Sometimes I treat God like a spouse who I am just giving obligatory time to. I show up for the date nights but then live this married life without Him. Maybe you can relate. There are days where I spend time reading the Word and uttering a few prayers before rushing into my day, only to completely forget that I am living this day with Him. He is the One giving me each breath I take. He is the One I am to be serving and loving and thinking about.
While a relationship with Christ does consist of reading my Bible and praying, those things are not the end goal; God is. Bible reading and prayer are just tools to help me in knowing Him better.
Our earthly marriages are similar. I would never say that date nights are all that my marriage consists of. While they are good and extremely helpful, they do not make up the bulk of the day/week/month. No, most of married life is spent in the sharing of everyday moments, walking and talking with my spouse.
Our union to Christ is the same. Our relationship with Him is not made up entirely of early morning devotions. No, we walk together through the good and the bad, the big and the small. He is ever-present with us whether we’re desperately asking for His help or praising Him for His goodness. We can praise, worship and enjoy Him all throughout our day for He is always with us. Best of all, He has promised that He will never leave or forsake us. It’s a life-long, eternal commitment. We are His bride. He is our Bridegroom.
For our third and final post in our Sunday Series, we have compiled some breakfast ideas, as well as a couple of recipes that might help simplify Sunday breakfasts. These are all ideas that can be made ahead of time so that come Sunday morning, you have to spend very little time actually making breakfast.
Frozen pancakes or waffles.
Coffee cake (Pretty much any coffee cake recipe can be mixed up the night before and then baked in the morning.)
Cinnamon rolls (These can also be made the night before, refrigerated, and then baked fresh in the morning!)
⅓ cup oil
⅓ cup regular or brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Nuts or berries, optional
Mix all ingredients together and place in a greased 9-inch x9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve with milk (like regular cereal.)
This can also be mixed up the night before and then just baked in the morning.
Overnight Bran Muffins
1 ½ cups Raisin Bran cereal
½ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup milk
¼ cup oil
½ teaspoon salt
Mix all together and let sit overnight. In the morning, fill muffin tins ½ full and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes about 1 dozen.
Freezer Breakfast burritos
Make any combination of egg/cheese/hashbrown/meat filling. Place the filling in the burritos. Fold up the burritos and wrap up individually with foil. Freeze.
To serve, simply remove the foil and pop the frozen burrito in the microwave and heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the burrito is heated through.
Cold Cereal/Pop-Tarts/Instant Oatmeal
Do you have any favorite quick breakfast ideas that have helped make Sunday morning breakfast a bit less crazy?
Does your heart sometimes feel so crowded, busy, and burdened down on Sunday morning that when you finally get to church, you find that there is little room for drinking from the teaching and preaching from the Word? Not only that, but the busyness of your heart then makes it difficult for you to be intentional about speaking truth into the lives of those around you? Does Sunday morning ever just feel hard to you?
I know I often feel this way. I am guessing that many of you do as well.
In my recent post, Believer, the Local Church is for Your Spiritual Good, I shared some reasons for why regular gathering with believers in a local church setting is for our spiritual good. We need the local church for spiritual instruction and growth, we need it for mutual encouragement, and we need it for accountability–to keep prodding each other on towards godliness as we look towards Christ’s return.
As a follow-up to that post, I want to provide a few considerations of ways to be a little more intentional about prioritizing Sundays and preparing for Sunday morning so that our hearts are ready to learn from the Word and edify and build up those around us.
1. Preparing starts on Saturday
In considering ways to prepare for Sunday morning, I want to suggest that preparing our hearts for Sunday should start on Saturday, if not even earlier in the week.
Doing this requires a little bit of a mindset shift since we often view Saturdays as our day off, our day to sleep in, our day to have a slow morning, our day to work on projects around the house, or our day to just enjoy doing life together as a family. While none of these things are bad, it is often easy to do these things and neglect the other good things that we should be doing as well–the regular, everyday responsibilities that we would normally be doing if it were a weekday.
Are there routine tasks that you normally do on weekdays but then find easy to let slide on Saturday? Perhaps being intentional about keeping up with those tasks is one step towards eliminating the chaos that culminates on Sunday.
To be a little more specific, here are some ways that I try to use my Saturday to prepare for Sunday:
2. Clean up the kitchen
Nothing makes preparing meals more difficult than a messy kitchen, so while it is easy to slack off on cleaning up the kitchen on Saturday, resist the urge. Before you go to bed, clean off the counters so that when you work on breakfast in the morning, you’re not having to work around dirty dishes. A clean kitchen goes a long way towards having a good start to the day!
3. Clean up common areas
Once again, having common areas picked up from all the random toys, diapers, and who knows what else that get scattered from one end to the other makes for one less thing to crowd your Sunday morning. When you’re scrambling to find that missing shoe, you might have a better chance of finding it if there aren’t a dozen other shoes to trip over on your way to look for it.
In general, a picked-up home helps make life so much easier!
4. Simplify breakfast
While it is tempting to try to make a nice, hot breakfast on Sunday, it really can make for a busier morning than it needs to be. I am learning to make Sunday morning breakfast be meals that take little to no time to get on the table. Personally, my family favors having a hot breakfast, so two of my favorite recipes to make for Sunday morning are baked oatmeal and bran muffins, both recipes that are best when mixed up the night before! These can then bake while you read for a few minutes or finish getting ready for the day. Coffee cakes or breakfast egg casseroles also do well when mixed up the night before! (And of course, cold cereal or pop tarts can also do the job of filling empty tummies!)
If time, however, isn’t an issue for you but you find yourself spending way too much time trying to figure out what to make, make a meal plan so that, come Sunday morning, you know exactly what you’re making instead of having to deal with the “What should I make for breakfast? Oh, what should I make?” predicament.
Finally, for the ultimate breakfast hack: find the meal that your family likes and is super easy to make and then make that every Sunday morning!
5. Quiet your heart before the Lord
It is easy to rush, rush, rush on Sundays when you know that you have a deadline for when you all have to get out the door. But preparing your heart before the craziness begins is an important step towards preparing for success in the more practical areas of the morning. I know sometimes it is literally impossible to squeeze in even just five minutes of Bible reading, but if at all possible, plan on Saturday to make sure you have even just a few minutes on Sunday morning to quiet your heart before the Lord.
This may look different for each person. For one person, it might mean listening to a chapter of an audio Bible as you get ready; for another, it might be bringing to the Lord the burden that has been crowding your heart over the past few days; for yet another, it might be getting up a little earlier to sit down to read the Word for fifteen minutes or taking a minute to intentionally review that memory verse that is stuck on the kitchen window sill.
Whatever it may look like for you in your particular season of life, make it a priority to remember that today–Sunday–is the day that we have set aside to gather with the saints to build each other up and to sit under the teaching and preaching of the Word.
As the weekend comes around each week, these are some of the ways that have helped me use Saturdays to help prepare my heart for Sundays. In no way are these ideas fool-proof or exhaustive. However, I hope that you might find one or two to be helpful in eliminating some of the Sunday morning craziness, allowing your heart to worship, learn, and serve alongside fellow believers with genuine joy and love!
Do you ever feel like gathering with fellow believers on Sunday mornings is a habit that you do because it is just that–a habit? I know I can feel that way sometimes. However, despite our tendency to get caught in the routine of it, God designed gathering with the local church to be so much more than a habit or an opportunity to socialize! He designed the local church for our good!
All throughout the New Testament, we read about the local church: we read about who should be in positions of leadership, specific practices to have within the local church, as well how we should serve in the local church and interact with each other, to name just a few topics. As we consider what Scripture teaches about the local church, one overarching theme woven throughout it all is that gathering with the local church is for the spiritual growth of the believer.
But what exactly does this mean? How is physically gathering with a group of other believers supposed to affect one’s spiritual growth?
Here are three reasons to consider:
Spiritual growth is designed to happen in the context of the local church.
Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the spiritual leaders of the local church are given “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The picture of the universal church being a body takes on flesh and blood in the context of the local church: each member takes on a role and a function for the healthy functioning of the local body of believers. In his excellent book What is a Healthy Church Member, Thabiti Anyabwile sums up this passage with this simple statement: “Ephesians 4:11-16 offers a pretty strong argument that participation in the body of Christ is the main way in which Christ strengthens and matures us” (pg. 91).
And so we believe that attending and participating in a local church is the particular means that God has given us for the growth and edification of every believer.
Spiritual growth is designed to happen while we sit under the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good word.” We see here the role that Scripture plays in a believer’s spiritual growth: God uses Scripture to complete and equip the believer. While it is vital that a believer be reading the Word throughout the week, God has designed the local church to provide spiritual leadership and instruction for the growth and maturity of the Body, as we’ve already seen from Ephesians
Spiritual growth is designed to happen when we worship and fellowship with the believers.
In Ephesians 5:19, we are instructed to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” When we open our mouths and speak words of praise to God for His enduring faithfulness, steadfast love, and never-ceasing grace and mercy, we remind each other of God’s work in each of our lives.
When we sing of the dark valleys that God takes His children through and also the tender compassion He has towards His children, we encourage each other to keep pressing forward with our eyes on the Savior who walks beside us.
When we sing of the cross that saves, we rehearse to each other who we once were and who we have now become because of Christ.
Indeed, there is incredible spiritual worth in lifting our voices together in song to build each other up in songs and hymns and spiritual songs. We must not take this task lightly.
However, as much as we know in our minds the importance of this regular gathering with the saints, it is easy to let it slip, isn’t it? Hebrews 10:24-25 warns us to guard against getting lazy in encouraging each other through this intentional gathering: “And let us consider how to stir up on another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Because of this tendency to slack off on gathering together for instruction, mutual encouragement, and accountability, we must make church a part of our regular, weekly rhythm. Our weekly gathering together with fellow believers is important for our spiritual growth and maturity, both for ourselves and for the other believers around us.
The next time you find yourself going through the motions as you head to church, remind yourself of God’s divine purpose for the local church in your life and thank Him for it!
During those nine long months of that first pregnancy, most of us first-time moms probably did all sorts of research about pregnancy.
First, we probably focused on figuring out if that new ache or pain that showed up during our first, second, or third was normal. Then, as that 40-weeks mark drew closer and closer, we studied up on signs of the onset of true labor and what to pack for the hospital. And then, of course, we read all about labor and delivery.
Finally, with each passing day, the anticipation heightened to where we were just ready for this baby to come.
And then suddenly, it happened: the baby that we had waited so long to come finally arrived!
The baby was in our arms.
We were now a mom.
What an incredible experience.
And then we realized that, despite all the studying and reading and researching that we had done, we hadn’t covered everything. We still had a lot to learn.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, here are some of the things we wish we had known about being a mom and caring for our new little bundle of joy!
Postpartum is hard. For some women, those first few days and weeks might even be harder than labor and delivery, so give yourself time to recover. It is okay to give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to extra activities and allow yourself to take it extra slow those first few weeks. Your body just went through a major ordeal and you hit the ground running. Feel free to ask fellow moms about their postpartum experience, as well as their labor and delivery experience! Most women are more than willing to share their experiences in all these areas!
Milk let-downs are painful! No one warned me that in those first few months of breastfeeding there would be multiple times a day where my breasts would feel like there were a thousand prickles poking into me. They also didn’t warn me that I would be almost frozen in place while waiting for the sensation to pass. I thought something was seriously wrong and that I might have had mastitis. Eventually, it got better but I still didn’t know if it was normal. At a later appointment, I mentioned it to my doctor. She laughed it off and said “Oh yes! I can remember being in the store, just standing there waiting for it to pass.” Four kids later and I can now also attest, it’s normal.
Breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it might look. There are so many facets of breastfeeding that can go wrong. And sometimes breastfeeding can be hard. Really hard. So if your breastfeeding journey is so much harder than you expected it to be, it is okay to make the decision to pursue an alternative method of feeding your child. You are not less of a mom if you choose to not exclusively breastfeed!
Having a simple manual breast pump on hand is a lifesaver. Even if you’re not planning to ever use it, get one. With my first child, we had latch issues, so when my milk first came in, I was in so much pain! My little hand pump relieved the incredible pressure and helped me to endure during those first six weeks until I could finally say “Ok, I think this is how nursing is supposed to work!” I am so thankful for that little pump.
As a side-note, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, getting an appointment with a lactation consultant is money well-spent! They take their time with you and are ever so helpful! However, if you’re tight on money, there are a lot of great, free resources online that offer help in this area as well. If you are on Instagram, @karrie_locher is a postpartum nurse and has an incredible amount of helpful information in her story highlights on postpartum in general, as well as tons of help for troubleshooting problems you run into while breastfeeding or pumping.
Parenting is not all black and white. I started my parenting journey thinking it was going to be pretty cut and dry as far as teaching my kids what is right and wrong and training them with yes or no. Boy, did I ever have a lot to learn (and the water is only getting deeper). For example, my child has a meltdown. Now I not only have to address that their fit is wrong but also evaluate their little heart because it is not wrong for them to have sadness in many instances. So here I have to correct sin while at the same time caring for genuine emotion. Parenting takes a lot more grace and wisdom and TIME as we nurture little hearts!
It is okay to make exceptions to good habits. Working to establish routines and schedules and sleep habits and so on can feel all-consuming at times. And then, when bedtime ends up being an hour later than usual or a road trip throws routine all out of whack, it is easy to feel like all of our hard work for the little progress that we have made is being thrown out the window. But you know what? In the end, it usually doesn’t end up being as bad as we expected it to be. So relax, take life as it comes, and try to not stress too much about those exceptions when they come your way!
Parenting reveals the sin in my heart. Before I became a parent, I had no idea that God would use parenting as a tool to help me grown in my sanctification. I am slowly learning that more often than not, it is my own sinful heart that is to blame for a rough day of parenting, not my child’s misbehavior.
Being a mom is definitely not an easy job–so many ups and downs, joys and sorrows. However, there really is nothing that can quite compare to the incredible joy of having someone call you Mom!