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Archive | busyness

3 Consequences of Inside-Out Faith

FaithIs your faith inside-out? If it is, you may not even be aware of it.

“Inside-out faith” happens when the doing of our faith eclipses the being connected to Jesus. It’s religion over relationship. It’s faith the way the world would do it. Packed full with stuff – works, activities, committees, and to-do lists.

The New Testament sisters Martha and Mary are perfect examples of inside-out and right-side-out faith (Luke 10:38-42). When Jesus came to the sisters’ home for a visit, Mary sat at His feet soaking up His teaching. But Martha, who frantically ran around hostessing, complained to Jesus that her sister wasn’t helping.

I can just imagine the kindness in Jesus’ response. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Martha was “distracted” (Luke 10:40). She was “too busy, over-occupied, drawn away.” Martha wasn’t doing anything “bad.” She had simply allowed too many good things to crowd out the best. She missed sitting in the presence of God Himself.

Sadly, many of us fall victim to inside-out faith. We fill our lives too many good things, leaving no room, for the better thing, the best thing. We put the religious motions of our faith over the relationship with the Object of our faith. And the consequences can be profound.

3 Consequences of Inside-Out Faith

  1. Legalism – When the activities and work of faith overshadow the point of our faith we lose our joy! And when “serving” drives our behavior and attitude we also become critical of others. That’s exactly what happened to Martha.
  2. Busyness – Our culture perpetuates the false idea that a full calendar somehow defines our value, who we are. But when our calendars rule our lives, our families, our health, and all our relationships pay the price. The worst result is that often we are too busy for God’s purposes and plans for us.
  3. Burn out – A serious commitment to church can hinder your faith! When religious activities become the driving force of our faith, our relationship with Jesus gets pushed to the back burner. We close our ears and our hearts to the strength, guidance, and encouragement of Jesus. We end up taking on too much under our own power.

None of us purposefully choose this kind of faith. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known. Sometimes, we slowly slip into it. However it happened, it doesn’t have to be this way! Come back Thursday for some suggestions for turning your faith right-side out!

 

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Are You Too Busy? A Brief Checklist

Our culture has lied to us. It tells us that “busy” is good and margin is bad. In fact, surely an overflowing calendar means we are wanted. Needed. Talented. A person of worth.

Is that what Jesus meant about giving us a “full” life? Or is “busy” one of those “thieves and robbers” He warned us about?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Full or Busy?

In John 10:10, “life” refers to “life in the absolute sense as God has it” and that He extends to us through Jesus. It is eternal life, found in part now and consummated in eternity. “Full” means abundant, overflowing, to abound.

God desires our lives to be “full,” not busy. “Busy” is packed with activity – some purposed by God, but a lot purposed strictly by us. “Full,” on the other hand, describes a life filled up with the plans, purposes, and peace of God. A “full” life will be characterized by relationships, service, good works, and time. Time to focus on things that matter for eternity. (See this post for a little more on the danger of “busy.”)

Busy Checklist

Now, let’s get personal. Are you too busy? Though not a scientific test, the following checklist will give you a good idea. You may be to busy if:

  1. You apply any makeup in the car – other than lipstick –more than once a month
  2. You grab fast food for dinner more than 1-2 times a week
  3. You regularly turn down invites to get together w/ friends
  4. You’ve felt led by God to participate in an area of service or ministry but said “no” because of your schedule
  5. You feel like you and your husband are just “two ships passing in the night”
  6. You have dinner with the family around your table less than 4-5 times a week
  7. You and hubby have a detailed flow chart to get the kids back and forth to their activities
  8. You flop into bed every night exhausted
  9. You skip church to just “stay home and rest” more than twice a year
  10. You have good intentions for a regular time with God but it rarely happens
  11. You rarely enjoy long conversations with current friends
  12. Weeks go by without seeing your local friends face-to-face

Our lives may even be packed with “good” stuff, but without any margin, we have no room to respond to God’s best for us.

If God has shown you that your life is too busy, that you’re missing out on the full life He offers, consider doing a serious evaluation of your calendar. Here’s a guide to help. Give up busy. Embrace full!

Is your life full or just busy? What are you going to do today to change it?

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5 Routines to Find Freedom

OverwhelmedThis guest post by author Cheri Gregory is a giveaway! Read to the bottom to find out how to enter for a chance to win a copy of “Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity” by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

I used to avoid routines. I knew they worked for other people, but to me they felt rigid.

I spent years telling myself, I’m a free spirit. My creative soul would be crushed by routines.

Then I read a paradigm-shifting statement in the book Triggers. Marshall Goldsmith said that structure can serve as “a surrogate for self-discipline.” This grabbed my attention, because I’ve never had much self-discipline.

The right routines replace self-discipline? Sign me up!

Living Without Structure Isn’t Freedom

While developing and implementing my new routines, I quickly discovered how much time and energy I had wasted living “spontaneously.”

When every task was up for grabs every day—Exercise today or sleep in?… Slacks or skirt?… Quiet time now or postpone ‘til tonight?— I was constantly overwhelmed with decision fatigue.

In the time I would spend debating whether or not to do something, I could have gotten it done.

Living without structure isn’t freedom; it’s a free-for-all that turns into chaos.

Conversely, routines guarantee that my Personal Manifesto—a simple written statement of who I am and who I aspire to be, by God’s grace and power—gets walked out in my everyday life.

5 Routines to Follow for Freedom

I’ve experimented with various routines and settled on these five non-negotiables:

Routine #1: Evening Routine

When I follow my evening routine, I’m ready for the day. When I don’t, I’m not. Sounds obvious. But I’ve been surprised to discover how much rises and falls on my faithfulness to my evening routine.

My friend and co-author Kathi Lipp puts it this way: “Our most important evening job is to get set up for tomorrow.”

(For a free evening routine worksheet, click here.)

Routine #2: Morning Routine

Whenever I get to mid-day, consider my morning, and think, “Well, that was time well spent!” you can be sure I followed my morning routine.

And whenever I get to mid-day and ask myself, “Where did the morning go? Why didn’t I get anything important done?” you can be sure I didn’t.

First-thing-in-the-morning Me is energetic and creative but highly distractable. My morning routine keeps focused.

(For a free morning routine worksheet, click here.)

Routine #3: Weekly Routine

I used to try to squeeze the necessary tasks of life—like bill-paying, grocery shopping, dental visiting, and the like—into my spare time.

Problem was, I rarely had any. And when I did, I wasn’t actually prepared to tackle any necessary tasks.

A weekly Prep and Plan Day has changed all that. Every week, I have several hours set aside to pull back, prepare for the upcoming week, and plan for the following weeks and months.

To make lists. Go shopping. Call to set appointments. Deal with paperwork. Do filing.

I don’t think I’ll ever find these sorts of tasks fun, but they are far more satisfying when I schedule time to do them. And then get them done.

Routine #4: Self-Care Routine

Most of us were taught to take good care of the people in our lives – often at our own expense. Yet, our ability to care for others is hindered if we don’t first take good gentle care of ourselves.

A self-care routine means that no matter what kind of day (week…month…year…) I’m having, I take care of myself. Period.

Routine #5: Quiet Time Routine

Pairing the word “routine” with the phrase “Quiet Time” does not automatically mean “rigid.”

Developing a Quiet Time routine that works for you simply means that spending time with God becomes a non-negotiable. It’s something you do every day, in some way, to re-connect to your Creator. And to grow in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. One characteristic which, of course, is self-discipline. Which makes our routines self-reinforcing, in the best possible way.

I used to believe that freedom meant having unlimited choices. But to my surprise, it’s having pre-decided routines that makes me feel free.

Established routines will set you free!

  • Free from wrestling with self-discipline.
  • Free from decision fatigue.
  • Free to live with integrity.

This post is a giveaway! Enter for a Chance to Win!

Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers! To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

  1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.
  2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Friday, January 13, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

Free Offer from Cheri and Kathi

New Year’s resolutions seldom last, but a Personal Manifesto will carry you through the rest of your life! Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

About “Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity”

OverwhelmedFeeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • Trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • Decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • Replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

kathi-and-cheri-photoKathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

 

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5 Reasons to Reboot Your Quiet Time

Quiet TimeDo you have a regular “quiet time?” You won’t find this term in the Bible, but Christians use it to refer to purposeful time spent alone with God. A time to hear from God and share your heart with Him. Jesus Himself set the example for us (Luke 5:16).

I’ve heard – and made – many excuses for not setting aside time in the day to spend with God. Busyness is probably the biggest culprit. Yes, life can be overwhelmingly busy. But we have control over many of the items on our calendar. How we spend much of our time is our choice. We can choose God.

Some of you are in a season of life where you truly have very little time to yourself. Maybe you are a caregiver or the mother of young children. Many life circumstances make carving out space for a regular quiet time more difficult, but with a bit of creativity you can claim some time, even if it’s just a few moments here and there. (See this post for some examples.)

And some of us who were once devoted to our daily quiet time may have realized we slowly fell away from this spiritual discipline until it’s no longer our regular habit. An abbreviated day here and a missed day there, and the next thing we know…

Quiet Time Reboot Challenge

I’m going to be honest with you. For decades I’ve been very committed to regular time with God, but the last few months have been extremely challenging for me. I’ve been traveling a lot and my parents have been ill. And I’ve allowed those things to impact the quality of my quiet time.

Many Christians make establishing a regular quiet time a New Year’s resolution. January 1st is always a good time to get back on track. But often, by this time of year, many of us have let that resolution slowly fall by the wayside. But we don’t have to wait for the New Year. We can reboot our quiet time now!

Not sure you’re ready to get back on track? Maybe we need some incentive to make regular quiet time a priority. Let’s remind ourselves of a few of the benefits of spending time with God.

5 Reasons to Reboot Your Quiet Time

  1. Spending regular time with God helps us know Him better, which fosters a deeper intimacy in our relationship.
  2. Listening to God through His Word and prayer helps us better understand His will in general and discover His specific direction for our lives.
  3. Time spent submitted and vulnerable before God gives Him an opportunity to accomplish His refining work in us.
  4. Sitting in God’s presence enables us to more fully experience the comfort, encouragement, peace, and joy He longs to give us.
  5. Purposeful time each day focused solely on God helps us keep our mind and heart on Him all day long.

November 1st Reboot

No time like NOW to start fresh on a commitment to spend time with God. Will you join me for a November 1st resolution? Let’s make a fresh commitment to regularly spend time with God and end 2016 with a spiritual bang instead of a whimper. Here are a couple of things you may find helpful in establishing or re-establishing a regular quiet time:

So… will you reboot with me? I’d love to hear from you about how your quiet time is going right now… if you need a reboot and why… and if you’ll reboot with me!

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When Busyness Crowds Out Stillness

busynessJesus studies me. He observes my frenetic activity. My busyness. I am concerned over many things—the largely significant and the extraordinarily unimportant. He sees stress creasing my face and observes the knot in my shoulders. He hears my sighs as my tears tremble on my lashes. He notices me moving irritably toward two quarreling toddlers and listens as I scold my six-year-old harshly. He hears me curse beneath my breath when my husband calls, “I won’t be home until eight.” Hope for a Bible study with friends dissolves.

“Come to me,” He whispers. “If only,” I groan.

“Be still and know that I am God.” “How can I be still?” I grieve, as I recall the mountain of unfolded laundry and watch a million Cheerios tumbling onto the kitchen floor.

How, indeed?

Time with Christ in communion, fellowship, and the word is as important to the saint as food and water is to life. I would like to release you from additional responsibility. But in good conscience, I can’t. I can, however, attempt to liberate you from the burden of it.

Being with Christ in communion is not supposed to be a chore. It’s an invitation to wonder. The invitation says:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

There are ways we can “keep company” with Christ during busy days. We can connect with Him like Brother Lawrence, who practiced the presence of God in his daily life. He meditated, worshiped, and prayed as he performed common labor. We can do the same.

6 Ideas to Stay Centered on God’s Truth in the Midst of Busyness

  1. Pray for your children and husband as you fold clothes.
  2. Pray for leaders and elected officials as you listen to the news.
  3. Listen to worship music while cooking or doing household chores.
  4. Keep the “taxi” radio tuned to your local Christian radio station.
  5. Take advantage of technology. Use a Bible app for Bible reading on the go.
  6. Find a short devotional book for this busy season of life.

Some of these things can help us stay centered on truth. It’s good to have options and a plan when busyness crowds out stillness.

But still, there is nothing like being still.

5 Tips for Making Time for Still in the Midst of Busy

  1. Steal time. Five minutes. Ten. More? Quit texting. Get off Facebook. Facetime God. Don’t make beds. Eat fruit for dinner; your family will survive. Christ is your lifeline and the faithful abiding love of your life. Please steal time. Your family will thank you.
  2. Be still. Close your eyes. First shut the bathroom door. Turn your face toward Him. Breathe His name—His holy powerful name. Jesus. He has promised His presence to His children. He sees all and loves you unconditionally. Rest in His empowering grace. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22a)
  3. Know that He is God. Meditating on the unfathomable riches given to us through Christ is empowering (Ephesians 1:1-14; 2:18-21; 3:4-10; 3:13-21). Your ultimate quest is to know God. The knowledge of God and His grace will be a source of hope and a spring of joy. It will also be an endless adventure because He is incomprehensible.
  4. Come boldly. You are righteous through faith by the glorious grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). You have a right to be in the throne room. Christ gives you that right. You don’t deserve it, haven’t earned it, and can’t earn it. He simply likes you and wants you to come, especially in your weakness, sin, and shame.
  5. Find grace, mercy, and help. “Come boldly to the throne of grace that you may receive mercy and help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) How many times have my children run to me with stubbed toes, skinned knees, and broken hearts? My desire has always been to relieve pain and help. Certainly, I am no better than God—the source of abundant grace.

Daily we are invited to know God, fellowship with Him, and contemplate His truth, grace, and glory. It’s not a chore. Remember? It’s an invitation to wonder.

How do you find time to “be still” with God in the midst of a busy life?

Engaging MotherhoodLinda Barrett is the co-author of the recently published Bible study “Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling.” Linda has spent her life pointing others to the glory and grace of God through teaching, mentoring, writing, and art. Birmingham, Alabama is home. She is wife to Raymond and mother to three grown children. Linda blogs about life, beauty, and wonder at Invitation to Wonder.

 

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The Extra Time Illusion Principle

Have you ever noticed that when you have extra time to do something you are more likely to be late accomplishing it? I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it for myself.

I’ve attended and led women’s Bible study groups for decades. With our busy lives, completing the homework each week can be a challenge. Sometimes seven days is just not long enough to get it finished. So, you’d think having 14 days – like a week off for Spring Break – to do one week would result in a greater percentage of the class members completing their homework. But no! In fact, with twice the amount of time, less women finish the week of study.

How can this be? More time results in less being accomplished? It is a strange phenomenon I call the “Extra Time Illusion Principle.”

You may have experienced this principle for yourself. It infiltrates all areas of life. For instance, maybe after the recent three-day Easter weekend you found yourself less ready to go back to school or work on Monday. And your long list of “to-dos” remained undone.

It seems the more time we have the greater the temptation to procrastinate. We feel we have “plenty of time,” so we can rest or play for a while first. But we get so involved in resting or playing or procrastinating and before we know it our time is up.

Not something to get too worried about when the only thing at stake is the weekend “honey-do” list. But what about when the stakes are higher? What if the stakes are eternal?

Sometimes the extra time illusion principle affects me spiritually. I procrastinate on eternal spiritual matters because I don’t consider Jesus’ return to be imminent. After all, He has already delayed for more than 2,000 years. Am I the only one or have you experienced it too?

We think we have plenty of time to give up that pet sin or get serious about our spiritual growth or tell our lost neighbor about Jesus. We will do that tomorrow. Or next week. And then before we know it, “later” turns into “missed opportunity” or “too late” or “never.”

In 2 Peter 3:9-14, Peter challenges believers to live lives that reflect the reality of Jesus’ sure return. The Lord does keep His promises. The Day of the Lord will come. The heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire.

4 Ways to Battle the Extra Time Illusion Principle

In light of this frightening and glorious truth, how should we respond? What should believers be doing right now, every day? I see 4 things in this passage:

  1. Tell others about Jesus – The Lord has not returned because He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). His “delay” is our time frame to share the Gospel. To tell our lost friends, family, and neighbors that salvation is found in Jesus!
  2. Live holy lives – God calls us to regular repentance and moment by moment obedience to the Holy Spirit. We should not conform to the attitudes and behaviors of the world. Instead, our lives must reveal the character of Christ to the lost world (2 Peter 3:11-12, Romans 12:1-2).
  3. Continually foster our relationship with God – We must be purposeful in pursuing our relationship with Christ. It takes discipline, effort, and TIME. Oh, but this is where we find peace and joy in a world that lacks it (2 Peter 3:14, 1 Timothy 4:7-8).
  4. Remember and anticipate Jesus’ return – God keeps His promises. Jesus will return. It could be tomorrow. Or even today. Find a way to remind yourself of this truth and learn to look forward to it! (2 Peter 3:8,12)

Will you join me in battling the “extra time illusion principle?” Jesus is coming back soon! Will I be ready? Will you be ready?

Have you been a victim of the extra time illusion principle? If so, in what way? How can you battle it?

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8 Tips to Help Make Quiet Time a Reality

8 Tips quiet time realityWe all know that consistent, quality quiet time with God is necessary to foster our relationship and develop intimacy. A daily, unhurried quiet time sounds awesome – in theory. But in reality, life often gets in the way. We oversleep from exhaustion. Or the kids wake early. Or the phone rings.

Most Christian women express a desire to spend regular time with God. Yet often something breaks down between the “want to” and the “get to.” Desire for a daily quiet time is not enough. Whether you’re a young mom, empty nester, or work full time, we all need to put some purposeful strategies in place to increase the likelihood of it actually happening.

A couple of days ago, I asked my Facebook pals what strategies they use to keep regular time with God a priority. I wanted to know how they go from “want to” to “get to.” The women who shared represent all shapes and stages of life. I want to share their great insight with you!

I developed the following tips based on their comments and my own experience. “Discipline” and “priorities” are not included in this list of tips because unfortunately, they are required constantly! I know, they are “hard” words, but God is more than worth it!

8 Tips for Moving Quiet Time from “Want to” To “Get To:”

  1. Start the Night Before – Success begins with planning. That means doing things like going to bed on time, setting an alarm, setting the timer on the coffee pot, and gathering your quiet time materials in one spot. (Check out this post for more planning tips.)
  2. Put a “God Reminder” on the Bathroom Mirror – After you wake up, when does God first enter your thoughts? One FB pal wrote that she trained herself to think of God in her first waking moments. If God is the first thing on our minds in the morning, we are more likely to make time for Him.
  3. Establish a “Quiet Time Signal” – This was a brilliant suggestion from a FB pal. She keeps a small battery operated candle at her quiet time spot. When it’s turned on, her kids know that Mom is spending time with God. They’ve learned to only interrupt her in emergencies. This would take patience and time to establish with your kids, but it would sure be worthwhile!
  4. Pack a Quiet Time Play Box – Fill a plastic tote, box, or large basket with special toys your kids especially enjoy. But to keep the toys “desirable,” only bring it out to keep your little ones occupied during your quiet time. Use this for early-risers or for an afternoon quiet time for the whole family!
  5. Leave a Healthy Snack for Early-risers – Your kids may be old enough to occupy themselves for a bit in the morning. Unless they get hungry! If this is your scenario, prep a healthy snack the night before. They can munch away while you feed on God’s Word!
  6. Implement Offensive Measures – Determine your biggest distractions and time-suckers then take disciplined measures to eliminate the threat. For me, the biggest distraction in the morning was email. I’ve learned to leave the laptop closed and open my Bible first.
  7. Utilize Periods of “Busy Hands, Free Minds” – Establish ways to immerse yourself in God’s Word when your hands are busy but your mind is not. Washing dishes, vacuuming, and weeding the garden are all good examples. You can sing along to praise music, listen to an audio Bible, work on your Scripture memory, and more! (For instance, listen to audio Bible at BibleGateway.com)
  8. Fill Your “Time Pockets” – These are those small chunks of time that usually go to waste, such as waiting at the doctor’s office or in the carpool line. Determine in advance what you would do with 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there and be prepared to take advantage of it.

I hope these tips help and encourage you in your relationship with God. And I’d love to hear your suggestions! Share them in the comments!

 

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De-Stressing Christmas Step 3: Eliminate

De-Stressing Christmas 3What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “Christmas?” Is it “worship,” “family time,” “rest and reflection?” Or is it cooking, shopping, busyness and exhaustion?

Our culture has perpetuated a “Christmas” that pushes us to do more, spend more, eat more, and say “yes” to everything. We are often relieved when December 26th hits and the frantic activity finally ends.

That is NOT how it has to be. This post is the third in a series to help us take some of the stress out of Christmas. In the first post, I encouraged you to ASK yourself and your family what traditions and activities are most important in order to determine what you can cut right at the start.

In the second post, we made a complete list of everything you do during the Christmas season and EVALUATED those things with the following questions:

• What activities consume the most of your time and resources?
• What activities do you dread? Are these activities necessary?
• Does the item help you or your family worship our Savior?
• Does it put people over things?
• Does it focus on spiritual things instead of physical things?
• Does it further things that last or things that are temporary?

Now that you’ve asked and evaluated, it’s time to follow through and actually eliminate some activities and cut back on others. I’m not saying we should cut out every fun activity if it doesn’t meet the criteria above. But we can find a balance that leaves plenty of room for Jesus and family.

The first things I eliminated were things we dreaded. It was so freeing! Really, it started with my husband. He always dreaded hanging lights on the house. And I dreaded pushing him to do it. One year he simply said he didn’t like it, he didn’t have time to do it, so he wasn’t going to do it. And that was that.

The neighbors didn’t start a petition. No one egged the house. We just didn’t have lights. We may hire it done some year in the future. Or my husband may do it himself after he retires. But it’s okay to just say no.

Even changing the way you do some activities can help. Don’t want to make homemade cookies for the cookie exchange? Then don’t go or buy 6 dozen from a local bakery. Totally hate decorating the tree? Then don’t do it! Or buy one with the built-in lights, set it up, plug it in and call it done!

Look at it this way, even buying a prepared pie crust or cookie dough in a tub redeems time you can use to play games with the family or read the story of the first Christmas in a recliner by the fireplace.

Now it’s time for the elimination challenge. First, set a goal, such as cutting your list by a third or even half. Now work your way through these steps:

  1. Pull out the list you made last week. (If you missed it, you can do it now.)
  2. Put a check mark by the chores and activities you dread.
  3. If they’re beneficial to someone in a meaningful way, mark them off your list.
  4. Put a star by the chores or activities you can simplify, like buying cookie dough in a tub.
  5. Now alter that item on the list to the simplified version.
  6. Put a hashtag by any chores or activities that you don’t necessarily dread but that consume a lot of time.
  7. If you enjoy then and would miss them, leave them on your list. But if you really don’t care either way, mark them off!

Congratulations! You have just taken a bold step to cut back on the busyness of the season and redeem that time for your family, for time with Jesus. How do you feel???

I’d love to know what steps you’ve taken to de-stress your Christmas! Will you share?

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De-Stressing Christmas Step 2: Evaluate

De-Stressing Christmas 2Do you have a Christmas list? I’m not talking about a list of gifts you plan to buy for family and friends. Or a list of gifts you’d like for family and friends to buy for you…

No, I’m talking about a Christmas to-do list.

Your children won’t have one. More than likely, your husband won’t have one. But you probably do. If it isn’t written down, you have it in your head.

Your list – written or mental – may include items like this:

 

  • Order the holiday ham.
  • Take photo for family Christmas card.
  • Shop for new outfit for company Christmas party.
  • Decorate the tree.
  • Put lights on the house.
  • Bake and decorate Christmas cookies.
  • Pull out the Christmas dishes.
  • Shop for family Christmas gifts.
  • Wrap packages.
  • Get the kids pics taken with Santa.
  • Clean the house for company.
  • Anything and everything else that you or your family expects at Christmas!!!

This list could go on and on and on. The problem is, we get so busy doing our to-do list, we have no time left for family, rest, or worshiping the new born King.

So, what’s the answer? How can we take the stress out of Christmas and focus on the things that are truly important?

Last week we started a 3-part series on de-stressing Christmas. Step one was to ASK.

Ask yourself and your families what’s important and what’s not. What Christmas traditions and activities are “must-haves” for you and your family? What isn’t that important? You may be surprised!

Asking your family and yourself what’s important is a good first-step. But my guess is you probably only cut a handful of activities or chores from the Christmas season. Now, we need to get a bit more serious. It’s time to…

 EVALUATE Christmas.

Think about the various ways you spend your time during the holiday season – in fact, make a list. Write everything you can think of down on a piece of paper or type it into a notes app. I mean everything. Everything from shopping to baking to decorating to going to see Christmas lights to attending parties.

Now thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the items on your list. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. What activities consume the most of your time and resources?
  2. What activities do you dread? Are these activities necessary?
  3. Does the item help you or your family worship our Savior?
  4. Does it put people over things?
  5. Does it focus on spiritual things instead of physical things?
  6. Does it further things that last or things that are temporary?

Okay, you have one week to do your homework. Make your list and contemplate the value of each chore, item, and activity on it. The hard part comes next week, but oh, it will be the most beneficial!

What Christmas chore or activity do you dread the most? Tell us!

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De-stressing Christmas

De-stressing Christmas 1

This post is a giveaway! You can enter up to 4 times. See how to enter below. The winner’s name will be drawn at 7pm Sunday, November 8th.

I have a confession to make. I’m a recovering Christmas junkie. I struggled for years. And if I’m not careful I will fall back into that black hole of tinsel and holiday baking.

Too many decorations. Too much cooking. Too much shopping. And that’s just the beginning.

The wrapping has to match the tree. And I have to make goodies for the neighbors. And host the Christmas coffee. And the Sunday School Christmas party.

Then a few years ago, on Thanksgiving weekend, exhaustion hit. I realized I was already dreading Christmas. Totally shouldn’t be that way.

So, I gathered the family and starting asking questions about what was most important to them.

Big Christmas dinner? Not necessary. Soup would be fine.

Tree? Oh yes. That’s important.

So, we put up the tree but skipped the big dinner. Wow! Brilliant. And that was just the beginning of taking back Christmas. We decided to keep the things we enjoyed the most and forget the rest. Less stuff and activities would mean less stress!

In her book Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, my friend Kathi Lipp encourages readers to plan for and celebrate a “clutter-free” Christmas:

“A clutter-free Christmas says that we are doing only those things that are truly important. We are not getting weighed down by unnecessary expenditures, obligations, or craziness.”

Enter for a Chance to Win!

organized for ChristmasKathi’s book is full of practical, doable “projects” to get your Christmas honed down, organized, and clutter-free! And guess what? She gave me a copy so I could give one away to you! You can enter up to 4 times:

  1. Comment on this post below and share your favorite Christmas tradition
  2. Share this post on Facebook and comment again here to let us know
  3. Share this post on Twitter and comment here again to let us know
  4. Share this post on Pinterest and comment again here to let us know.

Too Early to Think about Christmas?

You may be wondering why I’m talking about Christmas now. Before Thanksgiving. We need to talk about this before Thanksgiving. After will be entirely too late. By then, you’re already in the middle of it.

So, before I get all worked up and all stressed out, I’m going to take a step back and purposefully give Christmas some thought before I dive in. Will you join me?

This post is the first of 3 that will help us “de-stress” our Christmas. (Be sure to check back for the next 2 Thursdays!) Today, I encourage us to take one action step:

ASK

Ask yourself and your families what’s important and what’s not. What Christmas traditions and activities are “must-haves” for you and your family? What isn’t that important? You may be surprised!

Don’t forget to comment and share for your chance to win a copy of Kathi Lipp’s book “Get Yourself Organized for Christmas.” Share you favorite Christmas tradition!

 

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