This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)

Routine has never been my thing – until it was.

In November 2016, I went to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for a week with a group of pastors I am a part of.  I arrived a day late, and as we prepared for worship that night, I asked, “What is your usual practice?”  They laughed, but we tend to settle into routines pretty quickly.

While there, I awoke early and hiked a 2-mile route as the sun rose.  It became my routine while there.  I loved being out in the quiet and the beauty.  The exercise woke me up and prepared me for my day.  It centered me.

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When I returned, I continued to get up in the darkness and walk in the morning.  No beautiful mesas but still quiet and beautiful.  It continued to center me – and wake me up for my morning devotions.

I also found that it helped with my depression.  Sometimes it would take me over an hour to get out of bed in the morning.  Sure, I got up to get my kids to school, but then I would return.  Never sleeping, but just unable to get moving.  Then, of course, I would feel terrible because it could be 9:00 am, and I hadn’t done anything yet.

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Sometimes getting out of bed is the hardest part of the day.

But I found when I set my alarm for 5:20, I always got out of bed.  I couldn’t just snooze or it would wake Dave up.  My routine became stumbling out of bed and into my running shoes (or boots if there was a lot of snow), pour a cup of coffee, and then head outside for a 2-mile walk.


It’s Five Minute Friday:  “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. 

Five minutes are up, but I’m not quite done.

And while I used to always drink decaf, I began to add a little caffeine.  These things, my new routine, have become life-giving.  Getting out of bed, a little caffeine, and some exercise have allowed me to start my day in strength rather than in a feeling of failure.  During our long, cold, dark Wisconsin winters, my routine has helped me to keep depression in the background:  still always there but not finding its old power.

My morning devotion time has also been strengthened.  I am not only more awake and present but also don’t “run out of time” because I couldn’t get moving in the morning.  I’m also more creative in the morning – this gift of early morning routine has birthed many a sermon or communion liturgy.

It’s true, that sometimes I am tired because I can’t get to bed as early as I need to get a full night’s sleep.  But these early mornings have become more than a simple routine.  They are part of the rhythm of my life.  And for that, I am thankful.


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