Archive for January, 2012



While examining what to do with the New Year, many begin to make resolutions about weight, finances, job changes, travel, etc. It is, if you will, a quest for the “new you”. We look at the new year, as an opportunity to begin afresh, wash off the muck clinging to us from the previous year and throw ourselves with wild abandon into all things new.

For me, each year brings about not so much new resolutions (or old ones for that matter). For I have resolved to simply listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit daily, and not try to achieve outlandish expectations that I have set myself and try to accomplish them in my own strength. I have found that this does not work well. At least, not in my life.

I end up worse off than I was before!! Battered, broken by my failure to keep these very unrealistic expectations. What I have found is that while the Holy Spirit may, indeed, lead me to pursue a behavior or task that is difficult, He also gives me the power and wisdom to see it through to completion. This is something I just do not have in my flesh! And, quite frankly, I biff it a LOT when I attempt to live according to the ability and strength of myself.

That being said, there is one issue that I am quite certain the Lord leads me to examine every single year, actually a couple of times a year, and that is the issue of time management.

Within the course of any given year there are many changes which take place that make it necessary to re-evaluate the use of our time. There are changes that permit us more time, while others seem to drain our days of any seconds that seem to be available. With that said, it is imperative to remain flexible and examine what needs to change in fairly regular increments.

For me, this analysis takes place at the New Year, in March and in October. At the New Year, I begin to evaluate what family plans, large home projects, or travels that we, as a family, or individually, might need to pursue. I also look at which items I need to lay down and walk away from.

In March and October, I, quite literally, get out my time map and for seven days, I log how I have spent each half hour increment of my day, to see if I am actually using my time as effectively as I am able in my daily or not. You can do this by printing out or grabbing a notebook and writing down the thirty minute increments that represent your day. For me, it runs from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., as these are the hours I, typically, operate in. At the end of the seven days, analyze where your time has been spent. How long have you spent on the internet? Was it truly for business or school work? Or was most of it used in simply surfing the web and checking your friends stats on Facebook?

What I have found, as I have done this exercise, is, inevitably, something resembling the sucker branches on my fruit trees has sprouted up and is trying to suck the life and fruitfulness out of the attitudes, projects, etc. that I am supposed to pursue.

These “sucker branches” masquerade as quite “important” things, but, in the end, render whatever they touch to be fruitless. Or in the very least, lacking the  vigor that they could have had. Similar to fruit on trees where the sucker branches have not been removed, the “fruit” of my day is small and lacking in substance and the flavor is much less vibrant than it would have been had the sucker branches been removed. (And did you know, that if the branches and the tree itself is left untended in that state, it will eventually die, for the sucker branches are not there to produce fruit, but to drain life.)

We are much like these fruit trees, we are here to be productive, fruitful, and to glorify the One who created us. If we do not take time to stop and evaluate our life in light of changes, which have occurred or, more importantly, in light of what God, Himself, may have for us, we begin to be unfruitful and will eventually wither, producing no fruit at all.

It is IMPERATIVE to remove ALL sucker branches, for the sake of the life of the tree! It cannot do what it was created to do, if it is struggling just to live.

SO, in light of where we are in life, what is God spurring you to take up? What is He asking you to lay down? Remember, He is ever the gentleman. He will never force you to do what is good for you, but He does promise the power to do it, if you will but seek Him and ask…and, then, DO IT.

Will you take time to ask God what He has for you this year? And will you take time to listen? Just as an encouragement…He just wants a willing heart. He provides all the power and the will to do His good pleasure, if we will submit ourselves to Him and all the good He has for us.

What sucker branches are draining the vigor and fruitfulness out of your life? Are you willing to forsake them and walk away for your own good? You can, you know…in HIS strength. He has given all who call upon His name all we need to live a godly life in Him.

I am seeking Him toward this end, today, and will share soon what He shows me.

Will you let Him show you how to use your time, today? You will be free and fruitful, if you do!

 


I don’t know about you, but when I begin to look at all there is to DO in 2012, my head begins to swim with all the excitement (for the fun stuff!). But along with the fun, there is some confusion in the areas of life I am contemplating taking up or laying down; then, there are some areas where I am downright gasping for air at the sheer magnitude of them!

That being said, I am the kind of chic who guffaws at a challenge, simply because I can. I may laugh loudly at the road that lies ahead, but that does not mean there are not moments when my palms feel like they are leaking Lake Eerie! This dichotomy within myself, puts me in mind of a time when traveling that we decided to go to the !Explora! in Albuquerque, NM. For those who are innately curious, it is a divine little place. One can look, touch, read, experiment, etc. with all kinds of things.  Like I said, divine.

At any rate, on an upper level of Explora! there is a sweet little ‘attraction’ called the “High-Wire Bike”. The whole concept of the exhibit is to demonstrate the capabilities and importance of counter balances. The exhibit is two stories up and involves a “loading station”, a cable which runs across the length of the upper level, and a bicycle equipped with a counterbalance perched blithely upon said cable.

If you decide, in fact, that you want to become a living participant in the experiment, you line up in queue, and wait for your turn. When that decisive moment arrives, the fearless (or fearful) creature that you are climbs out onto the seat of the bicycle. To begin the experiment is very simple, you begin to pedal backward across the wire. Yes, it is very simple, but I left out one little, tiny detail… there is no net to catch you, should the bike flip…no net to catch you should you decide to bail…no net!

I am a curious creature by nature and love the idea of adventure. I love going to new places, seeing new things, delightful things, mind you, and I love to see if I can succeed at various things. Yet, at the heart of this adventure lover, there are two sides warring. The fearless side that says, “Just do it! You will be finnnneeeee….” then,  the much more practical side, which needs ALLL the answers before I am inclined to move. Well, I can assure you that the practical side of me was looking at the fact that there was no net, while I stood in queue for my turn. Hence, the waters of Lake Eerie began to flow forth from my palms, my heartbeat hastened, debating just how sound I might be, if I climbed onto that bike! All the while, the other side of me screamed, “Quit being afraid of everything and DO it! Look, it has a counterbalance that has been proven to work! Just do it! You will regret it if you don’t.”

To make a long story a bit shorter, I climbed on that blasted bike, was properly strapped in, and began the journey backward with no sight. I couldn’t turn around and check my progress, though even if I had, I am sure that I would have been distracted by the fact that I was stories in the air, pedaling a bike on a cable! Moving backward, the pedaling seemed a bit more strenuous than I would have expected and the bike wobbled. I looked at all the people below me moving around in miniature and tried very hard not to think about the lack of netting.

Finally, I hit the natural stop at the end of the cable that signaled that I had reached the wall on the other side of the building. With a sigh of relief, (after all, I had made it halfway) I began to pedal forward.

If I was concerned about the backward pedaling being a tad strenuous, it is safe to say, I was terrified about the ease of forward propulsion!! The pedaling was much easier, much faster and A LOT more wobbly. Torrents poured from my hands and beads of sweat made their appearance upon the bridge of my nose and I prayed all the more fervently that I would, indeed, arrive safely back at the station.

What seemed like an eternity passed as bike and rider found their way back to the dock. Trembling inwardly, I dismounted and rejoined my family who had witnessed the whole episode. My darling husband, upon whom I had kept my eyes locked the whole time; my children and nieces and nephews, some of whom had laughingly reminded me of my impending doom during my adventure on the high-wire, all welcomed me back.

As some of them decided to take their chances upon the high-wire, I began to catalogue what it had meant for me to jump into the line in the first place and then, climb onto the seat. In the end, I realized that for me to be willing to climb aboard for the adventure, I had to have had more trust in their system than I had of distrust. Could it have been disastrous? I suppose it could have been. But, in the end, it wasn’t. Their point was proven. The counterbalance worked; it had kept me upright and alive.

So. What does all of this have to do with organizing one’s life and all the things that we may take on in the year 2012?

Well, for me, it means that I need to look at those things that offer a nice counterbalance to the weight of responsibility. While I am making my list of “to do’s” for 2012, I need to be aware of what makes me fearful and if it is a fear of God or a fear that is otherwise placed. If it is a fear based upon anything other than serving the Lord, then I know that I will miss out on some great and exciting opportunities. However, if I seek Him and ask for His wisdom, then I will have some wonderful  adventures. They may make my palms leak, and, at times, make my heart palpitate, but when I look back at them, I will be able to say, “WOW! Look at what You brought through and TO, Lord! How fantastic!”

We are all called to live responsible lives and, for that, I am thankful. But remember as you are looking at what you would like to accomplish this year, that trust, peace, and joy need to intertwine with that responsibility. Are some of our responsibilities and callings scary? Sure. But, in the end, if we trust the One who called us to them, the peace and joy will follow.

What are some of the things that beckon you in 2012? Do they make you weak with ungodly fear? Or do they make your heart sing with excitement? If you look to Christ and ask if it is safe, jump on that proverbial bike and start to pedal. It doesn’t matter that you cannot see all the way around, HE DOES! He will get you from point A to point B. Keep your eyes upon Him, and the benefits and joys that He gives that counterbalance that fear. Go out in the strength of Christ and do the good works He has prepared for you ahead of time.

This year, I am looking to finishing my degree, to paint more with my younger daughter, cook more with my older one; sing with my younger son and play  more chess with my older one. I am, also,  looking to build a bigger business with my husband. Some of these things are pure joy, some are scary, but I am on the bike, nonetheless.

Are you on the bike? What will you do in 2012, that will challenge and fulfill you?