cool ones.  To top it all off, that night there was kissing on TV.  It was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”  Alexander decided he would just move to Australia. Continue reading

Gripped by the Green-eyed Monster

She was jealous. It was obvious by the look on her face and more obvious by her behavior.  The Green-eyed Monster had a grip on her and was driving her crazy.

Jealousy. It’s a miserable word.  Miserable because of the way it makes a person feel.  Miserable because of the way it makes a person act.  Miserable if we are the ones who are jealous and miserable if we are the recipient of someone else’s jealousy.  If you’ve never experienced either one by all means count yourself blessed.  Most of us know from experience that jealousy is a painful emotion.

Last week in Bible study we talked about King Saul’s intense jealousy of David. What began as a single thought soon escalated to the point where murder appeared to be a viable solution. Continue reading

You Want Gucci? No Problem!

Five years ago my daughters and I went on a memorable weekend to New York City. If I told you everything we did in such a short time you wouldn’t believe me. Let’s just say we made the most of those four days.

Knowing our time was limited, we had everything all mapped out—certain places we wanted to go and Broadway plays we had tickets to see. At the top of the list were Miss Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and last but not least, Chinatown.  Continue reading