Mundane Monday: Margin of Possibility

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Running on the treadmill this morning I couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a hamster on a wheel. Another Monday, another day full of routine and responsibilities. Despite waking up with a headache, in an effort to be disciplined to reach my goals, on the treadmill I go. After that, I meant to throw some pinto beans and sausage in the crockpot this morning to feel especially accomplished to have exercised, showered and made dinner all by 8:00am, but life happens.

One child lost their cell phone, another child’s car was on empty, so on a day full of school orientations in addition to my normal full-time job, I need to flex and be creative, which is why I started work earlier today and am out the door early to accomplish the new challenges of the day, including writing this blog while my teenager with a learner’s permit is driving me to follow the child whose car is on empty on our way to Verizon. I meant that to be a run on sentence for effect. And Verizon is not open this early. Great – plan B or C, whichever plan we are on now. But I digress. Oh, wait – today’s blog is about creating margins in our life. Ha.

If I have a minute, or any amount of time, I will fill it up – Lord willing with useful endeavors, but I have often been told that I do too much. Guilty. But life is so short and I want to make the most of it. So where does margin come into this lifestyle I have created, which includes 5 children, a wonderful husband, leading worship, speaking at conferences, writing a book, writing a new song and working as an executive assistant? Good question. Very creatively is the answer.

It starts with rising early. I cannot accomplish all the LORD has placed upon my heart if I am not up before my kids, and one child in particular is awake before the sun rises. I tell him to occupy himself reading or building legos while I seek the face of God. Oh wait, that should have been point #1. God first. Am I perfect in that goal of placing God first? No, but somewhere in my day I have got to get into His word and my personal preference is to use a “Bible in a Year” reading plan. Here is a link to a website where you can choose a plan that works for you. Do I complete this perfectly every year? No, but I have learned to give myself grace and to press on year after year.

Discipleship. With a full life, discipleship for myself and my children, as well as time for my husband has to be intentional. These are the “big rocks” of life. My husband truly helps in this goal of closeness with date nights almost every week and setting aside time every year to go away together. Work will always be there, people won’t.

Discipling my children doesn’t look as neat and tidy as when my kids were little, when almost every morning we would rise and do a bible curriculum together, but they are older now and have responsibilities of their own. Creating opportunities to have one-on-one time is the challenge; it might be while driving in a car, or maybe just talking late at night, or finding a spot in the house to have a private conversation. Purposeful dates with kids is also one way this is achieved. Discipling for myself is a little harder to come by. This is where I mentor myself with books and studies – but when?

Multi-tasking. While on my treadmill, I have my reading glasses on, reading an inspirational study or a book on ministry, highlighting key phrases. An iPad is one of my favorites to use while on the treadmill, because it is easiest to highlight while literally, “on the go”. Another place where I multi-task is in the car. Since I have teens, I have built-in chauffeurs. It might make me a little sick to my stomach temporarily, but I can usually get something accomplished, whether it is doctor’s appointments, planning, working on my laptop, etc. Of course sometimes I need to be sensitive that it also might be time just to listen to loved ones.

Rest. My secret weapon is Melatonin gummies to help me get a good night’s rest. This is imperative for me to have strength and energy for the coming challenges of the day. It also helps with autoimmune diseases and might even curb headaches. The verse for today convicts my soul and reminds me that I am not invincible. Acquiescing to a schedule and getting proper rest are fundamental. This is still an area I am challenged in, but setting rest as a priority helps me achieve my goals.

Goals. I can have great ambitions and plans, but if they do not have deadlines, it will not get done. My flesh is a great obstacle in this regard, but as Paul said, I press on! In the past this has included registering for races which was an impetus to make me train. But goals are not enough alone. The motivation for the goals is essential. But where does that come from?

Attitude. My attitude needs adjustment that is only found in the word of God. This is the most important fuel for my heart. But all sorts of problems try to dismantle the joy and positive attitude that is formed by God’s word. What then? I can find motivation in courses, groups, studies or courses. Michael Hyatt’s course Best Year Ever was a real encouragement to me. But sometimes we need somebody to come alongside us.

Accountability. This one is tougher to find, but within our own household we can find someone who has a vested interest in our success. Small groups at church are another great option, or if we have to go it alone, planning tools can help to keep us on track.

Planning. Speaking of planning, building in time for planning is essential. Evernote really helps me in this regard, but then so does utilizing an old fashioned planner like Amy Knapp’s that I write all of my children’s work schedules and daily reminders for me in. But sometimes you just need to come apart or you will come apart. This past weekend was such a time for me, but I confess it was not planned.

Saturday was a beautiful day. No obligations other than preparing for worship leading and making meals for the family, who were all out of the house working. I basked in the presence of God and spent most of the day planning. This was a rare moment for this girl and I cherished every moment of it.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also the girl who wants to be around my family 24/7, but in this moment God created a space for me to think and ponder for an entire day. (A dangerous thing, I know). This time served as a catalyst that inspired a lot of changes to how I approach the Seeing Deep ministry going forward. Exciting stuff!

Examination. So in my quest to be effectively used by God and maximize the time God has given me, I learned again this past weekend that I need to take one day a month to set aside to pray and plan, in addition to my daily quiet time.

It also might mean examining my life to see where precious time is wasted and asking the LORD for wisdom with what needs to be pruned and what needs to be added. This article How Americans Spend Their Time was at once enlightening and a little sobering in that it conveyed both an opportunity to be introspective and aware of how we are numbering our days, as well as hopefully an encouragement about how some of our time is well spent.

I long to be faithful and passionately pass on this faith in Jesus that has arrested my soul. Ultimately we are all accountable to the LORD for how we used this evaporating commodity called time. But to be more effective, ministry, family goals and work take planning. It is in the margins of life that our souls are replenished and refocused to the mission God has called us to. It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Lord, help us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to honor You above all else in these lives You have given.

Thoughtful Thursday – Happy New Year: Putting the Big Rocks In

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2015!!  I still remember Y2K being a big deal, so it is rather shocking to think we are 15 years later now.  Where has the time gone?  It is fleeting.  It is easy to let time fly by, seemingly unnoticed.  We stay busy and never is everything fully accomplished.  But seizing the moments we are given, prioritizing the days can bring immense satisfaction and a sense of fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives rather than squandering it.

Years ago I heard of a philosphy in which our big priorities were referred to as “big rocks”.  In order to accomplish some of the larger priorities in our lives, they must be considered first before all of the little rocks take up all the spaces in our lives.  What is really important to us needs to be placed first.  Determining what is most significant is another matter.  Today I created a “Big Rock” calendar for myself in which I placed on my calendar (printable, so easy to copy and paste repeating items) items that were important to me, to ensure they do not get forgotten.

Our relationship with the LORD is primary, followed by time with family.  Some big rocks are already going to happen, regardless, because they are already interwoven into our days.  What are your big rocks?  A great tool to help with the process or prioritization would be a bible reading plan.  Some wonderful plans are found here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/ . Depending on whether you prefer to study the bible chronologically, or by literature type, there are many different types to choose from at this website.  May God grant us all a blessed and effective year and enable us to rise each day and be intentional.

Lord, all of our days are Yours.  Please give us strength, courage and ability to carry out the plans You have placed on our hearts.  We surrender all of our plans to You and for You.

Preparations for the New Year: Planning in Humility

Photo Credits missionyear.org

Photo Credits
missionyear.org

James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Psalm 39:4-5

“O LORD, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!  Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective. Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.” (Net Bible).

Proverbs 16:9

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (NIV)

It has been a joy for me to go through the process of blogging about planning and aligning our hearts, minds, bodies to God’s will and evaluating through His lens.  The planning process is necessary and often neglected because it is not a once and done occupation.  I want to dare to dream and try to do things that I would normally limit myself on, but simultaneously surrender it all to God, delighting in the truth that His way is best.

There is a fine line between planning for temporary pleasure and planning that is divinely inspired.  By saying divinely inspired, I mean it is something God truly placed on our hearts, and not us manipulating to have it be a part of His plan for our own desires.  Sometimes it is not clear.  We plan and wonder if it is what we are supposed to be doing.  That’s ok – as long as our plans are submitted to God and we trust His will.

At the root of our plans our motivation might be difficult to discern, but it reveals the impetus behind the inspiration for our goals.  Pride, insecurity, fame, jealousy, popularity or any other carnal catalysts toward a goal will be burned up in the end.  But purifying our motives before God can confirm whether a goal really is worthwhile, after all, and have eternal rewards. Recognizing that we are just vessels doing His work, not ours is paramount.

Planning in this way leads to encouragement rather than discouragement; if a venture or pursuit fails, then I know either the LORD was not in it or that I need to go back to Him again.  Self is removed when I consider the whole purpose is doing His will and I lay it at his feet again, praying whether it is something I need to cease or whether it is an opportunity to grow in character and not give up.  If I look for outward signs only, including man’s praise rather than an inner peace of walking in His plan, then I can easily become confused and misled.  Being hyper-spiritual is also not a beneficial solution to discerning whether God is in our plans.

If our goal truly is God’s glory, though, then the results are completely up to the LORD.  Failure or success in goals is not what matters most. The success of a goal might even just be the character earned in the process.   We must just be faithful to seek Him daily and press on toward our goals in Christ. Ultimately, our time investment needs to be with eternity in mind and the recognition that everything we have comes from Him.  Everything we set out to do is only by His grace.  Everything is all about Him.

Here’s to planning a godly year in 2015!  Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Lord, our time is in Your hands.  Your will be done in every aspect of our lives!  To you alone be all glory, honor and praise for any accomplishments You allow.