Category Archives: Time Management

Don’t Rush. Just Rest.

7:15:16 Don't Rushby Lydia Floren

You know, Jesus had a pretty big “to do” list to accomplish in his 33 years of life:

  1. Grow up (and never do anything wrong).
  2. Take 12 random guys (some of whom can’t read or write), and, in 3 years, shape them into world leaders.
  3. Be tortured and killed, in spite of what you want to do, and defeat the greatest enemy the world has ever known.

Yeah, Jesus had a lot on his plate. But think about it.  Can you imagine Jesus rushing around – interrupting folks and cutting people off in traffic so he could get His “important stuff” done?  Of course not.

Jesus was never in a hurry.

He said,  “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

When we come to Him, in the middle of our busyness, he gives us rest.  We find “rest for our souls.”  And we can go about our day, packed as it may be, settled and at peace in that “zone of rest,” knowing He is with us and within us, guiding and leading us to do what is most important.

There is plenty of time to do each day what God would have us do without rushing.

Don’t rush. Just rest.

God’s Answer to Overwhelm

7:1:16 God's Answer to OverwhelmGod’s Answer to Overwhelm

by Lydia Floren

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and not enough time? What a question! Of course you do. Life in the 21st century rolls along at neck-breaking speed. We can try to manage it (and that is good to do) but even with our best efforts our lives can get out of balance. We get exhausted. Malnourished. Crabby.

We “don’t have time” to exercise regularly, or eat healthy food. We sleep poorly, because we stay up late doing stuff, or we have so much on our minds that it’s hard to get to sleep, or stay asleep.

And how can we possibly afford to spend 30-60 uninterrupted minutes in our day for time with God? Our life is one big interruption!

When I was in medical school, I regularly experienced this sense of being overwhelmed. There was too much to learn. Not enough time to grasp it all. And the constant fear lurking in the back of my head: If I didn’t learn this, would some patient die as a result? How would I ever be a good doctor? I would pray, “God, what have you gotten me into? Or what have I gotten myself into? Did I hear you wrong, when I felt you leading me toward going to medical school?”

Isaiah 40:27-31 was my answer from Him:

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?””

Huh. That sure sounds a lot like me.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” 

Yeah, I “know” this. I’ve heard it all my life. I guess I just don’t remember it or believe it very well. So, You DO know what is going on. You know exactly what my situation is. Good. [rub hands together] What’s the plan?

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” 

Sounds good. I am ready for some of that strength and power, especially the brain power.

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” 

Wait? Wait. You want me to wait? What do you mean “wait”?

[More next week.]

Share with Us: What have you learned when you find yourself overwhelmed?

Prepping for Success

3:9:16 Prepping for successby Lydia Floren

It is always soul-enriching, being with God. Why do I wait? What could possibly give me more life than spending time in His presence? Having those moments that soak into my soul?

Nothing.

Prepping for success

How can we be prepping for success? How do we minimize distractions first thing in the morning, and optimize our chances of success, in this all important meeting with The Person Who Loves Us Most? Here are a few thoughts that have helped me:

1. Restrict my daily “To Do” list to 5 items. I only allow 5 things on my to do list every day, and #1 is “Be loved by God, and listen.“

2. Plan and Prepare the night before:

  • Straighten up the night before, especially the area where I have my prayer/time with God.
  • Make this area inviting—soothing, peaceful. Pictures, flowers, music at the ready.
  • Get coffee set up to go automatically.
  • Have my journal/Bible/materials set out.
  • Go to bed on time, and set my alarm.

2. Keep a running task list handy. When things I need to do, or ideas I have, start crowding my mind, I can write them down and get them out of my head.

3. Continue reviewing my priorities and goals, so other things don’t creep into my life and
rob me of the most important things.

What do you do to stay focused in your daily meeting with God? Please share! I would love to hear from you!

Big Decisions, No Regrets

bigdecisions

Big Decisions, No Regrets:  10 steps to make a thoughtful God-guided decision with confidence

 by Lydia Floren

Have you ever noticed that spring tends to be a time when people make big decisions? You may be graduating from high school, and figuring out where you should go to college, or maybe even if you should go to college at all. You may be pondering a job change, or a move to a new city, or wondering if you should get married, or start a family. You may be facing a decision about your health, or what house you should buy, when to retire, or even what relationships to invest in.

Decisions, especially big decisions, form the framework of our lives. These choices have major impact on each of us, and so it behooves us to make these decisions deliberately and prayerfully.

These proven steps will give you confidence in making a big decision.

Key steps in making a big decision

10 steps in making a big decision

This is an excerpt from the article Big Decisions, No Regrets.  To get the complete piece, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Right Things For The Right Reasons: Goals series part 3

by Lydia Floren

Can we learn to be free from our performance-based roots, and still be “in the game” of life? Yes. Paul advised this:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Transformation of the way we think is crucial to following God. First this involves a change of focus, as we discussed in the last two blogs on goals. Instead of adopting our culture’s definition of “success,” we must embrace  the more compelling goal to “make love our aim.” When we focus on things that matter for eternity, our “success” has far-reaching consequences.

Every believer has at one time or another done this, at least for awhile. But it is easy to slip back into old performance-based habits, and just call them by a different name.

For example, we decide to follow Christ. We have a revelation, a turning. We have come to accept that not only is God real, but He truly rewards those who genuinely seek Him. But somewhere along the way, we have lost the vibrancy of those first days of faith, and we are back to the grind. It might be a different grind, but grind it is. Instead of sharing our faith or time, or money, or energy because we have been led by God to do so, we do so out of duty, guilt, or fear. Or if we don’t do these things we feel guilty because we “aren’t doing more.” We find ourselves in a different kind of competition, with a different kind of goal– to be a professional Christian—The Best. And if we are honest with ourselves, we do it to remain a “member in good standing” with whatever Christian community to whom we might be attached.

We are not alone in this. Since the first generation of believers, people have succumbed to the temptation to take matters back into their own hands, and revert to rules and regulations instead of being guided by God. This is what Paul referred to in the first part of 1 Corinthians 13: “I can speak with the tongue of men and angels,” Paul says, “but if I have not love, I am nothing.”

We must choose to remain free
We must vigilantly guard our freedom in Christ, and resist the temptation to reduce a life of following God to a set of rules. God simply doesn’t work that way. He is consistent in His character but unpredictable in his methods. We must remain committed to Him first, not bound to a standard or a norm, or we slide into the pit of shoulds and coulds all over again.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Share with us: How are you choosing to remain free? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Beginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series – Part IITaking Aim: Goal Series – Part I,

Beginning With The End In Mind: Goal Series- Part 2

by Lydia Floren

We have three sons, who all played sports at various stages while growing up, and we quickly learned that youth sports were not only competitive for children, but even more so for parents. When our son made a great play, we would get more high fives from other parents in the stands than our kids would from their teammates. When there was a victory, there was as much or more cheering on the sidelines as there was on the field. (Of course at the early stages, the main reason the players were cheering at the end of the game is because it was time for treats! Aaaah! Those were the days!)

So how does a parent cope with the temptation to be drawn into this ultra-competitive environment? And how does one then teach their child to keep things in perspective? Well, I could write a whole book on this (I made many mistakes) but a couple questions really helped me keep my feet on the ground through the whole kids-in-sports thing:

“Is my child likely to be in a professional athlete?”
“Does he have that drive, that desire, and that amount of natural talent?
“Is that the way I see God leading him?”

I asked myself these question repeatedly over the years, and my answer was invariably “no.” (Sorry, guys.) If most kids aren’t destined for ESPN highlights, the next question is obvious:

“Why should kids even participate in organized sports?”

  • What was the goal, the aim of that activity?
  • If it wasn’t to get him a scholarship to a Division I school on the way to a pro contract deal with commercials, what was and is the point?

Unfortunately for many of us parents, the answer might be more about us than about them. Be honest, sideliners. At some point or some level we have all enjoyed basking in the glow of our kids’ successes, not because of what it says about them, but what it says about us: “you must be a good parent because your kid is a great sportsman.” (How warped is that?)

There are many good reasons for enrolling your kids in organized sports that have nothing to do with grooming them for a professional career. (Years later I continue to see, long after their playing days were over, the great things my sons still carry with them from their playing days.) Here are a few great reasons to have a child in organized sports: physical fitness, learning how to be a team member, being a part of a group, learning discipline, hard work, excellence, selflessness, honesty, restraint, self-esteem, working with good and bad coaches [translate bosses].

Organized sports teach kids how to lose, to win, to encourage, to stay positive, to be consistent, to do the job you have been assigned, to lead, to follow. I could go on. None of these things in any way requires that your child be a standout performer on the fast-track to the pros. In fact, having that star distinction can hamper him/her from gleaning many of these benefits.

What is success?
I am getting to a point here. What is success? Making a bunch of money and having a body that doesn’t work well for the last half of your life? Risking life-altering injury for a few moments of glory? Spending all your college days on the field or in the pool instead of exploring your many other interests and abilities?

How does God view success? What would he consider a worthy aim in life? Jesus was quite clear on this point:

“Love the Lord your god with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

Or as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 14:1:

“Make love your aim.”

Now that is a goal worth aiming for.

Share with us: How do you decide and review goals? We would love to hear from you.

Recent posts: Taking Aim: Goal Series – Part IA Note In Your Lunchbox, To Be, To-Do To Be

Taking Aim – Goal Series: Part I

by Lydia Floren

Even though our beloved Packers missed the Super Bowl by a hair’s breath, we will be part of the football faithful watching the big game this year. We watch a lot of football at our house.  So the Super Bowl is an event rivaling the importance of Thanksgiving or Christmas, no matter who is playing.

In fact, you could consider us a football family.  Football lore and stats are often bantered about our house.  My husband Andrew is fond of mentioning that Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, is more accurate than a world class archer.  Brees once took a challenge to see how many times he could hit an Olympic archery target at 20 yards throwing a football–he hit the bull’s-eye ten out of ten times. Check out the video.

That is crazy.  How does he do that?  Practice, certainly. But the first step in any skill is deciding where you want to go—identifying your target, and taking aim.  Drew decided years ago he wanted to be a great quarterback, and he has been practicing his throws ever since.

Taking aim

There is a saying by Zig Ziglar that says, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it.”   Another great saying is “A long journey begins with the first step.” if that is true, it makes sense that your first step of the rest of your life should be to figure out what you are aiming at in your life.

What are you aiming for in life? 

What are you aiming for in life?  What a great question to ask yourself as the New Year begins.  Putting it another way: What drives your decisions?  What are you focused on in life?

Are you even aiming at anything?

I think most of us are aiming at things, and usually these goals are based in core beliefs that we hold, and/or driven by needs we feel compelled to meet.  But our beliefs and  motives may not be obvious to us.  In fact, we can be immobile, and still be aiming at something. Perfectionists have this down to an artform:  we stop before we start, because we don’t BELIEVE there is any possibility of success. Here are a couple of examples:

  • You might believe that you are worthless, and have nothing to contribute. So you choose to not try.
  • Or you might believe that whatever you might attempt, it must be done “perfectly.” You might tell yourself:  I can’t do anything right so I might as well not start.

Floating

Is it possible to live life without focus or aim?  Maybe, but I doubt it. Some people truly seem to float through life. We all know people like this.  Floaters are professional victims.  Life “happens” to them.  It is as if they have given up on themselves.  They can be in a perpetual pity party, or just aimlessly floating along from one thing to another. Even though is seems like they don’t have any goals or focus, I believe they do, but it is rooted in a fixed false belief:  they don’t have any power over themselves or their circumstances, or they care more about doing nothing than making a difference. Their goal is to do the least amount possible. They think doing nothing (except maybe complaining) is the path of least resistance, but it truly is not. Passivity carries much more problems and headaches than purposeful action, and leads to much greater misery.   Floaters eventually float right over a waterfall, pitching them—and anyone with them– right out of the boat and into a torrent of churning water.

How to figure out what you are aiming at:  Take a look at the past.

We are all aiming at something, whether we realize it or not.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so if you want to know what is important to you–what you are currently aiming at in life–take a look at the past.  How you spent your most important assets–time and money—is a great indicator of what has been important to you, and what will likely guide future decisions.  This is relatively easy to do.

How to find out your main goal (s) for the past year:

1.  Just pull out your checkbook and your calendar for the past week/month/year, and ask yourself:  How did I spend my time? How did I spend my money?

  • Start with broad categories, and then estimate what percentage of your time and money was spent on each, or how many hours you spent on each.  (Don’t get all OC about it. We are just getting ballpark figures here.) Here is an example and some possible categories (Make these as broad or narrow as you like.):
  • Time:
    • Sleep  (8 hours/day, 56 hours/week, 240 hours per month)  30% of the time
    • Eating  (2 hours/day)  6% of the time
    • Internet/TV/video games
    • Exercise
    • Time with people (face to face or phone, not texting or internet)
    • Work
    • Chores
    • Travel
    • Prayer/worship/meditation
    • Reading the Bible
    • Reading
    • Hobbies/Interests
    • Childcare
    • Volunteering
  •  Money:
    • Bills
    • Housing
    • Groceries
    • Starbucks
    • Out to eat
    • Savings
    • Presents (friends and family)
    • Charity or similar giving
    • Schooling
    • Entertainment

2. Why?  A very powerful question  If you want to take this one step further, go to each of the categories (at least the most important ones) and ask yourself “Why?” three times:

For example:  30% of your time was spent sleeping.

  1. Why? Because my body needs sleep to function properly.
  2. Why? Because that is how my body is built.
  3. Why? I want to be healthy and for my body to function optimally.

Asking why repeatedly helps you to drill down to your more basic motivations, which can uncover true or false assumptions, or assumptions that need to be challenged.

  • Do I need to sleep?
  • What amount of sleep is optimal for me?

(Of course most of us would agree that 8 hours of sleep in our day is a pretty good use of our time.  But some areas might not be so clear.)

3. What has been your main goal?

Now look through your lists and your whys.   What common themes are there? If you could summarize your life, what would you say your main focus or goal has been?  Come up with 1-3 things.  Now you have a much better idea of what you have been aiming at (if anything) in the past year, and, therefore, where you are likely to be focused in the coming year.

Is this really where you want to go?

So now comes the kicker question:  Is this where you want to go?  Why or why not?

For example:  If you can see that your primary focus has been to get an education, ask yourself: Why are you doing this?  And why are you studying this? Is this your ultimate aim in life? If not, what is? What led you to this decision? Is it a direction you still feel you need to go? Why? It may lead you to other questions: How much money DO you need to make? What kind of career ARE you supposed to have? Does it fit the set of gifts/talents God has given you, or is it just a means to a financial end? What beliefs or thought processes are guiding these choices?

When you start asking these type of questions, you are well on the road to figuring out not only what has guided your past choices, but consciously [as opposed to passively] choosing if this is the right way for you to continue in your future.

Share with us: What have you discovered as you examine your goals this year?

Recent posts: A Note In Your Lunchbox, To Be, To-Do To Be