What Is Robbing Your Time?

Last week, I wrote about the commodity of time in our lives. Mainly, I’m interested to explore this further because I live in the middle of a great paradox.

Most of the time, I’m running around, doing a million things and getting crazy amounts of things accomplished: running a home, working a part-time job, shopping, cooking meals, washing laundry, keeping gas in the car, getting to doctor appointments, haircuts, soccer practice, Girl Scout events, and church every week.

Yea. The family runs. Sometimes smoothly. Sometimes bumpy. But we—for the most part—stay on track.

But then I’m confronted with all the things that are not done: bulging closets that need to be organized, creative writing projects, unfinished baby scrapbooks, date nights, cleaning (ahem!) the house. Blogging and my online business.

Some of this quandary comes because I’m a Type 1 woman. I’m full of ideas and plans and see the myriad possibilities in everything. I really don’t think linearly very much; I’m a much more global person, which can be exhilarating and immobilizing at the same time.

Another thing that comes into play is my creative bent and my introvertedness. I really need the benefit of quiet and solitude. I need to disengage from structure often to keep my sanity. I have to be alone with my thoughts—stay inside my head for awhile—until I can reemerge energized and ready to tackle another project or do that routine chore (that has the tendency to bore me to tears).

So, to some, I know I look like I am “wasting time” or misusing the time I’ve been given. I struggle with this judgement on myself, as well.

One of my favorite websites is Grace Gems that features writings from the Puritans. I love to read these nuggets from hundreds of years ago. There’s something about the way they use language that sharpens me and always causes me to think of life and faith in a new light.

What do you think of this one, in light of modern-day time management? If you are juggling a million things and can’t seem to get your time to dovetail properly with your priorities, what can you learn here?

12 Time-wasting Thieves!


by Richard Baxter

… making the best use of the time. (Colossians 4:5, ESV)

… so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10, ESV)

Thief 1. One of the greatest time-wasting sins, consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief 2. The next thief or time-waster, is excess of sleep.

Thief 3. Another time-waster, is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief 4. Another time-wasting thief, is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.

Thief 5. Another time-wasting sin, is needless feastings, gluttony, and drinking.

Thief 6. Another time-waster, is idle talk.

Thief 7. Another thief which would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief 8. Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games–which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.

Thief 9. Another time-wasting thief, is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief 10. Another time-waster, is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief 11. Another dangerous time-wasting sin, is the reading of worthless books, plays, romances, and novels. And also unprofitable studies, undertaken but for pride and vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief 12. But the master-thief that robs men of their time, is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing–because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

As I read through Baxter’s list, I’m smacked with the truth that these “time stealers” are those pursuits we do for selfish motive and selfish gain. When we engage in behaviors or thoughts that we use to make us feel better, look better, or numb our pain, we are, in effect, stealing our time. Why? Because we are trying to control our situations apart from God. We are longing to solve our problems. We want to depend on anything except God.

Yes. I will do anything to wiggle out of my dependence on God. And in doing so, I create more hurt, more heartache, and more—wasted time.

Think about this: God created time. God offers time. When we use that which he made for us and gives to us for HIS good purposes and pleasure, won’t it be more abundant, more useful, and more effective?

Yet when we fill God’s time with our sin, it’s no wonder our schedules, priorities, events, and goals become a mangled mess, while our health and sanity dissolve into casualties of our obstinance.

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What’s Your Focus for the Journey?

Yesterday’s sermon was a piercing one for me. My pastor said something along the lines of this:

I simply want to be focused on God himself—not on the destination of the journey on which he has me.

That has resonated in my soul for the last 24 hours or so. Because I, too, am on a journey. I feel completely and chronically unsettled. I’m not always sure what “great thing” God wants me to do. Mostly, I’m convinced I am to be “ordinary” and, honestly, that frustrates and bores me.

But it’s not about the end result, the final outcome, the next big thing, or penning the Great American Novel. Why?

Because I already possess the highest prize and the greatest of glory, as I identify with Christ. This journey is not about me, and it never has been. Yet I continue to obsess over the details of the trip, as if one ounce of my planning, my ideas, my energies, or my participation can affect the outcome.

What is the secret to this life? Well, I paraphrase from another pastor, to whom I listened recently:

The secret to this life is really easy. It’s a continual decrease and decline of self so that you become invisible and people only see Christ, not you.

My prayer is that as I decrease and Christ increases, I would more desire the things of God.

And so, I continue the journey, struggling against my sin to move forward in blind faith, while craving so badly an inch of control. With everything I have, I want to engage in cause and effect behavior.

Yet God saves me from myself, moment by moment.

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What Dressing Your Truth Has Taught Me

Yesterday I wrote about my discovery of the Dressing Your Truth program.

Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned through the program.

First, I’ll let you know that I’m a Type 1: a Bright and Animated woman. My nature is to be bubbly, optimistic, bright, animated, random, fun, and cute.

Yet I have lived for so many years degrading these tendencies in my mind, squashing my nature, and being subconsciously miserable because I wasn’t “living my truth.”

I was always an outstanding student. Somewhere in the middle school years, I decided (or was told) that cute, bubbly girls were stupid. More than anything, I’ve always wanted people to think I was smart. So, I set aside my Type 1 attributes, in an effort to be perceived as intelligent. Actually, I think I’ve always felt I had to “prove” to everyone that I was capable and smart because I thought I needed to compensate for—what I perceived as—my youthful looks, my short stature, and my less-than-authoritative voice.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a television news journalist. I believe now that I chose that career because there was just enough “excitement” for my Type 1 nature but was “legitimized” by the seriousness of professional journalism. In my mind, I equated seriousness, scholarship, and success with Type 4.

And so with everything in me, I tried to live as a Type 4. Type 4s are structured, highly organized, direct, and precise perfectionists. I think because these are such opposite qualities of my Type 1 “fun” characteristics, I put them on a pedestal of sorts and think that in order to “get it together,” I need to be a Type 4—that somehow I’ll have arrived if and when I adopt and practice these Type 4 characteristics.

And so, this tug-of-war has characterized the last 20+ years of my life.

No wonder my twenties were miserable, as I shuffled through career choices. Television news was not a good fit for me because of the deadlines. Every day, I had to meet frequent—sometimes hourly—deadlines that proved way too suffocating and really, somewhat boring.

Motherhood has been another trying area for me. Again, I’ve brought my assumptions that a Type 4 mom is the “best” with clockwork-type schedules for chores and parenting. I have tried to pour myself into these molds. They work sometimes for awhile. But eventually, I just become bored with the monotony and predictability.

I’ve always enjoyed school, and now I know why: Change of classes, teachers, and classmates, just when the topic starts to bore; and freedom to design your day by choosing times and topics for classes. Freelance writing and editing is another great fit for me. I have a variety of topics on which to work, and I set my own schedule to meet a deadline. I can work when I want, dressed the way I want, anywhere I want.

I’m a Type 1 mommy, and now I’m working to re-embrace those God-given tendencies. I’m working to discover new ways to do “old” things, so that I’m happier and more productive. I’m trying to let go of my “I should/I need to” inner-dialogue that has for so long judged me and pointed out my “flaws.”

This program has brought so much into focus for me. Why I act the way I do. Why I’ve felt inferior and unfulfilled. Why I truly succeed at some things yet find others terribly difficult and unsatisfying.

And Dressing Your Truth has given me a way to express the inner on the outside. I am loving discovering the visual expression of my true nature. It’s spilling into every area of my life. Chris says that I’m smiling and laughing more.

If you feel like you’re missing something but can’t put your finger on it, I encourage you to check out this program. Once you’ve spent some time with Dressing Your Truth, come back here, tell me your Type, and how it has affected your life.

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Discover Dressing Your Truth

During my “blogging hiatus,” I discovered a terrific program that has truly turned around my life! I have hesitated to talk a lot about it here because, frankly, some of the principles are a little bit unorthodox and not entirely compatible with biblical Christianity. (And in all things, I must follow biblical principles.)

Nevertheless, I’m going to let you know about it because I do believe that so much of the program displays God’s truth and his glory in its entirety! You know that God’s truth is God’s truth, regardless of the “container” in which it resides. So it is with this, I believe.

And so, allow me to introduce to you Dressing Your Truth. This program is a “personality profile” program like no other. The creator, Carol Tuttle, has identified four types of people, based on the four elements of matter—the roots of all living things: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.

To me, it makes perfect sense that we would mirror our Creator, finding similarity with other elements of Creation in this manner. While some may say this degrades humanity or pits it “lower,” I disagree. We humans are the ultimate expression of Creator God’s work, but we still have a connection with the rest of the created order. We are creatures, still, after all.

(As somewhat of an aside, I believe that in an effort to keep Christian orthodoxy intact, we have chosen to ignore the “supernatural” aspect of our faith. We mustn’t forget that there is an “unseen” aspect to our relationship with God. C.S. Lewis reminds us that we are not bodies with souls; we are souls with bodies. That mentality of the spirit/body/physical connection dovetails nicely with the Dressing Your Truth program.)

Anyway, Carol goes on to identify women according to their Type and their “natural expression.” So, for example, a weeping willow tree has a different “natural expression” than, say, a mighty oak. Is one “better” than the other? Is one more beautiful? Is one more or less of God’s creation?

The answer, of course, is a resounding No! Yet we women have allowed the fashion industry and Hollywood dictate to us the “degrees” of beauty, femininity, and worth. We as women tend to view one (or a couple) of the Types as “better” or “more beautiful.”

The entire program (and philosophy, if you will) is the most refreshing and accurate thing I’ve encountered in a long time—maybe ever! It smokes the other personality profile and color-matching systems, with the possible exception of the Enneagram. Carol offers many free components for you to try out at her site, and there are low-cost aspects for you to explore, so that you can learn your Type. The entire Dressing Your Truth program is more of an investment but completely worth it. I have spent hours soaking up all the posts, videos, and audio recordings at the site and have yet to exhaust them all! The program was my Mother’s Day gift this year.

Please check it out to discover more about yourself and the way that God created you. I’ve also included a link below to a site featuring Carol’s 7 Fashion Myths Exposed information. Tomorrow I’ll tell you more specifics about my personal journey and how God has taught me things I never knew about myself.

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Discerning God’s Call for Your Life

No—I don’t have a “special word from the Lord.” I don’t have a glimpse into the future.

But I do have some experience with questioning, soul-searching, wondering, asking, and praying.

After spending four decades on this planet, I’ve come to believe that finding God’s call is not a singular goal to attain. Rather, it’s a journey and an unfolding process from God to you as your sanctification progresses.

I’ve been thinking lately about the biblical truth that what God calls you to do, he will equip you to do. This passage in Hebrews sums it up:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
—Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV, my emphasis)

We most often hear this sentiment cited in those situations where someone has been called to a seemingly insurmountable task. The person feels called by God to do something yet also feels ill-prepared for the assignment.

But take another look at the verse. God will equip us with everything good. Why? So that we may do his will. How do we determine his will? By looking at our equipment, of course.

Why would God give such equipment to someone if he never intended nor planned for its use? Would you give a bread maker to a family whose every member is allergic to wheat?

My question to you is: How has he already equipped you? How is he preparing you? What has he entrusted to your care and stewardship?

Remember the Parable of the Talents? The man gives talents to his three servants and he leaves. Two of the servants invested their talents and received more talents. They saw a return on their efforts, and the man commended them. The third servant, however, hid his talents in the ground. The Scripture says the man cast that servant into the darkness.

What has God given to you? How will you “spend” it, invest it, grow it, use it?
What’s the best way to glorify God with what you’ve got in your house right now?

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Photo credit: mensatic from morguefile.com

What Do You See On Your Front Porch?

What’s In Your House? Weekly Link-up

This week’s writing prompt for the weekly link-up:

What do you see on your front porch (or main exterior entryway) of your house? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your front porch for great purposes?

My response:

I managed to pick a super-hard first writing prompt for my very own first meme link-up. I chose the front porch for us all to examine and upon which to write.

This space “in my house” is hard to write about because, well, when I look at my front porch I see—literally—decay and neglect.

The pair of urns are still sitting in the same spots from last summer with dead leaves and vines crawling down their sides. They look horrible. I have dead leaves piled in the crevices of the corners of porch and cobwebs lining the small window panes that frame the front door. A neighbor pointed out the other day that we also have two wasps’ nests in the upper corners of our porch roof.

Doesn’t it sound lovely? Don’t you want to pay me a visit? :)

Nevertheless, I must examine my front porch in the spirit of this meme.

What in the world does my disgusting, neglected front porch tell me about God’s purposes for me? What about my front porch inspires creativity?

Front porches are symbolic of hospitality. A welcoming front porch, stoop, and door seem to beckon the outside in. We can all picture in our minds the front porch of homespun tranquility with waving flags, creaking rocking chairs, and crisp, white railing.

Yet my disheveled front porch is a more authentic display of who I really am.

I’m a mess. I struggle with the effects of decay. I suffer from “parched foliage” due to neglect of soul-feeding yet overstay my usefulness and wallow in past failures, just as those dead plants parked on my porch.

I love bright, cheerful porches with pots of geraniums and ferns announcing a welcome. I want a stand-out front door in an unexpected red or yellow or green. I want to be hospitable and open and inviting.

I’m not sure exactly what about my front porch inspires me to creativity or sparks a business endeavor. I do know this, though: I want to work hard enough at the things I’m good at so that I can either free up an extra hour in my week (or pay someone for that hour’s work) to keep my plants alive and make them look pretty.

Regardless, I want the front porch of my heart to be always ready to receive what God may give. I want to experience the new fruit of life and the freedom from dead vines that easily entangle. I’m ready to move out the dead potted plants so that God can create in me a hearty, new flower garden of vitality.

Your turn now …

  • Post your link to this week’s writing challenge below.
  • Link back here on your blog.
  • Visit some of the other posts and leave some words of encouragement for the writers in their comments’ sections.

Thanks for participating!

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Writing prompt for next week:

What do you see in your bank account? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your bank account for great purposes?

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The Role of the Ordinary in the Story of Elisha and the Widow

I told you about how I named this blog in yesterday’s post. I told you the story of Elisha and the widow from 2 Kings 4.

One of the most important aspects of the passage—I believe—is the role of the ordinary.

What’s more basic than oil and jars?

God’s all about using the ordinary to do extraordinary things.

I believe that God chooses to operate against the backdrop of ordinaryness so that his glory shines forth that much more.

What are some ordinary things that God has used? Some of them include:Role of the Ordinary in the Story of Elisha and the Widow. God uses the ordinary for extraordinary purposes.

  • a baby in a barn wrapped in rags
  • water, wine, bread
  • words and language to record his glory and revelation

Recently in my Sunday school class, we talked about Jesus’ miracles. My teacher noted that Jesus could have performed miracles everywhere, all day long. But he didn’t heal everyone who was sick. Jesus’ miracles were specific and purposeful in establishing himself as God and pointing toward his ultimate miracle: Resurrection and salvation for those who believe in him. He also always accompanied the physical miracle with the spiritual miracle (conversion of the person).

I thought about something else, as well. Had Jesus gone around healing everyone and performing all and any  kind of miracle, wouldn’t that, in a sense, have diluted the effectiveness of his message? Wouldn’t persons have come to expect such of him? Wouldn’t that have “cheapened” his grace in some manner?

As it was, we have these incredible miracles on display against the backdrop of ordinary people—chosen by God—for healing and saving. The deliberate choices of these select few make Jesus’ power all the more great.

And the deliberate use of the “ordinary” for God’s purposes makes them all the more extraordinary.

Seeing The “Ordinary” in The Story of Elisha and the Widow

In the story of Elisha and the widow, she had all she needed (by and through God’s power, of course) right inside the walls of her own house. She had the ability, the possessions, and the help within her grasp.

What ordinary things in your house can be extraordinary in God’s economy?

photo: supafine at morguefile