how waking up early can steer your day

waking up earlyI know this may sound irrational, but I want you to start waking up early. 

Early. 30 minutes, at least, before the rest of your house moves. Why?

You need it. You need to take care of yourself before you start the day taking care of everyone else. I know because I spent years getting ready in the morning like a fireman going to a fire. It wasn’t until after my third child that I realized…

I had CONTROL. I had the POWER. I could STEER my whole day by getting up earlier than my family. 

Waking up early does mean EARLY. It’s 5:44 a.m. I’ve been up since 5:15.

Quite frankly, it’s because my HUGE cup of coffee has kicked in and I now it may be my only chance at pure quiet for the rest of the day until I get into this bed tonight.

Why have I been up since 5:15? My dear husband gets up early for work and I decided to get up with him. This decision was solidified by the coffee that he delivered to me to wake me up. I swear if someone brought me coffee in the middle of the night by my bedside, I’d get up and drink it. Pavlov’s dog has nothing on me.

I consider this time of day to be the most precious. No one is moving, except me. No one is asking for anything, except me. It’s a very selfish time of day. I can literally do whatever I want and no one cares. I don’t have to answer for my behavior in any way.

This is the steering wheel of my entire day. These are amazing minutes before the kids wake up and Ben is already at the hospital (he’s a pediatrician — that’s normal. Babies love to be born over night!)

How does getting up early steer our day?

1. It’s completely predictable. There is no other time of the day that is such. Once the world starts moving, anything can happen. This is the time when you can count on NOTHING happening to interrupt you in your activities. People exercise during this time for this very reason. It’s crossed off the list for the rest of the day without any excuse. I have used this time for that as well, but I like doing other things that get in the way of me exercising now, and exercise later.

2. It gives you permission. As I stated before, no one cares what you are doing before they wake up. The kids aren’t going to see that you are somehow NOT doing something that they would rather you be doing. Your husband is either sleeping or gone like mine is. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. It’s quite a relief.

3. Did I mention it’s quiet? It is the most quiet a house gets. That is so pleasant, so peaceful. Will you fall back asleep? Maybe, but once you get in the habit of getting up before your kids, you won’t go back. You will feel like you’ve discovered a treasure.

4. It makes the entire morning routine run smoother when I am ready for my day BEFORE the kids get up. They are just jumping on a moving train. All of us aren’t trying to get going together. If I’m trying to get ready at the same time, my patience level is AWFUL. Why? Because remember, I crave quiet predictable time in the morning.

What’s the worse thing that could happen if you get up earlier than your family? Honestly, I can’t think of one. Some people think that you will be tired for the rest of your day. You will quickly adjust your evening schedule to get to bed earlier, just to have this time to yourself.

Ok. I need a quick little cup of extra coffee. It’s 6:00. I have 20 minutes to relish. I’m going to throw a load of laundry in the washer and jump in the shower. In 25 minutes, my little world starts moving quickly and I need to grab the wheel.

What have you done to ensure that your mornings run smoother?

Have you ever tried getting up earlier than your family to see what the effects are?

How can you plan today so that you can wake up tomorrow earlier than your house?

Kathy Helgemo




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when loving our kids doesn’t feel good

how to set boundaries with kidsMy son is a very smart boy, but he doesn’t fully understand. 

He can’t comprehend the very serious consequences he could face.

All he knows is that he’s sick of doing chest therapy, breathing treatments, taking handfuls of vitamins and eating healthy. Who could blame him?

He just wants to be a “normal” teenager. And to him, being “normal” doesn’t include any of the above.

Micah doesn’t completely realize it, but his life without his cystic fibrosis medicine is not one he’d enjoy. For 13 years, God has used caring doctors and amazing medications to keep my beautiful boy breathing deeply. He plays baseball. Rarely misses school. Makes straight A’s.

I want to keep him well. And so, I’ve had to be willing to feel rotten:

Micah: Why, why do you make me do this? How would you feel if you had to do this?! Why do you even care if I do my medicine? I’ll be the one to pay the price!

But the price could be so much higher than he realizes.

Me: I make you do your medicine because I love you. I give you consequences for not doing it because I love you.

Micah: Well, it sure doesn’t feel like love! If you loved me, you wouldn’t nag me all the time! You wouldn’t make me do this! You hate me!

Me: Micah, I know you’re really mad at me. That’s okay. You can even not like me very much.  I’m willing to take that. But just take your medicine!

Each time this scenario plays out, my heart is pumping and I’m on the verge of tears.

I don’t like being the “bad” guy.

It goes against every (recovering) “people-pleasing” fiber of my being.

The idea of loving our kids evokes warm, happy feelings.

The reality of love with our children is that sometimes we feel awful and misunderstood. 

The idea of love suggests deep closeness.

The reality of love means that we have to be willing to accept feeling isolated from them at times. Pushed away. Disliked. Labeled “the enemy.” 

After 16 years of parenting, I’ve learned to accept the reality of love. Because that’s the kind of love that provides true healing.

I think about how I have a Parent who does things that sometimes don’t make sense to me either: 

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord.
And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

And, though, I don’t always understand His ways, I know His love is real. And for my ultimate good. 

Even though it sometimes hurts.

Recently, a friend’s husband encouraged me with these words: “Remember, Melinda, one day, the ‘bad guy’ will become the ‘good guy.'”

That day may be a long way off, but when it comes, it will feel great.

Melinda Means

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“Team Us: Marriage Together” review and giveaway!

Team UsI was a starry-eyed bride when I married my prince at the ripe old age of 22.

I had dreamed of my wedding day since I was a little girl. I just knew that when I finally met and married “the one,” I would be deliriously happy and life would just always be good.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband dearly. He is funny, interesting, loving and incredibly encouraging. I am a better person for having married Mike Means.

But that doesn’t negate one important, annoying and unavoidable truth: Marriage is hard work.

There’s a reason why most romance novels and movies end with the couple getting together. After the credits roll, that’s when things get messy.

Mike and I have grown so much over the past 23 years.  By the grace of God, we have pushed through some heartbreaking, stressful and incredibly difficult times.

Sometimes we have weathered those times as a solid team. Other times, we’ve retreated into our camps, either out of selfishness, self-protection or simple weariness. Consistently pursuing a team mentality in marriage requires sacrifice and laying down of our own agenda and desires in favor of our partner’s. That’s not easy stuff.

As I was reading Ashleigh Slater’s wonderful new book, Team Us: Marriage Together, I kept thinking, “I wish that I would have had this book as a young wife.”

Not that only young brides can benefit. Any married couple — no matter how many years they’ve been married — will glean from the wisdom that Ashleigh shares with humor, transparency and lots of grace.

Ashleigh tackles the importance of a team mentality in marriage, how to make it happen and the amazing blessings that can result. She gives couples the tools to create relationship with intention, so that it not only weathers the storms of life, but is stronger because of them. She shows how the messiness of marriage is what refines us and draws us closer to God and each other — if we allow it.

We all come into marriage with ingrained habits — some sinful, some just irritating. Ashleigh describes the teamwork and grace necessary as both partners work to change those habits that steal marital joy. I loved this passage:

“I’ve come to realize that not all of Ted’s old habits are necessarily sinful. Now, before I address a behavior of his, I first stop and categorize it. 

Sin means “to miss the mark.” So I ask myself: Is Ted missing God’s mark? Or is he simply missing mine? Is it a quirk I find grating, or is it offensive to God and hurtful to our relationship? If it’s a matter of annoyance, not destructiveness, then maybe I — and not Ted — am the one who needs to change.” (page 40)

In the chapter, Conflict 101, Ashleigh helps couples understand the difference between a “Me-First Fighter” and a “Team-First Fighter.” It’s a tall order. But using her own experiences with her husband, she shows us how even couples with very different, flawed conflict styles can work toward moving away from self-centeredness and toward humility and respect. 

“The more I do this, the more I’m able to embrace conflict as part of the adventure of our marriage — to see it as an opportunity to strengthen our team rather than a threat from which to run. “ (page 70)

Ashleigh also gives solid ways that couples can remain unified and strong as they confront the challenges of parenting and difficult life circumstances, such as job loss or illness. At the end of each chapter, Team Us has thought-provoking questions, designed to promote discussion and communication as a couple. 

One of the fun, humorous and insightful features of the book is the snippets from Ted throughout the chapters. I found it really interesting and helpful to hear his perspective on the stories and opinions Ashleigh shares.

Ashleigh’s warm, humorous and unflinchingly honest revelations and insights convicted, inspired and motivated me. Even after 23 years of marriage, God used Team Us to give me a clearer, deeper picture of exactly what He has in mind when He created marriage. It gave me new tools to tackle old problems with hope and a plan.

Team Us is a wonderful resource for couples that can transform their mentality about marriage and help them pursue the relationship in the way God intended!

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