Redeeming Your Time

Redeeming Your Time

The present time has one advantage over every other…it is our own.
– Charles Caleb Colton

If I had a friend that, without fail, gave me 24 gifts every day, I would be elated. I hope among all the iced lattes, massages, and new shoes that I wouldn’t lose my appreciation for them. When the walls were filled with beautiful art and I had traveled to a hundred different cities all around the world, would I still wake up the next morning with child-like anticipation for my next gift? Would I spend time reflecting on the gifts of yesterday or simply starve for the next sunrise – greedily wanting more?

What if they missed one? What if on one particular day my friend only brought 23 gifts to me? Would this be enough, or would I feel dejected over the loss of one among the pile?

The key is not spending time, but investing it – Stephen R. Covey

I have lived this gift experience, personally and truly, for 14,172 days now. 340-thousand hours of life I have been gifted. Twenty MILLION minutes of adventures, joys, laughter and love. Some of those minutes and hours brought great challenges, but the gifts of hope and peace have been enough to carry me through.

I desire to be careful not to fall victim to the idea that life owes me anything, including time. Rather, we are gifted time over and over from minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day. We are afforded the opportunity of redeeming it at our pleasure and disposal. Today I redeemed 10 minutes for a shower, 90 minutes for church and 20 minutes at the grocery store picking out ingredients for a new udon noodle recipe I am excited to try. I redeemed 12 more minutes to sweep and clean the kitchen and 45 minutes to sit and write.

Somewhere in the mix I redeemed 8 minutes to hug and chat with a friend at church, and another 10 minutes to hold and cuddle a daughter of a friend whom I love to pray with and giggle with. I redeemed a few seconds to tell my step-son, “Thank you, I really appreciate all that you do,” when he stepped in to help with the chores. And a few more seconds to pet the dog and make sure he also feels love and attention on this beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. Later I have plans to redeem a few hours with friends, talking, laughing and enjoying dinner together this evening.

Recently I experienced a frustrating situation that left me feeling negative and displeased. In the midst of dealing with it, I suddenly realized there was no value in the way I was feeling. Sure, I had every “right” to be upset, but what good was this course? It was only adding stress and tension to my day. I put down my head, said a prayer for strength and wisdom, and firmly decided I would not redeem any more time to any actions that were not positive. I simply refused to let this situation steal any of my gift of this day. Instead, I moved through the motions of stepping towards peace, and peace I quickly found.

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Image source: Dawson Family of Faith on Pinterest.com

Hearing a sermon on Luke chapter 10 recently, I am reminded of the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha. As Jesus was traveling on a journey, Martha opened her home to him. Martha proceeded to serve and tend to the needs of the travelers. Mary chose to sit at Jesus feet and hear his words. Martha complained that she was having to do all the tasks without her sister’s help. Jesus heard this complaint and acknowledged that Martha had many things that were concerning to her, but that Mary had “chosen the good part.” Mary was redeeming her time in a manner that fed her soul, rather worry about physical needs in that moment. There would be time for her to help her sister later, but in this particular moment she redeemed some precious minutes to learn from the one they called Master, the one that brought healing and great, wise teachings. It was not a moment that Mary could afford to let pass her by. She knew the priceless value in spending her time in this moment.

We all have pressing demands in our lives – commitments that tie up our time for some reason or another. These commitments do have value, to be sure. But, how do we redeem our time otherwise? When called to put in my time at work during the day, I redeem time to connect with others around me, to offer words of encouragement or a listening ear. I may be committed to this block of time for my employer today, but how I spend it is still up to me. I could spend it frustrated at constant changes and shifting goals that seem elusive or I can spend it investing in others.

How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard

Spending my time at home is no different.  Do I redeem it cleaning and fussing, or connecting and loving?  Can I find ways to do both so that my obligations and desires of my heart are both fulfilled?  This looks like engaging the kids in cooking dinner, or making chores into a game with Alexa turning up the music at full blast. How can we work through the process of using and redeeming our time wisely?

Identify Time Pitfalls: How we desire to use our time and how we actually spend it can be two different things. Start by writing down and tracking how you spend your time. This will help you identify things that might be holding up your time, despite your own desires and wishes. I was finding myself at the grocery store three times per week to pick up ingredients and this wastes a lot of time for me, especially as I commute 45 minutes to work each day. That means it can take me up to an hour and a half just to get home in the evenings by adding in this stop. After identifying this time-wasting activity, I started to meal plan at the beginning of the week and making a shopping list. Now one stop per week gives me time back that I can invest into something more productive than a redundant task.

Prioritize What Matters: Our schedules can get hectic and overwhelmed pretty quickly. We can end up having so many pressing tasks and commitments that it is nearly impossible to give quality time to them all. It will help to prioritize what truly matters. Is it life-giving? Is it necessary? Is it healthy to spend your time in this way? Sometimes it is okay to say “no” to another commitment, or “not right now, but perhaps in the future.” I personally would love to volunteer more, however I am working and a student. My time is dedicated elsewhere for the immediate future. It will not always be this way and in a few more months my schedule will change and be more open. I have to be willing to be flexible and honest so that I can prioritize my time correctly.

Redeem Your Time: It truly helps to think of time as a gift. Redeem it wisely and you will not find yourself starved for more minutes. Break tasks into small and manageable pieces to avoid procrastination and spending time unnecessarily. Work daily tasks and chores into your routine so that you can accomplish priorities and enjoy some fun at the same time. For me, this looks like folding laundry while watching my favorite Netflix show, or working on homework while dinner is in the oven. You can have quality time and talks with your spouse while taking a walk together in the evening. Turning off distractions and focusing on spending time with your kids in whatever they enjoy is also a great way to redeem some precious minutes. You will never regret investing time into those you love. Life demands come and go, priorities can readjust, but remember they are only usually for a season. Continue to value your time and respect it. Do not get too stressed if things are not going perfectly. Take a breath, set your intentions and try again. Every effort is time well spent.

24 hours. 24 gifts every day. 

May I wake each sunrise with renewed anticipation and fresh perspective.  It’s a brand new day I have been gifted and one I have not lived yet.  I hope I redeem it for the treasure that it is.

Redemption of a Critic

Redemption of a Critic

How do I judge thee?  Let me count the ways.  I see wrinkles and some laugh lines.  Wait, your style has gone astray. A little chub, a little drab, too many freckles dot your nose.  Some grays are showing through that dye job. You are tired and it shows. 

You are too busy and too scattered.  When is the last time you worked out?  Overworked, underappreciated.  Oh, I wouldn’t eat that amount.  You’re unkempt, trying too hard, maybe today is not your day.   I’m sure there was a better outfit choice this morning.  Um, you shouldn’t wear stripes that way.

I would have dressed up or dressed down.  Painted my cheeks a different pink.  I surely would have pulled my hair up.  It would look better, don’t you think?  Your face is too long, eyes too big and shoulders wide.  Hide your ears, quiet your voice, stuff all your fears inside.  Wear something different, that look is lame.  Same favorite sweater? Lacking grace, what a shame.

Sigh. Maybe I have made myself feel better by criticizing who you are.  But, it will be brief and very fleeting as selfish thoughts splinter my heart.  It will take a bit of warming, a bit of letting down my guard, before I can look much deeper and see who you really are.

What I have not noticed is that you’re so unique. Creative and amazing, you are truly at your peak.  I hadn’t seen it all before.  But, by looking a little deeper, I can appreciate you so much more.

Girl, yes you are too tired.  Can I help you out with that? I understand when days feel short and life’s demands have knocked you flat.

Girl, you are so busy.  I can see you focused in.  You’re climbing the ladder of success, looking for a total win.

Girl, I commend your effort, giving life all you’ve got.  You show tenacity and spirit.  From you, I could learn a lot.

Girl, you could be more recognized, but it’s not approval that you seek.  You’re happy if the kids are fed and you’ve kept up another week.

Girl, I do love that sweater, those boots and that smile.  But what I have learned today is worth cannot be measured by a sense of style.

My friend, great job on all you’ve accomplished and for letting your light shine.  I hope my passion can mimic yours and someday be just as fine.

Rachel Asks: Have we ever found ourselves on the receiving end of unkind words and criticism? It makes us feel as if life is a performance sport where we are judged constantly based on our ability to perform at someone else’s standard. Conversely, have we found ourselves on the the giving end of such harsh words and thoughts? Where we have deemed someone’s worth based off our personal opinion of them? We can do much better as women! We can do much better as moms, sisters and friends. How can you show love today? How can you reverse this trend?


Learning to Trust

Learning to Trust

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, my salvation, my high tower, my refuge, and my savior…

II Samuel 22:3

It was insufferable, the agony of waking to each new day but feeling no new sense of sunlight, of purpose or relief. The weight of the previous day and the day before that, and the one before that, clung to me like a concrete brick, with the full force settling on my chest and making it difficult to do simple things like breathe. What was the sense in trying today? I had no hope on the horizon, no reason to believe today was going to be any different.

Reminded of my obligations to things like work and bills, I moved through the day with robotic existence. Trying hard not to let myself feel too deeply or get too lost in my own sorrow and self-pity, I filled my days with busy things from sun-up until sun-down. Work was mostly my outlet, my excuse to be too busy to feel. I started a 2nd job to fill in the gaps the first one left behind. I volunteered, I worked, I busied.

I had no idea why my marriage had ground to a screeching halt. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But I had not realized it was on the brink of utter failure. In fact, I didn’t realize this until I was away one Sunday morning, returned home and found our townhouse cleared out. Not even a note.

I figured out quite quickly that life would require a great deal of commitment to survive. Thankful for friends and family who provided emotional support, who cheered me on and came to my aid, I indeed did survive.

It took me quite a long time to feel alive, however. Being a victim of circumstance was challenging. I felt as if I had lost my husband, my home, my stability, my future, my hopes and all my dreams in just a single day. Now aimless and uncertain of the future, I spent quite a bit of time in prayer. For a while, I felt aimless in that too.

I wanted to know why and how I had failed, he had failed, we had failed in our vows to one another. I could not afford our home on just a single salary and I was forced to move within the matter of a few weeks. I fell to my knees again, “God, why am I going through this? Why is this trial in my life? How can this possibly get better?”

One such prayer session it was as if I heard in my mind the words “Matthew, seven and nine.” Unsure of the verse I opened my bible to search. “Or what man of there is you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” Intrigued, I scanned the previous statements.

Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a snake? If you then, being unholy, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

“God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding.”


It hit me all at once, God was communicating to me that he was, in fact, listening. He heard all of those prayers, saw every tear, understood every moment of confusion. I was asking him for direction and as my father, he was not going to leave me faltering on my own.

Immediately, I clung to this hope. Faith is not intended to be a magic wand and God does not arbitrarily or unintelligently answer our prayers. He is a faithful father, one who responds with love and understanding. He saw the brokenness in my spirit and he gave me hope that he would meet me there for the mending.

I now realized that this trial was an opportunity. If I were willing to let him in, God could use it for my good. He could fashion something out of all my failures. I began to change my prayers. “Father, what can I learn in this moment and what are you trying to teach me? Help me to grow! Help me to trust! Help me to move forward and out of this dark place.”

This perspective and application of faith began to change the vision I had for my future. I became forward thinking again, not because I trusted myself, but because I knew the hand of the Father was there to guide me.

I began to channel my energies into productive choices. I returned to college, I looked for ways to serve my community. Instead of just being busy for the sake of filling my time, I was now passionate again about life because hope surrounded the day.

For some people they are able to recover marriages and restore those relationships once again. I am ever so thankful and excited when I see this come together for struggling families. For me, this was not my story. Although something very precious to me had been lost, God was still there in the middle of it all, working on my fragile heart. He taught me how to open my arms wider to those in need and to desire to love each day just a little deeper. He showed me the power of faith and that no matter what circumstance that I was in, that he was still completely faithful, loving and there. He was right there. Just a whisper away.

He taught me that I had not been buried, but rather planted. That I was in a process of growth that he would bring to full bloom at his appointed time. I did not have the power in myself to change the course of events leading up to this time of planting, but I did have the heart to trust God in his timing and in his process.

Rachel Asks: Will you join me on the journey of learning to trust God today? Take a few moments to breathe in and rest for a moment. Close your eyes and allow peace to come to you. Ask for clarity, for direction, for his guidance. He will meet you in this place. Allow him to meet you here.


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