Friday, November 13, 2015

Pay Attention People

“Pay Attention People!” This was my thought, or rather rant, this morning as I sat in my car in line at a fast food restaurant for breakfast and those in line in front of me were not pulling ahead as quickly as I thought they should. I realized I tend to think this quite often in different situations. 

It was suggested in a book I read this week to pray each morning before even getting out of bed and to ask God, “What do you want me to do today?” And then just wait for Him to answer. As I picked up my breakfast and began my drive to work, God answered that prayer. “What do I want you to do today? Pay attention, Donna.” I began to consider how many times I want to rant “Pay Attention People” and then considered how many times God must want to shout the same thing to us, “Pay Attention People”. 

So what was I to pay attention to? 

I noticed the beautiful sky with the sun breaking through the clouds on my right and a clear blue sky to my left. “Thank you, God.” I thought of the crazy day awaiting me at work and remembered how great it was I had a job. I remembered the thrill I felt this week when my son passed his teacher certification test and then received an opportunity to begin coaching. “Thank you, God.” 

As I contemplated paying attention, I listened closer to the words in the song playing on the radio. So many times I just sing along to the tunes I enjoy without paying close attention to the details of the lyrics. The melodies I love became more than just a song. They became the prayer of my heart. “Thank you, God.” 

The man that arrived at work at the same time I did was excited to open the door for me. He is such a pleasure to work with. “Thank you, God.” Amidst deadlines and mounds of paperwork that could not possibly be handled in one day, I was blessed by God. I just needed to “Pay Attention”. 

Do you ever find yourself wanting to scream “Pay Attention People”? Maybe you are not as impatient or overly meticulous as me. Sometimes a “Pay Attention” may be warranted and sometimes not. But I’m sure with God, we (or at least I) always need the reminder. 

So – “Pay Attention People” to what God wants you to do today. You will be blessed. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Home Remodel, Life Remodel - Catch the Vision

The past two weekends have been spent remodeling the toilet closet in our master bathroom. My husband has done most all the work. I have spent more time on Pinterest than normal. So much fun! Almost done!

I now have great plans for redoing the upstairs. It’s fun to plan, make lists, set a timeline, etc. Whenever my husband goes out of town for more than a night, I redo something at home. I have rearranged furniture, painted, wallpapered, hung new pictures, and made new drapery. The longer he is gone, the more extensive the project. Good thing he doesn’t travel much.

With my home projects, I have a vision of the end in mind. I make plans, and I tweak along the way. The project consumes me. I dwell on it, rearrange it, research it. My plans for the upstairs project have started spilling over into the downstairs. Now if my husband will just get on with his trip. 

I started thinking about the vision for my life. Where do I want to be in the future? What do I want to accomplish? I need to see the vision.

I want a vision of the outcome in my life. Then I can back into the steps I need to take to get there. The steps need to have a purpose and not just be a checklist to cross off.  I need to accomplish A to get to B to get to C to eventually get to where I want to be. Purpose, fulfillment, calling. What’s the timeline?

I have set goals at the beginning of the year like read 25 books a year. But why? What books? For what purpose?  I want to read through the Bible in a year. But why? To say I did or because it’s the thing to do? I want to spend more time in prayer and reading scripture? But why? When? How long?  What purpose? What’s the vision?

Catch the vision. Dwell on it. Rearrange it. Research it. Set a timeline, start it, and complete it. Then start a new project. Fulfill, repeat. Never stop.

Don’t wait until next January for a new year. Start now--this month, this week, today. Maybe even this hour or the next few minutes.  

What’s your vision? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Can You Keep a Secret?


My daughter has two little boys and is due in July with our first granddaughter. She put nesting into overdrive from about month 4 through 8 and remodeled her home herself by painting walls, painting kitchen-bathroom-laundry room cabinets, resurfacing the kitchen and bathroom countertops , framing mirrors, and decorating. (Okay, her husband helped some. I know he did the ceilings.) She then cleaned her house top to bottom. Now she enters her last month understandably exhausted.

So last week her 8 year old son decided to pose the question of how babies are made. She had made the comment that mommy and daddy made him and his brother and now his sister. So he wanted to know how? She explained to him that when mommies and daddies get married, God allows them to make babies, and they grew in the mommy’s tummy. “But how?” He pushed for a little more than a generalized answer, but she really didn’t feel he was ready for the details. She told him, “It’s a secret.” She told him he could know the secret when he is older. He thought that was kind of cool.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

You Can Have it All

If only I could do this (you fill in the blank), then I could have this (you fill in the blank). How many times have each of us said something similar? If only this, then that. But what then? 

We can have so much more. 

Matthew 9:20-21, “And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, ‘IF ONLY I may touch His garment, (then) I shall be made well.’’ 

If only . . . then.                   But what then?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Pastor is Perfect -- Is Yours?

When I was 19, I became a pastor’s wife. He was still in school but already pastoring a church. When he preached, you knew there was a calling on his life. But Satan knew it too. 

Do you ever feel like your pastor is perfect? While we might all admit we don’t believe our pastor is perfect, we probably like to think he is. We don’t want to know that our pastor deals with temptations to sin. We don’t want to know that he struggles when making decisions. After all, he is the pastor and knows the answers. He is the one who shares those answers with us each week. Yes, let’s just leave our pastor up on the nice pedestal we have built for him, and let him be flawless. 

The truth is no one, not even our church pastor, is perfect. 

Elijah was the prophet that stood against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. God rained down fire, and Elijah had the false prophets killed. And then depression set in after such a glorious outpouring of God’s power. How would you feel if you found out your pastor struggled with depression?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Descending the Mountain into the Valley

Last weekend we climbed the mountain from Texas to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina as I attended this year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. The conference is full of education and encouragement and awesome worship. It is an experience of spending time with God on the mountain both physically and spiritually.

Mile after mile of our drive from Texas the anticipation grew, and the thrill became more intense. I met with publishers and agents pitching my current project. They expressed genuine interest and gave me advice on next steps. Friends were made and contacts were shared. Knowledge was imparted by the faculty, and God was speaking.

I sat in classes where we did writing exercises. Volunteers would read what they had written in the moment. I was amazed at some of the on-the-spot writing. I learned about blogging and consistency in theme. And then it started--those thoughts of self-doubt and worth. So many wrote with such eloquence and consistency that I considered going home to delete all my blogs and start over.

The voice of encouragement was that I have some good ideas. The voice of discouragement was can I write? There it was: the voice of comparison of which I had been warned. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The 66 Verse Challenge

Today I started a 66 verse challenge. No, this is not a memory challenge. Each day I am choosing a favorite verse from each book of the Bible. 

Some days will be harder than others for two different reasons. 

1. There are many books containing familiar promises where it will be hard to choose one.
2. There are some books giving history, names, and numbers where it may be hard to choose even one. 

Either way, they are all God’s word, so every book has something for me.  

Today I chose Genesis 6:8 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” 

This isn’t the only verse in Genesis that I love or that stands out to me, but I had to choose one. I am thankful for God’s grace. Noah found grace and was saved from the flood. We have found grace through God’s love by His sending Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. We are saved by God’s grace. 

Scripture says that God has placed great value on His word and that His word never returns void. The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Each temptation was countered with scripture showing the importance of knowing scripture. This is why I strongly believe in knowing God’s word by placing it in our heart, our spiritual jewelry box.

Will you join me in this challenge? Today is Genesis. What’s a favorite verse of yours from this first book of the Bible? 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Benefits of Procrastination

What does procrastination accomplish? You might say nothing, but I beg to differ. I get a lot done when I procrastinate. 

This morning I decided I was going to quit putting off working on the next chapter of my book. No more procrastination. So I sat down at my computer and checked my email and Facebook so those things wouldn’t be a distraction once I started writing. 

Then I remembered there was a load of laundry in the dryer that I needed to remove. As I walked past the kitchen sink, I realized there were a few dishes there that needed to be put in the dishwasher. I glanced at the clock on the way back to my computer and remembered I needed to call my daughter to let her know we were coming by this afternoon. Then one of the cats looked up at me with pleading eyes, so I made sure they had fresh food and water (as if they ever go without). I noticed a couple of spots on the kitchen floor near the cat bowl, so I cleaned those up and considered cleaning the entire floor. But the only thing worse than procrastinating on writing is mopping the kitchen floor, so I came back to the computer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Emotional Prayer

An exercise in writing about my emotions brought me to an exercise in prayer. I read a writing tip today about showing emotion in our writing. It challenged me to think of the last time I was truly angry and describe in words how I felt. So I decided to try several emotions. As I listed my feelings, God began to show me how each one affects my prayer life. I’ll share a few of the emotions I listed.

Fear

There are different types of fear, but overall when confronted with fear, I can’t eat. My stomach flip-flops, and I want to throw up. I can’t sleep. I feel weak and alone.

During times of fear, prayer is a lifeline. God is my only place to turn.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Time Management - Does God Care? Part 5 of 5

There are many great books written about time management that share great wisdom, but the best time management principles come from God’s word. I have to stop and ask myself if I am more likely to search for man’s time management tips or God’s wisdom. Am I more likely to read man’s wisdom or God’s?

There is a great illustration you may have seen using a jar of rocks. When small rocks are added to the jar first, the large ones don’t fit. But if the large ones are placed in first, the small ones can fill in around the larger ones. The principle is placing the large rocks, those truly important things, in the jar of our life first. 

Sometimes we think we don’t have time to take everything out of our jar and start over. So I propose another illustration. Our lives are like jars full of salt. There isn’t room for anything else. But if we seek God first, the Holy Spirit will pour into our lives just like hot water added to our jar of salt. He will dissolve what doesn’t need to be there, and everything else will begin to absorb His leading. I promise your life won’t overflow by adding time for God and His word. God is the author of time, so He is the best resource for time management.

I posed the question to my husband, “What would God’s Time Management plan look like?” He said, “A lot different than ours because God has eternity.” So do we. What will you do now that will affect eternity? What will change in how you use your time that will impact the life of someone else? What is your purpose? Are you prepared to be flexible? When is the last time you withdrew early? You can win at time management.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time Management - Does God Care? Part 4 or 5

The third time management alarm is to withdraw to win early. I like to win, so this one is important.

Jesus withdrew to pray and seek God’s direction. We see this when John the Baptist died, before calling the disciples, and when seeking God for specific direction.

When we withdraw early, we give God our first time when our day begins. As I searched scripture for God’s time management principles, I looked up mornings. Over and over I saw examples from scripture of those that not only started their day in the morning, but early in the morning. From Abraham to Abimelech to Isaac, Jacob, Laban, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and David, they all got up early.

The Psalms tell us to talk to God in the morning, joy comes in the morning, pray in the morning, sing to God, cry for help, and listen to God in the morning. Mark 1:35 tells us Jesus prayed not just in the morning, not just early in the morning, but very early in the morning.

God impressed on my heart that I needed to give Him my first time. Just like the principle of the tithe being our first fruits, my time with God should start with my first time. I’ve heard it said in relation to finances that God can do more with my 90% than I can do with 100%. This is also true of our time. We can’t say we don’t have time. God can do more with our day when we give Him our first time than we can do with it if we don’t.

Withdraw for some early time with God before anything else. Tell Him what is on your plate for the day and ask for his direction and how to arrange it for His glory. A friend of mine gave wise advice, “Start the day with prayer and some scripture, or you might as well go back to bed.”

This is the most important alarm. Starting your day with God is where we find our purpose and align our motivation. Early time with God is where we surrender to His plans and priorities. Early time with God is where we hear His voice and become flexible to His leading. When we withdraw to spend time with God early each day, we win. I want to win every day.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Time Management - Does God Care? Part 3 of 5

The second time management alarm is being prepared to be flexible.

I don’t like wearing shoes. I don’t wear shoes at home, and I drive barefoot. I’ve been known to grab my shoes on the way out the door and put them on when I get to my destination. My son played soccer when he was younger, and I drove him to his games. One particular day, we were in a hurry and ran out the door to drive to his game about 45 minutes from our house. Once we got there, he grabbed his things and ran out onto the field for warm ups. As I reached for my shoes, I discovered they weren’t there. They were sitting by the door at home. So there I sat barefoot on the bleachers in my jeans and a jacket as a cold front moved in. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed. Things like this happen when we are in a hurry.

God is a God of order. In Genesis 1, creation was orderly. Scripture tells us God is not a god of confusion and all things should be done decent and in order. It also tells us to be diligent and do our best.

As our ongoing example, Jesus was prepared. We see Him as a boy in the temple listening and asking questions. Scripture tells us He increased in wisdom and in favor with God. He spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted and preparing for His ministry. He prayed daily for God’s direction.

As Jesus was prepared for His ministry, we need to be prepared also. Part of being prepared is not wasting time. I used to have a dream that my alarm sounded, I got up, took a shower, put on my makeup, dried my hair, styled my hair, got dressed, and then my alarm sounded for real. I felt like it had all been a waste of time. I had to get up and do it all again.

Getting ready in the morning is something we have to do over again every day, but it isn’t a waste of time. We all have things in our lives that do waste time. The biggest waste of time is disobedience. Jonah wasted 3 days in the belly of the fish. He knew His purpose, but he wasted time due to his disobedience. This relates to the first alarm of not only knowing what God wants us to do, but then being obedient to do it.

God wants our time to be His. While we should go into each day prepared, the most important thing we can do is to be flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don’t start the day saying, “God, here are my plans. Please bless them.” Instead we start the day saying, “God, here is my day. I am prepared, but rearrange it for your glory.”

Following God’s plan means being flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is a balance of being prepared and flexibility. We can’t be flexible to God’s plans without first being prepared.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Time Management - Does God Care? Part 2 of 5

The first time management alarm is purpose. If we don’t know our purpose, we won’t know what is important. We will just spin our wheels.

Jesus is our best example from scripture. He knew His purpose. In Luke 4 the crowd tried to keep Jesus from leaving but He responded that He needed to preach to the other cities also because that was His purpose. In John 12 Jesus predicted His death and stated that for this purpose He came. Throughout scripture there are references to God’s purpose including Romans 8:28, Ephesians 3:11, 2 Timothy 1:9, and 1 John 3:8.

How does our purpose fit into God’s purpose? Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship created for good works that God prepared for us to do. And in 1 Corinthians 15:58 we are told that our labor is not in vain. Part of knowing our purpose is discovering how God has gifted us.

When I was younger I thought perhaps my gifting was service. I love to throw a party, help with dinners at church, plan social functions, and the like. A few years ago I took a course on individual giftedness that helped me look harder at how God has gifted me throughout my life. With the help of others, I realized my gift is in administration. What I enjoy about throwing parties and helping others with social functions is the planning and organizing and preparing. It’s not that I don’t like helping, but my true gift is in planning. Even my full time job is in the details of administration, and I love my job.  We must each seek out God’s individual purpose for our life and how that fits into His greater purpose.

Part of finding our purpose is our motivation. Again, Jesus is our example. He had the right motivation. He said in John 8:29 “I always do those things that please Him.” Scripture give us guidelines for motivation. Our motivation should not be selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3). We are to work for the Lord and not men (Colossians 3:23). We each have a unique design and respond to different motivations, but our primary motivation should be to please and glorify God.

A great summary of our purpose and motivation is found in 1 Peter 4:10-11, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God . . . with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” We use the gifts and abilities God has given us so God may be glorified. We find our purpose in His plan with the motivation of glorifying God through Jesus Christ.

God cares about our time and wants to walk through our days with us. Once we determine our purpose and motivation, then we are able to walk with God as He asked. We are to walk in love, walk in wisdom, walk as children of light, walk carefully, redeeming the time, and understanding what the will of the Lord is. How we walk is how we spend our time. God’s time management is to walk 24/7 with Him.

As we search the scriptures and seek God’s individual purpose for our lives, only then can we know our priorities. And we can’t prioritize without a priority.

Our next alarm will be Flexing our Plans.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Time Management - Does God Care?

I recently spoke to a group of ladies at my church about God’s Time Management Plan. I thought I would share some of that here. So here goes Part 1 of 5.

I've been single, married, divorced, remarried, blended a family, raised children, and now have grandchildren. I've been a stay at home mom and worked from home and outside my home both part time and full time. Each scenario has represented a different set of challenges for managing time, but each also added a different opportunity for influence.

With today’s busy schedules and the expectations of those around us, we can feel as though our time is not our own. It belongs to our husband, our children, our employer, our church, etc. We each have the same 168 hours per week, but we all spend it differently.

I love the subject of time management and have read several books over the years that I would recommend; however, I would offer a disclaimer to take what works for you individually and throw out the rest.  But there is one book I have read that I would recommend with no disclaimer. It is applicable to every person and every situation. This book is, drum roll please, the Bible.

Does God care about our time and specifically time management?

Throughout scripture God is called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. From Genesis 1:1 in the beginning through Revelation 22:13 as the first and the last, God is there. So who is better than God to ask about time management? He created it.

We see throughout scripture that everything is on God’s timetable. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. Creation was on a schedule taking only six days. Noah took over sixty years to build the ark, yet Nehemiah supervised rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days. Joseph endured thirteen years from being sold as a slave before becoming a ruler. David was anointed king as a boy, but it was many years later before he saw the fulfillment of that promise. Sarah gave birth when she was 90 years old (God does have a sense of humor). Jesus’ ministry was only three years.

I find it easier to understand the big picture of God’s timing, but I find myself looking for daily answers for managing my time. How would I spend my time if God were in charge of it? Would it be any different? As Christian women, is the question of time management what do we want to get done? Or is the question really what does God want us to do?

Acts 6:2-4 (ESV) “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’”

The twelve disciples were committed to preaching God’s word. They devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. They knew what they were called to do, but that probably isn’t the same as what you and I are called to do. We should all be devoted to prayer and scripture, but someone has to serve tables.

I've heard for years the proper priority of God first, then my husband, then my children, and then the other various things such as home, church, and career. But I have to go to work from 8:00 to 5:00, so how do I manage those priorities?

There are three principles I refer to as time management alarms that I will discuss in my next three posts. Be watching for how to 1) Weigh In on Purpose, 2) Flex Our Plans, and 3) Withdraw to Win Early. 

Have a great day, and begin thinking about what God wants from you each day.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Birds of Praise

I woke up this morning to birds singing in the trees on the fence line behind my house. No, I wasn’t thrilled. It was 3:00 in the morning. The birds were evidently joyous, but I wasn’t. When I finally fell back to sleep and woke up again to my alarm, they were still singing.

I was irritated, to say the least, until I started some quiet time (except for the birds) with God, and He spoke to my heart.

He immediately brought to mind the song I have known for years with the words “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” He also brought to mind the verse, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Soon the singing birds seemed to be praising God from the treetops. Before I left for work, I was singing praises along with them. 

During my drive to work, I remembered another song I sang as a teenager that mentioned birds beginning to sing in the spring. The words at the end of the song say, “I’ll shout it from the mountaintop. I want the world to know. The Lord of love has come to me. I want to pass it on.” 

I was reminded that I need to be as free in singing God’s praises as the birds are. I need to share it from wherever I am. I need to pass it on.

What reminders has God given you to praise Him? 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Who Am I?

I am salt.                             
I am light.
I am valuable.                   
I am a disciple.
I have a shepherd.         
I bear fruit.
I am chosen.                     
I am loved.
I run a race.                       
I am a worker.
I am a temple.                  
I am rich.
I am called.                        
I am saved.
I am a citizen.                    
I am complete.
I am blessed.                    
I overcome.
I am alive.                           
I am forgiven.

Who am I?
I am a child of the King.

Who are you? 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writer's Block or Communication Block?


What do you say when you don’t know what to say? For me, I could call it writer’s block, but it would be more aptly called communication block. Sometimes I struggle with how to share what’s in my heart. Part of it comes from not letting what’s in my heart overflow onto the page. 

I talk a lot about our spiritual jewelry box, and that’s the heart of the matter. We need to fill our hearts with God’s words to us. I need to fill my heart continually. When I fill my heart to overflowing, then, and only then, will it freely spill onto the page.

Simply said. If it’s not overflowing, then it’s not full. I have to fill up in order to pour out. What about you? What’s in your spiritual jewelry box?


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Change Your Password--Again?

February 1 was Change your Password Day. Remember to change your passwords. But how can you remember to change your password, and what will you change it to?

Every website has a different requirement for its password. Each requires a different number and type of characters. Be sure the password is 8 characters long and includes at least one capital letter, one number, and two symbols. The next website requires a different number and type. So now I have twelve passwords that I regularly use, and I need to change them every three months on one website and every six weeks on another. I must also remember not to use the same password twice.

If I attempt to change any certain password before it is time, my identity is questioned. Then I have to answer those predetermined security questions. What is the name of your favorite pet? Well, I have four cats. Depending on the day will determine which one is my favorite, so I have three chances to get it wrong. But if I use the wrong one three times, I am locked out and have to have my password reset, which is what I am already trying to do. Now I am locked out and have to contact customer service, but I can’t find the phone number for customer service--so I can’t call.

The latest reminder I received was from a grocery store. They suggested I change my password for my store discount card. Really? What will happen if someone starts using my grocery store card number? They will get store discounts, and I will accrue more gas points. Hmmm, maybe I should pass the number around.

There is good news. I am thankful there is only one password for access to God and heaven, and I am happy to share it. Are you ready? The password is Jesus Christ. He never expires or changes or has to be reset. He always works. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The customer service number is always the same, just say Jesus.

Next time you have to change a password, I hope you will remember the greatest password of all time—Jesus Christ: the one and only way, the truth, and the life. 

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).