Monday, August 30, 2010

Setting Boundaries at Work

Do you struggle with setting boundaries? Do you know how to set healthy boundaries in your life? The book Boundaries written by John Townsend and Henry Cloud convicted me that there were some boundaries in my life that I needed to work on.
While reading the book, I was working for a company that was making me miserable, stressed and due to the stress, unhealthy. I used to love my job until new management took over and only viewed us as money making machines. I was desperate to leave but felt stuck due to the pay and benefits. I had to learn how to not allow the job to affect who I was as a person. I started by saying “No” to the projects they wanted me to take on. I was one of their top performers so they continually gave me extra projects they wanted done. By saying “No” I was able to free up some of my time to focus on the work I enjoyed doing. I taught myself to not check my emails after work hours or on weekends. And guess what…the world didn’t end. I was able to start reclaiming the joy I once had at work.
It is very hard to draw boundaries when it comes to work—especially when you fear losing your job in this tough job market. If you are struggling with setting boundaries at work or in other areas of your life, then I would highly recommend checking out the book Boundaries.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How to Make Worry Work for You

Worried that you may have to re-locate for your job? Afraid to go to the doctor about the pain in your chest? Losing sleep over your review next week? How many more things cause you to worry?

You know, of course, worry can be harmful:

  • It builds stress up in your mind and body that can lead to illness
  • It causes you to lose sleep
  • It leads to over-eating, over-caffeinating, over-medicating
  • It distracts your focus from other important matters
  • It yields a long list of negative returns

But if it has bad returns, why do I say it can work for you? What if it can work to bring something positive to our lives? Then we should try to use it that way.

Look at Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. When I realize that I’m bogged in worry, I try to stop the struggle for a minute and look at my problem in light of this verse. That means first meditating on who the “LORD your God” really is.

In the context He was the God who won miraculous battles, led the people in specific ways, energized Joshua with unique ideas for conquest, brought justice, gave unusual wisdom for crisis, provided solutions for physical and emotional needs, and restored courage in the weak-kneed.

That’s the God who says He will go with me wherever I go. He will not leave me alone to deal with my trouble. That pretty much covers all the issues I worry about. On the strength of His character, my part is to choose to take off fear and discouragement and put on strength and courage. Doing that has taken me to places I could never have gone to alone.

Worry works for me when it sends me to Him. Worry works when it makes me consider His Word. Worry works when it opens me to Truth. How has worry worked for you?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Easy Time Management Tips

People are most successful when they have a routine. Usually having a calendar within hands’ reach is a good way to have control over your time management.
Here are a few quick tips on time management. Please add to them if you have found successful ways to manage your time effectively.

• Set a schedule for yourself by using a daily calendar. This way you can keep track of everything.

• Consider using a Family Calendar to make it easy for the family to see what they have to do for the week and where everyone will be.

• Make double the amount of food for dinner and freeze half to use for another day when you don’t have the time to cook.

• Make Lists. Make a grocery list, a “to do” list for around the house, movie list and etc.. So when it comes time to run errands you can map out your plan of action to get all of your “to do’s” done quicker.

• Call ahead before running to a store if you are unsure if they carry the product you want. This also can apply to restaurants. Call ahead seating is offered at many places and can save you time in the waiting line.

• Ask for help. Learn to delegate to friends and family. It is important to ask your family to help pitch in when getting household chores done.

• Make life as easy as possible by keeping things simple. It is okay to say no to good things to allow your schedule some balance.

• Set realistic goals for each day and prioritize what is most important. Get what is most important done first.

• Start each day on the right foot by spending time with the Lord. If the morning is not your best time to sit down for devotions, then make sure you schedule it in your calendar for later in the day.

What Could You Do To Manage Your Time Better?

This week I’m talking about time management on The Christian Working Woman radio program. This scenario fits the topic, so just imagine the scene:

Julie: Oh, my goodness, it's three o'clock already and I haven't finished that layout design. I promised the client he could see a sketch tomorrow. Wow, where does the time go? (Phone rings) Oh, hi, Jim. Sure I'll be glad to look at your new idea–just e-mail it to me. (Hangs up)

Sadie: (Walking in) Julie, didn't you have an article on that new software upgrade? I'd sure like to see that if you have it.
Julie: Yeah, it's here somewhere. (Scans her document files) I don't know where I put it, but I'll find it and send it to you, Sadie, okay?
Sadie: Sure, but I need it today if possible.

Julie: No problem! (Sadie leaves) How am I ever going to get this sketch done with all these interruptions?

Are you having difficulty managing your time? Interruptions are one chief culprit that can keep us from getting our work done on time, so we need to learn to manage them well. To be good stewards, we all need to learn some good time management techniques. I try to remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: Therefore be careful how you walk... making the most of your time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

I think this reminder should help us get serious about making the most of our time. Do you have other pointers to help?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Freedom of a Budget

Mary’s message this weekend is on money management and when most people hear the word budget they groan. I used to be that way, and it took a while to realize how freeing a budget can be.
I grew up with a father who had an accounting degree; although he never used the degree professionally, he always talked about the importance of managing money well. When I was around ten years old he started handing me sheets of paper that would have graphs showing how much you can save with just a little money set aside each week. All those handouts usually ended up lost, because in my foolishness as a young kid, I wasn’t worried about that kind of stuff. I wish I would have heeded his advice now because it would be helpful to have that nest egg now.
When I got out of college I sat down with my dad and made a budget. I moaned at first and thought this budget was going to keep me from enjoying life. But it didn’t. It did quite the opposite. I was able to save money for vacations and for going out to eat. If I didn’t spend the money, I could watch it grow in each column so I had more money to spend in that area later for a bigger shopping spree. Better yet, I paid off my first car in under 2 years. So if you haven’t tried budgeting, I want to recommend it.
There are two websites which have helped many Christians that I know with their finances. The first is www.crown.org. It is a Christian ministry whose purpose is to teach biblical financial principles. The second site is www.mint.com and they make budgeting easy. They even have an iphone application where you can get instant updates on where you are at with your budget.
It is important to remember that all of our money is God’s money. It can make or break us on how we handle this gift from God. So if the thought of budgeting makes you want to groan because you know you don’t have enough money to cover all the bills, take a step back, get down on your knees and you will be amazed at what God can do. I would love to hear the amazing stories on how God has provided for you and any creative ways you budget or save money.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why do I keep going to Africa each year?

I have been going to Africa for at least the last 15 years, maybe more—mainly to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda—where I have had the privilege of teaching women. My pastor always seems amazed that I'm willing to keep going, as though it's some great sacrifice on my part. But nothing could be further from the truth. I receive a greater blessing than I give, for sure.

I love teaching the African women because they are so hungry for practical biblical teaching, helping them learn how to truly live out the gospel in their everyday lives, explaining biblical truth. There's no greater privilege or satisfaction for me than that. But I also love to go because it has given me a worldview that has changed me.

This year we visited two homes of women who live such simple lives, having almost nothing of this world's goods. Yet their lives have been changed by their participation in the Tabitha Bible studies in that area of Kenya, and they are so thankful to have a Bible study to attend each week.

I received an email when we returned from the leader of Tabitha and she said that one of the leaders told her, "We were thirsty and just got a few drops of water. We want much more." They are hoping I will return next July, and by God's grace, I will. That's why I keep going to Africa.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Miracles

Part of my job is to edit Mary’s transcripts before they get sent out. One Thursday afternoon I was editing her transcript on Miracles, and little did I know that God was going to provide a miracle for me, so I want to share it with you.

My husband’s birthday is just around the corner, and I always come up with big grandiose plans that I want to do that are usually outside of our budget. So time has been ticking away and my mind has been running through ideas of what we can do to celebrate where he will still feel special without ruining our budget. I have been praying and asking God to give me wisdom on what to do. So when I was just about to give up, my father called to tell me that he knew someone who couldn’t make the Chicago Cubs Baseball game and that they wanted to know if we wanted the tickets. My husband is a huge Cubs fan and a couple months ago I looked at the tickets and they didn’t have any seats available. So I called this person up immediately and told them we would take them and asked what we owed them. They said, “You can have them for free!”

Then about an hour later my sister called to tell me that our Great Aunt gave her some money to give to me because she felt bad she had never given me a graduation gift. It’s been many years since my graduation, so this was an unexpected gift. I didn’t want to take the money, but you can’t fight with a stubborn old woman. So this was another blessing added to the day because I could then take my husband to the steak house I wanted to take him to for his birthday.

Later that evening I sat in my yard going over the events of the day with my husband, realizing as I shared that this was God’s miracle for me. He had provided me with the grandiose plans that I originally wanted to do that I didn’t think were possible. While it may not be a huge miracle in our eyes, it is amazing to see all the little miracles God does for us that we often overlook. He is there to provide for our needs and wants. Are there miracles in your life that you have over-looked and have forgotten to thank God for?