5 Ideas to JUMPSTART Your Mornings in the New Year

How To Have Your Most Productive Year Yet!

Let’s be real honest… some of us need some super jumper cables to revive us and jumpstart our lives every morning.  (Yes, we call it Coffee! Preferably with french vanilla creamer to be exact.)

Our groans when the alarm goes off sound similar to our car engines on a cold morning trying to turn over… and over… and over again.  Whether you’re a parent who’s feeling the drag, a kidmin or other ministry leader who can’t seem to find the time to get it all done, or anyone else, let me quickly give you five ways to jumpstart your mornings in the coming year.

I challenge you to try these things for just one week, 7 days, and see if you don’t find yourself more productive as a parent or leader, and well pleased with your results.  I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll like these 5 things, but I can pretty well guarantee that if you’ll discipline yourself to do them, you’ll gladly reap the benefits.   So here they are, 5 Ideas to Jumpstart your mornings in 2016.

1) Get out of bed immediately when you’re alarm goes off

I know this sounds absurdly crazy for some of us, but why should we continue wasting 10, 20, 30 minutes or even an hour of our day every day trying to get more sleep that’s not even good for us, and actually slows us down throughout the rest of the day?

For me personally, it gives me a headache throughout the day if I push the snooze button multiple times in the morning.

Years ago, a friend and I decided to both try this out – to wake up “snooze-less” for two weeks, and hold each other accountable each morning.  We both found that it was actually quite beneficial to our daily routine.  I can’t say I’ve always been consistent since then, but I’m finding it’s value once again as I’m trying to make my mornings a time of peak productivity.

Try it… if you dare.  You’ll feel more refreshed at the start of your day (of course, that is, after the initial painful forcing of yourself to get up out of bed.)

2) Drink a glass of water before you eat or start your day

I’m going to guess that all of us need to drink more water than we do.  A great way to start is by holding off on breakfast or that first cup of coffee until we’ve first downed a good sized glass of water to replenish and rehydrate our system after the night’s rest.

This is one of our family’s goals for the coming year… to drink more water this year than any other…  And it all starts for each of us as soon as we wake up.  The benefits are too many to list, but here’s a few… it purifies the body, helps you eat less and loose weight, and even forces you to take more breaks throughout the day 😃.

Try it out, and you’re going to feel more refreshed, more healthy, and less weighed down.  God made water for our bodies, and we need a lot more of it than we get.

3) Get up one hour earlier than normal

For years I would wake up around 7am, giving myself an hour to get up and ready to leave for work. Until one day I realized I was cheating myself out of potentially some of the most productive time of my day – early morning.  (It’s the quietest time of the day, everyone else is still asleep, and my mind is sharper than at other times.)

If you want to get up an hour earlier, it’s really pretty simple, don’t miss this… go to bed one hour earlier!  Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep to get a full night’s rest.  Find out what your need is, and then plan your sleep accordingly so you can get up and be productive in the morning.

I think you’ll find that it’s not just your mornings that become better, but you’ll actually notice the benefit of it the entire rest of the day.

4) Have a specific plan

Getting up an hour earlier does you no good if you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to do with that extra hour.  (If you’re just going to wake up an hour earlier to watch Good Morning America, then you might as well stay in bed.)

Write your morning game plan down on a piece of paper.  If you’ve now got two hours in the morning instead of just one, it might look something like this (you could allot 30 minutes for each)…

  • Wake up and get ready for the day
  • Spend time alone with God in Bible reading and prayer
  • Eat breakfast and/or exercise
  • Spend time writing, reading, or journaling

Whatever you decide to do, have a specific plan.

And now for the biggin’…

5) Say No to Facebook until after your morning routine

I know, some of you just about spilt or spewed your coffee when you read that.

Statistically, 80% of smartphone users check social media within the first 15 minutes of waking up. And, as I’m sure you know, sometimes it eats up the first 30 minutes or more of their day. You don’t have t0 be a statistic.  You can be an overcomer of the little red notification button. I believe in you.  (I know, I know, it’s calling you’re name as soon as you wake up and see it.)

For some of you, don’t even look at or open FB, because once you do, you’ve just shot your morning game plan in the foot.

The average person spends 87 minutes a day on social media Monday through Thursday, and over 160 minutes a day on the weekends.  However, also on average, a person can read about 12,000 words per hour and write about 1,000 words per hour. (this blog post is a little over 1,000 words, in case you’re wondering)  Think about that… How many books could a person read… or write, notes of encouragement could be easily written and sent, or how many prayers go un-prayed because we’re just too occupied with something like FB novelty?

Think of what you could do in the coming year if you scratched off an extra hour of your day, every day, and implemented these five things. I have a sneaking suspicion that you, your family, and maybe even your friends will notice both the difference in you and also the greater difference you’re making beyond you.

Well, there you have it.   The question now is, will you do it?  I’d challenge you to take on any one of these 5 things and implement them into your morning routine.  Or if you’re up for it, take on all 5, for just one week, and then look back and consider the benefits.  You might just decide not to stop.

I’d love to hear how it goes.  Also, I’d love to hear which one of the five you feel is the most important.  You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

3 Surprisingly Unexpected Ways To Evaluate Your Year

At the end of a year, wise people will stop and evaluate the previous year, and see how they can improve themselves over the next 12 months.  Well, the last page of this last year is soon to be written, and the first page of the next is almost ready to be turned.

Before you turn the page on a new year, here are 3 super simple, yet easily overlooked things to check to evaluate your 2016.  I hope you’ll take this challenge, and check these 3 things, even today.

1.   Your FACEBOOK

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are pretty high that you have a Facebook account, and that you even use it quite frequently.

Here’s the challenge… Go to your profile page and take 30 minutes to scroll through your entire 2015 year’s posts.  Look at the type of things you posted about the most and ask yourself some questions:

  • Are the majority of my posts positive or negative?
  • Did I post anything in the heat of the moment that looking back, I regret now?
  • Did I tear anyone down, build anyone up, or exalt God through my posts?
  • Did I post about anything spiritual, encouraging, or helpful?
  • If I were someone else, would I want to follow me and get my posts in my news feed every day?
  • What do my last year’s posts reveal about my priorities and life perspective?


Jesus said that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Look at your checkbook log over the last year (yes, please tell me that you have one 🙂 )  It reveals not only where you’re investing, but more importantly, it’s a good indicator of where your heart is.

Grab your checkbook, and here’s the challenge as you look through it… Ask yourself these questions:

  • If someone else were looking at my checking log, could they easily see that God and His Church were given first priority in my giving?
  • Apart from my giving to God, can I find any other expenses that were used for the benefit of others outside of my family?
  • Approximately what dollar amount did I spend each month on personal convenience, pampering, and entertainment?
  • Looking at the previous year’s log, where do I feel I need to adjust my spending habits or my priorities?

3.  Your copy of GOD’S BOOK

While we’re checking the “books” that play an important role in our year to year life, let’s not forget about the most important book of all – God’s Word.

Here’s the challenge… Pick up your Bible right now, open it up, and answer these questions as you flip through it’s pages:

  • Is your Bible any different at the end of this year than it was as the beginning?
  • Are there any more highlights, notes written in the margins, or wear and tear from usage?
  • Did you read it more or less than the previous year?  Did you read it daily?
  • At the end of another year, do you know more about your Bible than you do about the latest TV series you watched or the latest gossip on FB?

Someone once wisely said, “A Bible that’s falling apart belongs to a Christian who isn’t.”

Unfortunately, if we were to put all three of the above “books” into printed form, I have a feeling that the first two in the list might show significantly more wear and tear than the last.  Sad, but true.

Will 2017 be any different?  Well, Now is the time to decide!

Let’s get ready to write the first page of 2016 with things like building up others, investing our treasures into what really matters, and spending more of our time in the only Book that has the power to change our lives!

Books I Read In 2015

Throughout the year, I try to read through a new book every couple of months.  Here are the books I read in 2015.

Books Read in 2015

These are not in order of importance, simply in the order that I read them throughout the year. (I purposefully didn’t include the Bible in this list considering it should be a given.  However, by the end of the month, I will have read through it this year as well.)

What If Jesus Was A Ministry Volunteer?

A Glimpse Of What It Looks Like To Be The Perfect Volunteer

Churches are some of the largest volunteer organizations in the world.  Without volunteers, ministry doesn’t get done.

Ministry Volunteer

Yet, every church and ministry struggles with having both the number of volunteers they need as well as the level of commitment from the volunteers they have.

Imagine with me, what if every volunteer in your ministry was a ‘perfect volunteer’?

Well, we know that there’s no such thing as a perfect volunteer.  That is, of course, unless Jesus Himself were to walk through the doors of your church to serve.

So… what if this week in your church, Jesus did, in fact, walk in to serve as a volunteer in your ministry?  What would that look like?

Well, imagine with me for a moment…

  1. He would have spent sufficient time with the Father prior to showing up for ministry to make sure His spirit was right, His motives were pure, and His #1 goal was to please the Father.  John 8:29
  2. He would be committed and dependable in His area of ministry. He would take His ministry as seriously as if He were going to give an answer to God for it.  John 5:36
  3. He would be passionate, going above and beyond what was expected, reaching for what was exceptional and remarkable. He would be trusted to get a job done and to get it done right.  John 17:4
  4. He would “own it.” He would show possession for whatever responsibilities were given to Him, and would seek to excel in the use of His talents and abilities to make that ministry better.  John 17:12
  5. He would take ministry as seriously as any other job.  He would show up on time, every time, to be in His place without fail.  Luke 16:10
  6. He would be invested.  To Jesus, it wouldn’t be just about filling a time slot or appeasing the pastor until the next time. It would be about making a real, eternal difference by giving it all He’s got.  John 6:39
  7. He would have an obvious passion, an infectious smile, and a warm and gracious spirit with all those He interacted with.  Mark 10:13-16
  8. He would submit to and support the church leadership and their vision for moving the church forward, even when He might have personally chosen to do things somewhat differently.  He would align to the vision, adopting it as His own, and owning His piece of that vision.  John 8:28
  9. He would motivate and encourage those who serve alongside of Him by His positive attitude and team spirit.  John 13:14-15
  10. He would be flexible when changes and adjustments were required, willing to change His plans as necessary in order to make ministry happen effectively.  Luke 22:42
  11. He would serve, not for the praise of men, but for the glory of God. He would realize that no ministry is too big or too small to serve in.  Regardless of what responsibility He was given, He would understand that it mattered, whether it was done in public or in private, whether it was done to be a help to the saved or to the lost, whether He was recognized for it, or seldom noticed.  John 13:31
  12. He would guard His testimony as a believer, understanding that He is a walking Bible, and a reflection of Christ and His Church to the world, either for good or bad.  He would protect the testimony of Christ and the Church through His words, His actions, and His conduct (both online and offline).  John 8:29, 14:9
  13. He would understand that His commitments to ministry take priority over his desire to be comfortable, entertained, or never having to be inconvenienced.  Matthew 8:20, 20:28

As a Christian, our job is to continually be conforming to the image of Christ.  This would include our service to the Lord as a ministry volunteer.

If you are a ministry volunteer in any area, while we may never attain the status of “volunteer perfection”, let’s make it our goal to try!

Because if the church were filled with lots of Jesus’s for volunteers, the church would be an even better and more effective place at making a difference and reaching the world.

Romans 8:29  “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

Leading From the Bench – The Discipline of Delegation

After more than 14 years of ministry, if I had to do it all over again, I’d certainly change some things.

Discipline of Delegation

I’d change some things about myself as a leader and my leadership approach. And one of the things that I’d do differently is I’d have been equally a delegator as much as I was a doer.

Earth is Playdough, Eternity’s a Stone – No Difference We Can Make In Heaven

“Earth is playdough, Eternity’s a stone.”

Earth is Playdough

Image Courtesy of PlayDough World Channel

Does it ever suddenly occur to you that life is quickly passing you by, and eternity is even more quickly approaching? Every day, eternity could literally be just one breath away for any of us.

I’m a Better Christian Today Because of These 4 Things a New Believer Taught Me

With the new birth at salvation comes new life in Christ. It’s fresh. It’s raw. And it’s real.


I love seeing the “new man” develop in the heart and life of a new believer in Christ. And one of the biggest reasons is because it’s energizing and motivating to those of us who are sometimes guilty of allowing the “newness” of what we’ve been given in Christ to wear off and begin to fade a bit.

Life and Ministry Lessons I’ve Learned from My Pastor

In just a few weeks, our family will be answering God’s call and transitioning to a new ministry in Illinois.  As I look back on the the past 14 years of ministry in Liberal, KS, God has blessed me abundantly with an amazing church to call home, and a wonderful pastor to call my friend. Pastor Bill Prater has been a mentor, an encourager, and a friend to me, for which I am thankful.

Pastor and Katie

The life and ministry lessons I’ve learned from him are more than I could express here, but I want to give you a few of them that have shaped and made me a better pastor and ministry leader.

Here are 8 life and ministry lessons I’ve learned from my Pastor:

5 Qualities of Great Servant Leadership

Ronald Reagan, who was a great servant leader, once wisely said, “In the end, it all comes down to leadership.”


All of us, in some way or another, are leaders in some area of our lives, because as John Maxwell puts it, leadership is influence, and we all have influence.

And one of the greatest ways to leave a positive impact through our influence is to not just to be a leader, but to strive for being a servant leader.

Leveraging Your Most Contagious Asset – Your SMILE :-)

Every person, every day has something to offer to make the world around them a better place. Whether as a student or teacher, an employee or employer, a parent or a grandparent.


Each one of us have a unique contribution that we alone can be or do to change the world around us.

However, there’s one thing that every single person possesses that has the positive power to influence for good… if they’ll simply choose to put it to use.

5 Intentional Strategies to Your Best Year Yet!

At the start of 2014, I tried something I’ve never done before. I didn’t know if it would work, but figured it was worth a shot, and it proved to be one of the best things I’ve done in a long time.

2015 Calendar

I chose a key word to describe my year and give it clear direction. My one key word – INTENTIONAL.

I made a choice that I was going to be more intentional than ever before about nearly every area of my life, and I began planning my yearly goals accordingly.

My key verse was Phil. 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God…” and my key thought was this, “When I know what the mark is, I can be intentional about reaching it.”

With that mindset of intentionality, I’ve been able to accomplish more of my goals in the past year than any other year prior. Here are a few of the many things I was able to accomplish this year more consistently than ever before:

  • Flossing daily 🙂
  • Drinking a lot more water
  • Getting up an hour earlier every day
  • Running at least twice a week
  • Greater consistency in our family devotions
  • Increased reading and study time

These things have now become habits of my daily/weekly routine, and I can’t wait to get started on a new list of habits to develop in the coming year.

What more could you accomplish this year if you got more intentional? Here are five things I’ve learned this past year that will help you develop a mindset of intentionality:

Adopting the Mindset of an Owner

Whether working on a job or in a ministry, there are always those who seem to “get it” and those who just “don’t get it”. And I think that a lot of it has to do with one simple principle – whether or not they have adopted the mindset of an employee or an owner.

OwnerIt’s the same difference in mindset between a renter and a landlord. The difference is in one word – Possession!

  • An employee who takes on the mindset and initiative of an owner will probably be the next one promoted.
  • The renter who treats the house like the landlord would treat the house will probably never get evicted.
  • In the same sense, the staff member or ministry volunteer who takes possession of their calling and responsibilities will probably be the most effective.

How does an owner think? They always have the best interest of the organization in mind.

They’re always looking for ways to make it better. They want their organization to be the best that it can be and to reach it’s peak effectiveness. So what kinds of things do they do?