It Might Only Take a Notebook… by Cindy Rushton

Cindy2015

It was a normal day, just like so many others, but my life was changed. In fact, it was a conversation similar to so many throughout my life…just girl talk in the kitchen over meal preparation. Who would imagine that it would change my life and lead me toward my life call? Who would imagine that it would put together all of the pieces to my jumbled-up life?

Mamaw Alma Lee Rushton was my ex-husband’s grandmother. I remember the first day I met her. We had an instant bond. It was amazing.

When Mamaw spoke, she spoke vision… instruction… inspiration… and a deep passion for Godly womanhood. Her opinions meant so much to me. Her insight was always biblical. Her instruction was patient and kind. I clung to her words. They were steeped in a love for God, a love for family, and a deep love for me.

So, imagine the day that my life changed. We were busy in the kitchen preparing one of those good old summer meals. Family meals in our families meant that all of the family favorites were part of the menu. The funny thing, this day had ALL of the favorites. Looking back, the entire time was so special that it was beyond a regular day. This day would go down in our family history as pivotal. It changed my life and in turn changed our whole family.

Being a godly woman is so important. Sure, we are born to be women. But, godliness is a choice. The choices are made in little things and big things all along the way. Those things influence not just our own lives, but those around us, those we all touch, and those in generations yet to come. We are women with great influence. Our greatest influence cannot be planned. Our greatest influence will happen when we least expect it.

Going back to that special day…

The kitchen was bustling and yummy smelling. Mamaw was her usual sweet, rosy-cheeked, and upbeat self. I was a bit weary. We were back home in our home-town because his dad was having a triple by-pass. Mamaw was in deep prayer for her son, but you saw only her intense faith in God and not even one moment of fear, worry, or doubt. The kids were tickled to be running around Mamaw’s yard playing and chasing her “critters” outside. He was enjoying time with his grandfather. It was the typical picture of what things were like when we went “home” to see our family.

I was soooo excited, in spite of my concern for my father-in-law. I had just received a nice package filled with beautiful slick copies of the magazine which was featuring one of my articles for the first time in a magazine. In spite of the difficult circumstances, I was elated to get to give Mamaw her own copy of my first article in a magazine. It was my treat to give her that day. I was hoping it would brighten her day. I had NO idea that it would lead to a pivotal moment in my life.

She was in awe! She stood there with big alligator tears in her eyes as she beheld the magazine. Seeing my name there on the glossy page was a total delight to her. Just months before we had stood in that kitchen having a very interesting conversation that was the “back story” for what was going on that day. Actually, so many of those special days in that kitchen were the catalysts behind that very special day.

I remember time-after-time sitting there or helping her with her chores while she just poured forth into my life. She would talk about little things like tips for sewing or cooking or homemaking. She would talk about even more challenging things like disciplining the children and being a godly wife. She would also talk about life-changing things like my relationship with God and how to live an authentic and intentional Christian life. While the conversations were never planned, they were milestones in my life–big and small. I don’t know how many of you just crave for a Titus Two mentor, but as a young woman I just wished that God would send someone to be a Titus Two mentor into my life. Little did I know that it was through those God put in my life to influence me. There could never be anyone who could teach me to love my husband and children like their very own grandmother. No one else could teach me to love my home and the ministry within my home like the grandmother who’s home called us “home” from so many miles away. Her influence was perfect training. Isn’t that how God does it?

I loved time with her. Every time I was around Mamaw, I came away with so much wisdom. Many times, I took a notebook and jotted down tips and ideas while we talked. They were GOODIES! GEMS!

It was not long until I became the secretary for our local smocking guild (heirloom sewing group). I was responsible for producing the newsletter for our members. For those who know me, you would not be surprised that I simply COULD NOT stand to have the page only include the details for the meeting. There was SO MUCH WHITE SPACE! I thought that sewing tips were an adorable embellishment for our newsletter. I loved tips so much that I thought it would be fun to include them each month in my newsletter. They made it all fun. Of course, most of my tips came from learning at Mamaw’s side. I got so many great ideas from her that I decided to pay for her membership to the guild so she could get the newsletter. She LOVED it! Actually, she loved it so much she passed it around to all of her friends.

I had no idea until one day I went to see her and she asked me to go by the local paper to ask our editor to put the tips in the paper. My response was probably the very same response you might would have, “Mamaw, BUT I AM NOT A WRITER.” She gave me a quick list of reasons why the newspaper “needed” my tips. All I can say is that I knew not to mess with her! ha! I went to the paper to just ask. I was completely convinced that they would laugh me out the door and that THEY would silence Mamaw’s crazy idea once and for all. Well, it didn’t go that way. Mamaw was right. They not only wanted my tips, but they wanted for me to begin my own column. Every week after that I had a column. I always tell everyone that I fell into it backwards. I think Mamaw shoved me! ha! Either way, God used her belief in me to give that nudge in a direction that would have NEVER been one I would have even thought to pursue.

Now, fast forward with me. I had moved away. My column had grown. I loved it. But, I still did not have a vision for what God was about to do. In fact, I had no idea what God wanted for me to do with my life. I knew He wanted for me to be a godly wife and mother. But, I wondered what He had meant by calling me into ministry. He had been so specific at several times of my life. I could not put the pieces together. I had kept right on moving forward, being faithful in all that I KNEW I was to be doing each and every day. But, I just could not see how all of the pieces came together. It was really unsettling. Well, that is where this story gets good! I have told you already about my first magazine article and how I was about to surprise Mamaw with her own copy of it. But there was more to the back story.

One of the reasons Mamaw had wanted the tips put in the paper was that she was keeping a notebook filled with my goodies and did not want to miss even one. Her notebook was filled with all of those articles, my recipes that I would copy and share with her, all of my letters sent from Alabama, all of the cards I sent her, pictures of our family, etc. It was her “Cindy” notebook. Now, I do want for you to know that I was married to her grandson. I was an “inlaw.” He was not even her only grandchild. She had a beautiful family filled with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But, she valued my writing and I was just a Dental Hygienist–NOT A WRITER!! She valued my writing so much that she KEPT it all. What is even more touching was that she had set up a PLACE to keep everything. That takes great effort. She not only kept it, but she invested in a nice, big notebook and sheet protectors to guard every piece like it was a great treasure. She kept things that would have been long forgotten, long lost. But, she kept them because they were dear to her. They were dear to her because I was dear to her. Do you think she ever knew how that one commitment would change my life?

Well, now let’s go on to that precious day. I had been writing my heart out for my sweet little column. I fell in love with writing. It was like having a nice afternoon tea with friends. I could pull back as my little ones played or slept in and pour myself a cup of tea and just share my heart. Sometimes it was tips. Other times it was my excitement for being a wife and mother. Every article was a piece of my heart. I simply loved writing! It became my favorite hobby. Who would have figured it? Mamaw???

That day was very special. As we look back, it was the last day I would see her and spend time with her. Only one short week later, she passed away. Her death was a sweet, yet very difficult time for us. Never before had I seen a true Proverbs 31 woman pass away. Yet, in her death every word spoken about her was declaring Proverbs 31 over and over. She was the one! Well, one of that beautiful crowd!

To me, looking back, I know that day was a gift from God. It was to go down in my story as a pivotal moment. I have never been the same since.

Remember I mentioned going through those years enjoying my calling as a wife and mother, yet having a void there in my life. I was a Christian. I was a committed Christian. I loved womanhood. But, there was a void. It just was not coming together. I wondered many times if I had somehow missed my calling along the way. Very often, I would get a bit frustrated that I did not use my single years to pursue ministry and missions. I could not figure out how I would use my gifts and talents to pursue my purpose. I was just confused.

That last day with Mamaw was precious. I was so excited to give her that beautiful copy of my article in a REAL magazine. I knew it would be a delight to her. But, I had no idea exactly how much of a delight. I don’t know, maybe things don’t always “click” with me. I had heard her talk about her “Cindy” notebook. I had even started writing for the newspaper because she wanted to be sure that no one kept HER COPY of my articles. But, until I gave her that gorgeous magazine, I had not SEEN the “Cindy” notebook. WOW! She pulled it out. It was a treasure to her. I could tell. I stood there with big tears in my eyes. Her commitment to protect my work as a treasure to her was overwhelming. She really LOVED my writing. She really TREASURED my writing. It was more than important. It was a treasure! You don’t just “keep” things like this. It was intentional. It was a priority. It spoke volumes to me.

No one, not even myself, had kept EVERYTHING with such a passionate love for me. Sure, my mom kept so many things. But, I don’t think she had even kept those articles. In fact, *I* had not even kept them all! UGH! Mamaw did not miss even one of them. They were all there. Kept for future generations. Precious. Guarded. An investment into ME and those who will come after me.

I stood there looking at the notebook. I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, but there was more. You could see it in Mamaw’s eyes. She truly LOVED and ADORED my writing. It meant so much to her. I had never thought about my words being valuable, much less loved or needed. They never seemed to be too great in school. Well, in school, actually I always felt that my words and my ideas did not measure up. They never seemed good enough. My teachers never really gave me outright encouragement in those areas. Sure, they made me editor of the school paper. Of course, I thought that was to torment me! (ha!) They were very hard on my writing. I could not understand it. The last thing I wanted when I came out of school was to write anything for the rest of my life. Funny how God changes things, huh?

There was something that was rising up in my heart as I stood there looking at that notebook and Mamaw’s excitement over the magazine. I could feel all of the pieces in my life coming together as I stood in that room with her. It was more than pivotal. It was life-changing.

She took a few moments to read the article. She was “buzzing” as she did. She LOVED it! I felt a pride inside that was just precious! I respected her sooo much that I wanted to please her. This was a beautiful gift for her that day.

As she finished reading the article, she said something that would point the way for the next thing AND would change my life entirely. She, very matter of factly, said, “Cindy! You HAVE GOT TO write a book!” My immediate response was almost exactly the same as my response in that room to her challenge to write for the newspaper, “Mamaw, BUT I AM NOT A WRITER.” Can you imagine her sweet face in heaven as she looks down upon me today after I have written almost 150 books, thousands of articles, and taught thousands of workshops in the last 25 years? Just funny!

The most precious part of that afternoon in that sweet Southern kitchen was what followed. She told me that I could easily take my articles and put them together into a book. She was not a writer. How did she have SUCH vision? She continued to talk to me about sticking to my priorities. She told me that I was a good wife and mom. She told me how proud she was of our family life and our family. She shared with me her one prayer request that God had answered for her–that all of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren would be saved and serve God all of their lives (all of us were saved and serving God in ministry!). She literally passed the torch to me that day. It was a spiritual mantle that she placed upon me in that sweet Southern kitchen. I wear it today. It is my passion. It is the call. It is my life purpose–to help those in our culture get back to God’s design for true, authentic godliness and the godly home. The pieces all came together that day.

We had our biggest dinner ever that day with Mamaw. It was her last one to cook. But, I was full before the blessing was ever asked and one bite was taken. She had poured forth more that day through her spirit than she had cooked up in that kitchen in all of the years of her marriage!

She believed in me. She had faith that I would pick up the torch and carry on the legacy for generations yet to come. She saw something in me that I did not even see in myself. She delighted in something in me that I did not even know was there.

I wonder today who WE could touch like this? Is there someone we could just believe in? Is there someone we could just enjoy and delight in? Is there someone who’s life just might be different if we would invest in them? I am talking about the little things and the big things. I am talking about the moments we least expect. I am talking about being ALL THERE even in the kitchen LIKE we would be in a pulpit! That is where the legacy is built. That is where the legacy is passed on to future generations. And, it might only take a notebook!

Cindy2015About Cindy Rushton…

Cindy Rushton is the mother of Matthew (28) and Elisabeth (25). She is Mimi to Joshua, Achilles, and Oliver. Cindy lives in Middle Tennessee. Cindy is the author of almost 150 books, Bible studies and homeschool resources. She has become a beloved and favored speaker for churches, special events, conferences, homeschool conventions and retreats across our country. You may contact her through email: cindyrushton@gmail.com. See her online at:

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Take Time to Write EVERYTHING Down!

What do you want for this year? Think for a moment with me… Next year, this time, what do you want to see different in your life? What would you like to see finished? What would you like to see accomplished this year?

Dear friend, this year is the year of fullness. I have committed to make this year a year of commitment, accomplishment, and productivity. Want to make this year the very best ever too? Let’s find some keys to productivity. Let’s dig in and get moving strong. Ready? Well, today let’s look at one of my biggest keys to productivity…

Take time to write EVERYTHING down!

Talk about a key to productivity! If there were one thing that I really believe makes the difference in my own productivity, it is this one discipline. I know, I know what you may be thinking…

“But, Cindy, I write things down and that is as far as they go.”

or

“I write things down, but then I can’t find it again.”

or

“I get too overwhelmed when I see ALL that needs to be done.”

Oh! You are going to love this, beloved! Let me take you by the hand and show you how to make this work for you. It is soooo important. You see there are some secrets that productive people have. Want a few?

1. They have ONE PLACE to write things down. Now, this does not mean that it you will have only one place forever and ever. Let me give you an example from how this looks for me. I always have my “Little Black Book” in my purse. No, not for phone numbers of old beaus–I am married to the ULTIMATE beau! 🙂  Rather, I invest in one small notebook that is small enough to carry everywhere I go, yet big enough to hold my goals, lists of steps to reach those goals, brainstorms, etc. This is SO IMPORTANT! Invest in ONE notebook as YOUR “brain” for this year.

2. They take time to pull aside and “brain-dump.” Yes, you read correctly. Want a secret to productivity? This one will make sense as you pull it all together. Yes, dump your brain regularly. Actually, take some time to dump out everything in your brain now–all of those things that need to be done, all of those things you wish for, all of those things that you want to do, but cannot find time to do. Dump it all into your “little black book.” As little things come across your mind, dump them. That will be your “place” for every idea, hope, dream, goal, to-do, and wish to all be dumped off of your brain and “kept” for you. Wondering why this is a secret to productivity? Glad you asked! The leading hindrance for most people is the stress of having to remember or not forget details. This distracts. This takes the focus from what you need to be doing. Actually, this contributes to forgetting what needs to be done in the task you are doing at the moment, causing things to take longer than they should. Not to mention, we are much, much less likely to ever do things that float in our head as well-wishes. Instead, dump it all in a safe place–your very own “Little Black Book.”

3. They plan. They plan yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. You probably know this. However, do you know how to make it work? This is an essential!  Here is how I do it.

Every year, I plan a nice Mommy Getaway to really evaluate and plan out the next year. I cannot express how much of a difference this makes for me. I am not talking about putting every day on the calendar. I am talking about sketching out the events of the year and planning my projects for my home, business, family, and myself. I PENCIL in my yearly plans. I also spend time brain-dumping anything that may be floating in my brain. I love this time. It helps to give me a grasp on my year and get in gear.

Of course, this is not enough. Each month, I pull back for an afternoon or weekend to plan out my month. I go back to my yearly plan and pray over what REALLY needs to be on my calendar. Once the final projects and events are chosen, I brainstorm all that needs to be done (all of the things to do) for that project to be completed. Now, do note that because I have “my place” for brainstorming, my little black book, I can brainstorm as things come to mind all along the way. This makes that monthly planning very easy.

Another thing that helps me along the way are my checklists for common projects–like all of the things to do to finish a book or an audio set or prepare a seminar. I have done those things so many times that I have developed checklists so I remember each step that needs to be done to get everything ready. Same thing for my holiday meals or other home projects. Talk about a time saver. Well, wondering what you do with those? I take those and put them on my monthly calendar at a good pace to get things done incrementally.

Each week I make sure that everything is done for the week before and take a good look at what will be done the following week. If I need any supplies, I pick them up over the weekend so I am ready to go each day-nothing can mess up your schedule like missing what you really need to get things done.

Finally, every day, I plan the night before. I end each day going over my daily list of things to do. Any of the the tasks that did not get done for the day are moved to the following day’s list. I also plan in the next steps and make sure that everything is ready to go when I wake up. I get SO much more done when I have a clear picture of all that needs to be done before the day begins. Want a key to productivity? PLAN!

4. Work your plan! Finally, want to know the difference between writing things down, having the perfect plans, and getting things done? This is it! Productive people work their plans! This means that we don’t just write things down. But, we also have a plan for working the plan. This is the bottom line that determines whether we are productive or not. So, how on earth do you do this one? A few quick tips:

–>  Keep your planner WITH YOU! Keep it out and keep it with you. I have a small daytimer that I can carry with me all of the time. All of my important information is WITH ME all the time.

–>  Set up your planner to work with YOUR LIFE. My daily things to do probably look very, very different from yours. What I need in my binder is different today than last year. One key that really made a big difference for me was when I finally set up my binder with forms that *I* needed. In fact, that is the story behind our Make Your Own Brain-in-a-Binder that I developed for my own planner. I always buy a nice binder and throw out anything that does not work with my life. Then, I print out pages that help me to put all of the things I need in one place. I use my planner all day long every single day. It goes everywhere with me. The key was in setting up my planner to work with MY life and all of the things that I do each and every day.

–>  USE IT! Nothing helps me more than having my binder out first thing in the morning over my Quiet Time (to pray over my day)…sitting out in the family room all day…going back over all of the things to do all throughout the day (after each task)…going back over my day as I wrap up the evening…AND most of all, planning the next day right before I go to bed so everything is ready to get going the next day. USE that planner. Watch to see the difference!

Yes! Write things down. Make that time. It will make a HUGE difference in your productivity. It will help you to get a plan for reaching for those dreams.

So, what do you think?

Ready to make this year the very best ever? Want to make this year the most productive year ever? Why not take time today to write everything down? Why not begin today to put those dreams on your to-do list, bit-by-bit, day-by-day?

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Need help organizing?? Let us help! Grab Cindy’s Make Your Own Brain-in-a-Binder today. She will walk you step by step through the process toward getting organized! You will love it!

This Year Start Little, See Big Results

House cleaning. Let’s face it. It’s a necessary evil if you want your home to be liveable and pleasant to be in.  You want to be able to have guests and that may not be possible if your house is always a mess.  When it comes to cleaning, you don’t have to deep clean every day.  You can start little and see big results in no time.

One of the easiest ways to start small and get something accomplished is to work while you’re watching television.  Commercials take two to five minutes every fifteen minutes of a television show.  Why not take that time and go through stacks of mail, fold a load of laundry, clean out a desk drawer, or wash a few dishes.  If you do this during each commercial break, you can see big results in just one evening of watching your favorite television shows.

Instead of letting things go, do things as you see that they need to be done.  Don’t wait until tomorrow if it’s something that can be done in a short period of time.  For instance, if you’ve had a glass of water or something else to drink while watching TV, don’t leave the glass in the living room or den.  Take it into the kitchen when you go through or before you go to bed for the night.

Teach everyone in your house to put things back when they’re finished with them.  If everyone would do this one thing, the amount of clutter you have in your home could be greatly reduced.  It would also help if everyone put their clothes in the hamper after bathing or showering rather than leaving the wet towels and clothing in the floor of the bathroom.

Set aside blocks of fifteen to thirty minutes each day.  Focus on doing one thing at a time.   Write specific tasks you would like to complete on your calendar.  Here’s an idea of what this would look like:

* Monday – Clean out one desk drawer. Throw away any pens that don’t work, straighten it up, and put things by type.

* Tuesday – Find and file all bills that need to be paid in a particular folder so they’ll be easy to find.

* Wednesday – Clean out one dresser drawer. Purge any socks that are mismatched, ensure everything is in good repair before folding and replacing, and get rid of anything you haven’t used in six months to a year.

* Thursday – Empty one refrigerator shelf or drawer, wash it, and then throw out anything that has expired.  Make a list of items you need to replace.

* Friday – Tackle the pile of shoes in a clothes closet. If shoes no longer fit and aren’t worn, put them in a bag or box, and take them to a local charity.

* Weekend – Take time to work together as a family to tackle one large clutter problem.  Remember that many hands make light work

De-cluttering your home may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve let clutter rule for too long.  You can start small, see big results, and then conquer clutter once and for all if you work a little at a time.  Celebrate your victories when you have one project done and then start on another until your home is the way you envisioned it.

http://ultimate-womens-expo.com/images/125x125.pngNew Year? How about a NEW YOU?

Join Cindy Rushton for the ULTIMATE women’s event online: The Ultimate Women’s Expo. Preview Chats have already begun. Check out our site and sign up for our event so you can catch each and every session! Check it out today at this link: http://www.Ultimate-Womens-Expo.com/

Actually Reaching Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are made every year by millions of people.  Unfortunately, many if not most of them are never completed.  If you plan to make a resolution, you may want to set a New Year goal that is not beyond your reach.

Your ultimate New Year’s resolution may be to learn a new language or how to dance all forms of ballroom dance.  However, an unreasonable goal is to assume you could do either of those in a short period of time.  Some goals are possible within a month, such as losing five pounds, but learning how to speak fluent Chinese in that amount of time absolutely is not.

It is important for us to plan for the future so we’re not aimlessly wandering through life.  Sometimes setting long-range goals can be overwhelming because they’re so far out in the future that we doubt if we’ll ever meet them.  If there aren’t intermediate goals along the way to your ultimate goal, it will be too easy for you to lose focus and give up.

Instead of having just the one, long-range goal, consider having small goals that you can work on – even on a daily basis.  This will help you by allowing you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you meet one of the smaller goals, as well as letting you know you’re on the right track to reach your goal.

How do you break down one big goal into several smaller goals?  That all depends upon what your goal is.  You can choose best what you need to do each day to help keep you on track.  Don’t let your gaze go too far down the trail that you have laid out for yourself.  If you don’t stay focused on the day at hand, you might miss something wonderful along the way.

Remember that reaching a goal is much like going on a journey.  If you’re too focused on the destination, you’ll miss the beauty along the way.  You can stop along the way and smell the roses rather than speeding along the path you’re on and missing them entirely.  By setting smaller goals that you can reach, you’ll be moving toward your goal and be much more likely to actually reach it.

Don’t give up if things don’t work out exactly like you’ve planned.  Things in life happen that may keep you from reaching a small goal in the time you had hoped.  When things settle back down you can pick up where you left off.  It may take longer to reach your goal than you wanted, but that’s no reason to give up.

Give yourself a reward when you’ve reached a smaller goal, rather than waiting to complete the large goal.  Knowing you’ll have a small reward when you have met a goal may be the impetus you need to keep going when you feel discouraged.

When you have a goal in mind, consider the steps you can take.  Set New Year’s goals that are not beyond your reach.  Reward yourself when you’ve reached a small goal and then keep going to the next one.


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Secrets to Help You Stay Focused this New Year! by Cindy Rushton

Anybody else battle with distractions and interruptions? Do you want to stick to the things that are on your heart, yet realistically battle with staying focused?

Oh! I TOTALLY relate! In fact, the past few months, my heart-cry has been to stay focused. Everywhere I have turned, I have heard messages on staying focused…saw articles on being focused…and talked with my friends about being focused. As a result, I have found a few great secrets that have really helped me to stay focused on the most important things in my life and get more done at the same time. Want to know those secrets? Well, let’s dig in…

BEGIN EACH DAY WITH A QUIET TIME…

I know what you just thought…”BUT! Cindy, that gets me off track for the day!”

Oh! Beloved, nothing can help to focus on the REAL plan for the day…the best opportunities…the most important. Actually, on those days that I am very, very tempted to skimp on my Quiet Time, I actually find that I am better prepared for the day that bombards me just moments later. Maybe it is the fresh perspective. Maybe it is renewal of my heart and mind. Maybe it is slowing down to remember to choose the best in everything for that day. Whatever, I never lose by taking time to let God fill my cup first thing each day. Want a great secret to staying focused this year? Begin each day with the best tool for getting focused–a Daily Quiet Time.

Make it easy!

Begin with Daily Bible Reading. Begin with just reading 5 minutes…or in 10 you can usually read through the Bible in a Year using any program! JUST TEN MINUTES A DAY!!

Choose a plan–one that will get you in the Word and NOT frustrate you. And…while you are choosing, choose a new Bible. Each year I choose a different version for Daily Bible Reading. Talk about a HUGE difference! I have been a Christian for 34 years. One of my frustrations (now this is being honest) with Daily Bible Reading is that I found myself skipping over certain passages that I *THOUGHT* I knew. Oh! Struggle with that too? Well, why not try a new version this year? It will make words jump out and seize you! It will make those stories come alive! Last year, I chose to read through THE MESSAGE version of the Bible. It was SUPER! It made such a difference in making God’s Word come alive that I decided to choose another version for my Daily Bible Reading this year. Just begin! Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Instead just dig in and let God talk to you. HE WILL!

As you begin with your Daily Bible Reading, keep a journal close by. Each day, jot down your favorite verse from the day in your journal. I love that this one discipline helps me to stay focused and tuned in for the study…but it does more… I am amazed that almost every day someone comes across my path who needs the Words that God gives me during my Quiet Times. Give it a try! The Word will stick to your brain and be on the tip of your tongue. Plus, it will keep you focused each day on the most important things! Give it a try!

Finally, during your quiet time, read the Bible, copy a verse that jumps out at you, and take some time to just pour out your heart to God and listen to Him before jumping into your day. He wants for you to come to Him and pour out your heart. He doesn’t want for you to walk through your journey by yourself. He delights in being there with you communing with you along the way. Begin each day with some time with Him…you will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish and how focused you will be each day!

WRITE IT ALL DOWN…

Another secret! Actually, this one needs to become a lifestyle thing. Let me explain! Several years ago, I began the New Year (2006) with a bit of frustration. I had so many dreams…so many desires…so many goals…so many to-do’s. In fact, I had had those dreams,desires, goals, to-do’s for many years. Each year, I would dreamily resolve to “go for it” yet again. And…again the next year. Know what I mean???

Well, 2006 was a year of change for me. Looking back, this was one single factor that really made the difference! This has made a world of difference for me every year since then. Want my secret?

I took some time during the last week of December 2005 to just brainstorm anything and everything that I really wanted to do and accomplish. Oh! You should see the poor journal that housed those dreams, desires, goals, and to-do’s! Such a treasure as I look back and see all of the amazing things that were DONE as a result of just writing it all down and then working it!

I just kicked back and spent the time to get everything out of my brain and into the journal. When I woke up in the middle of the night and something was on my brain, I got up and wrote it down. I kept the journal close for the whole week. I wrote out everything–the little things that I just could not find time to get wrapped up…the projects that seemed to never fit into my schedule…the business goals that I had…the financial goals (including how much money I owed on my debts–remember 2006 was my attack year on my debts and I ended the year with ALL of them paid off!!! WOoohooo!)…the dreams that just seemed a bit out of reach.

I wrote down everything that came across my mind.  I compiled them in the journal as to-do lists for different areas of life–the financial page listed each bill I owed with the amount I owed. For my writing goals, I listed books I wanted to finish and project ideas that were on my heart. I even wrote out my dreams for an online radio show–YEP! That far-fetched dream became reality as I began Mom-to-Mom Radio Show in January of 2006. Only a dream. Just needed focus!

Want to know the fun part about this? I reached ALL of my dreams, desires, goals, and to-do’s that I wrote down in January by May. Yes, you read that correctly–BY MAY!! I had to sit down and begin a new journal then with the same format, except I was much more bold in my dreams, desires, goals, and to-do’s. Of all of the years of my life, 2006 was record-breaking! As a family, we reached for greater things and grasped onto them! We dared to go for all of the “impossible” things with focus and determination. It made all of the difference in the world to have it all written down. To mark off each accomplishment was priceless! Yep! This was another secret for staying focused.

Since then, this has become a major part of my life. I saw such a change in my personal productivity that I made this a lifestyle. I regularly pull back for a getaway to really go over my “little black book” and see what has been done, what is yet to be done, and add more dreams and desires to the list. It makes a world of difference for me. But, that is not all, I also take that notebook out each month and each week to dig out any projects that need to be written into my calendar. Those things to do are part of my weekly things to do. Now, they are no longer wishes or dreams, but they are books, projects, and accomplishments that are my HISTORY.

Want that? Why not try it for your New Year and see how it works for you? I think you will love it!

USE A DAILY TO-DO LIST…

A few years ago, I read a book with my children for a homeschool unit study we pursued during the last four years of my son’s school years. I know, I know. It was a study that took on a life of its own. It began with a simple biography about a great businessman. We continued through as many biographies as we could find. We STILL pursue these studies even though my son graduated almost 3 years ago!

What’s the point? Oh! This is a good one!

We read one book about Mary Kay. You always learn so much when digging into the lives of others. One of the life-changing things that I learned from her life was from one thing that she attributed to her success–her daily to-do list. Daily, she kept a list of 5 things to do for the day. Each day the list changed. She wouldn’t list the impossible. She just plugged away each day on 5 vital things for THAT DAY.

I pondered that for a while. I knew that my biggest struggle was having bigger plans than I have hours to work on them. I decided to pray for my daily “5 things” for the day each and every day.

Talk about a great secret for getting and staying focused!

First, it keeps us from going day-after-day never getting “anything” done. You know that feeling? It comes from a lack of purpose and direction. Keeping a journal with all of the stuff on your heart for the year is great. Then, we can look at our daily to-do’s and add those other things into that list of five things. I try to add ONE THING per day from my journal, even if it is a little thing. Of course, there are days that I have to be realistic and limit myself to the demands of the day. I am OK with that when I have hope that I will not put off the heartbeats for years to come. Adding them into my “5 things” regularly helps. Also, on those days that I am blank or that I happen to have some extra time to myself, I go through my journal and work through some of the simple tasks that I can attack. It worked great this year!

Oh! On those days that I have 25 things to choose from…you know that those days pop up constantly, don’t you?…Well, on those days, I write all of them down on a Post-it Note. As I look at my day, I jot down my top five essentials for the day from that list. If things go better than planned, I always have the others to keep on working on. But, this helps me to be sure that I begin plugging away on the things that need to get done to finish up things as soon as I can. It clears my brain and keeps me focused on working my plan. It helps me to accomplish much each day. And…keeps me focused all year long. I don’t get overwhelmed as easily. I don’t miss big things or let big things pile up any more. Give it a try! This year will be your best year yet!


SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GREAT (FOCUSED) PEOPLE…

I don’t know about you, but I really grasp for more in life when I have a big dose of encouragement and inspiration. Nothing fires me up more than people who are focused on going for all that God has in store for them. I just LOVE their passion for success! They challenge me to keep growing, keep moving, keep grasping for my dreams. They inspire me to step out there and trust God for those impossible things that intimidate me. They keep my brain turning and fresh. They spur me to reach for the very, very best!

Do I sound blessed? Did you just “wish” you had others like this? Have you written yourself off?

Oh! Beloved! I am not advocating that you scrap your friends and family. 🙂  Rather, I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to show you those that can step into the gap there. Ask God to show you opportunities this year to surround yourself with great people.

Years ago, one of my friends told me that great people are only as great as those that they surround themselves with. Talk about inspiring me! Well, she went one step forward…she said that a mediocre person could become great by surrounding themselves with the very best people in all areas of their lives. I have pondered that since she said it. It is SO true!

I have endeavored to surround myself with great people. They are everywhere! I am not special. You have them around you too.

We live in a complicated culture. Whereas, life is not simple like the lifestyle our grandparents had where they could learn from others while sitting on the front porch sipping tea and chatting (yep, I am from the South! WINK), they also did not have access to so much at their fingertips. We have the internet. We have books, audios and media.

Take time to get to know others. Take time to learn from others. You would probably be surprised at what is deep inside of those surrounding you.

I want to know the greatness hidden inside of those surrounding me. Everyone has something great in there. Digging into their greatness instills greatness in me…AND challenges them to reach for more greatness. It makes the most of our time together.

Of course, those people are the ones that I am around “in person” in my life. But, I also have some choices with my free time. I can surround myself with great people through books…online classes…audios…and other methods of study. I plug into great people regularly who are reaching for the best. They inspire me. They fire me up! They keep me growing!

Wanta get and stay focused? Those that surround you can make or break you! Surround yourself with focused people!

GET RID OF ALL HINDRANCES…

Anybody sitting there and thinking of all of the reasons that you cannot do ONE THING I have written…

…You have little ones that constantly interrupt your quiet times?
…You don’t have TIME for a quiet time?
…You have too much to do each day to write down your list in a journal?
…You don’t have any money for a journal–it IS after Christmas???
…Your day is so full of things wrapped around the children that you could never plan for “5 to-do’s” each day?
…Those around you are YOUR problem!

Oh! Beloved! I DO understand! And…this is YOUR year!

Take a peek at Hebrews 12: 1-2 (I LOVE IT in The Message)…

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

This passage really fires me up! It was one of my key verses. It follows the chapter reminding us of the great men and women of faith throughout Scripture. Then, continues in this passage telling us what it is all there for…to remind us to lay aside every encumbrance, the sin that so easily entangles us, get busy running the race, staying focused on Jesus and HOW HE ran the race. It is SO good!!

It doesn’t tell us that our circumstances will be ideal. It doesn’t tell us that everyone around us will “get it” and support us or get on board with us. It doesn’t tell us to change those around us. It simply reminds us to get focused on Jesus and get rid of all of the hindrances so we can run the race faithfully!

I have no idea what you will be facing this year. My year last year was not perfect. I had some very, very tough times from time-to-time. I had times that I got tired and weary along the way. I had times that everything I touched seemed to crash. However, a big secret to grasping onto all of the things that God had in store for me was to get rid of all of the hindrances and run the race faithfully. God didn’t demand that I do everything perfect, rather He simply wanted for me to keeping my eyes on Jesus while I faced all of the tough stuff. To stay focused!

I had to look past the impossibilities. I had to lay aside every hindrance and every encumbrance. I had to repent of my sins, confessing them so I could be healed and run the race with strength and stamina–sin zaps our strength and stamina. I had to drop my excuses–yep, that is what they were! I had to let go of everything that had been hindering me. Want to stay focused? Get rid of all of the hindrances today! You have a great year ahead!

READY?

On your Mark…Get Set…

We have a great year ahead! Are you ready to go for it? Are you tired of setting resolutions and fizzle on January 2nd? Are you sick of being where you are? Are you ready to go for those dreams? Do you want to have the best year yet?

Oh! Try out my secrets! Stay focused! Make 2009 your best year yet!