It’s 6am and the kiddos are asleep. In fact, everyone is asleep. I’m the only morning person in the Moore House.
There are so many things I could do in those first quiet moments of the morning, like check Facebook or fold a load of laundry, but ever since I started attending that Bible Study that worries me, I’m eager to ignore my phone and stumble into the living room for my morning “quiet time”.
You know, I really hate that phase, “quiet time”. It feels like I’m putting myself in time out with God. Like I’ve been a bad girl and the only redemption for my naughty ways is to memorize the genealogy in Deuteronomy or exegete obscure dietary laws in Leviticus. It feels all together too obligatory. It lacks the personal connection to a loving God that daily study should be. Plus, I feel like at any moment, 1990 Osheta will pop in and announce, “I’m sorry to say this Hon, but you’re not ‘on fire’ enough to call this thing you’re doing a ‘quiet time’”. Because honestly, y’all— I’m not. I actually wrote that I’m scared to attend a bible study because I feel too heretical to “fit in”. “On fire” girls are never heretical and they always, always fit in. With matching WWJD bracelets, to boot. But…I digress.
Do you see what a tizzy the term, “quiet time” can put me in? It’s problematic to say the least. BUT it’s oddly appropriate too. The past two weeks of a regular time in the morning with God, reading the Bible, and praying for my day has, in fact, quieted my soul.
The more I make my morning study time a priority, the more I realize that Jesus’ words are like air to me. I’m with Simon Peter when he said to Jesus who asked him, if he would leave like the other disciples,
I kinda knew going in to that Bible Study group, that I would come alive through our study. Within minutes of discussing the bible and our goals for the six weeks together at that first meeting I knew the missing piece of my daily routine was a “quiet time”. But again I was worried (gee..it seems like I need to spend some time in Matthew…Jesus has some things to say about worry). ‘What if I don’t keep it up? What if I get behind in my homework or get bored or just don’t feel like it so I skip a day and have to cram the hour before our meeting?’
Like all good changes there’s the concern that the habit won’t “stick” and then I’m back to square one, feeling all dried up, disconnected from God, and….Hello Newfound Shame... because I didn’t “make it work”.
So, to shut down the shame and show up 1990 “on fire’ Osheta, I’ve developed some strategies to making Bible study less of a chore and more of a joy every single morning. Maybe they can help you too.
1: Find your most awake time of the day
For me it’s morning. But with God being omnipresent and all, I think you’re totally ok doing your study in the evening. Just choose a time when you’re able to focus and really get the most out of your study.
2: Always have a study or two on hand
Right now, I’m doing “Seamless” by Angie Smith and I:Believe a study on the Nicene Creed by the If:Gathering. Yesterday, I had energy to do both back to back, today, I only did the one on the Nicene Creed. The key is to have a variety of topics available to you. Seamless is a study of the whole bible as one story from Genesis to Revelation, while the If Study is on a richly theological and important document in church history. The variety keeps my quiet time interesting.
3: Strike up your favorite movie soundtrack while studying
I find that music centers me in whatever I’m doing. So, naturally I’d want to create a playlist for my study time, but as I added various worship songs to my Bible study playlist, I realized one problem: if my worship jam came on, it would be too hard to focus on the reading the study. (Because seriously who can sit still when “Worthy of it all/ I Exalt Thee” comes on?) No, I needed instrumental—but NOT BORING music and I didn’t really have time to audition several classical albums. Enter movie soundtracks— my Bible study secret weapon. Think about it. Most soundtracks are instrumental. The scores are written to tell a story, they’re cinematic and thoughtful and engaging without a single distracting lyric. They’re prefect background noise for Bible study. For “Seamless” I like plucky rom-com soundtracks like, “The Intern”, and for the Nicene Creed, I’m listening to a lot of the “Harry Potter” soundtracks. The sky’s the limit, really, as long as you’re not listening to the “Jaws” theme while studying Jonah and the Big Fish, I think you’re ok. Or maybe…would that be fun?
4: Create a Bible Study Bag
As soon as I left group, I went home and created this bag. One of the things I hate about Bible study is the looking for a pen, my bible, the study, a highlighter…all the things. By the time I find it all, a kiddo is awake asking for Lucky Charms and my Bible studying mood is gone.
So, I wrote a list of my study essentials:
Sacred Ordinary Days Planner
and Study (or a two, see point #2)
I also like to keep a lighter in the bag (no I’m not a pyromanic or smoker, you’ll see why soon) and a back up pen, just in case.
I put them together in a tote bag and voila…instant study! Just add eager, mildly “on-fire” Christian girl.
But, really this has been a game changer for making my time in the morning intentional and special. My Bible Study is portable and ready for me whenever. So, say a kiddo is sprawled out on the couch blaring his Manga cartoon at 6am because it’s Spring Break— I can grab my Bible Study Bag and go sit by the pool with my cup of coffee.
No harm. No foul. No snapping at the teenager. Perfect way to start the day.
5: Reward Thyself Faithful Student
Inside the Study Bag I have my essentials but I also have a few comforts I purchased at the beginning as a reward to committing and then as the weeks progress, I’ll add a new treat to the bag.
The first reward was the bag itself. The Westward bag from Noonday is perfect for your study bag. It’s large enough to hold your two studies, a bible, a journal, and so much more, but it’s also has pockets for pens and note cards. Plus, it’s ethically made, creates sustainable income for artisans in India, and it’s SO CUTE! I love feeling spiritual, saavy, and chic all at once.
The second reward I bought at the beginning of the study was a scented candle. I find lighting a candle really sets the time aside. The light reminds me to turn to Jesus, the light of the world, when I feel dark and twisty inside. When I smell the candle I know it’s time to pray and invite the Holy Spirit in to my time in the word.
The third and final reward I bought at the very beginning was a journal. I like to start a new journal with a new study. It’s great for taking notes and writing prayers that coincide with the study of the day. I’m excited to look back after six weeks and see how I’ve grown.
Since I’m doing a seven week study with Seamless, I’ve planned six additional treats to add, every Friday of the study as a reward for being a faithful student.
Week 1: Pretty pen and sticky notes
Week 2: comfy socks ( I like to get cozy whilst I get holy)
Week 3: Chocolates or Trader Joes Chocolate Croissants (These need to be defrosted overnight, so I imagine setting up a croissant on my desk with a sign for the kids…eat Mama’s breakfast with Jesus and meet Him sooner than you’d expect).
Week 4: Colored ink pens for extensive marking because by five weeks of continuous study, I’m so on it and I’ll need to color-code my findings: Red for Jesus’ words, blue for Hebrew root words, Yellow for quotes I love from my favorite theologians, etc. etc. etc.
Week 5: New candle because after 45 days burning every day, it’s probably on it’s last leg…err wax.
Week 6: New Study and journal. I know it seems a little counter intuitive to reward studying with a study, but the truth is there are so many great studies out there that I never buy because I’m not sure I can make it. Rewarding myself at this point with the next one is not only a huge vote of confidence in myself, but a promise that there are six more weeks of treats to come. I’m excited about going to Paper Source and walking around for more inspiration for rewards.
Thanks to these strategies, I’m not too worried about giving up on my morning quiet time.
Like I’ve been writing in my “OMG” journal since I started,
(and yes, I did write that by memory. Booyah 1990 on fire Osheta!)
I may not be as “on fire” as I was as a teen, but I’m wiser and more attuned to the way God made me. I know what inspires me and keeps me accountable. I love pretty and making events out of everyday things, and I really, really love Jesus and his teachings. So, I’m probably going to always to be listening for new movie soundtracks and keep a bible study bag.
I’m also going to start owning that phrase, “quiet time” and quiet those fears that keep me from studying the Bible every single day.
What’s your strategies for keeping up a regular bible study? Do you call it a “quiet time”? Which six treats would you add to your bag?
Do you want your very own super chic bag for Bible Study? Noonday is giving this La Bella Bag away here! The contest ends on Friday, so go on over and enter.
If you win and decide to not use it for a bible study bag…no worries, my friend. Grace upon grace for you. I’m way nicer than our “on fire” friend with a WWJD bracelet!
Shalom-y, Spiritual, and Chic,