Intentional Goal Setting (Free Printable)

God has graced each one of us with unmistakable dreams, desires and plans for our lives.  He has interlaced those dreams with talents, blessings and spheres of influence unique to each and every one of us.  While God is totally in control, work and discipline on our part are still necessary to see our dreams come to fruition.

In the past, I felt it was my job to sit and wait for God to fulfill His plans for me – like maybe I wasn’t trusting Him if I tried to work towards those goals.  However, anything worth doing will involve a lot of preparation and character-building on my part – and I can’t think of anything more worthy of my time than following God’s Will.

www-renovatedfaith-com-53

Goal-planning basically involves making a road map to where you know God is leading you.  The Lord wants us to actively participate in His plans for us by relying upon Him to fulfill our God-given dreams and aspirations.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.

Development is part of the process because God wants us to be ready for all He has planned.  As Tony Evans once said, “The worst thing you can have is to be somewhere God wants you to be and not be ready to be there.”  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.

Plan your work and work your plan.   One of my dreams is to be a writer but I’m not going to just wake up tomorrow morning and be an amazing author whose eloquent words just spill onto a blank page.  Not only does it take work to develop the necessary writing skills but also the character-building to be able to handle it when I get there.

Here are fool-proof steps to implement goals:

  1. As mentioned in my post When New Year’s Resolututions Don’t Work, fix your eyes on God and He will show you the goals for your future. There is no accident that you are in your current stage or situation.  It’s liberating to rest in knowing that God is fully aware of where you are at any moment.  Achieving goals has less to do with control and more to do with surrendering your present and future to Him.
  1. What fears pin themselves between you and your dreams? What is the basis for these fears?  For every fear that comes to mind, write down “I fear _____ because__________.”  This is a great exercise to understand what is holding you back.  Submit these feelings to God and learn from them.   When we alleviate these fears from our path, we clearly see the next stepping stone God has laid before us.  Allow your fears to be swept away by faith in your Creator, knowing this kind of fear is never from Him (2 Tim.1:7).  www-renovatedfaith-com-52
  1. Write down areas in which you would like to set goals. This can be any area you would like to improve or any ongoing commitment.  I’ve made a printable below to help with this process.  Here are examples of areas I’d like to focus on:

Helping my daughter to try new foods

Becoming a better writer

  1. After setting your focus area, it’s time to look ahead to see where you would like to be in 3 months.  I recommend setting quarterly goals and reassessing them after each quarter.  As Shana Shutte has said, “God’s revelation is limited and progressive – your goals may change.”  Like in Genesis 12 when God tells Abraham to “go to the land He will show him”, we don’t know the final destination.  God so often shows us to only the next step, whether it’s to build our faith or because we are simply not ready to know His full plans.  Here are some examples for goals in three months:

Focus Area:  Helping my daughter to eat more foods

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: Less whining and table and she is trying food on a regular basis.

 

Focus Area: Becoming a better writer

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: I’d like to have read a book on writing and have submitted something to a local Christian magazine.

Notice my goals are not very lofty and some are vague.  There’s a reason for that.  Be sure to be kind to yourself during this process.  Nothing sabotages your goals faster than the guilt and discouragement of setting unattainable goals.

  1. Write out action steps. Start with monthly and then narrow the focus down to weekly and then daily.  Record these baby steps in your calendar or planner.  For example, to get my daughter to try more foods, we are going to set up a sticker chart.  When she tries a new food she gets a sticker and when she fills up the whole chart, we are going to do something special.
  1. Now that you have a plan, you want to reassess and repeat the same process every three months.

Here is a link to a free download to help you make this process more streamlined.  The key to goal-planning with God’s purpose in mind is surrender.  When we stop to be intentional about following His plans for us, we glorify Him and have greater fulfillment in how we spend our time.

www-renovatedfaith-com-54

If you think this post will help someone else, please share it!

Til’ Next Time,

signature

 

DIY Nativity Christmas Ornament

As I turn a sharp corner from the tasks of Thanksgiving, I’m met head-on by another rapidly growing to-do list.  My focus on Christmas cards, gift ideas, decorations, and teacher gifts so easily clouds my intention to focus on Christ this holiday season.

Why do I struggle most with finding time to spend with God during the holidays?   How ironic that the word “holiday” actually means “Holy Day” – a time set a side to remember and meditate on the gift of His Love that came in an unlikely manner to an unlovable people.

This year, my prayer is to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and to do away with anything that takes the spotlight off of Christ and His birth.  Maybe that means not doing Christmas cards this year or that many the people on my gift list get gift cards.  Maybe I buy my desserts this year (gasp!).  It’s ok to let some things go if it means having time to relish the joy  this season brings.

What are your biggest distractions?  What tasks do you need to distance yourself from this Christmas in order to grow closer to Him?  What items on your to-do list are life-draining and which are life-giving?  Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your awareness of God’s promised presence this Christmas season.

I like to surround myself with decor that reminds me of the true focus of this time of year – that over 2,000 years ago a baby was born to be a messenger of salvation and love to a lost world.  One such item is this Nativity Ornament.  It is such an easy craft to make with your kids but also a classy addition to your tree.

Here is what you need from any craft store:

4″ grapevine wreath

3/4 inch wood ball

White card stock

Silver glitter scrapbook paper

Gauze

1 inch piece of a dowel rod (1/2 inch diameter)

Silver glitter (optional)

twine or yarn (optional)

Hot Glue Gun

www-renovatedfaith-com-25

First,  print and cut out the “Adore Him” banner on white card stock with this download.  Be careful to cut just inside the gray line of the banner

Next, use the same file to print the star stencil.  Cut out the star on card stock and use it as a stencil by tracing it on the back of the silver glitter scrapbook paper.  Cut out your star.

www-renovatedfaith-com-24

 

Adhere your star to the top of the wreath with hot glue.  Then, add a small amount of hot glue to the back of the banner and attach it to the star.

www-renovatedfaith-com-26

Now, take the round ball and hot glue it to the dowel rod piece like so.  (I cut off a small piece of dowel rod with a trim saw.)  Use plenty of hot glue and don’t worry if it is visible because we will cover that part with the gauze.

www-renovatedfaith-com-27

Cut two four-inch squares of gauze and fold them over to make a rectangle.  Hot glue the baby in the middle, positioned so the gauze just covers the glue on the neck.  Wrap the gauze around Baby Jesus and secure it with more hot glue.

At this point you can sprinkle some glitter over the outside of the swaddle.  The glitter will get stuck in the gauze well enough that you don’t need glue.

Use a generous amount of hot glue to secure it to the wreath.  Finally, add a piece of twine at the top or just a hook and it’s ready for the tree!

www-renovatedfaith-com-22

Now, you have a cute nativity ornament to help you to remember the present of His presence this holiday season.

pinterest-2

Be sure to subscribe to the blog as next week we will make the JOY wreath below!

 

‘Til Next Time,

signature

 

pinterest-with-white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sit A Spell : The Value of Spending Time With The One Who Made It

As a young girl from southeast Texas, I knew the art of sitting on a porch swing with sweet tea.  I would talk with my grandfather…or sometimes just sit, watching the birds at the feeder.  I can still feel the cool breeze on my cheeks.  Most of the time I just enjoyed his presence in that old swing where time seemed to stand still.  No agenda.  No to-do list.  I would just sit.  Little did I know, he enjoyed this time with me even more than I did.

all-5

As I flash forward to my current self, I am surrounded by lists, tasks and a mind swimming with new projects to work on.  Back then, time was once a shallow pool I could wade in, but now it was a rushing rapid and I am struggling to just hold on for dear life.

So many times I have quoted, “Be still and know that I am God” without spending time to truly understand the context of this verse.  Psalm 46 is one of three chapters showing appreciation to God for delivering Jerusalem from the Assyrians in battle.  Psalm 46:10 is actually directed more towards the attackers of Jerusalem by saying “Cease striving against Me.  You can’t win against my plans. I AM God.”    This verse has tremendous application for the church also.  So many times I find myself in rebellion, either passively or actively, against God’s plans.

all-8

I’ve seen this more-so in how I spend my time.  As a strong Type-A, I have a daily to-do list with certain tasks I “must” accomplish every day (or that’s my intention, at least).  At the end of each day, I try to look at what I can check off in order to better plan for the next.  Often times, I noticed that my most urgent task was often saved until very last or even left undone – my time with God.

Why was this?  I knew my time with Him was important but my list clearly showed that I deemed other items more important, or at least more urgent.  Maybe I felt like getting other tasks accomplished was more fulfilling because I could better see immediate effects.   Whatever the case may be, I was striving against the time I needed to spend with God, in favor of other items on my list.

Somehow I got in my hand that I was accomplishing more by taking care of other tasks on my list.  However, my preoccupation with my to-do list was preventing me from doing the one thing that I needed most – spending regular time with Him in prayer and the study of His Word.

all-11

S.D. Gordan once said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray.  You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than prayer until you have prayed.  Prayer is striking up the winning blow.  Service is gathering up the results.” In other words, if you want your time to be effective, make sure you have prayed and spent time with God.  If we want to be effective – truly effective in life – we will pray first.

There is no other time management strategy more successful than spending regular time with God – sitting with Him in prayer and meditating on His Word.  I can see a distinct difference in the days where I have not been still with Him.  Those days are always more stressful and tasks just seem to take longer.  On the days I do spend time with Him, I have comfort knowing He is in control of whatever the day brings.

When we allow other tasks to come before time with our God, we get in our own way and strive against our own productivity.  We are most productive when we are still before our Maker, spending time with Him. 

When I pick up my daughter Morgan from kindergarten each day, I can’t wait to see her, to hear about her day and to spend time with my girl.  One afternoon in the carpool line, as my hands clinched the steering wheel in excitement to see her, it dawned at me that although God knows us intimately, He has the same excitement when we spend time with Him.

As God’s Child, He loves you more than you can fathom.    Like my grandfather sat with me on the porch swing, He longs to spend time with you, to hear about your day, what’s on your mind and He desires to put your heart at ease.  If we want to make the most of our time, we will be still in the presence of the One who made it.

‘Til Next Time,

signature

all-6

A Christian Reaction to the Debates

No amount of fact checking can alleviate the level of malicious, back-biting remarks on both sides.   Truths are stretched.  Relationships are fractured.  Feelings are hurt.  Worst of all, faith is unraveled….  I speak not of the televised debates between candidates, as those pale in comparison to the harsh comments between many Christians on social media.

All too often, disagreements are no longer dealt with on a face-to-face basis but on the pages of Facebook.  It’s the only place where you can bash someone’s views one moment and post a funny cat video the next.

all-4

Unfortunately, it seems many feel social media gives them a certain amount of anonymity, as a place where one can make comments they might never say in real life – whether it be a public forum, one’s workplace or a local Starbucks.  Ironically though, Facebook acquires a greater audience than any of those places put together.

When we hurt others at the expense of proclaiming our political message, we distort the message of the Gospel of Christ.

I’m  guilty of the same.  Upon seeing someone’s comment I didn’t agree with, I felt the need to “set them straight”.  Before I knew it, I was embroiled in my own debate that, although forwarded my own prideful argument, sacrificed my main cause – the cause of Christ.

God Can Use Anyone

After my rash comments, I wondered what had come over me and arrived at one conclusion – fear.

This election is historical as there have never been two more disliked candidates in our nation’s history.  No matter your political background, the implications of either candidate becoming elected can be, well….terrifying.  It leaves one wondering the state of our country, political system and safety as a whole.

One thing is sure though…no matter who is elected on November 8th, God will still remain on His throne.  No matter the outcome, He can still use anyone to carry out His Will in spite of who tries to thwart His plans.

Scripture cites several examples of God using unfaithful individuals to bring about His Will.  King Cyrus is one such example.  After the Babylonian Captivity, he ensures the Jews return to their land and even helps them to fund the rebuilding of the Temple. Isaiah 44 clearly states that although he was a pagan king, God used him to bless His people.

Another example is when God used King Nebuchadnezzar, but for a completely different reason (Jeremiah 25).  God used this idol-worshiping king as an instrument of divine judgement to destroy Jerusalem and placed them in the Babylonian Captivity as a result of their consistent rebellion.

My point is this– God is God.  A leader’s spiritual allegiance does not limit God’s capacity to use him.  God is not limited by our actions or the agents of His Will.

Hope and of Change

The agonizing rhetoric of last night’s debate can lead one to feelings of dismay and apathy.  However, our only hope of change is our God.  We have a role in this election, not only to pray for whom our ballot is cast but to pray for God’s Will though the next administration.  Perhaps our prayers will be the vehicle He uses to bring about a blessing on this country.

While God can clearly use a non-believer, He would much prefer that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would conform to His Word as a faithful follower of Him.  All things are possible.

Look at Paul who referred to himself as the “chief of all sinners”.  He actually reveled in killing Christians until one fateful day on the Damascus Road when Paul put His faith in Christ for the forgiveness of His sin.  Paul is now known as the apostle who wrote the greatest number of New Testament books.

If God can change Paul, there is hope of change for our leaders.  While God can clearly work through disobedient individuals, He would much prefer working through them with their participation as followers of Him.

Our Reaction

Fear cannot be the driving force behind our conversations and actions regarding the election.   Our role is to be a light to others in a dark world.  John 1:4-5 states, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  No darkness can ever overcome the light of Jesus Christ and that light resides in us.

Through the power of prayer, we have a red phone on our desk to the ruler of the universe.  Although we may not feel our vote is heard, our prayers are heard by a much higher authority that the office of the POTUS.  Not only should we pray for clarity for our vote, but also for the candidate elected, whether we voted for them or not.

all (2).jpg

In Isaiah 43:1, God reassures His people by saying, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name and you are mine.”  Little did they know that God would soon use the pagan King Cyrus to deliver them from captivity.

Although our light may feel small, it has the power to illuminate the path for those who don’t know Him yet.  While anticipating the future of the “red, white and blue”, we cannot forget where our Hope lies.  As the song says, it is where “our blood ran red but our sin was washed white.”  Our only hope resides in the cross of Christ.

 

Divine Coincidence

As a stay at home mom, I’m often tempted to believe the lie that I’m not capable of making a big impact in God’s Kingdom.   I was wallowing in this assumption on my way to Walmart with Morgan one morning.  When I got there, I kept seeing the same Indian woman over and over.  I almost ran into her with my cart accidentally, because it seemed every turn I took, she was there.  This was shortly after the Paris attacks so couldn’t help but wonder how it made her feel.  I must have seen her at least eight different times to the point that we chuckled and smiled at one another the last couple times.  It was then I realized this wasn’t a coincidence (actually, I’m not sure if there really is such a thing) and I knew it was my job to pray for her…to pray for her salvation and whatever she might be dealing with at the time.   So, as we walked back to the car, I prayed for her, knowing that there is tremendous power in prayer.  1 John 5:14-15, states “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  Therefore, God tells us that ANYTHING that we pray that is in accordance with His Will, will come to pass.

My parents live in our neighborhood and I had to drop something off at their house one morning.  I noticed an Indian woman walking down the sidewalk.  She was wearing a coral top, button-down top, black pants and a head covering.  I said hello and walked up the driveway.  Not 5 minutes later, I was back at our house.  At the same point on the sidewalk I noticed an Asian woman wearing the exact same colored, button-down top and pants walking down the exact same point of the sidewalk at our house.  I thought, “That’s a weird coincidence” and realized that maybe I was supposed to pray for these two women.  James 5:16 says that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”.  Because of what He did on the cross for me, I am righteous in His sight and my prayers are backed by His power – the very same power that created the heavens and the earth.

I may never know the eternal outcome of those prayers, but I do know that if I would have been too hurried about my to-do list, I would have missed seeing them altogether.  God wants us to be still enough to notice “coincidences”.  For, if He knows the very number of hairs on our heads and stars in the sky, then He is working behind the scenes in more intricate ways than we can ever fathom.  I am now convinced that such coincidences are God’s way of inviting you to play participate in the eternal.

coincidence

Often I get so preoccupied with my to do list or trying to become efficient and effective for His Kingdom that I forget to watch for “coincidences” and listen to what the Holy Spirit is really trying to tell me.   Our American culture is not conducive to concept of stillness.  As I type this, there is a phone sitting next to me that is like crack cocaine for someone as myself with a short attention span.   Our world feeds us layer upon layer of distraction and our American culture tells us that if your life is not hurried and overcommitted, you have no life at all.  What’s interesting to note is that Jesus was usually busy but He was never hurried.  He always gave proper attention to what the Father gave Him in that moment.  He was never too hurried to talk to the women at the well or have the little children sit at His feet.

What’s ironic is that by human terms, Jesus was never really efficient or effective in doing ministry.  If He was, he might not have sent a small band of inadequate men to evangelize the entire world.  Also, Christ’s main ministry was most successful after His death. My point is this – God does not limit himself to human plans, efforts and concepts.  As high as the heavens are from the earth, so are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).  So it is a much better use of time and energy to sit and wait for our Father’s instructions than rush ahead of God’s Will.

It is ironic that stillness is the ultimate time-saver.  What God can accomplish through us in 10 minutes of prayers is more than we can do on our own in a lifetime.  I’m so very thankful that God does not work in human terms and His ways are perfect.  I’m also grateful that God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies the called.  Our most important job is not to plot how we can be effective for ministry, as that is a great recipe for getting in the way of God’s perfect plans.  But our role is to sit at His feet, to be still and know that He is God.  When we are still enough, we begin to become in-tune with how God is continually working around us, we come to how God has intricately positioned us in His plan.  Our highest calling and greatest role in life is as children who sit at His feet and listen attentively.  When we are hurried and preoccupied with our to-do lists, we might miss out on being a part of how God is working around us and most importantly, how He wants to work through us.

coincidence - prayer