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Catching the worm: the new early morning routine

I'm not sure how long it will last.

But getting up around 5AM every morning has been a welcome change. Yes, this is me, Stefanie typing, a known night owl talking. I couldn't rise before 7:20AM a few weeks ago. So believe it or not, I wake up more refreshed than my previous 11PM-7AM routine. 

Now I rise, get my coffee, and quietly tip toe to the porch not to wake my house full of light sleepers.  I find my spot under a blanket and sit on the bed, sipping my coffee. 

Surveying my surroundings, I see the sun breaking through the trees. I hear the wind dancing through the leaves, and smell the morning breeze coming through the windows as it gently brushes my skin. 

I don't even notice the mess on the porch, the out of place chairs, or glass tea cup on the drum kit.  Ok, maybe I do but I don't get up to fix it.

Sometimes I grab a book or Bible and start reading, other times I write. But it's in the stillness, the calm before the storm, I feel peace. Any minute, I will hear doors. The pitter patter of feet. The coffee machine with fire up again, cartoons will resume, and the business of the day begins. 


But until then, I sit. Slowly welcoming the day. Inviting God to become present in my mind.

Getting up early is part of my realignment plan.  I used to think that if God wanted me do something, He would make it easy.  You know, yoke easy, burden light? And once you take the leap, there are blessings, but it doesn't mean it was, or got, easy.   Every morning I argue with my snooze button.  When I win, I get blessed with all the beautiful things I experience waking up early.  But it's still hard to get up. Every. Morning.

>>>>    <<<<

I saw an article on fb about the pitfalls of waking up and checking your phone. Do you do that? I used to roll over, open my eyes and swipe right. I didn't even lift my head before I was connected. Weather. Calendar. Instagram. Facebook. email. Increasing and obsessively entering the world and all its fallen mess like a head on collision. At times, getting up frustrated, disappointed, hurt, or jealous. 

Friends, that is no way to wake up. No need to put those garbage thought in our minds first thing in the morning. "Take every thought captive," I think someone once said. Maybe that exercise is best started in the morning by being with Jesus instead of Twitter. 

This new rhythm is the stretching part before a race. 

This new rhythm prevents injuries to my soul. 
This new rhythm paces me for the long race.

Some mornings I run after I write. And by 8AM I feel accomplished. Proud. My mind in a catchers pose instead of up to bat, swinging. It feels good when you do what you feel like you should, right?

I highly recommend 5AM wake up calls. And be easy on yourself if you don't quite hit 5AM everyday. From one night owl, type A to another, make it 5ish


Sometimes, we just need our mom.

Jayden barfed yesterday.

Actually, from both ends. When I went in to wake him up for  school he was sleeping in it. Poor guy. Justin picked him up and I aired out his room while he continued to sleep on the bathroom floor. 

Justin gave him a bath. 
I stripped the bed. 

It's always hard having a sick child, especially a sick, non-verbal child. It's like having a baby in so many ways. They can't tell you exactly what's wrong so they cry. And then as parents, we try to unlock the mystery.

"Do you think it's something he ate/drank?"
"Brooklyn was also sick for a few days, bet it's the same bug", we reason. 

After his bath, we moved him to the couch and he easily fell back asleep.

His body so fragile.

I sat and watched the rise and fall of his breath.  He held each breath a second, then his chest sunk into the couch. 

I held his soft, curled hand.  I brushed off the thought of another time I will maybe do this, for the last time, and thanked God for each breath. 


He dry heaves. I grab the barf bowl. Isn't it funny how we have "barf" rituals? When I was young, I puked in a bowl or toilet, ate crackers and drank ginger ale.  I know a woman who swore that Pepsi cures everything.

The bus comes for B.
Grandma comes to sit with J.
I drive Ellie to VBS. 

When I got home, he had just thrown up and #3ed in his pants. And, as Ama went to get the diaper stuff, he fell back asleep.  

The day in day out caregiving routine isn't my stongsuit, but I love taking care of my babies when they're sick or in the hospital.  I'm not sure why. I hate seeing them sick, so I guess when they are doing fine, I assume anyone can change a diaper. But when they're sick, they need their mom.  Sometimes, we just need our mom.

Like it was orchestrated by God himself, he opened his sleepy eyes and smiled right at me. You guys, it was the most heavenly smile. Not a smile of a sick child. And it lingered. It was like he was saying, 
"there you are, mom. My. Mom." 

I made him a bed, changed the #3, and turned on some Handy Manny.  And then he said it again. Those eyes. That crooked smile. It's these secret I love you's we share that make me feel like I saw God himself shining through my sweet boy. 

Holy exchanges.

I am so proud to be his mom. He is such a gift. He teaches me so much about the character and personhood of Jesus without ever using a word.   

Want to read "Back In the Saddle"? 
click here!


Back in the Saddle

4 weeks ago.

My last post was 4 weeks ago.  And, it wasn't even my post. It was my dear friend Michelle's guest post. I am guessing it was the busyness of the school year ending, writers block, laziness, or a bit of everything combined, but I need to get back on the saddle. 

Here's the skinny on the last 4 weeks:

Ellie turned 3. She is such a bright light of life in our home. Such a personality and joy to be around. She got a day of pampering: hair cut, starbucks, mani and pedi, and build-a-bear.  [She got rid of all her pacifiers in the stomach of "binka" bear.] We had a small "yellow minnie" family party for her to celebrate. 

I handmade 26 teacher gifts. It takes a village, folks. I don't know if succulents were a good gift, in retrospect. Most teachers looked scared at the idea of taking care of a plant, but at least they turned out cute. (the heart on the back is Jayden's thumb print on the left and Brooklyn's on the right)

Jayden had a swallow study done at Lurie Children's. Results? We have to start thickening his liquids to a nectar/smoothie consistency and it looks like we will be doing a g-tube (feeding tube) sometime in 2015. Not the best news. But we would rather be proactive and get it done when it is safe. And, we saw sweet Livia there as well!

Justin took over OASIS, our special needs ministry at our church, so we have been busy doing training, intakes and schedules.  

School ended last week and our wonderful friends at The Sanctuary run an overnight camp for children with special needs in Ingleside this week so Jayden and Brooklyn are making memories there.  Ellie is in Rockford and I have a glorious day alone!

Oh yeah, and I am in a new, fun once-a-month group for moms of children with special needs and love Jesus. We are reading through a great book, Holding Onto Hope

Not to mention therapies, graduation parties, work, and case management!


Well, I guess that is why it's been 4 weeks since I have paused. 

Such is life, right?

When I fall off the saddle, I color code.  It's the dreaded Type A in me. A few days ago, I decided to start fresh and start a new schedule.  I came to the realization that the important things were absent from my priority list.  I was spending way more time than I'd like to admit watching late night TV cause I was just spent from the day and wanted to unplug.  Which then makes me sleep in, missing the morning routine, making me play catch up all day, rushed and late, only to be exhausted on the couch watching tv.  

Can you relate? 

So I decided to break the cycle. A day that could be filled with things I would be proud of, things I was made to do, and people I needed to make a priority.  I marked out each hour of the day down the left of my numbers sheet (excel for you microsoft folk) and wrote the days at the top.  

First thing on the schedule? Sleep. Because I need 8 hours and want to wake up before noon the next day, I reserved 9PM-5AM for sleep. The goal is to wake up and write from 5-6AM Sunday through Thursday and run 6-7AM Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday before work.  The other days, I plan on taking the kids so Justin can run.  

I also added time on the schedule for bedtime. Free time for us usually happens after the kids go to bed,  but now that I will be going to bed at the same time as the kids, Jut and I are going to try to rotate who does bedtimes so Jut can watch his animal shows and I can watch a program here or there.

And after a week, I haven't hit the target perfectly yet. And, I am giving myself enough grace to be a work in progress. 

The first morning was glorious, but it was more like 5:30AM. The birds were chirping and the sun was out.  The second morning I ran, but came back limping.

Sometimes we just get off track. Not bad. Not good. Just off. And lately I have felt the invitation to realign my life to match my priorities.  I am learning as I get older, it is less about not doing bad things and do good, and more about which good things do I want to give my time.  And, I am discovering, it is a lot harder to say no to good things.  For me, freedom has come from building in margin to be present and engaged. Not rushed ALL the time, letting my body and mind rest.  Not mind-numbing rest (although I like that too) but intentional, slowing, breathing rest. 

Where do you need to build your margin?

Do you find your schedule matches your priorities?
leave a comment below and 
let me know how it's going for you!

Before you go, just wanted to mention our 5K is scheduled! September 12, 2015 
at Illinois Beach State Park 
to raise money for gene therapy at Nationwide Hospital.  Learn more and sign up today!