Monday, November 18, 2013


On Saturday, Bethany and I took a lovely early-morning hike to the top of Horsetooth Rock and back. It was such a beautiful day, and we made it just in time before the wind came up and it got really cloudy. It was a quick-n-easy round trip (2 hours and 20 minutes total), but I realized how out-of-shape I was by how SORE it made me!

View from the beginning of the hike

Can you spot two deer?

(Can you spot one deer? LOL)

The "horse tooth"

Climbing to the top of the rock

View from the top. On a clear day, the sign said you can see Pike's Peak to the south, Long's Peak to the west, and Wyoming to the north.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

True Prayer--True Power

This was my meat for the day, since I had to miss church due to work. (Praying for a job where I don't have to work Sundays! I have the next two Sundays off, though! YAY!)

Spurgeon's sermon "True Prayer--True Power" is the best sermon I have ever heard on prayer. It re-ignited my dry, faithless praying and set me back on the feet of my faith. It was such a blessing to me that I sat there, wide-eyed, with my jaw hanging open at the beauty and power of prayer. I'm sure it will be a blessing to you, too!

I listened to this recording of it (someone else is reading it, not Spurgeon) and read along here.

To whet your appetite, here are a few quotes:

"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive and ye shall have them."—Mark 11:24.

We spend the time allotted, but we rise from our knees unrefreshed, like a man who has lain upon his bed but has not slept so as to really recover his strength.

According to our Saviour's description of prayer, there should always be some definite objects for which we should plead. He speaks of things—"what things soever ye desire." It seems then that he did not put it that God's children would go to him to pray when they have nothing to pray for. Another essential qualification of pray is earnest desire; for the Master supposes here that when we pray we have desires. Indeed it is not prayer, it may be something like prayer, the outward form or the bare skeleton, but it is not the living thing, the all-prevailing, almighty thing, called prayer, unless there be a fulness and overflowing of desires. Observe, too, that faith is an essential quality of successful prayer—"believe that ye receive them." Ye cannot pray so as to be heard in heaven and answered to your soul's satisfaction, unless you believe that God really hears and will answer you. One other qualification appears here upon the very surface, namely, that a realizing expectation should always go with a firm faith—"believe that ye receive them." Not merely believe that "ye shall" but "ye do" receive them—count them as if they were received, reckon them as if you had them already, and act as if you had them—act as if you were sure you should have them—believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Do you not sometimes fall on your knees without thinking beforehand what you mean to ask God for? You do so as a matter of habit, without any motion of your heart. You are like a man who should go to a shop and not know what articles he would procure. He may perhaps make a happy purchase when he is there, but certainly it is not a wise plan to adopt. And so the Christian in prayer may afterwards attain to a real desire, and get his end, but how much better would he speed if having prepared his soul by consideration and self-examination, he came to God for an object at which he was about to aim with real request.

Did we ask an audience at Her Majesty's court, we should be expected to reply to the question, "What do you wish to see her for?" We should not be expected to go into the presence of Royalty, and then to think of some petition after we came there.

If you had some object you would never find prayer to be dull and heavy work; I am persuaded that you would long for it. You would say, "I have something that I want. Oh that I could draw near my God, and ask him for it; I have a need, I want to have it satisfied, and I long till I can get alone, that I may pour out my heart before him, and ask him for this thing after which my soul so earnestly pants."

We must have such a desire for the thing we want, that we will not rise until we have it—but in submission to his divine will, nevertheless. Feeling that the thing we ask for cannot be wrong, and that he himself hath promised it, we have resolved it must be given, and if not given, we will plead the promise, again, and again, till heaven's gates shall shake before our pleas shall cease. No wonder that God has not blessed us much of late, because we are not fervent in prayer as we should be. Oh, those cold-hearted prayers that die upon the lips—those frozen supplications; they do not move men's hearts, how should they move God's heart?

And surely, my brethren, it were enough to restrain all lightness and constrain an unceasing earnestness, did we apprehend the greatness of the Being before whom we plead. Shall I come into thy presence, O my God, and mock thee with cold-hearted words? Do the angels veil their faces before thee, and shall I be content to prattle through a form with no soul and no heart? Ah, my brethren! we little know how many of our prayers are an abomination unto the Lord. It would be an abomination to you and to me to hear men ask us in the streets, as if they did not want what they asked for. But have we not done the same to God?

It was said of John Bradford that he had a peculiar art in prayer, and when asked for his secret he said, "When I know what I want I always stop on that prayer until I feel that I have pleaded it with God, and until God and I have had dealings with each other upon it." I never go on to another petition till I have gone through the first."

Now, my own soul's conviction is, that prayer is the grandest power in the entire universe; that it has a more omnipotent force than electricity, attraction, gravitation, or any other of those secret forces which men have called by names, but which they do not understand. Prayer hath as palpable, as true, as sure, as invariable and influence over the entire universe as any of the laws of matter. When a man really prays, it is not a question whether God will hear him or not, he must hear him; not because there is any compulsion in the prayer, but there is a sweet and blessed compulsion in the promise. God has promised to hear prayer, and he will perform his promise. As he is the most high and true God, he cannot deny himself.

Seems it not my dear friends, an awful thing to have such a power in one's hands as to be able to pray?

Allow me to quote what an old preacher said upon the subject of prayer, and give it to you as a little word of advice—"Remember, the Lord will not hear thee, because of the arithmetic of thy prayers; he does not count their numbers. He will not hear thee because of the rhetoric of thy prayers; he does not care for the eloquent language in which they are conveyed. He will not listen to thee because of the geometry of thy prayers; he does not compute them by their length, or by their breadth. He will not regard thee because of the music of thy prayers; he doth not care for sweet voices, nor for harmonious periods. Neither will he look at thee because of the logic of thy prayers; because they are well arranged, and excellently comparted. But he will hear thee, and he will measure the amount of the blessing he will give thee, according to the divinity of thy prayers. If thou canst plead the person of Christ, and if the Holy Ghost inspire thee with zeal and earnestness, the blessings which thou shalt ask, shall surely come unto thee."

Christian brethren and sisters, and let us weep. Oh God, thou hast given us a mighty weapon, and we have permitted it to rust. Thou hast given us that which is mighty as thyself, and we have let that power lie dormant. Would it not be a vile crime if a man had an eye given him which he would not open, or a hand that he would not lift up, or a foot that grew stiff because he would not use it. And what must we say of ourselves when God has given us power in prayer, and yet that power lies still.

I challenge you this day to exceed in prayer my Master's bounty. I throw down the gauntlet to you. Believe him to be more than he is; open your mouth so wide that he cannot fill it; go to him now for more faith than the promise warrants; venture it, risk it, outdo the Eternal if it be possible; attempt it. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A chance to breathe

It has been so nice to settle down a tad bit and have time to catch up on all the little things that I haven't be able to do. Life has tossed me a good amount of upheaval lately, but in the last few weeks since I moved, it has calmed down quite a bit. There are still things to do--I have only worked on my book once since I got this job--but little by little, I am discovering how to incorporate everything back into my schedule.

(Can I just say, in passing, that managing my activities has turned out to be far more successful than managing my time?)

So here are a few of the things that I have been so grateful to have the chance to do...

--Catch up on thank-you notes that were overdue since July. So sorry to everyone who had to wait so long! Thank you for everything!

--Make a purse that will be donated to Focus on the Family's gift shop, and the proceeds go to their ministry to sex trafficking victims

--Bake! A lot! Cinnamon rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, oat dinner rolls, and homemade tortillas. Yum! (And it's good to have a lot of people around to eat the food.) :-)

--Play the piano. I was so music starved for so long. It's great to be polishing the rust back off of my favorite pieces.

Thank you, Jesus, for the chance for a little bit of leisure, the chance to recharge, and the chance to just enjoy simple things. You are always so good to me!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Devil's Backbone

One day, when I wasn't scheduled to go in to work until 11, I went to Devil's Backbone for a short hike. Since then, I have been back once more and took a bit longer hike. Colorado is so beautiful! Even though the road is still closed to Estes Park (Hwy 34 is still under construction after being destroyed in the flood), there are still gorgeous places to go outside and enjoy sunshine and great views. I love it here!  

I got a couple of weird looks for hiking in this...haha...I was on my way to work!

The Devil's Backbone trail is about 16 miles long (so I have not nearly done the whole thing) and it goes all the way up to Horsetooth, another beautiful area that I have yet to explore. Yay for being outside! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Time Management Ephiphany

The other day I went to the library and checked out a few books to improve my job skills, and last night I was reading one called The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. The first chapter was on time management, and it gave six practical “time management secrets of billionaires.” Here they are:

  1. Touch it once.
  2. Make lists
  3. Plan how much time you will allocate to each task
  4. Plan the day
  5. Prioritize
  6. Ask yourself, “Will it hurt me to throw this away?”

It sounded a lot like the plan my brilliant sister, Katherine, had come up with one day last summer, when I was moving and trying to sort through my entire life’s worth of accumulated junk.

I was stuck. I would go in amongst the chaos, look around in bewilderment, pick up something and set it down, wander around, realize I was doing nothing, ask myself what I was supposed to be doing, and stand there staring off into space for a few minutes, trying to remember. It was bad. I needed help.

I went to Monica and Katherine’s room that evening and made the rather humiliating request, “I don’t know how to do this. Will you give me step-by-step instructions for how to get this done?” And Katherine took the time to write down a plan for the entire following day. She thought about my situation, figured out a way to break it down into achievable steps, and wrote down a comprehensive list of what to do at what time, with satisfying little check boxes for each minuscule part of the program. She was guessing as to the time involvement for each part, but it ended up proving quite realistic. I followed her plan to the letter, and it worked! All the daunting bits that had stopped me from any further productivity were done on that day, and I was free to move ahead. It was an entirely liberating feeling. I actually got it done.

So last night, reading Chet Holmes’s book, I stopped and said to myself, “These aren't steps for time management, these are just steps for getting things done.”

That's when it hit me:

What we call “Time Management” is really more precisely “Activity Management.”


Because you can’t manage time. Time marches ahead, unstoppable.

That’s what I had been doing wrong. I was looking at time management waaaaaay too literally. I was trying to manage time. My unconscious attitude was that time management was some kind of superpower where I was supposed to be able to tell it, “Be longer than you are. Grow at my command. Accommodate me by multiplying when I don’t have enough of you.” I was playing chicken with time. I would take longer than I had to get something done, and then I would expect time to expand so that everything would work out anyway. Or I would put something off until the amount of time I had to do it was less than I needed, and I would expect to stretch that time to get the thing done at the same level of quality that I would have been able to achieve if I had had more time.

Uh, that doesn't work.

The confusing thing to me was that other people talked about time management as if it worked for them, so I continued to try. Also, when you’re late for everything, people try to be helpful and encourage you to have better time management skills, so there’s quite the significant pressure to actually have good time management (this elusive superpower). If you know me, you know that I am the world’s worst when it comes to time management. Haha…you’re probably smiling and nodding (or shaking your head at how hopeless I was).

It’s a bit embarrassing to think that I continued to try so long to manage time. I never had the least bit of success, never the smallest hint that time might be finally coming around to see my point, never the tiniest leverage over time, never the ability to wield it to serve me on my terms. In fact, I only ever had the exact opposite. Time marches on, unstoppable, unflappable, and all my efforts to manipulate it were only met with a resounding, “No! You cannot be my dictator. I will not yield to you.”

So if time is inflexible, and if I have 24 hours a day like everyone else, then time management is not about being some kind of genie who warps time to my desires, nor is it attempting to flee the system and act as if time did not have a hold over me.

Instead, it is recognizing time for what it is, giving it its due respect, and ordering my activities in such a way that time’s ceaseless march presents the least possible obstacle to the accomplishment of my tasks.

I feel like I just stopped beating my head against the wall of “time management.”

It feels good to stop beating your head against the wall.

I cannot manage time, but I can manage my activities—and when my activities interact with time’s unstoppable march in the most seamless way possible, most people call that “time management.”

To my way of thinking, that’s an amusing illusion.

Now, onward! Today is the first day of abandoning forever all attempts at time management and beginning to practice “activity management” with all my heart.

I think I can actually get somewhere with this approach. No more chasing elusive superpowers and wondering helplessly how other people do it. Forget about managing time. Manage the activities, and submit yourself to the fact that time will not be dictated.