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Mornings with Jesus aren’t one-size-fits-all. Ready to tailor yours to your personality and make your morning thrive?

The Introduction

I’d been doing some thinking back when we were just a family of four. The thoughts sparked from a not-so-quiet morning (which is common around here now, on this side of our Jordan). Cartoons were on the TV to entertain the big one, the bed was rocking in the corner to calm the little one, and I moved pen to paper to prayerfully-process through my recent shift in identity.

Being a stay-at-home mama is such a gift, I wrote, (though it feels an awful lot …

[Pause to put summer-sandals on Santa-clad pajama-footie-feet.]

… like sprinting through a never-ending obstacle course).

The identity-transition from working-from-home to staying-at-home has brought surprising anxiety along with it. For a year, the second our big one’s head hit his naptime crib mattress, I sat down at my desk to work. When our second came, and I stopped working, I felt the daily naptime tension – the habitual muscle-memory of should-be creating, or writing, or doing something to contribute to our general bank account.

I’ve been driven and chasing dreams and striving for success and building a business for over a decade, I prayed. How do I transition to simply being a mom? And how do I do that transition well?

[Pause to pull a toddler-sized wingback a few inches to the left so the big one can climb up to reach the light switch.]

No sooner had the living room light flicked on than I suddenly saw it: I had years of building a career and an identity that was suddenly switched off, and an unfamiliar identity turned on in its place. The former? I was a woman invested in business while also in the throws of years-long delayed fertility, sitting at my morning-table with nothing but the sound of the ticking clock and scratching pen to fill the silence.

The latter? I am a mother, investing in two little boys with the cartoons playing and the little one’s bed rhythmically-rocking and a regular morning-table interruption of the sweetest “Mom! Mom! Mama! Mama! Mama!” repetition.

But how do I reconcile this tension? And turn off this naptime-need to do something when I’m already doing the very best thing?

[Pause to change the cartoon.]

I find the morning-answer in Ann Voskamp’s words: “The answer to much anxiousness is the adoration of Christ.”

[Pause to swaddle the little one.]

When did I get to this point? I prayer-wondered. When did I arrive at this idea that something is only worth doing – it’s only valuable – if it comes with a paycheck? These every day, unpaid moments are the ones that have the most value. They are the ones with the most return on my investment.

[Pause to change the cartoon again.

And again.

And again.]

I read Psalm 131 and chew on the calming and the quieting and the weaning. The weaned child, as it turns out, no longer frets for mother’s milk. She is simply satisfied with her affection. It’s a word-picture that illustrates what contentment with God’s care looks like, despite the smallness of your earthly possessions.

And I suddenly realize: I’m in the weaning-process. God is getting me accustomed to this new normal I had dreamed of, and that is far away from the business-life I had grown especially fond of. He is moving me away from the regular paychecks and the pleasures and profits that went along with it. And He has put two (now three) babes in my arms while teaching me to be quiet and easy in His.

Later that day, I began thinking about that not-so-quiet quiet time. And I began to wonder how we decided to collectively call this daily time with God “quiet.” I mean, I understood the idea of the title and embraced the quiet for years. But I’m afraid that there’s a whole slew of weary mamas running their daily hamster-wheel routine with hardly a moment to themselves who have set aside their regular “quiet time” because this season of life just doesn’t allow for any quiet.

Maybe it’s time we change the “quiet time” name to something less … quiet.

We live in a world that looks down on screen-time-television for little ones. But I’m here to tell you: it’s ok to turn on the TV and tune out the noise for a few moments of interrupted-prayer and disjointed reading. Because somewhere along the line, I learned to carry a conversation with a girlfriend while a little one vyed for my attention.

I’m learning to do the same with God.

And the other thing I’m learning? When I do, it can be just as precious as those “quiet times” He and I shared before, on that waiting-side of our Jordan.

* * *


Selah. It’s likely a word you’ve heard before, and it makes its Bible-home mostly in the book of Psalms. But have you heard of The Rule of First Mention? It says that the first mention of a concept in the Bible is the simplest and clearest presentation of it, essentially laying the foundation for every other mention to then build upon it. And the first mention of selah in Scripture? It’s in Psalm 3. When you read the words, you find David right in the middle of a very stressful situation (you can find that story in 2 Samuel 15). To summarize: he had just fled hastily from Jerusalem and a conspiracy to overtake his throne as King of Israel. He evacuated his entire household from the palace and, at some point during his flight, he penned the words of Psalm 3 – crying out to God for deliverance.

“They’re all out to get me,” David prayed in Psalm 3:1. And then? Selah.

By itself, the story sets a precedent for pausing right there in the middle of the chaos and the uncertainty and the fear and crying out to God. But, even more interesting? The person behind the conspiracy from whom David fled? It was his son.

I laughed out loud when I read the words because, how many times had I texted my husband in recent weeks with similar, David-like sentiments about our three little ones? They’re working against me, I said one morning, breathless and overwhelmed with three babes three-years-old and younger. And another afternoon: They’re running circles around me. So, when I saw David’s similar “they’re all out to get me” words, I felt a little bit of relief that even David hid from his son. And when he did, he muttered the very first mention of selah.

The word has somewhat of a mysterious shroud draped over its shoulders, but most scholars agree it has been used as a pausing marker. Most psalms are actually songs and selah is placed as an indicator for the singer to stop singing while the band plays on. Some may call it an interruption. But for me? I like to think of it as an interlude.

 “You came into a very controlled environment and spilled chaos into every arena of our life like popcorn kernels exploding from a heated canister,” Erin Loechner once tenderly wrote in a letter to her baby daughter. “You arrived, a kernel of love and surprise and mess. The most beautiful mess of all, shattering expectations and crumbling walls until we became a heap of ourselves.”

It’s funny, isn’t it, how children become a kind of interlude? The years are short, or so the saying goes, as is an interlude. These years with our babes are different from when it was just me and him before. And they are different still than the empty nest that will come after. And I’m trying my hardest to hear the barrage of noise and chaos as a symphony of selahs. To embrace the pause and turn the interruption-perspective right on its head.

Did you know that another word for interlude is respite? A lull or rest. A breathing space. (It’s ok – you can pause here with me and take a deep breath.) But an interruption? It also moonlights as an intrusive disturbance. I don’t know about you, but when I read the psalms and encounter that selah-word, I don’t see it as intrusive. No, I see it as an intrinsic invitation to chew on the words I just read. 

It turns out that selah is used 71 times in the psalms, and I am pausing at least that many times to tend to any one of my miracle babes. But, interruption or interlude?

It’s all in how you hear the music. 


For the Groundhog Days

In the evening, ten tiny fingers smell of outdoor dirt piles comingled with chicken nuggies (because I forgot to wash hands before dinner). It came time to wrangle the boys into a bath, then bed, to feed the baby, to straighten up the house.


It’s become a kind of dance: empty the sink to fill the dishwasher, wipe the counters, sweep today’s crumbs up so tomorrow’s floor is clean and tuck all the toys away into the basket to be dug out for another day. All I want to do is sit on the couch and lose myself in a mindless show. It was 8:17 pm. Then 8:23. Every minute that ticked by was another lost minute to myself. Another minute closer to another day. It’s embarrassing to admit, but lately? I’ve been waking up to a feeling of dread.


Every day is the same, I thought. The same toys strewn about. The same plastic plates washed and re-washed. The same routine, same rhythm, same reprimands, same rewards.


And right there in the middle of the kitchen, mid-broom-sweep, the Spirit of God whispered a familiar phrase: My mercies are new every morning. I dropped the broom and found the words tucked up in Lamentations 3:22-23:


Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.


I’d heard the verses a thousand times. Heck, I even titled my first book after them. But that word, new, hit a little differently. All these years, I thought of God’s morning mercies as a cup that re-filled itself. But it says it right there in black and white - they are not renewed every morning. They are not the same old thing refreshed after a night of rest, clothes washed clean, and hung out to dry to be worn again tomorrow. No, the Hebrew language shows God’s mercies are brand new every morning. Unheard of kind of new. Never seen before kind of new. Today’s mercies, different from tomorrow’s mercies, different from next week’s mercies.


And just when the same old routine day in and day out was starting to wear on me, God whispered new-mercy hope to replace that same-old-thing dread. And suddenly? Tomorrow didn’t look so bleak.

For Feeling Incapable

One little word has been buzzing around in my head like a fly stuck in the house. Capable. There are many things these days that I feel incapable of. But most of which? Motherhood. I’m stretched thin, ever exhausted, and fear I’m giving these babes more of my worst than my best.


[Selah-pause to put a pacifier back in the baby’s mouth, scoop the toddler out of my vacated seat, shoo the boys outside to play.]


“She is clothed with strength,” God whispers the words the way He always does, carrying on our morning conversation.

[Pause again to place the pacifier.]

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.

I chew on the Proverbs 31:25 words, look deeper behind them, struggle to believe them at face value. The rejoicing part? Those words I can get behind, because I know this season won’t last forever. And isn’t it always this one, when they are still so little, that parents often say they miss the most?

I’m desperate for Your strength, I wrote in my prayer journal before looking up the word “capable” in the Bible. It’s only used once in all of the NKJV - in 1 Chronicles. In other versions? It’s rendered mighty. Brave. Hero.


And the three words that are found tucked away in the root of that mighty and brave capability? To be strong. Turns out that capability is rooted in strength - the same strength that the Proverbs 31 woman wears as her clothing. And with that God-clothed strength? I can be the mother who loves her babes more than she fights them. Who rejoices over them more than she reprimands them.


Make me capable, God, I pray. And no sooner than I finish the words, His Spirit speaks: I made you capable the moment you became their mother.


So it was that my morning-prayer shifted in response: God, help me to believe that I am capable to mother these little ones. And, through that belief, may I act as a hero for them and not a hindrance. Amen.

For the Long-Awaited babes

It’s no secret that I have quite a few waiting-years tucked into the back pocket of my mom-jeans. The moment I found out I was pregnant with our first miracle babe, the conviction hit hard and fast: I would make every effort to thank God for answering our prayer as deeply and as often as I did begging Him for it.

Step back and look. See how far you’ve come. Count the fingers now smudging the sliding glass door you wished you could see from your morning perch that was your quiet time waiting room. It feels like a dream, doesn’t it? Like you have to pinch yourself and remember that those days when grief was following behind, nipping at your heels threatening to swallow you whole? They are behind you. You survived.

That was the first thing I thought as I rolled over in bed and looked out the window at the pre-dawn light the morning after seeing two pink lines for the very first time in a decade. I survived. And suddenly, I understand those Psalm 126 words:


When Jehovah brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!
How we laughed and sang for joy.
(Psalm 126:1-2, TLB)


Today, I pick up my own song with the rhythm of the writer’s words: Oh, Lord, what amazing things You have done for me. Glorious things! Wondrous things! What joy has filled these walls, just like You promised: I have sown so many tears and today? This morning? I reap in uncountable joys. My once-empty arms are now full of blessing, a harvest overflowing. How I laugh and sing for joy because You have heard my prayer and answered it in spades!

And I know that I can’t ever tell you enough: You have done great things for me, and I am so glad. Thank You, God, for Your ravishing love. Thank You that You are indeed the God of miracles, and of miracle babes. Amen.

For when frustration flashes

Sure, there are days when I’m edgy. There have been times when my three-year-old has said: “Mommy, we don’t throw things!” There have been moments when I get out of breath running the motherhood-marathon. When frustration simmers, I try to remember: someday, eventually, these same teaching-phrases I repeat dozens of times a day will stick. And every gentle “we don’t say no,” and “yes, Mommy, and do it” lays the foundation for their grown-up habits.


But it doesn’t always go perfectly, and I don’t always remember, and it’s humbling to learn that these tiny, growing people are following my behavioral lead much more than my spoken one. And so I beg God: I really need Your help here. Your grace. Your kindness. Your love and not my own. The kind of Spirit-filled grace and love and kindness that is longsuffering.


Relief washes over me as I look up that longsuffering word and see that its first home is in Galatians 5:22. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, and it’s not going to come from me.


I look deeper into the word and see it’s a two-word combination: long and passion - the kind of passion that boils up and boils over and soon subsides again. It’s right there in those moments that my oldest catches me mid-throw, breathing violently and all up in a heat.


Before my frustration boils over, I prayed, God, that’s where I need Your help catching it. When I feel it warming within me, help me to turn off the burner.


I want to recognize the patience and constancy and longanimity in myself that is found in the Spirit-fruit of longsuffering. And, more importantly, I want my children to see it in me.


When my frustration flashes, may I become more passionate about persistent patience than boiling over and making a mess of things. When I say the same thing for the 50th time, help me to know, deep down, that the broken-record words are daily, repetitive acts of love - that they are life-giving and character-forming.


And, most importantly, when that frustration flashes? Help me to be quick to ask forgiveness - from You as well as from those little eyes so carefully watching me. Amen.