I can hear her little feet padding down the stairs, normally followed by the tippy-tap of a dog’s paws.
Wordlessly, she slides onto my lap, warm from sleep with glazed eyes and messy hair. She’s still small enough to be held, and this is the one time of day she’ll let me lean her back, cradling her in my arms like I did years ago before she didn’t know to fight me.
I’m an earlier riser and at our old house, I’d stay in bed, playing on my phone and killing time until the rest of the house woke up. But now, at our new house with more space, I can rise without alerting everyone and make my way somewhat-silently to the kitchen. I scoop the coffee grounds, fill the pot, and wait for the first few glorious smells to hit my nose.
I fill my cup, sit down at the dining room table, and open my Bible.
It’s quiet. I’m alone with my God. I’ve got hot coffee.
This is my starting place. My grounding. My safe return. My hopeful beginning.
I’m still trucking along on my year of reading the Bible from beginning to end. I’m about a week behind, the daily readings still signifying May when it’s now June. May was hard and defeating. May was ground-shifting and eye-opening. It’s not lost on me–the irony–that I’m still reading May’s stories even though it’s June. I’m still replaying conversations, heartbreak, and shock from May too. May probably won’t leave anytime soon even if I’ll soon move on from its pages.
On the wall in my dining room, a sign reads: “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.”
Yes, please. One million times.
I’m not sure how I got through May without Jesus.
At some point during my quiet time, a daughter of mine will wake up and wander down the stairs. She’ll climb into my lap, I’ll whisper “Good morning” and “I love you so much” into her ear. She won’t respond, but snuggle in tighter. I’ll rub her back, kiss her cheeks, positioning her so I can continue reading scripture as she slowly wakes up while being held by her mom.
She starts with me. No matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, when my daughters wake up, they find me. They rest in my arms, snuggle into my side as I’m sleeping, sit on my lap as I’m drinking coffee.
I am their grounding, their safe return, their beginning.
Since we moved, I’ve thought often of getting back into the routine of mornings spent at the gym. About rising at 5:30 and making the longer-than-before drive to the Planet Fitness in the neighboring town where I can work up a sweat while lifting weights and running on the treadmill.
But then I think about our mornings together. Jesus and I. The girls and I.
How I start my day with Him. How He steadies me for whatever will come and how I, in turn, steady my daughters.
Eventually, I’ll take a backseat to the mornings. They’ll grow and look for me less. They’ll (hopefully) begin to look for Jesus in their beginnings, in their waking, instead of their mother. This is bittersweet to acknowledge, even though it’s more sweet than anything.
I remember all the mornings I didn’t start with Jesus, and I feel sad for all I missed out on. All the encouragement. All the peace. All the wisdom. All the quiet. All the safety.
I have lost count of the times I’ve come with worry, brokenness, weariness, stress, confusion, or anger, and He’s answered me with exactly what I needed. If I show up, He will too.
Every single time.
I don’t know what people do without Jesus. That thought has come to my mind more times than I can count the past month. There were days in May I couldn’t get out of bed. There were days in May I couldn’t recognize my own reflection because my eyes were too swollen, my skin too lifeless and gray.
I have no doubt I’d still be there without Jesus.
I don’t know what people do without Jesus.
Here’s what is currently steadying me in the mornings:
Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
-Psalm 90:13-17, NIV translation
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
-Psalm 66: 17-20, NIV translation
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
-Psalm 100, NIV translation
“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
-1 Kings 8:56-61, NIV translation
In the midst of chaos and confusion, He’s telling me to worship Him. It feels fragile and weak. It feels hard and painful. But He’s in the mess and He’s in the healing. When I start my day weary and already tired, He shouts joy and grace over me. When I start my day angry and numb, He showers me with peace and love.
Then I can do that for my daughters.
Just like my Father does for His.