20 Minutes a Day …

Twenty minutes may not really seem like a lot of time to accomplish something important, but, if you think about it, what kinds of things do you or can you accomplish in 20- to 30-minute chunks of time throughout your day?

You could:

  • fold a load of laundry
  • watch a recorded episode of a TV show
  • straighten up your desk/file some paperwork
  • read an online article or a chapter of a book
  • scroll through Facebook/Instagram posts
  • make a phone call to a family member or friend
  • check/respond to emails
  • take a walk to clear your head
  • empty the dishwasher
  • play with the dogs
  • stretch or exercise
  • plan a meal/find a new recipe
  • build an intimate relationship with God

Wait! What was that last point? Build a relationship with God? In 20 minutes? That’s not on my “to do” list.

No? Well, perhaps it should be. We all have the same amount of time allotted to us each and every day. And yet, so often the days just seem to slip away from us. Things we never intended or planned for steal our days away, minute by minute. We find ourselves wishing we had more time, but, more likely, what we really want is more peace, more joy, more connectedness … more real-life moments that matter.

Many of us use the lack of time as an excuse for not accomplishing certain things in our days or in our lives. In her blog post on things to do with 30 minutes or less, Courtney Carver shares:

… the real excuse, even if we are really busy, isn’t lack of time. It’s lack of priority. …

vanderkam

Author Laura Vanderkam says, “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”

2016-09-11-22-53-472016-09-11-22-54-45Two weeks ago, I chose to take time away from my work (which I spend a lot of time doing) to attend a Women’s Ministry Kick-off Dinner with my sister-in-law, Jena, and my niece-in-law, Brittany. It was a dinner put on by their church to introduce their upcoming Bible studies for the fall, and I was thrilled to hear that Debbie Stuart (who used to be the Director of Women’s Ministry at a church I attended in the past) was going to be the guest speaker that evening. Debbie is currently Director of Ministry Initiatives at Hope for the Heart.

Well, as usual, Debbie did not disappoint. I had done a study with Debbie in the past and though I knew she was good, I had forgotten just how good of a speaker and connector she was. She shares personal stories (funny as well as heart-wrenching) and Scripture in such a way as to touch the lives of those around her and to infuse in them a desire to know and serve the Lord as she does.

I have to be honest here. Even though my thoughts are not biblical, I envy her heart for Jesus. I want what she has. Not her life or the things she has accomplished or acquired in her lifetime … but I want a relationship with God where I seek Him and hear from Him daily, and He is obviously at work in my life the way He is in hers. Debbie reminded us:

The truth is: It is absolutely essential to spend time with the Lord. No excuses. You will not know Him, His will or His way apart from His Word, the Bible.

So simple, and yet so true. The thi2016-09-17-09-19-39ng is – I have been reading the Bible lately. I do this from time to time but not on a regular, daily basis, and not always in a way that I feel I am getting much out of it. In fact, sometimes I don’t really feel like I understand what I read (although when I take the time to use my MacArthur Bible Commentary and/or compare passages to those in The Message [which is very reader friendly], it does help).

20-minutes-a-dayThe night Debbie spoke, she brought with her a book she co-wrote titled, 20 Minutes a Day for the Rest of Your Life. She explains it this way:

This resource is an excellent guide to studying God’s word for practical application. It teaches various Bible study techniques, dynamics and methods to learning how to apply God’s Word to everyday life. It’s not enough to ask, “What does the Bible say, we must discover what does it say TO ME!” It’s not enough to know what the Bible means, we must know what it means TO ME! It is my prayer that you will develop a deeper walk with the Lord and come to know Him better by spending time in His Word.

If you know what you need to do, but you don’t know exactly how to go about doing it, this book might be the guide for you. You can purchase this helpful resource for $6 (plus $2 shipping). They are currently available through this eBay link. Proceeds go to support Prison Ministry for women!

I started using my book the very next day, a2016-09-14-13-09-06fter the dinner. The first method demonstrates studying and praying through the Psalms. Each “session” ends with you asking God for a verse for the day that you can carry with you or post where you will see it and can meditate on it. I put mine up on a little clothesline in my study area.

The following Sunday, I just knew I was on the right track when, in church, the preacher had chosen to focus his time in the pulpit on teaching us all on “How to Meditate on God’s Word.” He used Psalm 1 and walked us all through some methods to 1) Read God’s Word; 2) Study God’s Word (observe, interpret, apply); and 3) Memorize God’s Word. One of the main points I got out of his sermon was the importance of having a plan to follow. There are a lot of books and online sources available to help you set one up; two he suggested were youversion.com (a bible app) and esvbible.org.

Last week, I started a Bible study using Beth Moore’s book James: Mercy Triumphs. The five days of homework each week will definitely give me more than 20 minutes a day in the Bible. But I will continue to use my 20 Minutes a Day … book for the other days of the week so that I can become familiar with the other methods of study and eventually determine what works best for me.

2016-09-17-09-19-10

While doing one night’s homework on James, I came across Beth’s discussions on Galatians 2:8: For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my (Paul’s) ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. Beth said:

God only knows how many effective ministries have disintegrated into irrelevance over addiction to comparison. We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if He can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time. …

There’s a big, needy world out there, and God’s way of reaching it is to enlist every one of us to do our parts in love and humility, variety and diversity.

So, there is no need for me to compare myself to others or focus on what I lack. God will use me … and you … wherever we are in life and to the extent that we make ourselves available to Him. Even if it is only 20 minutes a day.

Be strong in the Lord my friends. And be faithful.

img_2138

“ … it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

“… those who seek Him, find Him.” see Proverbs 8:17

Advertisements

Finding Time, Making Time

Buzzing around from day to day and project to project, I feel like there is no time to read, to relax, to create, or to write. With our recent move, we’ve had so much to do with unpacking and reorganizing, while continuing to work , but I get a little frustrated with myself because I can’t seem to get it done as quickly as I’d like. I have so many ideas I want to incorporate to get my office organized and my work files set up so that I am ready to dive into my next project. Instead, I continue to scrounge for files and paperwork and look forward to when everything is more organized. Simply put, I am challenged by disorder, and I often don’t feel like I can stop working until everything is in its place.

The thing is, I know unpacking after a move takes time. And we really have made pretty good progress. The large pile of boxes has diminished, I know where to find most of our stuff, I’ve completed some work deadlines and am getting prepped for upcoming projects, and, the truth is, this new place is already beginning to feel like home. I just need to keep reminding myself that there is time for everything that must be done. And it will get done, eventually. But I also realized that sometimes I need to forget about all the things that should be done and actually make or schedule time for the things that really matter to me – like writing, making crafts, and capturing images with my camera. I also need to try not to get so caught up in doing that I miss out on the chance to experience simply being.

Luckily, our new home makes that more possible than ever. Behind our house, we have a wooded area that slopes down to a small creek. This creates a wonderful atmosphere for slowing down, relaxing, and breathing in the peace and tranquility of nature. Every day, Bart and I go out on our deck either in the morning or the evening (or both); we enjoy the breeze rustling through the leaves, and we watch the woods for wildlife. So far, we’ve seen deer, woodpeckers, chickadees, squirrels, and a chipmunk.

Sometimes I bring out my camera to take photos. Other times, I try to simply live in the moment and enjoy the experience. Watching wildlife, for us, is fun and relaxing; it somehow makes me feel more a part of creation rather than a cog in an industry wheel that is turning and turning and going nowhere. That’s what I begin to feel like when I let “all work and no play” become my focus.

To encourage our wildlife friends to come around, we recently put up a deer feeder, a bird feeder (in the front and back yards), and a hummingbird feeder right outside my office window. I’ve had the joy of seeing hummingbirds drinking from the feeder right outside my window for the last few days. It’s so cool to be working and then peripherally catch sight of somthing zipping around outside. Watching the hummingbird drink the “nectar” always causes me to pause and smile. It sort of creates a bunch of mini-breaks in my day. When I saw the first bird or two, I took a few photos with my phone, and I keep wanting to get out there with my telephoto lens to get some really good shots. Once again, though, I have to remind myself, it’s okay to just enjoy the scenery. I don’t always need to be in pursuit of the next awe-inspiring image.

It’s funny how such a quick bird is helping to teach me that it’s okay to slow down. Anyway, right now, I have a little work to do, but soon enough (next week to be exact), I will be taking a vacation and I promise not to think about boxes or work or “to do” lists. I will simply enjoy the magical experience of Hawaii with my wonderful husband who earned the trip through his own hard work and diligence. Of course, I’ll take lots of photos too though, and I’ll be sure to share some of them later. 🙂 Aloha, my friends!

[Some of you may have been waiting for my post on our “challenging” moving experience. I’ve just had too much to do, and I seriously didn’t want to think about it for a little while. But don’t worry, I will definitely be sharing it with you at some point. All in good time.]