Yes, I’m definitely a left-brained person. I love being inside of boxes. I love outlining books—and notes—and lists. I feel most comfortable if I have a plan—written out in detail and outlined (of course).
And you know that I’m a huge believer in setting goals at the beginning of each year and then reviewing and revising them (if necessary) each quarter—and doing so publicly to both keep myself accountable and motivated and to encourage others to reach and achieve their own goals.
Earlier this month, I posted a review of Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy.
But if you notice when reading that post, I never actually said I was following the advice given in the book. Sure I planned to do it; but hadn’t taken out my pencil and ream of paper to do the actual work involved.
I’m happy to announce that over the past week I have gone through the assignments in Living Forward and now have a 17-page life plan. More importantly, I’ve begun implementing it.
I’ve focused my life plan on spiritual matters, my relationship with my husband, health, my relationship with other family members, writing, relationships with people outside my family and developing hobbies. The plan feels well rounded and well prioritized for my current status and the direction I’d like to move.
Of course, the plan has already gone through a few revisions—mostly me adding more short term goals and ideas to implement them.
The hardest part of the plan? Reading the 17-page, single spaced, 3000 word document every day. Out loud.
That’s probably one of the parts of the plan that will help me the most though. Sure, I could skim over the document silently or do the out loud thing weekly or monthly. But there’s something about reading my commitments and plans out loud every day that has increased my commitment to it even more in the short time since I created the plan.
The effectiveness of reading my life plan out loud has to do with announcing the plan to myself, to anyone in hearing distance (usually my dog who lovingly comes over to me and shakes my hand), the world in general and God in specific. It’s that accountability thing again.
So, yes, I love having a plan. Like the John Hannibal Smith from the A-Team, I especially love it “when a plan comes together.” Looking forward to watching how that happens
WHAT ABOUT YOU? How is your plan? Do you have one? Do you need one? How can I help you get started, keep going or move toward the finish?
There are things we must do; things we should do; things we want to do. Unfortunately, as I age, it is harder to get things done. Harder to focus. Harder to settle on what is important. As I learn what God means to “number my days” I find that—with less time left on this earth—everything feels important. I want to get it all done. I don’t want to leave anything unresolved or any goals uncompleted.
I “say” this or that is important. But am I spending the time on those things in a way that is evidence of their importance? Am I spending too much time on the mundane and leaving the bucket list on the back porch where I can conveniently ignore it? Lately then I’ve begun a process of prioritizing.
Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s latest book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life you Want begins with a suggestion that you write your own eulogy to help you understand how you want people to remember you after you’re gone. The rest of the book helps you understand if what you profess to believe is important is what you are actually spending time on. Will you have really and truly left this world better for having lived in it, in the way you desire?
My one-word focus for 2016 has been legacy. When I began the year, I thought it related to working on a novel with the same name. Then I thought God was nudging me to focus on leaving a legacy of faith through what He wanted me to write. Then came news of a grandbaby to be and the word also meant a physical, generational legacy.
The focus is all of those things and more. The process of creating a life plan is one more part of understanding that one-word focus for 2016. And there is still a bunch of months left in 2016 for God to reveal new meanings!
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a life plan? Have you prioritized what you want to accomplish with your time on earth? Do you need to?
Names are important; they mean something. I love to pray that people will live the meaning of their names. Here are two more prayers: for Joyce and Joseph will live the meaning of their names.
Joyce: little lord
Heavenly Father, I pray Joyce will live the meaning of her name. I pray she will understand her station—that once she accepts Jesus, she becomes royalty as the adopted daughter of the King. I pray she will understand that although she is little, you—Oh, mighty God—are big. Big enough to handle every situation, every crisis, every joy, everything in the universe, no matter how large or small. Amen.
Joseph: God will increase; God raises
Heavenly Father, I pray Joseph will live the meaning of his name. I pray you will lift him up above the troubles of this world and above evil. I pray you will increase your blessings upon him and I pray that he will increase in his faith in you all the days of his life. Amen.
Saturday was Author Day at the Ontario Saturday Market. I joined in the fun along with a couple of Idahope Christian writers I knew and a few other writers I didn’t know. There were about 12 of us authors in all.
I’d never tried to sell my books in a festival environment before. It seemed like so much work. And it was. Plus, standing in front of actual people instead of sitting at my desk alone is definitely outside of my comfort zone. So I was surprised and pleased at just how much fun it was to hang out with other writers and chat with folks coming and going in the summer sunshine.
Although I also took my teacher resource books (published through Libraries Unlimited), I was mostly focused on getting my Christian books into the hands of people and becoming more known in that field. Jim and I therefore also brought along 20 copies of the New Testament, intending to hand them out to folks who didn’t know Jesus and needed to.
What was cool on Saturday was that everyone we talked with already knew and loved Jesus. Ultimately we gave a New Testament to a couple who knew someone who might need it. So at least lugging the 20 copies wasn’t a wasted effort.
Were we disappointed not to be able to hand out more Bibles to people? Nope. How can we be disappointed that everyone we met already knew Jesus?
Even though the event took place in Oregon, about half the folks were Idahoans like us. So, I’m officially counting this experience as one more thing I love about Idaho.
Oh, and we also sold some of my books, a few jars of Esther’s Spa body scrub that match the women of my Bible studies and one of Jim’s awesome hardwood cutting boards.
I even signed up to do another event next month in Boise—extending that comfortable comfort zone a bit further.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and found things were comfortable, after all?
Last week, hubs and I spent a few days in Yellowstone with our son, the geologist. It’s awesome to visit glorious national parks with a geologist. Things take on a whole new perspective when you have a scientific background of what you’re looking at.
One thing we kept seeing signs for in the park was that we were criss-crossing the Continental Divide. I *thought* I knew what that was. But I was wrong. Are you up on geology? Here’s a quick quiz:
The Continental Divide indicates:
The location where two continental plates come together
The location where water runs eastward or westward from that point
The midpoint of the continent
The correct answer is #2 and every continent except Antarctica has a continental divide. For us, the Continental Divide indicates that precipitation falling on the east side of the Divide, runs toward and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Precipitation falling on the west side of the Divide, runs toward and eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean—even if the water that falls on the west side of the Divide has fallen on the east side of a mountain range.
It’s sort of like the science-y thing about the circular direction of cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere (the Coriolis Force), which sadly does not really and truly extend to flushing toilets—popular science fiction movies, to the contrary..
Our Continental Divide extends over both continents of North America and South America. It is an example of us humans putting a scientific name on something God figured out back on day 3 of creation
One very cool thing about the Continental Divide is that it also reminds me of Jesus.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and He sent them out of the Garden of Eden, they were no longer able to walk and talk with Him each day. The result was both a spiritual and a physical divide.
Then Jesus was born into humanity and died to provide a way to cross that Great Divide, spiritually. He did so by becoming the living water.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38).
Basically, wherever you are on this planet, Jesus is waiting for you to thirst after Him. And then, He will satisfy that thirst, as Jesus told us.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Next time you’re crossing the Continental Divide, stop and think about water. And divides. And most especially, think about Jesus.
(Here are a few more verses about Jesus as living water, see: John 4:13-15, Revelation 7:16-17, 21:6, Isaiah 44:3, Isaiah 58:11, Ezekiel 47:1-12, Zechariah 14:8.)
I recently purchased a block of ten ISBNs directly from the ISBN agency. What’s cool about that is the motivation: I have to write at least ten more books for publication through Honor Bound Books.
That takes us to a goal review. Early in 2016 I set out to work on eight books—not necessarily to complete and publish but to work on.
Three of those books were well into the process already and have been released into the world:
I am Elizabeth
The Praying Writer
Flowers, Gemstones & Jesus
No sooner did those three books release but Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and added two more. So my works in progress for 2016 still include seven books. Hey! That’s 7 of the 10 ISBNs already spoken for.
Those seven books are mostly ahead of my self-imposed schedule although only one is expected in print for 2016.
I began the year feeling slightly overwhelmed with so many projects. But I’ve seen the Holy Spirit’s strength working in and through me tremendously this year. I’m looking forward to the second six months of the year and allowing the Spirit to show off a bit more.
I don’t do these quarterly goal reviews in order to pat myself on the back. I do them to keep myself accountable and more importantly, to encourage you to stay motivated and encouraged.
So—how are you doing tackling your 2016 goals? How can I encourage you?
The purpose of first drafts is to get both the good stuff as well as the irrelevant gibberish down onto paper where the words can be sculpted. Then it’s time to revise. God is the ultimate wordsmith, having spoken the universe into existence. Just as we see our stories grow stronger through the revision process, so does God grow us stronger as He perfects the story of our lives. Look at the similarities.
Just as we cut out characters, scenes and sections from our stories during revision, God cuts something bad out of every page of our lives as we grow in our faith. He changes how we think, feel and act in this world and how we think, feel and act in our relationship with Him.
Just as we look for passive verbs and weak writing, God looks for passivity and weakness in our lives and trains us to replace them with a desire to actively seek Him and develop strength in our reliance on Him.
Just as we tighten our writing, deleting flowery adjectives and relying on action verbs, God seeks to rid us of the unnecessary clutter in our lives and urges us to action for His kingdom.
Then, at some point in our writing, we stop revising and declare it “good enough.” Similarly, God keeps revising us until we are called home to spend eternity with Him. Through Jesus, we are “made acceptable” and He announces, “it is good.”
Our Heavenly Father is the Senior Editor in our lives. We can learn a lot about writing from Him.
God began a good work in you (His rough draft) and will carry it on to completion (God’s revisions) until the day of Christ Jesus” (God’s final manuscript) (Philippians 1:6, explanation added).
(This post first appeared over at Inspire Christian Writers. I’m presently out of state visiting my precious daughter and her husband, pre-celebrating their first child/my first grandbaby. I will be back, live and in person next Monday.)
When the New Year began, I parked myself in my chair, eager to find one word that would help me maintain a focus on my journey of faith. God sent the word legacy for my 2016 word. Off I scampered to write about leaving a legacy of faith behind through the books and articles God inspired me to write.
Less than three months later, my daughter and her husband announced they were bringing a brand new baby into the world later this year. Obviously, when God gave me the word legacy for 2016, He had something more in mind than just what I would write. He usually does.
I discovered that the legacy handed down to me through my mother and her mother before her is continuing through my precious grandchild to come.
I wonder who he will become. Whose lives will he touch? How will this world be better because he is part of it?
I continue to be watchful for where God has placed me; who He has placed in my life and what challenges He wants me to pursue. That is part of my personal legacy. But with the coming event of a grandbaby, God has reminded me of the truth that we are all part of each other’s legacy. We are part of the human legacy. We are part of God’s legacy.
And it is very good.