What!?! It’s Morning Already?

I’m currently taking a break from writing this blog to work on a special project to give hope, encouragement and tools to awaken in faith and pass it on to the next generation. Leading up to this, I’m reposting a series I did on Deuteronomy 11 to especially provide parents with practical ways to live out their faith with their children. Please enjoy, and I look forward to sharing more soon.

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If you’re anything like me, then there are some mornings that your body doesn’t want to get up out of the bed. It may be held down by physical pains from the previous day, heavy matters of the heart, or just the fact that you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in who-knows-when although it might have been sometime around when the first of your three children was born and it begins to affect your brain in such a way that words come out in fragments or disjointed thoughts or just really long and terrible run-on sentences. In short, mornings can be tough.

For my own personal benefit, I’ve tried to combat the early sunshine meanies by establishing a routine of daily readings in the Psalms. Many of them are short, pointed, and full of emotion – much like my attitude in the morning. It may sound like work, but it’s a simple way for me to begin to refocus. I’ve found that I need that early jumpstart to keeping my mind on higher things to set the tone for the day. Mornings may still be hard, but at least my attitude is put in check by the Word when I make time to read it.

The other thing the Psalms have helped me do is direct my heart toward a greater expression of praise. It takes the focus off me and points my heart and mind toward the glorious character of my ever-present God and the all-powerful strength that comes through His Spirit at work in my life. Yet, many times my praise has been stunted by stepping on a little Barbie shoe that was left out from the night before or a whiny “where’s my cereal?” before I’ve had an opportunity to open my eyes. In these times, it’s essential to fight through the noise and get to the praise because my first response may be the one that sets the mood for the rest of the day.

The more I complain, the more complaining there is. Have you noticed that in your family? If you’re cranky and complaining about this and that, then you see your cute little “mirror” mimicking your tones and attitudes about things you might consider menial. You and I probably jump and tell them to stop whining, but we really need to stop and apologize for what our lives have been teaching them.

On the other hand, my children praise more when I praise more. If I intentionally set out to praise their mom for every little thing, the girls begin saying “thank you” more often, enjoying meals that they normally haven’t or just saying “Mommy, you’re beautiful.” As I share my thanks for God’s provision in the little things in life, then I hear that echoed in the bedtime prayers of my girls as they thank God for everyday things like a walk outside, an opportunity to try something new or a fun time with a friend.

For good or for worse, my attitude in the mornings sets the tone for the day for the rest of my family. If I am in a hurry and start pushing people out the door, I have just allowed those few minutes to create an almost unbearable several hours for everyone else. I also create several unproductive hours for myself as I am weighed down by the guilt of the morning. So if I am careful to slow down and praise, then my family reaps the benefit. It’s not a “thus saith the Lord” or anything like that. But, as a general rule, I’ve found it to be true.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 tells us, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and mind; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” So, perhaps it would be of help to think of some ways to develop an atmosphere of praise in the mornings.

  • Get up early to read a short passage or psalm. I know this seems impossible with smaller children, but you could consider having those little ones join you on the couch to hear you read the words as a prayer for the day.
  • Don’t keep your praise to yourself. If something has come to your mind while reading or praying, share it with your family at breakfast. Whether you pray or just talk about it, it can open the doors to greater conversation about things we’re looking forward to or grateful for God’s provision.
  • Think ahead. Some families are not able to have breakfast together depending upon their schedules or shifts at work. But, you could sit down as a parent and write a little note to each child and your spouse before you hit the hay. It gives them an opportunity to wake up to you and your praise even if you had to leave early for work or are still sleeping after a late shift.
  • Post-Its. I’ve mentioned before that my wife’s grandmother puts little sticky notes all around the kitchen to help her focus on a verse of Scripture. You  might consider writing a few with your children and then posting them in the bathroom or kitchen where they will be visible.

Whatever we do, it’s important to be intentional. I’m trying new things all the time to find what works for our family dynamic, and I don’t always succeed. But I’ve definitely found that we can’t just hope for the best; we have to plan for it. Do we want our family to be known for an attitude of complaining or an attitude of praise? A lot depends on how you, as a parent, start your day.

How do you set the tone for the day? Share some of your ideas with others in the comments below.

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