Does Your To-Do List Help You or Rule You?

What is on your "To Do" List today?

On days when your list is long, do you ever feel anxious or hurried?  I am asking because I do.  The list mocks me and, if I am not intentional, it rules me.

Today my list felt a mile long.  It is one of those weeks (months to be honest) when life is full to the brim.  I was being distracted by all the things before me.

Of course there was a slow poke in front of me in line.  Other people beside me checked out and left.  All my stuff lay stacked on the conveyor belt...it was too late to switch lines.  I listened as the elderly woman in front of me talk and talk and talk with the cashier.

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I have to be honest.

As much as I value the elderly, I was not liking this lady today.  Her jabber was slowing me up from checking off my list. I really did not want to hear about her diabetes and how the company that makes this particular canned good was going out of business.  I am now embarrassed to type my thoughts, but these are honest truths.

I heard some folks talking loudly across the front of the store.  To get my mind off of the eternally long time it was taking me, I began to observe these people.  They were obviously a family or close friends.  They spoke in a language I had never heard.  Large backpacks and lots of children made them look a bit gypsyish.  One man was pushing two tiny babies around in a buggy. They seemed quiet pleasant as I tried to figure them out.

In the midst of my distraction I heard the lady in front of me spoke directly to me.  I focused in as she is asked me if I heard the cashier say that her son was healed of diabetes.  I am instantly engaged.  I am also aware that this elderly woman's demeanor had completely changed.  When she left she told the cashier that she knew now why she came to Wal-mart today.

It was my turn.  I jumped right in and asked the cashier about her son.  We began to encourage each other.  I told her that it was amazing how the Lord uses her to minister to people as she checked them out.  It crossed my mind that her conversation with some customers may be the only conversation they have all day long.  She was beaming and so was I.  She shared with me how the greeter prayed for a man's hand this morning.  As I left she came around and hugged me.  We made a new friend. 

I found myself smiling as I walked to the parking lot.  Even though I could not find my van, I was so touched by this woman's ministry I just wandered around thinking.

I heard the people again. Their strange language is reverberated though the parking lot.  They were loading up into multiple vehicles and as I located my van I noticed their license plates.

Florida

They had been displaced by Hurricane Ima.  The Lord nudged me.  "Speak to the them."

I argued.  "But they don't speak English. This could be humiliating for us all."

As if to say, "I will make this one easy for you," one of the men headed directly toward the buggy return, beside my van.  I remembered what I had seen in the store.

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  • heavy laden backpacks
  • tiny little babies
  • lots of people

In spite of my potential embarrassment I began to speak.  I did not have a clue what to say, so I just jumped in.

"God bless you man."

He looked at me with a huge smile.  Without even waiting for me to say anything else he said, (in perfect English)  "Thanks so much!"

I mentioned that I had seen their Florida tags.

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His joy continued as he responsed, "YES! And we are headed back now!"  

He was obviously thrilled to be going back home.   I blessed their return as we parted ways.

I was so busy that I almost missed huge blessings.  My list was so big and distracting that I almost failed to see the Lord at work all around me.

I still have so much to do.  The list really is not any shorter than it was an hour ago.  But I am sitting in my chair typing this out so that I do not forget one single part.  I have temporarily kicked that stupid list to the curb.

So if you find yourself in the same place as me, I hope you will remember this story.  May the daily grind of your day not overwhelm you to the point that life becomes all about getting the very next thing done.

May we all take the time to love the one in front of us today.

There are people all around us who have hard things going on in their lives.

It sometimes helps our perspectives to look around us (instead of just at ourselves)!  

There is so much for which to be thankful, even in the Wal-mart line.

How To Keep Going...Even When It Is Hard

A few years ago I decided to take a hike. I knew nothing about this trail except that campers had 'run' this same trail for exercise.  I was not too concerned, I was just going to be walking.  

I had hit a wall.

I just wanted to be on a mountain trail, alone and quiet. I was making space for myself and I really needed it.  Taylor was happy to take care of the younger two kiddos so I could go.  Shrugging off stupid mom-guilt I headed toward the trail.

The weather was cool and the leaves were gorgeous.  Even the acorns were beautiful. Did I mention it was completely quiet?   

I thrive in the mountains.  

The first 20 minutes were fantastic. 

The grade slightly increased.  I was excited to think I was getting closer to the top.  I saw signs that marked one mile and then two.  Surely I was getting close. My anticipation was growing.

The grade increased even more.  

The acorns that were beautiful now were slippery. I was having to pay attention to each of my steps instead of admiring the leaves and the birds.

By the time I saw the 3 mile marker I began to become concerned.  But I wanted to see the view at the top!  

The final part of the hike was literally like climbing stairs.  My out-of-shape-self was struggling.  I had to be intentional and careful. The very last steps were the hardest.

But every single one was worth it.  

The view of the top of the mountain was breathtaking.  A hawk was soaring across the expanse.   The challenging part of the hike was forgotten.  I was so glad I came.  I was proud of having completed it.  As I sat and soaked in the the miles and miles I could see I was refreshed.

Where are you on your journey? 

Have you hit a wall and need a break?  Do you need to make time for yourself?  What do you love to do?  It may not have anything to do with hiking.  Give yourself permission to do something that you enjoy...ALL BY YOURSELF.

 Maybe making space for you is a personal victory all by itself.  Congratulations!  So many times we have been taught it is selfish to do something for ourselves.  What we are saying is we can place worth and value on everybody else...but not on ourselves.  There truth is we are worth a high price to our good Dad.  Shouldn't we see ourselves as He sees us?

If you are in the midst of a hard trail I am you cheering you on today.  Do not give up.  The summit will be worth it.  You really can do it! 

I can hear some of you now.  "But Betsy, you have no idea how hard my journey is."  You are absolutely correct.  I do not begin to assume I can know your journey.  But I know our good Dad.  You are not alone.  He promises that He will never leave you.  If you feel at the end of yourself, lean into the Lord and know that "you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you." (Phil. 4:13)

Last year I did the hike a second time.  I shaved 15 minutes off my time and I noticed I was stronger.  The exercise over that year had paid off. (I had started taking time for myself to get healthy.) I totally enjoyed it.  

This time I passed one group of teenagers doing the hike.  They were at the point where the grade had increased and one frustrated fellow turned around and headed back down the mountain all by himself.  He did not think he could do it.  I prayed for his heart knowing that a teenager just given up in front of friends.

What about you?  Have you headed down the mountain? Even if you are at the bottom, it is not too late.   Rejoice if you tried.  It is good to be thankful for even small steps.  But this does not have to be the end of the story.

You can try again.  I believe in you.

Part of this crazy adventure we are on is that we have a part to play.  It is good to be honest with ourselves about where we have been and at the same time feel empowered to move forward powerfully.  

  • If you are needing a break....take one. 
  • Maybe your path has gotten steep and you are tempted to give up...keep stepping. Just take the next step. 
  • Are there tears in your eyes because you gave up and it hurts?  Take heart my friend.  Your journey is not over and there are still miles to go.  One decision does not get to define the rest of your life.

I would love to hear your stories.  What is your journey like? Did you make it to the summit?  Or did you head back down the mountain?  How do you feel about you story today?  

We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Taking time for yourself is so precious.  You really are worth it!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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How To Fight Fear!

Have you ever been scared?  I mean really scared?  This weekend I was scared.

My husband and I were given a trip, from our dear friends, to get away for our birthdays.  Two plane tickets were part of the gift.  What a blessing!  What none of us knew was that our flight would be in a very small plane.  This was going to be an adventure.  

Little did I know I was headed for a battle with fear.

Our flight to St. Louis was fairly pleasant.  We hit one air pocket that led me to pray out loud for the entire group of 8 (including the two pilots).  After that it was smooth sailing.  We made a friend on the flight who was more scared than I was and she really appreciated the prayer.  Thankfully our landing was exceptional.  I was so relieved and so thankful.  We headed into the city and had a really fun time.

Occasionally a bit of fear about our returning flight would pop into my thoughts and I would intentionally refocus. It was not a big deal at all.  I refused to let fear steal from our vacation.

Growing up I was scared most of the time. From the time I was a child until about 10 years ago, I lived in fear.   In fact, listing all the fears would be impossible because there were so many.  Even as an adult I would check every nook and crevice to make sure that we were safe.  I would wake my dear husband up over and over and over because I had “heard something in the house.”  It was a miserable way to live.

Then the Great Shift happened.  To put into words, I began to know God as bigger.  I realized that God is real and that He not only cares about my life but that He choses to be apart of it. I am never alone and the King of Angel Armies is with me.

The night things changed for me there happened to be a real prowler on our street.  Neighbors were looking and watching and one of my greatest fears was practically knocking at the door.  It was the middle of the night and there was not resolution that I could see. The song "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" came to mind.  It was not a song that I sang a lot and was not on my playlist. However, I stood at my window and sang the song to myself.

Surprisingly enough I laid down in the bed and went fast asleep. I have not been the same again.

THEN we boarded the plane in St. Louis to head home.  The pilot announced we would have a bumpy flight before we ever took off.  I immediately began refuting those words--aloud.  I just knew that that flight was going to be smooth.

Guess what?  It was the roughest, bumpiest flight I have ever been on (including one broken down African plane that looked like it flew in World War II). I prayed with a fervor.  My whole body shook in fear and my husband said he needed prayer because I squeezed his fingers so hard.

I was down right afraid.  But this time I leaned into the Lord.  About mid-flight it became smoother and Taylor pried my fingers off his hand.

As I relaxed I began to watch the river.  I began to write notes about rivers.

Rivers bring life and provide life.
They transport goods and necessities.
Rivers nourish the land.
The water is fun and provides entertainment.
It provides sustenance and beauty.
People come to rivers,
build near rivers,
plant near rivers,
and play in rivers.
Rivers are mighty and powerful.

I remembered the Bible says, "Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:8  This river that I was seeing was a picture of what is flowing through us as believers. Amazing!

And I would like to say the descent was better, the clouds parted and we floated effortless to the runway.  But we did not.  We bumped and jumped around all the way down.  In fact, the descent was worse than the ascent.  But my thoughts had a new focus.  I was considering the river that flows through us.  It changed my prayers.  I actually became aware of other scared people on board and began to pray for them as well.

Because of Whose we are, we Christians are like that river.  
We bring life and provide life.  
In fact we bring what people want and need.  
We nourish.  
We are fun.  
Sustenance and beauty come through us.  
People come to us.  
We are mighty and powerful because He is might and powerful.

Thinking back, it is not surprising that these thoughts changed my prayers. God became bigger and our flight became smaller.  It did not become more pleasant--but my perspective changed.

I do not desire to return to a life of fear.  Life with God brings freedom.  If anything is standing in our way, be it fear or insecurity (the blank is endless) we need to think about the river that is flowing through us.


There is a great children's song that says,

"I have a river of life flowing out of me.  
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.  
Opens prison doors and sets the captives free.  
I've got a river of life flowing out of me."

Our lives can and do make a difference.  When we begin to know Whose we are are and who we are we can fly in freedom!