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Entries in priorities (13)

Thursday
Jul192018

Connection 101: Girl-friendship Is a Gift

Deb DeArmond cares about relationships—all kinds of relationships. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she offers insight to help us cultivate our friendships with other women.

It’s the test," Deb says, "of any friendship: the vacation without husbands, kids or other friends to cushion the shock of 24 hours together. On the ocean. In a cabin. For seven days."

That sounds heavenly to me (Dawn), but I'm sure there could be challenges. It's important we learn to grow up in our friendships.

Deb continues . . .

It was a bit on the early side of the Alaska cruise season, so Cindy and I landed an incredible upgrade with spacious digs, attentive staff, and a week of total luxury.

Fabulous meals, beautiful ports, and interesting folks on board.

And a lot of togetherness.

Girl-friendships, even for Christians, have often been challenging.

“Am I her favorite? Does she like me best?”

Remember in third grade, when the “new girl” was introduced to the class? We eyed her nervously, concerned she’d replace us in our bestie’s heart. We worked for that position and protected it fiercely. 

Step back, newbie. She’s mine.

We may be adults, but women still compete for that top spot—and the enemy will try to use these relationship needs against us if we’re not careful. 

I’m blessed to say it’s something Cindy and I have not struggled with.

Why not?

She and I are an unlikely twosome. Californians, now living in Texas. Close in age, married 40+ years. Adult kids and grandbabes. But that’s about it.

We’re wired differently, choose different hobbies, and we think differently; our needs and preferences are dissimilar. We’re an odd couple.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t compatible—we both love God and His Word fiercely.

God created us to need others.

  • Read Genesis. Even though God was with Adam from the start, He saw the need and created Eve.
  • The disciples numbered twelve, but three—Peter, James, and John—were those Jesus held close in the best and worst of times.
  • David and Jonathan.
  • Ruth and Naomi.

It’s a biblical pattern. We need relationship.

Cindy and I discussed our friendship on the cruise. That it’s risen to the level of importance it holds in our lives is surprising.

Here was our Alaskan epiphany: we don’t compete. With one another or for one another’s affection, time, and that all-important top spot in one another’s life.

We’re never fearful the other is “cheating” on us with other friends.

We have other friends. Close friends. And we’re grateful for each of them: colleagues, neighbors, quilting buddies, and writing partners.

We don’t see one another as often as we’d like. But we do life together, just not usually in the same place.

We don’t live in one another’s pockets. We can’t. She recently moved three hours away, but the distance has deepened our relationship.

We’re more intentional about staying connected.

So maybe that, too, is a gift. If we need one another—for any reason, day or night—we’re available and fully present.

We’ve confided in one another, knowing it’s “in the vault.”  Trusted. No judgment. A genuine gift from the Lord.

How do we do it? Here are three tips we discovered.

1. We have healthy expectations of one another.

She doesn’t need me to provide what only God can deliver. I’ve not made her the center of my emotional well-being—that’s His job.

Sometimes when women are lonely or need encouragement they turn to their bestie instead of God. Not in addition to God, but instead. If that one gets mixed up, it’s a quick trip to trouble.

2. We rely on one another—for companionship, truth telling when needed, mercy (always needed) and the joy of experiencing life with one who helps to make the other better.

I can count on her to sharpen me, challenge me and pray for me. She depends on me for the same.

3. We are champions for one another.

Because we don’t compete, we can genuinely celebrate the other’s success. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

God expects us to grow up, and that includes our friendships.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11 NLT).

I’d like to have the energy and youthfulness I had in third grade or the calorie burning ability of days playing hopscotch. But I’ll take grown-up God-given relationships over those schoolyard alliances any day!

Which of those three tips need improving in your own friendships?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first bookRelated by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's newest book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of RawPixel at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jul102018

Making Space

Kathy Carlton Willis is a highly-motivated woman with resilience and vision. She has come through many tough experiences and shares lessons from her heart. In this Priorities UPGRADE, she writes about making space for what matters.

“I learned how to make space for what’s important.” Kathy explained. “It’s not about stuff, but people.”

I (Dawn) thinks this is a lesson all of us need to learn, and Kathy shares the truth about "space" in the most personal and appealing way.

Kathy continues . . . 

One of my big life lessons is regarding how I fill my existence. My time. My relationships. My home.

Do I cram it full or allow space for margins?

My husband has always liked our home to be neat and orderly. More stuff equaled more stress, especially if it was out of place. I guess you could say he has a disorder with disorder.

On the other hand, I come from a hoarder background, and have to put the brakes on wanting more of everything. More seemed to equal happiness and prevent feeling deprived.

But I was wrong.

It took a series of situations to show me the peace of less.

We went from having a 4,000-square-foot home plus a two-story carriage house to finding happiness in just 550 square feet. Once we adjusted, God gave us our forever home—a spacious 2,300 square foot Mid-Century Modern home.

During the early part of the transition, we said goodbye to most of our belongings to pare down.

Do you know how odd it is to watch your possessions going out the door with someone else at your living estate sale

“I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place” (Psalm 118:5 Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Now we have room to fill back up, but we don’t have the desire to acquire.

Instead we want to fill our home with people.

That’s what it all comes down to. Whether it is our home or our lives, we make space for people, not stuff.

  • My mom moved in with us.
  • We started a small group who meets weekly in our home to do life together.
  • We carved out extra space in our schedules, not to do more, but to do life more—especially with others.
  • We set up our home to be a welcome haven for others.

This transition has also caused me to evaluate and eliminate unnecessary demands on my time and energy. It allowed me to regain focus on what really matters.

We don’t take our stuff to heaven with us when we die, but we do take the effects of how we spend our time with others.

People matter, not stuff.

How can you go through a similar reduction in order to fill up with what’s really important?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my goal with minimizing stuff, reducing debt, or lightening the demands on my schedule?
  2. What do I want to make space for?
  3. What causes these things to keep piling on?
  4. Is there something I need to say “No” to, in order to simplify?
  5. Is there something I need to sell, in order to minimize?
  6. Is there a stress I need to let go of, in order to find greater peace?
  7. How will simplifying my life make space for what I want—and more importantly—what God wants?

One way I make space for what matters is to live healthfully.

This means a balance of wellness for heart, soul, mind, and strength. Eliminating what detracts from that goal.

A simple life is a satisfied life.

Mom had a funny experience of too much of a good thing recently at a cafeteria-style restaurant.

She requested carrot salad. The server scooped on a big heap of the salad, but then started pouring what she called “the marinade” over the carrot salad. It wasn’t a flavorful marinade or a dressing. Just a watery mess.

The server thought she was doing mom a favor by adding more and more. Instead, there was a spill on the way to the table, and things went downhill from there!

Just because something is good doesn’t mean more of it is better.

A perfect example of the cliché, LESS is MORE!

How will you make space in your own life for what really matters?

Kathy Carlton Willis,  God's Grin Gal, writes and speaks with a balance of whimsy and wisdom. She graduated with honors from Bible College and has served for 30+ years in ministry. Kathy shines the light on what holds you back and inspires lightbulb moments. Over a thousand of her articles have been published, as well as her Bible study, Grin with Grace. Kathy and husband Russ share their mid-century modern home with Kathy’s mom.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Brimstone Creative at Lightstock.

Thursday
Dec212017

How Ready Are You to Celebrate Christmas?

Yvonne Ortega writes a lot about broken people, and to be sure, there are many broken people who struggle during the holiday season; but God desires to do beautiful things in their lives. In this Christmas UPGRADE, she asks us to examine our hearts before Christmas arrives.

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest," Yvonne says, "how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

I (Dawn) am one of those "ready early" kinds of people at Christmas, because I want Christmas week to be as peaceful as possible. But having a ready heart is not the same as a ready home.

Yvonne continues . . .

I’ve had people tell me, “I’m all set for Christmas. I bought the gifts in August, decorated the house, trimmed an artificial tree, filled the Christmas stockings with small treats, and mailed the Christmas cards.”

Others have told me, “I’m ready as can be. I did everything over the Thanksgiving weekend. Now, I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas lights, programs, and parties.”

From an earthly perspective, the person appears to be ready. However, as Christians with a heavenly perspective, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our readiness to celebrate his birth has nothing to do with Christmas decorations, a trimmed tree, gifts for family and friends, stockings filled with goodies, or Christmas cards.

These three steps will help you decide how ready you are to celebrate Christmas.

1. Have you forgiven family members, friends or co-workers who hurt you?

You don’t want anything standing between you and God.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Do you still feel unforgiven for past sins? Are you burdened with shame and guilt?

If you’ve confessed your sins, God forgave you. He didn’t make a mistake when he did that. You can do no less.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

2. How often do you read your Bible, pray, and go to church—especially during the Christmas season?

If you do these things, how do you do them?

Do you do them on the run with an eye on your watch?

Do you do them grudgingly or cheerfully?

My late mentor often said, "You make time for what’s important to you."

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (NIV). You show your love by how much time you spend with the Lord and get to know him.

Make time for the most important relationship in your life. It is one that will last for eternity.

3. How comfortable would you feel if your family, friends, and coworkers evaluated your trust in God?

Perhaps you’ve lost a job, a car, or a home. Maybe you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or have a prodigal child in the family. You may have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one. Any one of these situations can cause turmoil in your life.

It can also result in your questioning your faith and God’s character.

Rate your confidence in his promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

As I wrap up, I ask you the same question I did at the beginning:

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (paperback, Kindle), Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), and Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness, all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Find out more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic of candle, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep122017

10 Steps to 10 Get-It-Done Goals

Retreat guide and life coach Letitia (Tish) Suk loves to help women get a fresh start on their goals. In this Goals and Priorities UPGRADE, she suggests a unique way to move into September with a goal-oriented perspective.

Letitia says, “Ready for the REAL New Year? Create a winning plan for the next 90 Days.”

I (Dawn) have to admit, I thought: REAL New Year? What could she mean? But then I read her unique approach. You don’t have to wait until January!

Letitia continues . . .

Beach towels are stashed, picnic baskets stored away, and flip-flops relegated to the back of the closet. The dramatic page-turn from August to September has occurred and the empty calendar spaces from now until Christmas are rapidly filling up.

Most of us are ready for a fresh start this time of year.

In fact, The JEWISH NEW YEAR comes around every fall and the rest of us would do well to observe a similar time of renewal.

In between stocking up on Halloween Candy and starting on those home-made Christmas gifts, try taking a chunk of time and planning for what could be possible in the next 90 days.

I love the blessing in Psalm 20:4:

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Without some intentional reflection time, we may never be clear on what the desires of our heart or our plans are.

Ready to make some plans?

Life Coaches like myself and others offer an exercise to shape this process called “10 Goals in 90 Days.”  This plan is always my go-to when a new season comes around, especially in the fall when my energy level seems at its highest.

Before the flurry of fall hits, here are ten practical way to bring some measurable change to your day to day life in the next three months.

10 Goals in 90 Days!

1. Set aside a chunk of time like at least an hour when you won’t be interrupted. Ideally, this is a place away from your home like a coffee shop, a park, or better yet, a personal retreat! Check out my book Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat for some ideas. 

2. Write down all the ideas that come to mind for what you could accomplish in the next 90 days. Once you get going, it is hard to stop.

This is the fun part, just imagining what might be possible.

3. Pick out a few that are easy and might take just a short time.

We all have these—like cleaning out your junk drawer, scheduling that medical appointment you have been putting off, answering five emails you have been ignoring.

The immediate gratification of crossing those off will feel great!

4. Add some one-time items you have been putting off or waiting for fall.

Invite your neighbors over, visit a friend you’ve been missing, take a class or attend a day-long event for training of some sort. Pick apples before they are all on the ground.

5. Tack on a couple more that are do-able but will take longer, even the full 90 days.

Redo your resume, start a short -term Bible study, write the first chapter of your book, get your finances in order.

6. List these 10 (or less) goals and pull out your calendar. Set aside time for each.

7. Make sure they are very specific goals (i.e. S.M.A.R.T.).

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

“Walk More and Eat Less” do not qualify as specific!

8. Decide which form of accountability will be the most effective for you.

If the list stays on your desk pile or in your purse nothing will happen.

9. Enlist a friend, your small group or a Life Coach to check-in with on how you’re doing.  Review your list often.

10. Pray over your list each day and get ready to see progress!

90 days from tomorrow is December 13. By the time you get through the holidays, you will be ready to repeat the process!

How Can You Start Today?

Letitia (Tish) Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger (hopeforthebest.org) and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat) and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of moritz320 at Pixabay.com and free-printable-calendar.com.

Wednesday
Oct192016

5 Questions to Decide What Deserves Your Time

In this Time Management UPGRADE, Julie Sanders helps us consider something we all have a lot of, but often misuse—our time.

"On a full plate, not everything is equal," Julie says. "The more options, the more important it is to decide what deserves our time. How can we plan for our priorities?"

The more I (Dawn) talk to women, the more I realize how full those plates are. My own is overflowing and needs some paring down, and I have to tell you – Julie's tips here really help!

Julie continues . . .

Your plate may overflow with feedings and laundry, deadlines and events, or presentations and correspondence. If we start each day hoping important things rise to the top, we risk drowning in a flash flood of urgency and emergency.

Whatever the parts of our busy life, we can’t afford not to plan to make our priorities first. Being in the place where we need to plan is a good place to be.

By learning to count time, measure resources and compare the weight of work, we learn wisdom. The Psalmist said, So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Counterfeit priorities will beg for attention with a simple knock at the door or chime of the phone.

Ask 5 questions to plan for the main things to take the main chunk of your time and attention. First things first.

1. What can only I do?

Some tasks require my attention. Only I can be my husband’s wife and mother my children. When God directs me to a hurting person, only I can respond in the moment.

But I am not meant to answer every problem or be the savior for every need. Can someone else meet the need?

2. What can someone else do?

When we delegate a duty to someone else, we wisely use our time. I don’t have to do every load of laundry, return every call, teach every lesson or pray for every need.

Since resources are limited, I’ve learned to let go and let others share the load.

3. What can wait?

Someone else’s poor planning does not constitute an emergency for my schedule.

It may feel good to be the “answer” to a trauma, but being swept away by the urgent requires saying “no” to other things of value. Some things can wait. When weighing a request or responsibility, ask, “Can it wait?” 

4. What can be a process?

Deadlines present opportunities to plan ahead. Choose a tool that works for you to schedule times to make progress, and resist letting longer term projects turn into last minute problems.

5. What matters most to God?

When deciding what deserves our time, consider what matters most to God. What does He consider a “priority” and what can take a back seat or fall away?

This means priorities are constantly changing, in light of how God guides our steps, including the people He brings into our lives.

Hold tightly to what God cares about, but hold loosely to the order of business on your planner.

After all, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We don’t know how many days we have. We do know each will be 24 hours, with 365 in every year. We can’t hope or plan to do it all.

First plan your priorities and your priorities will happen first.

Is the way you spend your time a real reflection of your real priorities? How could you plan to put first things first?

NOTE: Julie created an Alphabet Priorities printable bookmark—a helpful tool for sorting through what matters most. It's available here and here.

Julie Sanders speaks and writes with seasoned wisdom. Since moving to the Northwest with her husband, Julie is numbering her days in a new season of life. As the director of early learning programs across nearly 16,000 square miles of urban and rural country, she has daily opportunities to put first things first and live out God’s priorities. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”