Remembering What’s Most Important

Gratitude Day 242

Wed., Apr. 3, 2019

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So often, we know the right things to do. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded. Nudged. Encouraged to make it personal.

Recently, this happened to me. Here’s some of my story.

In the last 15 months, I have enjoyed more flexibility with my schedule. I’ve been able to focus on some things and put energy towards opportunities I previously did not have the time nor energy for. Yet, I still struggle with whether I’m doing enough. Am I making on the right choices? Easily distracted at times, I know my days can get derailed quickly if I let them.

I have put into place some habits and choices that have been very helpful. I have been extremely intentional about beginning the day with time with the Lord. I’ve developed a routine that works for me. I try to do the most important things I want to accomplish at the beginning of the day; not when I should be heading to bed. While this feels good, I still struggle with other things.

Recently, I rediscovered to help myself. I knew this tactic and just wasn’t following through with it. Anyone else discover it’s much easier to give advice or suggestions to someone else … and not always embody this “advice” in your personal life?

Guilty as charged.

I went back and performed a little exercise I’ve used many times in ministry. It’s quite easy … but also specific to you. Here’s what you do.

Sit down with a writing utensil and a piece of paper. If you like nice paper, pick out a favorite piece. If you are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, grab the nearest used envelope. Or anything in between.

Make a list of numbers as shown below. Leave space between the numbers:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Write down the five most important things in the world TO YOU. Be careful not to write down what someone else would like you to write down. Include the things that are deeply important and what you don’t want to live without. Be specific as possible. Do not spend too much time on this. Usually, whatever you think of first are usually the most valuable players (MVP’s) of your life.

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Look carefully over the list. Think about how much time you invest in each of these five items in the last day. The last week. The last month. The last year. Are these five MVP’s getting your best attention? Do you live your life, so these ARE your highest priorities? If I asked a good friend what the five most important things in your life are, would she/he be able to quickly rattle these things off? Or would they struggle? Or would they name completely different things?

Look at where you keep your track of your finances. How much of your assets do you invest into your MVP’s? I realize there maybe other things that rank high on your list, i.e. – housing. In general, are you committed to making sure your MVP’s get resourced appropriately?

The next step can be easy … or really hard. What changes do you need to make in your life to align your time, resources and priorities with your MVP’s? Maybe it’s just a few tweaks. Maybe It’s more of a minor overhaul. Either way, as you come up with some next steps, make them REALISTIC. DOABLE. MANAGEABLE. We can all have really exciting dreams. But they also should be achievable.

Here’s what I’m doing the month of April: committing to work on those areas where I want to align my priorities with the choices, I make every day. This may mean that something I’ve historically done will slide to the back burner for a while. Maybe it will stay there! We’ll see. I am going to dedicate the next 30 days towards trying to align what I choose as the most important things in my life with how I live my life. I’ve printed off little cards listing my top 5 priorities and strategically put them in places where I have to see them everyday.

Do you remember the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Interestingly, I’ve chosen to do this during April, which is historically a time when I have more commitments. Rather than wait another month, it’s a great time to work through choices when my time is more limited.

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Is it time to align things in your life with what you feel is really important? Please join me on this journey this April. I am excited to hear your story and what you discover about yourself this month!

For rediscovering something meaningful for me personally, I am grateful.

In our culture that offers so many choices and options, it’s easy to forget what is most important to You and to ourselves. May You help us identify those things what give us energy and purpose. Help us find ways to embrace these choices more in our every-day lives. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 213 – 20-Minute Thursday

Thus., Feb. 7, 2019

Philippians 4:23 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

At the beginning of 2019, I was determined to break down little sections of my day into 20-minute intervals. These little time windows provide me opportunities to knock something off my to-do list in a relatively short period of time. Rather than being overwhelmed with the time needed to do something, I simply dedicated 20-minutes towards it.

For the first time in a really loooooong time, I’m feeling like there are moments (not days, not hours, not weeks), when I have just a bit of control over my life schedule.

20-minutes

Mind you … there remains lots of opportunities for improvement. But when I think of a task in terms of 20-minutes, my attitude changes. I can do something for 20-minutes.

Interested in a couple 20-minute examples? Good. Here they are.

Exercise. Earlier, I shared how a 20-minute exercise interval has help me be more consistent with exercise. There have been a couple days when I haven’t exercise. But generally, I’ve been very committed to this. It is amazing. I CAN talk myself into walking for 20-minutes. Or lifting weights. Or doing a workout video. Some days, I have set-aside two 20-minute exercise times. Or maybe a 20-minute and a 10-minute. These bite-sized windows of exercise feel manageable for me.

Cleaning. Our hard wood floors really needed a good cleaning, especially the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Like, down on your hands-and-knees cleaning. In one 20-minute timeframe, I not only cleaned these two rooms … but all the wood floors in the house! Something I had been dreading for a few days … done in 20-minutes!

Correspondence. Who doesn’t love receiving a real letter or card in the mail? A true handwritten one? I know that hand-written letters and cards may soon be extinct. Because I appreciate them, I keep sending them.

Each year, I begin January with great expectations of doing this. By week two, the enthusiasm has waned. I’ve already missed a birthday or two. I give up.

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This year, I am using a weekly 20-minute window for correspondence. Yes, I have been late with some cards … but progress has been made.

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I began by getting the cards I have organized. I keep them in a couple different containers near my desk. For this box, I made dividers for different kinds of cards. As I put cards in their appropriate category, I made sure the card had an envelope that would fit.

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Now, once a week, I spend 20-minutes getting the next batch of cards ready to send. I put them in a pre-designated spot until they are ready to be mailed; a spot I see every day. If I need a reminder of what day to send a card, I just put a little sticky note on the envelope.

 

Preparing a card gives me a minute or two to think about this person, why I keep in touch with them as well as an opportunity to pray for them. I thank God for their place in my and other’s lives. As I seal the envelope and attach the return label and stamp, I ask God to bless them and their family.

We will be on vacation next week. This week, I put together Valentine’s to send to our grandkids. I want these five precious people to know their Grandparents love and pray for them. (I think they like getting mail. Maybe it’s just the Subway gift cards.)

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The Apostle Paul wrote many letters. And, we are able to read some of them! These letters, found in the New Testament, were written to specific people. Sometimes, Paul was responding to questions he or someone else had been asked. Other times, he shared something important on his heart. I doubt Paul ever envisioned billions of people still reading his correspondence from about 2,000 years ago. And yet, we do.

 

Take 10-minutes and read the last few sentences of some of Paul’s letters. Look at the New Testament books of Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians. Or the personalized letters he wrote to specific people: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. See how often Paul ends his letters, praying for the people.

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Maybe we think the correspondence to someone else or a prayer for the intended recipient of the card will make a difference in their lives. Interestingly, I think it also makes a difference in our lives, 20-minutes at a time.

How a 20-minute interval of sharing correspondence adds value to my daily life, I am grateful.

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Lord God – in this hurry, scurry world that we live in, we often fail to slow down enough to send messages of appreciation to those we care for. Place it upon our hearts someone we can reach out to this very day.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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