August 23, 2009

Busy are the ants...

“NO”.  So easy, yet so hard to say… At least for me. 

I am a busy-body.  I fill up my time and busy myself with both important and unimportant things.  I know that if my plate is full and someone offers me yet another time consuming opportunity I will likely say the words… “oh sure!  I can do that”… but most often I can’t… at least not and still keep my sanity. 

What’s the point?

It seems that busyness is now seen as a sign of productivity and importance.  A person must be very significant and needed if their time is filled up with responsibility.  But is this really the case?  And am I any less of a person if I do not fill my time with every busy opportunity that presents itself?  Or are there underlying reasons for why we make ourselves so busy?  I know for myself… I am a people pleaser and hate to think that I would disappoint someone by turning down whatever it is they’ve asked of me.  The truth is… nobody expects me to do everything and if someone asks me, they know there are two possible answers “yes” and “no”.  And I have a right to say either.  I’d love to think that I could take it all on and in my mind I think I can… but oftentimes I end up doing things that just keep me busy and aren’t necessarily the best use of my time.  I need to slow down… learn to say “no”, or at least “maybe”, before I say “yes”.  And I need to consider why I would choose to spend my time on this or that.

This is something that I am continually evaluating at work.  In the small office I work in, I am one of the most technologically savvy employees.  I get a lot of questions of how to do this or that – or can I make this or that flyer, etc.  I do not mind this at all, and honestly, most of these little side projects are things that I truly do enjoy doing!  However, I need to evaluate my reason for being there.  What is the best use of my time?  How can I be most productive in the 8 hours I spend in the office each day?  As development director, there is always someone to call, always another meeting, another fundraiser, another dinner event… but I need to prioritize my “to-do” list and be intentional about how I spend my time.  It took me awhile to learn this lesson, along with my boss reminding me a few times that how I was spending my time was not in my job description (whoops) although I was doing “good things”.  I have since learned to delegate and this has gotten easier now ACCESS has a Communications Coordinator that is responsible for much of the social networking and out-going communications.  I am continually passing things off to her, and she is okay with that, because she knows where my priorities lie, and it is her job to assist staff with such things.

Back to the Basics.

I have found that saying “yes” is more or less a habit that I needed to break.  There is such thing as a work/life balance and it is an art I am slowly learning.  I know that too much of any one thing can be harmful.  There is so much I would like to do… I’d love to volunteer at this and that place, be part of this and that book study, do music, be on this or that board or committee, oh and maybe I’ll dabble in graphic design, help plan this party or shower, etc. etc. etc.  But there is a bigger issue at stake here… and that is evaluating our priorities and what we let define us.  Jordan and I have attended Crossroads Bible Church for the past couple of weeks and they have been studying the book of James.  Last week we were challenged to examine our actions and our beliefs.  Our beliefs and values that we hold inside will always line up with our actions.  So I ask – how does what I spend my time on represent who I am?  Is it making be a better person or is it draining me?  This week we talked about idols of the heart and we were challenged to examine what in our life defines us.   Too much of any one thing can be dangerous, as they begin to let it define who we are.  So, I need to step back and look at how I am spending my time.  What am I putting into myself and how will that be reflected in my actions?  What am I letting define me?  I need to passionately guard my mind, heart, and time.  If I am lazy with how I make decisions about my time, then my stressed-out, drained actions will show it.

Love Life.

I don’t think that we were created to be busy-bodied workaholics.  We each have our own desires and things we find enjoyable.  The sad part is, as I look back on the summer, the times I spent doing those things are few and far between.  There must be balance.  Just as I schedule time for the things that need to happen, I need to protect my time and schedule time for enjoyment.  I need to make sure that I go on a date with my husband weekly and take time to read a book just for fun.  These are things that we need to maintain balance in our lives.

I hope it is clear that I am not saying to neglect your responsibilities.  That is not it at all.  My point is that we need to take a step back and look at ourselves and how we spend our time… are there ways we can improve?  What does how I spend my time saying about me?  What in my life defines me?  Am I enjoying life?  It is easy for me to let these probing questions slip by and continue to just let life happen and let my plate get full without looking at what I am busy with.  As I stated in my last post, I have decided to take this next semester off of school for many of these reasons.  I need to take a step back and examine how I am spending my time… where do I need to be… what is important to me and why… and take the time to pray about the next steps.  I refuse to let life “happen” but instead choose to be intentional about how I spend my time.  I don’t know what this means for my future, but I know that I will have a say in it. :-)

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
- Henry David Thoreau

August 22, 2009

I have not forgotten you...

... I am just horrible at updating this blog!

Here are a few things that have happened in the past month... or 3...

• Family update: Krista got a job in Tennessee and a few weeks ago she and Ben made their move down there! Krista is now a teacher at the Tennessee School for the Deaf (I think that is what it's called) in the resource room for middle school students. Keep her in your prayers as she enters into her first year teaching! Also -- Ben is still looking for work. He is hoping to find something building related and has his resume out there. So we're praying for him too!! We miss them a lot, but are so happy that God has lead them there and know that it is going to be a great experience for them!

• In the middle of June, I had the opportunity to go up to Traverse City with some of my favorite ladies! Erin, Mandy, Jess, and I spent about 3 days in Traverse City just to "get away" and have some true girl time. It was TONS of fun... I always have a great time with those girls. And not too long before that, Mandy announced that she was expecting!! So there will be a little Baby Boes joining the world in January and I know we are all THRILLED for them!

I am continuing to work at ACCESS and love my job. I am fascinated by all that I have learned about the nonprofit sector and am really passionate about the work that ACCESS does and just the amazing amount of collaboration that happens to serve people in Grand Rapids. I love it. There are some staff changes that have directly affected me. One is that we now have a Communications Coordinator that is here 3 (soon to be 4) days a week and she has been able to take a load off my plate in terms of social networking and communications-related things. We also have decided to have our 1st Annual Fundraiser Dinner, which will be April 22, 2010! We are in the beginning stages of planning, but have our location basically set and our speaker/entertainment in the works. I had my annual review at ACCESS last week and it is just so encouraging to be in a place that serves God first. I love it there, and they love having me there. It feels like am amazingly perfect fit for me right now and I am loving learning and challenging myself professionally. Which leads me to my next point...

• I have decided to take next semester off of school... for a number of reasons, but mostly because I just cannot say with 100% certainty that it is where I want to be and where I see my future heading. And it is a LOT of time and money to invest in something that just sounds like a good idea. First of all, if I did continue pursuing my counseling degree, I think I would choose to transfer to Western where I can get my MFT and LPC at the same time... family therapy is what I am most interested in and Spring Arbor is no longer offering that program, unfortunately. Secondly... I just really really like my job... and that is rare!! Who says that? But I really do -- and I love what I am learning about development and I love working in the nonprofit sector. I would like to take my time on school and really see what God might have for me in the nonprofit world. So... after I take my final exam this weekend, I will be taking a semester off to really think and pray about where I'm supposed to be.

• Another interesting transition in our lives is relating to church... Jordan and I chose to leave Keystone Community Church about 1 1/2 years ago and have kind of been church hopping ever since. It is a difficult place to be, but we are seeking God's guidance but desperately want a church home. We were attending one church for a few months last fall, but didn't see much opportunity to grow in worship leading there, and that is an area Jordan and I are passionate about and feel that we need to be connected with in a home church. For this summer, we have been going to church with some of our best buds, Jon and Mandy and Dave and Erin, in Zeeland. It is strange to be back in Zeeland for me and see the faces of many peoples parents that I grew up with! It is definitely a different feel being in a small-town church than some of the larger churches we have visited in Grand Rapids... and like I said, we are currently praying about where we will land. We desperately want to have a home church where we can sink roots down, but I suppose that isn't something that can be easily rushed... but your prayers on that are appreciated also!

• On a more exciting note... Jordan and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary on Wednesday!! WOW - time sure flies!! :-)
    Those are just a few of the things that have happened in the past few months and a few of the things that we are praying about.  Jordan and I have talked a lot lately about how we are in transition... and just needing to take one day at a time and embrace that "we are where we are". We are looking forward to seeing how some of these transition points will resolve themselves... and I will be sure to keep you all informed as that happens!!