Pausing to Prioritize

His mercies are new every morning

Once again another new year is here. Funny how it rolls around every twelve months! For me, January is a time to re-exam my heart, my life, and ― my calendar. I take a look at the choices and decisions I’ve made and what I want to change or do differently this year.

When I get past all the stuff that is beyond my control, or is just wishful thinking, the really important things to me are the matters of my heart. I want to live my life to bring glory and honor to God, take more time for the cherished relationships in my life, and give my children and grandchildren a legacy of unconditional love, a strong faith in God, and treasured family memories. These are the things that really matter in my life. These are the things that I can intentionally choose to do that will make a difference in my life and in the lives of those I love. Not just in the new year, but for years to come.

God knows our hearts. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly us. He knows when we get it right and when we screw up big time. And believe me, I’m the first in line to say I didn’t always do it right or say it right. My choices and decisions weren’t always wise and my calendar was often too full with no boundaries or margins.

Ah, but for His saving grace and forgiveness! A new year, a clean slate, and another chance at putting the often misfit pieces of my life together again.

May we never lose sight of God’s power to change us—our life-style, our thinking, our habits, our actions, our attitudes, and our words.

Here are a few things nudging my heart for 2019:

Stop limiting God. Oh.my.gosh. How many times I’ve kept God in a box by putting limits on what He can do! He is the God of the universe and nothing is too small for Him to accomplish. How easily I forget and how it limits my faith and trust. 

Give my day, and whatever it might hold, to God before I get out of bed each morning. Thank Him, regardless of what kind of day it was, each night when I go to bed. Not all days are great, happy, or filled with sunshine. But wow, I learn a lot about myself ― and Go ― in the unexpected, not-according-to-my-plans kind of day.

a cup of kindness

Remember that kindness trumps everything else. May I never forget to make time to be kind by my actions and words, even when I’m busy and my schedule is full.

Release guilt of all I haven’t done and focus on what I have done. I am so bad about this! I need to remember the things I haven’t done will all be there tomorrow.

Write more handwritten thank you notes and fewer text thank-yous. I know texting is quick and easy, but I also know what it means to get a handwritten note. I keep treasured written notes and re-read them on a rainy day. 

A full calendar is not always productive. At the end of the week, or month, I can look back and know the days (and nights) that were full , were more exhausting than productive.

Be less judgmental. I meet so many new people that I sometimes find myself assuming something about someone, or her circumstances, that may not necessarily be correct. A good reminder is for me to ask first, ” Tell me about you,” or “Tell me your story.”

Procrastination doesn’t always get the things on my to-do list done. Grrrrrrr….. It’s always easier to do the things I want, or love to do, and put off the things that are difficult or stressful to do. I need to work on this big time!

Never underestimate the power of prayer. I am reluctant to say that sometimes I do just that― I underestimate my prayers! I need to pray with reckless abandonment and not hesitate to pray for what I think is too hard or impossible.

Re-do my bucket list. Stop putting the things I want to do, and can do, on the back burner. With each passing year, time is so precious. There are dear family and friends that I want to visit, places I want to see, things I want to do. If not this year, when?

Tell it, sing it, and live it! I resonate with the words to this old hymn, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long….” 

Have you had any nudges from God lately? If so, this might be a good time to think about the matters of your heart, the choices you make, and what you want to change or do differently in the new year.

I’d love for you to stop right now and join me in praying this little prayer from my heart to yours:

First of all, God, I want to thank you for last year. It was a difficult year in many ways, but you never left me. Your word gave me peace.
Your provision gave me hope.
Your presence gave me comfort.
I am in awe of how you work in and through all things.

Now, as I enter into the new year, I pray for wisdom and discernment in the choices and decisions I will make.
Direct my steps and walk with me each day so that my life will reflect you.
Transform not only my heart, but my thinking.
Give me courage to do the right thing, not just the easy thing.
And above all, may I give you all the honor and glory for the mighty work you will do within me this year!
Amen

I’ve even added some scripture that will help guide us. You can add some of your favorites too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5,6

And may the Lord direct your heart into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Commit your works to the Lord,
And your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

From My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller

New year, new calendar. Resist the temptation to copy and paste

copy and pasteSix ways to insert a fresh start

With my inability to slow down time, each new year continues to emerge much too quickly in my life. My usual new year routine is to transfer annual dates and information from my old 8.5 x 11 month-at-a-glance calendar to my new, empty calendar – this year with a flower print cover. Yes, I have a phone calendar for a quick overview of my schedule, but it takes me too much time to fill in many needed details. I’m just an old-fashioned girl that loves a paper calendar with a big space to write important stuff each day. I write almost everything in pencil, ’cause change happens. If I have a speaking commitment, it is written in red. That helps me monitor my time for preparation and travel.

journalMy goal is to control my calendar, not have my calendar control me.

I have made a practice each year to glance back over the pages of my life from the previous year. There are things that have become just a faded memory, some momentous occasions that are forever remembered with a smile, and then there are always things I want to intentionally rethink and do differently the next year. Let’s just say I don’t want to copy and paste the same habits, patterns of thinking, or attitudes into a new year. I review my actions and my heart, then make every effort to cut the old way of doing and thinking, and reformat to bring about the changes that need to be made. I’m not saying I always get it right, or do it right, but at least I try.

This is where I want to get up close and personal with you. Perhaps, since I may have had a few more calendar years than you, I can pass along some of the things I’ve learned along the way. At least it might encourage you to review last year and think about what you might want to do differently this year.

There isn’t anything that you and God can’t do together. I will often repeat that sentence to myself, sometimes out loud, for the confidence and assurance I need when facing a difficult task. No question about it. Like you, there are times I feel overwhelmed with the craziness and demands of a full and busy life. Sometimes my “difficult” task is just to get through the week! I’ve spent many hours stressing over a situation only to be reminded that God didn’t call me to ministry and then leave me on my own to figure out things I don’t have a clue about. You may be a new mom and don’t know where to begin with taking care of a baby. Perhaps you’ve started a new job with a huge learning curve ahead. You might even be facing a life change that seems insurmountable and you’re not sure you can handle it. God is with you in the trenches of life. You are not alone.

Change is a choice you make. This is where the rubber meets the road, girlfriends. Only God can change you. Only you can change the choices you make. So, got some habits left over from last year that you know in your spirit don’t reflect Christ? Does your attitude stink ’cause you found yourself in a rut in 2017? Do you find yourself thinking more negatively than positively about life because of circumstances beyond your control? You might even have said, “I’m so glad 2017 is over.” Well, it is. So now what? You may not have the choice to change your situation, but you can make the choice to change your focus from your circumstances to a focus on Christ. You can choose to change old habits, how you think, and your attitude, because remember, “There isn’t anything that you and God can’t do together.” Is it easy? Heck no! I struggle daily. Sometimes I take two steps forward, then one step back. But, if I keep my eyes on God instead of me, He changes me, and that will change and influence the choices I make.

Learn from your mistakes. Start Fresh. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. I made a lot of mistakes last year. Over and over again I scheduled too much in a day or a week. I focused more on checking off my list of to-do’s and less on people I love. Many times I was too busy to remember to sit at the feet of Jesus. I am choosing to start fresh this year and learn not only from my mistakes, but from the consequences of my choices. You might want to get real with yourself too and recognize some of the mistakes you made last year that you don’t want to repeat. I want to remind you that God gives us a clean slate of forgiveness each day. Not only can we learn from our mistakes, but more importantly, we are forgiven for our mistakes. We are free to start over with a new beginning and a fresh start in the new year.

Be intentional. Persevere with purpose. I choose a word each year that I need to work on in my life. For the last two years it has been intentionality. This year it is trust. I practiced being more intentional about staying healthy, exercising, spending one-on-one time with my grandchildren, and developing a deeper prayer life. This year I want to trust God all the more. I want to intentionally let go of what I cannot control and trust God completely to handle all things. It’s interesting how trusting God is something we know to do, yet fall back into trying to help, solve, or fix that which we cannot. What would your word be for this year? Think of some specific ways you want to be more intentional.

Prioritize. If your first priority isn’t spending time with God – praying, reading scripture, and listening to what He’s been trying to tell you – then nothing else really matters that day. I’ve tried it all: squeezing in God between appointments, working Him in at the last minute, and, quite honestly, sometimes just too busy to take time for, and with, Him during the day. Maybe you’ve been there too. Priorities screwed up, too exhausted to even figure out what, or who, is really most important. I’ve learned over the years that nothing, no nothing, trumps God. Your day will fall into place when you place Him first.

Less is more. Having a full calendar isn’t a sign of being fulfilled. I used to think it was. I thought that when each day was filled, I would be happy and fulfilled. Not so. It took years for me to unlearn that belief. As an old commercial once said, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and indeed I have. Having some unscheduled days on my calendar to spend some quiet, restful time – whatever that might look like – fills my heart and soul.

I challenge you to not copy and paste all your activities from last year to this year. Think less, not more. Less stuff, more of Jesus. Less busyness, more time to become all that God created you to be. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know. (A.A. Milne – Winnie-the-Pooh)

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new.
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness.
Rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Susan Miller, America's Moving CoachFrom my heart,
Susan Miller

Let’s do this together!

1501.bibleI came up with a great idea for the New Year! It’s something you and I can do together even though we are miles apart. It will connect us each day. It will bring us hope, encouragement, and comfort as the days of the New Year unfold. It will deepen our relationship with God and draw us closer to Him. Pique your interest yet? 

As I read from two daily devotionals on the first day of January, my heart felt refreshed and renewed through the soothing, calming words, and the reassurance of scripture. My thoughts turned to you, as I knew how much you probably needed the same words and the same scripture to give you hope and encouragement each day too. Because I so want to connect with you, my idea is to read a devotional together each day!

So I ask you now, not to make another New Year’s resolution, but to join me every day in 2015 reading God’s word or going through a daily devotional. If you need some suggestions, the two I am reading each day are Jesus Calling (Sarah Young), and the timeless classic, Streams in the Desert (Mrs. Charles E. Cowman). Another classic devotional book I love is My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers). Perhaps you have a favorite that you would like to suggest. Email me your favorite and I’ll pass it on to our moving friends.

A year before Bill died, we had started reading through the Bible together. We would put a bookmark where each of us had read for the day. His bookmark was always ahead of mine. Sometimes I would have to catch up at the end of the week. He loved to share with me the insight he gained from what he read. Little did we know then what our year would hold with Bill’s cancer diagnosis. I am grateful we shared God’s word together daily until he went home to be with Jesus.

The following year, I finished what we started together as I completed the book Meet the Bible; A Panorama of God’s Word in 366 Daily Readings and Reflections, by Philip Yancey & Brenda Quinn. It took me through the Bible in one year. I knew that would anchor me for the year ahead and would please Bill very much.

Now, I have started re-reading my Bible again from the beginning, and continue to find God’s word and His promises to be what I cling to daily. It will anchor me all the days of my life, and would bring a smile to Bill’s face.

The Lord’s lovingkindnessesindeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I wish you an amazing New Year, full of surprises and excitement for all that God has planned for you!

From My Heart to Yours,

Susan Miller signature

 

P.S.  Don’t be a stranger, you matter in my life. Send me your prayer requests at PrayerRequest@JustMoved.org and stay in touch this year. I’m just a phone call (480-991-5268) or an email away. (susanmiller@justmoved.org).

Remember that we have many ways to connect—through our website at JustMoved.org, our Just Moved Facebook , the Just Moved Sisters, Weekly Words of Encouragement, and our Bloom publication, and my Twitter account.