Today I am up early for my morning routine—coffee and devotional time. For several years I have tried to read scripture before anything else in the morning, and to also let the last words I read each night be scripture. Morning prayer starts my day right. As the old saying goes, “Your day is less likely to come unraveled if it’s hemmed in by prayer.” I remember family, church and friends. Lately I’ve remembered to pray more often for folks I don’t know–the poor, troubled, living in abusive situations or in war-torn areas.

I also try to add some exercise to my day, so today I went to an early Zumba class. That really gets the heart pumping, but it’s pitiful to watch this Baptist preacher’s daughter (who didn’t dance) try some of these moves! I do find that I have so much more energy if I workout early. But must they have mirrors in the gym?

I check email to see if anyone needs anything before going to the office. I can’t imagine how we managed before computers! I write a press release for our state newspaper’s religion calendar about “Trunk or Treat” on Halloween. We have cancelled Wednesday evening services that night to be with our neighbors on our church parking lot. Church folks decorate their car trunks and vans, and bring treats for costumed kids. It’s a way to engage with our community to let them know we’re here and enjoy serving our neighbors.

Several errands need attention this morning. I have to pick up new banners to hang along the front church sidewalk where our Hillcrest Farmers Market happens on Saturday morning. We’ve decided to become to a year-round market now offering locally grown foods. The market is another outreach project of our church to help us connect with the community.

While out, I stop by the hospital to visit a church member. She’s in good spirits and hopes to go home soon. We have prayer together with family. She has responded well to treatment and will be back with us soon.

At church, I get busy taking care of several items on my plate related to the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. We have our Advent theme: “God With Us.” Our Community Children’s Christmas party is planned, and the Single Parent Scholar Fund students will bring their children to enjoy this event while they study for finals. The Thanksgiving dinner we offer at noon on Thanksgiving Day is organized, but I need to communicate again with the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus that they are again invited to join us—students, faculty, staff who are working on Thanksgiving Day. We have done this meal for five years, and usually have a large group of international students and some staff join us for the meal, along with church and community folks who don’t have family plans.

It’s Wednesday so we have Wednesday night supper, Women’s Bible Study, and our Midweek Service. It’s the longest day of the week. I love seeing the youth at supper and sitting with them for a bit to catch up.

Choir rehearsal after Midweek worship brings the day to a close. The Christmas cantata we’ll sing with orchestra is coming along nicely. It’s been a long and good day. I’m glad I stashed some Halloween candy in my car for a treat on the drive home. So much for Zumba . . .

Carolyn Staley is associate pastor of discipleship and missions, Pulaski Height Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas.