The Best Friend You’ve Ever Had

Have you ever had a best friend? I mean a real, true, I-would-die-for-you best friend? As an adult it either gets easier to have a best friend or harder. I was one of those kids who had at least 5 “best friends” at a time. We moved every couple of years, however, so the next place I would quickly lose touch with these best friends. Why? Because, we never talked. Writing letters was difficult and this was before every 10 year old had a cellphone. It’s hard to know your best friend’s heart if you never talk to each other, and it’s hard to be truly best friends if you don’t know each other’s heart.

This week I had a couple of conversations with friends about their relationship (read: friendship) with God. I asked them how it was going, and they each answered, “Good.” This being their standard answer every time I’ve asked before, I felt the urge to delve deeper. “How’s your prayer life?” I asked. Blank stares. A couple of them had to think about it, and answered with, “Oh, I pray at…” and listed a specific time they pray each day. At least one of them said she only ever prays when it’s her turn to pray over a meal at home. I’m not knocking on these friends. I could talk about how important prayer is until I’m blue in the face (which I probably have). But its definitely ‘Better caught than taught.’

Let’s go back to the best friend conversation. Can you be best friends with someone if you never talk to them? Simple answer, No. I know, I know, when you see them again after a couple of years everything falls back into place and it’s like no time has passed at all. But, you know what? That’s what I call compatibility, not best friendship. Best friends are in your business. Best friends get upset with you when they find out you were struggling with something and didn’t tell them about it.

God wants to be your best friend. Yes, He’s a supreme, majestic, supernatural being, but underneath it all, He loves you more than everything else. Like the shepherd looking for a lost sheep, a woman looking for her lost treasure, and a father watching out for his lost son; He longs for you. He wants to hear about your joys and your sorrows. He wants you to ask Him for help. I always think about watching my two year old trying to put on her jacket when I picture God watching us go through life. I stand there frozen, unable to move on thinking, “Please! Please, ask me for my help!!” How often God must feel this way.

What if someone you love never talked to you. That child that thinks you’re old and boring, who comes home from school and heads straight to their bedroom instead of telling you about their day. Doesn’t God already know about our day? Yes! Of course, but I bet you could guess how your teen’s day at school probably went, but you want them to tell you, still, right?

What am I getting at? Pray!!! Talk to God!! He longs to talk to you! He’s longing to give you peace about the tough things in life. He’s longing to hear how much joy you got from a flower or sunset He created for you. He’s longing to show off His miraculous power and gift you small things you want and need. He’s a good, good father and the best friend you could ever have! But it’s really impossible to be best friends with someone when you don’t know their heart. Do you know God’s heart? Ask Him? It’ll take some practice to listen for His voice, but He’s longing for you to try.

Talk Is Cheap!

“Your walk talks louder than your talk talks”

This phrase I remember hearing over and over growing up, but how many times do I forget its message. What I do sends a much louder message than what I say!

“Do as I say and not as I do.”

Its ridiculous to ask that of anyone! Ridiculous and hypocritical, right?

How many times do we say one thing, but do another? I’m constantly telling my kids they can only watch so much TV in a day, but then I’ll plop on the couch when my work is done and watch enough TV to make up 5 days worth of what their limit is.

We know that children learn by imitation. They imitate our sounds to learn to talk, they imitate our movements to learn to do daily tasks. So why is it, that in some of the more important facets of life, do we forget this principle? You don’t want your child to talk bad about their friend. Do you gossip? You don’t want your child to curse, smoke, drink too much, lose their temper, etc. But do you do those things?

What about things you do want your children to do? Do you want them to respect you? Do you respect them? Do you want them to love learning? Do you love learning? Do you want them to take criticism and grow from it? Do you do that? Do you want them to settle hard matters without screaming and hitting? Do you fight with your partner calmly?

This principle of following in your parents footprints has been around for a long time. Even Jesus in the book of John chapter 5 verse 19 says, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” And He (Jesus) proved it to be true in the most dramatic way. The night before He was crucified, He prayed “Not my will, but Yours.” He had asked for a different way to accomplish what the cross would accomplish, but knew that there was none. Since there was no other way, He decided to be obedient to His Father even to a horrific and gruesome death. (As a side note, this also proves that God will never ask you to do something that He isn’t willing to do Himself.)

What kind of person do you want your children to turn out to be? What kind of person are you? Don’t forget to try and solve problems inward before trying to solve the problems outward.

What Will You Choose?

A very powerful question was asked the other day? “What do you choose today, right now, and forever?”

Did you know you have the right to choose? For the longest time I thought my identity was made up of how I looked or what talents I possessed or what I could offer others. But lately, I’ve been learning that my identity is none of those things.

My identity is what I choose to be. I choose to be strong! So strength is my identity! I choose to be confident! So confidence is my identity! I can choose my identity!

In this culture of choosing to “identify as” something you were not created to be, I sometimes wonder if we think it’s easier to choose something way off base, because if we fail there’s always the fall back of “well, at least I tried” and “its better to try and fail than to never try at all.” And people oooh and aaah and say “How Brave!”

Truly, I believe its more brave to choose an identity that is already built into our very souls. No body gets recognition for that, anymore. The only person raving about an amazing, strong stay at home mom is her children (if that). She will not make it into the newspaper or draw a large amount of followers on social media. Its much easier and more tangible to choose an identity of “mommy blogger” than it is to choose the identity of “strong.” Why? Because there is a measurement of success with blogging. There is a measure of success with a career. Are those things bad? No!! Of course not!

You know what successes are hard to measure? What identities are hard to know if you are fulfilling?

Being mentally and emotionally strong. Being a good person. Being a good parent. Being a good role model. These are things you don’t know if you’re succeeding while you are building them. Its only after that identity has been formed completely that you see the marks of success.

But when you know your identity, you will know what to do!

So whenever there is a proverbial “fork in the road,” look to your identity.

The latest part of my identity that I have been building upon is being “an encourager.” So when something comes up I can ask myself, “What can I do to encourage?” Just like Rome, an identity isn’t built in a day. Work every day into an identity that you are proud of. I know I’m proud of my Identity!

What is your Identity? Or in other words, What will you choose today?

4 Ways to Get More Done

I usually try to keep my posts short and to the point, but this one will be a tad bit longer. Bear with me, I truly believe it will be worth your time.

I think we all know that being a while being a parent is a full time job it’s usually not our only job. I recently sat down to put on paper all of my roles that I fill on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, along with personal goals I want to achieve. I am a child of God, Wife, Mother, Homeschool Teacher, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Sunday School Teacher, Housekeeper, Writer, Musician, Thespian, etc. We all have only so much room on our plate before things start falling off. I know that all of these roles are very important to me and it is very hard to keep up with all of the different tasks that need to be done. How do I get around to all of this? And not only get it done, but do quality work.

I am not a consistent or type A personality, so my husband helped a ton with helping me get organized and to find a system that worked for me. The following tips and tricks and general advice have helped me feel more in control of my life and roles. I feel I can enjoy down time better now. If you are a person that has a hard time getting things done this post is for you. Not everything here will fit, but I urge you to try it for a least a month, then start tweaking to find a better fit.

1. Make A More Effective TO DO List

My most effective tool is the TO DO list. Checking things off can create a snowball effect of productivity. Also, an organized and complete to do list can help you make sure things never get to the place that you are stressing out to get them done.

I model my to do list after Stephen Covey’s suggestion in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I say “model” because I have tweaked my system so much since I started doing this that it might not look 100% like his anymore.

At the heart of the system are four different categories of TO DOs.

Important and Urgent. These are To Dos that need attention in the next couple of days and bad things will happen if they do not get finished or are not done correctly.

Not Important but Urgent. These To Dos need to be checked off in the next couple of days but they are not top priority. Taking out the trash, for example. Sure it is urgent, because you do not want it sitting there leaking on your floor for longer than 48 hours, but not important because your 7 year old can do it for you. As long as it gets to the dumpster (or wherever) you do not care (to a point) how it gets done.

Important but Not Urgent. Here is where I place high priority things that are not due for a few weeks to months. A lot of my ministry, homeschooling, and community theater stuff goes here.

Not important and Not Urgent. This category seems superfluous but you would be surprised how many things get put in this category. Right now I have things like “repot Orchid”, “repot Snake Plant”, “Get Hair trimmed”, “Move firewood pile”, “Kilz the kitchen walls”, etc. These things if left not done will become Not Important but Urgent, so the goal is to get them knocked off before they need to be moved.

This system obviously takes time to get used to. I have an app called “Notes” on my phone and IPad that sync up with each other. It works better for me to have this on my phone so it is easier to keep track of and I’m not trying to decipher the heiroglyphics that my handwriting can become when I am in a hurry.

Here is a screenshot of my actual To Do list:

To DosTo Do list

2. Have a list of Goals

How is this different than a to do list? These things are things that are reoccurring. I know maybe “goals” isn’t the right word, but it sounded better than “chores”.

I have daily, weekly and monthly goals.

Daily Goals. In my daily goals, I have them separated by higher priority and lower priority. For example, in my high priority goals list is spend time with God and read my Bible, Encourage/Connect/Show love to each one of my kids individually and my husband. On my low priority list is simpler stuff like do dishes, laundry, half a deep clean, work out, water plants, practice piano. These are all things that I want to accomplish every day if possible, but if one of the lower priority ones do not happen, oh well, better luck tomorrow.

Here is a screenshot of my Daily Goals:

Daily Goals Checklist

Weekly Goals. The items on this list are usually marked out by time or some other measurable quality. For instance, my reading goal right now is one hour for fiction and one hour for non-fiction. Might seem crazy but I honestly don’t take time for myself to sit down and read if I don’t have that on there. If I want my kids to love reading they need to see me reading, too.

Another example is my writing goals, right now I have a writing goal of 3,000 words a week. This is a new item for me, so I might be reaching a little too far at the moment.

The idea is, things on this list do not have to be done every day, but need some level of attention each week.

Monthly Goals. These are things that only NEED to happen once a month. My personal list is full of items that seem like things that would obviously get done each month. Unfortunately, I have let months go by without doing them before, and I have promised myself not to let it happen anymore.

Here is a screenshot of my weekly and monthly goals. I have daily, weekly, and monthly goals all in the same “note.”

Weekly and Monthly Goals Checklist

Obviously your goals are going to look different, but when i was putting mine together there was a lot of changing the first month or two, but now I feel like it keeps me on track, things get done and i stay on top of the things that are most important to me.

You could also have a Yearly Goals Checklist, I do not have one simply because that is way too big picture for me. I do not even make New Year’s Resolutions.

3. Enlist Help

Have your kids do as many chores as they can handle.

Every kid is different, and trust me, I know it is harder to make them do their chores then it is for you to just do it yourself. So many studies have shown that children who have chores (paid or unpaid) have better work ethics and are better adjusted later in life.

My kids have been doing chores since they were 2 and 1/2 and they still complain about them, but most mornings they wake up and simply “hop to it”. I do pay them a little each week for a couple of their chores, simply so I can in turn teach them about earning and handling money.

Now, I make sure to point out how much they help keep the house looking nice and clean and how much of a help that is for me. I also point out that I do more chores than they do on a daily basis, to help them with the “this isn’t fair” attitude. Which they will have by the way. I remember growing up complaining that my family must think I’m Cinderella with how much work I had to do cleaning every day. I doubt I really had that much to do.

4. Let It Go

With letting others (as in your children and spouse) do the housework with you, there will be things that do not get done to the caliber of you expect. But learn to say, “At least it got done.” Or as a famous Disney Queen sings, “Let it Go!”

Think of it as a way to teach your children how you like things done, and only expect of them what you should expect from their age and maturity level. I have found the higher your expectations the higher level of achievement. Just be careful not to have such high expectations that you miss the point. The main point is teaching your children work ethic, there’s pride in a job well done, and how to be a contributing citizen.

As a disclaimer, there is a lot I don’t do. I have to say no to things, and things I would love to try and work in. Like gardening my own vegetables, making more things from scratch (though I am getting much better at doing that), spending more time on my music or acting, etc.

Thank you for hanging in there all the way to the end. Leave a comment with any tips and tricks you use to be more productive.