She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
I'm not too sold on this Daylight Savings Time thing. Really, what parent is? We all end up with children who won't go to bed, or won't wake up in the morning, or wake up at 5am and fall asleep during lunchtime and whine all afternoon because we have magically added or subtracted an hour from their life, yet expect business to continue as usual. My husband tells me that Arizona doesn't "do" daylight savings time. We considered moving there early in our marriage, and knowing that the state refuses to participate in such an inconvenient and (in my opinion) outdated ritual, I would gladly take up residency in the Grand Canyon state. As an added bonus, Arizona residents never have to bundle up children to go out in the snow!
The time change affects adults, too. I was just starting to appreciate that I no longer had to wake up while it was pitch black outside. I don't hate mornings, but I do hate feeling like I'm getting up in the middle of the night. Just as I began to anticipate those first twinklings of dawn, though, they were taken away. This morning I was sure it must be 4am when my clock said 6:27. The room, and the sky, were so dark that the idea of getting up seemed almost ridiculous. God immediately brought the verse from Proverbs 31 to my mind: "She rises while it is still dark." Other translations say, "She also rises while it is yet night." The Proverbs 31 woman is so often held up as a standard for Christian wives, and today, I can claim that I emulated at least one of her actions!
I have found that there are blessings to early rising, even while it is "yet night." Though I am more of a night person by nature, I do enjoy the peaceful quiet of starting a morning with just my thoughts and the Lord. Lately, that peaceful quiet has lasted for about five minutes before Hayden comes toddling out of his room, rubbing his eyes and saying, "Bright light!" and often requiring an immediate diaper change. If I can bring myself to get up earlier, though, I have time to get dressed and ready for the day in peace. I can make myself presentable to my husband, so that the image in his mind as he drives off to work will be one of an attractive, well-groomed wife, rather than a sleep-deprived mother still in her pajamas. Though I am yet to manage to work it into my busy schedule, I could start the day with some stretching to wake up my stiff pregnant muscles. And I can provide food for my family by starting breakfast early enough to allow our one meal as a family to be a time of peace, rather than a hurried affair as Daddy flies out the door, running late for work.
Most importantly, early mornings give me a chance to start my day with God. While this certainly is not a Biblical requirement, nor is it even possible for all mothers, I find that an early meeting with the Lord helps prepare my heart to serve Him all day long. Before my body is nourished with eggs and toast (our typical breakfast), I can nourish my soul with the living Word. Some reading from the Bible, a devotional, reflection, and prayer can all prepare my heart the same way getting dressed prepares my appearance. By exercising self-discipline to get up earlier, I can shed my spiritual pajamas and put on the armor of God by the light of His presence.
Here are a few practical tips on finding a morning quiet time that work for me:
1. Commit to waking at a certain time. Setting my alarm is the first step in waking up early. I am never going to "feel like" getting out of bed when I could be snuggled up under warm covers beside my husband. Moving the alarm out of reach so I do not have a choice to hit the snooze button helps, too.
2. Have a plan and a place. Organization can go a long way in making the morning go smoothly. If I plan to get dressed, then have quiet time, then start breakfast, I know exactly how much I time I have to do each activity. Next, I need a place to go. Some people have a special prayer closet. I tend to have a favorite chair, and keeping my Bible beside it creates an inviting place to curl up and read the Word. Gather whatever supplies you need - a Bible, notebook, pens, devotionals, list of people to pray for, etc - and keep them in a designated drawer, basket, or other special place. Then when you get up, you won't have to waste time looking for that book or writing utensil.
3. Establish a pattern. I always find that I am more likely to read the Bible when I have a set time of day to do it, so that it becomes a habit. Whether your pattern is to read as soon as you wake up, right after breakfast, or as soon as you tuck the children into bed, it becomes harder to break a habit than it is to keep it. Commit yourself to spending this time daily (or every weekday) until it becomes a regular and anticipated part of your routine.
4. Use the computer wisely. When I had a nursing baby, I found it convenient to use my laptop for nursing-at-keyboard Bible study. I could read Scripture at Bible Gateway, My Utmost for His Highest, and copy-and-paste verses for reflection into a text document. However, the computer can quickly become a distraction, especially when a browser window pops up with unread messages or the latest headlines. If you choose to use the Internet as a tool, I suggest setting up boundaries, such as a shortcut directly to devotional sites.
5. Be a slave to the Savior, not to a system. If I find myself getting angry with my children for waking up during my quiet time, something is not right. Spending time with God does not excuse me from fulfilling my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and Christian. I also need to let go of my perfectionism and refuse guilt if I cannot find quiet time every single day. As I said, early mornings may not be feasible for everyone, especially if you have a new baby, your husband works an odd shift, or you have a child who consistently wakes up while it is "yet night." While I have experienced blessings from starting my day in the Word, it is by no means a requirement. If you can not slip out of bed without waking someone, try keeping a Bible on your nightstand or praying silently (with eyes open so you don't fall back to sleep!). If waking up earlier in the morning is not practical, use naptime or the children's bedtime as an opportunity to spend time with God. If nothing else, try reading Scripture during breakfast, memorizing a verse in the shower, and singing praise songs while you work in the kitchen. God looks at the heart, not the clock. Making time for Him later in the day is far better than beating yourself up with guilt over missing a morning date.
For more practical tips on a variety of subjects, check out Works for Me Wednesdays at We are THAT Family!