How to Be Productive

I sat down this evening to make a list of “stuff that I do.” The idea was to have a somewhat balanced list. On one side, I’d list all the productive activities. On the other side, I’d list all the unproductive activities. Then, when I finish something I have to do (like work), I can decide what to spend time on next by picking from one side or the other.

I don’t know if that would have worked or not because a funny thing happened while I was making the list. I was able to think of eleven productive activities very easily, but when I moved my pen to the other side of the paper I could only think of three unproductive activities. I sat. I thought. I checked my favorite search engine. I looked around the room. Nothing. Just three things.

My list is so unbalanced.

But here’s the other funny thing: I spend more of my non-work hours on those three unproductive activities than I spend on the eleven productive activities!

I guess it’s time for a change. I get 8-9 hours each day (most days) to live my life outside of work & sleep, and I want to be more conscious of how I’m spending my time. Play is good, but there needs to be a balance. And my productive activities aren’t all work. Some of them are (cleaning, for example), but many of them are just good, constructive uses of time that are plenty enjoyable.

After all, I’ve been thinking lately about who I want to be, especially now that I’m closer to 30 than 20. Unless the person I want to be is an unkempt bum who wastes most of her free time, I should probably start using my time more wisely.

That is all.

Any thoughts? Please share!!

A “Hopeless” Wish? Or A Confident Expectation?

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)

Faith, hope, and love.

Really?

More like faith, love, and wishful thinking.

Love is the “greatest,” the most obvious, and possibly the hardest. We understand that love is generous, patient, kind, and forgiving. We know that “love covers a multitude of sin,” and we know that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Faith is complex, but we understand it to some degree. We know it’s the “evidence of things unseen.” We know it can move mountains – or it should be able to, at least. We know that we are “saved by grace through faith,” so even if it’s not the greatest of the three, it’s still pretty great.

But what of hope?

Do we think enough about hope? Do we think of hope at all?

We hope things go well, hope God will answer our prayers, et cetera, but, really, is it any more to us than wishful thinking?

The word hope appears in the KJV 133 times, and it goes up from there when looking at other translations. ESV mentions hope 164 times, NIV 180, and the Amplified Bible has 195 occurrences of the word hope. For comparison, KJV mentions faith 336 times and love/charity 466 times. (These numbers come from keyword searches on BibleGateway.com.)

In what (or in whom) do we hope? And what is hope?

Is Christianity defined by sinlessness, grace, love, and faith more than it is defined by hope? I found a neat article on Bible.org that says the modern idea of hope is “to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.” Wishful thinking. But, more than that, it actually sounds kind of hope-less, doesn’t it? No assurance of getting your desire? If this is hope, why would it be much of a big deal at all?

The article goes on to explain, however, that in scripture the word indicates certainty and trust. It is a confident expectation. “In the Bible, hope is never a static or passive thing…It is dynamic, active, directive, and life-sustaining.” It’s not an unrealistic wish. It’s not a desire with no assurance. It is not an escape from reality. Hope is based in reality, on God’s promises, and it’s a huge part of the Christian life.

Psalm 71:5 (Amplified Bible)

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

In the general, non-Christian population, hope (confident expectation) is usually placed in oneself. People expect themselves to succeed, to pull through. In spite of all odds and all difficulties, they will, in the end, expect to see themselves thrive. ((Not everyone. Some people are depressed and utterly hopeless. Some have had their confidence shattered, but it’s true for the majority.)

What’s sad to me is that, as far as I can see, Christians tend to be the same way! We believe in ourselves above all else, and when it comes to God  and His promises we have these wishy-washy, timid desires. Our hope is more like “positive thinking,” and it contains no real power or reward.

Hope should be a more prominent theme in Christianity. Why else does God tell us so many amazing things about it? Our hope should be in Christ and in His promises. Then we will find hope giving us joy and peace. Then we will find hope sustaining us. Then we will find compassion and and grace and abundant life.

We have to change our thinking and renew our minds and re-focus. Place your “confident expectation” where it should be. Not on you. On the One who provides.

Lamentation 3:21-26 (Amplified Bible)

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word].

It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.

Romans 5:2-6 (Amplified Bible)

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (Amplified Bible)

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (Amplified Bible)

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Putting Work into Life

Oh, how I wish I’d learned a better work ethic at a younger age. I feel like maybe if I had learned earlier it wouldn’t be such a struggle now. Now, I feel like an old dog trying to learn a new trick, and it feels very much like an uphill battle. In fact, it has me determined to make sure I try to teach my kids this lesson from early on…

Life is Work

And Americans are lazy.

Or maybe just people, in general, are lazy?!

At the very least, I’m lazy, but I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one!

My mom did her best raising me alone, and I’m so grateful for all that she taught me, but I still grew up lazy. I didn’t learn work ethic. I didn’t learn that life itself is work. Rather, I waited for everything to come to me. I never cleaned my room because I was happy to live in my own mess, I didn’t have to put in much effort to excel at school, and I didn’t even bother trying to get in shape though I was overweight from a pretty young age. In other words, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and played all the time, and never did anything that required effort unless I was literally forced into it.

EVERYTHING is Work

  1. Cleaning
    Now I’m grown, and I’m no longer happy with messes, but I am often too lazy to do anything about them because – well, because it’s work! And it’s not just a little work here and there, like when I was little and cleaned my room once every few month (yes, I know, lucky me – you probably had to clean every week). No, it’s not just a now-and-then thing; it’s a daily effort.
  2. Exercise
    I never exercised as a kid, despite being unhappy with my body. I never played sports, either. I just played with my friends once in a while and basically did what I wanted to do without worrying about whether I was active or not. And I didn’t know – that is, it never even occurred to me – that such a lifestyle wouldn’t be sufficient for my body. Even as a teenager, when I started to realize that some people may need to exercise to control their weight, I thought it was a last-ditch attempt, only to be really considered if dieting alone couldn’t fix the problem. I really thought I could continue my whole life this way! But God didn’t make our bodies to sit around inside all day on the computer! I believe He made our bodies to work and to play, and as our work becomes less and less active, we have to make an effort to exercise in order to stay healthy. Because it’s GOOD for us. It’s not a punishment, as I once believed. It’s not something you do because you have to in order to control your weight. It’s just a good, healthy habit that happens to require daily effort.
  3. Eating
    When I was younger, food was very much an instant gratification kind of thing. My single, working mother rarely had time to prepare a meal from scratch, so we ate a lot of frozen pizza, instant macaroni and cheese, and other such things. Now, I’m ashamed of all the junk I’ve put into my body for over 20 years, but at the same time I realize that in order to eat well, I have to intentionally work at it! And not just once in a while, but every day! I have to think about what I’m eating as well and when and why I’m eating it, and I have to take time out of my day to prepare it.
  4. Relationships
    Even my relationships take work! Who would have thought? In grade school, if you’re in my generation, you called your friends when you were bored, and you were allowed to talk, to maybe one of you would visit the other’s house – simple. The only potential problem was having one or the other set of parents say no for some reason. But as a grown-up, it’s not so simple any more. Friends all come with their own problems, and to have a good relationship, you can’t just call them when you’re bored; you have to be there for them when they need you. And sometimes you have to learn how to love people in spite of their flaws, or in spite of distance, or in spite of lack of time to “hang out!”

And the same is true for a relationship with God! As a child, my mom prayed with me before bed and before meals, and I went to Sunday school. As a teenager, I started to understand that it required more than that, and I started to try harder, but I still thought that it would be easy. Only now am I beginning to understand how much daily work has to be put into that relationship to keep it really strong.

Skills, and the maintaining of them, is the same way. Oy with the work already!

Teaching Work Ethic

How will I (eventually) teach my kids about work? How will I get them to understand good work ethic?

  • Well, I guess the first step is learning it myself. And I’m trying to – really, I am. For the past few months, I’ve been working on building one good habit each month so that I learn to do the things that are good for me. 🙂
  • And I think another part of it will be building good habits in them when they’re young. (I always thought that if I’d been made to play a sport when I was a kid, I would have had a much easier time learning a habit of daily exercise.) I can see it now… my kids will probably hate me for making them do things, and I will wish they could see how I’m doing it for their own good… and it’s probably going to be way harder than I anticipate. But hopefully I can help a little by teaching them healthy habits.
  • Finally, if I can teach them what my friends and I learned in our study of Ecclesiastes last year. All is vanity. Too much work is no good, but neither is too much play. BALANCE is important. So, have one hand of toil and one hand of rest. I think I can help to teach my kids a healthy work ethic by helping them rest and enjoy play- and rest-time. first time baking bread!

Just some thoughts…

Think about what goes into your body. Think about exercise. Think about your relationships. By not allowing play time to be all day, every day, it becomes more precious to me when I do get that time, and my quiet times are more able to fuel me for the work I know I must do for the rest of the time.

And the best part is that work doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Work is rewarding! And when I’m feeling lazy, that’s exactly what I try to remind myself of! lol

(An example of rewarding work: Me with my first-ever homemade bread!)

A Breezy Update

It’s windy outside. I just took a walk, and my ears nearly froze right off. I’m serious, yo!

So I’m just breezing through with an update on life, the universe, and everything. For those of you unaware, I did successfully complete National Novel Writing Month again! For the third time! I wrote what I’m categorizing as a mainstream fiction novel (draft) that follows three different-but-related Army stories. Depending on whether you count hyphenated words as one word or multiple words, I wrote between 50-51k words. So I’m pretty proud of that! As a winner, I get the satisfaction of having won. And a printable certificate. Oh, and 50% off of this writing software that I’m really excited about. Hubby said I can has! 😀

Since then, life has returned back to normal in more ways than one. My mom left after her month-long visit, so the house is back to empty. And I’m back to writing only occasionally (in other words, not really much at all).

I hope that everyone has a great holiday season! I am spending Christmas Eve with Hubby’s family and Christmas Day with my family, and I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring and Hubby’s 2 weeks of R&R!

Managing 24 Hours

I’m having trouble managing my time. I actually sat down yesterday thinking I could create some kind of budget to account for all the minutes I have available to me in a day. But it didn’t work.

Why doesn’t budgeting time work like budgeting money? If I know I have so much money coming in every month, I can put each dollar in a category, even if one category is “extra” or “spending money.” But with my time-chart, no matter what, I never seem to have enough time. By my estimation, I need about 35-40 hours a day to live comfortably. But I can’t just go adding hours to the day, can I? I mean, maybe if I change my sleep schedule up. It would be pretty difficult, though.

I think it’s good to have ambitions and goals for using your time that you might not actually reach, but it’s hard to be content with not reaching your goals! The truth is there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So what should we do?

Remember to Be

Let me remind both you and me again of the Importance of Being. We need to savor life, not rush through it. Be happy about each thing you accomplish, and think about the benefits of having done that.

So far today, I’ve:

1. …made the bed. This is a new habit I’m trying to develop. It feels really good to walk into our bedroom throughout the day and see a neat bed. It is complete with the decorative pillows that came with our set of bedding (a wedding present from some lovely friends of ours – who I am reminded of when I look at the bedding, all neatly made). It also makes me feel like Hubby will be better able to see my effort to take care of the house, and it is nice to pull back the covers on a neat bed at night and slip between unwrinkled sheets.

2. …started another load of laundry. We aren’t going to run out of clean undergarments, tshirts, or uniforms today. And now that I’m doing a little bit of laundry every day (almost), it’s a lot more manageable to keep up with the chore.

3. …loaded the dishwasher. The sink is empty, available for washing things, filling glasses with water, or whatever else we need. No stinky, dirty dishes in our noses.

4. …wrote 750 words. I’m on a 13-day streak, and I feel pride in that accomplishment. My thoughts also feel more organized.

Don’t Budget Every Minute

Don’t be like me and try to account for 1440 minutes each day. Even if you could squeeze everything you want to do into those 24 hours in theory, you very likely wouldn’t be able to do it in actuality. It takes time to move from one task to the next. Things can happen that you didn’t include in your plan, such as phone calls or spontaneous conversations. You just can’t account for what might happen. You can’t plan it in. And unlike with finances, you can’t keep a separate emergency fund of a few extra hours in case something comes up. It doesn’t work that way.

We should enjoy a slower pace, in my opinion.

My advice is to alternate which tasks are important on which days. For instance, I would like to have time to write on my novel, draw, crochet, deep-clean my house, and hang out with my friends every day. But since I know I’d run out of time trying to do all of it on one day, I can choose to spend Monday’s free hours on writing, Tuesday’s free hours on art, etc. If you’re like me and trying to figure out how to fit it all in, that’s the only advice I have.

Any Advice is Welcome

Time Management has never been one of my strong points. I’d like for it to be, but usually I… well, fail. I fail. 😛

When I was younger, my time was always eaten by the TV. Then it was eaten by AIM and MSN Messenger. Now it’s eaten by Facebook, reading blogs, and reading novels. Is that ok? I don’t know. Don’t I look back fondly on those times I spent hours and hours on AIM? At least it’s a good memory.

What about you? Do you have any advice for managing time? Techniques? Thoughts? Or do you just sympathize with me? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

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Memorial Day Memories

I’m so thankful that I don’t have anyone’s grave to visit on Memorial Day. Being involved with the military has made me more aware of the meaning behind the federal holiday, but it doesn’t hit me on a personal level, and for that I’m grateful. One day, it probably will. One day I’ll probably know people who have given their lives for our country – people I’ll think of especially on Memorial Day. But not yet.

What is it to me? Growing up in a very military-lacking family, Memorial Day never really had any special meaning to me. I’d heard what it was about, but that was all. For the most part, it was a day for family picnics at Kidsville or someplace like that. It’s beginning to change now that I know people in the military, and now that I’m married to a soldier. Now I think about it a little more. I think about all we have to be thankful for, I think about what it would mean if Hubby did give his life…

But I find it a little funny that we don’t use the day so much for remembering those gone as much as we spend it enjoying life and loved ones. Yes, even Hubby.

Two-Thousand NineSandcastling

Last year, over the Memorial Day Weekend, we were down in the Rio Grande valley, visiting Hubby’s family.

We made sad little sand castles. We tried so hard, but we just couldn’t get that moat deep enough or the support wall high enough to protect it! 

Kinda Castle 

 

 

 

 

We tried boogie boarding in the surf… Some of us succeeded more than others. (Hubby caught on. I didn’t do as well.)

 

Boogieboarding

 

 

 

 

 

We also collected shells, laid out in the sun, and ate hotdogs. It was all-around a lovely weekend. Especially for me. I love the beach. But the best part came on the last day there, up on a sand dune…

 

Sand dune

He had me looking for non-existent boats on the bay, and when I turned to tell him there were no boats, he was on one knee, covered in sand, but holding out a ring box and asking me to marry him. 🙂 😀

 

image image

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

“A love-hate relationship is a personal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and enmity.”
Wikipedia

I have a love-hate relationship with the Army. How the Army feels about me, I can never quite determine. Maybe the simultaneous contradictory feeling is mutual, for all I know.

Hate

Sometimes, I hate the Army. My husband would probably argue that sometimes is actually most of the time because I definitely complain about the Army much more than I brag on it or praise it. When I do hate it, I downright loathe it. I’ll tell you, the emotions can get pretty intense during these times. What has the Army ever done to me, you ask? Plenty.

1. The Army owns my husband. I come second after the Army; I don’t really have first dibs on him. When the Army chooses the flaunt this, I can get pretty catty.

2. The Army mistreats my husband. How can I take care of him when he’s constantly coming home with new wounds and problems? Tell me that, Army!! I try to get him caught up on his rest, and then you go and deprive him of sleep again!

3. The Army is too fickle. Make up your mind! Are they coming home at 0730, noon, or 2100? Does he get weekends off or not?

4. The Army strings us both along, promising things, and when we begin to suspect it may never deliver, they give us another bit of hope to keep us going. Sometimes, I don’t think the Army intends to deliver on its promises at all!

Plus Love

On the other hand, I do love the Army, sometimes. More than you might think! When I love it, I could go to tears thinking of life without it.

1. The Army pays our bills, like any faithful employer should. In fact, the Army’s regularity in this area is most pleasing. It’s never late.

2. The Army gives us security. We can’t get rid of the Army, no matter how bad we might want to at times. It’s always going to be there, and while it may seem fickle, it’s in many ways one of the most constant things in our lives. Even its fickleness is steady and constant, like a security blanket (or teddy, or hippo).

3. The Army takes care of our basic needs. Sure, it gets to decide whether other things are important or not, but the basic needs we have for food, shelter, and medical care, are taken care of, always.

4. The Army actually has a useful purpose. It can be hard to remember, when caught up in day-to-day life as a soldier or a soldier’s wife, but the Army does have a purpose, and serves that purpose well. Our country would probably be in bad shape without it.

Equals Army Wife Life

All of this together makes up a big portion of life as an Army wife. These last two weeks, as my husband was gone yet again for training, I had moments when I cried about how much I hated the Army and moments when I cried about how much I love the Army. Imagining life without it is hard, now. I pray for God to help us through this time in the Army, and to help us through the time when we have to face life without it!

Would you like to add in any reasons you love and/or hate the Army? Or do you, perhaps, have a love-hate relationship with someone (or something) else that you’d like to share?