Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simplify

Simplify, de-clutter, re-organize… these are all words that have been running through my mind lately. With spring coming and my garage full of boxes, I’m thinking some deep cleaning is in order. I have too much junk! I am a packrat I confess, but I’m really getting better. I watched that show on TLC called “Clean Sweep” and it’s almost cured me. I guess I don’t need to save EVERYTHING for some rainy day in the future. I suppose if I haven’t used it in the last 5 or 10 years, then maybe I really don’t NEED it.

I’m sure many of you have taken the time to clean up and reorganize your houses, but have you ever thought about simplifying or de-cluttering your lives? Sometimes we can get too busy for our own good. Most of the time, it’s busy with things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of life. Running our kids to all kinds of sporting events, watching that favorite TV show, catalog parties, shopping, hunting, reading, etc… What pulls you away from what is important and steals your time?

Not everything is bad for you, but there are a lot of good things that can pull us away from God’s best for us. At times we may need to give different areas of our lives a “time out” to help us reprioritize what is best for that season. For instance, my husband loved basketball in college and played every chance he could. He even played when he was supposed to be studying, doing homework, or other important responsibilities. In a time of prayer, he felt like God was leading him to set his basketball down for a season to focus on Him. He took a “time out” for awhile and when he felt released by God, he picked it up again. He was better because of it.

I Corinthians 10:23 (GNV) says…
“We are allowed to do anything, so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. We are allowed to do anything…but not everything is helpful.”

To de-clutter our lives is to re-evaluate what we are doing and see why we are doing the things we do. Think about it… What is taking up all of your time? We are all given the same 24 hours each day, but each person spends it differently. How do you spend your time? Map out a week for yourself… what do you do? Where do you go? Who or what is getting the majority of your time? In the light of eternity, will all the time you are spending doing what you are doing really matter? If not, you need to make some changes.

I want to encourage you to re-evaluate what is really important to you. What do you value? Set some goals to make these things the core of your life…“Your Core Values.” You may need to change some things in your schedule, cut something out, add something new, or give some “time outs.” Do whatever it takes to make God your number one priority and He will help you take care of the rest. How we spend the majority of our time generally shows what is important to us? What is important to you?

Colossians 3:2 helps us see where our focus should be…
“So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (NLV)

My husband and I decided a long time ago to make some tough decisions to keep first things first when it comes to God and our family. We wanted to make sure God was a priority no matter what. Here are some things we are doing to keep God the focus of our home.

Church- It is our job to raise our children in the ways of God, so we guard our Sundays. We don’t ever allow the boys to spend the night at a friend’s house on Saturday nights, because we want them in church with us on Sunday mornings. We also made a commitment to never allow our kids to miss church because of sports. We want to help them to grow by putting them in an atmosphere that encourages growth in God weekly. By our actions, we want to show our boys how important it is to guard Sundays as a family.

Sports – Early on, we decided that we were not going to allow sports to rule our lives and our schedules. We have done our best so far to limit the sports our kids play. They have also been on the same team so far. This has limited practices and games to attend. We know that this will change in the future, but our goal will be the same. We also have them choose one sport per season so we aren’t always on the go. Occasionally we may even take a “time out” from a sport if things become too busy.

Family table – We do our best to have at least two sit down meals a week with our family. This gives us a chance to hear about each person’s day and we read a devotion book with the boys. We love the One Year Book of Devotions. This helps us to pour into our boys godly principles in a light hearted way.

Family nights – We try periodically to have family nights with the boys where we all plan to go out and do something special or stay in and watch a movie. This cements our relationship with our kids and builds memories to last a lifetime.

Bible time for the boys – It is important to us that our boys have their own personal relationships with God, because some day they will have to walk on their own spiritually with out us. We want it to be personal for them. In order to foster that, we have tried something new this year. We send them to bed 30 minutes early each week night to read their Bibles and any other books they want before bed. We emphasize the importance of feeding their spirits to make them strong. We noticed that they had a desire to read their Bibles, but didn’t follow through in doing it on their own. They needed us to create the opportunity for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. So far it has been a success.

Prayer before bed – We pray every night with each of our kids before bed. This is something we started when they were little. Al and I each pray for them separately. It is important to them and they won’t even go to sleep unless each one of us comes in to do it. We also call to pray with them if we are away. Prayer cements us together as a family.

These are just a few ideas of how we have tried to keep first things first in our home. I pray God will lead and guide you as you endeavor to simplify your life. May He direct you as you determine what needs to stay and what needs to go for you. As we clean up the clutter in our lives, we make more room for Jesus. I can’t wait to hear all of the incredible things God is going to do in and through you, as you open your hearts and lives up to Him in a new way. Bring it on!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Are you a "History Maker"?

Have you ever pondered your life? What do you live for? Who do you live for? Why do you do what you do? Are you living a life that is fulfilling? Is your life inspiring others or are you just living in survival mode hoping to make it through another day sane?

I want my life to count. I desire to make an impact on my world for God. How about you? Are you living with purpose? God wants to use you to impact those around you for Him, if you will let Him. He wants to make you a “History Maker.” He wants to change the lives of your friends and family through you.

You have the ability to influence those around you for good whether you realize it or not. People are learning from you. But the question is… what are they learning and where will it take them in life?

Think about it… what kind of legacy are you leaving for those behind you? If others followed the footprints your life has left, where would it take them? What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? These are all important questions to think about in pondering what we are truly living for.

When I was in Bible College my life was consumed with becoming the woman of God I was created to be. I wanted to live with purpose and make a difference for God in my world. I wanted God to be magnified through me to the fullest capacity. I wanted my life to count for something. All this passion was stirred up within me and found root deep in my heart to grow.

I learned how to become a woman of God by watching and learning from others around me. Whether they realized it or not, I was watching… those in leadership in my church, school, and work place. I watched how they reacted to their circumstances, how they treated their spouses and children, and how they expressively lived out their love for God daily.

I learned a lot as I watched about who I wanted to be as I grew in God, how I wanted my marriage to be, how I wanted to raise my children, and what kind of person I wanted to become. Many godly men and women have shaped my life by their example. I am forever grateful for their consistent lives of integrity lived out before me.

One of many of the people who influenced me in the past, passed away recently. He was a professor at my college and a great man of God. I was able to watch the funeral celebration online last week and my heart was stirred with emotion. The more I heard about him from family and friends, the more I respected the life he chose to live. Here is an excerpt from one of the articles written about him…


Springfield, MO —
Long time Central Bible College coach and athletic director Forrest L. Arnold passed away Saturday of natural causes. The 77-year old Arnold was born on October 14, 1933 near the small southeast Missouri town of Qulin.

Arnold was an outstanding basketball player in his younger years, becoming Memphis State's first All-American in the early 1950's. By the conclusion of his career, he held twelve all time basketball records and remains in the top ten of eleven of those categories to this day. In 1984, Coach was elected into Memphis State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1995 his jersey (#13) was retired. He is only one of eight players to ever receive this distinction from Memphis State University.

At the conclusion of his college years, he was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks) to play professional basketball, but he chose, instead, to enter the ministry. In 1958 Arnold moved to Springfield where he became CBC's first Athletic Director, developing the physical education, intramural and the intercollegiate athletic programs. He served CBC for 42 years. Thousands of students have been challenged by the commitment and gentle spirit of Coach Arnold in fulfilling the call of God upon their lives.

Central Bible College awarded him the Distinguished Educator Award and he was a professor emeritus. His heart was in missionary work. He and his wife have ministered extensively in the countries of Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Russia and Ukraine.


You would never know by meeting Forest Arnold of all the great accolades he had received. He was a very humble man who gave God all the credit for everything he did. What I remember most about him was his relationship with his wife. I watched and learned as they showed all the students by example how to have a godly marriage.

I was amazed as I listened to his son speak about him at the funeral. I was blessed to hear that what I saw every day at school that he had witnessed on a daily basis. He shared this at the funeral, “…as many times as you saw my dad stand outside of my mom’s class waiting on her to finish waving at her and winking through the window, I caught them at home kissing.” “…As many times as you saw them holding hands as they walked across campus, I saw them cuddling on the couch…” “…As many times as you saw dad carry mom up a flight of stairs to her class because she was too weak to walk (she has rheumatoid arthritis), I saw him get her up, put her in a warm bath, and dress her to get her ready to teach a class for the day.”

He was the same man at home that he was everywhere else. Wow! That is powerful. So many people were impacted by his life. Not only his life, but his marriage, ministry, and life decisions. The things I learned “by watching” will stick with me forever. Forest Arnold made his life count.

He passed up fame and fortune for a simpler life that changed those who came in contact with him forever. I heard through testimony at the funeral that he traded making $3000 a month as a professional basketball player to make $85 a month to pastor a small church. Most people wouldn’t make such a trade, but he was confident that God knew what was best.

When we are obedient to God, He will bless us. Forest Arnold’s blessing shined through every time he smiled. He was living his dream and his heart was content. He wasn’t about big numbers or large salaries; he was about making a difference in this world one heart at a time.

Forest Arnold was a true “History Maker.” I pray you will choose to make a difference in “your world” for God. Someone is watching you. Where will the footprints of your life lead them? Choose today to live with purpose and make your life count!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie