Sunlight, slivered into shafts of gold by the winter trees, streamed down the snowy hillside across the pond below our apartment. I watched it dance on the ripples behind a gaggle of Canadian geese and smiled. Peace. Mr. M was still asleep and I sat alone on our pink sofa, bible on my lap and coffee steeping in the french press.
“Why have You blessed me so?”
My ‘grace gifts’ journal is far from full, but there are 571 blessings written within it. Every day I wake up and almost pinch myself to see if I am dreaming. This home. This husband. This life.
And yet how easy it is to forget the Giver. Like a side dish I meant to serve, I put Him on the back burner with good feelings about reading His word later… talking to Him later. The feelings don’t always matriculate to action, and where is the God who gave me this busy life? Still there… waiting.
God is as present in our lives as we permit Him to be. As a woman who is happiest when she is busy, my times with God must be intentional or they will not happen. I loved this article by Courtney Joseph, the author of Women Living Well (a fantastic blog!), where she discusses how busy moms can make time for the Lord. I think her message is equally applicable to women who do not have children, because we tend to fill our time with many other commitments. Additionally, Mr. M travels often for work and it is tempting to use the time we do have together selfishly, at the expense of our mutual walk with the Lord. So in our dating and engaged life, and now our extensive married life experience of two weeks (wink wink), we have implemented some methods to keep us in the Word in the midst of busy times.
First Thing in the Morning
Through much of our relationship, Mr. M and I would rise around 4:45 AM to go to the gym before work – especially in the weeks before our wedding! But ‘married mornings’ (I’m a dork and nickname everything) are so peaceful, making breakfast and coffee together, I prefer to preserve that time for reading with him.
As part of our wedding countdown I designed a seven-week reading plan for the Gospel of Matthew. Now we are reading through the book of Mark. While eating breakfast, we read a chapter together and discuss it briefly. This is an easy, quick way to connect with each other over God’s Word – very manageable and encouraging to us both. I love to hear Mr. M’s insights into Scripture and compare what we are reading in Mark with our reading of Matthew.
Throughout the Day
A habit Mr. M and I both have picked up, and enjoy, is listening to the radio on the way to work (not that this is a unique habit by any means). I have three Christian stations on my presets but usually tune in to the one which plays sermons every morning, noon, and evening. Listening to the radio or podcasts of sermons (our favorites are Andy Stanley, Charles Stanley, and Mark Driscoll) give us fodder for discussion at dinner time as we talk about what we heard.
But since even the best things can become a distraction, I also try to turn off the radio on my way into work following our morning devotions together. This 20 minutes serves as my prayer time, since we don’t have time to pray for very long most mornings. If I think of any special requests, I’ll write them in my prayer journal during stop lights (I record answers to prayer in red so I can track God’s faithfulness! It’s very rewarding!).
One way to encourage your spouse – something often promoted by Christian husbands and wives – is to send a pertinent verse during the day. I usually share something that stood out to me or reminds me of Mr. M. I have a few devotionals on my desk that have provided exactly what I needed to hear on a given day and it is exciting to share this with my husband, or hear how it affected his day.
In the Evening
Growing up, the dinner table was something of a center for our family. We ate as a family usually five or six nights a week, sometimes all seven. In the same way, Mr. M and I have always enjoyed sitting down to dinner together. As we recap the day, one of my favorite parts is when he shares where he felt God revealed Himself: in something a coworker said, in how a problem was solved, or in a new opportunity that came up. It’s as if the morning comes full circle in the evening, reminding us that God is present from the beginning of our day through the end.
Tuesdays I attend a ladies’ bible study through our church, and once in a while Mr. M will attend the men’s study on Wednesdays. While this may be impossible for some young wives, I would highly encourage dating, engaged, or young married couples to attend either a couples’ study or individual studies (I am more a proponent of individual studies because the context is more intimate woman to woman, and one can be discipled by older married women). Having this time once a week enables me to ‘refresh and be refreshed’ (Prov. 11:25) by women of all ages, encouraged in my walk with the Lord, and energized to better serve my husband and the other people in the periphery of my life. It also gives Mr. M time to catch up with his friends or spend some time at home doing his own study.
For our wedding Mr. M’s mother gave us a sweet wedding gift: the Love Dare devotional for couples. While this is new for us, we’ve started reading the devotional before bed as a conclusion to the day’s activities. We take turns reading and talk through the verses, ‘dares’ and notes in each chapter.
When you really look at the list I’ve compiled here, you’ll see that none of these things take more than a few minutes each. But scattering them throughout the day proves to be a constant reminder of God. Just God. Our God. From peaceful mornings in the living room to harried lunchbreaks in the car to dim-lit devotions before bed, God is as present as we allow Him to be.
What ways have you discovered to help make God central to your life, not ‘on the back burner’? Share in the comments below!