Tag Archives: Making plans

When a Plan Comes Together (Guest Post)

When a Plan Comes Together

by Steph Beth Nickel

Planners. Journals. Notebooks.

Do you love them as much as I do?

Maybe you make a simple To Do List on paper or on your phone.

Maybe you keep it all in your head. (Kudos if you do!)

Still, there’s a challenge no matter what method you use to record your plans, hopes, and dreams … follow-through.

I can make a mean To Do List. I can decorate it with stickers and even use fancy writing if I’m so inclined. But none of that matters unless I take the needed steps to make my plans come together.

Sadly, creating a beautiful, comprehensive list and then lying back on the couch to watch “just one more episode” on Netflix doesn’t get me any closer to my goals.

Plus, nine times out of ten, I fall asleep. And when I wake up, I either 1) restart the episode I missed or 2) head to bed, promising myself I’ll do better the next day.

So, what practical steps can you and I take to move beyond list-making?

  1. As much as possible, head to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning.
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Pray before putting pen to paper, asking God to guide you as you make your list.
  5. Be honest with yourself. Just how much can you reasonably accomplish in one day? Your list should reflect reality.
  6. Your list should also reflect what is truly important, including time with God, family, and friends.
  7. Assign a time for each task, remembering to factor in “the margins,” times to catch up on projects that take longer than expected, and scheduled downtime.
  8. Pray again, committing your plans to Him. After all, Proverbs 16:9 is true, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).

February 17 was Family Day. I had prepared what I felt was a reasonably long list of things I wanted to accomplish, most of them in my home office. Before I got busy there, I did some extras around the house, which turned out to be a very good thing. Not only did I enjoy looking around at the less cluttered areas I had dealt with but also, we had unexpected company. (See Proverbs 16:9 above.)

I was able to sit and chat with a young man who has been a friend of the family for many years. And as it turns out, he has been reading the Bible in order to overcome his dark thoughts and draw close to the Lord. He wants to begin coming to church and was asking about baptism. What a wonderful way to spend an hour or so!

Our visit reminded me of the importance of positioning myself to be ready to be a blessing—online and in person. While sleep will still lure me away, tempting me to procrastinate and escape the overwhelm that prowls around the perimeter of my mind, there are steps I can take to make my plans come together—and steps I can take to be attentive when the Lord is bringing His plans together.

How do you handle your To Do List? What potential stumbling blocks do you have to overcome? What suggestions could you add to the list above?

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.

Keep an Eye Out (Guest Post)

Keep an Eye Out

By Steph Beth Nickel

Keep an eye out … it’s applicable advice in many areas of life.

This past week, when seeking to decide which two women to write about for my “Just Like Us” series of devotionals for HopeStreamRadio, the answer came in two different ways. I wrote about Eve because she was mentioned in the New Testament reading I did one day as part of my quiet time. I also wrote about Hannah. I had subscribed to a series of online devotionals. That particular morning the focus was on Hannah. While I approached my piece from a completely different perspective, I loved that I had kept an eye out.

And speaking of writing … You may have heard the terms “plotters” and “pantsers.” Plotters create a clear outline before they begin fleshing out their story. Some do so in extreme detail. Pantsers, on the other hand, sit down to write and see where their thoughts take them. Plotters must keep an eye out for good ideas they may not have considered at first, ideas that may make their work better. Pantsers must keep an eye out to see where their writing takes them but also to make sure that they don’t wander aimlessly—although that can be fun for a first draft.

This sounds a lot like life to me.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 16:9, which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).

There are plenty of scripture passages that indicate it is wise to plan for the future, that we aren’t simply to “go with the flow,” as it were.

However …

We all know that life often throws us curve balls we weren’t expecting, even if we were keeping an eye out for them. The problem with focusing too intently is that we are likely to get preoccupied with the What Ifs that never come to pass.

We must prayerfully make our plans and plot our course. But we must always be mindful of what it says in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways." Isaiah 55:8, ESV

In one sense we plot the course of our life, but in another, we are all pantsers. We must keep an eye out for what God is doing, for what He desires to accomplish in and through us. Along the path we will hit potholes, detours, forks in the road, and insurmountable obstacles. Thankfully, none of this takes Him by surprise.

And the path He leads us on will bring Him glory and will bless us and others. How that will happen is sometimes inconceivable, but let’s commit to keeping an eye out so we can recognize His fingerprints, which are, indeed, all over our life.

Tweetables

In one sense we plot the course of our life, but in another, we are all pantsers. (Click to tweet)

Let’s keep an eye out so we can recognize God’s fingerprints all over our life. (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.