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Posts Tagged ‘priorities’

Yesterday was a pause, remember, and reflect day where I celebrated all God has done in my life and renewed my committment to follow whole-heartedly after Him. Which implies I will consistently take the time to actually listen for His direction. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? Especially when things get crazy. Today multi-published author Cara Putman shares her thoughts on calendars, stress, and taking the time to breathe.

Please note, she’s giving away a copy of Shadowed by Grace to one of you, randomly selected from the comments below. Also, don’t forget about Faith-Filled Friends’ month long give-away. :) If you haven’t been over there in a while, now might be a good time. Tuesday, I talked about some of my friends’ greatest fears–finding themselves in my novels. ha! You can read this fun yet thought-provoking post here.

putman-LR-1Taking Time to Breathe by Cara Putman

It’s a new year.

If you’re like me, you’ve got a new calendar out … and are praying for a short reprieve before its nice, clean blocks begin to fill with new events, tasks and activities.

My family graduated from standard blocks several years ago to the kind of calendars that provide separate blocks each day for up to six family members. Even so the days get filled and hard to read.

Is it even possible to stop?

To pause?

To breathe?

Not unless we commit to make it a priority. I can complain that life is busy, or I can take a pocket of time to step back and intentionally evaluate where I am, where my family is, and where we want to be.

So what should we do? I have a few suggestions…just remember I’m talking to myself just as much as making suggestions to you.

1)     Pause and ask God what He thinks of your schedule. Should some things end for a season? Are there things you should add? Are there things you should do as a family?

2)     Evaluate your family’s pulse. Are you all tired? Is there an attitude creeping in that is tired-boy-899951-ma reflection of a harried life style or too little sleep? Do you need to make some adjustments?

3)     How many activities can each person/child do? I’ve known families that only allow one per child. Or all children do the same sport. What works best for you?

4)     Are there on-going responsibilities you’ve taken on that you should release? Just because you’ve taught Sunday school for five, ten, twenty years, doesn’t mean you should continue to do so. Do you need to step out of the way so someone else can step up and grow?

What would you add to this list of suggestions?

Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. An award-winning author of seventeen books with more on the way, she is active in women’s ministry at her church and is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at:

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ShadowedbyGrace_CVRShadowed by Grace:

Rachel Justice is desperate to save her dying mother. She doesn’t want to leave her, but she accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy and photograph war images. No one knows her photography is a cover and that Rachel is really seeking to find the father she never knew, hopeful to get some help with her failing mother. Dedicated to her mission, Rachel is focused on completing it. Soon, though, she finds her priorities and plans changing when she is assigned to Lt. Scott Lindstrom, on mission as a Monument Man. Their meeting will have far-reaching consequences. Will this derail her plans? Will she ever find her father? Is her faith enough to carry her through?

Buy it here.

Read the first chapter here.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. Do you regularly take time to reflect–on your faith walk, personal growth, AND schedule and commitments? I’ve found, come December, I’ll notice a large number of tasks have been added to my calendar, many that were accepted almost accidentally. Accidental commitments don’t move me in the purposeful direction God’s planned, which means, there are times I must cut back. Then again, there are times He nudges me to add something new. But if my schedule’s loaded with the accidental, there’s no room to embrace God’s new. ;) Join the conversation in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

What are some ways you stay on top of your schedule? How do you keep yourself centered in God’s will for you and your family?

Some other articles you might find helpful:

Finding Meaning in the Mundane

Living 2014 With Intentionality

Time to Quit 

Additional book length resources:

Mommy Pick-Me-Ups by Edna Ellison and Linda J. Gilden

Deeper Still by Edna Ellison

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Last night our church talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan and somehow this led to a conversation on social mores and customs. (I’m not sure if it was a way to excuse our Americanized, “It’s all about me” mentality, or if we just happened to hop down a rabbit trail or two.) The jest of it was that Americans do things so differently than the majority of other nations. Many of our neighboring countries place a high priority on relationships. According to our small group leader, in Africa, relationships are valued to such an extent, one stays until a conversation is done–until the conversing party excuses them. There’s no, “Hey, I hate to cut you off, but I’ve got to go.” If you miss work, you miss work. I suppose you’d learn to schedule your fellowship time on Saturdays. lol.

In America, it’s all about productivity and achievements. People think nothing of fathers who can’t make it home for dinner or mothers who have their nannies on speed dial. It doesn’t take long to figure out where our priorities lie. Relationships? Not high on the list.

And before I get too far, I have to admit, I am very guilty of putting my schedule before relationships. Partially because I’m an introvert–a gregarious introvert, I suppose you could say. It’s not that I can’t handle social events–in fact, I’ll probably be the most talkative of the bunch. It’s just that I’d prefer to stay at home. With my computer, my books, and maybe some softly playing music. But if I’m not careful, my tasks can dominate my day, leaving others feeling a bit unappreciated.

This is a balance I’m not sure I’ll ever master, but it’s one I can never neglect. For me, scheduling works best. (That sounds a bit odd, I know.) With my family, there are certain days and times that I set aside to be available. With my friends, I’ve had to schedule days in. That way I can’t “get too busy” or conveniently decline. And with my daughter, it can be even harder because as a teen, she’s convinced she doesn’t need parental time. Only I know she does. It’s the time spent in leisurely walks or nestled on the couch that will glue our hearts together when the threat of rebellion seeps in.

Elizabeth George, author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart, has an effective way of keeping first things first. Each day she grabs a slip of paper and folds it into individual sections. Each section is given a category: God, husband, children, and so forth. She begins with prayer, “Lord, show me how I can demonstrate that you are first in my life today.” Then, “Show me how I can love my husband today.”

She comes up with one tangible way to bless each of the individuals on her list. For her God category, perhaps that means spending time in prayer. For her husband, it might mean cooking a special meal. Or maybe she’ll call and ask, “What can I do for you today?” (Gotta tell you, the first time I tried that one, I was pretty worried. Visions of my husband unloading a mammoth to-do list filled my mind. But most of the time, his requests have been very minimal.) It doesn’t really matter what the action is. What’s important is that she took the time to be intentional with her love.

It’s always better to be proactive than reactive. I’ve known so many couples standing on the other side of divorce that highly regret the lack of time they spent investing in their marriage. I’ve also seen countless parents watch their children spiral into destruction, wishing they’d been more consistent with family time and Bible discussions.

But on the flip side? I’ve also witnessed many couples married for decades still light up when their spouse enters the room and I’ve watched numerous adult children look upon their parents with deep respect and admiration.

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but all you’ve really got is  today.

So here’s the challenge: the holidays can be stressful or enriching. You can have the best decorated house on the block, attend all the right functions and buy that perfect gift for the tenth office party you’ll attend. Or, you can scale it back and determine to put first things first, even if that means saying no to that time-sapping function. Or perhaps forego cooking that ten course meal in order to spend a few extra moments with your family. Better yet, find ways to include your children or grandchildren in the preparations, focusing more on the event than the outcome. Meaning, if your ten year old’s iced cookies look a little less than perfect, let it go.

What about you? Are the holidays a time of stress or a time of celebration and connection? If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, perhaps that’s a sign to scale something back. What “Americanized’ traditions and expectations have seeped into your holidays, detracting from its true purpose? What steps can you take to refocus? What events and activities do you need to say no to? And what could you do simpler?

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the ever-invasive threat of materialism. Yeah, I know, this topic is way overdone, but if you’re anything like me, the constant reminder to put first things first with a counter-culture mentality is a constant battle. One worth contemplating periodically.

1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

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