Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What is ‘enough’?

In this world of “gotta have it all”, it is easy to never get to a point where we feel like what we have and where we are in life is enough for that moment. The feeling of having enough, can only come from God. As I have written before, God has promised us over and over again, “Do your best, and I will take care of the rest.” Keep in mind that is the BLT version of the Bible. Brian‘s loose translation.

Understanding these basic principles, will change our ‘want’ list and our ‘need’ list. The apostle Paul said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Do all things? Could he fly like Superman or climb walls like Spiderman? No, but everything he did do, whether by choice or circumstance, Paul knew he could do it because he was doing it God’s way. It didn’t matter if he was hungry or full, in prison or free; he knew, because he was doing what he could, that God was there with him helping him through that moment with what he did have. He always had enough.

Did he have that brand new 40 B.C. custom four horse drawn chariot to get around? No, but he did have two good feet and a reliable pair of sandals. Did he have the best neighbors, or friends, or a perfect spouse? No. He didn’t even have a house to have neighbors, unless you count the guys in the next jail cell at many points in his journey. Through his life, Paul wrote 13 books of the New Testament. I am certain, many people of his time would have looked at him and considered him poor and wanting even for the basic “necessities”. I am also certain, God gave him everything he truly needed.

Enough is truly a measure of perspective. I have two children here, and two in heaven. I grew up in a small family all the while envying larger ones. I always said I wanted 8 or 10 or more children. Do I have enough? Absolutely. My wife and I have all the major appliances one might need. Do they all match? No. Are they still enough? Absolutely. Do I have vacations to Hawaii or Disney World? No. Our most cherished family vacations have been to places like a little town nobody has heard of on Michigan beach. I am spoiled by God almighty.

The contented person is never poor; the discontented is never rich. 

Stop and look at your life… Do you have enough?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Who Needs More Time?

Time is a zero-sum game. There is no way to get a 25th hour in your day. That makes time valuable; maybe even more valuable than any other commodity you have. That value makes it worth the effort to ‘budget’ your time just as you would your money. When you spend more time on something, this means spending less time on something else. Your time is your responsibility and the burden is using it wisely.

Who is the judge of your time? I look at time as a gift from God and try to use it how He would want me to. Start your day with your judge. Whether that means planning your day on your own, with your spouse, or in prayer with God. This will focus your day and maximize your use of it.

It is easy to feel guilty for not spending more time on any one topic. But, stop and consider this… Do you feel like you should spend more time with your spouse? Probably ‘yes’. Do you feel like you should spend more time with your children? Probably ‘yes’. Do you feel like you should spend more time at work? Probably ‘yes’. Focusing on just one thing, it will always want more from you.

Remember, your time is like a bucket. If your bucket is already full, adding more water to it; only spills water. Planning the day as a whole helps us realize our limitations and minimizes that opportunity for worry or guilt.

Planning one day at a time can consume much of that precious time. Try to look at things weekly. Create a rough weekly planner. List your have to's before your want to’s. Track your time and accomplishments for a week. Now take that information and tweak your weekly planner. Did you miss any "have to's"? Did task x take more or less time than you planned?  Continue this process for a few weeks until things seem to run 'smooth'. Now you have a guide every week to help keep you productive and happy. Remember to check back every two or three months and adjust. Did an old task go away? Did a new one pop up?

Still, need more time? Get up earlier. Not a lot, but maybe 30 minutes a day. Do you realize that would work out to two to three days of work a year? This can mean the difference between a smooth, well planned, accomplished day and a day filled with stress, distraction, and guilt.

This weekly template gives you power. When something unexpected comes up, you can make an educated decision. Can this fit into my schedule? Is this a have to that needs to replace a want to? Should I say 'no' to this new time user?

I will leave you with two final tips. Create a 'home base'. A designated place for your daily tools like keys, wallet, purse, phone, or glasses. Make sure the home base is easily accessed during your morning routine. Anything that can be made autopilot like this will add time to your day. Put everything back. Everything in your life needs a home. Not sure where that home is for something? Where was the first place you looked for it the last time you needed it?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Do your Best

At the beginning of a new year, I am reminded of a simple, comforting truth...

“Do Your Best and God will Take Care of the Rest”

This covers every topic of life. Every decision you make, ask yourself, “Is this my best?”  When I wake up, am I spending those first moments of my day in a way that will benefit the rest of my day? Am I leading my family by example, with love and patience? When I am driving to work, am I being safe and kind? When I am at work, am I giving my job my full focus and attention? When I spend money, am I sticking to a budget and taking care of the ‘needs’ before the ‘wants’? When I am at the grocery store, am I buying healthy choices; am I being kind to others? When I get home at night, am I loving my family, helping my neighbors and friends, making good use of my time? When I see that stranger in need, do I reach out to them to help in that moment? When I go to bed at night, am I giving myself enough time to sleep and recover to prepare for another day?

That may sound like a lot, but if you try you will be surprised to find many benefits. You will have far fewer things that give you opportunity to worry. You will feel better physically and psychologically. You will be healthier. You may never need to buy Rolaids again. This busy season will be simpler to navigate.