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In The Life (Part 4: Ten Simple Principles to Live By)

Welcome to Part 4 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’re chatting about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. If you missed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3, go check those out! Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

 

It didn’t happen quickly, this settling into living out what matters most. The journey has been just that – a journey (…and the journey is far from over!). Your journey will have its own twists and turns, its own flavor. And as I look back through my day-to-day decisions, I’ve realized that several simple principles tend to manage my moments. I hope these will bless you! (Take what works for you and chat with God about it. He’s the best Source we could ever have!

#1: Time with God doesn’t just happen at 6am (or whenever) for an allotted block of time. It’s a relationship. It’s ongoing and it doesn’t fit in a box.

#2: Tidy as you go. Yes, have times in the day that are reserved for tidying things up. But, the more we put things away as soon as we’re done with them, the less mess there is to tackle later. Also, declutter and give things away regularly. This keeps our homes uncluttered and releases the hold that stuff has on us.

#3: Create a vision and mission statement for your family and (if applicable) for your homeschool. Print and frame it to keep you on track and stay mindful of the big picture.

#4: If you’re homeschooling, don’t expect to fit the mold of a public school schedule. Spend only the amount necessary for academics. Teachers in public or private school settings must consider things like a bell schedule, waiting on some kids to catch up, transitioning between classrooms, preset curricula often determined by someone else, and managing 20-30 children or teens with varying personalities, quirks, and learning styles. As a homeschooling parent, you can go more quickly because there’s less waiting time and more opportunity to individualize your child’s education to their needs and interests. It’s different. It’s okay.

#5: Make leftovers and keep some healthy frozen options available. And, breakfast for dinner is absolutely fine on occasion. Snacking on the weekends can totally count as mealtime too!

#6: Embrace your gifts and passions. Making time for them will give renewed vigor to other areas of your life.

#7: Every moment can be a teachable one. For your kids. And for you. Learning is (as often quoted) much more about lighting a fire rather than filling up a pail. It’s not just teaching what to think but rather how to think. I’m far more concerned about encouraging the natural inquisitiveness of my children than I am about seeing how much information they can regurgitate.

#8: You can do anything God has called you to do! [Note: I didn’t say you can do anything you may want to do!] But, if God has called you to something, He will equip you as you go.

#9: Consider the ingredients and weigh the cost. Put things into your body and mind on purpose, knowing what they are, why you’re taking them, and how they can/will affect you. You alone are responsible for the way you steward your body, soul, and spirit. The responsibility does not fall on the shoulders of a doctor, or pastor, or friend. Information is out there. Do your research. Pray. Ask God what His best is for you and your family. And pray for the freedom to continue (and take back ground where it’s been lost) to steward our bodies and minds according to God’s direction and our consciences rather than according to governmental mandates.

#10: Guard your “Yes“,  Give your “No” and Go back to your “Not Now.” Know why you’re saying yes to something and how it fits into your priorities. Give your “no” freely to anything that doesn’t fit, at least for right now. Perhaps consider it later. But remember that whatever you say yes to requires that you say no to something else. Be sure you’re willing to make that trade.

God is in the midst of our days. He sees us cleaning up messes and filing paperwork and dealing with challenging co-workers and wiping runny noses. He’s right there, longing to be a part of each moment, even (and especially!) the messy, unlikely ones.

What principles is He asking you to live by?

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In The Life (Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions)

Welcome to Part 3 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’re chatting about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, go check those out! Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

 

In every schedule, there are anchors and there are exceptions. Anchors keep us stable and grounded when everything else seems to shift. Exceptions are just the reality of life. Stuff happens. Being prepared for stuff to happen, rather than being totally shocked when it does, helps immensely!

Over time, I’ve set up anchors in my days and weeks. They are the inevitable events that I write in my schedule first, and are rarely ever cancelled.

When our foster daughter left us over 2 years ago, I realized how much I missed writing. So, I told my hubby one Friday night, “Hon, I think I might wake up early and head to Starbucks in the morning at 5am so I can write.” He nodded and said, “Okay” in way that sounded to me more like, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But that decision established a habit I maintain to this day.

So, my writing anchor means that on Wednesdays and Saturdays I’m awake at 4:40am. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I toss on clothes (whatever I can find, really) and head to my local coffee shop to write. Wednesdays are for blogging. Saturdays are for book writing or preparing for teaching, usually on the topic of identity.

I also need to have a resting anchor. So, on Sundays, I sleep in as much as my kids will allow. And since they’re 7 and 8 now, they’ve learned (thank You, Lord!) to just leave me be those mornings…well…for the most part.

And, for the past few months, I’ve traded childcare with a friend so that one day every week or two I get a full 8 hours to myself, which I devote to my most pressing work at that time: editing a book, preparing for my class, tweaking our websites, and promoting Now Found Ministries / Now Found Publishing. This is a work anchor for me, still fairly new to the schedule, but wonderful nonetheless. My kids get to have a new perspective from a friend I trust, who is also willing to do all those gross science experiments I’m happy to pass on.

These days and the habits I’ve found help me anchor my weeks and fit in those things that feed my soul, which can easily get lost in the day-to-day.

The older I get the more quickly I see a year pass by. The eternity which was the time between Christmases each year as a child now flies by with greater speed. And particular seasons mean changes in our daily routines. Here are a few exceptions throughout our year:

Pear Harvesting – We have a wonderful pear tree in our front yard that easily produces over 500 pears each year. But, the harvest time is only 1-2 months long. So, during those months (which I find myself in right now!), I have to carve out time every couple of days to peel, chop, and cook these pears. For most of the past 7 harvest seasons we’ve lived in this house, I’ve made pear sauce and frozen it in gallon bags to use throughout the year.

Advent and Holidays – Let’s be realistic… “school” in any formal sense just doesn’t happen for us in December. Family is in from out of town. There’s decorating and shopping to be done and parties to plan and attend. And, among my favorite things, we have a little advent tree to go along with our devotional by Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift. It’s a special season and I try to enjoy it with my family rather than feel guilty that we’re setting schoolwork aside.

Vacations – We usually take one long vacation each year and, in recent years, have added some long weekends here and there. We almost always road-trip and we don’t have DVD players in our car (on purpose!). It’s good family time, but our schedule goes out the window the second we pull away from our house.

Concentrated classes/lessons – These are those times when something seems to take over for a few days or even weeks. Like swimming camp that meets every day for two weeks…or when I teach a 3-week class and need to spend extra time running through my notes to prepare. Housework and homeschooling may move to the back burner or be pulled to the bare minimum. Such is life. And it works for us.

Semesters with my group – I am blessed to co-lead a weekly women’s group that meets about 30 weeks per year. My kids go to their classes at church while I have some grown-up time. This time feeds me and allows me to invest in others. And the kids have one more opportunity to see friends and learn from a fresh perspective from people I trust. It’s definitely worth scooting things around in our schedule.

Play-dates – We homeschool. That doesn’t mean we’re hermits. Easily half of my friends home educate, so there are plenty of people we see on a regular basis. Developing and deepening relationships with friends matters!

Illness or “I just have to have a day off” days – Then there are just “those” days. Maybe one of the kids is sick. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve just reached mental or emotional burnout and we need to take a break. Since we homeschool year-round, I don’t sweat taking a day off here or there. We may just need to relocate our school time to a new location for the day. Or we may need to do something totally different. Or snuggle and watch a movie. I’ve realized it’s okay for a day or so. Then when the illness has passed or we’ve had a chance to rest, we can jump back in with greater enthusiasm.

Exceptions will always come into play. That is simply part of living. But having some anchors that bring you back after an “exceptional” circumstance will help keep priorities in their rightful place.

What are the exceptions you face in life? Do they tend to derail you or add flavor to your life?

What helps anchor your schedule and protect your priorities?

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In The Life (Part 2: My Typical Day)

Welcome to Part 2 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’ll chat about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

 

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the proper placement of priorities. But where do we go from there? How do we take the vision and turn it into a mission, executed in day-to-day living?

As for a typical mid-week day…my kids and I use a flexible schedule that I’ve tweaked many times over the years to our present needs. I think in terms of blocks of time rather than a down-to-the-minute agenda. Here’s a look at our typical, daily rhythm (at least for the moment):

Before 7am – Everyone’s up…ideally having some quiet time…and our kids work on their “lists” (age-appropriate responsibilities…such as making their beds, emptying the dishwasher, taking out recycling, and wiping down their bathroom).

7-7:30am – Family breakfast

7:30-8:30am – “Bless the House” (a concept I’ve borrowed from FlyLady, which sounds much more pleasant than “chore-time”). This is when I make my bed, tidy the kitchen, do a quick declutter around our living areas, toss in a load of laundry, and remind the kids to finish their lists.

8:30-10am – My time to exercise. This is new to my schedule (at least in this time block). I’m on week 4. The at-home program I’m using lasts 3 months. I see this more as a kick-in-the-pants to up my energy and intensity. After I’m completed, I imagine this will go down to a daily 30-45 minutes which, for me, is more sustainable long-term. The kids get to play or workout with me.

10am – Snack time for all! Often during snack time we have family devotions. This could mean practicing our verse for the month (based on our family values) or discussing what God has been teaching me lately. The kids eat faster than I do, so once they’re done, I usually give them something school related to get started on, like some independent reading.

10:30am – We head over to our comfy spots in the living room and school time officially begins with our read-aloud. Currently we’re working our way through the Little House on the Prairie series, using an online unit study to dive in deeper to the many opportunities to discuss new vocabulary, science topics, geography and social studies, and to check on their general listening comprehension skills. (We also use the Five in a Row curriculum for this same sort of thing…we’re just on a break for this series.) I’m all about school-time that involves reading and snuggling.

11am – We now walk into our (brand new!) homeschool room we recently (mostly) finished, renovating a small portion of our garage. It’s a fun combination of purple walls and sleek, white counters with turquoise, polka dot chairs. I pull out our spelling curriculum (we use All About Spelling)…which also works on handwriting and listening skills. It’s meant to be used individually with each child, but since my kids are so close on their spelling levels, I teach them together and save myself 20 minutes. (Win-win!)

11:30am – Time for math. No official curriculum here. (I tend to think of us as “eclectic” homeschoolers.) We’ve used all kinds of workbooks and now I’m ready to start teaching them together (again, the blessings of having them so close in age) using logic puzzles and printable math worksheets.

12pm – Official school-time is now over. I know…simple, right? We do life together, so there are plenty of other learning opportunities on the go. And, as they get older, our formal school time will certainly be an area we expand and tweak. But, for now, this is where we’re at. Kids get to play for a bit and then must clean up their rooms and toys before we get lunch going.

12:30pm – Lunch time for the kids. I (finally) go take a shower since I’ve been teaching in my sweaty workout clothes this whole time.

1-2pm – Free time for the kiddos. Lunch time for me.

2-4pm – Naps. Yes, my elementary-aged children still take naps. Most days they last about an hour, and then they can play in their rooms quietly. This is my time to either be super productive and write or edit, call a friend and catch up, or totally veg out and watch TV.

4pm-6:30pm – This is our most varied time of day. Sometimes, we’ll run errands. Sometimes it’s a free-for-all time to play or read. Sometimes I actually cook dinner.

6:30pm (or thereabouts) – We eat dinner as a family and the kids get ready for bed.

8pm – Our ideal bedtime for the kids. Sometimes it’s earlier, sometimes later. But this is our ballpark range. Then Steve and I chat a bit, perhaps have a snack and relax for an hour or two before it’s our bedtime.

That’s our schedule, for now at least. It’s changed more times than I can count and it, certainly, will change again. But having a rhythm to work with rather than just winging-it is a huge help to me as I try to make sure we get the important things done.

And yet, I’ve found that the schedule itself isn’t nearly important as is my Source. If I’m just going through the motions of our schedule – without tapping into God regularly, chatting inwardly with Him, taking the time to jot down gifts in my gratitude journal – then I burn out…fast.

Some days I start off great, fully ready to dive into all that’s on the agenda, but one or both of my kids require…ahem…a little more focus on character development that day. If I’m only focused on the short-term agenda, it feels like we’ve totally derailed. But, if I keep in mind our big picture goals, the larger reasons why we homeschool (to put discipleship, practical training, and academia in their proper places…and most of all to help our kids hear the Voice of God for themselves) then I see the value of those interrupted moments (or hours).

It’s all about my Source. Who or what am I relying upon to walk through today? Who or what are you relying on?

The schedule will change. The ebbing and flowing of life necessitates that. But the Source is what remains secure, anchoring the years and seasons and moments.

 

Continue reading Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions to see what keeps me secure in my priorities when the stuff of life tries to sway me.

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In The Life (Part 1: Priorities)

Welcome to Part 1 of a 4-part series called “In The Life.” I’d like to share a bit about priorities, balancing, and what life looks like for me right now. We’ll chat about putting first things first and some simple principles to live by. Feel free to jump in the conversation and share what your days look like. Thanks for joining me here!

Let’s get started…

Perusing the posts in a writer’s group, I came across a question: Does anyone balance small business, homeschooling, homemaking, writing, and fitness? If so, how? Boy, do I relate!

How can we possibly do it all? Well, honestly, we can’t. At least, not all at once. I’ve found my life ebbs and flows with priorities. Over recent months I’ve felt guilty, like I’m failing in all the important areas of life: relationships with God, my husband, kids, and caring for my own health. After reading an amazing little article by Kat Lee on just this subject, I took a step back. She wisely suggested creating your top 5 list of priorities and retreating to #1 when everything seems to be out of whack, flowing downward from there as each relationship gets in line. I’m in a season where I’m focused on #1 and #2, while still (obviously) maintaining the others as I get my feet under me again. Here are my Top 5:

1. Following God
2. Living Healthy (mentally, emotionally, physically)
3. Loving Steven
4. Discipling My Kids
5. Ministry and Extended Relationships

[Side-Note: For me, I’ve found that if I put “living healthy” further down the list, it simply doesn’t happen. And then it’s harder to love my hubby, disciple my kids, and encourage anyone else. Putting it at #2 (rather than #4) simply makes everything flow, so that the energy and attitude I’ve gained can appropriately feed into the vital relationships I have in my life.]

So what exactly do these brief phrases entail?

FOLLOWING GOD: This refers to the time I spend hanging out with my Savior, listening to His voice, diving in His Word, allowing Him to search me and sift through my stuff. Practically speaking, this time encompasses reading the Bible, writing in my gratitude journal, journaling out my conversations with God, and chatting with Him throughout my day.

LIVING HEALTHY: This is my body-soul section. Included here: exercise, tracking nutrition, taking thoughts captive to the truth of Christ, processing my emotions, recognizing and renouncing lies I’ve believed, speaking life-giving words, etc. This is where my flesh has to be put in its subordinate place to my spirit, which is connected to the Spirit.

LOVING STEVE: My husband has quirks and preferences and his own ways of receiving love. So, loving him can include a multitude of things: sending him a random “I’m thinking about you” text in the middle of the day, keeping those areas decluttered that matter most to him, listening to what he points out and keeping it in mind, being ready to help him on projects around the house, being fully present to him when we have time alone together…basically just considering his wants and needs and keeping my respect for him at the forefront.

DISCIPLING MY KIDS: I’m not only my kids’ mom. I’m also their schoolteacher and a primary life example. My main goals in raising up these lives entrusted to me include: teaching them to love and serve God and others, hear and obey the voice of the Lord, and prepare them spiritually, academically, and practically for life. So, as you’ll see in an upcoming post about our daily schedule, our “official school-time” may seem brief, but truthfully, learning never takes a break.

MINISTRY & EXTENDED RELATIONSHIPS: This is everything else of importance to me: teaching at my church, writing and blogging, co-leading a women’s group, investing in friendships and family members, working on our business, etc. This category experiences a lot of shifting with seasons and changes in life circumstances. And yet, this one is tough because if I’m not careful, it can completely take over the steering wheel in my life, driving in first place, if I don’t keep first things first. These are important things, but not as important as my relationships with God, Steve, and my children.

My days of late have taken on a new shape. But I know this is a season. Some habits will continue, others will tweak a bit, and some will flake away. Life isn’t static. My ability to move throughout my day greatly depends on the age and attitude of the kids in my home and the current season and activities at the forefront.

So, know that your days will look different than mine, and that’s great! You’re different than I am, you have different priorities, goals, and circumstances. But, regardless of our unique set of circumstances, we each make the choice either to rely on SELF or rely on the SPIRIT as our SOURCE.

Bottom line: Consider your Source. Are you relying on yourself or are you relying on God? Are you relying on your expectations to be met or are you trusting God to work through any and every circumstance for your good?

 

Continue reading Part 2: My Typical Day in this series to see how this vision turns into a day-to-day mission of real life living and Part 3: Anchors & Exceptions to see those things that either shift me or keep me grounded.

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What is it WORTH to You?

It’s 5am on a Saturday…nope that wasn’t a typo…it’s 5am on a Saturday and I’m the crazy lady sitting at Starbucks.  You might be asking “why”…but more than likely, you’re asking, “why aren’t you in bed, crazy lady?”  And even worse, I have less than four hours of sleep under my belt.

So why?  Why am I NOT in bed?  The very basic answer is that I’ve chosen to sacrifice those extra hours of sleep for something greater: a chance to have uninterrupted time to write and hang out with God for two-and-a-half hours before my family is even awake.  For a mom with two young children, 5am on a Saturday is a haven to me!

This is Part 4 in the Right Priorities series.  So far, we’ve looked at submitting to God’s direction in picking our priorities, choosing the great over the good and the need to focus rather than multi-task.  All of these things require something: sacrifice.  Sacrifice most often isn’t easy or convenient…it’s costly, it requires something from us.  And saying “yes” to something requires that we must say “no” to something else.

How are you at saying “no”?  How do you feel when you have to say “no” to something?

When I was nineteen years old, I recommitted my life to Jesus…oddly enough at a Starbucks! (No I’m not a paid endorser…just never doubt where God will move and change a life!)  As I sat there chatting with God on paper, I felt the need to lay down my very real dream of pursuing a career as a professional musician.  I knew the reason was, at least in part, because I had that dream for very selfish intentions…to make myself known.  But God was asking me to lay down that prideful ambition and instead set my life on a new course, with a new purpose…to make Him known!

I genuinely thought I was totally giving up music forever, my one true passion in life at that time.  I figured I would somehow have to be satisfied to just sing along in my car for the rest of my life.  And as the next couple of years passed, that’s exactly what I did while God gave me crazy amounts of time to soak in His Word and His Presence.  I fell in love with Him!

I felt led to attend seminary after receiving my bachelor’s degree.  While in Denver for a visit to my soon-to-be school, the young man guiding myself and my sweet friend who was applying with me started asking questions about our personal interests and such.  When I told him the story of handing up my musical dream, his mouth quirked slightly and he said, “Don’t be surprised if God gives music back to you someday.”

At the time, I totally disregarded his statement.  I KNEW that wouldn’t happen (sigh…now I can smile at my naiveté.)  A couple more years passed.  In that time I got married to my unbelievably amazing husband, we moved a time or two and we found a new home church.  God opened a door for me to join the worship team and one weekend, to have a solo which, I felt, began to break down those walls of doubt.  He gave me music back, in His way, in His timing, for His purpose…not mine.

Time keeps ticking away and God keeps giving me music time and time again.  We moved back to Texas after our son was born and our church was offering incredibly inexpensive group guitar lessons.  That was a dream I’d nearly given up on…hauling around a guitar I’d had for twelve years.  But four years ago, I took those lessons and saw God do a new thing with music in my life.  I have the immense honor of leading the fabulous women in my regular Bible study in worship along with another wonderful friend of mine.  And I LOVE it!!

When I handed God my dream, I thought that meant I would never see it again in a significant way.  But instead, when I said “yes” to following God and “no” to following myself, God returned music to me in a way that both honors Him and which I completely love.  

And…He gave me a NEW DREAM!  That new dream is why I’m the crazy lady sitting at Starbucks at 5am on a Saturday: to touch the lives of others through the written word.  And that is worth it to me to sacrifice a little sleep.  God has shown me His faithfulness when I’ve handed Him my life’s dream.  For His dream for me, I am happy to give Him something in return so that I can walk that journey with Him.

What is God asking you to set aside for His greater purpose?  What’s it worth to you?

 

This is Part 4 in the Right Priorities series.  Check out the rest of the series: Picking My Priorities, Battling Time and Confessions of a Multi-Tasker.

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Confessions of a Multi-Tasker

Yesterday, I was in the front yard, trimming bushes and cleaning out the flower beds with my phone stuck in my pocket.  In a span of ten minutes, I received two text messages and a phone call…my mom saying she wasn’t able to watch my kiddos this upcoming week, an out-of-town friend asking to meet up that afternoon while she was briefly nearby and my husband asking if I could run an important errand that day.  My hands, covered in dirt, pulled out the phone time and again to talk and reply while my mind buzzed about thinking about all the implications: I’ll need to go to plan B with my kids on the day I’d hoped for babysitting, I’ll need to rework both my morning plans to be able to run that errand and my afternoon plans in order to see my friend.  All the while, my kids are playing inside, then outside, having snacks and calling my name randomly for various questions.

During that hour or so of yard work, I wore so many hats, it’s ridiculous, and yet that’s pretty typical in a day of Courtney.  I was “home-maker”…I was doing something physical on purpose since I’d missed my chance to exercise earlier that morning…I was “mom” and “cook” and “teacher” (“pull the weeds up by the root, son”)…I was “daughter”…I was “wife”…I was “friend”…And thankfully it all worked out just fine, but it was a very full day and a fairly stressful couple of hours while I adjusted to changes in plans and attempted to motivate my kids to adjust as well.

Every time I had an incoming call or message, I had to set down the rake or the hedge clippers.  The bushes were put on temporary hold while I handled the immediate and struggled to shift my mental focus.  Thankfully the bushes don’t have feelings and aren’t too bothered when they get ignored.  But when I attempt to do that same kind of multi-tasking in the face of my kids requiring my attention, it’s a different story.  

It’s so difficult in this culture that often expects us to be constantly accessible to set down the thing in my face currently demanding my attention in order to intentionally focus on the thing just beyond, but infinitely more important.

When two or more separate things simultaneously require my attentiveness, my decision-making or my problem solving, I have to choose between them or pretty much guarantee that my attention, decision or solving will be sub-par.  It’s totally fine for my shrubbery to be sub-par, but it’s not okay to let my husband or my kids down when they need me.  Yes, my kids do need to mature in their ability to be patient if their request isn’t urgent, which is why we’re teaching them to say “excuse me” and wait for us to respond.  But, I also want their memories of me to be more along the lines of “My mom was attentive and emotionally available to me” rather than “my mom seemed distant and distracted a lot while I was growing up.”

So, let me ask: Is multi-tasking helping you make the most of your time, or is it actually stealing time from your priorities?  Do you find yourself struggling to maintain focus on a single task?  What might that be costing you in the long-run?

 

This is the third post in the Right Priorities series.  Check out the previous posts: Picking My Priorities and Battling Time!

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Picking My Priorities

“What matters most to you?”  When someone asks me this question, I give the answer: “my relationships with God, my husband and my children.”  Now, doesn’t that sound sweet?  Isn’t that the “right” answer?  I now imagine what would happen if that person then asked me to prove it.  How do I prove that these relationships are the most important things to me…my greatest priorities in life??

A priority is a thing that is regarded as more important than another (or so my helpful little dictionary tells me!)  So, in my mind, I consider that my relationships are more important than, say, being on time for my weekly bible study or doing the laundry or, even sleep, ouch!  In my thoughts, this is what is true.  But, do my actions prove it?

My actions may actually prove the exact opposite if I’m not intentional about prioritizing my priorities!  Sleep may take priority over my time with God in the mornings.  Obsessing over the laundry and the “need to clean” may take priority over spending time with my hubby at the end of a long day.  Rushing my kids in a tense, no-nonsense voice places my desire for punctuality over my relationship with my kiddos.  (Feeling the conviction over here!)

What do your actions reveal about your true priorities?  And what does that say about who you are?

And here’s another thought to toss in the mix: do your priorities line up with God’s priorities for you?  God has priorities for your life, specific responsibilities that are yours…that He has designed and equipped you for uniquely!

Paul told the Corinthians “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

So, God won’t give us more than we are able to handle…AND…He will give us a way of escape from the temptation to go down the wrong path.  Great!  Then why do so many of us end up with more than we can handle?  If God didn’t give a task to us, that means we just went and picked up something on our own.  Somewhere along the way, we decided something looked too good to resist, or we felt obligated to take on a new responsibility. We didn’t stop to ask God His thoughts on the matter…we just figured we could handle it.

Part of the difficulty of living within our priorities is that we take on things because they seem urgent, interesting or required.  We feel guilted into making a decision, or fearful that we’ll miss our chance.  But God doesn’t work via guilt-trips or fear.  He just doesn’t!  He does, however, happily and freely give direction and wisdom when we ask for it.

So, if you give prioritized time to things that are on your plate due to fear or a sense of guilt, talk to God about His plan of escape for you.  Ask Him what His priorities are for your life right now.   What can you let go of that will make more room in your life for your actual priorities?

 

* This is the first post of the Right Priorities series.  Keep watching for more on what challenges we face and must overcome in getting our priorities right!