It’s a Blog Baby: Check Out the Brand New Website!

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 8 Comments

Get Ready!

Registration starts tomorrow for the HelloMornings Challenge and Katie Orr, the challenge director, has put together a brand new website with all the information, resources and encouragement you’ll need to rock your mornings.

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A God-Sized Dream

Holly Gerth is doing a series on her blog about God sized dreams and today she is featuring Katie, as she shares her story and the HelloMornings story.

Read it here and then check out the brand new HelloMornings.org website that Katie has put together.

She is amazing and the team she has assembled is dedicated to helping you as you develop the habit of regular time in the Word and in prayer each day so that you can live your God sized dream.

Registration for the Challenge starts tomorrow and runs through the 23rd of January. Read Katie’s story and get all the details here.

Check out the HelloMornings Video and the (in)RL Conference!

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 7 Comments

Conferences are like summer camps for grown ups.

I love conferences. Hanging out with friends, learning together, roasting marshmallows over the open fire. Okay maybe not the last one.

Have you heard of the (in)RL Conference? It’s put on by the lovely ladies at (in)Courage and it’s something of an “unconference.” I say that because all of the sessions are broadcast over the web so you don’t have to book a flight or save for hotel costs. You can invite friends over and watch in the comfort of your own home.

(in)Courage Meetups

Even better, (in)RL features organized meet-ups in locations all over the world so you still get the fun social aspect of a far away conference, except it’s in your own neighborhood and the friends you make you can meet for lunch the next week and the next and the…You get the idea.

Here is a little promo video about the event:

I am so excited about the (in)RL conference this year. I was speaking at another event last year and couldn’t attend one of the nearby get togethers.

But this year my calendar is open and I’m SO looking forward to hanging out with friends new and old.

The Details

  • Registration opens Monday January 14th at www.inrl.us
  • It’s FREE!
  • Everyone who registers on the day registration opens (Monday Jan 14) gets a copy of our (in)courage 365 Daybrightener while supplies last (US residents only).
  • Everyone gets a copy of our first eBook: “Best of the Beach House 2012.”

More Info:

About: (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments at (in)courage<http://www.incourage.me/> craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.

Think of it as a FREE girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.

When: The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.

What: Last year we explored the nitty gritty of community. This year we’re taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient. Women share stories of how they’ve chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they’d cut and run.

HelloMornings (in)RL Video

I am beyond excited that the wonderful folks at (in)Courage wanted the HellloMornings story to be part of the (in)RL conference.

They put together this amazing video sharing God’s story of using our corner of the web to encourage women in their walk with the Lord. Check it out:

Behind the Scenes Video Magic

I thought I’d show you a couple behind the scenes photos of the HelloMornings video shoot as well as the video I shot for the (in)RL conference sessions.

Here is Sally. She is adorable and works for (in)Courage/Dayspring. She made me not feel like a dork as I was filming.
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I learned that video is never as it seems. The lovely photos behind us? DUCK TAPED to the wall.
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Katie is significantly taller than I am, so this entire video was filmed as I sat on 3 pillows. It’s quite the challenge to speak with a serious tone of voice when your feet (the black boots) are dangling in mid air.
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I’m not so excited about watching myself on video. There are few things more unpleasant than watching yourself on screen. Nevertheless, I am perfectly willing to look like a fool if there is chance that my words might encourage you.

So, take a minute and go register today. See you in April!

Have you ever been to a conference? Are you planning on being a part of (in)RL? Click here to share!

Did you hear that it’s an election year?

By | General, HelloMornings Challenge | 14 Comments

Did you hear that it’s an election year? You know. Passions flaring. Stances taken. Insults slung. Promises made. Hope rising. Smirks flashing. You get the picture.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a political post. I just pray that we as “the church” truly take Peter’s words to heart.

 

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:13-15

 

Bottom line. God is in control…even over elections.

I think it’s wise and good to cast our vote at the polls. I think it’s wise to be slightly informed when we do. I think it’s wise for us to pray. But in the end, it’s vital to remember who ultimately reigns.

Regardless of what happens next month, God hasn’t fallen off His throne. And as His children that means we’re commanded to “fear not.” We’re instructed to “be subject for the Lord’s sake,” because when we spill His love and do good to the undeserving, we reflect Him. And the foolish are silenced. (His words, not mine.)

Vote. But then rest. He’s got (even) this.

What did you take away from Peter’s words this week? Let’s chat about it in the comments.


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HelloMornings

About Lara
Speaker and writer, Lara Williams lives in central North Carolina with her husband and three young children. Click here to check out her blog.

Kris’ Story: Why It’s Worth It to Lose A Little Sleep

By | Create A Morning Routine, HelloMornings Challenge | 27 Comments

A few friends I met during the Hello Mornings Challenge: Aubrey, Kristi, me, Christine and Michelle.

(Note from Kat: Today’s post is from HelloMornings Team member Kris, who blogs at Always Alleluia.)

The alarm goes off at 0’dark thirty A.M. Before you start rolling your eyes, let me just say that I rarely make it out of bed at right then. But that’s the goal. Why would a tired mother of four sacrifice at least two potentially amazing hours of sleep, by her own choice?

I’ll tell you.

Because it makes a difference.

Before this season of life, I’d cling to my pillow, I’d roll out of bed when the baby beckoned or the toddlers moaned for breakfast.

I had no time to fully wake-up before I’d be forced to fully engage.

I resented the immediate demands put on me before I had the opportunity to make it to the bathroom, or grab a turbo shower.

When my oldest was two, if I didn’t shower before he got up, I’d be waiting until nap time or later that evening after my husband came home. And as for managing a decent devotional time?

Yeah, that wasn’t happening much either.

Spiritually, I was starving. Resentment swelled. A hole opened up in my spirit because there was no order to my mornings, no structure in place for my day.

I gained weight.

I lived in my stretched out yoga pants and ratty t-shirts.

I was irritable–restless.

It sounds bleak because it was.

Time passed, more babies, more weight, more demands on my time–

I realized something needed to change. Enter Hello Mornings.

Kat describes Hello Mornings like this:

The Hello Mornings Challenge was birthed to encourage Christian women toward the life-giving habit of waking up early.”

How is getting up early “life-giving”?

Simply put, when you, as a Mom, are rooted in scripture and prayed up for the day, you have the ability to pour out more of yourself for your children, and family.

For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

I know this from experience. I am about to begin my third Hello Mornings challenge and I have tasted the fruit that results from rising to the challenge (pun intended!)

Hello Mornings is a community of women who encourage and build each other up in Truth. <–Tweet This

It’s a network of faithful souls who lift each other in prayer, and hold accountable their fellow group members.

It’s hard to get up before the sun. It’s hard to exercise and plan and spend time in prayer when you’d rather be sleeping. I know.

But sometimes, God calls us to do the hard things. When we step out of our comfort zone and are forced to rely more fully on Him, He grows us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

The women who participate in Hello Mornings don’t have a super power. They have friends and sisters in Christ holding them up in prayer. They have God in their hearts and on their lips as they encourage through scripture and kind words.

My life has been changed for the better by the Hello Mornings challenge.

There are over 3000 women registered for the fall Hello Mornings challenge from countries all over the world. That’s amazing. That’s God’s hand right there.

Registration for the next session will start in December, but you can join us now by following and using the twitter hash tag #hellomornings. Even if you aren’t officially part of the challenge, consider following the tweets, you’ll be blessed by what you read. That’s how I first discovered Hello Mornings. I’ve been impacted for the better as a result.

For more encouragement and “method behind the madness” of all this early rising, download Kat’s FREE ebook, Maximize Your Mornings.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

HelloMornings

Are you a morning person? What is your biggest challenge in the mornings? Click here to join the discussion!

About Kris
Kris is a Jesus loving wife and momma to four kids. She serves as an Advocate for Compassion International and as the MOPS coordinator for her church. Besides homeschooling her kids, in her free time, Kris writes, runs, and pretends she’s a photographer and famous chef. You can follow her musings on faith, life and motherhood at her personal blog, Always Alleluia and on Facebook and twitter.

On Window Washing and Finding Unshakable Peace

By | HelloMornings Challenge, Study the Bible | 10 Comments

My Window Washer

My kids like to wash my windows.

I know. Pinch me. It’s glorious. And, no, I don’t rent them out.

One time, when my son (4) was washing the window he spent a good 5 minutes trying to get one spot clean.

Now you have to understand that in 4 year old time, 5 minutes is like… 3,018 YEARS.

He was determined to clean that one spot, but he was going about it all wrong. You see, he was cleaning the wrong side of the window.

The spot was on the inside. He was on the outside.

Did I Draw The Short Straw?

When I saw the writing assignments for the HelloMornings Bible Study posts, I thought, “Well, I drew the short straw!” (I’m so spiritual, I know… Pray for me.)

But really? I was assigned to write about the greeting and salutation of the book of 1 Peter. The greeting and salutation?

All I could think about was that “salutation” was one of the words that the spider spelled in Charlotte’s Web.

Clearly, you may need to prepare yourself for the depth of my Biblical commentary.

Getting To The Good Stuff

But, of course, in the end I was amazed as how much truth was contained in something so simple. In fact, the part that struck me the most was merely one line of text in the first verse.

“To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces…” 1 Peter 1:1

It’s like jumbo shrimp or stay-at-home mom – an oxymoron.

God’s elect? ….exiles…scattered…?

That doesn’t sound very “elect” to me, or at least not something I want to be elected to.

But then I remembered that the American Dream and God’s Dream are two very different things. He doesn’t want us to find our peace and security in our Norman Rockwell, white picket fence, instagram worthy, suburban homes.

He wants us to make our home in Him. He wants us to be unshakably secure, regardless of our situation, in His companionship and provision.

He wants us to surrender our pursuit of plastic pearls for His real ones.

Verse 13 goes on to say, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”

Where Peace Is Found

So wait…peace isn’t found in my perfectly organized home? Or in finally getting on top of the bills? Or in knowing exactly how to respond to my children? Or that “one thing” finally changing?

No.

In fact, our physical pursuit of peace and joy are the very things that keep us from it. Like trying to wash the wrong side of a dirty window.

Peace is never found in a place, but in a Person.*

Today, my prayer for you is that you would take time to know God and all the richness He has for you. To read His word, spend time in prayer as you walk through your day and and listen for His still small voice.

I pray that you’d spend more time on the right side of the window instead of just looking through it wishing for things to be different.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance…” 1 Peter 1:2

Were you reading along with us this week? What nugget did you glean? Click here to join the discussion.

*I’m pretty sure I heard/read Ann Voskamp say something like that so I’m just going to credit her for that lovely piece of alliteration.

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For When We’re Desperate For His Grace…Again

By | General, HelloMornings Challenge, Study the Bible | 9 Comments

Some days — lots of days — my head hits the pillow and I confess that same sin. It’s that thing I despise in myself — that response to my sweet yet trying kids, or that look I give, or that impatience I harbor. Pick one. Over and over in moments of this daily living choosing not to reflect His love.

That’s when I’m desperate for His grace. That’s when I realize — again — how needy I am for His mercy upon mercy upon mercy. Because left to me I chase after my feelings and rebel from the One who loves me most.

 

 

We’re a needy people. And I think that’s the point. That’s the realization that frees us. Once we truly grasp our depravity in light of His unmatched holiness, we’re ready to receive His grace.

I think that’s what Jesus was revealing to Peter through his three denials. Peter — this proud fisherman who swore he’d never leave his Lord — boldly denied three times, “I don’t know that Jesus.” He was needy for grace. But really, aren’t we all?

Every moment of every day He pours out His grace on His children. He nailed the punishment we deserve to a splintery cross. Now He says, “Whatever you do again today and again today and again today, my child, by faith in Christ Jesus, I call you righteous.”

 

Righteous.

 

That doesn’t mean we keep rebelling and denying. Rather we bow, humbled before a merciful God.

The depths of Christ’s grace transformed Peter’s life. The truth of God’s mercy overwhelmed him to the point where he confessed, “I cannot help but speak of my Lord. I can’t help it.”

Whatever mommy-sin we commit again today, Jesus already took that punishment. Whatever wife-sin we commit again today, He already took it. Whatever daughter-sister-friend-sin we commit again today, He already took it.

Girlfriend, that’s dance worthy.
How have you experienced His grace after grace in your own life?

For those doing the “Kept” study, what did you glean from this week’s look at Peter?

Let’s chat about it in the comments.

 

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HelloMornings

About Lara
Speaker and writer, Lara Williams lives in central North Carolina with her husband and three young children. Click here to check out her blog.

War and Motherhood: Welcome to the HelloMornings Challenge

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 53 Comments

Photo credit

Going Into Battle

War is hard. Have you ever noticed how in the old civil war movies, the soldiers always yell and scream and run to the battlefield?

Why is that?

It’s because offense is more effective than defense. The attacker has an advantage and they are more likely to succeed if they attack than if they let they enemy just happen upon them, unprepared. So they make a plan, pump themselves up, and charge to victory.

What does this have to do with motherhood?

Have you ever felt “attacked” by your day? Like things just kept coming at you and you couldn’t get on top of it all?

I have too. It’s exhausting, discouraging and overwhelming.

A few years ago I decided I’d had enough. It was time for me to go on the offense.

Time to put on my facepaint, raise my fists, scream and run into my day before it runs over me.

It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been perfect, but it has been worth it. My meager battles have yielded so much victory.

I recently read a book called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life The author, Laura Vanderkam says:

“Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first but in the long run conserves willpower,” says Baumeister.

“Once things become habitual, they operate as automatic processes, which consume less willpower.” Take, for instance, brushing your teeth. Most of us don’t stand there arguing with ourselves every morning about whether we want to brush or not, whether it’s worth the effort of getting to the sink, whether the sensation of toothbrush bristles scrubbing around one’s mouth is particularly pleasant. It’s simply a morning ritual.

Welcome To The HelloMornings Challenge

The HelloMornings Challenge starts today. Thousands of women from all over the world are starting the journey of making morning time with God a regular and unquestioned part of their day.

If you think of it today, will you pray for them? And if you’re one of them, how did it go this morning? Click here to tell us about your morning!

FYI – this morning, my son woke up super early, my blog server was down and there was some spam in the #hellomornings Twitter stream. Friends, don’t be discouraged when you face obstacles. Opposition only hits those making a difference. Be encouraged that what you are doing matters. Press on!

3 Incredibly Simple Ways To Maximize Your Mornings (Link Up and Giveaway!)

By | Create A Morning Routine, HelloMornings Challenge | 16 Comments

Being a Morning Ninja is Easier Than You Think…

The idea of waking up early enough to have a Bible study time, plan the day AND exercise can be overwhelming. You might think that you need to suddenly start setting your alarm for an hour earlier to get all done. Here’s some good news: You don’t.

The goal is simply to wake up early enough to have a “warm up” for the day. Just as all the Olympic athletes arrive at their event early so that they can talk with their coach, stretch, and get in the zone, we need to do the same for our families.

Maximizing your mornings with Bible study time, daily planning and exercise, is not as hard as you might think. It can actually be done in about 5-10 minutes a day and with minimal effort.

(Not that speed or minimal effort are a goal, of course. But if perfection is keeping you from getting started, know that starting simply is better than not starting at all.)

The key is to use simple starts in each area to get your momentum going. Once you have developed the habits of daily Bible study, planning and exercise, you’ll find it easy to go deeper in each area.

3 Incredibly Simple Ways To Get Started

1. Listen to an audio Bible.
YouVersion is a great mobile phone app that has audio recording of several different versions of the Bible. This is often how I “read” my Bible in the morning. Later in the morning or day I’ll do my actual Bible Study, but I use the audio Bible to fill my heart and mind with truth, first thing.

2. Pick 3 Daily Tasks
You don’t need an elaborate to-do system. Often, your brain will remember the most important things you need to get done. The simple act of writing down what you intend to do each day is a great way to stay on track.

Another option is to just write down each night what you did that day. Once you see where your time went, you’ll want to determine where it goes.

3. Wear a pedometer.
Awareness is powerful. We can change our lives so much by the simple act of tracking what we are already doing. If you want to live healthier, wearing a pedometer is a great way to start. You’ll begin to be competitive with yourself and find ways to log more and more steps each day.

Another simple way to get healthier is to track what you eat, but if you’ve ever tried counting calories, you know it’s a huge hassle. Instead, just use your phone camera to take pictures of each meal and snack. If you review the photos each day, you’ll soon begin to think twice about that 2nd bowl of ice cream.

Get Simple and Get Started

Each morning, if you faithfully use an audio Bible to listen to the passage of scriptrue you’re currently studying, write down 3 daily goals and put on a pedometer, you’ll soon develop life changing habits.

If you haven’t already done so, click here to download our free ebook, “Maximize Your Mornings” and then click here to join us for the HelloMornings Challenge, which starts on August 20th.

Share Your Tips and Stories…and Win

We want to hear your morning suggestions and stories!

1. Write a blog post about your morning ideas or story.
2. Link up below

and you’ll be entered to win a bag of HelloMornings Coffee!

Link Up

Check back later today to read through all the ideas and be sure to comment on and encourage some of the other participants!


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Share The Wealth: Morning Stories, Tips, Resource Link Up

By | HelloMornings Challenge | No Comments

Hello Mornings Challenge Team

This is a guest post from HelloMornings Team member Aubrey Barela. (Top row, third from right.)

Something big is starting in just a couple weeks…something that could change your life. Your family. You.

If you have decided to join the 2500+ other women that are doing the HelloMornings Challenge, August 20 is GO TIME. The clock is ticking, it’s about to get real, friends.

{fist pump}

(fyi – registration is still open. Join us?)

But…with all that motivation and serious talk you maybe be feeling…

nervous, scared, clueless, fearful, anxious…fill in the blank______.

Emotions rise up when there is something big about to happen, and I believe if you go after this goal of spending daily time with God…something big *will* happen.

As a HelloMornings team and community we want to help you. We want you to help one another.

We desire this community to be a place of encouragement and a place where we are wildly cheering one another on from start to finish!


photo credit

Share The Wealth Link Up on Monday!

What do you say we start all this cheering on and encouragement right about now? Yep. I thought you might be interested!

Today we are asking you to share the wealth of your HelloMornings successes, tips, resources, encouraging words, even what was hard and how you overcame.

Write up a post on your blog and then link up with us here at Inspired To Action on Monday. Next week we will randomly pick one of you who linked up and you’ll win a bag of HelloMornings Coffee!

If we all shared even a little tid bit of goodness just think how much would collectively be shared for us all to dive into? Awesomeness is the word that comes to mind!

Our desire is to create community among the HM team, you and the readers of your blog. You are not meant to do this alone. So jump in, share what you got. If you don’t have a blog or new to the HM Challenge then take some time to soak in all the this goodness that is about to be shared!

Change is on the horizon my friends. Get ready!

Take Action: Write your post and get ready to link up on Monday! (Click here to join the Link Up!)

(Note from Kat: I loved Aubrey’s post yesterday on her blog – the “shadow job” of motherhood. Check it out.)

How To Be Nice In The Morning – a Video Story

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 18 Comments

I used to be pretty grumpy in the morning. Now I’m not (usually). Here’s why.
(RSS and email readers, click here to watch the video.)

This is a video of what He has done in my life through the simple act of giving my first moments to Him. (The video was recorded in 2010…and I still have and wear that hat often. Maybe I need a #HelloFashion Challenge?)


Download the free Maximize Your Mornings ebook here. or learn more about the MYM Challenge here.)

Stand In The Rain

With the HelloMornings Challenge registration in full swing (we currently have over 2,100 registered!) I want to share my HelloMornings story and why I’m so passionate about you meeting with Jesus each day.

I could write a hundred how-to posts about Bible Study, exercise and planning, but not one would have the potential to transform your life like 5 minutes with Jesus.

Because blogs, Bible study books, Christian books, sermons and any other resource you can think of – they are the thunder, they are not the rain. (This is a phrase Ann Voskamp shared at the Allume blog conference last year.)

All of the words I write on this blog and share online are just empty rumblings unless I am pointing you to life giving time with God.

He loves you, He has a powerful purpose for you and He wants to flood every area of your life with hope.

It is never too late, you are never too far gone and you cannot fail one too many times. His grace is endless.

2 Simple Keys to Maximizing Your Mornings

It took me a long time to develop the habit of getting up early. If you’re struggling with it, here are two keys:

1. Take it SLOW. Just get up 5 minutes earlier and pray. Once that’s a habit, add 5 more minutes and read the Bible. Add on from there. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so don’t feel rushed.

2. The morning DOES NOT have to be your MAIN Bible reading, prayer, exercise or planning time. You can just do 5 minutes of one or 5 minutes of each and have your main Bible Study, workout or planning times at night or at another time during the day. The morning, though, is a key time to focus our hearts and lives on these important building blocks.

You are amazing. God is amazing-er — times infinity. (It’s my blog, I can make up word if I want to. Shazaam! )

Give Him 5 loaves and fish, or minutes in the morning and He can do miracles with it.

Share Your Story

Do you have a story about how spending consistent time with God has changed your life in big or small ways? Please share it and inspire others! I’d love to share some of your stories in an upcoming post. Click here to share.

And if you’d like to join a community of women working on this habit together, join us for the HelloMornings Challenge.