Friday, July 28, 2017

Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest – Guest Post by Glynnis Whitwer

I had the pleasure of meeting Glynnis in 2010 at the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks Conference. I knew she lived in Arizona, so as the conference ended, I approached her about getting together sometime for lunch. She graciously accepted and we continue to get together about once a year. 

You’re probably familiar with her, as she's an author and is the Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has a new book out, Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest that I believe speaks to all of us about how to manage our busyness. In today’s post, she’s sharing about life balance—such a poignant message for us as we’re in the back-to-school season and gearing back up for routine and commitments. Enjoy!

Does Life Balance Even Exist?

There have been many times when I lived without a pause button, but one season tops them all.

All five of our children were in elementary school and involved in sports. The three boys played on three different football teams, one daughter was a cheerleader, and the other daughter played soccer. If that weren’t enough, my husband ran his own business, I worked part-time and sang on the worship team, and my husband and I led a small group at church.

Our lives consisted of an ongoing handoff of children and responsibilities that needed military precision to keep moving.

There was no time to meander, stroll or take the scenic route. And there were literally no breaks. Days ran into nights and weeks blurred into months without us having any time to relax and catch our breath.

Thankfully, it didn’t last forever since the football season came to an end, but I declared that kind of overload would never, ever happen again. There was absolutely no margin for error or sickness.

In the aftermath, I realized we had no non-negotiable boundaries set in place to protect us against that kind of crazy. Everything was fair game to cancel so we could get more done: We gave up family dinners, leisure time and didn’t guard the Sabbath.

That season, and many others before it, proved that unless I put borders around my busyness, I will be a wreck, and my family will too. But it also begs the question: Does life balance even exist?

For most of us, there are few non-negotiable boundaries when it comes to busyness. We live without the built-in rhythms of the rising and setting sun that guided our ancestors just a few generations back. Few of us live an agricultural or pastoral life led by the gentle demands of animals and crops.

We could work 24 hours a day if our bodies and minds would let us. Hence, we get drawn into a nonstop lifestyle of work.

Although I firmly believe the Bible honors hard work, the Bible does not say we need to be busy all the time. This is where we need wisdom to know how to find a balance — i.e., when to work and when to stop.

I love how King David acknowledges God’s perfect plans: LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).

Although David refers to property lines, this is a lovely image of God’s plan for balancing our lives. God has boundary lines established for us that are pleasant and manageable. He never meant for our lives to be a jumble of overcommitment. Rather, God’s plan is peaceful and ordered.

And in order to find that pleasant place, we need to have healthy boundaries on our time with lots of margin built in.

Margin plays an important part with a boundary, whether it’s on our property or in our lives. Margin creates safe places, adding beauty, breathing room and balance for the eye and mind.

I learned this concept when I took an editing class. The beauty of well-designed page isn’t just what you see, it’s also what you don’t see. The un-designed area, called white space, carries as much, if not more, impact as the words or graphics.

A significant value of white space is to make the page visually appealing so you want to read it. As our eyes scan a crowded page, our minds tell us it’s too much work and we disengage.

But a page with lots of white space invites you in. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic. It feels simple, doable, calm. White space gives the reader a mental break while at the same time drawing your attention to what’s most important.

And this is what a life with margin around boundaries does for us. When our lives are overcrowded with “content” and lacking white space, we will feel cluttered and confused. It’s hard to identify what’s most important because it all runs together in a blur.

But by creating balance in establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room. We give ourselves time to think, dream and plan. Busy gets seriously out-of-control without boundaries.

Yet finding balance is possible. Establishing healthy boundaries involves editing the content in our lives, carefully identifying what’s most important … what God is asking us to do today. Then as we remove what’s not ours to do, we can breathe a sigh of relief at the beauty that’s revealed in our lives.

Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest

In Doing Busy Better, Glynnis helps you examine your heart and your schedule in order to seek a healthy, holy, and enjoyable balance between work and rest. Most importantly, she shows you that your worth is found not in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest.

Free Downloads

Glynnis has five mobile lockscreens you can download to be reminded of what God’s Word says about rest by subscribing here. You can also download a sample chapter of Doing Busy Better, and if you purchase a copy, be sure to redeem your receipt to receive a FREE companion Study Guide. Get the details here.

About Glynnis

Glynnis Whitwer is Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and contributor to their Encouragement for Today devotional, reaching over a million women each day. She’s the author of nine other books, including Taming the To-Do List and I Used to Be So Organized. She and her husband, Tod, live in Arizona and have five young-adult children. Connect with Glynnis at where she encourages women to live with margin and room to breathe while still getting things done.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daring Greatly

I knew it was going to happen and I feel like God has been preparing me for it.

But it still felt like I got punched in the gut.

I spent months working on a creative project. I put my heart and soul into it, pouring over details and trying to make everything special for the people investing in my project.   

Although it wasn’t perfect, I thought it all turned out wonderfully. I’m truly pleased with it as a starting point, but I know there were things I could have changed or improved. I’ve had a running list in my mind.

This project was my brave thing for this year. It meant stepping out of my comfort zone and asking people to pay for something I put together. My initial fears were that no one would. But God provided the people and I’m so thankful.

I also knew it would be a brave thing to survey and ask for people’s (anonymous) feedback. Again, I felt that God has been preparing my heart for when the criticism would come.

And it came.

So far I’ve heard lots of positive comments and a few helpful suggestions for next time. But recently one woman completed the survey and marked poor on all but one question. She also gave me a list of about 20 ways my project and I fell short of her expectations.

I’m surprised I didn’t cry after I read her words, it felt like I got punched in the gut. She verbally beat me up for not meeting her expectations. She judged and shamed my mothering and my teaching. She basically condemned my work.

I’m not sure what she was expecting, but apparently, she took nothing away because she had not one positive thing to say.

I spent all day processing her words, trying to wrestle with any truth and push away what wasn’t.

Again, I feel like God has been preparing me for the critics through certain things I’ve been reading and I wanted to share them with you.

This time it was my turn, but as we all do things that are brave, creative and vulnerable, we are all going to face the critics, curmudgeons and their condemnation. Let’s remember these things when we face them again:

1.     Christy Wright in The Business Boutique (emphasis mine):

“You know what? I’m not fighting for the people who didn’t get it, who it didn’t connect with. I am fighting for everyone who did get it . . . I’m fighting for them.

We want to grow our business, increase our reach, and make more of an impact, but the reality is that, as we increase our exposure, we increase something else: the haters. With more Facebook likes and blog views come more critics and complainers. It’s not personal; it’s just how things scale. More people means more supporters and more critics.

When someone is mean, when someone doesn’t get it, and when someone tries to tear you down for no reason, remember that you’re not fighting for them. You are fighting for the ones who need what you have to offer. Those are the ones who get a say and the ones you should listen to. You can listen to your critics or you can listen to your calling, but not both. The critics will distract your efforts and destroy your progress.

But the opposite is also true. The more that you listen to your calling, the more the critics will fade into the background. Whatever you focus on increases. When you listen to the right people, you’re able to focus your attention on the ones you’re fighting for.”

2.     I’ve also read and reread Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

3.     Listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” can also help to make a girl feel better! ;)

You know what? This criticism has actually been a good thing for my personal and business development. It reminds me that we’ll get the criticism when we’re out there doing something! If we were sitting at home, not taking risks or putting our time and passion into things that matter, we wouldn’t hear from the critics.

It also brought out some good conversations with my husband, friends and my kids. My daughter often asks for a story at bedtime. The day I heard from my critic, I decided to tell her about that instead. The next morning, she wanted me to talk to my son about it too. I told them that when people try to bring us down, we must remember to be resilient. We can either believe them and the mean things they say about us or we can believe God and what He says about us.

I love 1 Thessalonians 5:24: The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. I’m going to believe that!

Yes, being brave and opening yourself up to the critics is risky and people can be downright mean, but it means you’re out there! Don’t let criticism stop you. Let it make you better and propel you to keep going.

The day after I read the harsh words, I woke up feeling much better, knowing that even though this woman figuratively punched me in the gut, she’s not going to stop me. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. I’m not fighting for her or people like her. I’m fighting for the people who get me and get that I’m trying to help us all look a little more like Jesus.

Thanks for listening. Thank you for getting me. Thank you for being my friends. I’m right here with you. Let’s dare greatly together! He makes us brave!