Take Time to Take Stock

diagram one

14 years ago tomorrow changed my life and my heart forever. It was the National Day of Prayer, and I determined that I was going to learn how to fast and pray–read a book on fasting by Bill Bright and began my very first prayer fast. Specifically I was praying for a child. We had been told we would be unable to have children. You can read more of that story here. It was truly a miracle! Four children (all miracles!) and fourteen years later, I have been noticing that my priorities of heart have not really changed, but my actions are not reflecting my heart. So I am shifting my actions to line up with my heart.

Perhaps you find yourself in the same position–it is time to take stock and see how things are lining up. This is a chart I wrote for myself at the beginning of the year in my journal. I was looking at it this week and began to think you might benefit from it, too.  So I added some very elementary artwork to illustrate the points.

This verse is key to my ultimate goal, “Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 The Message

When you need to take stock of what and where and why and how, many questions must follow. For answers, it will require that you stop and consider each question carefully and prayerfully. A great companion to this chart below and for a deeper level of understanding is the Bible study called The Intentional Woman by Joan Webb and Carol Travilla.  It is a great way to assess where you are and give you tools to be more intentional in your day-in, day-out life.

Feel free to print this up, so you can consider where you are and how your priorities are lining up.

TAKE STOCK

What am I doing?

  • What am I doing?

What are my goals?

  • What are my goals?

Does one align with the other?

  • Does one align with the other?

Who am I impacting?

  • Who am I impacting?

Are my priorities reflecting the impact I want to have?

  • Are my priorities reflecting the impact I want to have?

What changes do I need to implement in my priorities to bring about a higher impact?

  • What changes do I need to implement in my priorities to bring about a higher impact?

Where am I residing?

  • Where am I residing?

Does it reflect my heart for the ones I impact?

  • Does it reflect my heart for the ones I impact?

How can I shift my priorities and goals to de-clutter and improve my "home?"

  • How can I shift my priorities and goals to de-clutter and improve my “home?”

When am I stopping to take stock of my goals, priorities, home, impact and heart?

  • When am I stopping to take stock of my goals, priorities, home, impact and heart?

Why do I feel stressed, worried, harried, inadequate, tired, insecure and out of control?

  • Why do I feel stressed, worried, harried, inadequate, tired, insecure and out of control?

What do the answers in the above questions reflect about my life?

  • What do the answers in the above questions reflect about my life?

How does God want me to respond?

  • How does God want me to respond?

 

For clarification, I will add a non-exhaustive list of personal notes and answers here–some are just examples, not personal:

1. What am I doing?

  • help-meet to my Chris,
  • caring for/ nurturing our children–watchful of their hearts, time, schedules, and activity,
  • tending to our home–cleaning, cooking, orderly, filling the needs and gaps, yard work, making it welcoming and fun,
  • web design,
  • A Martha Heart,
  • other computer related activity–emails, scheduling, other work,
  • interaction with friends, prayer and encouragement,
  • exercise,
  • and much more

2. What are my goals?

  • To lighten Chris’ load, so he can be the best at what he does–to connect with him, continue building relationship, love and friendship with him. To laugh with him daily. To hear him. To pray for him. To brighten his day and be the highlight of his day, so that coming home is a good thing.
  • To pour into our children life and joy, to equip them and teach them, to help build moral character into them, to tend to their needs. to delight them and make them laugh, to help them grow in the vein of things they enjoy and are pursuing, to pray for them and love them. To hug them often and smile more than I frown.
  • To help our family in whatever way we need–financially, scheduling, planning–keeping my hand on the pulse of our home
  • To make our home welcoming and inviting to friends and family
  • To grow personally in pursuing Christ
  • To improve my health and the health of my family
  • so much more, you get the idea

3. For checking alignment, I look at my goals and see how they fit with what I am actually doing–not what I say I am going to do. I can say I am going to exercise all I want, even pay for a membership at the YMCA and buy healthy groceries, but if I do not prepare healthy foods and actually go to the YMCA and exercise, my goal of improving my health is not aligned. It is what I actually am doing that must line up…and if not, I make action steps.  Tomorrow, I am going to make taco salad for supper and exercise for one hour at the YMCA. Then I follow through on those steps.

4. Who am I impacting? My husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, my connections in my communities (locally and on the Internet) and even strangers!

5. My priorities are what I do FIRST, then SECOND and so on.  These are the daily things I choose.  If what I choose is junk food and facebook all day long,then my priorities will not bring about my desired goals. A priority is what I do…not what I hope to do or plan to do.  It is what I DO.

6. Look at the signs… (these are just examples, not really my answers)

  • Wrong Way–It is fine to waste 5 minutes finding out when Katherine Hepburn died, but then researching all the bunny trails from that point and being there for an hour is too much!
  • Yield–The Holy Spirit in me, as a sealed believer in Christ, will remind me of where I need to slow down and yield to his promptings…whether it is the food I consume, the books or movies I read or the relationships in my life that do not benefit me or them and so on.
  • Stop–Clear sign–this pie will still be here, I do not need to eat the whole thing.
  • U-turn–I have gone too far in playing games on my phone.  I am spending three hours a day on them.  I need to limit my time here.  20 minutes total in the morning, noon and night are enough.
  • Danger–This relationship with a friend/ family member is becoming co-dependent, I need to ask the Lord how to proceed with caution and slowly back away, while respecting the person and making good, firm boundaries.
  • Slow, curves ahead–Treacherous cliffs are all around, I need to slow down here and see why my child is lying to me on a continual basis and why their homework is not getting finished.

7. Where am I residing?  Where do I spend my time each day–in the car, at home, on the computer, at my desk, with friends, etc…where and how am I spending time?

8. If the places I reside and how I spend the time do not reflect the goals I have for me and the ones I impact, then I need to begin to say NO–even to good things–to say YES to the best things.

9. Steps toward my goals might include giving up some things I like (even like a lot–like satellite TV) for invested things I love and want to enjoy–a trip camping this summer with our kids.

10. I try to take stock every week or so.

11., 12. and 13.) These are questions for me personally.  They basically are my actions steps and perhaps even my non-action steps.  What needs to start and what needs to stop? They are a gauge of where I am and where I want to be…between are the steps to action and the actual carrying out of each one. I prayerfully consider them.  I memorize scriptures–apply the Truth of God’s Word, like the one above, that reflect my goals and my struggles in reaching the goals I have set (sometimes, God’s Word causes and prompts me to change my goals). Then I stop and ask and answer the questions above again–adjusting as necessary.

I pray this helps you, dear friends–it is prepared with love.

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What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? (Review and Giveaway!)

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Early on in my marriage, I read the book Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow. That book had a major impact on me and my marriage. I realized that even though I was raised in a “religious” home ~ my father was an Episcopalian priest ~ I did not have a store of godly marriages to reference. Sure, I knew a lot of couples who had been married 25+ years, but in general those marriages did not reflect a biblical worldview. Working through Creative Counterpart helped me on the journey toward being the godly wife and helpmate I desired to be. It’s still a road I’m walking, that desire to be a godly wife and helpmate to my husband; thankfully I now have many godly examples and role models to help me along the way.

I have been given the opportunity to read and review Linda Dillow’s latest book about marriage, What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? And Other Dangerous Questions*, and I have to tell you, this was a challenging read. Once again, Linda has inspired me to take a good look at where my marriage is, and where I am in my walk with Christ. Through her writing, Linda ushers me into God’s presence. She encourages me to deepen and grow in my relationship with God, which in turn positively influences, deepens and grows my relationship with my husband.

Women everywhere wonder if there is more to marriage than what they have. Best-Selling author Linda Dillow helps women shape their marriage by design rather than letting circumstances shape it by default. What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? And Other Dangerous Questions is a book about knowing the difference between having a desire for a better marriage and setting the goal of having a better marriage—as women look in the mirror to see how they can change. Extremely intimate and honest, Dillow shares the best and worst things she has done in her nearly fifty years of marriage, guides women to make their own Marriage Purpose Statement, and leads them into God’s heart for what their marriage could be.

Whether you’ve been married less than 1 year or more than 50 years, there’s always room for growth and deeper intimacy. What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? is a practical, inspiring guide that will help readers take an honest look at themselves and their marriages. With insightful questions, personal examples, humor and spiritual wisdom, this book will challenge you to ask “Dangerous Questions” and consider your honest answers in light of the Word of God.

I have one brand new copy of What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? to give away!* To enter the giveaway, simply send an email to trish@amarthaheart(dot)com with “Dangerous Questions Giveaway” in the subject line. Everyone is invited to enter ~ this book’s impact and importance is so great, I am willing to ship it to the giveaway’s winner, no matter where they live!

Entries will be accepted through 11:59pm (US Central timezone) on Friday, March 25. The winner will be announced Monday, March 28.

*Thanks to Lisa Beech at Coast to Coast Publicity for providing the review and giveaway copies of What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?.
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