Thursday, February 23, 2012

{Redeeming the Time}: Purposeful Planning

It’s a new year and you've made your new resolutions, right? If you haven’t done that yet, maybe you need to resolve to make some, hmm?

Has planning ever made your resolution list? Be a better planner? Certainly a worthy goal. 

For some it comes pretty natural, for others, not so much...that's okay. There really are pros and cons to either being too set in plans and being too loose with plans. 

No matter how different we are, we all have a common goal. We want to hear "those" words. Which words, you ask? Oh, these words...

 “well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21).

To achieve that end there is definitely something to be said for cultivating the discipline of planning (even doing it for the glory of God!) 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God.

Even simple, mundane and routine things can be done to bring God praise. God actually commands us to redeem the time for His purposes. 

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil".

 It’s really hard to redeem the time when you don’t have a plan! 

Without a plan... you will do one of four things: 

  • go with the flow and quickly become very busy and overwhelmed
  • go with the flow and become lazy
  • become anxious for lack of a plan 
  • strive for the wrong things

Which is your leaning? Or can you nod in agreement at all of them? ;) In that case, let's get to planning!

First things first – it’s important to determine your personal priorities so you know how to prioritize your plan. Sit down, pray through, think through and talk through with your husband different areas of your life, including: 
 -spiritual health 
- physical health 
- discipleship (growth in you, your family, connection to community) 
- service (spending time, talents and treasures on those in need) 
- relationships (with the Lord, with husband, with children, friends, extended family, etc.)

Once you have ordered your priorities, come up with a general outline listed with biggest priorities first. It may end up looking something like mine (since most of them are scriptural goals):
1. Love and know God
2. Love, serve and shepherd my family
3. Serve the church with my God-given gifts
4. Love and minister to the lost, poor and needy
5. Honor my body and take care of it

 After you have generally come up with priorities, you can make them more specific (serving in church nursery, MOPS group, ministering at the nursing home, etc.). Here's an example of that:

1. Love and know God

  • reading/memorizing (fighter verses)
  • journaling/praying (prayer cards)

2. Love, serve and shepherd my family

  • reading together/family worship @ 5x per week
  • sync time with husband once per week

3. Serve the church with my God-given gifts

  • mentor college girls once per week
  • preschool every other month
  • MOPS @ 2x per month

4. Love and minister to the lost, poor and needy

  • nursing home once per week
  • meal for potluck in Bryan once per month

5. Honor my body and take care of it

  • The Shred -  20 min. @ 2x per week

Get out your calendar and look at a typical week. Do your priorities align with your schedule? 

Which things are on you calendar that are not on your priority list? Write those down. 

These will help you come up with a "Not To-Do" list. Mine looks like this:

Not To-Do List:

  • Checking email too often
  • Checking facebook too often
  • Making a homemade meal for someone on an already busy night (takeout/gift card instead)
  • Making something homemade when its not necessary
  • Blogging that isn't beneficial to my family, the Lord or the gospel going forth
  • Reciting the "rules" to my kids more than His story of grace
  • Thinking there is something of my job that matters more than my kids

You get the idea...use the difference between your calendar and your priorities to make this list. You may need to go way back to get enough for a list together. Or just know your own tendencies...

In doing this exercise, we may start to feel condemnation thinking that your life doesn't line up with what you portray it to be or even just what you want it to be to line up with scripture. It's so easy to know what your priorities are (or what they should be) and in the hustle and bustle of life for things to get flip flopped…

I want to first love and know God, but if I look at how I’ve spent my time in a particular week, it doesn’t seem like is true in my life. If it’s true, then I would have put aside the email, the facebook, and maybe even some dishes to have prayed and spent time with the Lord.

So we don’t just want to know our priorities, we want them to reflect in the way that we live. 

Shopping for Time is a wonderful book by Carolyn Mahaney that focuses on managing the time God has granted us on earth with the same intentionality we have with shopping. She talks about how we clip coupons, scour sales racks, carefully study garments and think through what would match and how we wouldn’t think of throwing items into our carts before doing those things BUT how often we do that with our time! Our precious time!

Starting your day... can be as simple as praying and reading from the Word. One helpful tip I have received (from Mahaney's book) and put into practice is to get a journal and complete three sentences about the passage of Scripture that you read. I like this method because it can be done simply with a Bible and a journal, anywhere, anytime and I'm not depending on a devotional or needing a new one. Plus, I am reading straight scripture. 

1.  What does the passage reveal about God?
2. What can I learn about myself in relation to God (based on the verses)? 
3. What do I resolve to do in response?

God's sovereignty... There’s a fine line between making plans/sticking with them and then committing those plans to the Lord. Culture tells us we are sovereign and in control of what happens in our lives. It’s important to recognize that as much good planning as we do, human responsibility is always subject to God’s sovereignty.

 Prov. 3:5-6 “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and 
He will direct your paths.

 Prov. 16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, 
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD

 Prov. 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, 
but the LORD establishes his steps.

God's Purpose... God has given us a mission much different than the world’s. He has invited us to “come and follow him”, and to become His disciple. He doesn't need us, but He wants to use us! That's worth rejoicing over! His purpose is to use us to bring Him glory during this short time we have on earth, to be lights for Him in a dark world. But we will have a hard time doing that if we fail to prioritize our lives to make the best use of the time He’s given us.

So in all of this we are working toward finding balance in planning in order to redeem the time and holding our plans with an open grasp, knowing ultimately He is in charge of our plans. It’s a wonderful and difficult balance that we should always be striving for and always re-evaluating how we are doing in our lives.

Other ideas...

  • Take a personal planning retreat (an extended time once or twice a year for study, prayer and evaluation of what’s working/what’s not)
  • Plan special times with your family - Daddy/Daughter Dates, Father/Son projects, Mother/Daughter moments, Mother/Son Dates, game nights, movie nights {check out my Pinterest board for some inspiration}
  • Plan to simplify/declutter/give generously {check this out}
  • Plan your book list for the year. Need recommendations?

Remember this: even if you only change in one area, you will be doing more than if you hadn’t sat down to plan at all. So pick one thing and run with it! God will be honored that you are desiring to live by redeeming the precious, albeit small, amount of time He has given you!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blinglets Review & Giveaway

Given the opportunity to try out these fun, fashion forward, customizable bracelets with my daughter and her friends, I couldn't pass it up. How fun that they could create beautiful bracelets and then be able to model them for all to see!

They are appropriately named, Blinglets...bracelets with bling! They can also be found here on their website, here for Twitter updates and here on Facebook for more information and for purchase. They have a variety of fun and educational products to browse.
If you purchase the "party pack," each girl will be given 4 bracelets with coordinating sticky jewels to decorate the bracelets with. Both the bracelets and the jewels are nice quality. The jewels are a heavier weight and the bracelets are thick (not bendable), like bangles.

I would give this caution: the first time Taylor made one, I forgot to remind her to stick the jewels and then press it hard so it sticks well and a few of them came off while she was wearing them, but after she made efforts to really press, I don't think we have had the same problem. Beckett and Easton each made some as well and I have found some of the stickers on the ground, which I assume is from Easton's contribution. These aren't the plasticky jewels, like the ones little girls use for earrings, they seem nicer and bigger to me. I like the look of them once they are stuck on there good.

Also, the actual bracelet seems a bit on the big side for a 5-6 year old girl. They easily slip off of Taylor's wrist, so she wears them some and she also has been using them as collars for all of her stuffed animals. Her puppies and kittens are looking adorably stylish!

 We made some with her girlfriends from MOPS, as well as Beckett and Easton, and they had a great time putting them together and customizing them. Each girl had their own method. Some wanting spaces in between each jewel and coordinating the colors and other girls who wanted to fit as many as possible on the bracelet to really "bling" it out. They had a wonderful time being creative.

So, who wants a party pack of Blinglets for their little girl and her girlfriends? I am hosting a fun girly giveaway for a pack that will entertain 12 girls (with 4 bracelets per girl). What a fun excuse to have a party for your girly!

If you would like to enter, you can gain up to 17 entries below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Deadline for entries: February 29th at noon CST
Winner to be announced: February 29th at 1 PM CST
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ready to Pop Baby Shower

One of my dearest friends, Tara, is getting ready to have her first baby this week. Sweet Everett will be welcomed into the world with wonderful family and friends awaiting him and ready to meet him.

Several of those friends helped me host her shower a few weeks ago with the theme, "Ready to Pop."
Tara was 38 weeks at the time...truly ready to POP!

The inspiration for this shower was found here.

All the food we made was food that can POP! I made a few varieties of popcorn, including Caramel Popcorn, White Chocolate Popcorn and Parmesan Popcorn.

We collaborated on the Cake and white goodness.

Homemade Pop-tarts were among the most snatched up item on the table. Yum, Kelsey!

The classic Rice Crispie Treats...

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins were a hit...

And to add some spice...Jalapeno Poppers!

Taylor made these precious favors...bags of Ring Pops, Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops. Adorable! I think my kids were most excited that I kept some of these for them!

We had these "Wishes for Baby" printed and asked the guests to fill them out and hang them. They ended up being really sweet and some were hilarious. I hope Everett enjoys reading these when he is older.

Lovely friends of the Mother-to-Be...

The hostesses (minus Jen) with Tara and Everett. Such a fun time of celebrating this little Momma!

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Carryover Book Reviews from 2011

In October I posted the list of books I had completed cover to cover and my star rating on those. Here are the rest of the books I finished in 2011. Hopefully they can be of some help to you as you pick up books throughout the year. 

5 Stars - Make time soon
4 Stars - Worthwhile read at some point
3 Stars - If you have spare time, go for it
2 Stars - Not the best resource
1 Star - Steer clear

The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn Custis James ***1/2
Engaging book about the book of Ruth that had some great truth about suffering/loss and trials. There were a few instances where I wondered if our theology differed on some subjects. Other than that, I enjoyed it and learned from it.

Generous Justice,  Tim Keller *****
One of the best books I have ever read, definitely the best on the subject. Biblical, compelling, and pursued my heart and its motives before ever addressing my actions. Highly recommend!

Redemption, Mike Wilkerson ***1/2
Hard to read because of the devastating effects of sin conveyed throughout the chapters, but if you can get past that, it's a helpful book for counseling and ministering.

For the City, Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter ***
Really a book about the stories of how their churches and commitment to the city got started and where they are now. Interesting, but definitely not a must-read.

Community, Brad House ****
A wonderful book about the heart of community in your church body. First half was way better than the latter. Must read for church leaders.

Honey for a Child's Heart, Gladys Hunt ****1/2
I LOVED this book! It inspired, encouraged and refreshed me in the shepherding of my children through books. I would recommend this to any mom, especially as a resource for all of those great, classic books it lists at the end.

Money: God or Gift, Jamie Munson ****1/2
The best little, compact book I have read on the subject that combines practicality with theology of money.

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young ***
A one-year devotional I read last year, more sporadically than everyday, but nonetheless, it encouraged my heart. I wouldn't classify it as Gospel-centered, but scripture saturated for sure. Each day was based on many different scriptures that spoke from the heart of God to you on that particular day.

Currently, I am reading Becoming God's True Woman, Amazing Grace and 7. Just finished up Real Marriage. Book reviews to come...

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