August 26, 2012

For the Night Owls

I. am. not. a morning person. Period.  I never have been.  I cringe when I read the Christian women books that talk about the Proverbs 31 woman rising early to tend to the needs of her household.  I volunteer to work the nursery when I know the Pastor has plans to preach about David's advice that we praise the Lord in the early morning hours.

I have a whole list of excuses to bolster me in my morning-deficit lifestyle.  Perhaps I've told them to you when I feel the need to justify why you've done hours worth of productive work before I've opened my eyes.  I certainly use them here, where the Paraguayan women have swept their yards and mopped every surface of their inside and outside living areas before the sun comes up.

1.  I do my best work after the kids are in bed, so I end up awake very late.
2.  Because we work with youth, we are often up visiting with them until the wee hours.
3.  My leg hurts a lot and is stiff in the mornings.
4.  God made me this way, and why fight the natural bent He's given me?
...and my personal favorite, because it sounds so holy,
5.  God designed the day to begin as the sun went down (see Genesis 1 and ask a Jew), so when I meet with him before bed, I actually am starting my day with the Lord.

Perhaps when I am an empty-nester, those will cut it.  But for now, I fully recognize that the house does not function well if I'm not up before the girls.  This is a challenge because Camille has always been an early riser, due to the fact that--according to my Granny--I changed the words of the famous bedtime prayer so as not to scare her with talk of death:  "Now I lay me down to sleep.  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  Please be with me through the night, and wake me with the morning light."  Lesson learned.  We made up a totally different prayer for Caroline's bedtime blessing.

So what's a girl to do?  Any mom worth her salt knows that the next logical step is to google it.  I found a group of like-minded gals, struggling with the knowledge that we should get up early vs. the nature that we don't want to get up early.  I signed up for the Hello Mornings Challenge, joined one of the accountability groups, and downloaded my Bible study, which happens to be on 1 Peter this time around.

During this challenge, I receive weekly emails of encouragement and tips--good ones, like setting the alarm clock back a bit at a time, rather than all in one chunk.  Tons of free resources on the website and associated blogs help me organize my morning, plan time with God first thing, and also work some exercise into my routine.  The exercise I already had going, but moving God into the morning slot instead of his Jewish-style night-time place was necessary.

Each morning, I check in on my group's facebook page, working through that day's Bible study with them and sharing prayer requests.  Then I have my personal time with God and get the day rolling.

I've just finished my first week, and I have to tell you that I love it.  I could go on and on about how much more productive I am, how proud I feel of myself throughout the day, how much more smoothly the day goes when I'm proactive instead of reactive.  But the biggest benefit is that when I wake up alone and have time that I can spend with God uninterrupted, it fills me so that when I spill out onto others, it's God I'm sharing instead of myself.  And that's worth setting the alarm for.

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