Teachable Moments

It’s Time!

Time is nearly impossible to manage.  C. S. Lewis wrote quite a bit about it, musing on how we complain that it goes too slow, goes too fast, we have too much, or we don’t have enough.  Time is the environment we live in and it is sprinkled throughout most of our conversations and yet – we are never comfortable within it.

Helping our children learn to manage time is one of the key life skills parents will teach their children and whether we think we are teaching them or not, we are.  How we talk about time, how we use our time, how we waste our time are all messages we are giving that are shaping our child’s perception of time.

My husband has recently been preaching on being a disciple focused on the mission of expanding the Kingdom of God.  Pastor Brian wisely wrote,

Jesus said to greet no one on the way. In other words, keep focused on the main goal and don’t get sidetracked or waste time. Of course, in our context of being embedded missionaries, stopping and talking is the mission (not the distraction). 

How do we manage our time well, passing on these necessary skills as we parent the next generation of embedded missionaries (our children)?  The world wants to steal their time through social media and video games; their inner desire to entertain themselves can spend hours on Netflix or Youtube and our third enemy, the demonic realm, will do anything to distract our attention away from God’s mission that he has for us.  Again, I’ll turn to Pastor Brian’s recent article and share with you what he learned from a perusal of an old but helpful time management resource.

  • Eternal Perspective –  Charles Darwin said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” Of course this is true for a man who doesn’t believe in eternity, but how much more should this be true for we who believe we will live for eternity in light of what we did with our few short years during this life?
  • Can I schedule this goal on my calendar? – The super successful people don’t just burn hour after hour trying to cross more items off their task list. No, they have already thought through their priorities and have scheduled a time for them. And then, enough is enough. Decide on all your priorities, schedule them, and let the rest go. Replace your to-do list with your calendar. 
  • Energy Management – Important items should be scheduled as early in the day as possible. Manage your priorities around your ever-depleting energy.  
  • Always carry a notebook – Write everything down. (I am learning to use my voice recorder app as an idea capturing device). Capture everything. Sort it out. Prioritize. Schedule.
  • Have the courage to say no – Everyone has a wonderful plan for your life, but only you know your priorities.  Don’t forget – we need to say no to more non-essentials and yes to more Kingdom building opportunities.
  • Evaluate what your 20% is. – 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results. Evaluate what that 80% is that is eating up all your time… kill it.
  • Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin – touch your snail mail, email, and voicemail once… not multiple times.

Dear Friend – want to know a secret about this blog?  Managing time is not a solitary event – we tend to make better choices and can get more done when we partner together.  Your spouse, your best friend and yes, even your kids – all of our significant relationships can help us manage our time and accomplish the Kingdom work God has for each one of us.  I put this principle in action in this blog by “stealing” my husband’s work (with his permission, of course). Don’t waste your time trying to do it all, all by yourself.

Spending my time thinking of you, dear reader, and praying God expands your time and energy and blesses the Kingdom work you do is one of my favorite ways to spend my time.  Thanks for thinking life through with me and grabbing every Teachable Moment we can.

Fondly yours for all time, Elizabeth

PS – Here’s a Bonus List of questions and tips that can help maximize your Time Management, courtesy of Pastor Brian.  (Thanks honey for helping me maximize my time)

Bonus List
DROP: What items can I drop? 
DELEGATE: What items can I delegate to someone else?
REDESIGN: What do I need to continue doing, but do it in a new time-efficient way ?
LIFESTYLE:  Get enough sleep  and remember what Mark Twain said , “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Teachable Moments

What Puts The GRAND In Grandparenting?

“If I knew Grandparenting was so great, I would have been a grandparent FIRST!”  My Mom told me this after she had spent a delightful day playing at the park, having a picnic, and reading books with my preschool children and when they needed reigning in, she brought them to me; she had the fun, and I got to parent.  Grandparents often get the joys of being with the kiddos without all the hassle and worry. This doesn’t mean Grandparents don’t work when they are on child-duty, but it does mean that they don’t have ultimate responsibility.

Grandparents are in a unique role as there are benefits to their stage of life that they didn’t have when they were younger.  Now, of course this doesn’t apply to every Grandparent, but for many gone are the days of early alarm clocks, a 5-day work week, and evenings filled with soccer practices, piano lessons, and play dates.  Time can be considered more at the discretion of the Grandparent with a freedom of choice they haven’t previously enjoyed. Finances don’t have to be designated for orthodontic braces, prom dresses, college fees, or wedding receptions.  With these responsibilities behind them, Grandparents have a choice they can spend on their adult children and their growing families.

How best can Grandparents make the most of these precious years with their grandchildren?  How can the former generation influence the future generation?  It’s not a matter of making a “to do” list, but rather a “to be” list.  

  1. G – Get your wisdom from God.   Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4, NIV)  God has gotten you this far, He can be there to help give you the strength and wisdom you’ll need to influence the next generation.  Ask God to give you the opportunities you need to have those teachable moments with your Grandchildren that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
  2. R – Remember those funny, fun and frantic life stories.  A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (Proverbs 17:22, MSG) My Grandmother told me stories of having a goat-cart to get around town, putting rouge on her knees when she went out dancing the Charleston in the 1920s, listening around the radio to “The Shadow” in the 1930s, and remembering the first movie she ever saw (1915, “The Champion” with Charlie Chaplin).  What fun it was to hear about “ the good ole’ days” and how encouraging to know that the God that sustained my Grandparents would also see me through.
  3. A – Answer questions and Ask just as many.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4, NIV) Take the time to engage in conversation.  Don’t let those teachable moments slide by!  Also, if you have a Grandchild who tends not to initiate conversation, take the time to seek them out and ask about their lives – what they are experiencing, what they think and what decisions they are  making.
  4. N – Never miss a moment to be an “encourager”. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV) Parents and children face many challenges on a day-to-day basis.  As a grandparent, look for the silver lining and the positive. You never know how your words of encouragement can build up relationships, help navigate conflict and encourage perseverance through tough times.
  5. D – Disciple the next generation.  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35, NIV) Your best gift to your grandchildren is loving them well.  Never miss out on giving a hug, speaking about your devotion to Jesus and showing appreciation for what makes them special.  Loving family relationships built on Christ is a strong witness to the world and a blessing that your Grandchildren will carry with them the rest of their lives.

Dear Reader, what a privilege it is to be a Grandparent.  Your relationship is a powerful opportunity to influence the next generation in significant ways. You’ve lived a lifetime – it’s now time to pass on all you’ve learned and invest in these young lives.  Look and cultivate all the Teachable Moments you can find – you’ll be glad you did and so will your grandchildren.

Fond blessings to you!  As always, Elizabeth

PS – do you know a Grandparent who may find this article helpful? Could you kindly consider passing this blog post on to them?  I’d appreciate it and I bet they would too. Let’s make every Teachable Moment count!

Teachable Moments

The days are long; the years are short

I recently had a lovely day with my adult daughter, chatting over lunch and diving into some retail therapy.  As we engaged in the hunt for a new pair of workout clothes, I reminisced how different shopping was now compared to 22 years ago when my daughter was a toddler.  I watched the young Moms in the shopping center, pushing strollers and attempting to pacify children who were hungry or in a need of a nap. I, on the other hand, was thoroughly enjoying a quiet day, strolling through the shops, sipping a Vanilla Almond Latte, conversing about everything and nothing with my 20-something, newly-married daughter.  Wow – what a difference 22 years can make.

I remember those days back then. There were moments when I thought they would never end.   I would never sleep a full night, never take a shower without being interrupted, or never eat a warm meal again – ever.  The days were long. At times – never ending long.

At the same time, the years are short.  It went so quickly. I remember the dance recitals with tiny pink tutus and itty-bitty ballet shoes.  I remember the play dates, Bible times, and early Saturday morning pancakes. I remember as the years went by trying to figure out schedules and which sports, lessons, and activities should or should not be signed up for.  Figuring it all out was stressful, time-consuming and when it all went right, a joy. I loved cheering from the sidelines, commiserating over an unfair call, or offering a hug when defeat was hard to swallow. I loved being my daughter’s Mom.

Time is hard for parents to put in perspective.  At the time when newborns and toddlers fill the house, the days seem long, but after they are done, indeed – the years are short.  It seems time is a game we can never win. Time is not so much an ally, but an adversary. Understanding this and gaining God’s view on time is the key to making the most of the time we have.

When did time start to go wrong?  I would suggest we find the answer at the beginning of Genesis.  When death as a consequence for sin entered the world, time went wrong.  Prior to death, we were created with an intention of living forever with God in a state of peace.  But with rebellion, man no longer walked with God, but ran from Him and instead of enjoying endless days, knew that the days of one’s life would come to an end.  Death creates a tension in our relationship with time that heaven will, thankfully, erase.

Eternal life is the state in which time is no longer a Christian’s enemy.  As immortal souls, we are freed from this body of death and finite experience, and enter into the infinitude our soul longs for.  CS Lewis said, Though we cannot experience our life as an endless present, we are eternal in God’s eyes; that is, in our deepest reality” (Letters to Malcolm).

I as a Mom have lived most days by schedules, appointments and deadlines.  I have felt time move too slowly and too quickly; I have had too much time on my hands and more often than not, I have not had nearly enough of it.  Time is not comfortable for me and yet, I find myself mucking about in it every day. I have found that if I stop and consider life through God’s eternal eyes, I remember that this day isn’t so much a moment in time, but a moment that is part of God’s infinitude.  It is part of a bigger picture. If I remember that my life and its teachable moments are part of God’s bigger plan for me, then long, endless days seem less long because the purpose of even having this life grabs my attention. In addition, perhaps the years that seem too short seem more precious because of the path they created to where I am today.  An eternal perspective on the many years of parenting that are now behind me leads me to gratitude for the faithfulness of God as I navigated those years. How grateful I am for Him and His ever-present provision.

Dear Reader, may this week we look at our days and our years through the lens of eternity.  May we find strength in the days that are long by remembering we are a part of a bigger, eternal plan.  And for the years that are short, may we find ourselves able to give God thanks for the many ways He provided and for the many precious moments we enjoyed.

For this week, I pray God grants you an eye that looks at life through eternity.  Knowing as believers in Christ, we get to enjoy eternity together with our King, I rejoice in sharing my thoughts with you in this moment in time.  I hope they bless your days as you live out your years in light of the bigger reality of immortality.

As always – fondly yours, Elizabeth

Other CS Lewis Quotes on Eternity:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (Mere Christianity)

The difference God’s timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. (Letters, August 1949)

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. (Mere Christianity)

 

Teachable Moments

Do It Again

“Memory is the diary we all carry with us.” -Oscar Wilde

We are what we remember. Our memories are the framework in which we paint our current life. When we forget or we choose not to remember, we are similar to a sailboat who has lost its sail out in a stormy sea – no direction, no control, and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. You hope you’re going to land in a good spot, but there are no guarantees.

Memories serve to anchor us.  Memories should be harnessed; we should use them to learn from and move toward growth. This is true for us as individuals; it also applies to our love lives.  We fall more in love with one another as well as navigate conflict resolution, time management, financial decisions and even romance when we learn from what we have already done.

It’s no surprise that at the beginning of our love life, we intentionally do things to attract and enjoy our partner.  We put a great deal of focused energy and make choices to nurture the relationship, to flourish both in our behaviors and our emotions.  We do what we do so love can be grounded and grow. We want to make it work, usually at all costs.

This focus is exactly what Revelations 2 talks about in regard to the church of Ephesus.  The relationship between the church and God isn’t about their ability to do the necessary hard work that is required for all relationships to survive nor their ability to survive the hard times; it is that they forgot the winsome, adoring behaviors that were done in the beginning of their love life. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Rev. 2:3-5

Reviving our love lives means we take a hard look at what we did in the very beginning. We learn from HOW we fell in love and repeat that which made our love thrive.

 

  1. Communication – “Lots, frequent, consistent about everything” are how we could honestly assess our conversations at the beginning of our romantic relationships.  I remember my husband and I spent hours in the middle of the night talking on the phone as we started seriously dating. We could not get enough “air time” as we wanted to know everything about the other person. And it wasn’t about bullet point facts – we wanted to know who the other person was in their being, in their heart, mind and soul.  
    • In our relationships today, do we put the same effort and attention into wanting to understand and explore the other person’s thinking and desires? Is my attitude one of “I still want to know you more?”
  2. Time investment – It takes time for relationships to become established.  It takes time to preserve our relationships and help them become healthy and strong.  Quality and quantity of time are not enemies, nor do we choose between one or the other. Both quality and quantity of time are required for relationships to prosper.
    • In our relationships today, do we invest the time both in quality and quantity that is required for our love to develop in a resilient and sustainable way?
  3. Focus on the “lovely” – When I was dating my husband, if you had asked me what I loved about him, I could have gone on and on for days. And honestly, I still could. Yet, like most relationships, it is easy to get into the habit of a critical viewpoint and notice the challenges more than the charms of the relationship. By nature, we as people can be very judgmental. Making sure that our negative judgments are not larger than our positive ones is a key to a thriving love life.
    • In our relationships today, do we practice the discipline of positive regard in which I build up the one that I love more than tear them down, both when I am speaking to them or when I am thinking about them?

Dear Reader, I encourage you to think back in time and to remember what you did in the beginning that caused you to fall in love in the first place.  Make your memories work for you both in your love life with people and with your God. Let us be doers of the word in Revelation 2, not just hearers. What wisdom we can glean from our memories if we but take the time to inventory what “we did at first” when love was new and awe-inspiring?

Praying this year’s Valentine’s Day brings joy to your soul. You certainly bring joy to mine!  

Blessings and Love Abundant, Elizabeth