Beautiful Mornings, Part Two: Tools of the Trade


Two weeks ago I shared with y'all what my mornings look like in this post. I wrote that I wanted my mornings to look more like prepping for battle than prepping for the perfect AM Instagram shot. Since publishing that post I have made two major adjustments in my life to make sure that the words I shared with y'all weren't empty. I said I wanted my mornings to be different, therefore some changes had to be made!

First, I committed to a month long (at the least) social media fast. I'm still sharing things for the blog on Facebook and Instagram, but I have restricted myself from any scrolling. I CANNOT TELL YOU WHAT A DIFFERENCE THIS HAS MADE IN MY LIFE. Social media may not effect you the same way that it does me, but I'm boldly going to say that it has more of a negative effect on your life than you are aware of. I may never scroll through a social media feed again, definitely not first thing in the morning.

Secondly, I started getting up 30 minutes earlier. I needed to be certain I could make time to get in the Word and that was the best way I knew how. This changed up my entire morning routine, but I am loving it! In the first Beautiful Mornings post, I admitted that I am a true morning person, so 30 minutes wasn't necessarily a big challenge for me, but it wasn't exactly easy either. 

The combination of those two changes has resulted in my mind and heart being more firmly rooted in Christ which leads to days filled with more life. If you are feeling kind of empty, or slow, or lost as the days zip by, I urge you to make those two small adjustments and see what big changes happen. 

I also wanted to share with y'all the tools that I use to cultivate my relationship with Christ. It occurred to me after the first Beautiful Mornings post that some sisters may be longing for a healthier relationship with Christ, but weren't sure where to start. The following tools are not complicated ones. Ain't nobody got time for that! And, truthfully, Jesus isn't complicated either! 

Your time spent in prayer or in the Word doesn't have to look just like mine at all. In fact, I don't get to this every.single.morning. Some mornings the holiest and healthiest thing I can do is get more rest. Just last night I squeezed it in 30 minutes before going to bed. The mornings I don't spend in the Word, I do spend listening to sermons via podcast. However, establishing the habit of beginning the day in the Word has been proven most effective in my life.

I hope that the information shared in the post is helpful to you as Jesus draws you in closer to Him. That's what's happening by the way. It may feel as if that longing is all you, but we wouldn't even know to long for Him if He didn't place that longing in our hearts in the first place

Not Pictured: The Message. Oops! forgot to include it in this shot. 

Not Pictured: The Message. Oops! forgot to include it in this shot. 

ESV Study Bible
Matthew Darling bought us each one this past year and I am getting so much out of my time in the Word. I don't know why I never had a study Bible before! The commentary on each verse is extremely insightful and is a great aid when digging into the Word. If you don't love the English Standard Version, be sure to look for a study Bible in other versions such as the NIV. I often read a passage of Scripture in it's entirety then go back and read the commentary on the same passage. I have especially appreciated how the commentators link the Old Testament and New Testament together by pointing out promises prophesied and promises fulfilled. You just gotta get one!

The Message
My dad gave me my very first copy when I was in elementary school and I have used one ever since. It was translated directly from the original Greek and Hebrew in which the books of the Bible were originally written. It's conversational style is easy to read and relate to. I really love how every verse is not numbered which makes for a good reading flow. It really reads like a novel. I often write down a verse in the NIV form or ESV form and copy down the same verse from The Message directly below it so that I can really grasp the fullness of the verse in it's entirety. This version of God's Word is especially beneficial for new believers who have trouble understanding Scripture. 

First5 App
This is what I'm currently using as my morning devotional. I really like how I can set my AM alarm within the app. When I open my phone, it's the very first thing that I see which helps me remember how I want to orient my whole morning. Also, the alarm tunes are so happy and sweet! You could use the alarm function as a way to remind you to use the app later in the day if mornings aren't ideal for studying the Word. I think it's important to read THE ACTUAL BIBLE on a daily basis, as opposed to a book someone else wrote that's about the Bible (even though I read plenty of those too). That's another reason I love this app. It starts off every day asking users to read an actual chapter or section of Scripture. It is also great for community. We are currently reading through Paul's epistles and I am learning a great deal.

The Blue Book
Seriously my favorite devotional ever. I got my first one in high school and used it till the cover fell off. For a long time it was only available locally, but it is now on Amazon! Hooray! This book is made up of 56 stand alone chapters which makes it easy to use for a while, set down, then pick back up. I've laid my aside for the last 4 or 5 months as I have been using the First5 app. You can also skip around instead of following the chapters consecutively. Each chapter is about a different topic, so you can feel free to study the ones that best apply to your current life stage. I really can't recommend it enough.

Joy Journal
This is something I started recently. I have shared before about my struggle with envy and jealousy. This journal is my way of doing battle with those feelings. Every morning I write down 5 things that I am thankful for. I do this before anything else as a way of cultivating a grateful heart. My bff Holly actually gave me a Katie Daisy (love her) journal that said, "Scatter Joy", on the front and that's how the idea was born. The 5 things don't have to mind blowing, I've actually written "central heat and air" before. I don't want to take anything for granted.

I have been writing in journals since middle school. I actually still have most of them (maybe that's why Matthew thinks I have some hoarding tendencies). I record Scripture verses, quotes from pastors and theologians, prayer requests of others, song lyrics, personal prayers, and other things that I want to keep close to my heart. Prayer is hard for me unless I am writing it down, so I especially make use of my journals for this reason. You don't have to buy a leather bound journal with your initials engraved on the front, a spiral bound notebook from The Dollar Tree will get the job done.

Worship Music
Worship music is also significant tool for deepening my relationship with Christ. If you're under the impression, as I once was, that there is no good Christian music, I would urge you to check out my Sunday Song Day page or my Shalom Sisters Playlist on Spotify. Music speaks to me better than anything else some days and I love sharing the good stuff with others. 

I would love to hear what tools have been most beneficial in your walk, so please share them with me and the other readers! And let me know if you get started with any of the ones listed above. I'd love to hear how they have been helpful.

PS: If you're looking for pens to use in your Bible to take notes, highlight, or underline, I've found some that work really well! I ordered these about 6 months ago and have been very pleased. I don't use them to write in or on anything other than my Bible in order to preserve them as they have a very fine tip.