Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walk a Straight Line

"We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer." Proverbs 16:1, NLT

The words practically jumped off the page at me. I had just reviewed the items listed on my calendar for that day and determined that I would not succumb to the temptation of feeling overwhelmed.

But... God might just override our plans anyway? Why bother making them then? Oh, right... because He wants to work with me. Because He gave me the grey matter that fills the space between my ears for a reason. He wants me to use it. He wants me to plan. But He wants me to seek His guidance both through knowledge of the Bible and from advise from trusted and respected people. He wants to work with me to determine my goals and He wants to show me exactly how to get there.

The next night as I settled in for my evening foot rub and cuddle time, my Sweet Man tuned in to MythBusters.  In Walk a Straight Line (Season 9, Episode 15) Adam and Jamie attempted to swim, walk and drive in straight lines while blindfolded. Before they were blindfolded they placed themselves at the starting point and took time to evaluate their surroundings and their target finish mark, their end goal. They were (ahem) highly unsuccessful and confirmed the myth. It is not possible for a human to travel in a straight line while blindfolded.

Kinda sounds like parts of my life.

Later in this episode Adam and Jamie mimicked the effects of walking in the forest in a snowstorm (with limited visibility) by walking with buckets over their heads. Adam (who has no outdoor survival training) made quite the circular trek. Jamie, on the other hand, had the advantage of such training and was able to use it to successfully navigate a straight line through the trees.


"in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6, NIV

I know where my goal is, but without God I am blindfolded. I do not know the terrain. It is not possible for me to know for certain what obstacles I will encounter. But God knows. So if I take time to seek His guidance, I won't wind up travelling in circles aimlessly. God wants to be my guide. He wants to open my eyes. He wants to show me the way - and usually not much more in advance than one or two steps at a time. (Though there have been times when He has given me glimpses of the big picture.)

So what does this look like in my daily life? How do I apply these lessons so I won't have to learn them again?

It means I work like it all depends on me, but I trust like it all depends on Him. It means I still fill those (extra large) calendar blocks with my list. It means I still review that list. Every. Day. Sometimes several times a day. But it means that I refuse to open the door to panic and anxiety. It means I pray, asking God what HE wants me to do first. It means I only have tabs for email OR my blog OR Facebook open one at a time and when it's time to focus on my family or my home my laptop is closed. No more checking for email or Facebook updates every time I walk past my computer. In most situations, it means I spend my time focused on one task at a time rather than multi-tasking and running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. It means I must measure quality over quantity.

And I'm never sorry when I do it.

How do you successfully navigate your days without feeling overwhelmed?

This post is part of a series Timeless Journey. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Timeless Journey

Her heart raced, anxiety welled up within her like the molten lava of a volcano about to erupt. Again. This ritual seemed to be becoming increasingly familiar and she didn't like it. No, she thought, I am not going to do this. I refuse to allow myself to become overwhelmed. But how?

She was looking at the day's agenda. Tasks written on her calendar - some in ink, some in pencil. Some that had held their place for months already, and some with the ink still wet.

It will be ok, she told herself. What matters most will be crossed off by the day's end. She can be a bit stubborn that way, this woman.

Inhaling deeply and releasing slowly, she cried out to her Maker. Father God, thank you that you love me. Thank you that you see the reasons behind everything I do. Thank you, Father, for blessing my life with so many incredible gifts and purposes. Thank you for using me for your Glory. God, you see what's written on my calendar and you know as well as I do that this list is not exhaustive, that there will be other things that pop up in my day that I did not plan for, that at this very moment I do not feel like I have time for. Please, God, take my plans. Help me to complete the tasks that YOU deem important. Help me to focus on what's most important first, help me to manage my time well, help me to get out of the way so You can do what You want done through me.

But oh, the ways she could mess that up. How easy it is to step back in, take those plans back, get right smack in the middle of His way.

She desperately wants to please God. He created her to be a planner. Very much so, in fact. It's not uncommon for her to plan her days months in advance, but it seems that she's on a path where there are a few lessons to be learned along the way. Some she has learned partially and needs to improve on, others completely new. Most of them about time and how to spend it wisely, how to maximize it, how to make her plans but then give them back to Him, how to feel a sense of peace that she did what she could when her weary head is gently cradled by her pillow each night.

Have you figured it out yet? The reason I know this woman's thoughts so intimately is because they're mine. But I bet many of you can relate.

I've talked about time before. About how to relish every moment. To seemingly slow the relentless ticking, about different time management techniques I've tried, how to stay motivated to optimize timeI've shared my favorite method for saving time in the kitchen, and I've given my time back to the One who gave it to me. Do you notice a bit of a theme? Yeah, me too. So I've been spending a considerable amount of this precious resource studying it and I'd like to unwrap my findings with you. Maybe you'll glean a small tidbit of insight from something I learn. Maybe I'll be the only one learning. But this I know: A journey is always more fun when shared with friends.

Pack your bag and join me?