Five Minute Friday: Stay

It’s that 5 minute time again and today’s prompt is 

STAY

“Oh, won’t you stay just a little bit longer?” The song is dancing in my head now…but fast on it’s heels is the echo of a voice from the past. My husband’s grandmother, Mamaw, saying as we get ready to leave her house: “What’s your hurry, can’t you stay a little longer?” She was a widow in her 80’s, living alone,  when we first met and with every visit to her house there was that refrain…

I look at it now and I understand it from her end of the driveway. Some of us crave for folks to stick around a while and it’s especially poignant at this time of year when relatives arrive for Thanksgiving or Christmas. They come in a flurry of excitement, and they leave in a rush of goodbyes. It’s a hard letting go, that moment, when they leave again. 

This year, if you are the one coming and going, pause a moment to whisper a love note in that person’s ear – the one who would like that long one on one visit, the one who would hold your face in the palm of her hand once more, the one who would have you sit beside him as he reads the sports out loud to you; you know the one.

And, then give yourself a pause to remember that one day you will be the one who will be saying “Stay?”

Ding. 

 

Flopportunities

 The blogging conference, Allume, was held recently in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Over 400 Christian women attended, each one representing a blog presence on the internet. Each one came to learn more about blogging.

One of the speakers was well known blogger “The Nester”. Her blog reveals this about her: “The Nester, who writes anonymously, is a home stager, re-designer and design school drop-out.  She’s one of the lucky few who has stumbled into her dream job working from home {writing a blog of all things?!} and encouraging women to create their own meaningful home at Nesting Place where the motto is:

“It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful”. 

 Flopportunities and how I learned to blog with purpose

(four things I’ve learned from blogging all wrong)

Nester

 

1. Purpose – for yourself and for your readers

Get specific, sit down with paper and pen and ask yourself questions:

  • What do you believe? 
  • How do you want readers to feel when they leave your blog? 
  • What do you want them to do differently when they leave your blog? 
  • What do you want them to turn to your site first for? 
  • What are you obsessed with? 
  • What do you know? 
  • What are you an expert in? 
  • What feels like drudgery when you write? (STOP writing about it!!) 
  • Which post gets the most comments that means something to you?

“A successful blog is one that reaches its intended audience.” – Rachel M.

2. Time – use time wisely and fiercely protect time.

Create. Do not consume when you are most creative. Use that time of day to create when you are most creative. Don’t sit on Facebook, read blogs or do busy work.

Protect. Figure out how much time you have available and protect it.

    • “Being busy is a form of laziness…” 
    • ” Being overwhelmed is almost as unproductive as… ” 
    • “When everything is of equal importance then nothing is important.”

Say No.  Don’t find yourself saying yes because it’s scary to say no; or because you are afraid of missing an opportunity. Most things are flopportunities not opportunities. 

3.Create White Space – Give yourself time/space

What do I bring in? Is it a battle taking stuff out that does not belong? Is it hard to protect my time, my writing, my creativity? Leaving something out can be as important as putting something in. When decorating, empty white space is just as important as the space that is filled. Empty blocks of time are important. The problem with doing everything is that you have no time for doing nothing. Overloading squelches creativity and joy.  

God did not create hurry. Slowing down to rest in the midst of the undone (the dishes and the laundry will still be there) creates white space in your life. It can be hard to give yourself permission to stop and rest. Some use rest as a reward: I’ll rest when I’m finished. If the only down time is late at night then you don’t have enough down time.  We were created to need and use rest. True rest is trust in the Lord. Give yourself permission just to say: “No, I can’t do it.” without an explanation.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” – Thoreau 

4.The Secret Art of Saying No 

The more visible you are online, the more requests you will get. Don’t say ‘yes’ to stranger and ‘no’ to family; but fully embrace your ‘Yes’– the thing you will always say yes to. There are people/subjects/opportunities I will always say yes to, there are some that my husband and I talk about before I say yes or no and there are some that I have determined that I will always say no to. Constant evaluation of whether or not to say yes to something is necessary to maintain control over your time and creativity.

“A big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work” – Seth Godin

To sum up Nester’s points in her own words: “Fiercely protect the true goal for your blog.  Doing Less and being more isn’t just a nice cliché’ it’s a real choice and the secret to getting there will allow you to become laser focused on growing your passion, your art, your hobby, your business, your blog.”

Quick Tips from The Nester

  • Know why you blog
  • Write what you know
  • Create something meaningful and share it
  • Don’t fall for distractions: focus
  • Decide you much time you can commit
  • Under-schedule and prioritize rest 
  • Determine your time, if you are overwhelmed you are too busy
  • If you have no room, you are over scheduled
  • Sometimes you learn the right by doing the wrong
  • Stop and evaluate

My {Big}take-away(s) from The Nester

Her comments about creating when I’m most creative- It’s easy to get caught up in FB all day or reading from blog-to-blog. Keeping up is important but not as important as using the “little grey cells” when they are all firing at once and I can get it down instead of losing it to the black hole that is my brain most of the day. I think determining when my “most creative time” is – is the challenge. 

The other intriguing thought she brought up was “white-space”. I’m cluttered. My home. My brain. My life. Some of it is self-imposed, some is from external influences. I don’t know that my blog will ever get to the point that I have to create white space because of it. But the whole idea struck a nerve.  I can’t control all of the clutter, but deliberately designing white space in my life can and will reflect in my writing. “Overloading squelches creativity and joy” will be the phrase I repeat to myself until I have enough white space in my life. 

 

Feeling Stretched???

 Are there days you feel like there’s no way you can take another thing? Like one more broken dish, one more glass of spilt milk, one more toddler tantrum, one more trip to the grocery, one more argument, one more slammed door, one more late for school day, one more overdue bill in the mail?

Do your prayers sound like this: Ok, Lord. I can’t take another thing today, I have no endurance, no strength and for sure no patience. Help! Please? I just don’t know what to do or how to do it anymore.

Mine have. 

If you will re-read that prayer in a whiney voice, add some tears and just imagine that I’m in the bathroom with the door locked and someone is knocking on the door, and someone is yelling from the other room that they can’t find something or other and another someone is yelling they are “going to be late, gotta go, see you tonight”… oh and while you are sitting there imagining that, see me sitting on the toilet lid gritting my teeth and my fists are clenched and white knuckled, and I’m looking up at the ceiling and thinking that prayer.

Oh and just to flesh out the picture – I’m not dressed for work, nor is my makeup on. Someone still needs breakfast- hence the knocking on the door.  And, the homework is the something that is missing. So I exit the bathroom to help with the homework search.  There is no time for a pity party.

I enter the kitchen.

It looks like a tornado just went through it- dishes and open boxes of cereal sprawled on the counter. The carton of milk is sitting out, the dishwasher door is open and the racks are hanging out. The closet door to the washer is open. There are clothes piled on the lid and the dryer door is open and the clothes are spilling out onto the floor into the kitchen. The dry cleaning is piled up by the door to take to the cleaners. The dog food is standing on the floor in the middle of the room and the cats rush toward me because they are hungry. {actually, it looked much worse most days}

I have about 5 minutes to slap on the makeup, throw on the scrubs and shoes, find the homework, thrust food into a hand and get everyone out the door and moving toward the car. Top all that off with the grandmother/mother call, at the exact wrong moment, who chose that second to rip my heart out with some well-honed comment that had been fermenting in her mind.

{That was before caller id and answering machines…. When you actually answered a ringing phone}

Now that’s a great start to a day.                   NOT.

There were times when I thought I was losing my mind. I was so entrenched – literally in the trenches. Holding my breath, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop from the grandmother/mother.

I would get so bogged down in the here and now and develop myopia of the mind; I looked around and saw only what was on the surface. But those were precisely the moments that the Holy Spirit would pray for me because I had just lost the ability- I had no words left to describe the turmoil nor to ask for what I really needed at that instant. I was stretched beyond my ability.

Little did I know… But God did. He knew that He was developing in me an endurance and patience beyond myself. Below is a quote from Oswald Chambers that describes pretty accurately what was happening in my life.

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” – Oswald Chambers

If you are there, being stretched beyond what you think you can endure or stand, open up your grip on whatever is in your hand and heart at this moment, look at that open hand, take a big deep breath and know that you can trust Him. He does not stretch us to the breaking point, but to the point where we can be most efficient for His purpose.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

“For this reason ,since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption,the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

  “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Hebrews 12:7