You've probably noticed that I've not blogged much in the last few weeks. Well, actually it's been since I started my school classes in late January. While attempting to juggle my new much-loved school classes, life coaching, speaking, and my regular life, I remembered that when I was a child, I memorized the verse: "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16.)
I wanted to heed the message, making the best possible use of my God-given time. I thought "redeeming time" meant I must make each moment productive. Over the years, it came to mean filling each minute of every day with activity and accomplishment. Rushing and busyness characterized my life.
Occasionally I paused enough to realize I was not in control of my time. Time was controlling me. I then resolved to step back and adjust, only to be sucked up into the excessive doing once again.
If I made perfect use of my time, I thought, I could accomplish much and God would be pleased with me. It was not only a lie, but an impossibility. Speeding through life is not a productive way to redeem the time. A better way to redeem life's opportunities is to slow down, relax, and enjoy myself, others and God.
Some days I practice this philosophy, some days I don't. I'll never do it perfectly. But God knows my desire to effectively redeem my time. AND He's helped me say "no" this past week to several requests that don't fit into my life right now (so I can continue to say "yes" to what I believe He's given me at this stage of my life.) I'm grateful.
Do you ever feel like "rushing and busyness characterize your life? What do you want to do about it?
[Joan is on vacation, so she's adapted a previous "Thanksgiving" post. At the end of this blog, comment and add your "gratitude soup" ingredient to put your name in the hat to win an autographed copy of the RELIEF OF IMPERFECTION where Joan first writes about her alphabet prayer. Book drawing will be held 12/01/13.]
Do you have leftovers from that delicious Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re like most families, the answer is probably “yes.” So you’ll be coming up with creative ways to continue to eat and enjoy that leftover turkey and mashed potatoes. Sandwiches? Barbecue turkey, turkey omelets, fried potato cakes? Soup?
Speaking of soup, remember the alphabet soup you ate as a child? Now follow me. It’s the way my mind is working this late Thanksgiving night! Here’s a creative way to keep enjoying your family’s Thanksgiving gratitude-spirit this season–with some ALPHABET PRAYER SOUP.
Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts, involve the kids in making and enjoying this special soup. Maybe when you’re cooking in the kitchen, riding in the car, walking to the park, or tucking them into bed. Explain that you’re going to make some leftover Thanksgiving Alphabet Prayer Soup.
Take turns naming something that you’re grateful for starting with A and proceeding through Z. Example of how to begin the prayer: God, thank You for the:
A. Air we breathe. Apples we had for lunch. Animals. Artwork I did at school. Aunt ________.
B. Bird. Bananas. Books. Bike. My bed.
C. Clouds. Courage. Christ.
D. Duck in the pond. Dishes. Daddy.
E. Evergreen trees. Electricity.
F. Flowers. My friend ____________.
G. Gas for the car. Grace. Grandpa.
And so on, through the entire alphabet, as you have time. Be gentle with yourself and your family. Skip a letter if you can’t think of anything.
Watch your heart flood with gratitude as you enjoy this creative prayer tool with your family. Maybe you’ll want to make this Alphabet Prayer Soup often throughout the year to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive and well in your home.
Okay, now it is YOUR TURN. Enjoy a little Alphabet Prayer Soup with me right here on the blog. What are you grateful for that starts with H, I, J, K, L… Well, you know the rest of the alphabet. I’m looking forward to your THANKSGIVING ingredients.
[A NOTE FROM JOAN'S ASSISTANT] Joan is very genuine. She is a true Intentional Woman and I'm blessed to partner with her in ministry. She has so much to offer! Not only has Joan authored or co-authored 13 books she is also a speaker and Bible teacher. (Comment below and you'll be entered to win THE RELIEF OF IMPERFECTION.)
But one of my favorite things about her is that she genuinely cares about others. She is also a Personal Life Coach and Intentional Woman Life Plan facilitator, she has accumulated hundreds of hours coaching and helping set people free to become who God gifted them to be. Joan is such a great listener who is full of empathy and love. This year my "J" list has: Jesus, Jack (my son), Janice (my mom) and Joan (my new boss, friend, and role-model) on it. Thank you Joan for the many blessings you have given me! -Karen Johnson
[Joan is taking some time-off and has asked her friend and fellow-author
Lucille Zimmerman to share an excerpt from her helpful new book about self-care.
Comment below to put your name in the hat to win an autographed copy of RENEWED. Drawing on 11/24/13.]
Harvard research has found these virtues strongly and consistently linked to happiness: gratitude, hope, vitality, curiosity, and love. That kindness, or gift, need not be tangible. It could be a simple gesture or intent that is represented rather than the actual item or benefit given. Maybe you offer to drive a friend home from the car mechanic’s shop, but instead she chooses the time to sit there and read. The unused offer still carries meaning to both involved. One study found three distinct parts involved in gratitude:
• A warm sense of appreciation for something or somebody
• A sense of goodwill toward that thing or person
• A resulting disposition to act positively
Gratitude is the key to happiness, and happiness seems to make good things happen. The benefits of happiness may include higher income, superior work outcomes, larger social rewards like longer marriages and more friends, more activity, energy, better physical health, and longer life. Happy people are more creative, helpful, charitable, self-confident, have better self-control, show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities. Happiness can add as many as nine years to your life.
In one study led by Dr. Robert Emmons and Mike McCullough subjects were divided into three groups: The first group described five things they were thankful for. The second group wrote about five daily hassles, and the third group wrote about things that had affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. After ten weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were happier and more optimistic. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who wrote about hassles.
Another study found that managers who remember to say “thank you” to their employees may actually motivate them to work harder. Marriage researcher John Gottman’s twenty years of research shows that if a couple is unable to maintain a high level (5:1 or greater) ratio of positive encounters (smiles, compliments, laughter, appreciation) to negative encounters (frown, put-down, complaint), the marriage will end. In fact, he can observe a couple for three minutes and determine with 90 percent accuracy whose marriage will flourish and whose will fail.
Can you recall the last time you told someone how much he or she meant to you, how precious your time with him or her was, or how much his or her support enabled you to endure a difficult circumstance? Have you ever tracked down an old acquaintance to thank them for making a difference in your life? If so, do you remember how sharing that message made you and the object of your gratitude feel?
Dr. Martin Seligman asked 411 people to write a letter of gratitude to someone alive or dead, someone who had not been properly thanked for his or her kindness. The happiness benefits and decrease in depression scores, to the letter writer, were greater than any other exercise in Seligman’s happiness study, and the benefits lasted for six months!
[A NOTE FROM JOAN'S ASSISTANT: I truly appreciate the research Miss Lucille has done to help bring renewal to her readers. Joan tells me that this book is full of practical tips on how to be RENEWED! She says it's definitely worth reading. Now, I'm excited to read it and if you are too good news, you have a chance to WIN it! Just COMMENT below on this blog and I will put your name in the hat. I will select a winner from those who comment by 11/24/13. I look forward to seeing who is going to be one step closer to being RENEWED!
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University.
She is the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relate-able anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice." Are you ready to be RENEWED?
[Joan's taking some time-off and has asked her photographer friend Jodene Shaw to share an excerpt from her blog about gratitude. Check out more of Jodi's photographs on her website.]
"Gratitude. Thankfulness. Seeing the goodness. Finding the beauty in everyday life.
It makes a difference.
It is to enter a sacred place.
A holy, priceless state of being.
Psalm 100:4 says to enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise.
To have thanksgiving and praise takes us into the very presence of God.
This morning I walked for over an hour with my camera falling in absolute decadent love with purple coneflowers, dew drops, the sound of my feet on wet gravel after a rain, fence lines, birds singing, my daughter riding her bike through a rain puddle, and my beagle soaked in grass dew. My heart swelled with gratitude, with thankfulness for this very place in which I live. I wondered if the first ten years of my marriage and living on the prairie, if all of it was there then. Did the coneflowers bloom every summer? Were the dewdrops scattered like tiny diamonds in the morning sunlight? Did the birds sing so sweetly? Because I don't remember any of that from 1996 - 2006. It does not stand out in my mind. But certainly they were there. But my eyes were not open...
I noticed, as I walked, as I photographed, how fulfilled I felt.
Really? I could be so happy with such a simple thing?
Yes. I could.
It felt sacred,
It felt . . . with God.
And also giddy, delighted, indulgent."
(Excerpt adapted from Jodi's online Prairie Song summer class from summer 2012)
Over a year later, walking in the cool of the day with my camera helps me live Philippians 4:8 in the fall.
Think on these things.
That is what focus and seeking light and beauty helps me to do.
This is what photography is to me.
No matter the season.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think about such things.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise . . . Psalm 100:4
Opening the door to sharing who I am as a wife & mom, writer, photographer & artist. 4 short statements describe my story to tell: Believe Truth. Be Who You Are. Be Real. Embrace Your Place. I am a believer in and teacher of the beautiful difference made by Jesus Christ. Wife of a handsome, good-hearted man who is a hard working cattle rancher. Mom of 10 yr old son, and 2 daughters (8 and 3). One of my "life verses" is John 4:42, "They said to the woman, 'Now we no longer believe, just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
*** All photos and writing contained in this blog are the copyright property of Jodene (Jodi) Shaw. No permission is granted to copy or reproduce them in any form without written consent of the creator. This includes copying them in any form for any digital use or use on the internet.
[A NOTE FROM JOAN'S ASSISTANT] Allow me a moment to brag about Jodi. Not only is she a talented writer but she is also an artist. Her photography is great and she composes fantastic pieces of art using mixed mediums to create unique treasures like the one pictured here. Click here and enjoy spending a moment browsing her other creations at her ETSY shop.
“I know I’m late. But I don’t feel like I’m being productive or that I’ve achieved my goals unless I’m rushing and at least a half-hour late for each appointment,” said my client as he burst through the door and sprinted past me toward our conference room.
My internal reaction was: Well, Vic, you must feel a great sense of accomplishment today! He had arrived one and a half hours past our scheduled appointment time. Although I didn’t share his philosophy, something in his behavior rang a bell with me. Perhaps I was in awareness-mode, because several weeks later I admitted my own workaholic lifestyle. I was burned-out and wanted to change.
Slowly I began to understand that the narrower definition of a workaholic is someone who is addicted to action. An action addict (like Vic and me) is driven to do too much, expect too much, rush too much and prove too much. Some refer to it as the “hurry sickness.” It can happen to either gender, yet Dr. Brent W. Bost, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Beaumont, Texas estimates that there are 30 million women in America who are so over-scheduled and over-stressed that it negatively affects their physical health, sex life, jobs, and relationships.
The next time someone gives you the ultimate compliment for an action-addict: “You’re so busy. How do you do it all?” consider letting that be a signal to STOP. The antidote to action-addiction is to cease doing for a while. Be quiet. Rest. It will feel wrong. Your body, mind and emotions tell you that you must keep going.
This advice to cease doing for a while reminds me of Psalm 46:10 in The Message: “[Stop!] Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
Experts insist that this is a vital step, just as it is important for the alcoholic-addicted person to stop drinking. Your body needs to detox from the chemicals aroused by your constant action. It will be quite difficult--and so worth it. For more information about action-addiction watch for next week's blog “Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?”
What would it take for you to STOP for a while?
During a business dinner, an associate asked me about the book I was writing (The Relief of Imperfection.) When I mentioned the topic of perfectionistic thinking, workaholic behavior and burnout, he nodded and said, "Well, those things are not worth dying for!"
Soon after this I read an article about a trend called "downshifting." Downshifters are men and women who choose to leave all-consuming jobs for a little slower pace so they can experience more enjoyment in their lives. I don't know about you, but I admit this sounds really good.
Happy Labor Day weekend 2013! Perhaps you're really grateful that you get an extra day off. Or maybe you're one of the many who work through the holiday weekend. Before I write/say anything else, I want to acknowledge that I'm grateful for the opportunity and ability to work. You probably are, also (whether its work for ministry, volunteer service, an income-producing job, home schooling or taking care of your babies.)
More and more I talk with people in my coaching, mentoring, and every day life who are realizing that striving and working all the time (to be the best parent, to constantly reach for full potential for yourself and your family, to get more clients and make more money, to help others with very little time to refuel) is not what God had in mind when we made us with the capability to work. There is more to life.
LIFE is worth living for. So this weekend, how about STOPPING the work for a little while to focus on one of the life's enjoyments listed above. What do you choose? Whatever it is, have fun!
You want to pray with me? God, teach me the meaning of life with its balance of labor, rest, and enjoyment. Slow me down to listen. I know "It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work my worried fingers to the bone. I know You enjoy giving rest [and LIFE] to those You love. (Prayer based on Psalm 127:1-2 in The Message)
If you’re like many moms I know, you’re tired. Weary. Crying babies. Sassy Teens. You love your kids AND sometimes you just want a little relief. Maybe you can’t escape to your dream-get-away right now, but you could use an energy-break. Here’s four doable relief-tips for you:
1. Ask “What do I really want to do?” When you’re in a quandary about a decision, hopefully your response(s) will help you decipher which is your desire or need and not merely what someone else wants you to do. (Trying to make everyone happy and follow their advice can be truly exhausting.)
2. When you get into bed at night, instead of praying “Lord, what did I do wrong today?” and then ruminating about what you coulda- shoulda- woulda done, pray, “What did I do right, Lord?” Then listen to how God’s spirit prompts you, and praise Him for your blessings and His help. (Constant negative self-talk can rob your energy–and your joy.)
3. When you’re overly tired, lacking energy, or just plain overwhelmed with the mundaneness of mommy-hood, ask yourself “Since I’m going to do this activity or task anyway, how can I do it easier–or even with a little fun)? (Doing something you enjoy, like listening to your fav music while accomplishing an unpleasant task can actually revitalize you.)
4. Before you get out of bed and/or reach over to pick up your baby in the morning or greet your early-bird toddler, take thirty seconds to talk to God. Request His guidance and help for your day. Consider asking, “Lord, what do You want to show me today?” Then watch for evidence of His love and direction. (Anticipating good things can be an attitude and energy booster. And a way to get to know God more intimately.)
So…Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!
Well, I’ll tell you. In January when I returned rested and replenished, I had new energy to work on the website I’ve been dragging my feet about for the last six months. It’s not quite done. I still have some content to write and edit and photos to add. But the “Books” drop down is complete and so is the new bookstore. Try it out!
I have an entirely new “BRAND”, as my son would say. He’s the one who has been helping me create this new look. New business cards. New colors. New coaching and lifeplan brochures which are now “one-pagers.”(They’ll be on my site later.)
So click on over to take a quick SNEAK PEEK at my new site. (It’s not even launched yet, so you really are peeking. Enjoy!)
Then tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.