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20 Apr

Outlining Your Life Day by Day

Organizing your life

Does life happen to you, or do you happen to life?

Does it seem as though organizing your life doesn’t get the results you’re looking for? Perhaps you (like I am) are addicted to bullet journaling, or maybe you have a planner that you’ve custom made for organizing your life.

But do your days follow your plan?

Maybe we’ve been looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe our lives would be better organized if we had a framework from which to launch out into life.

Do you remember your days in school when you had an essay or term paper to write? You started with an outline, the framework upon which you would build your argument or theme.

Is an outline what you need for organizing your life?

I was recently reading a book called The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges. He spoke at my church a few weeks ago and even before he was finished speaking I had gone to Amazon and ordered the book his message was taken from. This morning I came across this little gem in the book: “Whatever we put in first place becomes the organizing principle for the other parts of our lives. Think of it like an outline for those papers you had to write in school. When you focus on your guiding principle, it automatically takes care of many other decisions.”

So what is your guiding principle?

At the beginning of each year, I ask God for a word that can guide me throughout the year. This year the word was serve. So I want to make my guiding principle say something like “In whatever I do, I want to serve God through being His hands and feet in my everyday life.”

Now when I outline my life today, I need to think in terms of what I am doing to serve Him. My old organizational way would be to list all the tasks I had to accomplish today and put them in my bullet journal with little boxes next to them to check off when they are done. There’s a lot of good feelings attached to checking off those boxes! I always feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.

But have those things accomplished the purpose of my day’s “essay”?

This morning, I decided to look at my day’s activities and demands from my “outline perspective.” Who am I serving today? Who is most important and what—in general—do I need to do to serve them? Here’s what my outline looks like:

organizing your life

It’s just an outline

Like an essay, this doesn’t define my whole day. It simply gives it structure. It lays out what is most important and what is less so. If I were writing a book, it would be the chapter headings, not the content of the chapters. In order to bring the book to print, I’d have to fill in all the details and tell the story the chapter headings allude to.

Because my guiding principle is to serve, I have placed checking in on friends before my blog business. You, my readers (and my friends), are important to me, and that’s why the blog business is on the outline. But the business part takes second seat to the people God has placed in my life.

My closest friends and I have a “chat line” on Facebook Messenger. We keep in touch with each other daily, sharing thoughts, prayer requests, and plans. Even if I don’t pick up the phone and call each one, they know I am thinking of them and praying for their day. It takes only a few minutes every day, but it’s vitally important to check in with each other. We care about each other and the things that touch our lives, so we share.

Here’s what my daily for today looks like in my bullet journal. (See how to use a bullet journal here.)

organizing your life

The tasks on my daily page are not written in any particular order, just as I thought of them. Using my guiding principle, serve, will help me prioritize them. My outline helps me do that.

So, what do you think?

Will you use an outline to organize your life by your guiding principle?

12 Apr

Scripture Canvas Tutorial

Scripture Canvas Tutorial

If you’re like me, you have probably seen (and maybe drooled over) scriptures in beautiful fonts that maybe you’ve saved to your Pinterest account, but wish you could hang on your wall. Well, now you can. And I’m going to show you how in this tutorial.

What you’ll need:

A stretched canvas

A cutting machine (mine is a Silhouette® Curio)

Vinyl

A weeding tool

Paint in one or two colors

A stenciling brush

A favorite font (or two) — or —

A .pdf, .jpg, or .sfg file of the scripture you want to use

This tutorial assumes you already know how to use your cutting machine and can import images or install fonts if you need to. (These links lead to Silhouette tutorials.)

Step one

If you are using a font on your cutting machine, type in your chosen scripture. Don’t worry about the placement, because you can adjust it on your canvas once you’ve cut it out. I didn’t want to type the scripture in Silhouette, so I did it in Photoshop®. Below you can see how I’ve manipulated the type so that “One” is bigger than the rest and “the” is smaller.  You can also do the manipulation on your cutting machine; I just like to use Photoshop because I can adjust letter spacing more precisely. Once you’ve decided how you want the words to work, it’s on to Step Two. Again, don’t worry about placement of the words.

Step Two

If you have used a program besides your cutting machine software, you’ll need to save the file according to the file type your machine will read. I used Photoshop, so I saved mine as a .jpg. Import the file into your program and trace the image (or whatever your machine requires).

Step Three

Cut the file in vinyl.

Step Four

Now comes the tedious part. Carefully remove the words (or letters) with a weeding tool that allows you to get under the vinyl easily. I use a dental pick that I found at a hardware store sale.  Be especially careful around thin strokes as they can easily break. Also, don’t let the vinyl stick to your fingers, either. Try to keep as light a touch as possible as you transfer the vinyl to the canvas.

dental pickStep Five

This is the point at which you arrange the words in the way you find pleasing. If you lay the vinyl down gently, you can easily reposition it until you are happy with the layout. Compare my original .jpg with my final layout on the canvas. (I prepainted the canvas purple, believe it or not. It sure doesn’t look purple in this photo!)

Step Six

Burnish the letters down well so that paint will not get underneath in the next step. A credit card is perfect for this task.

Step Seven

You may decide to use a single color of paint or more than one. I have decided on two colors that complement each other. Pour a small amount of paint in a shallow dish. Dip your stencil brush in the paint and pounce it on a paper towel to remove some of the paint. You want the brush to be damp but not wet. Pounce the paint over the letters, letting the brush get kind of dry before you load it again.

If you are using more than one color and you don’t want them to mix, let the first color completely dry before adding another one. You can pounce the paint just around the edges of the letters to create an outline or you can fill in the entire canvas. Each method returns an attractive result. In this example, I completely painted the canvas with the purple paint and let it dry before laying my words down. Then I pounced the light green paint over it, all around the letters so they would stand out in purple.

Step Eight

Once the paint has completely dried, carefully remove the vinyl letters from the canvas. If you are very careful, you can transfer them to the backing paper they came from or use a page protector sleeve to save them for another use. I generally end up destroying mine (oh, well!). Note that the font I used was really too thin. A thicker font would have given a better result, as in the He is Risen canvas.

Now you have your favorite scripture in white (or another color if you painted the canvas first) on the background you created with your brush.

To show you how it looks with only one color and white for the background, here is the canvas that I gifted my daughter-in-law with for hosting our Messianic Passover in her home.

You can frame the canvas if you like, but I enjoy mine standing on edge on a shelf or table or hanging unframed on the wall. They look great in a grouping with candles or other items on a fireplace mantle, too!

11 Apr

Scheduling to Lessen Stress in a Too-Busy World

We live in a stress-filled, too busy world, and scheduling is just one more thing to do.

If you’re anything like I am, you already have too many things to do and not enough time in which to do them. From getting everyone out the door in the morning to finding time to spend with God, you’re busier now than you’ve ever been. You’ve probably seen all the time management and scheduling tips and tricks you can find on Pinterest and even tried them for awhile, but somehow, you always end up behind again. That sound familiar?

Me, too! Well, take heart. I’m going to show you how to decide what to put on that to-do list, and then show you a way to get things done without losing your sanity. It’s a three-step process, and one which will make your day much less stressful.

The first thing you need is a list of all your to-dos.

A complete list. Write down absolutely everything you have to do or want to do, in one long list. Don’t prioritize or try to decide what to put on and what to leave off. Just list everything you can think of.

Now take a piece of paper and divide it into fourths (fold it in half one way and then in half the other way). Now we’re going to label the quadrants as follows: Q1: Important/Urgent; Q2 Important/Not Urgent; Q3 Not Important/Urgent; and Q4 Not Important/Not Urgent. You’re going to put each item on your list in one of those squares, but there’s a secret to doing it the right way. Let’s look at definitions. Important means there is a negative consequence for not doing it. Urgent means there’s a negative consequence for not doing it NOW. At first, you’ll find a lot of stuff listed in Q1, but over time, you’ll be working mostly from Q2 and sometimes from Q3, but rarely from Q4.

Deciding on where things go.

If you can’t decide where something goes in your scheduling, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will happen if I don’t do it at all?
  • What will happen if I don’t do it now?

Answering those two questions will help you see clearly where each item should go. Q1 is for things that absolutely must be done right away. You’re going to work at staying out of that quadrant! Q2 is for important matters that aren’t (yet) urgent. The trick will be to schedule time for those things so they don’t ever make it into Q1. This is the quadrant where you want most of your items to reside. Q3 is for things like buying something you’d like to have that’s on sale NOW, but won’t have a negative consequence if you don’t buy it. Q4 is for things you’d like to get around to, but it’s okay if they don’t actually get done. Nothing earth-shattering will happen if you just let them go.

The time-block method of scheduling.

After you have assigned all your to-do items to one of the quadrants, you’re going to use the time block method to tackle the list and see it shrink. Here’s how the time block system works.

Block out fifteen minutes on your calendar or in your planner to tackle one of the scheduling items in Q1. Work at it steadily for fifteen minutes and then quit. If you find it takes more time than that, you can always block in another fifteen minutes to get it done, but chances are fifteen minutes will take care of the worst of the problem. Create fifteen minute blocks of time and work through your list, giving most of your attention to Q1 tasks. BUT DON’T IGNORE Q2. For every two Q1 tasks you complete, do a Q2 task, too. If you ignore Q2, first thing you know you’ll have all those tasks in Q1, too!

Naturally, appointments eventually end up in Q1 and must be attended to when they are due. But put bills to pay in Q2 unless they are overdue, and then pay them before they absolutely have to move into Q1. The trick is to gradually get rid of Q1 tasks and then keep them at a minimum. Q2 tasks should take the majority of your time and attention.

I’ve prepared two printables, one Quadrant Page and one Daily Page. Use these to help you implement this system, and before you know it, you’ll have everything under control. Just click on the image to download.

What do you do to organize your time and tasks? Tell me in the comments.

 

08 Apr

Taming Dragons: The Crisis of Compromise

My Bible study, Taming Dragons: The Crisis of Compromise, is set to be released on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram in June. It is the result of many conversations with my friends and family members about what is happening in the world. It shows that God’s timeline is playing out before our very eyes.

Compromise has crept into every facet of our lives. We are seeing the consequences of it in our government, our schools, our workplaces, our churches and our homes. For the one who follows the One, it is heartrending. To many, many more, it is “social change.”

While I do believe that change is necessary, it should always be in the direction of the Word of God. If you love God, then be encouraged, and light a candle. For as someone once said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” I hope this little Bible study helps you see things in that respect.

From the Preface

As time winds down for planet earth, it seems to get blacker and bleaker every day. Of course, it’s what we should expect. Revelation 12:12 tells us: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows he has a short time.” We can also expect to see people—Christians!—compromising the Word of God in order to “fit in” with the prevailing culture. We also know that many will depart from the faith, as 1 Thessalonians 2:3 says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.”  Don’t let that be true of you! Instead of despairing, look up with hope! He promised us: ”But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”