Tag Archives: priorities

Why Do We Take On So Much? (Guest Post)

Why Do We Take On So Much?

by Steph Beth Nickel

Last month, I talked about paring down our To Do list.

Today, I’d like to talk about why we take on as much as we do.

While I can only speak for myself, maybe you can relate.

Financial Need

There may be responsibilities you would like to set aside, but you have bills to pay. I can relate.

For the most part, I enjoy my work outside the home, and we do need the money. Still, there are many days I’d love to stay put and work in my home office and spend time decluttering the stuff I’ve accumulated over the last 30+ years.

I feel for those who have to hold down an “evil day job” in order to make ends meet.

Others’ Dependence

I see this as a two-sided coin. We depend on others and they depend on us. That’s the way life works.

However, when others are so dependent on us that we get drained and have nothing left to give, we need to re-evaluate our To Do list and prayerfully consider what needs to change.

Others’ Expectations

We’ve likely all taken on tasks because someone else thought we should—maybe a family member, employer, or church leader. Maybe it was a casual acquaintance, but we didn’t feel we could say no.

We ought to be able to expect things of one another, but when those expectations become unreasonable, we have to be able to let go of them without resentment or fear of hurting the relationship.

Our Own Expectations

How many times do we think we could take on “just one more thing”—even though we don’t have adequate time or energy?

In my case, the answer is “at least several times a month.”

So, if I could do without sleep and never binge watch Netflix, I could do a lot more than I do now. However, that time would best be spent completing tasks I already have on the go.

The New, Shiny Syndrome

Are you like me?

Do you see something new and shiny, something you already have the skills to accomplish or would like to learn, and jump in with both feet, only to remember you’re carrying the weight of all those other responsibilities and find yourself going under—and then binge watching Netflix because you realize you don’t have the ambition to do anything at all?

Grasping

Sometimes we take on a task because we’re grasping for something. Maybe it’s a sense of acceptance, worth, or accomplishment. 

Do we want to admit these truths to ourselves? Definitely not!

Does it help to do so? Absolutely!

Passion

We may have a passion to do something, but that, in and of itself, is not a reason to do something—or not to do it.

Some people refer to it as balance. I like to see it more as tension, the good kind.

Every day we hold things in tension. How much time do we spend on this or that task? How much time do we spend interacting with our family? How much time do we devote to our friends?

Wisdom, we need it in vast amounts.

Calling

As Christians, we often ask ourselves, “What is God’s calling on my life?”

Sometimes, that calling corresponds with our passions, our expectations, our need to earn an income. But we have to be in His Word and spend a significant amount of time in prayer, as well as seek godly counsel, to truly discern what His calling is on our life.

Calling Plus, Plus, Plus

Even after we do have a sense of what God has for us, we may want to do whatever it is—as well as oh, so many other things.

I am definitely in this boat. In fact, I’ve actually made it my houseboat where I spend most of my time.

Is that easy to admit? Nope!

Feel free to hold me accountable as I work this one through.

Rebellion

Though we wouldn’t want to admit it, we may be living in out and out rebellion toward God. Perhaps, we know we should invest our time differently, but we don’t want to.

That’s the bad news, but the good news is that God will forgive us and change our heart if we ask.

An Overinflated Sense of Importance (aka Pride)

Don’t get me wrong. I believe God values us highly. After all, if we had a price tag, it would read, “The Life of God’s Son.”

However, He is God, and well able to accomplish anything He desires—without our help.

Yes, He chooses to accomplish much through His people, but we don’t have to take on every opportunity that comes across our path, thinking, “If I don’t do this, who will?”

Trust God to give you wisdom and to raise up others to accomplish what He isn’t calling us to.

An Unwillingness to Set Aside Already Spinning Plates

I once heard a speaker say she never took on something new unless she knew what other task the Lord would have her set aside. Such a great perspective!

I definitely don’t live this way. I want to keep spinning all the plates.

So, why do you take on the tasks you do? Are there those you believe you ought to set aside?

As believers, we can count on Him to give us the wisdom (and the desire) to do what He’s calling us to—and only those things. But I’m pretty sure this is a lifelong learning opportunity. I’m trusting that I’m on the road to learning this lesson now that I’m staring down my 60th birthday. (Okay, so, it’s two years off, but when you get to be my age, two years flies by.)

Thanks so much for taking the time to take a closer look at why we do what we do.

Tweetables:

Sometimes we take on a task because we’re grasping for something—a sense of acceptance, worth, or accomplishment for example. (Click to tweet.)

Wisdom, we need it in vast amounts. (Click to tweet.)

God is well able to accomplish anything He desires—without our help. (Click to tweet.)

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

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.

Overcoming Overwhelm (Guest Post)

Overcoming Overwhelm

by Steph Beth Nickel

Do you have a sense of anticipation when you wake up? Or would you rather pull the covers over your head, roll over, and go back to sleep?

Recently, I’ve found myself in the latter category—at least more often than I’d like.

So, what can we do about it if that’s the case?

Take a good hard look at our To Do list.

If it’s already full to overflowing, we must learn that putting off pursuing our shiny new idea, declining a request to take on another project, or rescheduling a lunch date with a friend just might be the right thing to do.

"Time to thin out your To Do list?"

Thin out our To Do list.

As much as we feel we must—or want to—accomplish everything on our list, wisdom may lead us to a different conclusion … wisdom and humility.

It’s not going to do us—or the people around us—any good if we allow ourselves to get to the point where, one day, we really do pull the covers over our head, unable to face the day. And even if we’re able to keep motoring on, do we become short-tempered with those around us? Do we neglect health habits? Do we fail to accomplish what is truly important?

Make choices according to right priorities.

I would say my relationships are most important: with God, with my husband, with our kids, with our church family, with my friends, etc.

If the items on my To Do list don’t further those relationships, then it’s time to re-evaluate how I spend my time and energy.

If I resent seemingly unimportant chitchat with my grown child or getting an invitation to spend the evening with friends because I’m weighed down by thoughts of what I’m not accomplishing, then it’s time to rewrite my To Do list.

Develop healthy habits.

As Christians, we’ve been taught that putting ourselves first is selfish, ungodly, and I would agree with that, but I’d add a caveat.

If we don’t care for our spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing, we will not be able to develop our relationships and accomplish the things on our To Do list to the best of our ability (click to tweet). And the temptation to roll over and go back to sleep will become a real possibility.

Exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep energize us, help us think more clearly, and improve our attitude. Good reasons to make them a priority.

Give yourself a break.

Netflix? Video games? Surfing the internet? Maybe. But often these activities and others like them don’t recharge and invigorate us. They often distract us from what can truly do so.

How about …

Playing a board game with the family? Grabbing your camera and going for a photo walk? Picking up that book that’s been gathering dust for too long?

Is it time to rework your To Do list? I know it’s time to rework mine.

~~~

Tweetable: 5 tips on why—and how—to rethink that crowded To Do list from @StephBethNickel (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.

Pushing Through … and When to Say “Enough” (Guest Post)

Know when to push through, and when to say "enough"

[image via Pixabay]

Pushing Through … and When to Say Enough

by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of us have a difficult time saying no when asked to do something—even if we really don’t have enough time or energy to take on one more thing, no matter how small.

And, as Christians, a whirlwind of thoughts may rush to mind:

  • What if this is an opportunity God has placed before me?
  • What if I miss something He has for me?
  • If I have the ability to do what is being asked of me and there’s a need, isn’t that enough indication that I’m supposed to do it?

And what about those other questions, those questions we may not actually verbalize?

  • What will so and so think of me if I say no?
  • Who will do it if I don’t?
  • I’m supposed to go “the second mile.” Right?

I’ve recently experienced the necessity to do both: to say enough and to push through. And I believe both decisions were the right ones to make at the time.

Last weekend, for a few reasons, I didn’t get away on my annual writers’ retreat. However, I did deem it a “staycation.” I didn’t clean the church or attend the Sunday service. I didn’t cook for my family and only cleaned the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I expected or required it of myself. I did some writing and reading I wouldn’t have done otherwise and headed out of the house with my laptop to do so out of my day-to-day environment.

I also vegged more than I possibly should have, but all in all, it was a very good weekend. I got some physical rest and some mental rest, which may have been even more important.

This week, however, was different. My hubby generously shared his cold. I spent the day Tuesday down and out, sleeping and binge-watching Netflix. I didn’t have the ambition to do anything else. While I’m still fighting this virus, which has decided to settle in my chest, I was able to put in a full day Wednesday and Thursday and am facing another full day today.

This weekend promises to be a busy one. And although hunkering down for some extra rest sounds like a great idea, I am so very thankful that the Lord is giving me the wherewithal to focus on one task at a time and push through. Because this is not my natural tendency, there is no doubt that He deserves all the glory.

So, how can we tell when it’s right to decline a request and when we should step up?

Here are a few questions we may want to ask ourselves:

  • Have I prayed about it?
  • Will it jeopardize my current responsibilities?
  • Will it be a “one and done” project or will it lead to a long-term commitment?
  • How long will it actually take?
  • Do I know someone else who would enjoy taking on this task?
  • What is my real motivation to say yes?

These are only a few of the questions we could ask ourselves. What are some others that come to mind? (Please scroll down to add your suggestions.)

Tweetables

Know when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Will taking on this project jeopardize your current responsibilities? (click to tweet)

Have you prayed about it? (click to tweet)

6 ways to tell when to say enough and when to push through. (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.

First Things First (Guest Post)

First Things First

by Steph Beth Nickel

Raise your hand if you’re crazy busy.

One, two, twenty … yep, that’s all of you.

Busy with holiday preparations. Busy with your day-to-day workload. And, if you’re a little crazy like me, busy trying to hit 50K in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

It’s so easy for our priorities to get all jumbled at this time of year. We try to keep up with our year-round responsibilities while adding countless additional ones. As trending punctuation would have us express ourselves … It’s. not. going. to. happen.

So how do we choose what stays and what goes on our To Do list? Let’s put first things first and ask ourselves some questions:

Keep first things first this holiday season.

Can it wait until after the holidays?

We must humbly accept the fact that we can’t do it all—not if we don’t want our health and relationships to suffer.

Let’s take a look at our agenda and reschedule what we can.

Does a particular project bring us joy or does it add stress and weigh us down?

While not everything we must do fills us with joy and anticipation, holiday preparations should—for the most part at least. Have we taken on too much? Because it’s expected of us? Because we always do whatever it is? Because we don’t want to let others down?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate our workload, committing to those things we truly enjoy (and a few we may not) and passing along some of the responsibilities we just don’t have the time or ambition to accomplish.

Can someone else do whatever it is?

This year I’m doing my Christmas baking via two young women I know. Both are raising money for a worthwhile cause by making homemade goodies. I get several dozen Christmas treats made with love, and it doesn’t add any extra work to my holiday season. Win-win!

Is there anything you could pass along this year? Baking? Cleaning? Decorating?

Would it be better for our family and friends if we spent time with them rather than spending hours cleaning, decorating, and baking for the holidays?

Sometimes sitting down to play a game or watch a Christmas movie would be a better option than spending another evening up to our elbows in sudsy water. (Sounds like a better option to me most anytime actually.)

Let’s look at all we want to accomplish, decide what’s the minimum we can get away with, and settle on something in the middle. And when we’re busy with our holiday responsibilities, why not do things together, making it a bonding time rather than just one more stressor?

And, as Christians, we must ask ourselves if our endeavours enhance or distract from our relationship with the Lord.

Are we neglecting our quiet time? Forgetting to pray? And making excuses to play hooky from church? Not good.

Let’s keep the reason we celebrate in the forefront of our mind and our preparations. Let’s keep first things first.

Tweetables

Let’s keep first things first this holiday season. (Tweet this)

Settle on something between all you want to accomplish and the minimum you’d be okay with. (Tweet this)

~~~

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.

NaNO? NaYES! (Guest Post)

NaNO? NaYES!

by Steph Beth Nickel

Most of you are likely scratching your head.

What on Earth does that title me?

Well, those of you who are writers have likely heard of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50K words in 30 days.

Crazy? Some may think so. But thousands of people all over the world are sharpening their pencils and limbering up their keyboarding fingers.

Although I have participated in the far more flexible Camp NaNo a number of times, I’ve never taken the plunge and actually signed up for NaNoWriMo. All that changed this year and I’m diving in.

Sh! Don’t tell anyone, but I hope to make significant progress on a story I’ve had in mind for a very long time. The point of the challenge is to write the first draft—or close to it—of a new novel during the month of November, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really want to write My New Old Life.

So how can I set myself up to “win” NaNoWriMo? How can you set yourself up to achieve your goals—whatever they may be?

Learn from those who’ve gone before. (Tweet this.)

Although it may feel as if you’re alone, there are those who have gone before you, who know what you’re facing, be it an exciting new challenge or a heartbreaking situation.

I’m so thankful for those who have gone before, who know the pitfalls to avoid, who know how to plot a course (or a story), who know sometimes you just have to “feel the feels,” as the saying goes.

I would encourage you to learn from those with a positive attitude, who are further along on the journey. I have listened to some NaNoWriMo veterans on YouTube who shared great advice. I have also listened to some who share more about what went wrong. That’s not necessarily helpful or encouraging.

Plot out the journey—at least the highlights.

For the most part, I’m known as a pantser in writing circles. Come to think of it, I kind of live life that way as well.

I love paper planners and journals. They enable me to dream and pretend to be super organized. But I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting to the end of the day not having checked everything off my To Do list. In fact, I can’t remember a time I actually accomplished everything I’d set out to do on any given day.

But when it comes to crazy big goals, like writing 50K words in a month, some plotting comes in handy. If I know the major plot points I want to hit in the story, it will keep me moving in the right direction.

And if we know the major points we want to hit along this journey called Life, we will have a better chance of achieving our goals as well.

Plan to succeed. (Tweet this.)

While it’s okay to participate in NaNoWriMo and write 30K, 20K, even a few hundred words—after all, it’s more than we had written at the beginning of November—it’s best to go in planning to win.

And that’s the way it is with other things in life as well.

I’ll never have a clean, organized home. So why bother trying? They’ll never hire me for that job. Why even apply? I’ll never be thin. Why bother eating healthy and exercising?

It’s so easy to give up before we even get started. Let’s set ourselves up to succeed instead and take one step at a time in the right direction.

Don’t give up when things don’t go as planned. (Tweet this.)

We all know that it doesn’t matter how carefully we schedule our day or plan our life’s course; things will always come up that have the potential to derail us all together.

While we may have to reconsider our plans and dreams, it doesn’t mean we have to abandon them altogether. We just have to be willing to reprioritize as needed, and, as Christians, we must believe the promise in Romans 8:28, that God is working everything out for our good.

Fireworks image with the words, "Celebrate the victories -- no matter how small."

Celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

Many NaNo participants set up a reward system for achieving word count goals during the month of November, the more words, the more extravagant the reward. This kind of system keeps some pressing on.

Whether or not you choose to reward yourself when you make progress toward your goals, it’s a good thing to celebrate in some way. Too often we become discouraged when we don’t achieve our ultimate goal, when we don’t cross off everything on our To Do list.

Let’s celebrate the “small” victories in our life—and in the lives of those around us. (Tweet this.)

===

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.

Warnings Against Over-Committing (Guest Post)

Warnings Against Over-Committing

by Steph Beth Nickel

Caution tape with text: "Warning: Meltdown Ahead"

Complete edit. Find and train sound room personnel. Recruit someone to clean the church.

These are just three of the things on my To Do list, a list that has to be completed before Thursday, July 20, when my husband and I fly to Jasper on vacation.

God calls us to serve one another, to use our gifts and abilities to honour him and bless our brothers and sisters in Christ. And yet, there are drawbacks to over-committing ourselves.

It has been years since I’ve succumbed to anger and frustration and had a meltdown. (Until God delivered me, it used to be a regular occurrence.) However, that’s exactly what happened this past Thursday evening.

My husband and I are waiting on an individual to do his part before we can do what needs to be done in one certain area of ministry.  Busy with a demanding job and a young family, he doesn’t seem to realize how heavily we’re depending on him.

After meeting with this man, my hubby came home and told me they hadn’t gotten anything done that they’d originally intended—and I lost it. I was absolutely, positively overwhelmed.

Being the mature, spiritual person I am, I immediately took my concerns to the Lord and felt His peace wash over me. Right?

No, not right.

I didn’t want to relinquish my anger and frustration. I wanted to stay mad.

Has this ever happened to you? You want to vent just a little longer.

Thankfully, the Lord wouldn’t let me. Even in the midst of my mini tirade, I came to realize just how frustrating it must be for church leaders who want to further God’s kingdom in their community but don’t have the support of those around them.

A tiny part of me was rejoicing that the Lord was teaching me something even when I seemed quite unteachable.

And yes, eventually I did begin to pray for the individuals whose actions I have no control over. I also made a revised list of what I need to accomplish in the next few days, those things I can do something about. I unclenched my fists and got on with things.

My To Do list wouldn’t be near so long if I hadn’t taken on so many commitments. I once heard a wise teacher say she never took on anything new without prayerfully deciding what she could set aside.

Even after my meltdown, I’m not ready to make this commitment. Still, I must carefully evaluate all I am doing and ask God what, if anything, He wants me to lay aside.

How about you? Are you over-committed? Have you asked the Lord which responsibilities He’s given you and which He’s calling you to set aside—at least for now?

If not, I encourage you to do so. You just may be able to forego the downside of being over-committed.

Tweetables

Seek to avoid over-committing. (Click to tweet)

Warning: meltdown ahead. (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.

Treasured Release (Guest Post)

Treasured Release

by Steph Beth Nickel

This post was first written for Stephanie’s “Hunting Treasure” series of devotionals, which can be read (and heard) at HopeStreamRadio.

Do you have things or do things have you?

My mother-in-law was a perfect example of the former but definitely not the latter. After moving into a nursing home and before selling the house that had been her home for decades, Dave’s mom took one last look around.

My mother-in-law’s observation? “There’s nothing here for me anymore.”

Many people place great sentimental value on material possessions, even those not worth much monetarily. But not Dave’s mom.

Oh to hold things with such an open-handed grasp!

We’re in the process of decluttering our home, getting rid of those things we’re not using. The progress is slow going, but it’s very rewarding. We’re making room not only in our home but also in our heart and mind.

However, I have a not-so-secret stash. You won’t find it in the spare room or the basement, not even on my bookshelves. But if you knew where to look in cyberspace, you would be amazed—but not necessarily in a good way.

There is no way one person can possibly get through all the online course material I have stored up … at least not if that person wants to actually implement any of what she’s learning. I’m an e-course addict.

And what does the virtual weight of all these courses do to me?

It preoccupies my thoughts. It distracts me from my already overflowing To Do list. And, worst of all, it keeps me from focusing on that heavenly treasure I very much desire to store up. The treasure mentioned in Matthew 6:19-21.

Outstretched hand, with text: Hold things with open hands.

[image: Pixabay]

What are you clutching?

Money? Possessions? Reputation? Career? Relationships?

When my kids were little, we watched a Berenstain Bear video over and over and over. The one thing that has stuck with me over all these years is the song Sister Bear sang, “I Want It All.”

And although there are many things I’m quite content to do without, I am still eager to jump at almost every opportunity that sounds interesting. And even though I know I can never complete all the online courses—or read all those books on my aforementioned bookshelves—I’m still far too tight-fisted.

In a way, I want it all. How about you?

I can’t help but think of Jesus’s disciples.

In Matthew 4:18-19, we read that the Lord commanded Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, two fishermen, to follow Him, promising to make them fishers of men.

Their response?

In verse 20, it says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (ESV*). (emphasis mine)

In the next verse, we read that Jesus also called James and John to follow Him.

Their response is recorded in verse 22. “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (ESV). Note the word immediately in this verse as well.

In Mark 2, Jesus came upon a tax collector named Levi. In verse 14 we read that Jesus simply said, “Follow me” (ESV).

And without apparent hesitation, Levi “rose and followed him” (ESV).

These men and others didn’t cling to their careers, what was familiar, their apparent source of security. Instead, they left it all behind to follow One they barely knew.

The things I cling to seem silly in light of the disciples’ example.

Maybe it’s time for some treasured release.

How about you? Are there things holding you back from following the Lord and His teachings as revealed in the Scriptures? Are you willing to leave them behind? Are you at least willing to be made willing?

Does this mean He wants you to turn your back on your job, your material possessions, your online courses? Not necessarily.

But if we’re so busy storing up treasure on Earth, we just may be missing out on what’s most important.

Tweetables

What are you clinging to? (click to tweet this)

Do you have things or do they have you? (click to tweet this)

Hold things with open hands. (click to tweet this)

*English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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.

To Hear and Obey

…and the whole remnant of God’s people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord.
Haggai 1:12b, NLT*

What was the Lord’s message that the people obeyed?

A remnant of Israel had returned to Jerusalem, but in the busyness of rebuilding the city and their homes, they’d neglected to finish rebuilding the Temple.

God asked, “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4, NLT*) He said that was why the people were working so hard for meagre results. They weren’t honouring Him.

Prophetic messages were often rejected, but not this time. These people listened. They chose to obey.

We can be like them, getting off-track or drifting away from what the Lord would have us do. He may let us wander for a while and miss the best He wants to give us, but isn’t it wonderful that He will call us back?

Let’s be quick to listen and to respond.

Good and merciful God, You know we’re prone to distraction. Please guard and direct us, and make us responsive to Your correction. Give us ears, hearts, and spirits attuned to You, for Your glory and our own wellbeing.

A good song to pray regularly is “Search Me, Know Me,” by Kathryn Scott.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God First

They sweep past like the wind
and are gone.
But they are deeply guilty,
for their own strength is their god.
Habakkuk 1:11, NLT*

This prophecy describes the Babylonians, whom God says He will “raise up” (verse 6) to conquer everything in sight.

He calls them “a cruel and violent people” (verse 6) yet it seems their worse offense isn’t wicked behaviour – it’s the attitude of their hearts. It’s what they worship.

Today’s verse reminds us that, as important as our conduct is, of greater importance is the orientation of our hearts. Even outward righteousness wouldn’t be acceptable to Him if it came from a wrongly-focused heart.

God requires our obedience, but even deeper, He requires our worship. Not because His ego needs it, but because we were designed to worship Him. We are only complete when our spirits are lined up with His. When He is our Source, our focus. Our God.

Holy and all-powerful God, You alone are worthy of worship. If we fixate on anything else, we’re missing the fullness of life that You have for us – and we’re offending You by exalting something of lesser value above You. Forgive us for how easily we get distracted. Capture our hearts with Your goodness, and draw us to worship You alone. Only You are worthy, and only in You we find life.

Let this song from Lauren Daigle remind us to keep God “First”.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Guest Post: How Busy is Too Busy?

How Busy is Too Busy?

Steph Beth Nickel

A few months ago I came across Jonny Diaz’s song “Breathe.” (If you haven’t heard it, I encourage you to check it out on YouTube.)

There’s a difference between hitting the ground running in the morning and go, go, going until you collapse into bed at night and having a full schedule.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

How do you set a reasonable schedule and avoid becoming too busy?

Here are some questions to ask:

Do I get to the end of the day and experience a sense of accomplishment?

When bedtime rolls around and we’re focused more on what we weren’t able to accomplish than what we got done, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our expectations. There’s only so much any one of us can do.

Do I schedule time for those activities that “recharge my batteries”?

Sometimes it isn’t about doing less but instead, doing those things that energize us. Taking a walk with my hubby after supper, even when I don’t feel like it, is usually a better option than watching “one more episode” of a TV program. And if I plop in front of “the tube” for hours, I feel drained. If I, however, pick up a book—or two or three—I feel as if I’ve accomplished something, even if said books are fiction.

And speaking of TV and books …

Can I read for leisure or watch my favourite TV program without nodding off?

It’s a pretty good indication that our days may be just a little too full—or that we need to add physical activity to our schedule—if we fall asleep during our downtime.

Am I too busy to exercise?

I know it may seem impossible to include exercise in our day, but it’s important to remember that regular physical activity usually makes it easier to think clearly and work more efficiently. Plus, it will likely help us sleep more soundly. Bonus!

And don’t forget that exercise doesn’t necessarily mean spending endless hours at the gym or running for miles every day. Find a physical activity you enjoy (swimming, biking, joining a recreational sports team) and keep at it, and watch the changes happen.

Do most of my meals come from the freezer or the drive-through at my local fast food restaurant?

I am definitely averting my eyes and humming as I share this thought. I have big dreams of planning the week’s menu and shopping for necessary ingredients on the weekend, but it just doesn’t happen. One day. One day.

Does my house look like a bomb fell most days?

My home will never, ever, ever get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. However, I do want to do better. And for this to happen, I have to schedule “hometending,” as one of my friends calls it. In order to add sufficient time each day, something else has to go—but not necessarily downtime.

Do I consider time with family and friends just one more thing to scratch off my To Do list?

If we feel like spending time with the important people in our life is an inconvenience and keeps us from doing what we feel we should be doing—or what we truly want to do—it’s time to rework our schedule and possibly, take a closer look at our priorities.

Do those things I feel called to do (like writing a book for instance) keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list?

If there is a dream that just won’t go away, it’s quite possible the Lord has placed that dream in our heart. There will always be responsibilities that seem more important that divert us from pursuing the calling. We may think it isn’t realistic or that we could never actually do what it is, but I encourage you to set some time aside. Really pray about it and “get your feet wet.”

Do you feel as if you want to write a book? Read books on the writing craft. Attend a workshop or a conference. Connect with a Facebook group for writers. There are dozens, if not hundreds. But most of all, you’ll have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), remembering that first drafts are often much different than the final version.

No matter what your calling, ask God to open the doors before you—and be willing to walk through each one.

Do I set aside time to study the Bible and prayer each day?

As Christians, this is the key question. If we are not studying God’s Word and praying regularly, our agenda will never fall in line. If we don’t have time to pursue our First Love, it’s a guarantee that we are too busy.

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Let your priorities guide your schedule.

Don’t forget to schedule downtime.

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.