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Entries in Busyness (7)

Thursday
Jan242019

Busy, Busy

Insightful and practical, Susan K. Stewart challenges women to consider what they're doing in light of God's Word. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she asks us to consider the busyness in our lives, and if there might be a better approach to goals.

"By the end of 2016, I was tired," Susan says. "I accomplished many of my goals. I had a stack of check-offed to-do list. I had been busy. Why did I feel as those I hadn’t accomplished anything?"

Oh, I (Dawn) know a lot about checked off lists. I've lived by them since I was a child. But Susan makes me think—is there a better way?

Susan continues . . .

I had accomplished a lot that year:

  • published an award-winning book,
  • spoke at national conferences,
  • taught classes online,
  • and many other achievements, which say "success".

I met my goals for the year.

That’s was the problem. I had met my goals.

Each year we are bombarded with resolutions, goals, and focus words. We are encouraged to plan out our year for success.

Midway through the year, just as we begin to think we’ve failed, more articles and podcasts land in our email boxes telling us how to pick up the goals we haven’t finished and move forward.

Even Christian material tells us how to make plans and we can accomplish them. It might be a three-step list or a twelve-step program. The point is, “make a plan and work the plan.”

This can seem like a circle of life—no, more like a race track of life with no finish line.

I needed not just a pit stop; I needed off the track.

Here are some of the ways I’ve conquered the busyness.

1. Don’t buy a planner.

If you already have one, put it at the bottom of the bottom drawer.

We can become slaves to the lists and boxes. It can steal our joy in what we do.

I choose to have a plain calendar. Once a box is full, I don’t schedule anything thing else for that day.

2. Nix the goals and resolutions.

Instead, determine your priorities for the year. And it’s fine if you have the same priorities each year.

Some people tell me priorities are the same as goals. I don’t think so.

The month of July, my priority is my granddaughter’s visit. It’s not a goal; she comes every year. Those tasks take second chair to my priority.

3. Limit the number of items on a to-do list.

I have sticky pad to-do lists. It has space for four items. That’s truly manageable, there’s no space to keep adding on.

I don’t take the top sheet off until I’ve completed the tasks on it. I do add items to the next pages, but I don’t see them until I get there.

Long term projects get their own four-item to-do lists, which I pull out only when I’m working on that project.

Without a long to-do list I don’t feel overwhelmed, and I have a sense of accomplishment with each sticky note I pull off.

These are some tangible ideas how to not be bogged down in the endless cycle of resolutions, goals, and failure. They help me keep perspective on my day and my life. I feel more in control.

But this list in not the real answer.

Henry David Thoreau said, "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"

I answer this question each time I get bogged down in accomplishments, when I think I should be doing more, when I’m tired of being busy. Yes, it happens even with the above steps.

Jesus was busy about doing good and His Father’s will.

  • Yes, He got tired.
  • Yes, He needed to draw away from the daily tasks to rest.
  • Yes, He needed to spend time with God the Father.

We are told by Jeremiah God has a plan for us, a plan for good.

God's plan doesn’t require to-do lists and goals, and it doesn’t leave us exhausted.

God’s plan also has hope and future. What more do we need? (Jeremiah 29:11)

The reason 2016 was so exhausting and lacked fulfillment is I was working from MY goals and plans. I was busy about busy work, instead of doing good and God’s will.

For those of us who need a final step, it is this:

4. Seek His kingdom first (Matthew. 6:33), and make it your priority.

God will add what you need to your to-do list.

Which of these action steps could help you get off the busy-busy treadmill right now? What can you do to seek the Lord and do more of His will?

Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. She is known for practical solutions to real-world situations. Susan is senior nonfiction editor with Elk Lake Publishing, blog content manager for Mount Hermon Writers Conference blog, and has published five books. Susan lives in Central Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, nine chickens, and two donkeys. Discover more about Susan's ministry at www.practicalinspirations.com.

 

Tuesday
Nov212017

How to Protect Your Peace This Holiday Season

Debbie W. Wilson wisely counsels women on the kinds of attitudes that please the Lord. In this Holiday UPGRADE, she encourages us to forget about people-pleasing and focus on pleasing the Lord.

Debbie asks, "Has trying to please your family and friends drained the joy from your holidays?"

I (Dawn) am sure many of us feel that "drain" from time to time during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays. It's not just joy. It's peace too! And self-control. And a lot of other godly attitudes!

Debbie continues

One year, I mentioned how much our son enjoyed going to a relative’s house for special occasions.

“He probably wouldn’t feel that way if you did more,” my Thanksgiving guest replied.

Ouch.

Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary can teach us a lot about the pitfall of trying to please everyone.

Let's visit the sisters before we lose our peace and perspective this season.

Martha Stewart could have been named after the older sister. Martha’s table and foods delighted all the senses, and her culture applauded her.

As is often the case with siblings, Mary was her polar opposite.

Who cared what they ate or when? She was consumed with Jesus. Mary’s choice to learn from the Rabbi flew in the face of her culture and her sister’s expectations.

When we meet the sisters, Martha has opened her home to Jesus and His disciples. While she busily prepared a feast for them, Mary listened to Jesus.

When the banging of pots didn’t grab Mary’s attention, Martha stormed into the middle of the group and turned on Jesus.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV).

Mary froze. This probably wasn’t the first time her sister had publicly corrected her. Dare she look at Jesus? Her cheeks burned, anticipating His reproach.

Jesus shocked the whole group. Instead of chastising Mary, He corrected Martha and commended Mary.

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42-42 NLT).

He didn’t reprimand Martha for being busy, but for being worried and upset.

Jesus simplified her focus.

Have you ever let details and pressures rob you of the best?

It is easy to be distracted by our to-do lists and miss the reason why we are doing.

LESSONS from MARTHA

  1. A critical spirit indicates a wrong focus. Need I say more?
  2. Martha took her complaint to the right person. Jesus will tell us the truth. The truth set Martha free. He’ll free us from our bad attitudes and wrong emphases too.
  3. We can change. The next time Martha prepared a feast for Jesus, she hummed while she worked (read between the lines, John 12:2-7)! A single focus lightens our work.

Jesus loved Mary and Martha. And both of them blessed Him when they served Him with uncluttered hearts.

But Mary ministered to His soul.

At the gathering the week before His death, Mary anointed His feet with a pint of expensive nard. The fragrance filled the air and saturated His skin and the tips of His clothes. Someone suggested the fragrance lingered through His final week—even to the cross.

Of all of Jesus’ friends and followers, only Mary understood His mission. She believed He was headed to the cross and wanted the fragrance of her love to be with Him in what lay ahead.

And some of His followers criticized her.

LESSONS from MARY

  1. We have to please only One. Spending time with Him reminds us of what matters most.
  2. Choices that delight Jesus may offend some of His followers. On different occasions, Mary's sister and Jesus' disciples found fault with her.
  3. Staying tuned into Jesus nurtures us, ministers to others, and blesses Him! Jesus promised that Mary’s act would be remembered always (Mark 14:9).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the Christmas season, let's keep our focus.

A year from now, no one will remember the details of our holidays, but they will remember our spirits and love.

What helps you stay grounded in this busy season?

Debbie W. Wilson—drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher—speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Note: The Christmas to-do List in the graphic is a printable available from babyhintsandtips.com.

Thursday
Oct062016

5 Excuses That Sabotage Personal Growth

Gail Goolsby is a professional who implements practical counsel rooted in scripture. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she offers 5 excuses that sabotage our growth and success.

“You have a calling from God—a destiny,” Gail says. "So why aren’t you moving forward? What is holding you back?”

Sometimes I (Dawn) think the person who most needs posts by my guest bloggers is ME! I recognized myself in Gail's analysis and am taking her counsel seriously.

Gail continues . . .

The roadblock to personal growth and success in life for many people is: EXCUSES.

As a career educator, counselor and life coach, I have heard multiple reasons people give to explain away their failures and lack of achievement.

Here are 5 excuses that sabotage personal growth:

Excuse #1: I don’t have time.  

People believe this answer gives permission to say no or be released from an activity they want to avoid. They may follow up the statement with details of their schedule-packed day or week or year.

“Okay,” I say. “I have 24 hours every day—the same as you do, as we all do. How should we determine the use of the time? It will pass for us all. What do you have to show for your time spent?”

No time is a common complaint in today’s fast paced world, but a real problem when used to explain lack of progress toward selected goals.

Use time for what it can do for you—not an excuse for not doing.

Excuse #2: I am too busy.

This popular justification is a twin to #1 but deserves its own mention, as it frequently hijacks rational discourse about setting priorities.

I refuse to use the word "busy" in my conversations. I think the term makes people insecure, comparing their significance to those who claim such demanding lives. What does busy really mean anyway?

I try to help clients unpack their "busy" and see what activity is worthy to keep, but reorganize. Other endeavors may need to be booted out to make room for balanced living and growth.

For both these excuses, hear God’s answer: "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, ESV).

Excuse #3: I tried before and I failed.

Fine. That was then and this is now.

“Define failure,” I say. “Tell me what happened.” I listen carefully to help the client discover the lessons, the take-aways that can help inspire him/her to try again.

Perhaps the goal needs tweaking or releasing altogether. Together we can often find the gain from the pain of failure.

Romans 5: 3-4 (ESV) says: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope."

Excuse #4: I am too undisciplined.

Here is some honesty, but still a cop-out.

All of us need training and new behaviors at various points in life.

When something is important enough, valuable enough, desirable enough, we find the strength and endurance to obtain the prize.

How do handicapped and semi-paralyzed individuals run races and create amazing artwork? They learn new things—hard things—by pressing through the I-want-to-quit stage. You can too.

Work hard. Be proud of your accomplishment.

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) says:  "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Excuse #5: I am afraid. I need help.

Now we are getting somewhere.  

Sharing your hopes and goals with a trusted friend, counselor or coach can be the first step toward moving ahead and busting out of the failure box.

God gave us one another. His power multiplies as we combine our giftedness and ask for His guidance.

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4, ESV).

Together we can push back the darkness and enjoy the radiant lives we have been given.

Which excuses are sabotaging your personal growth today? What action will you take to press toward the hope of your calling?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. She and her pastor husband of 38 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Learn more about Gail and the services she offers at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.

Thursday
Sep292016

Well Done or Burnt Out?

Kathy Carlton Willis knows a lot about living under pressure. I've followed her and her husband during a difficult year, and she focused on the Lord to keep her faith strong. Kathy also knows a lot about the stress of burn-out, and in this Spiritual Life and Self-care UPGRADE, she shares wise counsel.

"Sometimes I wonder if my efforts will lead to me hearing 'Well Done' or being burnt out," Kathy said. "Let's look at the recipe for finding the balance."

I (Dawn) think this is such a vital topic in our busy, busy world. Several years ago, I almost totally lost my ministry because of a health issue related to burn out. Loving friends did question all I was doing at the time, but I wish someone had pulled me aside and asked tough accountability questions about my priorities and why I was doing what I was doing.

Kathy continues …

In most recipes, the difference between making a crispy creation and a delightful dish is in two variables. Time and temperature. (Just like the old phone service you could call for that information!)

Getting the best out of life for God’s BIG glory without burning out requires those same two variables. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Time

  • How long do you spend on the things that require your attention during your waking hours?
  • How long do you sleep and rest between periods of busyness?
  • Do you have time to add something new to your schedule, or do you need to delete something before you add anything else?

2. Temperature

  • How hot does your passion burn for your specific projects?
  • How consistent are your efforts before you need to take a break?
  • Do you get bored easily with the project?

Oftentimes we evaluate the ingredients of a recipe to determine if it will be a success, when the real issue is to make sure we have the time and temperature set correctly.

It’s wise to ask God to lead in adding to or taking away from your workload. Seek Him to reveal what activities tickle your taste buds. And follow His lead when it’s time to take it easy for a bit.

If it’s been a while since you had a day you could label BLESSED REST,  then you probably need a day like that!

Overdo or overdue?

Are you on the verge of burning out? I realized it was time to slow down and relax when I wrote the following paragraph to my mom:

“I want one day to relax and do what I want, when I want.

I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time. Overdo.

Sort of my Merry Christmas present to myself!”

See the problem? I spelled “overdue,” overdo. And that was the problem.

I was overdoing it—rest was overdue!

We rarely will admit we’re burning out until it’s too late. The toast is already burnt. We’ve pushed the time and temperature too long, too hot. 

And you know what happens when you let the toast burn? It stinks! It stinks when we push ourselves too hard, as well. We’re no good for anyone, at that point.

Let the toaster cool off and add more bread. You rest, then decide what God wants you to add or subtract from your life schedule to fuel your passions and feed your purpose without overdoing it!

Burnt Out?

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9 KJV)

Well Done?

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21 AMP) 

When you seek Jesus to be Lord of your life (Master) and are faithful in His instructions, seeking to be effective for the success of the Kingdom and not merely personal success, you will hear Him exclaim about your work, “Well done!”

Where are you headed—to hearing “Well done” or being burnt out?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Thursday
May142015

How to Stop Being an Adrenaline Junkie

Joan Webb’s intentional living so aligns with my desire to make wise choices. I invited her to write this Attitude UPGRADE because she puts her finger on a big issue with so many women.

“‘You really love this, don’t you? You’re so animated when you’re busy working.’ Although my client meant this as a compliment,” Joan said, “I gagged when I heard her words.

OK. I (Dawn) will get totally honest here. Joan pegged one of my huge struggles. I live with the stress of busyness, and some of it is self-imposed. Oh, how I needed to read this! Maybe you do too.

Joan continues . . .

To me, my client’s words represented a lifestyle I’d tried to ditch. Anything that reminded me of my excessive behavior felt like a punch in the gut.

I get a high when rushing, working and finding solutions. I am an adrenaline junkie. 

What do I mean by “adrenaline junkie”? 

Experts say action-addiction is both a process and a substance addiction. We get a high when we over-do, over-rush or even over-help. As long as the chemical keeps flowing, we medicate our past or current distress. 

Incidentally, some action-addicts appear motionless at times, but their minds are racing.

Normally, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline release when we sense there’s a threat to our well-being. It’s the “Fight or Flight Response,” and it produces a shot of energy, giving us strength to cope with frightening situations.

With this response, heart rate escalates, digestion slows and blood flow forces to our muscles. Our bodies return to their natural state of relaxation when the real or perceived threat passes. 

When we’re addicted to action, we remain in chronic stress-mode, causing damage to our bodies. 

Initially, symptoms are fairly mild, like chronic headaches and lowered resistance to colds. Eventually we can develop depression, panic attacks, gum disease, unexplained weight gain, diabetes, stomach problems and even heart disease. 

Who wants THAT?

Doctors agree there is a pandemic of action-addiction in our world today. Author Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“What belief have we accepted that suggests that, if we are not rushing and hurrying, we have no meaning?” 

An often-effective treatment for action-addiction includes identifying and modifying our negative thought patterns. For example, modification of the above misbelief can become: I am a valuable person, even when I quit working and helping to relax.

This all reminds me of something the wisest man who ever lived wrote: "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6).

When I continually run, chase, rush after stuff—even if it is very good and helpful stuffI whiz past tranquility in the pursuit.

What are some wise, practical things we can do to shake hands with tranquility again?

1. Pause to breathe deeply.

Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself time to think and feel again.

2. Pause to enjoy God.

Reflect on who you are in Christ! He invites you to come and find rest. (Matthew 11:28-30.)

Pray—have an unrushed conversation with the Lord. Soak in His love; meditate on what He’s said.

3. Pause to enjoy yourself … and others (without trying to fix them).

Honor who God created you to be.

If you’re an introvert, schedule a re-energizing alone-time activity. (Maybe just to soak in a hot tub. Perhaps to enjoy an overnight personal retreat.) If you’re an extrovert, schedule a re-vitalizing activity with friends, uninterrupted by to-dos and work.

And repeat these steps at regular intervals!

Ahhhh. I can feel my shoulders relaxing and that constant adrenaline surge diminishing.

What helps you become friends with tranquility again? 

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four-book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit Joan's website