Tag Archives: goals

The Importance of Contentment (Guest Post)

Girl in hat and sundress, picking daisies in a sunlit field.
[Image via Pixabay]

The Importance of Contentment

by Steph Beth Nickel

Why do you do what you do? Complacency, contentment, or conviction?

An onlooker might not be able to tell the difference.

Sometimes even we can’t tell the difference.

It’s what I’ve always done. That’s complacency.

I believe this is right, and it has been confirmed over and over again. That’s conviction.

But what about contentment?

It may look like complacency, but then again, it just might be conviction.

Contentment is my word for 2020.

As you may know, I am eclectically interested and eclectically involved. Too often I’m distracted by the Oo, Shiny! Books, online courses, careers …

Do you think it’s time to stop buying books (or at least slow down) when you have over 1,000 physical and ebooks you haven’t yet read?

Most of mine are accessible on my phone. <sigh>

And what about courses and lifetime access to online conference sessions, some of which were inexpensive, others … not so much?

I’ll buy this healthy living annual subscription and access to this library of workouts, and I’ll be healthier by the end of the year … if I access them and put what I learn into practice that is. (We won’t mention the fact that I was a personal trainer and know what I need to do to get healthier.)

Of course I’ll maintain my doula certification while writing, editing, working as our church admin, and helping my hubby clean the church each week. Sleep? Who needs it? (That would be me.)

To be honest, my whole life might be a case of FOMO, fear of missing out.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

In 2020, I will seek to live by my conviction that I have been called to contentment.

I will read 24-36 of those books I already have.

I will complete at least 12 of those online courses I’ve purchased and put into practice those things I learn from my paid subscriptions.

I will devote myself to writing—and publishing—the books I’ve begun.

I will maintain my doula certification because this is something I’m passionate about, but I will pace myself and not leave the requirements of my recertification to the last month or so.

I will stop becoming distracted by the Oo, Shiny! and look for the sparkle in the opportunities and possessions I already have.

Plus, I will regularly give thanks for my life as it is in the Here and Now.

How can you grow more content in the year ahead?

Do you have a word of the year? If so, what is it and why did you choose it?

All the very best in 2020!

Steph Beth Nickel is a communicator who seeks to Nurture and Inspire in her many eclectic endeavours: editing, writing, podcasting, etc. Steph coauthored Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Steph and Deb are working on a follow-up, tentatively titled Keep Looking Up. Steph is also a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio. You can connect with her on Facebook or via email.

Just Around the Corner … 2020 (Guest Post)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Just Around the Corner … 2020

By Steph Beth Nickel

Can you believe it? In a little over a month it will be 2020. Does that sound as futuristic to you as it does to me? (Maybe I’m just showing my age. <grin>)

I like to make plans for the new year at the end of November.

Here are six reasons to do so:

  • Making New Year’s resolutions has a built-in expectation of failure. Let’s face it, most resolutions get tossed aside before the end of January.
  • If we leave planning until the end of the year, we don’t feel as if we have as much time to fine tune our plans with January 1 looming before us.
  • We may feel pressured by all the yearend advertising. Join this gym. Buy this discounted bundle online. (Guilty.) Make this the year you do … (I’m sure you can fill in the blank with any number of things.)
  • If we “test run” our resolutions next month, we can do so with a minimal number of onlookers. (Hey, even the gyms are less crowded in December.)
  • And if we start in December, we can see what works and what may be best set aside. But don’t forget to give yourself grace since many of us are especially busy during the holiday season.
  • And if you’re just coming off the writing high of trying to pump out 50,000 words in November (NaNoWriMo), you may feel as if you can conquer the world. Why not start before the feeling fade? (I will be away for part of the weekend. A dear friend’s mother passed away this past week, and the service is on Saturday. However, I’m hoping to hit 50K before getting on the road. It would be the first time ever.)

Many of us choose a word for the coming year. And if we’re Christians, we may feel the Lord has laid something on our heart. That is the case for me this year. I believe 2020 is to be my personal year of contentment, which is not to be confused with complacency.

So, just how can our Word of the Year line up with our List of Goals? (Notice, I didn’t call them resolutions.)

Here are six of my goals, all of which should lead to greater contentment. (Hint: It’s best to frame goals as positive statements. Negative ones just make us feel as if we’ve failed up to this point.)

  • If you know me, you realize I am eclectically interested and eclectically involved. Call it the Oo, Shiny Syndrome, the Butterfly Syndrome (I have a tendency to flit from one thing to the next to the next), or just call it Oh, Squirrel! Regardless, my goal is to focus more on the task(s) at hand and only pursue something new if I’ve thought it through and maybe, just maybe, set something else aside. (That is almost painful to commit to. Who says we can’t spin two dozen plates at the same time?)
  • Narrowing my focus means it’s far more likely than I can do some of those things I’ve been planning for years, things like publishing a novel and a nonfiction book. There, I’ve said it. I won’t only be content if I birth these two book babies, I will be ecstatic.
  • Between a gym membership, online fitness site memberships, and the DVDs I have on hand, there is no reason I can’t be stronger and healthier by the end of 2020 than I am now. That plus the fact that I actually like to exercise. Yes, I am one of those weird people.
  • Hand in hand with getting more exercise is the importance of eating a nourishing diet. To all of you who do, kudos! Really! By the end of 2020, I want to be consistently eating more healthfully. I’m not committing to perfection, whatever that may mean, but the more I eat healthy foods, the more I want to do so. I already know that. It’s just a matter of putting the knowing into practice—and using all those fancy gadgets and cookbooks I’ve purchased, hoping they’ll motivate me to do better.
  • My To Be Read (TBR) pile is monumentally high. Plus, several of my favourite authors will be releasing new books that I will be tempted to buy over the next 12-13 months. Contentment doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t buy some of these books, but it does mean I will deliberately get to some of those books I have neglected far too long.
  • And speaking of books, I have numerous versions of the Scriptures—and access to the others online. While I will be using some of the Bible study tools I have on hand, I don’t need anything more than my Bible to grow in my faith over the coming year. The plan is to focus more on reading God’s Word than being distracted by all the shiny study resources that are sure to come to my attention.

So, what about you? Do you have a word for 2020? Have you set some goals for yourself? I’d love to hear about it.

May 2020 overflow with the very richest of blessings!

Tweetable: 6 Reasons to make your plans for the new year at the end of November. Via #StephBethNickel #2020 #newyearsresolutions #goals [Click to tweet]

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is a communicator who seeks to Nurture and Inspire in her many eclectic endeavours: editing, writing, podcasting, etc. Steph coauthored Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Steph and Deb are working on a follow-up, tentatively titled Keep Looking Up. Steph is also a regular contributor to HopeStreamRadio. You can connect with her on Facebook or via email.

Resolutions Worth Keeping (Guest Post)

Resolutions Worth Keeping

by Steph Beth Nickel

Whether we call them resolutions or goals, this is the time of year many of us consider the 12 months before us and what we want to change.

Instead of trying to change everything at once, why not set monthly goals (aka resolutions)?

Below are six suggestions. I look forward to hearing what goals you plan to achieve in 2018.

January

During December healthy eating habits often get set aside. Various social engagements and family gatherings can make it difficult to eat as we should. January is a great month to begin eating well once again.

If healthy eating is new to you, it’s best to take small steps in the right direction. For example, increase your water intake the first week of January; then, the second week, add more vegetables to your diet. During the third week, begin to limit your intake of restaurant and processed food. The last week, begin to limit dessert to the weekend. (These recommendations are for informational purposes only. It is advisable to consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.)

Of course, it’s important to continue with these new habits throughout the year, but always remember to “factor in the cheats” and give yourself grace if you revert to old habits.

February

Since Valentine’s Day occurs in February, it’s a good month to schedule more time with our loved ones. There is always more work to be done and we rarely feel as if there are enough hours in the day. However, it’s vital that we devote undivided time to those closest to us—and to others. What a great month to begin doing so!

May

It’s important to get adequate physical activity. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is only one reason exercise should be part of our daily routine. When we’re active for even 30 minutes a day, we’re likely to notice the benefits. Exercise helps us think more clearly, work more efficiently, and sleep more soundly. It even improves our outlook and mental health. These are all great reasons to find something we enjoy—or can at least stick with—and get more active.

June

Hopefully, you’ve done so already, but if not, this is a good time of year to factor in downtime. Pick up a book you’ve been wanting to read. Take up a new hobby, one that relaxes you. Schedule a regular date night with your spouse or BFF. In our high pressure society, we feel as if we must be productive at all times. However, our physical, emotional, and mental health will almost certainly suffer if we don’t “step back and take a breath” regularly.

September

The kids are going back to school. Sounds like a good time to take a course. There are several free and inexpensive online options. Interested in sign language? Photography? Creative writing? You name it, there are countless courses available. Udemy, Teachable, and Reedsy are only three sites you can check out.

October

While not a proponent of Halloween, I was inspired to challenge you to do something that scares you. There has been a meme going around Facebook for some time asking what readers would do if they knew they couldn’t fail. Maybe it’s time to risk failure to do something we’ve been putting off, something we either know we should do or something we really want to do but haven’t. Let’s face our fears this month and see what happens.

And there you have it … examples of doable resolutions worth keeping.

Tweetables

Instead of trying to change everything at once, set monthly goals. (click to tweet)

Let’s face our fears and see what happens. (click to tweet)

===

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

My Theme for 2017: Less (Guest Post)

My Theme for 2017: Less

by Steph Beth Nickel

Having read Kevin DeYoung’s newest book, Crazy Busy, I came face to face with what I already knew: I spend far too much time doing things that don’t actually propel me toward my goals.

Clock with words "we must refuse to fritter away our discretionary time"

My word of the year for 2016 was more, as in more time spent writing and editing, more time spent in prayer and Bible study, more time seeking the Lord with my hubby and our daughter. My lack of success in these areas could be because I wasn’t focussed on the flipside of the coin.

If we’re going to achieve more, something has to give. We have to do less of something else.

So how does this apply to writing?

We must refuse to fritter away our discretionary time.

“Discretionary time? What discretionary time?” you may ask.

But let’s be honest. Do we watch even half an hour of TV most days? Do we spend far too much time on Facebook and the other social networks? Do we spend hours each week waiting on our children—at sports practice, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities?

You don’t need hours and hours of uninterrupted time to write a book—and certainly not a blog post or an article. There was one author I heard about who wrote an entire book in 20-minute increments during his lunch break. Amazing!

DO THIS: Take a look at your schedule and see where you can “steal” 20 minutes here, an hour there.

We must learn to say no.

Many—if not most—of us are not only busy, but we keep taking on more and more responsibilities. If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss any opportunity that comes along. Thankfully, I’m learning to say no; I’m learning to focus on what’s already on my plate; I’m learning to take on less.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book called The Best Yes. It’s about analyzing why we say yes when we are already overtaxed and really shouldn’t be taking on anything more. The book also addresses the importance of saying no or not now so we will be free to say yes when God brings a specific opportunity across our path.

If we feel God has called us to write, we must free up dozens—if not hundreds—of hours. We may find some time by restructuring our discretionary time, but very likely we’ll have to make even more significant changes.

DO THIS: Prayerfully examine your To Do list and choose one or more time-consuming items you are willing to eliminate in order to have more time to write.

We must spend less time making excuses.

There are legitimate reasons we don’t put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, but excuses often outnumber these reasons.

That voice in our head that says …

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said—far better than you could ever express it.”

“Writing is a selfish endeavour. Think of your family and friends.”

“You may squeak out the time to write, but you don’t have the time to hone your skills.”

“And you certainly don’t have the funds needed to get your work published.”

“God didn’t really call you to write. You’re delusional.”

DO THIS: Identify the #1 obstacle that keeps you from writing and create a game plan to crush it. The first step is often to simply pick up that pen or open that Word doc and get writing.

And what will I be doing over the next weeks and months? Hopefully, taking my own advice.

What are your writing plans for 2017? (Scroll down to share your comment.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: 12 Places to Find Motivation

12 Places to Find Motivation

by Steph Beth Nickel

Where do you find motivation when the only thing you want to do is laze around or lay your head down and have a nap?

I’m not sure if it was the muggy weather, a mild case of burnout, low grade depression, or a combination of all three, but I haven’t been near as productive over the last little while as I would have liked.

But things are  on the upswing. Maybe the following ideas will help you as well.

Make a List

I gave my most recent list what I hope will be a motivating title, Do it Already. It’s my attempt to kick myself in the backside.

Whether you write brief To Do lists so you won’t forget important responsibilities, or detailed lists covering every area of life, lists have countless benefits.

I encourage you to find the format that works best for you.

Exercise

Don’t have time? Lack the desire? Don’t know what to do?

Those who get regular exercise tend to work more efficiently, and therefore, make better use of their time.

It may take some doing to get started, but exercise releases endorphins, which help us feel more positive and motivated. Exercise is definitely worth the effort.

Sign up at the gym and hire a personal trainer—at least to get you started. Buy a new workout DVD, something that makes you think, “Hey, I could do this.” Go for a bike ride, a hike, or a swim.

Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to check with your doctor first.

Even when you can't do a lot... do something!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Eat Well

What we eat has a direct correlation on our mood and our energy level.

When we’re sluggish, we aren’t motivated to exercise although we know it will give us more energy. The same is true of eating well.

When you’re in a funk, do you think, “Hey, I think I’ll make myself a big salad”? If you’re like most of us, you’d rather grab something quick, easy, and likely not all that good for you.

Take some time each week to plan your meals. Do as much prep work ahead of time as you can. That way, when you don’t have a lot of energy or motivation, you’ll still be able to prepare a nutritious meal for yourself and the family with minimal effort.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

My aim is to get seven hours of sleep each night. I function quite well on six, but after a few nights, it catches up with me.

There are those who say consistency is the most important thing. They say we should go to bed and get up at the same time seven days a week. I have yet to put this in practice. Truth be told, I won’t likely do so. But if you find yourself sluggish, this is definitely something to try.

Limit Your Time on Social Media

When my eldest was just a baby, he loved to be walked … and walked and walked and walked. But he didn’t want to be snuggled. He wanted the freedom to look around. I got the impression he didn’t want to miss anything.

This is like me and social media, especially Facebook. I find, however, that I am far more productive if I limit my time online.

Guard your time.

Read Rather than Watch TV

The more I read, the more I want to read. Over the past few days, I have found myself gobbling up reading material.

Reading a wide variety of books is something that motivates me. How about you?

Do Something You Love

If our To Do List is only populated with things we’re obliged to do but aren’t enthusiastic about, we’ll be overwhelmed just by reading the list.

If, however, we include something we truly love every week or more, it can motivate us to tackle the other items on our list with a more positive outlook.

Do Something You’ve Been Putting Off

I find if I cross something off my Procrastination List, even something small, I have as great a sense of accomplishment as if I’d crossed 10 things off my everyday list.

Listen to Uplifting Music

I’ve found there’s nothing quite like listening to a TobyMac playlist to get me chair dancing. It instantly improves my mood and drives the truth deep inside my soul. I often wake up singing a line or two.

Don’t Neglect Your Spiritual Health

It’s far too easy to let spiritual disciplines slide if we’re overwhelmed or in a funk, but these are among the times we need most to remind ourselves of the goodness and love of God. Reading His Word, bringing our needs to Him in prayer, choosing to praise Him for who He is, and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ will go a long way to helping us put things in perspective.

Scroll down to the comments form to share your thoughts.

Tweetables:

In a funk? Don’t neglect spiritual disciplines.

When you lack motivation, do something you love.

Even when you can’t do a lot, do a little.

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: 12 Ways to Make the Write Resolution

12 Ways to Make the Write Resolution

by Steph Beth Nickel

The New Year is rapidly approaching and many of us will soon be setting our goals (aka resolutions) for 2016. Where is writing on your list?

If it’s close to the top, here are a dozen writing and writing-related goals you may want to include and tips on how to do so:

  1. Be on the lookout for inspiration.

Some people record ideas, snippets of conversation, random words and phrases, etc. in a notebook or on their electronic device. Make it a habit to do so. Don’t simply trust your memory; it’s amazing how quickly “that perfect idea” can vanish.

  1. Set up your writer’s nook.

What do you need around you when you write? Pictures of your family? A shelf of skills development books? A cozy corner with a comfortable chair, your journal, and a stash of gel pens? A clutter-free desk with only your laptop and a cup of your favorite beverage? The busyness of a crowded coffee shop? Create your perfect space and if at all possible, don’t do anything besides writing and writing-related tasks there.

  1. Enlist your support system.

If others take your writing seriously, you are more likely to as well. Explain to your family that you are going to set aside time every day (at least Monday through Friday) to write. Ask them to give you your space, only interrupting if it’s something that legitimately can’t wait. And from your end of things, don’t answer emails, the telephone, or the door during your writing time.

  1. Write every day.

Set aside a specific time every day to write and record the time in your planner and / or set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you—at least until it’s a habit.

  1. Set a specific writing goal.

Do you want to write a new blog post each week? A short ebook or novella for publication online every two to six months? A full-length novel or nonfiction book for print within the year? Break each task into bite-sized pieces and set deadlines for each piece.

  1. Read skills development books.

Read up-to-date books on general writing topics and on specifics that are of interest to you. You may want to read a new book every month or two. For most of us, that would be an achievable goal. Don’t forget to incorporate the skills you are reading about into your work.

  1. Read other books as well.

It’s amazing what you can learn about good writing just by reading a variety of books in a variety of genres. Read with a notebook on hand so you can record words / phrases / sentences that appeal to you. Jot down thoughts about what makes the writing amazing—or terrible. Learning opportunities are all around us.

  1. Enter writing contests regularly.

Entering contests is a great skills development exercise—even if you never win. You learn about writing with specific guidelines in mind. You learn about submitting on a deadline. There are countless contests you can research online. Just a word of caution . . . be sure that the contest sponsor is reputable.

  1. Join an online writing challenge.

I participate in OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month) and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) each year. In October I write 31 poems and in November I come up with 30 ideas for picture books. I often attend Camp NaNoWriMo once or twice a year but have never participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), though I would like to do so one of these years. You can learn about these and other challenges online. Just type “writing challenge” into your search engine and see what catches your attention.

  1. Attend a writers’ conference or one-day workshop.

From skills development to networking . . . from inspiration to feeling understood . . . there’s nothing quite like hanging out with other writers and industry pros. Don’t feel intimidated. No matter how far along the path, every writer has more to learn. And every writer was a newbie at some point.

  1. Join or start a writers’ group.

I had the privilege of being one of the original four members of Women Writing for Christ. Over a decade later, we still meet monthly (except in the winter) and share the adventure of writing. We each write in different genres and for different audiences, but it is a wonderful opportunity to encourage one another. It’s a highlight of my month.

  1. Be patient with yourself.

Remember it takes time to develop new habits. Add one or two new goals each month. It’s much easier than trying to incorporate everything all at once.

I hope you had a Most Blessed Christmas, and wish you a New Year overflowing with rich and abundant blessings!

What are some of your writing goals for 2016?  [Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

The Desires of Our Hearts

For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem;
he has desired it for his home.
Psalm 132:13, NLT*

Remember King David’s plan to build a place of worship for God? This psalm starts there, reminds the people how excited they were to come into God’s presence in celebration, and then it finishes with God.

God chose Israel out of the nations, and He chose where he wanted to “dwell” among them. God, who needs nothing that we can make for Him, wanted to establish His presence with His people.

It makes me think of the verse that says God gives us the desires of our hearts. He planted the desire in David, and in Solomon who actually built the Temple. It was their desire, but it was God’s first.

That reminds me how important it is to listen to God, to take time alone with Him in quiet. What dream or vision might He want to plant?

It also means we need to remember that any desire He may give us is ultimately His. We don’t dare re-shape it or get possessive over it. David’s role wasn’t to build the Temple but to gather the resources and prepare his son Solomon to be the builder.

Knowing a longing like this comes from God releases us to trust that He’ll accomplish it as He fully envisions. This may be different from what we expect, since we may see only a portion of the whole.

Do you have a longing that wells up from such a deep place inside that sometimes it hurts? Stay close to God, listen to Him and wait for His timing. He knows what He’s doing.

Our God, Your ways and thoughts are beyond what we can comprehend, and yet You choose to involve us in accomplishing Your purposes. Thank You for the desires You plant in our hearts, the ways You draw us into Your work. Help us to listen and to follow You, not turning aside and not running ahead. Help us remember that this is for Your glory, and not our own.

As we listen to God’s heart, we can echo this song from Jonny Diaz: “Use Me Too.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

2014 Writing Goals

Do or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda

Master Yoda is my favourite Little Green Man, but I disagree with him on the subject of trying. I think his context uses try in the sense of “maybe, I wish I could, we’ll see.”

Sometimes we try honestly and in our full strength—and we fail. Because of ourselves or because of things outside our control. We have tried. Our best. But it wasn’t enough.

I’m learning to hold my plans lightly, knowing God reserves the right to redirect my schedule. As such, I keep it fluid (sounds better than vague) because otherwise I’ll find myself defending The Plan instead of adjusting when life throws something unexpected my way.

But I’ve found a fun-looking blog hop for writers, and post #1 is to be on our goals for 2014. And we do need to know our targets or we’re unlikely to hit them. So here goes:

Fiction:

  • Early 2014: revisions and editing of Secrets and Lies, the next novel in my Redemption’s Edge series, releasing this year (date TBA) from Choose NOW Publishing.
  • April and ongoing: first draft of Redemption’s Edge #3, title TBA

Blogging:

  • weekly book reviews, devotionals and features

Networking:

  • keep connected with my writing communities and with friends and readers, for encouragement and for fun

Learning:

  • working with the Choose Now editing team is like a personal writing course
  • go back through the To Write a Story course emails I signed up for in the fall but didn’t have time to assimilate
  • continue learning the wonderful writers’ tool that is Scrivener
  • read books on marketing and apply what I learn

Click the button below to read what other writers are setting as their goals for the year… or if you’re a writer, click over and add a link to your own writing goals.

Blog hop for writers

 

 

Finishing Well

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6‑7, NIV*

These things Paul tells us at the end of his life—they’re what mattered most to him. These are his marks of success, and the things he was afraid he’d fail in. His daily, yearly, lifetime goals. The goals he’s trying to pass on to Timothy.

I don’t think he’s being smug here. He’s satisfied, and perhaps relieved. Failure would have devastated him, but failure is a constant danger. Being human, he may have slipped a bit, but he stayed the course. And he’d say it was because “I can do everything through him who gives me strength. ” (Philippians 4:13, NIV*)

He did it by relying on Jesus’ strength, and by keeping his focus. What’s my focus on any given day? To serve God, or just to deal with the tasks at hand? His opportunities, or my duties?

Father God, remind me whose I am and help me focus on Kingdom priorities. Let my life count for You.

Our song this week is “Lord, Reign in Me,” by Brenton Brown.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Choosing God’s Way

Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: “Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?”
Mark 14:36, MSG*

I’ve been noticing how many of my choices are based on what I want, or how I feel. When the right choice goes against my preferences, I confess there’s a bit of internal grumbling.

And that’s just the little choices. In this passage, Jesus is wrestling with a huge one. Yes, He’s already chosen, but He’s down to the hardest moment and desperate for another way.

When He puts it back to the Father’s will, it’s not a case of “Your preference over Mine” as if they were choosing a restaurant. Nor is it a grudging “I guess we have to do it Your way.”

It’s a conscious trusting in the plan they made together, a decision to follow through because He agrees with the ultimate goal despite the cost to reach it.

When God asks us to do life His way, it’s not some megalomaniac desire for personal satisfaction.

It’s about fulfilling His plan, which, in case we’ve missed it, is about rescuing us and restoring us to full life in relationship to Him.

It’s about fulfilling His purposes in us, those things we said yes when He called us to do them. And He will provide the means if we’re doing our part by choosing His way.

Father, help me choose Your way in the big and the small things, not to put myself down, not even because You out-rank me, but because I trust You to fulfill Your purposes in and through me—to Your glory, and for the good of those who love You. Forgive my selfish desire to put myself first and chase immediate gratification. Help me concentrate on You, in whom all fullness dwells.

Our song this week is the classic hymn, “Have Thine Own Way,” sung by Jim Reeves.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.