Time with Friends

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Life has felt harried and hectic for so long that I can hardly remember a time that I truly enjoyed a moment without a long list of to-do’s distracting my focus.

Until today, that is. I stopped by to drop off a few things for a friend, and stayed for tea, pumpkin cheesecake, and good company.

I didn’t sit at her table and think of a million other things that needed to be done. I didn’t sit at her table and try to mentally balance my checkbook, or worry about my most recent marketing attempt, or the next truck coming in.

I got to enjoy the conversation, the tea, and the treat without worry and distraction.

When I got back home, feeling refreshed and joyful, I had some soul-searching to do. It’s not that I suddenly have nothing to do. It’s not that I’m at my leisure 24/7. But I am seeing clearly that it is possible to have too much to do. It is possible to chase so much of the wrong stuff (maybe good stuff, but not the best stuff) that we can’t enjoy what we have.

Friends, tea with each other is the best stuff (or coffee, or smoothies, or cake). Muddy kids playing on a warm January day is the best stuff. Creating, crafting, writing… this is the best stuff.

We don’t have to agree about what is best – what matters is that we sift through the noise, the chaos, and cultural expectations to figure out what our own personal version of the best stuff is.

I’m going to pursue more of the best stuff. More time with the people I love, family & friends, more time creating, more time focused.

I’ve found that pursuing the best stuff postures my heart to worship God moment by moment. When I’m not mired in too much of the wrong stuff, I can see God more clearly and worship Him more freely.

I think I’ll write in the morning about how God has been speaking to me about worship lately.

Until next time,
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I decided to start.

After missing church a week ago because of being stuck in the hospital, I was very ready to go to service yesterday, and it was a good one. I just checked, and it hasn’t been posted yet, but you should be able to find it here: http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch in the next day or two. Our current series is called “My Story”. As a writer, the title caught my eye right away, and the message caught my heart just as quickly.

Pastor Craig challenged us to start a new discipline, something to positively impact our daily lives, to help us live the story God wants us to tell. The first thing that came to mind is the dishes. Making a conscious decision to not go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink (or on the counter, or hiding in the oven!) I’ve been thinking about this habit lately, because we are about to embark on the home schooling journey once more, and organization is essential (in my opinion) for staying on task with school.

And the dishes have a big part to do with my being able to stay organized. See, when the dishes are done, I seem to be able to tackle other tasks, but when the dishes pile up, soon I am overwhelmed by dishes, laundry, clutter, dirty floors, dirty bathrooms and bedrooms, and I don’t know where to start and so I never do. Then the house is a mess, I’m stressed, and I start taking it out on the kids. Bad cycle.

But if I do the dishes every night, then when I wake up I can do a load of laundry, pick up the floor and sweep, wipe down the bathroom, and the house looks decent. I am less stressed. I play with the kids more. My love comes home to a happy baby momma and happy kids. Good cycle.

Yet, I was downplaying all of this and even telling myself that the dishes are not a spiritual enough goal for this discipline thing. Pastor Craig said we could only pick 1 new habit to start…so that quickly abolished my list of 15 “I will instantly become super woman” new disciplines. And along with abolishing that list of 15, it wiped out the “It’s day three, and I’ve already failed everything on the list” that was sure to happen, too.

I got to have a great conversation with my bestie yesterday, and we were talking about church and I told her about my dishes dilemma. And how silly it felt to say I’m going to do the dishes every single night before bed. I admitted how I felt like it wasn’t a spiritual enough discipline to start, especially since the inspiration was a message from church. Then, because she knows me so well, she reminded me that I know how many good things come from this one good habit, and that with such a long list of good things, the enemy wants me to think it’s not the right goal. Because let’s face it, if I put away today’s messes at bed time, and start tomorrow off on the right foot, then I am better equipped to receive grace, and give grace, and love like God wants me to. I won’t be weighed down by yesterday’s dirty dishes, and that helps me face today’s many messes.

So, my small new discipline is the dishes. I started last night. You know what happened this morning? I got up at 4:30 (like usual) and tackled another huge mess. And I’m writing, before the kids are awake. And it’s just really nice to not have a massive pile of dishes to work around when it comes to facing today.

What new discipline can you start in your life to help you tell the story God wants you to tell?

Overcoming Excuses

I’ve been trying to determine what separates the dreamer from the do-er, in writing, in parenting, marriage, and all other aspects of life. What is the difference between someone with a head full of great ideas, and someone who accomplishes great things?

I have an answer. But I don’t like it, because it is the type of answer that requires action on my part. Do you want to know what my answer is?

Excuses.

That’s it. I mean, that’s a pretty big “it”, but that’s really, it. You see, I have an entire list of them. This morning, I’m up early enough to write, and work out, before my boys get up for the day. I’m also up early enough to go back to sleep for a few hours. And I’m very pregnant…like counting down the last 4-ish weeks until baby’s debut. So, I should get to go back to sleep. It’s only “fair”, right?

But I have this idea in my head of how I want to do life, and somehow, making excuses always hinders that idea. I know, living life by a to-do list can be dangerous if we lose sight of the people and priorities, but living life with excuses is dangerous too. I’m much more productive, and in turn, much more pleased with my daily life if I am somewhat “on task”.

I know that not everything I want to get done will get done every day, but how can I break the habit of making excuses?

First, identify the difference between an excuse and a reason to put off a task. This morning, for example, I laid in bed for an hour, unable to sleep, before I got up. I’ve been up for an hour, but am just now getting started on my to-do list. I was not tired until I sat down to work, but now I have that “I’m pregnant, the boys are asleep, I can do it later” wheel of excuses going through my head.

This is different, in my opinion, than the other afternoon…let me explain. I had just been home from the hospital for a day and a half. We went to the store and got a few groceries, and by the time we got home I was exhausted. No, going to the store would not, under normal circumstances be that taxing. But I have been pretty sick with my asthma recently, and while I’m doing significantly better, it does take a bit to recover. Putting my feet up and resting was a good idea in this case.

So, this morning I’m just making excuses. What can I do to change this cycle?

For me, the first thing is visualize what I want. I want my work to be finished, so that I am free to “nest” the rest of the day – I have some cleaning and organizing that I really want to finish today. Taking a nap right now will interfere with all of the above. Knowing this is not changing my droopy eyelids, however. So, my next step is to energize. I have not had breakfast yet, so I’m going to have a bowl of cereal, and get a cup of warm tea going. Plus, I’ll probably switch the laundry to help me elevate my heart rate, and therefore combat the physical feeling of sluggishness.

Is this easy? Heck no! Easy is taking my sleepy headed self back to my bed, and curling up for the next two hours. But I want an organized, clean home, and I want to teach my boys to be productive. My laziness does not clean, organize or teach well.

How do you overcome excuses, so that your vision of what you want lines up with what you are actually doing?