a look at my quiet time

April 10, 2024

 caravan sonnet

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I am excited to link up with some other ladies in bloggy world and share a bit about our quiet times/devotions. I love reading these types of posts to see and learn what others are doing and jot down ideas for the future. I hope that if you are looking for some ideas these will encourage/inspire you. 

I also want to say that depending on the season of life you are in things may look different for you for different reasons. When I was sick and fighting for my health that was my job. Fighting for my life was literally my job and that is what I spent 18-20 hours a day doing. And while during this time I wrote books, ran an Etsy shop, and grew this blog into a brand and a website, I had a lot of time laying in bed, in hospital treatment rooms, etc. where I spent more time with the Lord then ever before in my life. It was a precious season in that way, but currently right now I am in the midst of an intense season of working several jobs for financial reasons. I have found that for me personally right now having small snippets of time throughout the day is best rather than a large time throughout the day. 

If you are in a busy season of life for different reasons I hope these ideas encourage you. I am sharing that because I find that a lot of times there is a huge push to have a BIG time with the Lord at one time and in the morning. At different seasons of life that has worked really well for me. If it is working well for you, that is awesome. But if it doesn't work well for you I hope these ideas do!
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1. Spend Time in Scripture
The most important thing that I can encourage is that before anything else is just to open up and read God's word. If you don't get to anything else or any other devotionals that is not as important as reading scripture. For me right now I have been slowly working my way through different books of the Bible reading a few verses or a chapter. As some of you know I do read a psalm and a proverb each day and have been doing that for years. It is a tradition that I continue because there are so many truths packed in that always are an incredible blessing to me.

I have shared this a couple of times but I continue to receive emails so I wanted to share it again. Since posting the above picture on Instagram several years ago I always get emails asking what journaling Bible that I use. If you are looking for a journaling Bible than I use the ESV Journaling Bible (The Interleaved Version) that was a gift to me on my birthday many years ago. The cheapest that I have found it for was on Amazon which you can find HERE. If you are looking for the non-interleaved version that looks similar you can find it HERE
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To be honest I love the opportunity to do creative things in my Bible like you see above, but it is not the Bible that I use every single day. My marked up, tear-stained, scribbled in, highlighted, underlined, etc. Bible is the NIV Bloom Collection Compact Bible (seen in the picture above)- you can find it HERE.  They are older and there are a variety of different flower covers in the collection (Pink TulipPink FlowerOrange FlowerPurple TulipRed Tulip) and the prices range a bit. 

One of the things that I love is that the Bible is so compact that I can literally take it with me everywhere. It is only 7 inches long about 4 inches wide and is only 1 inch thick. I share that to say that I encourage you to find a Bible that works for you. I know that there is a big push for doing all of these creative amazing things in Bibles, but I also know that some people are not wanting a big Bible like that. Whatever works for you is great. 
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So as I stated above, this is a very intense season for me- especially in the mornings. With my current schedule it was not working as well for me to do an extended time with the Lord in the morning as it used to. I was needing to get up earlier and earlier (which is not a bad thing but for some understanding I currently hold a job in the morning before my full time job so I am already up very early) and knew that physically I needed sleep. I decided to switch things around and do a short devotional in the morning and then throughout the day and later in the day do additional time. Y'all... I started this before the new year started and this has been a HUGE blessing to me. 

If you are looking for encouragement to start your day with hope, especially if you are in a discouraging season than I would encourage you to try the  Wake Up To Hope DevotionalThis devotional has been perfect to literally wake up to. There are some challenges that are happening currently behind the scenes (someday I will share more but in the meantime we do covet prayers), and in this devotional you have a short scripture verse, reflection on a daily reading, a prayer for the morning and then a thought to meditate on. This devotional is short and yet it has gently reminded me each morning about God's goodness and the expectant hope we have in Him! 

You can find it on Amazon HERE.

If you have done this one and are looking for a similar type devotional, I have also loved, Choosing Life for the mornings. I have mentioned in the past during the time of fighting for my health and it is an amazing book. I pretty much return to it every other year! You can find it on Amazon HERE!
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3. Listening to Sermons While Walking
One of my favorite things I love to do is to listen to sermons on my walks. I have a few favorite pastors from around the world and many of these sermons are precious to me. If you are looking for a few favorites to listen to than I love Alistair Begg, Sheridan Voysey, Joel Osteen, and many others. Listening to sermons each day has truly been a blessing for me and something I started when I was sick. Rich and full of truth they are truly the way that I set the tone for the morning (and evening) when I am walking and training for the marathon. 

If you are looking for a few favorites that are on repeats each week, then here are a couple of suggestions: 
1. Alistair Begg's Ruth Series
2. Allistair Begg- My Times Are In Your Hands Sermon. Years and years ago when I was graduating from college one of my favorite Pastor's, Alistair Begg preached a sermon entitled "My Times are in Your Hands" from Psalm 31. To be frank these last several weeks have been incredibly difficult and I kept returning to Psalm 31 again and again remembering the truth of those words preached so many years ago. Yesterday, when I went to listen to church online I was delighted to find a couple of youtube videos of a similar sermon with the same title that Alistair preached at a different university. If you are struggling, need encouragement, and are looking for some gentle truth I can't recommend these two sermons enough. You can find part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE
3. Sheridan Voysey - his Resurrection Year Talks
5. Joel Osteen- Supernatural Provision
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4. Playing Scripture and Worship Music Throughout the Day
This is something that I saw my precious mom do as a little child and that has continued to this day. We love music, but scripture and worship music is a huge staple in our home, our car, and our lives. This has been an easy way for me to memorize scripture and really get God's word in my life. While I may not be the best singer (*smiles*) this has truly been a blessing and one that continues to this day. 
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5. Read Christian Books, Biographies, and Stories
For as long as I can remember I have carried a book with me everywhere I have gone. There are a stack of books beside my bed, in bed with me, and there can always be at least one found in my purse... sometimes two. At different times different books have impacted my life in different ways, but here are a few favorites to get you started...

More than ELEVEN years ago (it is hard to believe that I have been writing in this space for that long!!) I shared in a blog post that one of my heroes of the faith was Darlene Diebler Rose. 
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Her book, Evidence Not Seen - A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungle of World War II was one I first read in my early teens and it is still one that I re-read at least once a year. It has such depth and truth in it that it is constantly encouraging. This book tells the story of Darlene who was a young newlywed in the pre-World War II era and her experience as a missionary in the jungles of New Guinea and then her four years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The title of this book is perfect because she truly is honest in her experience of the way that the Lord often appeared silent but His hand was continuously orchestrating protection over her each and every day, providing "evidence not seen". There are so many nuggets of truth and encouragement that I have walked away from after reading this book and I have made it a tradition to read this book once a year in the Spring or Summer. Each time I do I am struck again by this woman's faith in God despite her horrific circumstances. You can find it HERE if you are interested!

(Okay, lets be honest ALL of Robin Jones Gunn books *smiles*)
When I was 13 years old I was handed my first of many books I would fall in love with from Robin Jones Gunn and haven't stopped reading them over the last 22 years. I have read, re-read, and re-read a thousand times the adventures of Robin's characters while I have been encouraged in my faith and strengthened and challenged to return to scripture. Robin takes what some might call ordinary characters and weaves a beautiful story line that challenges me to fall more in love with Jesus, to spend more time in scripture, and to love those that the Lord has placed in my life in big ways with lots of grace. Her characters are so memorable that you feel that you are reading about friends, but beyond her talent for writing is a woman who obviously loves the Lord and has changed countless lives, including mine. 

No matter your age- whether you are 13 years old to your early thirties (and beyond) you will love these books. Throughout the last few years of my health journey I have re-read these series and books thousands (literally!!) of times, have handed out countless copies to people on airplanes, in hospitals, and even once in a grocery store line. The beautiful way that Robin writes mimics the beautiful way that the Lord calls people to Himself- with lots of love, lots of grace, and lots of beauty. 
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There was probably not one single book that impacted my time working with teens as a youth leader, a coach, a teacher, and now founding Grace Engaged as reading this book when I was a college student. I found this book at a garage sale and it was definitely a "God-thing". Although written about a woman who lived in the early 20th century, this book impacted my life and the way that I viewed ministry and working with people in a profound and life-changing way. 

Henrietta Mears is known as one of the great Bible teachers of the 20th century, impacting hundreds of students, including notable Christian leaders such as Richard C. Halverson, Luis Evans Jr., Bill Bright, and many others. Billy Graham was affected by her work and said of her, "Her enthusiasm for the Lord Jesus Christ was contagious". Henrietta Mears spent many years as the Christian Education Director at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood and built one of the largest Sunday Schools in the world and wrote curriculum that was in such high demand that she had to publish it. She later founded Gospel Light. If you work in ministry or just have a heart and passion for people, I can't recommend this book enough. You will be challenged and changed to place the Lord first in ministry and to follow Him in this area. 
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I picked up the first book in the Mark of the Lion Series at a used book store when I was 14 years old and was looking for some encouraging Christian fiction. From the first sentence of the book (“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.”), to the last, I was transported back to ancient Jerusalem, Germania, Rome, and Ephesus to a time that was frought with war, danger, and the faith of those mentioned in Hebrews 11. The Mark of the Lion series follows the story of a young slave girl (Hadassah) and Marcus, who is the brother of her owner. Hadassah experiences extreme horror and yet struggles to share her faith with the family that she serves as she grows to love each of them. At the same time the book also follows the story of Atretes, who is a captured soldier from Germania who is forced to become a gladiator. I don't want to ruin anything for you, but I can't recommend this series enough. You will be challenged to fall more in love with Jesus no matter what your circumstances are, and challenged to think about how we share the love of God with those we love the most.

A few additional favorites...
(1) Any Books by Elisabeth Elliot 
(2) God on Mute by Pete Greig - a beautiful help for those walking through seasons of unanswered prayer.
(3) And the Shofar Blew (by Francine Rivers)- a challenge to consider the Church of Jesus Christ and what it looks like
(4) One Light Still Shines by Marie Monville - in the midst of the horror of the Amish School Shooting Marie (the shooters wife) and her children were the recipients of extreme forgiveness and love- a challenge and encouragement to all of us about the power of bestowing grace to a person's life
(5) The Atonement Child (by Francine Rivers) - a beautiful story of sacrifice, redemption, and the question of abortion
(6) Left at the Alter (by Kimberley Kennedy)- a wonderful help for those who have experienced relationship heartbreak and rejection
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5. Old Fashioned Sundays

 "The tradition of an old fashioned Sunday accomplishes more than just feeding us, it nurtures us."

- Chef John Besh- 

Over 21 years ago, back when I was working in Washington DC I started to find myself in a pattern that I grew to quickly dread. I found myself tired and exhausted from the week and then would give myself an "off day" on Saturday but then found that I was running around like a crazy woman after church and between Sunday night community meetings to get everything done that I needed to for the coming week. I often would go to bed on Sunday night worn out and tired, thinking to myself, "I need another day in the weekend." 

As I kept thinking about my time and my weekends I remembered a story that my mom had told me about my grandfather's childhood days. My grandfather shared that his father insisted that Sunday's after church were to be kept simple and for the family and friendships. The whole day was to be centered on community. 

As a girl who loves community and people I was drawn to this idea and theme and kept returning to it as I considered my weekends. So about 20 years ago I started to put into practice the concept that my Sunday's were going to be "old fashioned Sundays" that are simple and centered solely on community. As I fought for my health some of these ideas were tweaked a bit, but the concept of keeping things simply centered on community has only grown more precious. 

My "old fashioned Sunday" truly consists of connecting with my immediate community in a deeper way. Starting at 7am I disconnect from social media, email, and things I find distracting. I then connect on the phone with dear friends and have long heart-felt conversations as I sip tea, and spend many hours writing old fashioned letters to loved ones and to the soldiers that I have adopted through Adopt-a-Platoon. I get together with friends and family members (sometimes through facetime and virtual face-timing), create artwork, go for hikes, plan precious moments of adventures and simply enjoy the moments in front of me with my loved ones. 

I look ahead to the week, schedule in time that I want to face-time with precious friendships and make phone calls to friends that are far away. I look ahead at what is coming up in the month ahead, spend time planning gifts, creating, and thinking of ways to mark important special days and listen to music softly playing in the background. As my health has returned, I have loved baking again for loved ones, and look forward to preparing meals for my tribe, gathering around the table, and sharing laughter and our lives.

What I started to find was that by taking time to rest and invest in my community was a beautiful gift that started to erase the "worn out and tired" that used to exist. I know some of you are shaking your heads and thinking, well that sounds delightful, but I have so much responsibility that I could never do that. I get it. I really do. Most of my days (due to commitments, writing obligations, teaching, treatment, etc.) go 16-20 hours. I am not going to try and compare lives as we all have responsibilities, deadlines, demands, etc, but instead I hope that this will encourage you to carve out sometime for your own old fashioned rest and connection. 
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Recently, as my life has been even more full due I found myself evaluating this time again. One of the ways that I have been recently challenged about this was in watching an old TV show, "Little Men". (It is available free on Amazon Prime- you can find it HERE... it's a bit slow, but adorable.) As I watched this show I was struck by the community and depth and challenged to really put down my phone, stop spending so much time scrolling through social media, and invest in the lives of those around me and who are in my community. It may seem like a strange connection, but watching this show was a gentle and beautiful reminder of the gift of the present. Something that I fought so hard for for the last decade and something I want to continue to treasure.

All of these things have brought a richness and depth to my life and I truly look forward to Sundays. This has created a haven living concept in deep ways for me. I think that for every person and family during different seasons this might look unique, but the concept of having an old fashioned Sunday is something that I hope to treasure forever. I shared at the beginning that Chef John Besh once said, "The tradition of an old fashioned Sunday accomplishes more than just feeding us, it nurtures us." I love this. I would love to know what ways you incorporate this idea into your lives! Please share in the comments below!

I hope that you have found a few tidbits that you can take away for yourself in this post and in your own time in growing your relationship with the Lord. If you have any thoughts or ideas I would love to hear what you do! Here's to a beautiful and nurturing and refreshing day friends. Happy Wednesday!

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