Day 14 of 30 Days of Prayer

Good Lord, it is the last day of 2013. Only a few hours left in this old year before the new one comes rushing in and I begin to make resolutions that I haven’t even resolved in the old year. Where have the past twelve months gone? Please, God, in the 2014 help me to look at me first before talking about how others should change. Help me to not be so hard on myself for not shedding those extra pounds, forgetting to organize my closet, overspending my budget, eating that pack of cookies, or bag of chips when no one was looking, and for speeding through that red light. Help me to help others, remove the focus from myself and know it’s not all about me. Help me to make the change in this New Year. Amen.

Sharpening the Saw

As iron sharpens iron, so one habit sharpens another.

At the end of the day, I think: did I complete the most important things on my list? And I’m a list-maker, one of those people who keep multiple lists for everything—next action, calls, errands, someday/maybe, read/review, projects, and so on.

Despite my lists and what I’ve actually accomplished during the day, what I know for sure is that I rolled out of bed, showered, worked—at home and/ or on campus—ate at least five meals, and then returned to bed for another six to eight hours sleep. All to wake up again the next morning and repeat the process while asking myself, “Did I get it all done?”

When my days seem futile, I focus on Stephen Covey’ s seventh habit for highly effective people, Sharpen the Saw, to help me preserve and improve my greatest asset.

According to Covey, to Sharpen the Saw “means to have a balanced program for self-renewal in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Sharpen the Saw

Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Social/Interpersonal: Making social and meaningful connections with others
Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or meditation

So, at the end of the day, instead of crossing off items on my list, I ask: Did I Sharpen my Saw?

Physical: I completed some form of exercise, whether on the treadmill, walking through the mall, up and down steps, or moving around the classroom or cleaning my apartment for at least thirty minutes.

Social/Emotional: I called my mother, touched based with my daughters, spoke to my best friend, attended an event, networked, and tweeted or liked a Facebook status.

Mental: For me teaching and writing go hand in hand; therefore, I cannot teach without learning, learn with reading, read without writing. Seems as though, I’m constantly honing this area of my life.

Spiritual: If I didn’t attend regular worship service and bible study, this area of my life would fall flat. I can’t just read a devotion or Bible verse, often times I have to meditate on it, like a cow I’m repeatedly regurgitating and re-chewing spiritual nutrients. My spiritual life is in a state of progress and process.

Frequently, these areas of my life overlap. Like when I’m walking on the treadmill, listening to music and reading. Or when I’m mediating on a scripture, then write it down as a prayer in my journal, and have the opportunity to talk about it with someone else.

And this Sharpen the Saw habit keeps me grounded, so when my head hits the pillow, I know my day was productive.

Faithwalk: Sign of the Times

Inspirational wall décor is everywhere: Facebook, Pinterest, Tweeter, souvenir shops, department stores, kitchens, living rooms, and offices…the list goes on. These words remind us of the small things like cherish, love, and embrace every moment of life and the people in our lives. I’ve posted a few on Facebook, and wondered if people really are doers of the sign of the times. Then I simply thought about me, since I can only speak for myself.

So when I posted the sign with these words: RUN, CREATE, PUSH, KICK, ASK, CHANGE, GIVE, OPTIMIZE, SEARCH, SEE, WRITE, DREAM, SPIN, HEAR, FLY, DESIRE, and MOVE—I was on a hiking vacation in Virginia. And when I reread the words, I realized I had lived these actions. Why? I was walking on the path of peace knowing that no one can bring me peace but me, which meant I had to face realizing I may not be perfect, but I’m always me. (My cousin Eugene commented on my Facebook that always being me meant: I’ve always been crazy.)

Imagine a sign coming true. Who knew my DESIRE to travel this summer would place me on the seashores of San Diego and offer me a DREAM of living on a houseboat for a year? How crazy is that to live on a boat and can’t swim? I guess that means swimming lessons this year. Well, if I PUSHed myself to stay on the MOVE during my first seven-mile hike in Shenandoah National Park, where I CHANGEd my mind about the importance of maps, I can learn to swim. Electronic gadgets don’t work above 1800 feet, and sometimes there’s a fork in the road and only a map will help you choose the right path. Speaking of the right path, after the second hike I could SEE how hiking was like a faithwalk through rocky terrains, noises in the brush, lonely trails, and maps as guides.

After leaving Virginia, I decided to CREATE the same intense exercise routine at home. In VA we, Sharon and I, went hiking, and walking, attended a kickboxing and Zumba class as well as yoga and pumped iron in the weight room. I’ve been home for ten days and have taken two Zumba classes in which I had to SPIN and KICK and then ASK myself what was I thinking when I couldn’t RUN out of the class that was like a bad movie thinking it’s not over yet. I ‘m sure I should GIVE Zumba another try, but when one is directionally challenged she, meaning me, needs to HEAR the instructor count and point. I’m proud of myself because I didn’t FLY off the handle and criticize. I considered it OPTIMIZing  my exercise benefits. After all, I purchased a discount ticket for 10 classes; eight more to go.

Living the signs of the times has offered interesting stuff to WRITE in my journal. In the words of author Maud Hart Lovelace, “Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.”

Until next week: dream, scream, love, take a long hot bath, live abundantly, just let go, and be.