Book Break: Taming the To-Do List

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How ironic that I have been procrastinating for weeks … oh wait, make that months … on writing my review of the book Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. As someone who always has several To-Do lists going, with some items continually moving to new lists rather than being marked off, I knew this book was for me. Although directed toward women (probably because of her connection to Proverbs 31 Ministries), the ideas Glynnis shares from a biblical perspective can be applicable to and applied by anyone.

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These days, we are all busy. It seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. And, if you’re like me, there are always some tasks that, for whatever reason, we keep avoiding by filling up our schedules with things that matter little (answering emails, scrolling through Pinterest) rather than those that would make a greater impact on our lives (scheduling appointments, writing a blog post). Glynnis notes, “My goal in dealing with procrastination isn’t to get more done. I want to get more of the right things done.”

The book starts out by describing procrastination as: “an intentional delay of something we could do but choose not to. Although it might include a shifting of priorities, its root cause is our resistance toward the task.” Glynnis says that once we identify the why, or the reasons for our delays, we can then strategize the how for dealing with them. Following are just a few reasons why some of us procrastinate:

  • We make choices against what we know is best to avoid physical or emotional discomfort.
  • We are bombarded by texts, emails, phone calls, private messages, and social media connections. Others often expect a prompt response, and so we drop everything to reply, which then derails our own projects and plans for the day.
  • When we are overwhelmed with too much to do and we are faced with the choice between an easy accomplishment that we can check off our list or a harder, more demanding task (that would require facing a weakness), we often take the easier route. So the hard stuff doesn’t get done.
  • Some of us are perfectionists. If we can’t do something perfectly, we tend to not want to do it at all. “Perfection is the enemy of learning and growing and enjoying areas of life where we haven’t achieved mastery.”

Whatever the reason, there is always a cost for each decision we make to choose one task or thing over another. Glynnis details the price we pay in the ways of character, calling, unmet potential, health, and relationships. But procrastination may also cost us in peace, disorder, hurry, and disobedience to God. She then goes on to share some suggestions for replacing bad habits with good as well as some guidance for strengthening willpower and becoming a wise time manager. (I can’t cover all of that information here, so you’ll just have to read the book yourself.)

At the beginning of the book, Glynnis suggests that readers identify two tasks or projects that they have been procrastinating on — one small task and one larger, personal goal. At the end of each chapter, she asks us to revisit these two items and write down some practical applications between them and what we just learned. While reading this book, I have to admit that I did not make as much progress as I had hoped in my larger, personal goal. I still have some of my own procrastination issues to work through for that. However, I am pleased to say that I did have success with the regular task that I had chosen to manage better. Perhaps Taming the To-Do List would be helpful to you as well.

 A couple excerpts from the book: 

“Always remember that procrastination doesn’t
define you. Your worth and value will never be found
in how quickly you complete a task or how many items
you check off your to-do list.”

“All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination. … Sometimes the right thing is to reschedule, reevaluate, or change our plans. Sometimes we have to abandon preset goals for a greater goal. Other times God has us do a 180-degree turn, and it would be disobedient to keep going the same direction. Sometimes God gives us a blessing, or allows a challenge, that requires us to postpone our plans. A wise woman listens and watches to see what God might be doing. And she adapts her plans to His when necessary.”

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Online Overview

No matter how hard women work or how much they accomplish in a day, there’s lingering anxiety and guilt over what they didn’t do. We just wish the world would stop for a day so we could catch up.

Glynnis Whitwer has identified what makes us feel so overburdened—and it’s probably not what you think. Taming the To-Do List exposes a seismic shift in our society: from one in which most of us were proactive toward one where we now carry the burden of having to respond—to every email, text, tweet, and message we receive. This major shift creates a cycle where everyone else sets the priorities for our days, rather than us designing our own lives.

Taming the To-Do List addresses this significant change in how we manage our time and the issue of procrastination from a woman’s point of view. It addresses the common household tasks many women put off, like doing housework and scheduling doctor’s appointments, and moves on to the larger, more life-impacting delays of dreams and goals. Combining practical, easy-to-apply advice with solid research and biblical truth, this book is a compassionate yet challenging message of hope for those struggling to choose their best work over busy work.

Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is the editor and one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 750,000 daily readers. Glynnis and her husband Tod have five young adult children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit http://www.GlynnisWhitwer.com or http://www.Proverbs31.org to learn more.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Defining Relationships

Heart Leaf

I was looking through old digital files, trying to find examples of some of my past work to create an online portfolio, when I came across a questionnaire on relationships that one of my nieces sent out in 2008. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and the topics of love and relationships so relevant at this time, I thought this would be a great piece to post. I read through it all, and wouldn’t change any of my answers, even today.

shell heart

Did you think you would find your soul mate?  I had doubts early on. In fact, when I was in my 20s, I used to say I would never get married. I had seen too many bad relationships to think it was possible. But then I did marry, and I really loved him. But we never had any deep conversations about life and our beliefs and our future goals. We didn’t communicate and we didn’t spend quality time together; we just sort of drifted, and in the end we drifted apart. Once again, I didn’t believe that I would marry someone else. But God has a way of redirecting your steps when you get off track, and I believe He set the situation up so that Bart and I would meet. And when we did, things started coming together more clearly for both of us. Do I believe he is my soul mate? Yes. I think we make each other better people than we were when we were alone. Do I think that a soul mate will meet your every need in life? No. I think that you cannot expect one person to be everything to you; that’s where your friends and family come in. So you need to always be sure to continue to cultivate your friendships as well as your love relationship and not let one supersede the other.

What does it mean to be in love? That’s a tough one. Many people confuse being in lust with being in love. Or they enjoy that excitement you get when you first meet someone and you can’t stop thinking of them and you want to spend all your time with them. That doesn’t make it love though. In fact, you may feel strong feelings of love or attachment for someone and yet that person is still not who you are meant to spend your life with. I guess being in love means that you begin to realize that life is not all about you and what you can get out of a relationship, but what you can do for that other person to help them grow and know that they are truly special in someone else’s eyes. It’s about wanting to give someone else the bigger piece of pie even if you’d like it for yourself (and knowing that if they were serving, they’d give you the bigger piece).  :)

16What makes you happiest about your relationship? That I know I am truly loved for who I am and that he would do anything to make me happy (well, not anything horrible).

Do you believe that you will be with this person forever? Yes

Do you believe God has a plan for you? Yes. I have been learning a lot about this through a class I have been taking called “Following God’s Will.” I also found this great passage in a devotional that I wanted to share with you:

“God’s plan for your life is not a written script that you must follow; rather, it is a journey with various important destinations and appointments, but also a great deal of freedom as to the pace and scope of the travel. God’s plan for you will always have a sense of mystery about it, but you can be certain that as you seek his leading, God will guide and direct you on your journey. Most of God’s promises are conditional. In other words, they depend on something that you are asked to do. If you separate yourself from God, you are removing yourself from his plan, his guidance, and his promises. Come back to him, and he will redeem your lost time.”

What do you believe is an unhealthy relationship? One where you find yourself crying more than laughing; one where the other person belittles you or hurts you in some way on a regular basis.

Do you think that people are alone because they make themselves that way? Some people choose to be alone, but I do not believe it is the case for everyone. I have heard a lot of single women talk about how they wish they could find the right person and get married. I feel for those women, but I don’t know how they are living their lives or what they are doing to actually find that right person. But sometimes God has other plans for their lives and they will continue to be unhappy until they are open to God’s will rather than their own.

Should you change for a person? You should be willing to change if that change is actually growth and something positive. But, no, I don’t think you should change in your overall belief system or in a way that is uncomfortable to you simply to keep another person around.

What are grounds to end a relationship?  physical abuse, mental abuse, unfaithfulness, unhappiness that cannot be reconciled, a total disconnect spiritually

What do you think is the biggest mistake you ever made in a relationship?  Not communicating. Also staying in a relationship simply because it was easier than getting out or because I didn’t want to be alone.Heart leaf

Can you be friends with an ex? Yes, I believe that is possible. In fact, it would be a preferable situation than to one of animosity. But it’s not always realistic.

Can girls and guys be [just] friends? Yes. If you are in a serious relationship, and your significant other has a friend of the opposite sex, as long as you have a strong and trusting relationship, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if there is something missing from your relationship and it is not complete, then you (or your mate) may find yourself still in search of that elusive thing, and in that case — opposite sex friends may begin to become more than just friends. In those situations, it’s not possible to keep an innocent friendship. If neither of you has a significant other, then I guess in that case, it depends on how you feel about yourself (your self-esteem) and what the friendship provides for you.

What do think the most helpful information is you can give a person about relationships?  I just read a quote the other day that I thought was appropriate for this: “Just because you had a nightmare doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming.” —Jill Scott, Grammy Award-winning singer

You’re probably going to have some bad ones, or at the very least unfulfilling relationships, but you shouldn’t give up on love. Of course, no one’s going to come knocking on your door to find you. You’ve got to go out there and live your life. Do the things you enjoy with people you like to be around. When you’re out there participating in the world, being yourself, that’s when you will be open to the opportunities of finding someone who shares your interests and dreams.

Are you happy? Why or not?  Yes. Life may not be easy and all roses, but despite what the world tells us, I don’t believe that’s the way it is supposed to be anyway. We’re all going to have trials, but it’s how we react to them and what we do with them that moves us along our life path. And it’s who you have beside you, to help you get around the potholes and over the speed bumps, that makes the trip easier — whether that is a spouse, a friend, or a family member. We need other people in our lives and we need a purpose. Those things can help us be happy, but in the end it’s still up to us to choose to be happy. You shouldn’t always be in “pursuit of happiness,” however, but learn to be happy where you are . . . in every moment.

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Think about it. Are you in a fulfilling relationship? Are you happy?
What do you need to do today to get on the right path for YOU?

Come Away with Me

Come Away with Me

“Come away with me by yourselves
to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
Mark 6:31

In her One Word Coffee Link Up, Bonnie Gray encourages her readers to read this verse, focus on it, and determine what draws their attention. What word or thought speaks to you today? Take it from this Scripture or whatever passage you may be reading today.

For me, the phrase, “Come away with me” stands out. It is an important reminder that I need to be setting aside a little time each day, separating myself from my daily work and worries, to focus on God’s specific word and direction for me.

I spend a lot of time on the computer and on the Internet. It is an amazing source of information. I can look up new recipes; I can map out directions to a nature reserve or dog park; I can find videos of songs I enjoy. As Holley Gerth says in What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days,

“When it comes to information, the internet is a brilliant source. Yet long before computers were even thought of, a greater source of wisdom existed. … The only trouble seems to be that he tends to be a lot more vague than the search results on our screens. We want a recipe for chicken, and all we need to do is click Enter for five million results to appear. Then we pick one and we’re ready for dinner. But when we want a recipe for life, the process isn’t as clear. We can become frustrated when we confuse knowledge with wisdom. Knowledge is about information. Wisdom is about transformation.”

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Today, I invite you to step away from the computer, from your phone, from everyday distractions and busyness to listen to God’s whispers to your heart. Read from a favorite devotional, participate in a Bible study [I miss the ones my neighbor in Kentucky organized], or use the Internet to find some inspirational blogs. There are so many good ones out there.

Whatever route you choose to take to “come away” with Jesus, just do it! You will experience a closeness to Him and an inner peace and strength that will help you get through whatever life throws your way.

“Lord, thank you for being the source of all wisdom. I’m glad I can come to you when I’m not sure what to do. I trust that you will hear my heart and be willing to answer.” [HG]

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Slow Down and Trust

God has a great plan

Today’s message from Jesus Calling (one of my all-time favorite devotionals) is very appropriate for me, so I thought I’d start out by sharing it with you:

I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged—never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing head-long toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.

[Romans 8:31; Psalm 46:1–3 (NKJV): Luke 1:37]

Although the word “trust” is not actually used in that message, I believe it is implied. The closing words could very well be, “Slow down, trust Me, and enjoy the journey.”

Stop Thinking

I am one of those people who gets an idea in her head and then pushes forward full-force, trying to plan out every detail. I feel better when I am actively taking control of a situation. And I get frustrated when things begin to spiral out of my control or they don’t happen as quickly or the way I think they should. But I know that this is not the best way for me to go about my life. In fact, the more I try to control things, the more stressed out I get, and the further I may fall from God’s actual plans for my life. Or by trying to do everything myself, I realize that I may miss out on the opportunity for others to witness the amazing things that God can do despite obvious circumstances.

That’s why my word for 2016 is TRUST. There are many areas of my life where I need to let go of control and just trust God. So, this year, instead of worrying and fretting, I am going to trust. Instead of planning and manipulating, I am going to trust. I will do my very best to slow down and wait for God to reveal the paths He has laid out for me rather than rushing forward on my own.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything
you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

(Proverbs 3:5-6; The Message)

If I trust in God’s plan, and I wait for it, I won’t have to be worried or afraid that things won’t happen according to my plans. And I can be confident that I am taking the right steps for a better future. Is trust an issue that you deal with? Below are some other passages and images that might help you as they have helped me.

Trust in the Father

Although I don’t like to wait, God always has a plan to work things out for my good. So I must trust His “wait” is either to protect me or to prepare me for what’s ahead. (Glynnis Whitwer, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day)

Lead Me and I will follow

God always keeps His word. If He has given you a specific promise, you can be assured that He will fulfill it. It may not be according to your time-table, but it will always be according to what is right in line with His will for your life. (Charles F. Stanley, In Step with God: Understanding His Ways and Plans for Your Life)

Those Who Trust in the Lord

Lord,

May we all become people who pray. May we also learn to leave the burden with You, rather than pick it up and carry it with us after claiming that we’re trusting You. Right now, Lord, take the burden. We cast it upon You, knowing that You’re better able to handle it than we ever will be. (Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Today: The Importance of Prayer)

I know you heard my prayer

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A Christmas Prayer

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I was going through some of my old files and found this lovely prayer from Julie Gillies and her devotional book Prayers for a Woman’s Soulthat I wanted to share with you. While it was written for the Christmas season, you could easily take out the mention of Christmas and the holiday season and substitute any busy season in your life when you feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. Why not take a moment and pray this for yourself:

Dear Lord,

You know my heart and You see the stress and distractions that take up entirely too much room there this time of year. Right now I choose to place every stressful and distracting situation into Your loving and capable hands, and I ask You to refresh and revive my heart.

Help me to keep You as my main focus, in spite of the busyness of the holidays. Help me to turn to You, think of You, and talk to You as I go about these busy days of preparation. Hold me in Your peace and help me cling to You in the moments I feel overwhelmed.

Please give me grace to deal with all the people, events, gatherings and plans on my calendar this holiday season. Give me wisdom, energy, and the strength I need to meet obligations and needs. Help me to eat right and get the amount of sleep my body requires, and on days that doesn’t happen, give me more grace.

Most of all, Lord, help me to stay close to You, because in Your presence is fullness of joy. I long to not only experience Your joy and peace this Christmas, but I long to radiate it to others. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

I originally read this in a blog post by Glynnis Whitwer, “Praying for yourself is not selfish!” It’s from 2012, but it’s still very relevant today. Check out her blog when you get a chance. She always has some wonderful words to share.

Meanwhile, I pray that you will enjoy a blessed Christmas filled with hope, peace, joy, and love.

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“The
Lord is near.
Do not be anxious
about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of
God, which transcends all understanding, will
guard your hearts and
minds
in
Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:4–7, NIV)

We Are ALL Called

Church

On Sunday, Nov 1, my husband’s nephew (KJ Weisheit, the new Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Celina) preached on “The Church.” His message spoke to me, and so I wanted to share some of it and some other thoughts on this topic with you here.

KJ PreachingKJ started off explaining “What the Church Is Not.”

The Church is not a building. It’s not meant to be a social gathering. (Meeting in fellowship at the church is good, but socializing shouldn’t be our main focus or reason for going to church.)

Then he went on to share “What the Church Is.”

We are the Church. The people … wherever we meet, and whenever we gather in His name. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

We are one body with many members. And every member has a specific job. Some are called “to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service …” (Ephesians 4:12).

“… each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6–8)

I’ve always liked this passage from Romans. It reminds me that we each have been called to fulfill the mission of Christ in different ways. We shouldn’t envy others and their roles or diminish the importance of our own roles within the Body of Christ.

As KJ reminded us — How we feel about our part in the Body does not matter. Even those parts of our physical bodies that seem to be weaker than others are still indispensable. We are ALL called to be a blessing (see Gen 12:1–3); we are ALL called to be salt and light (see Mat 5:13–16); and we are ALL called to be love (1 Cor 13).

In a blog post from Holley Gerth, “Psst…You’re Making a Bigger Difference than You Know,” I read a little more about what I believe our calling (as the Church) is and how God equips us:

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit” {John 7:38}. This is good news for us: We are not the source. We are not the supplier. We are simply the server. We pour out what God pours into us. Then He fills us up again. [Isn’t that awesome?!]

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If you give even a cup of cold water
to one of the least of my followers,
you will surely be rewarded.
{Matt. 10:42}

If you give even a cup of…
patience to a cranky toddler.
kindness to a challenging coworker.
hope to a struggling stranger.
peace to a conflicted family.
joy to a discouraged friend.

What may seem small can make a big difference. One cup of living water can refresh a heart. One cup can save a life. One cup can even change the world.

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Another good post that I think ties in to this message of finding ourselves and our place and role within the Church comes from Shannon Martin at (in)courage — “When Judgment and Self-Doubt Derail You.

She says, “Church culture has taught us to talk pretty and play nice, but what about our hearts? … I’m a believer that we should be the church we long for. We don’t get far toward clearing a new path when our feet and our hearts aren’t willing to make a shift.”

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Be the Church you long for. … If you need a friend, try at first to be a friend. If you need help, ask … but don’t forget to reach out to others to help in whatever capacity you can. Think about the aches and desires of your own heart, and realize that there are probably many people all around you feeling just like you. Your weaknesses may very well be just the thing that connects you to someone else in need. But if you are not confident enough to approach someone else first, there’s still something you can do, and that is to simply pray for others. Share your love … share God’s love … through your prayers.

“Sharing makes you bigger than you are.
The more you pour out, the more life
will be able to pour in.”  Jim Rohn

We are all given a choice. Will we be who God created us to be and play our part in the Body of Christ, or will we try to be who others expect us to be? True joy and authenticity is found only when we align ourselves with God’s plan.

“Effectiveness in God’s work depends on
what He calls each person to do.” Charles Stanley

Few will be given a task on the scale of Moses’, but the Father has a calling for each believer. Whether His plan is that we raise a godly family, reach out to a neighbor, or run a business with integrity and consideration, He wants us to do so in His power. (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

LeAnne and Brittany

LeAnne and Brittany (KJ’s wife)

Before I close this post, I want to mention another family member who really seems to get this concept of fully living as a part of the Church, and that is KJ’s sister, LeAnne Weisheit. LeAnne is an active member of Watermark Community Church. Whenever she is not at work (as a teacher) she can usually be found participating in a Christian camp; assisting with a ministry event; or, in some way, reaching out to connect with others, helping them to grow in faith. She lives her faith and shares God’s love all week long. We are so proud of her and her loving spirit.

We believe that each believer has received a special gift
and should employ it in serving others, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God. Spiritual giftedness and maturity determines
where and how a believer serves. (1 Peter 4:10) Watermark

We are all called to serve.
Have you found your place in the Church?

**************

Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts and talents you have given us. Please show us where we can be most useful for your Kingdom. Help us to see how much you love us and how much you want for us. Help us to trust in your divine purpose for our lives. Lord, whatever I want for myself, help me want what you want for me more.

Father, help us remember to be present for one another, to strengthen and encourage others, to give generously of ourselves and our resources, and to simply listen when that is what is needed. Help us to use the gifts you have given us to build up the Church, and to share your love with those who may not yet know you. Give us boldness to carry out your will.

Thank you for your grace, your love, and the opportunities you place in our lives to serve you and others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.