~ Tangled Motivation

tangled-motivation

I was talking to a writer the other day who said this, “I’ll have to see if I can find some motivation.”

I wanted to scream. I have news for those who are still in the dream world of “finding motivation.”

Motivation can’t be found. Unlike lost keys, or even the coin of great worth, motivation can’t be found. It’s not lost. Motivation is made.

It’s not made from feelings, or emotions, or delivered by a muse, or even from on high. Motivation can only be formed by rational, deliberate, intentional decisions.

God Himself can’t and won’t motivate you. Not that He’s not all-powerful, but because His first priority is to give us the complete freedom of CHOICE. He made a plan before time began. Every nuance of history and the future was woven before the first man was formed. There are no tangled threads in God’s tapestry.

We, however, are overwhelmed with choices and decisions to make. Therein lies the problem. We let the overwhelmingness of our days keep us from being intentional. We take the easy and lazy way out. We deceive ourselves into believing that it’s all too much. But it’s not too much. God doesn’t leave us hopeless and helpless. He put within every believer His Spirit to guide us into all wisdom.

We make thousands of decisions every single day. What percentage of them do we make after asking for His help? “Pray without ceasing” takes on a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Do you want to get things accomplished? Reach your goals? Work on the real priorities, instead of being sabotaged by the subterfuge of instant gratification?

Make some real decisions! Motivation will follow.

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~ You WILL

grapevine

“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)

I was looking out my back window at my pathetic espallied fruit trees today and once again contemplating whether I should give up and cut them down and use the upright poles between them to support a grape vine. (I should have looked up apple tree diseases before purchasing apple trees prone to Apple Cedar Rust Disease for a house on Cedar Road.)

The thought of grape vines always brings this verse to mind. Then my devotion today had the same verse. For some reason the word “WILL” jumped out for the first time in a long time. Almost every passage in the Bible is conditional in one way or another and this verse is blatant. IF you do this, this will happen. “If you remain in me, and I in you . . .”

I’m in a season of feeling pretty useless, what with my body being in rebellion mode. The more my body rebels, the less I accomplish, the more I’m forced to analyse the importance of my activities, physical, mental and spiritual.

I’m not happy about my rebellious body, but I’m grateful. I want to be fruitful. I don’t have what it takes physically, but guess what? That isn’t a condition! All I have to do is stick even closer to my maker, and draw the strength to produce fruit from him.

Not a bad trade off for a younger body and distracted lifestyle.

~ Dead Wood

It’s easy to look at the mess we’ve made as dead wood. Every year I have to cut the dead wood out of my Hydrangea. Every year there’s more. It’s a natural part of the life cycle of many woody shrubs and all trees. A certain percentage of the limbs and branches die off, and more grow in their place. Think of them as the equivalent of human hair. It doesn’t mean there is rot or disease, it’s just part of the process.

Now take that thought and apply it to the mess you’ve made of your attempts. Is your life (and possibly your home and office) filled with the clutter and refuse of attempts that went awry or projects that didn’t make it past the planning stage? Don’t beat yourself up! This is a normal part of the process of growth.

Rather than agonize over the failures, look at your mess as proof that you’re alive, trying new things, attempting to be and do more. Then get out the pruning shears and get rid of those things holding you back, reminding you of failure, and taking up valuable space in your life. Learn from God’s natural process. If you don’t cut out the dead wood, then the new can’t grow. There is no space, or light or air.

Breathe in those wonderful life-affirming verses that you love, and then tackle just one pruning job today. Nothing brings hope for the future like new spring green growth. Make room for it in your life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB

“The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy.
I’ve come that (you) may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ISV

Time and Priority Apps Recommendations

PLAN, PRIORITIZE, and TRACK your New Year!
Want great apps to help prioritize and plan your new year? (I wish I could benefit from these recommendations.)
The app is called Priority Matrix. I have it synced on my phone and tablet. (Free there, but costs on the computer.) Put in a master list, a weekly list, and a today list. Divide the master list into Urgent, Important, Obligations, and Eventually. (Keep in mind that only if the item is important to you and a true obligation does it belong in urgent, unless it’s unavoidable, like taking your kid to the ER) This also helps you resist volunteering yourself for things you can’t really do. The This Week and Today lists are divided into whatever categories your life takes. Right now mine is journals, home, art & writing, nonprofit & church.
Hours Tracker logo
Another great time management tool is an app called Hours Tracker. Great for tracking the time you spend on projects. Very versatile. Keeps me focused when I know I’m on the clock, and helps tremendously with putting a value on my time.

God Glimpses #25 – Don’t Despair!

GG_HD group shot

When you feel desperation, do you take a time-out?

Sometimes you need to sit yourself in a corner–give yourself time to think about things, and remember what you have to be grateful for.

The panic attack began when I wrote out a list of goals. Yep, you’ve been there. You throw everything on that sheet of paper. The must-do’s, the wanna-do’s, the other-people-think-I oughta do’s, the–you get the picture. Before you know it, the list is running onto a second sheet and you’re having a hard time breathing.

I’m a pastor’s wife, the VP of two non-profits, in charge of publicity for one, and have a host of responsibilities for the other, the mother of two sixteen year olds (ok, just for today, one turns seventeen tomorrow) and–that’s me in the garden hat in the picture–in charge of The Giving Garden.

About this time last year I was having a similar panic attack. We were telling everyone we were going to have a garden. I knew raised beds were the way to go, but knowledge and a sketch were all I had. That and the use of a small piece of ground beside a church building. If you’ve gardened, you know that dreaming won’t grow vegetables.

We made some phone calls, filled out some forms, and the next thing you knew, we had a team of Home Depot managers who donated, built and filled five raised beds and rototilled another two, and then gave us the shovels! (You can read about the first donated bed on our website.) By the end of summer we had a beautiful gate installed, flowers growing in the front bed, and so much produce that we had to get creative in ways to give it away. Considering we have a food pantry, that’s saying something, especially since no Zucchini were involved.

We had some wonderful people who volunteered, and some unbearably hot weather, which turned out to be a blessing, because, honestly, it kept us from working ourselves to death. The soil was so good that a little neglect didn’t make much difference. I think I fretted through much of the summer, and yet that garden was one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m giving God the credit for every bit of it, because on my own it would have been like my own sorry attempts in my back yard.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to be overwhelmed on a regular basis. Every time, the cure is to remember those special moments when God has provided in the past, and the joys of sharing the good with friends, old and new.

Once you’ve thanked God for his provision, you’re in a better place to choose peace over desperation. He will provide not only the wherewithall, but the whowithall. Find a friend or two to help you get your priorities in place. Then start pruning. What’s going to matter in a thousand years? What’s important now? What’s a wanna, or a wish? How will it impact your family? See, you’re feeling more hopeful already!

God Glimpses #23 – Indecision vs. God’s Design

coffee table apron
my coffee table

Do you love design? I know I do. No mid-century modern for me. No thanks! Oh, I know those of you who love those sleek lines will claim that is what makes it design.

To me that’s like saying a single note is the equivalent of a symphony.

Give me ornate carvings, layered paintings, embellished quilts. Oh, yes, I agree that the eye needs a place to rest. I understand that, and plan for that. Even my walls have blank expanses, and I’m an artist.

The point of sensory overload is different for everyone.

At this moment, I’m so overwhelmed I’m not capable of much more than running screaming into the sunset. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m incapable of making good decisions, incapable of true creativity, incapable of being the person I want people to see, or hear. I seek a hole to hide in until the input stops. And that doesn’t work all that well, because I take me in there. Never mind all the outside influences, I’m too complex.

I’m so grateful that the God who created everything–in layers, with ornate design, with embellishments that serve no purpose but to delight the eye–is not overwhelmed, does not suffer from sensory overload.

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. ”   James 1:5-8

These are perhaps the most complex verses in the Bible. An intertwining mass of circular reasoning to those who don’t get it. Most of us don’t get it. I don’t get it. Too often.

The verses before make it clear that the topic is the testing of our faith through trials, and that testing leads to endurance, maturity, completeness. I suppose it’s no wonder that God doesn’t make that wisdom we’re asking for clear every time. Would it be a test of faith if we knew the answer for sure?

So the test is this–can we believe that he’s given us wisdom–have the guts to act on what we think is the answer? Sometimes that still, small voice is teeny. Sometimes we know we’re hearing God say, “You know what to do” but we doubt ourselves and our ability to hear God, because we’ve ignored him too often, hidden in our holes too easily, delayed the inevitable.

So we don’t trust ourselves, and we float on the sea of indecision, in a boat named “Unanswered Prayers.”

I don’t know about you, but I suffer from motion-sickness.

God Glimpses # 17 – Poison Frogs

poison frog

This little guy was behind glass for a good reason. He’s so poisonous that even a touch would mean death to the touch-ee. (At this point in the tour with the university professor, I had to wonder how the natives extract the poison for their darts, but was afraid to find out.)

So many God glimpses here! Isn’t it nice that He made them brightly colored and patterned, so that they are easily noticed? I learned that this and several other species, also brilliantly colored, have incredible value to the medical community. Like so many things that will kill us, in small doses, the same poisons are useful.

The Bible tells us to be moderate in our lifestyle, don’t run to excess. For some things, a little goes a long way, for others, a concerted effort is needed, at least for a time. Teeny poison frogs . . . a lesson in balance.

Did I say later today?

How has your year started? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Have you realized that you didn’t get back to one of those many commitments that you made days and weeks ago; have your resolutions become irresolute? Or, like me, have you realized that some things just aren’t that important, and it’s a matter of priority. There’s nothing like being sick for a week or more to help a person prioritize. That’s when you realize that only the most important things have to be done, and those things that can scream urgent really aren’t. There’s a wonderful peace in that. Even though there are still many things left t0 do, they will be there waiting for me if I don’t get to them today. Today I will make sure what’s important today gets done, and maybe, just maybe do a little more.