Gina Brinkman, the Children’s Ministry Director at Church of the Shepherd, shares how she awakens to God’s presence each morning.

What time does your morning routine with God begin?
“I typically wake up around 4:15 am. The house is quiet, no one is demanding anything of me, and I know God is waiting there.”

Describe your routine.
“My routine kind of changes depending on where I am at or what God is wanting to tell me. Sometimes, I begin with a worship song to express my thoughts, or many times just begin with simple conversation. I look to my Bible App to give me a centering scripture and then continue with prayer around the scripture. I then go into a daily meditation led by Abide on my app, which is normally 15 minutes. It is so peaceful to sit and just be still as it guides you along and introduces new ways of thinking about things. It also challenges me spiritually. God has changed my heart through meditation many times. Sometimes it just happens that the meditation will be focused on my current struggle. From there, I sometimes go back in the scripture or go to a song that is brought to my mind during the meditation or just sit still in God’s closeness. I then move into the Upper Room daily devotional. It’s so AWESOME…just a little snip-it and the stories often align with my current need for awareness, giving strength and encouragement. Journaling in my bible (I love marking up my bible!) or 4-year-old devo is how I typically wrap up my time. I kind of bring it all together from my time with God and write it down. This helps me so much to witness where I have been over the past several years and how God has strengthened me, answered prayers, given me a miracle I wasn’t expecting, or hasn’t answered me yet and I am still stewing over. Or sometimes He just blows my mind with his AWESOMENESS! I love reading this!”

Is it ever hard to get up that early or get started? Are there other challenges?
“You know, it doesn’t start out this way. It is a progression and leaning into where God needs you and how you best communicate with God. There are some times I will wake up in the middle of the night because something is on my mind and I just start my time with God then. By the end of our conversation, there is peace and I go back to sleep. Getting up early is not for everyone. My family does not really understand why I would get up early, but honestly, it is the only way I can survive. There is no other time of the day that I can give 100% of me to God. All I know is when I give God time in my life, he gives me the time of my life!”

How long have you had this routine?
“I have always been a morning person, so that doesn’t bother me. I have been doing this for about 5 years. It was only about a year ago that I started doing the meditation piece. But I have pretty much been doing everything else to some degree or form.”

How have you noticed a difference in your life/faith journey since beginning this routine?
“I am different. Maybe not in any one way that people could point out, but I’m closer to God, strengthened, inspired, more open to His prompting, and more aware of His presence. I have started writing my own meditations and sharing with others. I just finished up the Stephen Ministry training. I have a new painting I am laying out & hope to get started on soon. I lean into God more than I ever did. I love praying and allowing the spirit to move freely, and I want to be available and walk beside those around me who are hurting or just needing to draw closer to God. That only comes from God walking beside me.”

Anything else you’d like to share?
“Early morning is not the answer for everyone. Whether your exercising, going for a walk, just sitting quietly, or waiting in line at the drive through…God is always there walking by your side!”