Procrastination

Have you ever had one of those days when you’re literally running through your house because you need to leave for an appointment, BUT there’s something you HAVE to do first?

I have a confession to make:

I had a writing assignment due early one morning. That same morning, I had a doctor’s appointment.

Of course, I should have managed my time better. It’s not like I didn’t know the deadline. It wasn’t like I was clueless about my doctor’s appointment.

While I was running down the hallway after my purse, I was begging God to help me with everything – that the writing would be what He wanted and that I wouldn’t be late to my appointment.

I finished my assignment and made it to my appointment on time.

Praise God!

And yet, in the midst of my mad dash that morning, I prayed and asked God, “What’s wrong with me? Why do I do this?”

And here’s what I learned:

I procrastinate. (Big shocker, I know.) I thought I was waiting on God to lead me with writing. But the truth, I was pushing if off to the side because I had other things I wanted to write.

AND sometimes I let fear tag along – that bratty little sister to big brother procrastination. I get fearful that something is going to be too hard or that I’m going to fail, so I push it aside. As if somehow waiting will make it easier. Oh, sure. It was so much easier that day when I was brushing my teeth while looking for my car keys.

So, my problem that morning wasn’t that my plate was too full. My problem was ME and the way I procrastinate.

Do you struggle with this too? Are there things you KNOW you need to do, but you think it can wait? Or maybe you’re afraid so it just seems easier, safer to put it off until you feel stronger and you’ve got your act together.

Look back at my story for a minute. I sure didn’t have my act together when I asked God to help me AFTER I procrastinated. Thankfully, He did.

But even though He did help, even though God DID do a lot with the little bit of time and the little bit of focus I gave Him, I have to wonder what He could have accomplished if I would have given Him more?

What can He accomplish through YOU if you stop procrastinating and give Him more of your time, more of your focus?

The world may be waiting to see.

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

(Ephesians 5:15 NIV.)

Enjoying the Middle

 

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I was recently reading a book, becoming more and more enthralled with the main character’s perilous journey, when the focus shifted to the rugged trail he had to take. There were pages and pages describing this trail.

Can I be honest? I skimmed those descriptions. My eyes went searching for his next thought or the next section of dialogue. Something other than that same rocky path.  I just wanted to get off of that trail and see what was going to happen next.

When I started to get frustrated, a gentle whisper informed me that I do that sort of thing all the time in my own life, and I need to slow down and enjoy the middle.

It’s true. I find myself wanting to hurry things along and get to the “good stuff.” Let’s get on with it, I might think. I’m ready for the next big thing, Lord.

But God doesn’t always want that. He doesn’t want us to miss the middle of our journey because not only are there a multitude of lessons to be learned in the middle, but God Himself is the One doing the teaching IF we’re willing to slow down and stop fidgeting out of frustration.

He wants to teach us lessons that will strengthen our faith for today, tomorrow, and way, way down that eh, rocky path, we might find ourselves on. 🙂

And a lesson we certainly don’t want to miss: God is in the details of our lives.

God is in the details all around us in our everyday lives and we may overlook those details if we rush right by thinking this is just a bunch of slow-me-down descriptions. He wants to show us things that, to someone else might not mean much, but to you and me, they could offer jaw-dropping, laugh out loud (literally!) moments that open our eyes to more of who He is and how He works in our lives.

But if you and I hurry through, skimming over them and rushing to get to the “good stuff” we’re going to miss that closeness with God, that intimate moment He wanted to share with us.

Need an example? There are thousands, billions perhaps.

Have you ever needed a quarter for the shopping cart or parking meter and found one in your car? Have you ever felt discouraged and a text came to you right then?

Did you ever notice how the rain stopped just when you stepped outside to get the mail or a song playing the perfect lyrics for your aching heart was on the radio the very moment you turned it on? What about receiving a card in the mail that gave you the confirmation you’d asked God for that same morning?

What about finding the last two pounds of the “right” kind of sausage at the grocery store to make your family’s favorite potato soup or seeing your Mom’s favorite spaghetti sauce was not only available but on sale right before you left to visit her?

You see, God is in the details, enriching our lives and blessing us all the way through the middle while we travel on the paths to get to where He wants us to be. And we don’t want to miss a single moment, a single detail of walking with Him.

Spending that kind of time with Him really is the good stuff.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT.)

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right- you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.” (Psalm 119:1-3 MSG.)

 

(Photo from pexels.com.)

Slip Off the Flip-Flops

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My daughter and I were hurrying home from the store after finding the right sunblock and snacks for our upcoming trip to North Carolina when we passed a boy sitting by the side of the road selling lemonade.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. It’s summer. The kids are out there patiently waiting as they try to sell lemonade and cookies wrapped in plastic wrap. But for me, it was a very big deal and a painful reminder.

Twenty years ago, I’d crammed a few songs and some clothes in a suitcase, tossed it in the back of my pickup, and began my journey of becoming a songwriter in Nashville. (Spoiler alert: It never happened!) I was frantic, leaving later than I had planned, and knew if I stayed on track with my timeline I could miss rush hour for a few major cities.

I was focused on the time, remembering the route I was going to take, and hoping I had everything I needed. And that’s when I noticed her: A little girl wearing a floral dress selling lemonade on a quiet street, her eyes wide and hopeful.

But I was in a big hurry. So I didn’t stop. I. Kept. Driving.

Fast forward twenty years to the boy selling lemonade as I’m rushing home with my daughter. I slowed down when I saw him, realized there was a place to pull over, and hesitated to stop. Why? Because we were leaving for North Carolina soon and I had a thousand things to do. So what did I do?  I. Kept. Driving.

When I shook my head and scolded myself for not stopping, my daughter spoke up from the passenger seat. “You can always turn around.”

The longer I kept driving, the harder it was going to be to find a good place to turn around. “No,” I said. “We’ve got to get home.”

But then I remembered the little girl I saw all those years ago. Those eyes, wide and hopeful.

I took the next light, turned, missed the street the boy was on, circled back around, and finally parked the car right in front of him to buy one big glass of lemonade for my daughter. The boy explained what he was raising money for, and a smile stretched across his face when I gave him a little extra. But when I got back into the car, I think my smile was bigger. It felt so good to tell my nagging, hurry-up attitude to take a seat in the back and be quiet.

Days later, my hurry-up attitude was banished from tagging along to North Carolina, but my busy-busy mindset jumped in the front seat with me. There was so much to do, so much fun lingering in the air, and so many memories to make. There were melt-your-heart grandbaby kisses, warm hugs from family we don’t see often enough, cooking hot dogs and hamburgers and potatoes larger than a small dog, and watching my daughter and husband tackle the ocean together.

But where was God in my every day?

Well, I was busy. We had plans and lots to do, and I was enjoying myself. So God sat, like the little girl with those anticipating and hopeful eyes, and waited for me to stop. He waited for me to spend time with Him, if only for a moment, and open His Word. But: I. Kept. Driving.

Of course I thanked Him for time with family, for the massive expanse of the ocean, and the excitement and thrill of touching a stingray; the feel resembling a squishy, wet mushroom. And I thanked Him for keeping us all safe.

I guess you could say I smiled at Him as I drove by. But again, I kept driving.

You and I can keep driving and ignore those hopeful eyes, those invitations to spend time with God. Or we can recognize when we mess up and turn around and do whatever it takes to slow down and spend time with Him. Real time. Not just a “thanks” we toss out the window at Him like a quarter.

We have the opportunity to have a real moment with God, to slip off our flip-flops and sink our toes in the sand and allow the waves to wash over our feet again and again, feeling ourselves shrink, sensing our smallness in the presence of something so grand, so wonderful and so mighty as we stand in awe, as we take it all in, as we realize the magnitude and are moved to tears at the beauty found not in the ocean, but in the presence of the One who created it: Our Holy God.

And He’s just waiting to spend time with us.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV.)