Leaving Space in your Schedule

So our journey has begun! Yes, we are off to a slow start, but a start nonetheless! 🙂 The Lord has laid it on my heart to get back to the basics in my Christian walk and we are just warming up with the discipline of creating space in our lives for time with the Lord.

In my last post, I mentioned three principles:

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We covered the first two in Monday’s post HERE. If you missed it, you may want to read that one before continuing below. Today we are going to address the 3rd principle:

Leave space in your schedule.

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Learning to leave space in my schedule is definitely the hardest principle for me to apply. The demands on my time are great. We all have demands that feel impossible to say “no” to, but part of that is because we haven’t been taught that “no” is okay (and even good sometimes!).

Jesus frequently said “no” for the purpose of getting alone with the Father. Luke 5:16 tells us that he often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Sometimes He withdrew by Himself and sometimes He withdrew with His closest disciples. Similarly, sometimes we need to get alone with the Lord and sometimes we need to shut out the outside world for a bit and get alone with those closest to us – maybe our spouse, family, or a Bible study small group.

It is important to note, too, that often when Jesus “withdrew”, the next words we read are “the crowds followed”. (See Matthew 12:15, Matthew 14:13, and Mark 3:7 for a few examples) Jesus knew how to balance the demands on His time perfectly.

Sometimes He laid aside His own physical and emotional needs and had compassion on the crowds. He put their needs above His own and trusted His Heavenly Father to provide all that was necessary for Him to press on and continue to serve. We can see this example in Matthew, chapter 14. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, had just been beheaded. Jesus and His disciples are heavy of heart and looking forward to time alone together. When the crowds pressed in, Jesus saw that they were hungry, both physically and spiritually, and He filled them up with one of His most well-known miracles, the feeding of the five thousand.

But in other examples, we see Jesus stepping out of the public ministry and refueling with His Father or pouring privately into those in His inner circle. At times Jesus went to great lengths to protect that need to withdraw – even escaping to the middle of a lake in a storm! Read Matthew 8:18-27 and Mark 3:7-9 for a couple such examples.

So practically speaking, how can we follow Jesus’ example?

The key as I see it is staying connected with the Father.

Because Jesus was in constant communion with the Father, He had a perfect understanding of His priorities and He put first things first. In other words, the more we create space in our lives for time with the Lord, the better we will understand God’s call and His priorities. The more we understand His call and His priorities, the more we will successfully make choices to leave space in our schedule. And, (if you are still following this line of thinking!) the more we can leave space in our schedule, the more space we will have created in our lives for time with the Lord! The cycle repeats! Like a snowball rolling downhill, we grow and pick up steam each time we meet with the Lord in worship, Bible study, and prayer.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

 

Before I close my laptop for the night, let me point out that my wording in the title of this post is very purposeful. When it comes to your calendar, it is a whole lot easier to leave space in your schedule than to create it. What I mean by that is if you try to create space once your schedule is already jam-packed, it’s like trying to corral an ant farm once it has been let loose. Good luck!

This is a great time of year to be thinking about our schedules and preemptively leaving that space before the fall approaches, new commitments are made, and the calendar is full!

I want to know your thoughts! Any practical tips on leaving space in your weekly schedule? Leave a comment below!

 

I’ll be covering one of the ways I’ve worked to leave space in my family’s schedule in my next post. I hope you’ll join me then! Looking forward to meeting with you again at the throne of grace!

Blessings in Christ,molly

Creating Space

So…I had PLANNED to write about the purpose and privilege of prayer to get this little blog series going on the basic Christian disciplines. I had PLANNED to post this weeks ago! However, the start to our summer has not exactly been about slowing down, resting and recharging!

Summer vacation actually started five days early when our home was hit with a strange bug that included a high fever. My daughter’s classroom at school had been decimated by this bug! By my count, 9 out of 16 kids were hit with it, plus 2 moms…me, being one of them! In all my years of teaching, I never had a student miss the last day due to illness. Who misses the last day of school and isn’t on a plane heading to Hawaii?? My sweet Colin, that’s who! Lucy got it early in the week the last week of school, then passed it to Colin, and then me. The fever wiped us out but we never fully had a chance to recover before we were heading out of town for a wedding and to visit family up north. We kept a busy pace trying to squeeze in as much quality time with family and friends as we could in seven days before returning home and jumping right into all the summer fun of swim lessons, beach days, a sleepover and birthday parties!

I got in the shower the other day (a place where I usually do my best thinking) and realized that I really hadn’t had meaningful conversation with God, beyond a “Thank you God for this food,” the whole day! My brain felt so scrambled and full of distraction that even with concentrated effort, alone, in the shower, I still couldn’t put together a related string of thoughts to pray! Have you ever had a similar experience?

It was an important realization for me.

STEP #1 in my refresher course on the disciplines of the Christian life: CREATING SPACE.

None of the other aspects of Christian living and growing to be more like our Savior can have any real impact if I don’t first create space in my life to experience a daily RELATIONSHIP with my Lord.

One of the major pitfalls of the 21st century is we fill our lives SO FULL that I think my generation and beyond is forgetting (or never learning!) how to create purposeful empty spaces in our days.

So here are 3 principles the Lord has shown me about creating space:

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I’ll cover the first two ideas today and save the third one for tomorrow so I can go a little more in depth on that one.

1. Make a morning quiet time something you simply won’t go without.

There are many people who absolutely refuse to start their day without a cup of coffee, or would never think to leave the house without makeup on…make time alone with the Lord just as vital to the start of your day!

I’m a firm believer in this one. There have been seasons in my life (such as when I had babies not sleeping through the night) when time for Bible study and prayer just didn’t work well in the morning, and I had to carve out alternatives later in the day. However, as much as is possible, isn’t it best to begin our day with our Creator and Sustainer? If He is the one who kept me breathing all through the night and if He is to be Lord of my day, then doesn’t it make sense to begin my day in conversation with Him?

2. Allow for quiet. Turn off and unplug.

There is no doubt that we have become tied to our devices. When my cell phone took a swim in the toilet (I’ll admit it…not once, but twice!), the Lord convicted me. Do I really need to be so connected to my technology that I have to walk around my house with my phone in my pocket?

I know I’m about to date myself, but just think for a minute what a difference 30 years has made. When I was a kid, our phone was attached to the wall. In the kitchen. My mom had to sit down at the kitchen barstool to talk on the phone. If the phone rang and we didn’t get to the phone fast enough, the caller had to try back at another time. No answering machine. There was no expectation on the part of the caller of being guaranteed to reach you. If it was important enough, the caller would have to come to the front door!

Our world has become so noisy that we have to take steps to actually create quiet. For a certain period of the day, to allow time alone with the Lord, turn off the radio and TV. Turn off your ringers.

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In fact, use the “do not disturb” feature on your phone. Have you tried it? It’s awesome! It will silence your phone from ringing, or even buzzing and vibrating, while still allowing certain phone number you have deemed as “favorites” to ring through in case of an emergency.

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The “Do Not Disturb” feature can even be set to turn on and off every day at a certain time, then you don’t even need to think about it! My husband’s phone is set to go off during the hours between 10 pm and 7 am, but you could just as easily set the phone to turn off for an hour or so in the middle of your day.

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If allowing for quiet is a hard one for you, ask yourself why. Think about what your resistance to step away from the noise is based upon. Is it fear? Something important might happen in the world or to a loved one and I won’t know about it? My spouse/friend/employer expects an immediate response out of me? If there is an underlying fear, ask the Lord to give you His peace that He is in control and that He is bigger than even our technology. If there is a message that He needs you to receive, do you really think he has to use a wired device to deliver it?

3. Leave space in your schedule.

As I mentioned, this one needs a little more attention and we are going to go right to the Source of all Sources to get some answers, so you will have to check back tomorrow!

In the meantime, I want to hear from you! My list of ideas for creating space in our busy lives is just the tip of the iceberg. If I haven’t made this clear already, let me say it loud and clear now: I am right there in the trenches with you! The very fact that it has taken me weeks to get this post up tells you I’m preaching to my own heart. Creating space in my life for the important disciplines of the Christian life like Bible study, prayer, worship, and fellowship is a constant struggle. I’d love to hear your suggestions on finding this important balance.

What helps you create space in your life for time with the Lord?

 

By His Grace and for His Glory,molly

Let’s Get Going!

It’s time.

Let me be honest, it’s WAAAAAY past time!

I’m sorry to say it has been months since I last sat down to write a post for Throne of Grace. If you are a regular around here you know that our family and business survived a big move this year. I know many of you were praying for us and your prayers were felt and answered! The Lord has been so faithful in all His provisions and although it was tough, through the power of our Savior I can say we not only survived, but truly did thrive in the midst of the move!

Even at 8 and 6, boxes provide endless entertainment!

Even at 8 and 6, boxes provide endless entertainment!

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Moving Day!

As many of you can attest, big life changes have the power to strengthen our marriages and family relationships or they can be totally devastating. Our prayer all along was that we would stay united as a family, that the challenges of such an undertaking would not compromise our witness to those around us, and that we could glorify God even when it was hard. We had many failures along the way but, praise God, He is allowing us to triumph!

Our new home...for now!

Our new home…for now!

The story is not finished. We are still adjusting (a little dazed!) and living in a month-to-month rental, so we are looking at yet another move down the road. Along with all the personal changes, Throne of Grace is undergoing a makeover as well. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to put into words all that has happened in the last few months!

My attention has naturally been drawn to a million other places as I’ve packed and moved my family and I’m thankful God has given me a ministry that is flexible and can work around our family life. But the task of communicating all the changes and getting back to consistency with this blog has seemed daunting for some reason!

It hit me today how it parallels one of my lifelong struggles with being a type-A perfectionist. If I can’t do it right, I don’t want to do it at all! This mindset can be paralyzing at times! So even after the boxes were unpacked and production in the Throne of Grace workshop had resumed, this website has sat stale and lifeless. I keep waiting for just the right words to explain the past 6 months and get this blog rolling – and they haven’t come!

Satan loves to paralyze us, doesn’t he? It’s one of his many wily schemes. If he can’t discourage our faith, he’ll try to render our faith ineffective. I’ve definitely seen this spill into my prayer life over these past months! This girl who has dedicated the past 6 years of her life to equipping others to live and leave a legacy of prayer has a new prayer journal that has [big confession coming…] been empty for months! [gasp!]. Will you be shocked if I say that I wanted to set it up just right and hadn’t quite decided how I wanted to do it and hadn’t found the perfect pen to use yet…? Such silly excuses, but it’s true!

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Am I the only one who has felt spiritually paralyzed?

Maybe it’s not your prayer journal that has sat empty like mine.

Maybe it’s that ministry that God is calling you to take on but you haven’t answered because it’s just not the perfect time yet.

Maybe it’s the neighbor that you have smiled and waved to for years now, but have never invited in for a cup of coffee.

Maybe it’s the conversation that the Holy Spirit has been nagging you to start with a group of friends, knowing that doing so will out you as “in the world, but not of it”.

Maybe it’s not for lack of prayer but a sense that the prayers are producing no answer and you have no idea how the Lord wants you to move forward.

Whatever the situation that has you frozen, don’t you think its time to get going? I sure do! This girl is getting a move on! I’m starting to see a pattern…when I find myself stuck, it is often because I’m making things WAY TOO complicated! The best thing for me to do is to get back to the basics. Return to what I know. Simmer the situation down to God’s simplest principles. He is a simple God.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30)

 

I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the Throne of Grace team as we refresh ourselves with a review of the simple disciplines of the Christian life. Let’s get going! We will begin next week with a look at the purpose and privilege of prayer. Watch for that!

Last month we celebrated 6 years as a ministry! Praise God! It’s a good time to remember where we started as we launch ahead with some  changes for the future. I look forward to sharing more updates with you soon…

Glad to be back with you at the Throne of Grace!

By His Grace and for His Glory,molly