Do your actions reflect your priorities?

His voice rang true as it penetrated my heart, “Kina, You can NOT sprint a Marathon! You can save all of the orphans and win all Mexico for my Kingdom, but if you loose your marriage and your kids resent Me because of you, then you have lost.” God’s words shook me sometime in the middle of the burnout. We had been running long and hard for many years and I knew it was time to stop.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me has heard this story. It’s a soap box that I have been standing on for many years.

It was after those words sank into my heart and mind that I really began to make changes in my daily life which reflected my discovery, changes that reflect my priorities.

So my question to you is, Do your actions reflect your priorities?

What do you spend the most time doing? Where do you concentrate most of your effort?

Don’t be mistaken…Where you spend your time and concentrate your effort IS your priority. Whether you feel that way or not, the message that you convey to others is that they are not as important to you as the areas on which you are focused.

Where do we go from here?

If I asked you about ministry, how would you describe it? What has God “called” you to do? What is your first ministry? What is your second ministry?

Now I want to challenge the way you think. Are you married? Do you have kids? Well, if you are married then I believe that, that good looking guy who swept you off your feet, he is your first ministry. If you have children then they are your 2nd ministry. If your actions don’t reflect the importance of marriage and family, then it is time to make some changes.

So, How do you tell those closest to you that they are important?

Elizabeth George in her book A Woman After God’s Own Heart, gives some practical examples of how to include those closest to you and express to them that they really are your priority. One example that I remember was that if you are baking your husbands favorite dessert to take to the church dinner or other event, instead of telling him he can’t have any because it’s for someone else, go ahead and make a second one just for him, or at the very least, let him have a piece of the one you are taking before it leaves the house.This is such a simple and practical recommendation that helps us tell our husbands that he is our first priority. Another good resource which has become quite popular is a book by Gary Chapman entitled, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It gives detailed information about how we each give and receive love. Knowing this can help immensely as we seek to show those around us that we love them and that they are important to us.

What’s next?

Now that you are beginning to see that your actions and family priorities don’t always line up…next week, I will share with you a revitalizing secret that many husbands and wives hold dear.

Until then, may God guide you as you live Under His Shadow!

KD

Psalm 91

The Pickle Jar

In my last blog I told you that this week we are going to discover how to make room in our schedule for the people who are most important to us. Well you may be wondering what that has to do with a jar of pickles. The basic principle of The Pickle Jar Theory is that all the urgent things in life will consume your time and there will never be enough time leftover for the things (or people) who are really important to you.

The Pickle Jar Theory consists on 4 components: a jar, some rocks, some pebbles and some sand. “Everything in the Pickle Jar Theory has a purpose. The pickle jar itself represents our daily life, what keeps us busy and how we divide our time and tasks during the day.”

“The sand represents all the phone calls, emails, social media notifications and other disrupting elements. The pebbles metaphorically stand for the jobs we’re confronted with every day and that fill our diaries. The rocks represent the important tasks in our daily lives.” (toolshero.com)

Learning to restructure your life to make room for the important things is possible, but it will take dedication, determination and effort. You will have to learn to make better choices and prioritize. If you spend hours on the phone, check email 100 times a day, and feed your addiction to social media, your jar will be completely full of sand and there will be no space for the urgent nor important things of life. Likewise if you spend all day putting out fires, completing the urgent tasks which confronte you, you will fill your jar with pebbles and there won’t be time left for the more important things of life. However if you put the rocks (things that are most important) in the jar first, there will be enough space to fit the pebbles and even some sand in the jar. This means that in order to fit the most important things in life in your schedule, you must decidedly allocate time for them first. If you try to do everything else, thinking or hoping that you will get to the important things later, you will NEVER have time left at the end of the day to include them.

So where do we go from here?

(You will need a calendar for this task. It can be paper or digital. You will also need something for taking notes.)

Step one:

Identify your rocks, pebbles and sand.

Step two:

Now let’s work on filling your jar! The first thing is to put the activities/people that you have identified as most important into your schedule. This may include (but not limited to) personal devotions, date night with your spouse, quality time with children or family, exercise, continued education, reading and personal care time. These appointments are non negotiable! (Make room for these activities and do not cancel them, especially for pebbles or sand.)

Step three:

Next is to identify a reasonable amount of time to dedicate to the pebbles, all the daily tasks that normally fill your day. Now add them to your calendar. (Suggestion: Make a game to see how quickly you can accomplish these tasks. For example, can you accomplish them in 1/2 the time you normally takes you. Can you shave 10-15 mins off of each task? Think of it like this…if you were going on vacation tomorrow and had to finish these tasks before you can leave, how focused would you be? I bet you could finish them more quickly than normal?)

Step four:

Allot a very meager amount of time for the activities which I call “time eaters”. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TV, and email. (Suggestion: A: Check email once or twice a day, no more. Check email only after you have accomplished the tasks you already have scheduled. Doing this will help you stay focused on the things you already have scheduled instead of becoming distracted with new projects. B: Schedule a very limited amount of time for social media. If you are a social media addict, you may try cutting back to 1 time a day and even then no more that 20 minutes. If your addiction is less serious, try cutting social media back to one time a week for 20-30 minutes. You will be amazed at how much time this frees in your day.)

If you are going to make time for family and marriage you MUST do so on the front end. Set your calendar and stick to it. If you don’t fill your time with the things that are important to you, someone else will fill your time for you.

What’s next?:

Now that you are beginning to make space in your routine for the things and people who are important to you, next week we will assess whether your actions reflect your priorities?

Go https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v5ZvL4as2y0 to watch a demonstration of The Pickle Jar Theory.

Mulder, P. (2017). Pickle Jar Theory. Retrieved [October 19, 2018] from ToolsHero: https://www.toolshero.com/time-management/pickle-jar-theory/

Not Guilty

I really can not, and do not want to live life feeling guilty. Does anyone really want that?!? I know that God has brought us to this place, it’s ok that we are here, in fact, it is part of His plan. So I decided to spend some time alone with God in prayer and fight this battle of guilt.

It’s amazing how therapeutic prayer can be! Spending time alone with The Almighty: praying and listening, as well as reading His Word always help to bring clarity. During my unhurried time with God, I pondered the Apostle Paul’s words from Philippians 4:12 & 13- “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him (Christ)who strengthens me.

Whatever season we are in we can rest assured that this too is a part of God’s big plan. He allows difficulty and struggle, times of rest, times when we know where we are headed & times when we don’t. Guilty feelings do not come from God. He convicts and leads, heals & encourages. Whatever difficulty you face, trust me God cares. He cares about you and me and if we allow Him, He will take away the guilt and set us free. After all that’s why Christ came!

KD

Learning Contentment

(This blog was written as a response to the August 14 devotional found in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.)

Oswald, You never cease to speak to me! Oh if you had know how mightily God would use you. More than a century has passed since your homecoming with Our Lord, and still He uses you to speak to me and so many others. Today, your words cut deep into my being. “Don’t be blind to this point anymore-you are not as far along spiritually as you thought you were.” As I tread new waters, this statement resonates with me.

After years of struggle on the mission field, being a Christian had become easy. Trials made life such, that calling on The Lord was second nature. Everything in my life there moved and found its being…its purpose in God. But here, there are so many distractions. Abundance of things, ease of life and constant entertainment via for my attention and I find myself once again in God’s school. I am learning again to cling to The One who sustains me.

As a missionary, I learned and practiced lessons of clinging to God through difficulties and adversity. When Faith died, I learned to breath God’s breath of life in the midst of great sorrow. Through the pain of Fibromyalgia, I learned to embrace God’s comfort. When we started Hope House, I learned that God will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory and that He is the defender of orphans. But this battle is much different than those I experienced while living in Mexico. Here in the United States, the playing field has been changed. Here, I must learn to shut out the noise and run to the “secret place”; to avoid distractions and choose time alone with God instead of the countless options that constantly come my way. The battle to not get derailed by the levity in life but instead remember that any ease we experience is only because of God’s grace.

I can so identify with the psalmist David when he said, “When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken!”…but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” (Psalm 30: 6 & 7) It is not that God has hidden his face from me; but in the crowd, sometimes, it is difficult for me to see Him.

Oswald goes on to challenge me with a question. “Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power and do a work in me that is truly worthy of himself?” Then he drives the question home when he reminds me something about the process of becoming holy. “Sanctification, is not my idea of what I want God to do for me. Sanctification, is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.” You see, the integrity of my spirituality is only strong, if it holds in all circumstances. Like the Apostle Paul, I must learn to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Phil 4:11) By default, that means that God must place me in new classrooms and circumstances for my learning to be complete.

Do you find yourself in a new classroom? If so ask God what new material He has for you to learn.

KD

Being Stretched

Seems like God is always stretching us, asking us to do what seems impossible. Today I am sitting in Tennessee, in a clean house. I went to church and then ate brunch at Cracker Barrel. I took an afternoon nap and spent time with my family. It was a picture perfect day and yet I am restless. This move has taken more faith than anything I’ve ever done. (Yes, more faith than even moving to Mexico in the first place!)

You know it is easy to work, to stay busy for God’s kingdom, but learning to rest, now that is a different type of work. “Take a sabbatical”, God said! And here we are, trying to rest and all the while feeling like a locomotive derailed. We have run so fast and hard for so long it’s difficult to know how to rest in God’s presence. I thought I would write, but writing has not come easy. It’s not that I don’t have feelings to process, it’s just that sharing leaves you vulnerable and I’m already emotionally exhausted. I’m not ready to hear a barrage of well intended opinions about what others think we should be doing. Mexico, missions, Hope House, Honduras, living in another country with different customs and language, I am left emotionally spent. Those in aid work call it compassion fatigue; and I know I suffer from it. I’ve seen and experienced vicarious trama. The poverty, the pain, the suffering that exists in the world has taken its toll. Now God encourages us to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate, refresh, relax and be revived. But I don’t know how to do that. And so we begin a new phase of this journey called life and I’m being stretched once again by the hand of the almighty.