Monday, October 3, 2016

Morning by Morning

"Morning by morning, new mercies I see."

There is an appointment I try to make each day.  I have missed it sometimes, and I will no doubt miss it again - but it's still important enough for me to do my best to keep it as my first priority. 

It's my time in the Word, reading the Bible and talking to its Author.  

The resources I use to do this are not unique only to me, but it may be useful for others to read about them. 

I start with Daily Light.   I knew this little book was attributed to someone named Bagster, but I didn't know it was a multi-generational family project.  The head of this influential English family would select a passage of Scripture, then other family members would suggest verses that illustrated the text further.  They compiled these verses and formatted them into daily morning and evening entries.  There is no commentary, just words from the Bible arranged thematically.  

My copy is one with a foreword by Anne Graham Lotz, who received her copy from her mother, Ruth Bell Graham (who got hers from her mother, when she was a young child in China).  Anne writes, "To this day, one of the sweetest blessings for me is to know each morning and evening when I read Daily Light, that my parents and children, wherever they might be, are reading the same thing."  

I know that blessing.  My daughters both read Daily Light, and my mother often texts me to say "Make sure you read Daily Light today!"

I also use a prayer journal.  In the past I got prayer journals from a Christian bookstore, or I made my own, out of a regular store-bought journal. For the past few years, I've bought Youth With A Mission's "Personal Prayer Diary And Daily Planner."   I draw a vertical line through each day's entry, and that gives me a place to record and date answers to prayer beside that prayer request. Those answers occasionally take years, they are sometimes given that day, they are often what I've prayed for, and sometimes they're not at all what I envisioned - but they are always God's answers.  To look back over the years and see God's hand, to see specific dates and recorded answers - well, these journals are altars of testimony to God's love and faithfulness. 

In the inside cover of my prayer journal, I have an assortment of brochures, pictures, newsletters, bulletins, business cards, even two notices from funerals.  They remind me to pray for my church, Christian organizations, missionaries, family members, friends, leaders, people in other parts of the world, and families that are grieving.  It's not a highly organized method, but it works for me, to see these images and to have these reminders.

Of course, then there is my Bible.  It's worn, written in, and starting to fall apart.  I'd love to say it's due to what Charles Spurgeon said, "A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't."  I'm not sure that's the case, though, I think it's more that I've stuffed it in tote bags with other things, or stuffed other things into it, or just taken it with me to lots of places.  

My grandmother Mimi read through the Bible every year.  I remember she once told my Dad that she'd read it through at least sixty times, and that was long before she died.  

I've done the same, but nowhere near as many times.  I used to read it straight through, starting on New Year's Day.  I'd get through Genesis OK, then Exodus, but then by the time I reached Leviticus, it got harder to keep up.  I believe every word is inspired, but unless I was doing an actual study (which is an important thing to do), it didn't seem like the best idea to have my daily Bible reading center entirely on Old Testament law.  

Then I found Rose Publishing's Bible Reading Plan.  There are several plans, in fact, in this pamphlet, but the one that works for me is the one that includes a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, something from Psalms, and a few verses from Proverbs, for each day.  The days are numbered but not dated, which is an improvement upon a similar format I used another year.  I don't need to start in January for this plan, and if I miss a day,  I don't try to double-up the next day, I just go on from where I am.

Reading prayerfully is so important.  It's a bit like listening to someone I love. I can stay in their presence, nod, even comment appropriately, and still have my mind other places.  Or I can give that person my full attention, with my eyes focused, ears open, heart ready to respond to their words. It's the same with Bible reading.  I want to do more than check off a little box - I want to hear the words of God, and be fully present with Him.  

There are other things I do for my Bible and prayer time, but those aren't every single day.  There were a few weeks in the summer when I could do 'all the things,' but once fall and homeschool started up again, those leisurely, lengthy sessions shortened considerably.  I'm thinking now of connecting favorite extras with a day of the week - like Music Monday (copying a hymn in my own handwriting - it slows me down, prompts me to think on the words, and gives me a song that lingers in my mind throughout the day), or French Friday (copying a Bible verse or passage in French - it's intriguing to read even a familiar Scripture in another language and consider how it's phrased).  I also started to copy a verse in Koine (New Testament) Greek, going through I John.  It was a quieting thing to attempt my best hand at the language the Gospels and Epistles were written in originally, and to do simple word studies on words or phrases I didn't remember from Bible College long ago. I don't know what day of the week is catchy with that, though.  (Any suggestions?)

Writing daily notes of gratitude or chronicling the deeper, bigger mountains of praise in my life - those are important, too, and I'd like to give them their place in my special daily time. And memorizing Scripture - that's something I did a lot when I was young, but an exercise I need to restore in my life now.  My grandmother Mormor would write out Scriptures to aid in memorization, and she was in her seventies and into her early eighties at the time. Her daughters found those scraps of paper after she died.  My mom kept some of those papers, and painted a border around one and framed it for me.  In my Mormor's familiar hand, it reads:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  (Psalm 19:14)  I think the best way for me to do that is to make sure there are lots of mornings spent with the Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. 

There's one extra daily assignment I've relished, and it's new for me this year.  I got a five-year calendar book, one accentuated with daily quotes of Jane Austen (a delight all by itself), and each day I write down something special from nature.  It might be a 'first' - especially wonderful to do in the spring, to note the arrival of a wildflower, or in the fall, to mark the first changing red maple leaf.  I have entries that say "Bear in the backyard!" or "Full Hunter Moon" or "Identified Black-Eyed Susan Vine at the library."  I've noted "Drove through the Catskills," "Watched the sunrise over Lake Ontario,""Saw first bluebird - in Texas!," and "Beautiful cloud formations this afternoon." Today my daily entry included the magnificent rainbow Niko and I saw as we drove over a reservoir.  I don't use this journal for regular appointments and such, but if there is a significant event (a birthday, or wedding, or special anniversary, or even a world event), I add that, too.  Keeping such a calendar book prompts me to remember more, and to want to notice and celebrate (and identify) more of what I see.  

At this stage of my life, I wonder a bit about the five-year part of it.  If I actually carry this out and complete all five years, there will be some hard things in there, no doubt.  There will be some glad things as well.  I've often wondered at the mystery of tomorrow, and at God's mercy in keeping it from us.  If we knew what was ahead, we could not bear all of it.  He gives us what we need for each day, and with that comes the promise that He will provide, guide, help, comfort, strengthen, encourage, and give joy for all the days to come.  

He is, surely, safe to trust. And it's a good thing, to start the day with that in mind.


  1. I loved reading this, my friend. My quiet time with our Father is a special part of my day, too. I love the idea of your nature journal!

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! It is a special time, isn't it?
      And the nature journal - just having it makes me look at the world more :-)

  2. This is so nice to read. I have been using the same prayer journal you have linked. In mine they have unreached people groups to pray for your in it and a focus on the nations. I love how that idea of praying for the world is on every page. It is a great journal.

    1. Hi Christine! Yes, that emphasis on the world is an important reminder and also helps with some perspective, too. I saw that the 2017 ones are available now (2017 already??).