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Devotions

Live Long and Prosper

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:1-4

My beloved child,

As you set out on your own, please remember the things you’ve been taught. Godly wisdom is tested, tried, and true. Meditate on it and filter your decisions through it. A clear conscience is key to restful sleep, so make good choices, even when it is difficult. Compromise breeds stress, which makes you unwell. You will live long and prosper if you cultivate the confidence that comes from doing the right thing for the right reason.

God gives enough faithfulness and love to share. Hold fast to them and use them as your standard. Say what you mean and mean what you say; always keep your promises. Be consistent in your relationships; love and serve and love to serve. Be a champion for others to live long and prosper. Wear love and faithfulness like a comfy shirt and let them penetrate your heart. They will guide you in your conversations and business dealings and win you favor and a good reputation in the eyes of God and the people around you.

I want nothing more than to see you live long and prosper. Never forget that God is forgiving; be quick to repent and make things right when you’ve done wrong. You bear your name, your family’s name, and your Heavenly Father’s name. Never forget who you are or Whose you are.

You are truly and deeply cared for.

This post is part of a series which was born the day my son moved out of the house. Please read Wait, one more thing! for the backstory.

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Recommendations

How to Distinguish Between Urgent and Important

The primary purpose of this blog is to douse you guys, my precious and appreciated readers, with maternal love. One way I know to do that is to share valuable things that simply make life easier. Today’s post falls along those lines. It is about time management and how to distinguish between urgent and important things in your daily schedule. If you’ve never heard this before, hold on. It could be life-changing! It has been for me.

I don’t know where I first saw this graph, or if it was presented exactly like this, but here is the concept as it has morphed over the years of use in my life:

Urgent / Important Graph
Urgent / Important Graph

There are 2 main categories on this graph,
“Urgent” and Important.

There are quotes around the word urgent on the left side because urgent things bombard us and feel time sensitive. But just because they feel “urgent” does not necessarily mean they are. So many things can seem urgent – appointments, errands, favors people ask of us, and most of all, answering the chimes and whistles of our technology.

Important items on a to-do list are, well, important. They are priority items. These are not typically the things which pop up suddenly to take your time. These are the things for which you intentionally set time aside.

Here is an example of how one of my recent days started:

Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks
Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks

The difference between “Urgent”/Important and “Urgent”/Not Important is whether the sense of urgency is based on real need.

  • For me, getting to work on a workday is both urgent (mandatory, time sensitive) and important. I also had to make sure to buy diapers, or my granddaughter would be going to sleep without that night. Yep – urgent and important!
  • On days when work is urgent/important, I list my Bible reading and exercise time as important/not urgent. I prioritize the important things on my list without concern about them being done at a certain time. Some people really are committed to do these things in the morning, and if that is you, they might be Urgent/Important.
  • Wondering about my WordPress stats and hearing junk mail ‘ding’ into my email inbox can make me antsy and therefore feel like I need to urgently attend to them. But they are not important in the grand scheme of my day. If I can get to them, I will.
  • And then there are those things which will get done eventually. I want to look for my high school yearbook because I recently reconnected with an old friend and the conversation sparked my interest. I also have a winter jacket with ink on it. But it has already gotten so warm where I live that I won’t need it cleaned for months. Not Urgent/Not Important items are things I’d like to get to during the day, but not at the expense of completing the other tasks.

The correct priority order looks like this:

Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks and priority order
Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks and priority order

The priority order is set by the Important items, not the “Urgent” ones.

Of course, an agenda is full of moving parts, and stuff comes up – especially “urgent” things – and pieces will need to be added, moved, or removed from the list. The plan I keep at home is primarily in my head unless it gets so complicated in a day that I need to write it down. But I have recently introduced this graph to my team at work, and we keep it on a white board. We fill it out in the morning and use it as a guide all day. The white board is nice, because there are always tweaks to be made as the hours roll on.

The quickest way I’ve seen to get distracted from a plan is to let the “Urgent”/Not Important things crowd in front of the Important/Not Urgent tasks. Remember, those items give a false sense of urgency! When I visualize and/or write it down this way, I can keep it all straight. I really hope this is helpful to you! Please feel free to take it and make it your own. I didn’t make it up and I take no credit for it. But I sure am thankful for what it has helped me to accomplish. Happy productivity!

Categories
Devotions Emotions

How to Reset Your Mindset Today

Yesterday was hard. It was that perfect storm of disillusionment at work, disappointment at home, and dissatisfaction in myself. I wanted to run, or box, or frantically clean the house, but I only had the wherewithal to sit and cry. Have you been there? Everyone quips “It’s ok not to be ok”, and I agree. But that was yesterday, and I don’t want to set up camp at my wits end. I need to figure out how to reset my mindset today.

When my computer freezes, I do a hard reset. I can’t close the apps or save my work; I have to turn it off and let it come back fresh. To reset my mindset, I must temporarily shut down my emotions, thoughts, ambitions, and perceptions. When I bring them all back on-line, I should only be able to access what I have previously, intentionally saved and that which Jesus has autosaved for me.

Phone charging: how to reset your mindset today
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Have you seen the HALT theory? It suggests that if I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, I should fix those things before making any decisions or taking any action. It is great advice, and I’ve already decided that I will set my mental and physical self in a much-needed time out. To reset my mindset today, I must apply HALT in my spirit.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”

John 6:35 (emphasis mine)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 19:11 (emphasis mine)

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”

Psalm 25: 15-17 (emphasis mine)

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:30, 31 (emphasis mine)

This post is real time. I am writing as I am doing in hopes that you might find it helpful and maybe share your tips with me too because, as much as I wish it weren’t so, I’m sure we will have further opportunities to perfect our stress response techniques in the future. My friend, if you’ve been facing storms of your own, I am so sorry. Truly, I feel your pain. I invite you to HALT with me in the truths of Scripture and let Jesus reset your mindset today!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus ( in Matthew 11:28, 29)

Have you had a hard day recently? How did you get back on track?

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Romans 8:6

You might enjoy this related post: Ready, Set, Pray!

Categories
Devotions Reflections

Wait, one more thing!

He closed the front door and I started toward the car. My husband said I should have taken a photo of him in the doorway, so I called his cell from the driveway, “Wait, one more thing!”. He indulged his mother and came back to the door. Smile! Click, click. “Thank you! Okay, bye for real now!” Another smile, a wave, and the door closed again. I got all the way into the car, and we drove away. Our son was in his new house, moved completely out of our home. We were making the return trip without him and it was strange. I felt proud and hollow at the same time.

He is not the first of my kids to come of age and move out. I’ve felt this way before, so I knew I’d eventually adjust to the new and different normal. I settled in for the long ride with my husband at the wheel. I opened the Bible app on my phone and read Proverbs chapter 3.

The first two words, “My son”, caught my attention in a unique way, given the circumstances. As I read further, I started forming a series of “Wait, one more thing!” posts, in my heart and head. They are written with my son in mind, but they could be for any of my children. In fact, I’m someone’s child; they are for me. If you’re someone’s child (and I’m certain you are), they may be for you too.

Proverbs 3 was written by King Solomon, who ruled Israel after his father, King David. He is known as the wisest man who ever lived. 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 tells us that when God promised to give Solomon any gift he wanted, he asked for wisdom and knowledge. God was pleased because the request was not for wealth or power, so He granted it all. Proverbs is filled with nuggets of wisdom and chapter 3 is one of many written specifically to posterity.

I told my son, “Wait, one more thing!” and now I am going to say it to him, and me and you, every Monday for a while. I hope you will indulge my sentimentality and allow me to love on you with thoughts from this chapter in Proverbs. I could sure use some solid wisdom these days, especially at the front end of my work week, couldn’t you?

“Wait, One More Thing!”, the series, will be posted to the Back Porch on Mondays and you’re invited! I’m saving a cushioned seat (so to speak) for you!
Categories
Devotions

Where I Stand

I was getting so frustrated! I could see it, but I could not get it. I was applying lipstick from where I stand regularly in front of my bathroom mirror and noticed a hair on my lip. It wasn’t long enough to be mine, which would have been easier to grab. No, it was likely one that had once belonged to my dog. I couldn’t feel it with my fingers or with my lips, but my eyes insisted it was clearly there.

I struggled long enough to be quite confused before I realized that the piece of hair (fur?) was actually stuck to the mirror. I just happened to be standing in a place where my lips were reflected in just that spot and I was deceived. If I had been standing three inches to the right or the left, the hair on the mirror would have blended with the reflection of my hair and I wouldn’t have noticed it. Had I been standing six inches to either side, I would have seen it for what it was – a hair on the mirror.

And my thoughts began to race. There was a spiritual lesson there. and it was this:

Where I stand matters.

Where I plant my feet can determine what I see and how I see it. If I am standing on the promises of God, I will see things as they really are.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31b, 32

But if I’m standing to the right or to the left, I set myself up to be deceived or to miss the point altogether. With so many social issues and tensions raging all around me, I don’t think the need for clarity has ever been greater. I cannot afford to see things askew.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27

Have you been grasping at something you can’t quite seem to get your hands on? Have you noticed that things appear one way and seem to actually be another? Are you having trouble getting at the truth through the trash? Maybe it has to do with where you’re positioned. If you and I consistently align ourselves with Jesus, He promises to keep our paths straight. And, from where I stand, that is worth everything.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5, 6

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”

James 1:23-25
Categories
Emotions Reflections

Anxiety Rochambeau

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Proverbs 12:25

I grew up in the last quarter of the twentieth century and I don’t remember anxiety being much of a topic. Looking back, I’m certain I experienced it, but it was referred to in different terms and explained in different ways. Today, we all know the word ‘Anxiety’ and most of us use it to describe a range of symptoms from which we suffer. We are occupied in a game of Anxiety Rochambeau which is being played in our minds. Let’s talk strategy.

Right here, I want to say that I have no expertise in mental health. When it comes to matters of panic and anxiety, I can only speak from my own experience and limited research. I broadly understand the major difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack to be the way in which they build. A panic attack comes on suddenly and severely, where an anxiety attack usually begins slowly and climbs to a crescendo over time. Anxiety is not the source of our fear, it is our body’s reaction to that thing (or things) and it can be crippling.

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.

Arthur Somers Roche

I like how Mr. Roche put that. And right here, I want to quote Proverbs again:

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Proverbs 12:25

I know that when I am in the throes of an anxiety or panic attack, I begin to operate out of desperation; my words become short and temperamental, and people run away. My family doesn’t want to argue, admirably, so they leave. I’ve often wished that someone would have the courage to stay, show me kindness, and pray over me. I know that is what I really need and feel it would allay the ugly stuff much faster than leaving me to ‘calm down’ on my own. I am convinced that my anxiety has a spiritual aspect to it and having someone willing to battle with and for me in prayer, especially when I’m vulnerable, would make all the difference.

It is safe to assume almost everybody I know is anxious about something. Statistically, it is probable that you, my Back Porch friend, suffer symptoms of anxiety. I want to be supportive without deepening your bondage to that stream of fear. My plan is to throw kindness around like I’m watering parched grass on a summer day, allowing refreshment to fall everywhere and to seep into any and every open crack. If I soothe a fear before it cuts a channel to be anxious about, maybe I can make a real and lasting difference.

Would you share your thoughts with me? How would you like to be supported when anxiety takes hold? What sort of practical kindness would alleviate the burden for you? I would be honored to have your back in prayer. If that would help you, let me know in the comments. Leave any insight you’d like to convey. Let’s help others understand how to come to our assistance. Lets determine to be a lifeline for those around us. In this game of Anxiety Rochambeau, kindness wins!