Tag Archives: priorities

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.

Scroll down to the comments form to share your thoughts.

Tweetables:

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.

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

by Steph Beth Nickel

Oo, shiny!

That’s how I often feel when I hear of a new opportunity. You too?

I have what I refer to as the Butterfly Syndrome. I love to flit from one thing to the next to the next and then back to the first thing. While I don’t think it will ever be my approach, I do admire people who are able to stick with a single task until it is completed before moving on to the next. There are definite advantages to this approach.

But since I have several interests (and am easily distracted), potential opportunities come at me from all sides. I am learning s-l-o-w-l-y that I can’t pursue them all—as much as I’d like to.

Add to my natural tendencies the fact that I’m a Christian and don’t want to miss an opportunity God brings my way and I’m off and running … figuratively speaking. I’m not like my amazing friend Janet, who participates in 5K events and our mutual friend Kimberley, who participates in Mudmoiselle. (Kudos, my friends! I am truly impressed.)

But even as Christians, we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity, every request. (For more on this, I highly recommend Lysa TerKuerst’s book The Best Yes. She guides readers through the whys and wherefores of identifying when they should say no so they’ll be ready to give their best yes.)

I COULDN’T.

Now, I believe there should be a progression in every Christian’s life. Many of us, when presented with a new opportunity, think—or even say, “Oh, I could never do that.” (At least this is the case if we’re not busy flitting about, trying our hand at everything that comes along.)

MAYBE I COULD.

As we mature, we come to the realization that just maybe we could do whatever it is. I’ve found myself thinking, “I could do that? Cool!” Often this has nothing to do with self-confidence or arrogance. Hopefully, there comes a time when we realize God has equipped us to do things we never imagined possible. This is an exhilarating mindset. And it’s very in-keeping with my “oo, shiny” attitude. If you’re wondering, it feels a little like an ongoing caffeine/sugar high.

can-t can should

BUT SHOULD I?

Not that long ago, the Lord brought me to a new realization. It may seem self-evident. And I wouldn’t blame you if you said, “Well, d’uh!” although I know you’re much too polite to do so. The final step in this three-step progression is this: when someone asks us to do something or we become aware of an interesting opportunity, we should … wait for it … we should ask, “Lord, is this something You want me to do? And if so, what should I set aside in order to do it to the best of my ability?”

I’m still learning Step 3. But it really is even more exciting than the second step. After all, knowing God will give me wisdom and direction and will guide me step-by-step … now that blows my mind.

Will I always flit from one thing to the next? Most likely. But with God’s help, I will try to stay in the same corner of the garden—at least for a little while. Care to join me? [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.

Guest Post: Are You Taking On Too Much?

Are You Taking On Too Much?

by Steph Beth Nickel

I usually have my post to Janet well ahead of the deadline, but not this month. In fact, I needed a nudge—even though I had a reminder in my day planner. Sometimes that just isn’t enough.

I have recently started covering for our church administrator while she’s on maternity leave. I enjoy the job, but it does leave me scrambling because of the other responsibilities I am also juggling.

This post may very well be a case of “do what I say, not what I do,” but here goes.

Just how can we determine if we should take on any given task? Here are six ways you may want to consider the next time someone asks, “Oh, could you …”

Taking on too much

Pray About It

If you’re a Christian this may seem self-evident, but how many times do we take on something without asking the Lord for wisdom? We can’t do all the things that are asked of us—not even all the good things.

Evaluate the Task

How long will it take? Does it fit naturally into our schedule? Will we have to set aside something that should remain a priority? Will it hinder our ability to fulfill our current tasks effectively? Will it steal the downtime that is crucial to our mental and emotional well-being?

Give Something Up

I once heard a speaker say she never took on a new task without setting aside one she was already doing. Talk about self-control! I can’t see myself doing this—at least not yet.

Remember … No is Not a Bad Word

Some of us have difficulty saying no when we’re asked to do something. We don’t want to let the other person down. We don’t want to miss an opportunity God has for us. This is another key reason we need to pray before we take on a task. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask. Plus, He will give us the ability to graciously decline if that’s what’s necessary. We must remember, too, that it is His responsibility to deal with how the other person responds. We shouldn’t buckle under pressure if we are confident God has not called us to a specific task—at least not at this time.

Consult Your Spouse or a Trusted Friend

If it’s going to put a strain on the relationship with our spouse, it’s likely best to beg off. I have such an easygoing hubby sometimes I don’t think to ask him what he things of such and such a decision. He is always gracious and never makes me feel bad about making up my own mind, but I really should keep him in the loop … and not always after the fact. And whether we’re married or not, a trusted friend can often give us a perspective we can’t see because we’re just too close to the situation.

Finally … Pray Some More

Sometimes we take on something and it’s good for a season, but we just keep doing it even after that season is over. Praying over our schedule regularly is a good habit to get into. As I’ve often said, no matter how much I love my lists, the only To Do list that really matters is the one God has prepared for me. And the only way to discover what’s on that list is to dig into His Word and pray—lots!

So … are you taking on too much? Why not review these pointers and make changes to your To Do list as needed. I just may have to do the same.

Scroll down to the comments form to share your thoughts.

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: When Busy is a Good Thing

When Busy is a Good Thing, by Steph Beth Nickel

I am super pumped. No, I don’t think it’s because of the iced coffee I had this evening—though that could be part of it.

Ever since I came home from this year’s Write Canada conference, it’s been “full steam ahead.” These nine-and-a-half weeks before I head to Scotland for my son’s wedding are going to be jam-packed. And you know something? I love it!

What am I reading?

Most of the time, I thrive on having several projects on the go at once. This can be evidenced by the hours I spent reading today—from six different books: Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard, My Life A.S. Is by Benjamin Collier, Once Upon a Sandbox by Carolyn Wilker, Starla by Dorene Meyer, The Convict’s Thumbprint by Beverley Boissery, and The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis.

I’m going to have lots of material for the book reviews I write for HopeStreamRadio. (Mind you, I’ve already reviewed a couple of these books. I had read enough to know I wanted to keep on reading and could recommend them to listeners.) The Book Butterfly, indeed. I love to flit from book to book.

A To Do List on Steroids

This week’s To Do list has 40 separate items, some of which I intend to do at least five times. Insane? Crazy? Dreamer? I may very well not get all 40 things done, but that’s okay. I am learning to prioritize and attack things systematically.

And the new opportunities that have come—and are coming—my way . . . one actually brought tears to my eyes and others have made me bounce up and down. And again, no, it wasn’t on account of my caffeine intake. It is actually rare for me to drink anything caffeinated. Trust me; no one wants to see me hyped up on caffeine and sugar.

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am learning to pace myself. Every now and then I actually say no to something. Really . . . I do.

Barbara Sher wrote a book titled Refuse to Choose. That phrase has sort of become my life motto. That said, when I took one of those silly Facebook “tests” to see what career I should pursue and it came up as interior designer, I decided not to head off in that direction. (grin)

For me, busy means I get down to work and don’t keep putting things off—except, of course, decluttering my house, but that’s a topic for another day, year, decade.

What about you?

Do you have to finish one book before beginning the next one? Is your To Do list brief and to the point? Are you focussed on the task at hand and only the task at hand? When is busy good for you and when does it stress you out?

It all depends on your personality type and so many other factors. What stage of life are you in? How much discretionary time do you actually have? How many people and projects do you have to consider before saying yes to one more thing?

But most importantly . . .

What is God calling you to do?

"Most importantly, what is God calling you to do? Let's make seeking Him our #1 priority. If we're too busy to do that, then we're just plain too busy."  ~Steph Beth NickelAs Christians, we must dig into His Word and devote time to prayer. We must fellowship with other believers and when needed, seek godly counsel.

We must ask ourselves, “Why am I considering doing such and so? Is it really an opportunity God has brought my way or do I just not want to say no?”

Personally, I have to be careful not to take on one more thing simply because I don’t want to let anyone down. (I’m a nurturer, a fixer—and sometimes overstep my God-given role.)

I also have to be careful that I’m not simply saying yes because I don’t want to miss anything God has for me. After all, there are plenty of scripture passages that instruct us not to worry and to seek wisdom.

In the English Standard Version, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

And Philippians 4:4-7 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

Let’s make seeking Him our #1 priority. If we’re too busy to do that, then we know we’re just plain too busy.

[Leave your thoughts below!]

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.