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How to Reclaim the Morning + Free eBook "This Is How I Start My Day with the Lord"

How to Reclaim the Morning + Free eBook

Editor’s Note: You know the old adage, “As the first hour of the day goes, so goes the day”? There’s a reason why so much thought and research has gone into the topic of morning routines! Jesus Himself modeled a pattern of early morning prayer with God throughout His ministry! (Mark 1:35 - “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.”)

If you’d love to hear more Biblical perspectives on Morning Routines, get the free eBook – This Is How I Start My Day with the Lord – sharing the morning routines of writers like Lysa TerKerust, Max Lucado, Chrystal Evans Hurst, and more. It’s free from Devotionals Daily! Download for FREE here.

Here’s another perspective on morning routines by Chanel Dokun, a certified Life Planner and Relationship Expert trained in Marriage and Family Therapy. Enjoy!


First, start by getting up thirty minutes before your usual wake-up time so you can carve out space to be alone. If you typically wake up early but tend to spend the time putzing around in an undirected way, keep your same rise-and-shine time. Don’t bother waking up earlier; just wake up with a mission. The numbers on the clock aren’t sacred, so please don’t get caught up in thinking one time is more opportune than another. You don’t have to be part of the five a.m. club if that’s not your jam. All you need is to wake up early enough to have a half hour of dedicated time alone without anyone bothering you. You also want to avoid your Reclaim the Morning time running into your daily prep activities, like showering or deciding what you’ll wear for the day. If you can’t imagine a full half hour at this point, I hear you.

  • Start smaller.

Allison Fallon, author of The Power of Writing It Down, wrote, “Research shows that writing for as little as twenty minutes a day for four days in a row can measurably improve your mood.”1 So start with twenty minutes... or fifteen... or even ten. Just get started.

I highly recommend (read: insist) you avoid checking your phone for messages, emails, or social media when you first wake. A quick glance at your phone is one of the fastest ways to hijack your attention and send those neurons blazing down familiar neural pathways where you’re focused on external concerns. The goal of this sacred morning time is for you to encounter and confront your authentic self without anyone else’s influence, so keep those voices at bay as long as possible. This might mean you need to get an old-school alarm clock to wake you so Alexa is not the one beckoning you immediately upon waking.

Once you get out of bed, head to a private space where you can write two to three pages of stream of conscious thought. Write about anything and everything that comes to mind. If you don’t know what to write, start scribbling, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know...” until something emerges for you. There is no wrong way to do it. You’re allowed to write down whatever comes to mind and follow your thoughts to wherever they might wander. For our purposes, the journey is the destination. I know that sounds very Yoda-like, but it’s the truest way I can say it. The whole point is to be and explore what matters to you. Sometimes you’ll have to wade through piles of thoughts and beliefs you’ve adopted from other people before you can unearth what you really think about your life. That’s okay.

  • Take your time.

My mind bounces all over the place during these morning sessions. Sometimes I’m stuck in an emotion or preoccupied with a specific issue in my life I’m trying to resolve, so I’ll write about that. Other times I have a big decision coming up, so I’ll process the pros and cons. Sometimes I write stories, business ideas, or poems. Most days I come to the page without an agenda, allowing my mind to unravel itself. I’ll write about the things that are bringing me joy or capturing my hopes and anxieties of the season.

Over time, as you write, notice what lands on the page. Do you find yourself regularly writing about old wounds that have not healed? Are you focused on certain recurring anxieties that need to be addressed? Do you have latent desires that remain unexplored? Get curious about the woman you are. Don’t judge what’s on the page. Just notice it. As you observe yourself in print day after day, you’ll begin to see more clearly the picture of who this woman is outside of the influence of others. My clients usually start with a blurred outline of who they are, and over time the lines become clearer as they start to sketch in more details.

  • Be gracious toward the woman you see on the page, and pay attention to what needs she’s expressing so you can help her be more fully realized.

I’m going to leave it at that because the more I explain, the further I push you from the purpose of this time. The practice’s power is in the lack of structure and the simplicity of intention. Just be and use the page to capture what you find. If it feels open and a bit unwieldy, you’ve nailed it. After all, we’re essentially talking about contemplative practice. My attempts to put any structure around it are somewhat futile. As Thomas Merton wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation, “Contemplation cannot be taught. It cannot even be clearly explained. It can only be hinted at, suggested, pointed to, symbolized. The more objectively and scientifically one tries to analyze it, the more he empties it of its real content, for this experience is beyond the reach of verbalization and of rationalization.”4 Given this, my best guidance is only to suggest you try it and see what happens.

By the way, my Reclaim the Morning practice is one of the reasons you’re reading this book. In the first half of 2020, I noticed my journal pages were filled with desires to put my life-planning process to the page so I could help more women figure out their life purpose. It showed up day after day, and I finally had to confront that I was not honoring a desire to write a book. The noise of my daily life usually drowned out the whisper of this childhood hope to become an author, but it was screaming from every page I wrote in the morning. The liturgy of journaling helped me hold my deep internal desire in higher regard so I could start to put action behind the life I was waiting to live.

  • What might your little voice be screaming to do? Find it on the page.


The most important part of reclaiming the morning is to get started quickly, so don’t overthink it. But if you want to make the time even more valuable, here are some ideas for how you can upgrade the experience and optimize your time:

1) MAKE THE EXPERIENCE LUXURIOUS. Snuggle up in your favorite blanket, light a scented candle, or write your morning thoughts in a leather journal with a special pen.

Do whatever helps you feel like this time is an indulgence. That act of self-care will keep you running back to this sacred moment day after day and retrain your brain to believe that you are worthy of this alone time. Waking up early doesn’t have to feel like a punishment or “one more thing” to do so you can be productive.

  • Reframe your morning time as a special treat you give yourself every day.

2) AVOID STIMULANTS BEFORE YOU WRITE. That means hold off on the coffee and sugar until you have a couple of pages written. I’m obsessed with coffee, so I hate to be a killjoy. Making my morning cup is one of the best parts of my day. However, I’ve found that caffeine and sugar stimulate my mind too much, making it harder to focus and maintain the reflective, meditative state that makes reclaiming the morning so valuable. Test this out for yourself to see what impact your morning coffee has on you. Do you feel scattered mentally, unable to focus after drinking a mug of coffee? If so, try holding off and replacing your morning brew with something else. I like the comfort of a warm cup, so I drink hot water with a little lemon juice or a decaffeinated tea while I’m writing. Then I make a cup of coffee as my treat after breakfast to signal that it’s time to dive into the day.

3) EMPTY BEFORE YOU FILL. Integrating a physical, spiritual, or educational practice is a great addition to the Reclaim the Morning liturgy if you want to extend the time. Some of my clients pair their journaling with stretching, a meditation app, reading scripture, or enjoying a book. Just remember to write first so you can dump what’s on your mind before you take in anything new.

The goal is to hear your own voice first and then receive what the world has for you in a position of being more grounded and in touch with who you are.


Okay, so let’s be honest with one another. Reclaiming the morning sounds like a great idea. You’re totally on board. Or maybe you’re side-eyeing me because I said you can’t drink coffee before you start, and now you don’t want to hear anything more from me. If that’s the deal breaker for you, by the way, do whatever you want. I’m not your mom. Drink coffee if you want to drink coffee. I’m only sharing what I’ve learned, so you have to decide how it will affect you. But even if you have full intention to start this practice, here’s what will get in your way.

You’re going to say:

  • “I’M NOT A MORNING PERSON.” Well neither am I, remember? This isn’t about waking up before the sun rises or the early bird getting the worm. This is about reorienting your life to hop out of the rhythm of significance-seeking every single day so you can intentionally pay attention to what you want. If that has to happen at ten thirty because you can’t open your eyes before that, fine. Just reclaim the morning before you do anything else.
  • “I HAVE KIDS. ARE YOU CRAZY?” I’m crazy like a fox. Reclaim the Morning is a great opportunity to teach your children that you value yourself and that quiet is important. As you retrain your own mind, train them too. If they tend to distract you, either send them back to their rooms or set them up near you with their own Reclaim the Morning station. Grab crayons and markers for them to draw or hand them some Play-doh. Tell them you’re playing a game to see how long they can be quiet. Make it fun with a snack. Kids love that kind of stuff. If they absolutely can’t be quiet, try to do this before they wake by getting yourself a small reading lamp and reclaiming the morning from your bed like a stealth self-care ninja.
  • “I’M MORE PRODUCTIVE AT NIGHT. CAN I DO IT THEN?” No. This isn’t about productivity. This is about framing your day, and that starts with the morning. If you want to add in some elaborate evening rhythm, that’s fine with me. Do you, boo. But make sure you keep your Reclaim the Morning time.
  • “THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING ONLY MEN HAVE THE LUXURY OF DOING.” I hear you on this one. For the past year, I’ve been in an online community of more than fifteen hundred female entrepreneurs, and I regularly hear them gripe about male patriarchy and the privilege to spend two hours every morning on themselves. I really do hear you. And I’ve also found this to be an excuse. First, I’m not asking you to spend two hours. You can spend fifteen minutes, and this will still be effective. More time is only better, but it’s not required. Second, I think it’s easy to make excuses for ourselves. Yes, you will have trade-offs. You can’t do certain things, and it will require more prep in the evening on other activities. But this is important for you. Make the time.
  • “I DON’T LIVE ALONE. WHERE CAN I DO THIS?” You don’t need a lot of space. Use a closet if that’s all you have.

Or use a natural light lamp to wake and then stay in bed to journal so you don’t disrupt Sleeping Beauty next to you. This is also a great time to practice asserting your needs. Share with your roommate or partner why this time is valuable to you and what impact it might have on your life if you can make it happen. Let them support you rather than be an obstacle to the time.


I can’t wait to see how your energy for the day and sense of self begin to shift as you start this practice. You don’t have to get it all perfect right off the bat. Like dissociation, the power in the liturgy is in the cumulative effect. Try it out for a few weeks and see if anything emerges. It takes twenty-one days to build a habit. The results might surprise you.

Friend, you are ready. We’ve laid the foundation. In the next section we’ll begin to cobble together your life purpose so you can lift your head out of the water. We’ll start by defining what a solid life purpose looks like, and then we’ll put language to what you do exceedingly well. By the end of this book, I’m hoping you can begin to value the incredible woman God created you to be.

I can’t wait for you to meet her.

  1. Allison Fallon, The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Thrive, 2021), 10.
  2. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 2007), 6.

Excerpted with permission from Life Starts Now by Chanel Dokun, copyright Chanel Dokun.

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Your Turn

Do you have a morning routine that includes prayer, contemplation, journaling, or meditation with God? If not, it’s time to Reclaim Your Morning! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full