Tag Archives: Making plans

Proceed with Caution (Guest Post)

Proceed with Caution

by Steph Beth Nickel

The Old Normal

Are you ready to get back to the Old Normal?

COVID vaccines are being rolled out. Hopeful would-be travellers are booking airline tickets. Restaurants are opening for in-person dining.

While there will be continued restrictions for some time, we’re all ready to return to pre-COVID schedules … Or are we?

Ready for the New New Normal?

Truth be told, when the first lockdown happened, I was more than happy to set aside many of my obligations. (Of course, like most people, I didn’t know how long “the New Normal” was going to last.)

And here we are, twelve months in, and I have a confession to make. I will not be quick to fill up my schedule, at least not with what was on it before.

What are you looking forward to most? What is something you will not be adding to your schedule even when it is again an option?

A Year in Review

Instead of working in the church office, I’m now spending my days editing and writing from home. (Shh, don’t tell, but I’m also listening to podcasts, reading, and watching some TV shows as well.)

Because others have stepped up to take on the responsibilities in the sound room at church, even though we’re allowed to meet in person, I find it hard to motivate myself to get back into the routine of attending weekly services. Yes, I know it’s important. Yes, I know watching the live-stream isn’t the same. Yes, I know I’ll get back into the rhythm. However, we’re in a time of transition in our congregation, and things aren’t as they once were.

What changes have you weathered this past year? What’s something you found particularly challenging? What’s something you actually enjoyed?

Joys and Challenges of 2021

A year ago, I would sit on my couch, overcome with how surreal it all was. I would spend minimal time in Walmart—because that was where a panic attack threatened to set in, something that had never happened to me before. I lost touch with many people, people I could have contacted via Facebook, email, or phone.

And now …

I’m proceeding with caution.

While I’ve made some reservations (hotel and car rentals) for the summer in hopes of attending my son’s wedding in Saskatchewan, I haven’t purchased the airline tickets yet. Will they allow us to travel if we haven’t had both shots? Will our son and his wife be able to come from Scotland? (At this point, it doesn’t look like it.) Should we just postpone our plans until next summer, when we can all travel together, and watch the wedding via Zoom?)

I’m taking precautions while spending time with friends (and I did go to church this past weekend). This makes me aware just how much I need in-person connectedness. To a large extend, I had supressed my need for this kind of fellowship. After spending three hours chatting with a young friend over lunch, I realized how much of my joie de vivre had been lying dormant. (This “extrovert on steroids” can only remain alone for so long.)

Now that spring has arrived and things are looking up, I’m better able to shake off the physical and emotional exhaustion and actually look forward to my days, most of them anyway.

What joys and challenges are you facing?

Most Importantly

While we’re all ready to say goodbye to COVID-19, we can’t forget that we’ve learned some important lessons during the past year.

It’s important to be considerate of and patient with others, especially those who don’t see things as we do.

It’s difficult to be confined with others for prolonged periods of time—even those we love dearly.

“Re-entry” also has its fair share of challenges.

The mental and emotional ramifications of the pandemic have been as drastic as the physical ones—for many, even more drastic.

Scrolling social media often does more harm than good.

As restrictions begin to ease, I encourage you to proceed with caution. Remember the lessons you’ve learned over the past year. And extend grace to others—and to yourself.

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

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 an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

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.