The Morning I Fell In Love

I fell in love in the fifth grade.

I met Him when I was five, but that fifth grade year, He really stole my heart. 

We met every morning at 5:30. And I forget how old you are in the fifth grade, but that's real early for a kid.

I didn't care. There was something about Him that left me wanting more. He was real. And for the first time in my little girl life, I knew it.

Our church started a read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan. So that January, I vowed that I would, indeed, read the Bible through in a year. Even if that meant getting up at 5:30. I was at church every chance the doors were open. I won every Bible drill given in that big room on the second floor with the tinkering pipes. And I always sat beside the girl who had no friends. I was a "good girl," that little fifth grader...

But what I didn't expect, was to fall in love. 

There's something about time with Him. I guess like any relationship, the more time you spend together, the faster you fall. And fall I did. 

Even though I was only reading the Bible out of commitment, in those cold, dark mornings, He met me there. Right in the covers, amidst my elementary understanding of Him.

I religiously read three to four chapters a day, a Psalm or Proverb, and wrote out my prayers to Him. They were mostly about missionaries. Because I knew, even then, God called me to be a missionary. Little did I know, what kind.

In the black and white of those pages each morning, I started getting a taste of Him. And it was sweet. I wanted more and knew Him to be more, even then. He went from being a God I was hearing about, to a God I could know. And although I didn't see it yet, we started

dancing together

back then. I cannot be more thankful. And that was the first year I read the Bible through.

After that year, I started praying that He would give me a desire for His Word. Because that's what I saw David pray over and over in the Psalms. And honestly, because some days I really had rather sleep later.

That's where it started. That recipe. My longing heart, His Word, a notebook, and the Spirit. It's all the ingredients to fall in love.

I got to college, my

parents divorced

after 25 years of being married, and my whole world fell apart. I was attending a Christian college, and couldn't eat my two biscuits with saw mill gravy slathered on top, without hearing Christian Studies majors arguing with one another. They liked to "talk" about the Bible all the time. Not so much Him, but the Bible. I needed HIM. I wanted to know Him. And I realized that just like I was there studying to be a teacher, I could study Him, too.

Those college days, I would drive home to my grandma's house and browse the bookcases that lined her back room. I would take as many as I could carry. She'd make me eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits and would pour into me her wisdom along with a glass of orange juice (extra pulp). She would remind me that He is good, He is faithful, He does hear my prayers, and He is trustworthy. She'd wrap me up in her arms, give me a smack on the backside (because that's what southern grandmas do), and I would be on my way, driving back up the mountain to my school.

You could find me sitting in the middle of my room, with commentaries and every translation of the Bible surrounding me. And I studied Him. I studied how He dealt with His people. How He was kind, yet just. How He made no sense sometimes. But in those days of searching, He was being found by me. And He slowly started picking up the pieces of my broken life, and putting them back together.

Once we got married, my time with Him looked a little different. Because nothing is yours anymore when you become one with someone else. Not even your time. It took me a while, but I finally found a rhythm that worked. I was teaching and speaking a good bit during that time, and it kept me in His Word, digging. And then something incredible happened.

I don't know about you, but marriage

 has the tendency to surface the parts of my heart that have been hidden. During that time of healing, I didn't have the energy to study anymore. I knew God, but I really needed a Daddy. And one night, I realized it was Him. The Shepard I read about in the Psalms. The Father who hears and answers His children. Abba, who adopted me as His daughter. He became Dad, Papa. 

People email me all the time asking me how I spend time with Jesus. And it honestly baffles me. Because years ago, I would have given you a five step list of things I do during my "quiet time." But now, these days, it's more of a place to hide, a

time of retreat

from the battle I'm trying to fight during the day.

Sweet Micah has been sick for fourth months now. We've had five hospital stays, numerous doctors appointments and therapy sessions, and just recently a surgery. He still doesn't sleep. At all. Feeding pumps, tubes, power cords, and formula that must be ordered, consume my life right now. I also have an almost two year old, I

work full time

, and my husband works nights in the NICU.

Lately, my time with Him looks much different. It's a white couch, a water-stained journal, my Bible that has lost the front and back covers, a spit up covered shirt, very tired feet, and a weary heart. I all but throw myself on that couch. And I work hard to keep my eyes open the most of the time. 

Some days, all I can muster, is to sit there. And clear out space in my brain for Him. To think of His goodness, and kindness towards me. To know in the midst of the absolute chaos in my life right now, that He is good, and faithful, and worthy of my trust. And that's okay. Because He still meets me there in my chaos,

spit up covered shirt

, very tired feet, and weary heart. And rather than dancing together, He just holds me close. Like a daddy holds his baby girl.

Most days, I start by asking Him to help me clear my mind. I tell Him that He has all of me in those moments, and ask that He would stir my affections for Him and His Word. Then I adore Him. 

You can read about

adoration

on

Sara Hagerty's blog

. She loves Jesus, the way I want to love Him. So I copy her time with Him. I print this

31 Days of Adoration

, and spend time adoring Him along with a community of sisters. He uses this, speaking His Word back to Him, to shape my heart and remind me who He says I am to Him. While He washes away the lies I believed about myself that day through adoration, I continue adoring Him by reading a chapter or two of wherever I currently am in His Word.

Then, I write to Him. Like ugly things, things I would never want anyone else to know. Or dreams, the ones He has put in my heart. Or prayers for my family or wisdom in decisions I need to make. Whatever fills my heart, somehow finds it's way out on those lines.

And somehow, even in this short time, He pulls me away from the chaos, into the quiet desert to speak tenderly to me there. Although I might still feel weary, my heart isn't as heavy to carry, because He carries it for me. I let Him in.

This time invites me to allow Him to see the real me. The me that doesn't have it altogether. The me that is a complete mess. The me that feels as if I am going crazy. The me that so utterly and desperately needs Him to make it through each second. This is where He is found.

I am by no means saying this is how time with Jesus should be spent. I would love to sit with Him for hours. I would love to sit in a circle, surrounded by commentaries and different translations of His Word. I'm sure that some of you have this figured out much more than me. But in this season of my life, this is all I have to offer. And it isn't much. But He says that if I seek Him, He will be found. 

And somehow, He always is.

If you're in college, girl, get out those commentaries and become His student. You'll fall in love.

If you're in the middle of infertility treatments, mark up His Word. Circle every promise He has made. Write them on index cards all around your house. And preach them to yourself when you hear the enemy tell you He isn't good.

Sweet waiting mama, if your time with Him is spent pouring your heart out to Him in an empty nursery, He will be found there. And soon when you're rocking your sweet baby, there will be more of Him to find.

Tired mama, in the trenches of motherhood, put His Word next to the kitchen sink. And steal a few seconds breathing in it's sweetness between washing bottles and wiping bottoms.

No matter what your time with Him looks like, when we seek Him, He WILL be found.

And that is beautiful news for this tired mama's heart.

"

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me

with all your heart."

Jeremiah 29:13 ESV