Archive | September 2015

Urgent vs. Important 

“Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.” ~ Jessye Norman


School has started … and so have the 60 hour work weeks.  Such is the life of a teacher. *

As I dashed out the door last week, I said to my husband, “You and Jesus are the most important people in my life and I haven’t  spent time with either of you lately!” I pondered that on my drive to work. That’s not even a little bit okay. 

Y’all, I’m not good at the balance thing. I never pace myself. I’m all in-to an unhealthy degree. Every year, I think I’ll do better. Every year I don’t do better. And a lot of you are the same.

A sweet friend and coworker recently posted that she was struggling to not give her precious family leftovers. The most important people in her life were getting the time, energy, passion that was left at the end of the day. People, there is no time, energy, or passion left at the end of the day! 

So, what are God’s girls to do? We know He didn’t intend us to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion and emptiness. We know our families come before our jobs. We know He comes before all of it. We know these things, but do we live these things? I sure don’t. Rather, I sure haven’t. But I’m trying. So, here I go. Again. I’m prioritizing, trying to sift the urgent from the important. 

Urgent:

  • Grade papers
  • Complete lesson plans 
  • Change bulletin boards
  • Post grades and comments 
  • Upload photos to school page
  • Read emails
  • Create games, centers, tutoring and intervention tools
  • Run copies
  • Laminate flash cards and posters and games and more 
  • Pick up dry cleaning 
  • Run errands
  • Decorate for the next season or holiday
  • Look up better, cuter, more effective lesson ideas 
  • Read articles and books on teaching 
  • Sit in meetings 
  • Meet with committees 
  • Turn in various assignments 
  • Post daily or weekly objectives 
  • Plan healthy dinners
  • Cook healthy dinners
  • Dishes
  • Laundry 

Important:

  • Spend time with Jesus (spiritual/mental/emotional health)
  • Spend time with Hubby, family, friends (mental/emotional health)
  • Spend time alone (emotional/mental health) 
  • My (physical) health -exercise, sleep, diet  
  • Create (writing, crafting….mental/emotional health)

Yep, it’s exactly as I suspected. I’m all over the Urgent, but ignoring the Important. Like my friend, I must stop giving leftovers to my loved ones. Sigh. Well, only I can change that, so…. I plan. Okay, I actually whined, pouted, fussed, prayed, and then planned.   Planning is important in order for me to accomplish my goals. And living out The Important is a worthy goal!  Here’s what I’m doing to get the Important accomplished in my life. 

  1. I plan my meals for the week on the weekend. 
  2. I choose my clothing and jewelry on the weekend. 
  3. I even plan my errands for the week on the weekend. 
  4. I strive to make Saturday my work, errands, etc day and Sunday my day of rest.  
  5. I exercise most mornings BEFORE work. I’m onto me…I’ll make excuses AFTER work. 
  6. Lists. I love lists (obviously).  Lists keep me focused. 
  7. Hobbies. I come alive when I create, when I write or make things. I’m restored. Time for hobbies seems frivolous, but I’ve found I walk away energized and renewed when I indulge. So, I indulge-and so should you. 
  8. Time with God before all. Honestly, some days it’s prayer, praise, reading His Word, and reading a devotional or two. Those are good days. And those days don’t happen all of the time. It’s a goal, but for now, prayer and one verse-that’s what’s happening. 
  9. Make dates. It’s too easy to stay at work. I’m trying to plan dates with my husband or friends. If I have to leave, I leave. If I don’t have to, I work until I drop. You know there’s always one more thing to do (or twenty more). 
  10. Go! Go to the football games and dinners. Go to the baby showers, weddings, birthday parties for the people you love.  Be present  for your beautiful, imperfect, messy, blessed life. 
  11. Bedtime. Go. To. Bed. I’m a morning person, and I can’t think or function well after a certain point. In fact, I’m pretty much nonsensical after 8:00. I know people who get by with a few hours of sleep, but I am not one of them! In fact, I’m the worst version of myself when I’m tired. 
  12. Say no. When possible, say no. No to the extra assignment. No to gossips who waste your time and leave you unsettled. No to the 8th jewelry party this season for your cousin’s best friend. No to the things and people that drain you. No isn’t always possible, but when it is….

Countless articles, books, and blog posts have been written on prioritizing, separating the urgent from the important, balancing work and life…And we still struggle. I’m praying about this. I’ll bet some of you are, too. Don’t you think the enemy loves it when we spend our precious time and energy on things that aren’t truly important? You know he does. Let’s commit to seeking our Lord’s heart. He knows our battles and He has a battle plan! God’s girls can do this!! We can end this silly “balancing act” if we seek Him in all things. 

Matthew 6:33 (KJV) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  Father, I want YOU more than anything else. Lord, I need You. Show me Your plans for my day. Let me hear Your voice today. Let me do Your will today. You know what’s on my lesson plan and to-do list, and I surrender both to You. Let Your will be done in my life today and always. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen. 

I’d love to hear how you’re focusing on the Important, rather than the Urgent. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

*Yes, teachers work hard, and so do parents, doctors, sales clerks, receptionists, business owners…. I’m just using what I know-my profession-as an example. 




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Much Joy

Since this blog is called Much Joy to You I thought I would focus on things that bring me MUCH joy. Maybe we share a few. Maybe you’ll pick up a new joy bringer. And maybe you’ll share some of your joy bringers with me. 

  1. Coffee in bed. My sweet hubby got my coffee habit started. To this day, he gifts me with a cup of joe and a dash of coconut milk in bed.  It’s not so much the drink as it is the thoughtful gesture. 
  2. Knowing the laundry is all (All!!) done, the trash cans are empty, the dishwasher has been emptied. It doesn’t last longer than a blink, but I love that feeling. 
  3. A great read.
  4. A great worship experience, be it at church, in the car, or wherever. I love losing myself as I worship God. 
  5. Laughter. I love when my students and I share a good laugh. My hubby is soooo funny and I love laughing with him. And, with my best friend, I’ve often laughed so hard it felt like a workout. 
  6. Hugs! 
  7. Holidays. I love celebrations, don’t you?  And I love random celebrations. Hubs and I like to celebrate Monday. Beats dreading it. 
  8. A rainy afternoon. 
  9. The beach. Sigh. I’m landlocked, but I adore the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore. I love white sand and clear water. I love walking on the beach. I love the sticky, salty air. 
  10. Getting a sweet card, email, or text. 
  11. Cheesy romances and mysteries on TV. 
  12. My mom’s prayers. No one prays like my momma! 
  13. Seeing Hubby excited about our next trip or his next adventure. 
  14. Snow. Well, snow when I don’t have to go to work. 
  15. Making my sister laugh. She’s so clever…I count it as a victory when I can make her laugh. 
  16. Big, fat cumulus clouds. 
  17. Being appreciated. My main love language is affirmation, so…
  18. My students. 
  19. The ongoing group text I have with two of my besties. Lots of laughs, lots of advice, and lots of prayers in our daily texts. 
  20. My DVR and Netflix.  I rarely watch anything live. It seems I go to sleep before things come on or I’m out and about. I love  watching what I want when I want. 
  21. Rocking in a glider or rocking chair. So soothing. 
  22. A good friend. A friend who celebrates your successes, dries your tears, listens to your rants, surprises you with little cards or gifts. 
  23. Autumn. Pumpkin patches. Leaves changing colors. Football games. Blankets. 
  24. Prayer. 
  25. Grace. 
  26. Mercy. 
  27. Forgiveness. 
  28. Hearing a favorite song on the radio. Catching a favorite movie on TV. 
  29. A day without a migraine. 
  30. Leaving work with a clean desk, an empty bag, and no homework. Okay, that’s rare. A girl can dream! 

Creating this list made me realize how very much I have. I am so very thankful! Maybe you can start your own list today. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 


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Attitude is Everything! 

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.― Dale Carnegie 

Isn’t that the truth?!?! My thoughts determine my actions, my attitudes, my moods …my life’s direction!! When I finally realized this, my life changed for the better. It is a daily choice, however. Some days, it’s a moment by moment decision. Will I choose joy or despair, frustration, and tears? 

Spoiler alert: I don’t always make the right choice. 

Friday was a bad day. Have you read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? If not, check it out! Life lessons…. My Friday read like that classic tale. I woke up just before 1:00, worrying about school stuff, so I operated on about 3 hours of sleep. Not awesome. My kiddos were off all day. Was it fatigue? Was it the weather or a full moon?  Were they secretly aliens in disguise? Who knows!  I had a migraine. Ugh! I was frantically trying to complete some mandatory testing when I had a walkthrough (think mini-appraisal) with my new principal. Not ideal. (Where was she when we had amazing lessons and discussions all week?!) Mighty groan. My husband is on strike, so we are dealing with no paycheck and no health care. My migraine medicine is $1,000/month without coverage. Sigh. As I ate a very quick lunch with a coworker, a BIG spider dropped down on a dragline in between us. My room, my table, my problem. So, guess who killed it? Eek! It was a Friday before a holiday, so we were allowed to leave early. Guess who couldn’t leave? Pout, pout

Yeah, some days are just like that. 

Here’s the flip side. I didn’t get enough sleep, but it was Friday. I went to bed a little early and slept a little later than usual. It’s amazing what a great night’s sleep does for you! Yay for sleep! I’ve taught long enough to know that some days the kids are just off. It happens. Move on. Migraines?  I’m thankful I have oils and medicines that help me. Big smile. Walkthrough? I have no idea what it will look like when written up this time, but I know she will be back and see some major awesomeness then. Yay for second and third chances. The strike? Well, we knew it was coming. We saved and planned. We are fine and God is good. Health care? We are going to get some short-term coverage. I was able to buy my migraine meds just before we lost coverage.  Thank you, Lord!! As for the spider…I don’t know why this spider didn’t get the warning I sent to all spider kind a month or two ago, but he paid for this with his life! Beware, all spiders! As for work, it was actually okay to grade those last papers in a very quiet, peaceful classroom. And I brought home the work I can easily do this weekend. All is well. 

The truth is…I need to maintain a good sense of perspective. I have friends battling cancer and loved ones mourning the loss of a spouse. Nothing I’m facing is that big of a deal.

 And the bigger truth is, as long as I have my Jesus, I’m fine. I cannot control the economy, other people, my government….but I can cling to the Ruler of the Earth, the Alpha and Omega, my Savior, my Hope, my Healer, my Daddy! If I have HIM, I’m fine. So, I deliberately, intentionally, stubbornly choose joy. I will continue to choose joy. 

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 NIV

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7 NIV

Takeaway: It’s all good. 

I’d love to hear how you maintain perspective and keep a good attitude. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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If My Life Was a Movie

Not too long ago, I was in a funk. The reasons aren’t important. In fact, I  don’t even remember them.  Let that be a lesson to my future self: the things that irritate you so much today will most likely be forgotten in the near future. Big picture, Julie! Big picture! Anyway….I couldn’t shake the mood and, thankfully, I remembered reading something years ago. 

  • Imagine your life is a movie. Ok. Done!
  • It’s important you be the lead in your own movie. Hmmm. Okay. Done! 
  • This is the step that changed things for me. How would you want your character -the lead character – to act? Ohhhhhhhh.  I decided I wouldn’t want my character (wink, wink) to act like a sulky, whiny, defeated brat. Even though it sounds silly, that actually shifted things for me. I stopped acting like a whiny, sulky, defeated brat and started acting like the heroine. I began praying for the situations. (It honestly blows my mind that I can’t even remember what had me so tied up.) I started changing what I could change and getting over the junk I couldn’t.  And it worked!!! The funk was gone and my generally optimistic nature returned.  

Isn’t that something?!! I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need to stop and think about my thinking, my actions, my life. This little exercise really helped me. 

I’d love to hear about your struggles and victories. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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