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.

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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Come and Find Rest For Your Soul

Do you ever feel bone-tired, weary, and overwhelmed? That’s how I felt this weekend. So, I brought my exhausted self to the Word and let Christ restore my soul and give me rest. I soaked up his words in Matthew 11:28-30. As I slowed down and dug into the underlying meaning, I found it restful indeed to walk alongside Jesus. I invite you to seek refuge in his words, but even more so in him.

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” —Matthew 11:28-30, NET

Have you ever noticed how God can unveil new insights from familiar passages right when we need them? Even though we’ve studied the verses many times before, they reveal, remind, and speak in fresh and relevant ways. That’s what happened for me this weekend with these three verses. So here is what the Holy Spirit showed me  through these familiar words.

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How a Sleepover that Wasn’t Led to an Ah-Ha Moment

My son went to a sleepover birthday party on Friday. The kids stayed up all night. ALL NIGHT!

Of course, when I picked him up, he was exhausted and grumpy. He wanted to go home and sleep all day. I allowed him to nap for a couple hours but then made him get up.

He was miserable (and so was I). I knew if I let him snooze all day, he wouldn’t rest that night and the cycle of exhaustion and crankiness would continue until he resumed an appropriate schedule.

The sooner things returned to normal the better, so we powered through the long afternoon of frustration and fatigue. He slept soundly last night and had a great day today.

And this afternoon, I had an ah-ha moment from this experience.

An Empty Tank

If you’ve been part of the Making It Real community for the past few months, you know I over did things in the first six months of this year. I took on too many new things involving a steep learning curve. This meant I spent many hours of trial and error (and stress). By May I was running on fumes.

Much like Justin on Saturday morning, I was cranky, had zero patience, and was incapable of clear thinking. Not exactly the ideal place from which to minister to others. That was clearly NOT God’s vision for this ministry.

So, what was my ah-ha moment? Are you ready? It was…

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3 Surprising Ways Less Is More

There was a time not too long ago when I overloaded my schedule and every time I crossed an item off my to do list, three more jumped on. Each night, as my head hit the pillow, my thoughts raced with what remained undone from today and how to fit it into an already jam packed tomorrow. Then I had a breakthrough…

My Breakthrough

I gave myself permission to not do it all and shifted focus to what mattered most.

I also determined to do my best but not insist on perfection. After a couple of months of imperfect progress on this, I discovered three surprising ways less led to more in my life.

I’ll warn you now: these three concepts run counter to prevailing culture. But if you struggle with:

  • a jam-packed schedule,
  • taking ownership of things over which you really shouldn’t,
  • and/or perfectionism,

you’ll want to keep reading.

You’ll also want to grab the “Just Be” Checklist I’ve made for you. It’ll help you apply the concepts in this post.

Get Your FREE “Just Be” Checklist

Now, how can less lead to more?

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Twelve Passages to Help You Find Rest for Your Soul

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my struggle to find some balance in my schedule. I decided to trade my soul-sucking schedule for a soul-satisfying Sabbath. Apparently, I’m not the only one wrestling with this issue.

After I published that post, I had several readers share with me their own experiences of exhaustion and weariness.

God has been reminding me of Sabbath everywhere I turn, it seems. This week’s sermon was even on that topic! In all of this, several passages of Scripture helped me reconnect with my need to make Sabbath rest a priority as I fashion a new schedule. I thought if they helped me they might be of help to you.

Photo courtesy of © Flavio Takemoto

Twelve Scripture Passages Related to Sabbath and Rest

These are from the New International Version. Click the reference to view the passage on where you can do further study.

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Trade Your Soul-Sucking Schedule for a Soul-Satisfying Sabbath

I look at the chaotic mess that is my office, roll my eyes, and shut the door. I don’t have it in me to tackle that mess today. I’ll just take my laptop downstairs and start a new mess in the library.


As my computer boots up and shows my schedule for the day, my shoulders slump and my stomach knots.

How am I going to get all that done?

Will I ever get my head above water?

It feels like this schedule is sucking the life out of me. So many things clamor for my attention that I can barely hear God beckoning, “Be still and know that I am God.”


Our culture tells us we must accomplish more objectives, learn more information, go more places. Things begin to slip, slide, and snowball until we are surrounded by chaos, crankiness, and chronic fatigue? Relationships fray under the stress.

God did not design us to live this soul-sucking, hamster-wheel existence. He created us to be in a soul-satisfying relationship with him.

God knows our self-centered, sinful nature focuses us more and more on that which pulls us away from our peace-providing communion with our Creator. He instructs us to observe the Sabbath so we recognize our dependence on him. (Ezekiel 20:11-17)

Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Sabbath is a time to take a deep breath, set aside the things that distract and drain us, and instead turn our attention to God. He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Be still and know that [he is] God. (Psalm 46:1, 10)

As we incline our attention to God and recognize him and praise him for who he is, he pours into us his soul-restoring presence.

Sabbath isn’t about hectic Sunday mornings focused on getting the kids and ourselves in our Sunday best and to church on time. It isn’t another day to check off boxes on a duty-bound to-do list. That is taking a “man was made for the Sabbath” approach. To approach Sabbath like that is to dress our everyday, soul-sucking routine in religious duds.

And it is not just taking the day off, either. I did that Saturday. I vegged in front of the TV and rebelled against doing anything productive. I was just as tired and burnt out at 8 pm as I was at 8 am.

Sabbath restores us in a way a day off can’t.

A day off is refraining from doing our everyday work and routine. It is about focusing on self.

Sabbath is primarily about being in God’s presence, communing with him, loving him and letting him love on us.

God made the Sabbath for us.

He made it for us because he knows we need it. When we accept God’s gift of the Sabbath and sink into it like a warm bath, we rest in his presence and he restores our soul.

That is why, after a Sunday of basking in his glory, I feel calm and satisfied. Hmmm…. what if I build Sabbath moments into my daily routine? I think I’ll try that this week.

Need a little help getting still? Grab this checklist!

In this little freebie, I’ve recorded some of the strategies I’ve found helpful in getting off the hamster-wheel and into a posture of stillness. I call this my “Just Be” Checklist.

Want a copy? Just click the button below and I’ll email it to you.

YES! I want more BEING


Question: In what way do you observe a Sabbath rest? How does that impact you? Do you find it difficult to regularly observe the Sabbath? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Secret to a Life of Peace, Purpose, and Joy

Do you ever find yourself feeling dried out, burned out, and overwhelmed by the challenges you face? Jesus told his disciples the secret to overcoming their difficulties. That same thing empowers us to overcome our challenges, too. What’s this secret to an abundant life of peace, purpose, and joy?

Photograph © Photowitch |

What’s the secret?

It’s actually not a secret, but a relationship. I grew up going to church, and if you would have asked me back then, I would have told you I was a Christian. But I wasn’t. I just didn’t realize I wasn’t.

I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ until I was in my mid-twenties. In the years prior, I heard people talk about living by the Spirit, walking with God, and other such phrases, but I didn’t get it. How did you walk with someone you couldn’t see? And what in the world did being covered in some guy’s blood have to do with saving me? Saving me from what? It just made no sense to me.

I eventually learned being a Christian is not about going to church, doing “churchy” things, or even at its core about doing good works. It is foremost about being in a relationship with Jesus through which God conforms us to his character and likeness. So, how do we have that kind of relationship?

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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.

Important: I’m not a therapist, psychologist, or pastor. So, I can’t offer you that kind of expert counsel. What I can offer you is the fruit of twenty plus years of study, practice, trial and error that empowered me to develop and maintain healthy boundaries and more fulfilling relationships.

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?

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4 Common Causes of Holiday Stress and Simple Strategies for Overcoming All of Them

Christmas is just around the corner. Here are seven strategies to help us deal with four common causes of holiday stress. Whether we eagerly anticipate the holidays or drag our feet with dread, many of us will experience at least a few anxious moments over the next few weeks.

7 Strategies for Overcoming 4 Common Causes of Holiday Stress

Photo courtesy of © PhaticPhotography

A little disclaimer: I am not a therapist, psychologist or any other credentialed expert. This is merely based on my own experience and watching others around me. If you are dealing with serious or chronic feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, or other such circumstance, I encourage you to seek out a competent Christian counselor.

This post is packed with valuable information. To make it easier to put these strategies into action, I’ve made you a cheat sheet that summarizes the key points and also includes a list of additional free resources you may find helpful. Just click the image or button below to request the cheat sheet and I’ll email it to you instantly!

Send me that FREE cheat sheet, please!

Four Common Causes of Holiday Stress

Most of the stress we feel at this time of year can be traced to one (or some combination) of the four common causes below.

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7 Steps to Avoid A Hyper-Scheduled Holiday Season

This article was written as a holiday season post. However, the content is applicable year-round. If you struggle with over-scheduling and long for a more balanced life, this post is for you.

In a week full of deadlines, presentations, and meetings, a conversation stopped me in my tracks. I tend to be results oriented; I want to get or give solutions and actionable advice. However, in this conversation, what was needed wasn’t words of wisdom, advice, or even a solution.

Photo courtesy of © BrianAJackson

My friend just needed me to be present.

When we get ourselves over-committed we miss these kinds of opportunities. Before the hyper-scheduled holiday season takes hold, I’m striving to achieve a “Goldilocks schedule” that let’s me be productive, accomplish much, and yet be available in the moment to those who need me. How about you? Do you have a schedule that provides that “just right” balance?

The Goldilocks Principle

The Goldilocks principle asserts something is within parameters that are “just right” as opposed to existing at the extreme margins. This principle occurs in various fields. For example, in astronomy, a “Goldilocks planet” is one which is neither too close to or too far from a star and thus could, theoretically, support life. In economics, if the balance between growth and inflation is neither too high or too low, the result is a “Goldilocks economy.”

There is value in having a Goldilocks schedule.

One that is neither too over-scheduled and therefore a source of stress, irritability, and unavailability.

Nor is it so empty that we do not provide a meaningful contribution to the people in our lives or society in general.

I’ve really not met anyone with the latter problem, but I know way too many of us living the over-scheduled life. Let’s see if that is your situation and if so, what you can do to get a more balanced schedule.

In addition to the valuable insights in the rest of this post, I’ve also made you a special holiday version of my “Just Be” checklist. If you’d like this free resource, just click the button below and I’ll send it to your inbox ASAP!

Yes, send me the checklist!

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