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The Bookended Day

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how I bookend my days and the impact it has. Those seemingly small moments at the beginning and end of each day are like a rudder for our lives. They determine the course of our everyday, and the course of our everyday determines the course of our lives. It's these small beginning and ending moments, the ways we open and close our days, that deeply impact how we live. The shift may seem subtle at first, but carries great power to help us truly begin to center our lives on God.

For me, the beginning of the day has historically been much easier to cultivate than the ending of my day, but I am learning it is important to pay attention to both. For most of my life, I have not paid much attention to the impact the ending of my day may have on my life and relationship with God. 

For a while now, God has been challenging me to pay particular attention to the ending. Far too often I leave the day behind, head on pillow, thinking about worries I have accrued, ways I may have failed and the heavier things of life, but I am learning there is a new way to do life; a different way that brings life instead of death and peace instead of chaos. 

My mind has a way of getting carried away with itself - especially at night. I've always been a thinker and one who can happily get lost in my own world, but sometimes that world is one where anxieties abound and thoughts do not lead me to places I want to go. The truth is, my life is filled with many good things and a thousand things worth celebrating, but somehow the moment my head hits the pillow, my mind often travels to those places where I feel out of control, disappointed and where chaos lives. I don't know about you, but I am prone to this even more if I wake in the middle of the night.

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It is important to note that God has not been challenging me to ignore the hard places, the fears or the worries. In fact, He has been helping me to bring the more deep and painful places to Him so that there can be healing. My morning time with Him has been filled with mini counseling sessions as He has been helping me discard burdens in exchange for healing and peace. Facing our hard places is a whole lot different than rehearsing them and imagining scenarios void of God.

What God has been challenging me on are my closing thoughts of the day. This is me sitting in a whirling cloud of thoughts and worries and doing it without God. This is what is unhealthy and where the enemy wants us. There is something about being tired that makes us susceptible to letting our guard down. Thoughts I would usually recognize as fear, worry and shame tend to waltz right into my mind later at night. My mind easily shifts off God and onto the problems. I begin to focus on what's hard and momentarily forget God. It's a bit like being in a stormy sea and pulling up the anchor. It doesn't take long to drift off and lose your way in stormy waters if you are not anchored. 

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Yesterday, as I was reading Psalm 92:2, I realized it perfectly illustrates what God has been teaching me and how He has been gently encouraging me to live my life. I am realizing more and more that how we bookend our day is very important and has potential to change our lives. 

Psalm 92:1-2 says, "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night."

Both remembering or 'proclaiming' His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night reminds us of who we are, who He is and who we are in relation to Him.

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Proclaiming Your love in the morning

What better way to start out our day than immersing ourselves in who God says we are? We are deeply loved and known by Him and this remains true no matter what our day holds. It will be true when we fail, and when we succeed; it will be true when we are in a difficult situation, and when we are experiencing a moment of joy; it will be true when we are in relational turmoil and when we are having a special moment with someone; it will be true in sickness and in health; it will be true in seasons of loss and seasons of plenty; it will be true in seasons of feeling close to God and ones of feeling far away. It will always be true.

God cannot help but love us deeply because that's who He is. His love is not dependent on us, our behavior or who we are but entirely dependent on who He is.  He IS love. We are deeply loved by the One who holds us as we go through our day. How much easier would it be to respond to those who offend us? How much easier would it be to really not fear? Could we dare to trust Him fully with the ones we love?  How much more creativity would we have if we lived without fear of failure? How many ways do we live our lives confined because we do not know how deeply loved we truly are? How much easier would it be to really celebrate those things worth celebrating, knowing the God who loves us is celebrating with us?

It's easy to see that children thrive in places they are wanted and loved. It's no different with adults. We are deeply wanted and loved by God and this is enough to give us the courage for our days. Knowing we are deeply loved makes all the difference. What if we spent a few minutes in the morning asking God to show us His heart for us and reminding ourselves of His deep love that hems us in completely as we go about our day? We can't outrun it, hide from it, destroy it or earn it, but it is more sure than the air we breathe. We are immersed in it whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes we just need to take the time to be aware. Awareness can change our life.

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...and (proclaiming)Your faithfulness at night:

At night, our worries, fears, shortcomings and things that are weighing heavily on us often find their way into our minds. We are finally slowed down enough to not use the mask of busyness to cover our fears. I have found this is fertile ground for the enemy to add his lies to my fears, worries and concerns to create chaos. I know I am not the only one this happens to.

Recounting God's faithfulness is a way of seeing God. It's looking backwards and seeing we really weren't left alone. It's seeing that even though things may have not turned out how we would have liked, God has still been faithful. It's remembering the times where He showed up and reminds us that even in the current moment, He is active and moving on our behalf.

Sometimes we can't see God in the current moments, but we can see His evidence when we look backwards. Proclaiming His faithfulness is remembering who He is and that the faithful God is always with us. It's reminding ourselves that no matter what the storm may be, we are not on our own; neither are the ones we love. It's thanking Him for all of the good things in our lives and pausing to reflect on the beauty our days hold. Ultimately, it's once again placing all of our days' worries and cares into the hands of the capable God who is strong enough and wise enough to carry them all and who also stays with us in the midst of them. It's refocusing our attention back on God who is bigger than any situation we could ever find ourselves in. It's remembering the goodness of God in our lives.

It's hard to be fearful, ashamed or worried while recounting the faithfulness of God; not because the problems disappear, but because we begin to once again remember the bigness of the loving God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us and has promised us Himself in every situation. We are promised His faithfulness.

Making a habit of proclaiming His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night is a form of remembering. It will hold us steady through the course of life. Whether we know it or not, our days are bookended with His love and faithfulness. All we are doing when we proclaim it is reminding ourselves of what is already true. It's training ourselves to be aware of the movements of God in and around us and teaches us to really do life 'with God' instead of on our own. Remembering is what will change our view. Remembering and proclaiming His love and faithfulness is what will give us the perspective and hope we need to be able to trust God with our days which will ultimately mean trusting Him with our lives. 

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What habits can you form in the morning and evening to help you remember God's love and faithfulness to you? Let's live our days aware they are bookended with His love and faithfulness.

Meditations on Love: (Psalm 108:4; Ephesians 3:18; Psalm 103:11; Psalm 103:14; Psalm 36:7; Romans 5:8; I John 4:9-10; Zephaniah 3:17; I John 3:1; Romans 5:5; I John 4:16; Psalm 86:15; Ephesians 2:4-5; Romans 8:37-39; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; John 15:9; Ephesians 3:17-19; Psalm 63:3; Lamentations 3:22-23) and so many more.

Meditations on God's Faithfulness: (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 36:5; Psalm 40:11; Psalm 89:2; Psalm 119:90; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 33:6; Lamentations 3:23-24; I Corinthians 1:9; I Corinthians 10:13; I Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 10:23; I Peter 4:19; I John 1:9) and many more. 

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