Finding Quality Time in Every Season

During the season of Lent, many people choose to give up some luxury or unhealthy habit. Our refraining from something we want reminds us of Jesus setting aside his power and dying on a cross for us. It leads us to repent of our sin- all our sin that Jesus paid for by willingly giving up his life.

 

Instead of giving something up, other people might choose to start doing some good thing. Some plan to read their Bibles or do an act of kindness every day. 

 

Even if you don't do something intentional "for Lent," it's still a time of the year where we might naturally reflect on our relationship with God. It's now officially spring, and at least in Minnesota, we're hoping the weather stays that way. (I'm done with snow and scraping ice off my car every morning.) Seasons change, and we thank God for getting us through the winter. We enter a new season and think of the hopes it may hold: exercising outside, getting more done now that the sun's up longer, planning summer trips, looking forward to graduations and weddings.

 

Spring may have sprung, but what if we're still in a season of cold, and worry, and wondering? What if nothing is changing in our lives when we want it to?

 

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
— Hebrews 10:22-23

 

We may be in a tough season, but God is with us through them all. We pray. We read his word, and he will grow our relationship with him. 

 

Sometimes it's hard to do the very thing that will help us most. I enjoy reading blogs like this one or books on Christian living, but I admit I find myself shying away from reading the Bible with the same sort of enthusiasm. Or I maybe I do read the Bible, but then stop short of having a real conversation with God. I say quick prayers asking for help for the hurting around me, but so rarely for the hurting within me. I want a change of circumstances, not a change of heart.

 

The devil is so sneaky that he keeps us comfortable doing what we're doing. He makes me think I'm being a good Christian girl when I'm hardly turning to God at all. I can go to church every Sunday, help out with youth group, or even listen to extra sermons during the week, but God doesn't just want my volunteer hours. He actually wants me. The devil keeps me too busy (even with Godly pursuits) to realize how I'm doing things for God or about God, but not with God. 

 

I want to talk to God all the time, feel that Jesus is my best friend, and know that he will reveal to me whatever I need to know at the proper time. I don't need to read the Bible more often so that God will reward me with some special insight into what path my life should take, I should read his word to be closer to him. To crave that relationship. To daily be reminded of his power and love for me. 

 

The Bible may seem daunting at times, but when we pick a place to start, we see how God lives in relationship with his people. In the Old Testament, every time God's people leave him, God continues to work in their hearts and bring them back. The people repent and enjoy a season of living with God and the joy and blessings that brings. 

 

The Psalms are our fellow Christians' cries of sorrow and despair, but also of thankfulness and praise.  We see how God redeems us and brings us back to a place of contentment and confidence.

 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
— Psalm 40:2

 

The Gospels are perhaps the easiest place to start reading and also the most important. The whole Bible points to Jesus and God's ultimate plan of salvation carried out by his Son as recorded in the books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are true accounts that not only point out a moral way to live, but also the reason for living at all. 

 

There's nothing like reading the words of Jesus himself. 

 

Because I live, you also will live.
— John 14:19

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.
— John 13:7

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
— John 10:14




God wants relationship with us. He's given us direct access to him through the Bible and in prayer. 500 years ago, people could not read the Bible themselves in their own language, and church services were taught mostly in Latin, which the average person did not understand. Martin Luther saw this struggle and felt the call to translate the Bible into his native German language, with more Bible scholars later following his lead throughout the world.  We also don't need to go through a priest or any other means to talk to God. Jesus broke down that curtain the day he died. We can go to the source with all our prayers and praise.

 

So as we reflect on Jesus love for us this Lenten season, we learn little by little how God calls us to draw near. It's a beautiful relationship, but like all relationships, it takes effort - in this case only from us. God will be there with open arms even when we have seasons of drifting away. God doesn't have to try to love us or purposely put time into our relationship. He is love and already has things figured out for us.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.
— Jeremiah 29:11-14

 

A good relationship makes you feel safe, and with a perfect God in control, we can relax and just enjoy his presence. Let's draw near and have some quality time with our Father.

 

How do you make quality time with our Father? What do you do during that time? Let us know below! 

 

Time Crunch

Alarm is going off - alright it’s time to get up.
Noon? Already?! Well that’s impressive.
Since when did the sun start setting so early…wait, it’s that late?

Where in the world did my time go…

It’s kind of funny how a second today is truly the same length as a second yesterday or last year and yet, how often those seconds seem to pass at drastically different paces. We all have those days that seem to fly by in a moment’s notice just like we all have those days that simply seem to drag on and on.

Time is a complex topic.It’s a topic and an experience each one of us has, so naturally there are countless thoughts about “where” one should be in their life at a particular time and even how one should and maybe shouldn’t spend their time. So when the pathways of our lives don’t seem to fit those normal expectations of what can often feel like every other person on the planet, well, then what? How do you explain your present reality to curious, although friendly, acquaintances? You don’t have a full-time job? You’re not married? You’re not in a relationship? You’re not even sure if you want to be in a relationship right now? Hmmm.

You know, each and every day we are all blessed with the same 24 hours (or 1440 minutes) (or 86400 seconds) to spend. Yet, how those valuable hours/minutes/seconds are thought of and treated by each individual are often as different as summer and winter in Wisconsin (and if you don’t live here, I can promise you those are two VERY different things).

See...VERY different things.

See...VERY different things.

Why? Why do some treat the passage of time so casually while others view the ticking clock with anxiety as the present turns into the past? Why is time thought of as both a blessing (I get to spend more time with my grandparents) and a curse (I have to wait to find out the results of that test from the doctor)?

Time is a complex topic.

I struggle with patience. And waiting. It’s hard to “not know.” It’s hard to trust. But while I am certainly no expert, I think so much of contentment and satisfaction comes from perspective. Perspective. You know, that lens through which you view the life your living and why you do what you do.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.           -Psalm 90:12-

The prescription of my perspective lens has had a drastic revamp over the past few years. A revamp that has allowed me to question and seek what is truly important in the days I’m blessed to live on this earth. To evaluate the way I spend those precious seconds I’m given and the people I want to share them with.

I’m pretty convinced that time is one of the most underappreciated gifts God gives to us.  You really can’t put a price on time and there is a beautiful mystery in exactly how much any of us will receive in our earthly time savings account.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.       -James 4:14-

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know exactly what my amazing God has brought me right now in this moment. He has brought me the opportunity to spend time with Him in HIS word, allowing me to strengthen my relationship with him before concerning myself with a temporary earthly relationship. He has brought me the ability to sit outside and enjoy the last few days of summer sun with a refreshing iced coffee. He has brought me so many remarkable (and often simultaneously challenging) experiences and lessons that have refined my perspective of life and love for which I will be forever grateful.

This time we have been given is a gift, no matter how stressful or anxiety ridden it can sometimes feel.
Spend a moment, an invaluable moment, to reflect on this time you’ve been given.
This time God allows you to choose how to spend in his magnificent creation.
This time to simply treasure and enjoy.
This time to glorify our great and loving creator.

Notice

Notice Heading (Mel) I was tired. It had been a long day. And all I wanted to do was make myself a cup of coffee and decompress after the work day.

But it was snowing. And the running hug I received from one of my daughters immediately reminded me that just because I thought I was exhausted and had taken off the “employee” hat, my “mom” hat was now fully in play.

So I told my girls they had better get out of their slippers and into some socks. We were going outside.

We “suited up”: boots, snowpants, thick jackets, hats, mittens. As I finally zipped up the final piece of outerwear (mine), I glanced at the clock and couldn't help but quickly calculate just how much time we'd have outside if I still wanted to make it back inside to cook a timely dinner.

It hardly seemed worth it.

We opened the front door as the snow fell soft and silent. Just like a snow globe. The girls immediately took to their silly play, swapping brightly-colored mini shovels and creating snow angels. I looked around and said a silent prayer that the snow would be packing snow and that a snowman could be created – not only because I like making snowmen but because if I couldn't, I wasn't sure what else I could do.

I wasn't sure I knew how to play.

It wasn't long before the girls were calling me, almost frantically from the side of the house.

Mom, Mom, Mommy! You need to come here – there's real snowflakes on the ground!

I had to laugh to myself as I drudged my way through the snow to where they both knelt on the sidewalk...”real snowflakes”.  Aren't they all?, I wondered.

But I soon noticed what they meant.

Snowflake Close Up

I had seen snowflakes before. But never like this. These were big, fat, thick snowflakes. They looked as though they had been punched out of construction paper.

I told the girls I was going to run in the house and grab my camera. They squealed with excitement. While I snapped image after image of the paper punched snowflakes, my daughter said something I hope I don't soon forget.

Snowflakes_Branch

I love it when you're out here with us, Mom.

Oh, my sweetheart. I love it, too. If only I'd slow down more often to notice His gifts, even when I'm convinced I am too exhausted to see them.

Snowflake Scripture

 

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Time For Jesus

Extra_Hope “Sorry, I don’t have time for that.”

How many times have you heard this phrase? I know I’ve said it myself hundreds of times, using my lack of time as a reason or explanation for why I cannot possibly do something. And it’s true that my life is incredibly busy and that oftentimes my heart is racing because of all the things that I have to get done in one day. That’s true of most of us, in fact. But is it accurate to say that I don’t have time?

In fact, I have the same amount of time as everybody else—24 hours in a day. No person here on this earth has a time machine that can alter that reality. Nobody can buy more time, find more time, or purchase extra time at the grocery store. Time is finite, and marches ceaselessly forward. The President of the United States has exactly the same amount of time to spend that we do. So why do we say that we don’t have any time?

If we are honest with ourselves, what we are really saying when we say “sorry, I don’t have time for that” is “sorry, I am prioritizing something else in my life right now." We fill up our moments with tasks which all seem worth prioritizing in the moment, whether they're actually God's Will or not.

I often say “I don’t have time for that” because I am an incredibly busy person, but here are a few things I managed to prioritize in my very busy life today:

-I slept in for an extra fifteen minutes, because sleep took priority over showering when my alarm went off. -I sat and stared at the wall while I drank my coffee, because my need to not talk to anyone just yet took priority over my need to get things done. -I sat on Facebook and worked/socialized for a scattered hour or two throughout the day, because hilarious notes from friends and coworkers grabbed my attention and took priority over whatever else I was doing at the moment. -I supervised my kids while they painted pictures in the dining room, because their need to be creative took priority over my need to clean the kitchen in that moment. -I jumped on a business call during nap time, because the announcement they were making took priority over the other plans I’d had during nap time.

I am a busy person, yet I HAD the time for the priorities that were important to me today. If you had asked me first thing this morning if I could dedicate four hours of my day to sleeping in, staring at the wall, going on Facebook, supervising my kids painting, and listening in on a business call I probably would have looked at the size of my to do list and said “no way; you’re crazy.” And yet, I found the time. But not without sacrifice. Because in prioritizing these things, I let other things go.

"I am prioritizing something else in my life right now."

In truth, we don’t have all the time in the world. We cannot possibly do every single thing we want to do, or every single thing that other people expect of us. We have the time that God has given us on this earth, exactly that, and no more. Our time as Christians is eternal, with an endless forever to spend with God in heaven some day. But our time on this earth is limited. It could end in fifty years, or it could end in five minutes. We don’t know. So how are we spending this time? We can only do so much--are we letting God direct what we do? Or are we filling up our time with the World's temptations and distractions? We only have so much time left to tell other people about Jesus. We only have so much time left to grow spiritually as sinful but redeemed children of God. What are we prioritizing instead of those things?

"I am prioritizing something else in my life right now."

Are we telling people we “don’t have time” for a daily devotion? If we are honest with ourselves, what we mean is “A daily devotion is not something I’m prioritizing in my life right now.” Are we saying we “don’t have time” to share God’s message with others? What we mean is “sharing God’s message isn’t something I’m prioritizing right now.” We can feel a little defensive about this, and resistant to admitting it, but the truth remains: if we truly prioritized our spiritual growth, we would HAVE time for it, just like we have time for our morning coffee, our chat with a coworker, our kid’s soccer game, and that time we spent staring at the living room mentally rearranging it before company came over, among other things that took priority in the moments that we prioritized them.

There is a lot of “busyness” in our lives that is legitimate and necessary God-pleasing work, and then there is a lot of “busyness” that is just noise, filling up our days and distracting us from our ultimate task of spreading God’s Love. Parkinson’s law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” We allow worldly tasks that should be kept to a minimum in our lives to expand and take up unnecessary priority space, while other things that should be priorities for us, that we wish we *could* make more of a priority in our lives, stay only in our brains as “should do’s”, where they expand as a concept in our minds to the point where we consider them tasks of monumental effort and time consumption, impossible to ever find enough time for, so why even try? So here we are, wasting two hours on a Friday morning dawdling and daydreaming and taking coffee breaks in between returning messages that probably could have taken half the time to respond to if we were focused, while at the same time we “can’t find the time” to read a 2 minute morning devotion because our minds have inflated that task to the point where it seems an insurmountable time consuming ordeal, and so we make excuses why we cannot fit Jesus into our lives.

Jesus himself told a story about excuses:  “Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me." “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (luke 14:16-23)

The characters in Jesus’ parable all had seemingly valid excuses why they couldn’t attend the great banquet (a metaphor for heaven). They were looking not to God to direct their lives, but rather to prioritize earthly matters over heavenly ones.

Why can't we find the time? Perhaps its because we are relying too much on ourselves to MAKE time. Our sinful selves can always find something more pressing to prioritize than Jesus. Always. We can always find urgent but unnecessary work that needs to be done at any time of the day. So let's stop relying on ourselves to make time, stop making excuses, and start asking Jesus for help. Let's ask Him to help us prioritize His important work in our lives without getting distracted by the shiny objects of the world around us.

Do you dare to ask God to direct your time today? Do you dare to pray this prayer?: “Lord, I am yours. My time is yours. You have leant it to me to carry out your will. Help me to use my time to your glory today. Help me not to prioritize worldly distractions and to list endless excuses for why I cannot do your work, Lord, but to prioritize you and to give YOU the glory for everything that I do. Amen.

Did you enjoy this post? Join us in January, 2016 as we will be kicking off the New Year chatting about practical ways we can maintain God's priorities over our own in the home, at work, and with family!

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10 Tricks and 2 Truths About Drawing Near to God When You Hardly Have Time to Sit Down

“Get that out of your ear!”  

“Don’t poke her eyes!!”

 

“GENTLE! Gentle touches... see?”

 

“NO SITTING ON THE BABY- OFF!!!!!”

 

“Seriously. Stop putting things in your ear! You are going to cause permanent damage, Bud.”

 

“Please don’t jump on people, guys. That’s owie.”

 

“Come here and ask me nicely.”

 

“NO EAR!”

 

And of course all of the:

 

“I waaanchu”, “cawwy me”, “I hungwy”, “I firsty”, “Pay wif me”

 

“V-V” (TV) “Side, SIDE” (Outside), “Mook” (Milk)

 

ETC...

 

Since June I have been the stay-at-home mother of 3 kids ages 3 and under. My kids are usually awake around 5am and are definitely on the “spirited” (read: undisciplined, unstructured, crazy) end of the spectrum.

 

It. Is. Constant.

 

The moment my oldest two are playing nicely together or watching something on TV (don’t judge), and I try to “clean” (read: tidy my home in a way that would discourage unexpected visitors from calling Social Services). I occasionally remember to look my poor, neglected 2 month old in her beautiful eyes to tell her how much I love her and actually enjoy her existence. Maybe you don't have 3 kids that are 3 years apart. Maybe you have 3 jobs, or one really demanding one. Maybe you are just plain busy. And maybe you're like me and ask yourself, "how am I possibly supposed to make time for myself in this chaos"?

 

Usually by the time I am in the middle of lamenting my lack of “me” time, I realize that I have not dedicated any time to God either...

 

Lately I have been making more of an effort to make God a bigger part of my daily life. Here are some tricks I’ve been using in the midst of my chaos:

10and2

 

  • Switch the Station

 

It can make a big difference to switch your background noise to positive, uplifting Christian music. Katy talks about it more in this post! Sing along and praise God as you wipe off the counter for the 4 billionth time that morning! It will have a positive influence on your kids, too!

 

  • Recitation

 

Throughout the day, as things remind you, recite scripture you have memorized. Do it out loud or in your mind. You’re probably already multitasking, so challenge yourself to find a verse that applies to one of the things you are doing or see how many in a row you can spout off the top of your head! When you have a hard time coming up with the exact wording of a passage you thought you knew, it may even encourage you to open your actual bible to look it up!

 

  • Kid’s Books & Devotionals

 

I don’t have to tell you how essential it is to tell your children about God and make sure He is a fundamental part of their lives! When you are reading them books, scan the shelf for some biblical stories. During devotion, make sure the true message is accurately portrayed instead of just a feel-good moral. Challenge yourself to incorporate details from the bible that your kids version may be missing! Also, read this great post:

 

  • Online Sermons & Audio Bible

 

One of my favorite things to do when I am gearing up to write a blog post is to spend the few days before listening to solid sermons. I usually have to listen to one a few times, and even then I don’t always hear the whole thing, but it helps me get focused. A Reason for Hope is a great place to start! When I’m all caught up on sermons I like to turn on the bible in the background!

 

  • PRAY & Count Those Blessings

 

You can pray any time and about anything. Pray with your kids. Pray through frustration. Cast your cares on HIM! Pray for forgiveness. Pray with gratitude and count your blessings!

 

  • Scriptural Art

 

Having beautiful scripture verses or biblical art in your home can also help you refocus. One more place for God to be, and one more reminder to keep him in every part of your life! It is especially helpful to place these reminders in places we spend a lot of our time (read: at the kitchen sink...) www.Corissanelsonart.com has some great printables if you don’t know where to start looking!

 

  • Charts and Planners

 

For you list makers and planner people, schedule some time for God! Reward yourself with a check mark, sticker, or whatever it takes to put your relationship with Jesus on your list of goals and priorities. (Just be careful that you don’t treat or think about your relationship with God as just another to-do!!)

 

  • There’s an App for That

 

Becky talked about it in this recent post! Technology is a huge part of our lives, and has a ton of tools to make various aspects of our lives easier. Use it to help you find time for God on your phone or as you take a minute to yourself to check facebook or Pinterest!

 

  • Pocket Reminders

 

For those days that I am not wearing yoga pants, I sometimes like to scribble a verse or section from scripture onto a scrap of paper and stick it in my pocket (or purse/diaper bag) so that any time I put my hand in my pocket (or dig something out of the diaper bag), I see it and am reminded and refreshed by God’s messages to me.

 

  • Friends & Mentors

 

There are few things more valuable than a good Christian friend or mentor who will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. Schedule playdates, send texts or e-mails, or do whatever you can do to keep one another mutually encouraged in the faith! Read more here

 

 

These are 10 ways to saturate your lives with scripture when you are struggling to find a minute to even sit down. But here are two very important truths to remember:

 

  1. There is absolutely no substitute for carving out time, no matter how crazy things get, to give your undivided attention to God and his Word.

Putting up pictures of your best friend, telling your children about them, or thinking about memories you have shared will never be as satisfying of a relationship-builder as sitting down to coffee together, sharing your life and listening to what they have to say too. We make the the time for the important things in our lives. God does not belong on the list of things to think about if you have time.

 

  1. You are a loved and redeemed child of God. You are already purchased and won. Your salvation and His love are in no way dependant on your actions.

Give yourself some grace. God has! God is not an employer who sees that you clocked in late or called in sick, missed a deadline or goofed up a project. He is our loving Father who knows and created your inmost being. He loves you deeply and is a fountain of patience and forgiveness that never runs dry. Go to Him, not to fulfill a requirement, but to feel the loving embrace of a Father who loves you and called you to be His own. 

 

Some days I feel like I am putting out fires all day, but I feel a whole lot better when I am more concerned about growing the fire in my heart.

 

*Don't forget to participate in our new online Bible study on Facebook!!

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