Happy Valentine’s Day Beloved Child of God!

Special days can be great, but they can also be stressful. Especially if we don’t fit into the world’s expectations related to that day. If Valentine’s Day is one of fun celebrations, chocolate, and flowers, great. But if your situation is such that all the world’s focus on the lovey-dovey stuff makes you want to scream, cry, or just hide out until it all blows over, I get it! And I want to remind you that you ARE loved! You are a dearly beloved child of God!

Happy Valentines Day

It is my hope that you will see what great love the Father has lavished on YOU through Jesus.

Listen to these words from Philippians 2: 6-8 that describe the mindset of your Lord for you:

[Christ Jesus ] Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

THAT my dear is the length and depth your God was willing to go to reconcile you to himself.

That is a love that you can count on and celebrate.

That is a love that will never forsake you, never fail, and always be sufficient to carry you through whatever you face.

So, meditate on God’s love for you, His beloved child!

Happy Valentine’s Day,

LauraSignatureBlog

 

 

I’m so excited to be joining Evelyn Davison and Kerri Brinkoeter on their show Love Talk this Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 2 pm on KTXW The Bridge!

Lovetalk Faith Pantry

What staples do you need to sustain your soul and nourish your walk with Christ?

Join us as we share 3 simple steps to decluttering and restocking your faith pantry.

If you’re feeling like your schedule has become over-crowded or your spiritual practices have become a little stale, you’ll want to tune in to 1120 AM at 2 pm this Saturday and learn how to make sure your faith pantry provides you with the sustenance you need in this particular season of your life!

Not in the Austin area? No problem. Listen live from anywhere in the world via http://www.ktxw.net/.

If you miss the broadcast, visit www.lovetalknetwork.com to listen to the re-broadcast. Give them a few days to get the recording posted to their site. In the meantime, check out some of their recent episodes.

Need A Coach?

Want some help and further guidance on getting your faith pantry well stocked to meet your current needs? I’d love to coach you through this simple process! Check out my coaching page to book a free consultation!

Date: February 11, 2017
Time: 2:00-03:00 p.m.
Appearance: Join Me on LoveTalk with Evelyn Davison & Kerri Brinkoeter!
Outlet: KTXW 1120 AM The Bridge
Location: Austin Texas (Broadcasting worldwide at http://www.ktxw.net/)
Format: Radio

Need A Coach? Want some help and further guidance on getting your faith pantry well stocked to meet your current needs? I'd love to coach you through this simple process! Check out my coaching page to book a free consultation!

Is your focus on your realm of stewardship?

If I focus on something I can’t change (for example, adding more hours to my day), rather than what I can change, (what I do with those hours), I feel helpless and overwhelmed. String together a few days like that and hopelessness sets in as well.

On the other hand, when I focus my energy on the things I can impact, I feel empowered and hopeful.

God has designed us to live within divinely-appointed boundaries. We are given a great deal of freedom to exercise stewardship within these boundaries.

But if we don’t respect the boundaries God has set, chaos ensues.

We don’t have to understand or acknowledge God’s ways for them to be real and influential in our lives. Whether we believe God or not, whenever we operate in conflict with his revealed truth we will experience stress, pain, conflict and all the effects of sin.

You don’t have to believe in the law of gravity or even understand all the science behind it. But if you step off a cliff, you’re going to fall.

What’s Within the Realm of My Stewardship?

God has placed within my control, and holds me accountable for how I manage the following aspects of MYSELF:

Realm of Stewardship

 

Mental Realm

I may control my attitudes, desires, feelings, and responses.

Emotional Realm

I determine how I will give and receive love.

Physical Realm

I have dominion over my body and to a certain extent my material possessions.

Spiritual Realm

I may decide what I believe, value, and think about God. What I choose to believe, value, and think may or may not be accurate, but God allows me the free will to decide if I will accept the Truth He reveals of Himself.

Self-induced Stress

Please notice the word MYSELF above. It is MY mental, physical, emotional, physical, and spiritual attributes over which I have stewardship; not yours.

Stress increases whenever I allow my focus to move beyond MY realm of stewardship and try to control any of these areas which are rightfully within the realm of someone else.

Think back over your past day (or week, or month). What stressed you out? When did you feel overwhelmed?

Were you trying to exert control over something or someone outside your realm of stewardship?

Were you tense because of another person’s attitudes, desires, feelings, or responses?

Or maybe someone’s opinion posted on social media or in the news sent your blood pressure rising?

When I find myself in a dither, I often discover it is a mess of my own making. I’m usually trying to handle more than God intended for me to handle (and in the process ignoring and neglecting aspects of my life for which he has given me stewardship).

When I become obsessed with making someone else do, see, feel, think, or value what I want them to do, see, feel, think, or value my stress goes up because I’m trying to operate outside the boundaries God set for me.

Amazingly, when I return my focus to MY OWN responsibilities, I am able to make an impact by having influence rather than control.

Influence versus Control

Each of us has a circle of influence. These are the people, organizations, communities and such with which God has connected us. He blesses us with blessings and expects us to use those blessings to bless those within our circles of influence.

That is very different from seeking to control.

Influence is other-centered. It seeks their best and God’s plan for them, not our best and our plan for them.

When I respect the boundaries of others, I communicate I trust God and respect both Him and the other person. When I manipulate or coerce, I reveal I don’t trust God in the situation. And I show disrespect for Him and the people I seek to control.

Influence occurs where there is trust and a possibility of real relationship. When my friend, child, or spouse feels safe with me, we are able to discuss things we differ on. And as I share my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and values and seek to understand theirs, we can influence one another and seek out the truth together.

If we are seeking TRUTH, rather than our own way, we need not fear relinquishing control.

When we trust God’s abilities more than our own, we are freed up to exercise the best possible stewardship over our own realms and leave the outcome to God.

Try it out for yourself. Whenever you feel over-extended, worried, anxious, or tense do a quick check of yourself. Are you trying to operate outside your God-given realm of stewardship?

Need a little help? Book a FREE Coaching Session!

Figuring out how to stay in our own lane and focus on relinquishing control over the things outside our God-given realm of stewardship can be challenging! It helps to have someone come alongside you and provide you with:

  • focused encouragement,
  • loving accountability, and
  • a structured process to accomplish your goals and make changes faster, with more confidence, and less frustration than you could on you own or with just your existing support system.

Book a free consultation with me or check out more about the various ways coaching can benefit you! Visiting my Coaching Page now!

Is it time to declutter and restock your faith pantry?

Simple 3-Step Process PLUS FREE Guide

I’ve been returning to better eating habits and cooking more at home. But, until recently, our pantry was still crowded with junk food (and old diet food from my last well-intentioned effort to lose weight). Much of what was in the cabinet was expired, and other stuff just wasn’t serving my current purposes. All the clutter of things I no longer needed, used, or derived benefit from hampered my ability to access and use the items which supported my healthier style of cooking. Time to clean out the pantry!

Faith Pantry

It was kind of a pain to set aside a Saturday morning for this cupboard cleaning project, but boy did it feel great once I was done and staring into a well-organized cabinet filled with the ingredients I need to make tasty and healthy meals.

And what a sense of relief to not have to dig past temptations and push aside clutter to find what I was looking for!

Our Faith Pantry May Need a Makeover, too!

Many turning points or transitions in our lives reveal a need to declutter the support structure which feeds our faith.

Ecclesiastes 3_1NIV

Maybe you find yourself in a new season of life:

  • new baby,
  • kids transitioning from elementary to middle school (or middle to high school),
  • a newly empty nest.

Perhaps you’re facing a season of illness or grief.

Or, a move to a new town or a change in your living arrangement has required you to adapt to a “new normal.”

All of these reasons (and many more) may bring about a realization it’s time to let go of some old stuff to make room for the new.

Or, we may discover we’ve had some precious treasure buried under the disarray of an over-crowded schedule.

Just as our closets, pantries, and budgets need to be intentionally tended and pruned back, so too does our faith pantry.

By faith pantry I mean the soul-sustaining infrastructure we use to nurture and grow our walk with Christ.

Our faith pantry can become a source of discouragement and stress if it contains habits, worship styles, Bible studies, small groups, service and outreach ministries, and other means of living out our relationship with God that just don’t fit as well as they used to.

We may realize the strategies that served us well in the past are no longer meeting our current needs for communing with and serving God in our new situation.

3 Steps to Declutter & Restock Your Faith Pantry

1. Assess Current Needs & Resources

Make an assessment of your current needs and resources. Consider changes to your schedule, environment, and interests.

What needs do you have (relationally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and so forth)? What needs are being met (or not)?

What resources are available to you in your current season or situation? Do you need to fill in some gaps? What is lacking? What is no longer serving you well?

For example, let’s consider the resources of time and energy. A new mom with a tiny infant will have fewer hours and less energy to devote to an intensive Bible study than she did prior to becoming a parent of a newborn. Whereas, a newly retired person may have more free time than they previously enjoyed.

If you moved, for instance, you may have lost your support system of friendships, church family, and other relationships and activities you used to rely on. How can you fill in those missing pieces in your new scenario?

2. Provide or Prune

After having assessed your current needs and the resources you have available to meet those needs, you are likely to discover there are activities, habits, and such that are in need of pruning and others in need of propping up with extra provisions.

That evening Bible study that suited your schedule perfectly when you worked full-time no longer is the best fit for your new schedule, as a stay-at-home mom.

Or, perhaps you went from spending a lot of time with people to being more isolated. So, whereas studying the Scriptures on your own was fine before, now you long for the opportunity to discuss and share your studies with other people.

What unmet needs need new resources to nurture what has been withering? Where do these resources exist and how can you access them? Who could you ask for input, advice, or counsel?

What needs trimming back to accommodate new needs or to make the most of new resources? Do you need to make a change to the groups, volunteer positions, and such you have been participating in? What can you delegate, delete, or re-purpose?

3. Refine Your Results

Once I had cleaned out the pantry in our kitchen it became easier to cook the healthy food that supports the lifestyle I want to develop. However, I know if I don’t periodically do little spot checks and regularly add items to or remove items from those shelves, I will not have what I need to properly feed my family.

The same is true of our spiritual cupboard. Try the new Bible study, small group, or volunteer opportunity. Then assess how well it met those needs you identified. Make alterations and refinements as needed to keep your faith pantry well stocked!

FREE Step-By-Step Detailed Guide

I’ve written about this concept before and used the analogy of cleaning out one’s faith closet and figuring out one’s unique style of walking with God.

For that article, I created a guide to walk you step-by-step through discovering your needs and resources to create a custom-made walk with God that is biblically sound and tailored to your current season of life.

It’s essentially the same process I covered in this post, only at a much more detailed level. So if you need some more guidance to get your faith pantry (or closet) restocked and decluttered, click the image or button below and I’ll email you the free guide.

()ptimized_Custom v Off the rack

Send me the FREE GUIDE!

How's your faith pantry these days? When was the last time you put some thought into providing for or pruning back the items in your spiritual storehouse? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Surprisingly Simple Strategy for Lowering Your Stress

Be intentional about building margin into your schedule!

We’ve all got those pesky margin munchers. The limiting beliefs, the bad habits, and fears that eat into the margins of our lives until our schedule is over-run with commitments, tasks, and responsibilities. When we take on more than we are designed to handle, something’s gotta give and it shouldn’t be our health, sanity, and most vital relationships. Unfortunately, when the load is too heavy, those three things are typically the first to go overboard. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Try the simple strategy outlined in this post and I think you’ll find you will regularly have more margin in which to really LIVE!

Compare the two pages in the graphic below.

Margin With and Without

The one on the left has no white space around the edges or between paragraphs. The monotonous text is never broken up with images or space. With text crammed from top to bottom and side to side, just looking at the packed page is a strain, I can’t imagine trying to read a book with that layout. It would be arduous to focus on the content, particularly if it was complex in nature or emotionally taxing.

Yet many of us live our lives like that. Never breaking up the monotony with some space for reflection, relating, and resting. No wonder we’re stressed out and exhausted. Does a life more like the page on the right look more enjoyable to live? Of course!

The margins are not superfluous. They are crucial.

We all know we need to be intentional when we say yes to something or someone.

However, faced with a multitude of requests from good people to do good things, our intentions will quickly become swamped by feelings of guilt and misplaced responsibility. And (let’s be honest) there is usually some element of stroking our ego and maintaining an illusion of control which causes yes to fly out when a no is actually more appropriate.

Simple Steps to a Saner Schedule

Get Clear On Your Priorities

There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 365 days in a year. You’re not going to get more time. If everything is important, nothing is. So let’s be sure we have clarity when it comes to how we want to spend our time.

Knowing what is important is the first step. Get honest with yourself about your priorities.

Actually write your most important areas of your life down on a sheet of paper. For example, mine are:

  • Relationship with God
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Health (physical, emotional)
  • Personal Growth
  • Service to Others

Now, use your list of priorities as a compass to navigate the rest of the process.

Ecc 4_6 NIV

Click the image to see the Scripture passage at BibleGateway.com.

Compare Your Reality With Your Ideal

Do a quick brain dump of your project list and calendar for the next 90 days. Be sure and include your day-to-day responsibilities (I tend to overlook those things like laundry, grocery shopping, and so forth that take real time on a regular basis). So take a second look at your list and be sure you have not only the glamorous but the mundane covered.

Now step back and evaluate whether your list reflects your priorities. Are all of your most important areas of life represented on your project/to do list? Are they getting the necessary quality and quantity of focus or are you short-changing these important domains because you’re spending too much time on urgent but less important commitments?

Is it realistic to think you can get to all of those things given the time you have available (without robbing time from sleep, exercise, and such to squeeze in a few more items?).

Ask yourself WHY each item is on the list/calendar. Is the reason in alignment with your priorities, values, and beliefs? Or, as most of us discover, are there tasks listed from one of those less noble motivators, such as:

  • If I don’t do it, it won’t get done (also translated as “it won’t get done like I’d do it).
  • If I say no it will cause a problem/inconvenience for someone else.
  • There’s no one else who is capable of doing X.
  • What will people think if I don’t help out with Y?

Put an X by any item that is out of alignment with your core values and priorities.

Put a M by those things motivated by ego or a desire for control.

Now, highlight those things that ONLY YOU can do. These are things for which God has given you unique stewardship (for example, only you can be your kiddos mom/dad. Only you can be a spouse to your spouse.) Highlight only those things that no one else could do—be honest with yourself!

Get Real About Your Stewardship of Time and Talents

Putting too much on our plate shows a lack of faith in God to provide. And it reveals we have too much faith in our own ability to provide.

We are guilty of pride if we think we are the only ones He has gifted and equipped to accomplish all those tasks/projects on our list. And, we’ll be so busy doing things He never called us to that we can’t exercise proper stewardship over our own calling.

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey used the illustration of filling a container with various sized rocks. If you put the big ones in first, the little ones will fit in around them. However, if you put the gravel and sand in before placing the large rocks, you’ll never get it all in the container. What would you rather leave out? The grit and gravel or your most important priorities.

Let’s put our big rocks in first…

Put the tasks, appointments, and commitments you’ve highlight on your calendar/to do list system. Block out a little extra time around each one to allow for the unforeseen (but seemingly inevitable) hiccups.

Now, before you put anything else on your calendar / to do list block off some margin in your calendar. Yes, margin is a big rock! If you don’t plan it, your calendar will end up like that page on the left without white space around and within the text. You need to leave room for rest, reflection, and restoration. Think of those as the images on the page that break up the monotony and help you interpret the text around them.

Now, if you have space, energy, and focus left to allocate, you may add in additional items. Do it intentionally!

Free Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Need a little more detailed step-by-step process? Try the tips and method I’ve outlined in the free cheat sheet, What To Do When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day.

()ptimized_Get The Right Things Done - no slug

Send me the free guide!

Need Some One-on-One Guidance?

I’d be happy to coach you through the process. We can meet in person if you’re in the Georgetown/Austin area of Texas. Or I can coach you via the phone or Skype. Check out my coaching page for more details and to book a free consultation session.

Is the cost of surrendering to FOMO worth it?

Compare the cost of FOMO with living within our God-given limits

FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. We don’t want to miss anything. We want it all! And we want it all, NOW! (Well, at least I do. Maybe you’re that rare creature who never resists the the reality that we are finite beings operating within the limits of space and time. If you are that unicorn of self-control, you can quit reading. However, if you, like me, regularly put too much on your calendar, plate, desk and the first flat surface you see when you enter the house, then you’ll want to keep reading.

adam-and-eve-fomo

The First Experience of FOMO: Adam and Eve

When Adam and Eve surrendered to the fear of missing out on the supposed benefits of the forbidden fruit, they experienced the consequences of their choice. (See Genesis 3.)

What the serpent tempted them with turned out to be a twisted version of God’s reality. The illusion that they could ignore the limits God set for them were just that: an illusion.

You know what else proved to be an illusion? The lie the tempter told them:

You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Adam and Eve chose to listen to the shrewd snake and doubt the goodness of God in setting the limit. They believed the lie that God was holding out on them by setting the boundary of not eating from that particular tree.

Adam and Eve were the first to surrender to the temptation of FOMO. They used their freedom to fight against God’s reality. Then they fled from that reality as if they could hide from God.

They couldn’t.

Their choice had consequences that could not be escaped. Our choices do to.

And while God offered them grace to help them endure the consequences, the truth still remained true and the consequences still came to pass.

What happens when I push God’s limits?

I have a tendency to push my limits and think I can handle more than I really was built to balance. An example of this bad habit is my tendency to let more and more stuff pile up on my desk. “Tidy, schmidy. Ain’t nobody got time for that! This mess is not a problem,” I rationalize to myself as I stack another paper or book on the pile of piles.

Then, finally, I reach the point where I can’t find what I need when I need it. I miss deadlines. I run late to meetings. I don’t have any space to work, and it totally stresses me out.

My cluttered physical space causes my thinking to become cluttered and chaotic. When I ignore the obvious need to set reasonable limits on how many things I can work on at one time, I inevitably end up with a desk that looks like this:

messy-office

And as bad as my office gets, my mind and body are worse! Stress, irritability, over-eating to distract myself from the stress. It’s not pretty!

The fear of missing out on trying to do everything all at once is just one of my FOMO fallout stories. What’s your flak from falling for FOMO?

Maybe you resist limiting the number of commitments you make to help out at church or school.

Maybe you take on too many work assignments?

Maybe you struggle with spending outside the bounds of your budget.

While our capacity to function as God intended is limited, the ways we can rebel against our limits is seemingly limitless.

We stress ourselves out in many different ways but the common underlying cause is resisting our God-given reality that we are finite beings operating in a finite world.

Fight or Flight Aren’t Our Only Options

I can fight the reality of the finite space on my desk and finite focus of my easily-distracted brain. But that only works for so long. Actually, it doesn’t work but I have become really good at convincing myself that my way is working.

But I’m just fooling myself by adding more than the desk or my brain was created to handle. God created us to operate (this side of glory, anyway) within a finite space and time.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is going to win in a fight between me and God. He and his way wins every time! So that leads me to try my other option.

I flee the reality of the consequences of my fight. Yep, I just pick up my laptop and leave the room. As I close the door on the chaos, I feel a sense of relief. I think this figurative fig leaf is hiding my rebellion quite nicely.

But as soon as I’m downstairs working on the kitchen table, I’ll realize I need something from my disheveled office.

I dread the sight of the piles I will see when I open that door. I convince myself I know exactly where in that clutter the one thing I need at that moment is located.

Twenty minutes of digging through piles of books and papers later and I’m as overwhelmed as my office. My attempt at hiding is as successful as Adam and Eve’s in Eden. (See Genesis 3.)

My flight only temporarily puts off the frustration. The overloaded office (and mind, and calendar, and plate…) is really just a symptom of my real problem: I don’t like living within the limitations God created me to live within.

I convince myself I can keep adding more and more stuff to my space, appointments to my calendar, tasks to my to-do list, and food in my mouth without experiencing the consequences.

Heads or Tails? Our Choices Come with Consequences.

As a team captain, my son would be asked by the referee to call heads or tails before the coin flip. There was no changing his call once the coin was flipped. His decision led to the natural consequences once that coin hit the ground.

Photo by Chris Cutler CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (I blurred faces and cropped to resize) Austin is #35.

Photo by Chris Cutler CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (I blurred faces and cropped to resize) Austin is #35.

Same for us in life. God created us with a free will and the freedom to make choices. But every choice comes with its consequences.

We can fight that reality and/or try to flee the inevitable consequences, but sooner or later the coin hits the turf and we have to face the fallout. There are inevitably real consequences whenever we pay no mind to our limits.

The better choice: Surrender to God’s Reality

When I surrender to God’s reality—to the limitations he has set and operate within those boundaries—I find peace, order, and joy.

I can stop adding to the clutter. I can make time to clear out the non-essentials and accept I can’t do it all right now.

Yes, I will miss out on the illusion of being more productive. But that’s all it is: an illusion.

And I can make peace with the fact that I will have to say no to some opportunities. But the reward of living within my limits is worth the cost of missing out on some lower priority activities.

I can either surrender to the temptation of the FOMO and reap the consequences of overwhelm and stress. Or I can surrender to the Creator’s design of 24 hours in each day, only so many square inches of desk space, and only so much capacity for focus and reap the reward of peace and order.

Let’s Learn from Adam and Eve

If only Adam and Eve had chosen to live within the limits God gave them. If only I will choose to trust that my Creator has my good and the good of all of us in mind when he decided to create us with limits.

So, I’ll keep reminding myself that the temptation to surrender to the FOMO will never pay the dividends of surrendering to God’s good limits. I pray you will experience the peace, order, and joy of doing so as well.

What situations trigger your FOMO? How do you make peace with your limits? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

4 Simple Ways to Connect with Jesus In Your Busy Life

Experience more peace and less stress without undergoing a major schedule makeover!

Life moves fast these days and it seems like our schedules are more jam packed than ever. It’s easy to get so caught up with the world that I can’t seem to see or hear God. Personal experience and Scripture confirm neglecting my connection with Christ leads to becoming empty, burned-out, and not pleasant to be around. And the more compartmentalized I make my faith, the harder it is for me to find time to focus on Jesus. On the other hand, over the years, as I’ve integrated time with God into the everyday moments of my busy life, I’ve grown closer to Him, more at peace, and less stressed. Here are four simple ways I connect with Jesus in my daily routine.

Grab the free cheat sheet of Simple Ways to Connect with Jesus in Your Busy Life

I say four ways, but really these are more like four general ways with many specific ways you could tailor each one to fit your particular preferences, resources, and routine. So, take these principles and get creative. You’ll be abiding more in Jesus without having to undergo a major schedule makover.

I’ve even made you a handy little checklist with ideas, apps, and other resources you might find helpful as you take these examples and customize them to fit your lifestyle and daily routine. Be sure and grab that checklist before you go!

1. Let Jesus Wake You Up

I hate—no make that HATE!!!—getting up in the morning. I’m a natural night owl who battles insomnia on a fairly regular basis. So once I get to sleep, I want to stay there!

My husband and I used to wake up to either the jarring sound of the alarm or the the inane chattering of the DJs on the local pop or country radio station morning show. Irritated, I then drug my bleary-eyed self out of bed at the last possible minute before I had to get my son up for school.

I wouldn’t connect with God until after I got the kids off to school and I settled in to read my Bible or devotional. This was usually an hour or so after I crawled out of bed. And, if I wasn’t intentional, I easily became distracted with my to-do list and skipped my morning time with God completely.

I knew I needed to connect with God in a meaningful way first thing in the morning if I wanted my day to start with less stress and more peace. So, I asked my husband to change the alarm to the local Christian music station. That simple alteration transformed my mornings. Now, I wake to a praise song and am able to lie there praising God before my eyes even open.

How could Jesus become a part of your wake-up routine? Check out the Cheat Sheet I made for you. I’ve listed several ideas and apps you may find helpful.

2. Commune While You Commute

Transform the time in the car to time to worship and commune with God.

With today’s technology, running errands, driving carpool, or heading to and from work are great times to integrate Scripture, prayer, and worship into your day.

I subscribe to several podcasts featuring sermons from great preachers (See the cheat sheet for a list of my favorites). I listen to these on longer drives and it helps me reflect deeply on God’s Word and his action in my life.

Shorter jaunts are great for some on-the-go prayer and Scripture “reading”. The daily prayer on the Abide app now features the daily Bible verse from the YouVersion Bible app. YouVersion has a feature that let’s you listen to the Scriptures so it is easy to hear the context of the daily verse. Before you back out of the driveway, cue these up and you’ll transform that time in traffic into time in prayer and the Word.

And of course, you can listen to Christian music as you drive. I made a playlist on my phone that features my favorite hymns, Gospel, and praise songs. I call it my “Worship on the Go” playlist.

I’ve linked to a few additional ideas and resources for drive time devotional ideas on the cheat sheet.

3. Exercise Your Faith and Your Body

I must confess, this is one I’ve neglected lately and I need to get back to it! Why walk alone when you can go with God? Pop in some earphones and turn on that “Worship On the Go” playlist and take a walk or hop on the stationary bike at the gym.

Alternately, if you have a workout buddy who is also looking to build more time with God into their daily routine, plan a way to incorporate a spiritual discipline into your exercise plans.

Maybe start with a short time of praying for each other, work on memory verses, or discuss the Scriptures you’ve studied. Be spiritual, as well as exercise, accountability partners.

4. Tie in Faith to Your Family Conversations

Another confession: I have not done a great job of training my kids to have set times of Bible reading and quiet time. That is something I really regret not establishing before they were old enough to push back. I am unstructured and didn’t grow up doing that myself.

However, I do try to naturally bring faith into the everyday conversations we have. Essentially, this is just putting God’s instructions (see Deuteronomy 6:7) into practice.

As they tell me about their day and the challenges they’ve encountered, I weave God’s character, his commands, and promises into the conversation. I want them to see their whole life is connected to God, not just Sunday mornings or “quiet times.” And I want them to value the wisdom of God’s Word and apply it to what is going on in their daily life.

Deut 6_7

Integration Rather than Compartmentalization

As we find ways to practice an awareness of and communion with Jesus in our daily lives, we develop confidence in Christ’s faithfulness and ability to sustain us in our ordinary moments. Challenge yourself to discover ways to worship God as you participate in your daily activities.

And don’t forget to grab the Cheat Sheet with a list of apps, podcasts, and resources you might find helpful. Just click the button below and I’ll email you a copy instantly!

Yes, send me the checklist!

 

How about you? What helps you connect with God throughout your day? Share a tip or idea in the comments and help the rest of us out! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

RIV Bottom of Post3

 

Clear the Clutter Crowding Out Time For God

2015 Scripture Memory Team Verse 22

In the wee hours this morning, as severe storms thundered across the Dallas/Fort Worth area, my sister’s family awoke to the sounds of sirens blaring the dire warning of a tornado in their area. Lynette, Derek, the kids, and the dogs all made a mad dash to their tornado shelter.

Proverbs 18:10, NASB

Thankfully, the threat was soon over. As she recounted their frightful encounter, I thought of our own tornado shelter and wondered if we could even get in it should the need arise.

You see, in the years since we had it built, we haven’t had to use it for its intended purpose. So, it has slowly but surely become more of a closet for our clutter than a safe haven.

What would happen if the warnings blared in the night and we had to run for cover? Would the clutter hamper our efforts? I bet it would.

And that got me thinking how extraneous clutter in our schedules—especially at this time of year—can fill up and crowd out our true shelter, our relationship with the Lord!

As preparations for the holiday season swing into high gear, the gift-buying, party-planning, guest-hosting swirl of activity can easily crowd out our time with Christ. I know I’ve succumbed to that trap in the past.

So the conversation with my sister was a great wake-up call for me. It’s time to clear the clutter in our house and in my schedule so I can shelter in the strong and safe presence of Christ.

If you’re participating in the Scripture Memory Team with me, we are on Verse #22. I chose Proverbs 18:10 (from the NASB translation) as a way to remind me to where my security and focus need to remain.

()ptimized_Prov 18_10 NASB

I’ve made 3 x 5 Chalkboard Memory Verse Cards you can download and print out. There is one for each of the twenty-two verses we’ve covered so far this year, plus a cute cover featuring Psalm 119:11. I put mine in a little index card spiral but you might like to display yours in different places around your house or car.

Free Chalkboard Memory Verse Printables

If you’d like me to instantly email you the sheets with the Scripture verse cards, just click the image or button below!

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

How about you? Do you ever feel like your schedule gets cluttered and it hampers your ability to feel God’s presence? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What To Do When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

Download the FREE Guide with Tips & Resources

Recently, one of my readers, Pete, asked me for advice on how to get more done in the same amount of time. For many of us, the next few months are some of the busiest of the year. So, I bet Pete isn’t the only one with this question. If you share Pete’s concern, today’s post and resource guide should help!

Get Your Free Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

“Our normal, everyday activities now are very hard to keep up with,” Pete told me. Then he explained he and his family have activities and opportunities on the horizon that will add even more to an already crowded schedule. “I don’t know how in the world we’re going to manage all of it.” I heard similar thoughts expressed by those who responded to my survey about the challenges you face during the holidays.

I confessed to Pete I would have to answer from the perspective of a fellow struggler. Productivity is still a battle for me, though I’m better now than I used to be.

My strategy for getting more done is actually better expressed as getting the right things done as efficiently as possible. And there is both a philosophical and practical aspect to the strategy.

In addition to the overview given in this post, I’ve also created a free guide with a summary of the key ideas as well as some links to content curated from others who are much better at this than I am. You’ll find links to the books, blog posts, and podcasts I’ve found most helpful. I hope it helps you learn, remember, and apply these ideas to your own life. Click the image or button below to get your cheat sheet emailed to you instantly!

Send Me That Guide!

So, what helps me determine what to get done and how to accomplish it as productively as possible?

Philosophically, a Perspective Change Is Needed

Until a few years ago, I habitually thought in the same terms Pete used when he presented his situation. “There are never enough hours in the day!” That scarcity thinking kept me trapped and overwhelmed.

However, the “there are not enough hours” belief is the root of my problem; and it’s a perspective problem not a sufficiency problem.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”  —Genesis 1:31, NIV

God established time and set the boundaries on our days, weeks, seasons, and years. We all get the same number of hours in our day. Each one of us gets 24 hours and 7 days each week. No more, no less. And God designed our bodies, minds and souls to function best within the patterns of time our Creator established.

So, I don’t need more hours, I just need to exercise better stewardship over the ones he has provided me.

There are three key mindset changes you’ll want to make.

1. Focus on What You Can Control

If I focus on something I can’t change (for example, adding more hours to my day), rather than what I can change, (what I do with those hours), I feel helpless and overwhelmed. String together a few days like that and hopelessness sets in as well.

On the other hand, when I focus my energy on the things I can impact, I feel empowered and hopeful.

What’s Within the Realm of My Stewardship?

I can control my attitudes, desires, feelings, and responses. I determine how I will give and receive love. I have dominion over my body and to a certain extent my material possessions. I can control what I believe, value, and think. These are the realm over which God has given me stewardship.

And he holds me accountable for how I manage the blessings he has entrusted to me within the borders of that realm.

Productivity increases when I keep my focus within this realm of stewardship.

2. Get Clear On Your What & Why

If I don’t know my goal (what I’m trying to achieve) and why I’m trying to achieve that goal, I work hard all day but don’t ever seem to accomplish anything.

I’m very “squirrelly”. If you’ve seen the movie Up and remember the squirrel-chasing talking dog, you’ll know what I mean. The least little distraction sends me wandering off the path of productivity.

Squirrel SM

I’m also a recovering people-pleaser so saying no to the requests of others can be difficult. I’ve worked at developing the boundary-setting skills needed to do this. I now have a “healthy boundaries toolbox” that makes this much easier than it used to be.

3. You’re Guided by Your Why

We can set all the goals we want but our why is what motivates our actions. And our why takes us to the destination naturally associated with it—even if we consciously claim to have a different destination as our goal. I will be ruled by my why. So I better get clear on it!

If you want to know what someone really believes, look at their actions. Those more accurately reveal beliefs than words. They may say they believe in the golden rule, but do they consistently live like they really believe it. (We all mess up from time to time, but that is different from our consistent patterns of behavior.)

It works the same way with goals. Your why determines your actions. So spend some time honestly evaluating why you want to accomplish the goal you set.

Practical Application Tips for Better Productivity

Once you shift your mindset and know your true motivations, the following tips can help you steward your time and blessings more productively.

1. Design A Plan That Reflects Your Priorities

When you float down a river, the current causes you to drift to a particular destination. Likewise, your why produces actions aligned with your why and which lead to a destination or result aligned with your why.

Without a plan, you are basically drifting rather than purposefully fulfilling your calling.

If the why behind one of our goals is weaker than the why of another goal (even if we don’t consciously realize we even have another goal), our actions can become counter-productive. At best, we take a more circuitous route than needed to reach our intended goal. At worst, we end up somewhere we never intended to go.

For example, one of my goals is to lose another 30 pounds. However, the past few weeks have been very busy and overwhelming in terms of our family’s schedule. I didn’t do my meal planning, shopping, and other pro-active planning and follow-through related to my weight-loss goal.

So, even though consciously my goal remains weight-loss, the why behind that goal (better long-term health) has been weaker than my why behind grabbing fast food and ripping open a bag of chips instead of steaming some veggies (convenience and instant gratification). Without a good plan, my actions followed the stronger why and the scale drifted up instead of down.

A plan gives you a rudder and a motor so you reach the desired destination much faster and more efficiently.

A plan that takes into account the relative priority of each of your goals also acts as a map. So, when you reach a fork in the river the decision has already been made as to which way to go and you have the resources to take the necessary actions to move in that direction.

Rank your goals in order of priority. Knowing the relative rank of your goals helps when you have to decide between two good choices.

Recently, I had to choose between saying yes to a dream-come-true speaking invitation and watching my son’s football game. I wrote about that in a previous post. But essentially, it was easy to make the decision to go to the game because I had already clearly established my goals and why each goal was ranked in what priority within my plan.

2. Know (& Live Within) Your Limits

I regularly under-estimate how long tasks will take and over-estimate how much I can realistically and responsibly handle. Thus, I tend to stretch myself too thin and get burned out.

My peace and productivity goes up when I acknowledge and live within my limits and needs. How much sleep do I need? How much time do I need to nurture my relationship with God? My husband? My boys? My friends? And so on…

Michael Hyatt has some fantastic advice when it comes to productivity. In the cheat sheet, I’ve curated some links to his blog posts and podcasts I’ve found most helpful. One thing he says repeatedly is “What gets scheduled, get’s done.” And I’ve noticed that as I’ve become better about spending my time on paper first, I am happier with the results in real life.

3. You CAN’T Do It All Right Now!

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it is healing medicine once you get it down. We are finite beings. We were not made to do it all. And thinking we can or are supposed to do it all is actually a scarcity mindset in disguise.

If we think we should be doing more and more all the time, it reflects an attitude that what we have and are doing is not enough. Recognizing appropriate limits allows us to appreciate the abundance and sufficiency of what we do have and exercise good stewardship over it.

My Scripture Memory Team Verse #21 is Ecclesiastes 3:1 which says,

()ptimized_Ecc 3_1 NIV

 

This may sound like a contradiction to what I just said about not being able to do it all, but it isn’t. It is actually the key to making peace with our limits.

God made seasons as well as hours, days, and weeks. We can’t do it all right now. When you’re in a season in which you are parenting young children or caring for elderly parents (or both), your limits will differ from an empty-nest season.

Embrace the season God has you in right now and live in harmony with it.

Putting It All Together

  1. Prayerfully discern what God is calling you to do (your goals) and clearly acknowledge and articulate why you want to accomplish each goal.
  2. Rank your goals in priority order based on the relative importance of the why behind each goal.
  3. Map out a plan that acknowledges your limits so you can be a good steward of the time and blessings God has given you.
  4. Say no to things that don’t fit your plan or your particular season of life.
  5. Work your plan to the glory of God. (see John 15:8 and Colossians 3:17)

Be sure and get your FREE resource guide!

Just click on the image or button below and I’ll email it to you instantly!

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And here are a few of my other blog posts that touch on some aspect of this general topic.

How about you? What helps you avoid overwhelm and get the right things done? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Transform Your Schedule from Overwhelmed to Just Right in 7 Simple Steps

Take the "Goldilocks" Quiz and download your FREE "Just Be" Checklist

There is something about planners and organization supplies that sets me day-dreaming about how my life could be different: less chaotic, more goals accomplished, less stress. Then I look at my calendar and the piles of paper on the counter related to the kids’ school projects, my Bible study, extra-curricular activities for the kids, and on and on. When I’m not intentional about what “yeses” fly out of my people-pleasing mouth, our whole family ends up stressed out and spread too thin. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

()ptimized_GoldilocksSchedule2

What if I was intentional about crafting my schedule (and that of our family)? What if I had time to do the really important things that add up to an abundant life? Rather than a drowning under a jillion “just because I always have to (or think I’m supposed to)” tasks and places to be?

Would you like to join me in purposefully crafting a “Goldilocks schedule” that strikes the “just right” balance between getting things accomplished and keeping our sanity and soul intact? Then be sure to take the little quiz below and download your FREE “Just Be” Checklist.

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