On Schedules, Stories and Stones

time to love is now

Scheduling has always been my downfall. Every year I stand in the planner aisle of the office supply store and flip through cute flowered blank books of time waiting to be appointed. There’s something exciting and alluring in the colors and fresh pages showing monthly, weekly and hourly lined clean slates ready for events and goals to be penciled in.

Armed with my calendar pick for the year, I bravely set out to exact my plans. I line item tasks and assign time frames. I make menus and plan trips. Block off practices and birthdays. However by the end of the year {ok, sometimes the end of the day…} my agenda goes out the window.

I’m finding there are plenty of plans and people in my life I have tried to schedule into those little squares only to find out some things can’t and won’t be contained.

Those finite lines with time stamps and tiny blocks leave little room for feelings or details to enter in. And though plans and schedules are good for setting times, establishing habits, and directing our actions, they can also feel a little impersonal at times. Constricting even. And if you take them too far, unforgiving.

If the hands on the clock hold more power over us than the hands of Jesus and we’re preoccupied with procedures rather than the prince of peace then we are in danger of letting our schedule overwhelm our story.

I’ve been there, done that and brought back the t-shirt…

When our lives become pageants, we become actors. When we become actors, we sacrifice authenticity. Without authenticity we can’t cultivate love and connection. Without love and connection, we have nothing. ~ Brene Brown

Every day I’m overtaken with the internal battle of what I need to do being bullied by what I think I should do (or perhaps what I think others expect?) contradicted by what my flesh wants to do. Time ticking away and calendar years flying by only serve to make me feel that I’m entrenched in a constant battle of the mind I’m sure I can’t win.

So often we desire the story but we’re deceived by the schedule.

The Jews tried to be right with God by obeying the Law, but they did not become right with God. Why? Because they did not put their trust in God. They tried to be right with God by working for it. They tripped over the most important Stone (Christ). ~ Romans 9:31-32

And as a result they missed the deeper story…

Maybe focusing too hard on keeping the plates spinning and the appearances up is not a new thing…

***

A few weeks ago I scheduled a meeting which was to be followed right away by a choir practice but instead of rushing off to slide hastily into the pew right on time, something told me to stay. And I was immediately and abundantly blessed by the rich God-focused conversation that took place in that moment much more than mastering notes for songs flung far into the future.

And on a whim last Thursday, I escaped the scheduled grind again by taking advantage of a vacation day. A girl’s day out quickly morphed into a girl’s day out of town with my best girl. Sure we could have stuck to the usual plan of sauntering and shopping but something bigger begged our attention so we decided to depart for the beach instead.

edited shore line

We lavished in the lull of the waves and sifted through shells and stories, rocks and relationships on a perfect partly cloudy day. We collected ourselves, our thoughts and enough broken pieces of beach bling to fill a large mason jar. One of my favorite finds of the day were the stones smoothed out by the water.

I pondered if they were similar to the five stones David picked and planned to use in slaying Goliath.

Except in that battle which David deemed solely as the Lord’s, only one stone was needed.

Our schedules and our own strength alone will not save us.

But our God and His story will.

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection. ~ Proverbs 30:5

To commemorate those stories I added those precious pebbles to the plunder.

And I thought about how the whole narrative of the bible, much like the sharing of our individual story, is personal and motivational, leading us to connection and common ground, and directly responsible for establishing the most important cornerstone: relationship.

And Jesus came for relationship after all, not religion.

Story, not schedule.

stop worrying start praying

The world will always find a way to wage war on our souls and our schedules but I’m finding hope when I surrender everything to the story of Jesus.

Are you struggling with your schedule? Tell me your story?


21 thoughts on “On Schedules, Stories and Stones

  1. I just LOVE the beach photos! Gorgeous! And the photo of the stones and little gift box is just darling too! Oh I’m joining you as a scheduler and planner who doesn’t always take interruptions as divine interventions. But what a delight when your heart was in the right place and your time followed it and you experienced an enlightening conversation and connection and rare day of beauty at the beach! Just like you, I’m amazed at how our Seamless study has been revealing little gems I never expected to find — a divine appointment, I’m sure! xo

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    1. Yep I know what you mean– I’m not a fan of my plans being hi-jacked either! But I do love a good rebellious, unscripted day every now and then. One time I took a trip where we flipped a coin at every intersection to determine right or left and we ended up on the Eastern Shore of VA! And I have been nothing but blessed by the Seamless study too– even when I’m days behind I never fail to find a piece of the story that fits right in with something I’m dealing with in that moment. ♥ Thanks for treasure hunting with me this year. ♥

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  2. I love the invitation to share stories you encourage. 🙂 That is a seeking to serve heart showing bright in you. I also love this, “If the hands on the clock hold more power over us than the hands of Jesus and we’re preoccupied with procedures rather than the prince of peace then we are in danger of letting our schedule overwhelm our story.”
    Such a word of truth to think about. I love to look at planners and to think about buying just the right one, but every.single.year…I buy one and I never.ever.fill.it.
    I buy them looking at the outside. I start out strong filling the boxes and planning diligently.
    Then life….
    And then I set them aside in the build up and in the collecting of days and I forget they are there because they schedule changes and then I am overwhelmed that I missed it again.
    And then I see the other schedulers diligently holding it together and I come back to my schedule, clean except for the 1/4th of the beginning, and I sigh.
    But God… He makes it all new.
    This year I bought a planner that I can take the pages out of it and put new ones in for the new year or new month or week. I can totally get rid of the guilt burden by starting new, right where I am, and it is ok. Just like it has always been but I didn’t know how to find that grace before.

    I enjoyed your story today and the it brought up in my own remembering!
    Blessings,
    dawn

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    1. Hi Dawn!!! I’m so glad you shared your story! Now I know I’m not alone! LOL ♥ And you pretty much described the same struggle I have with those planners– how the pages (both filled but not fulfilled and not filled out at all) can make me feel so guilty… my goodness! BUT God starts right where we are with lots of grace and I guess that’s how we should be approaching our schedules and days after all- knowing that it’s never to late to get back on track with Him and a little more grace for ourselves. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment, friend ♥

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  3. Heather, this is such a delightfully serendipitous post. I appreciate you giving me cause for pause and reflection.

    Maybe when it comes to calendars and planners and schedules, we should toss our red pens away and have many pencils and large erasers at the ready.

    And we alert and aware when we need to toss it all to the wind to spend time with someone near and dear …

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    1. I love it! Pencils and large erasers! May we always be alert and aware of God’s nudging and be willing to let Him write His story on us ♥ Beats our plans any old time! : )

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  4. Heather what a lovely post. Your beach photo makes me want to head out, but here in New England it’s a little too cold for me! I think you’re so right, we try and fit so many things in our schedule that sometimes we miss those God moments. I don’t want to miss those God moments. In fact, I want to make room for God to work in those spaces! I need to look at my schedule 🙂

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    1. Hi Crystal! Thanks for popping over! Don’t let the photos fool you– it was barely 70 degrees and the water was way to cold even to dip our toes in! Doing a bible study centering on making room for God now so your comment is spot on! Blessings on you and your schedule girl!

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  5. This is a great piece, Heather. I too, don’t want to miss the deeper story. I was about to write the very same thing someone said above: I fall in love with all the bright, cheery planners and get tickled when I pencil in my first few blocks, only to to look back months later at a wasted book. For how much I use up in those things I need to get a discount price haha!

    To be honest, I don’t even use pens on my kid’s school planners anymore because I have learned we are more comfortable being flexible. I would kinda get stressed looking at their school day if it was wrote in from top to bottom, a huge checklist to do. Not that planning is bad. But we have found that what works for us is leaving it blank and writing down what we do after. ((oh my gosh I just realized that sort of sounds like journaling..who would have thought!? LOL))

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    1. YES!! I love it– planner journaling!! I admit I did kind of a similar thing in high school noting every date or event sometimes weeks after the fact, but it was fun to look back and remember year to year! Maybe we should just write done lists instead of to-dos and leave it all in God’s hands! lol! ♥

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  6. So well said. You are right. We are hostages of our schedules. We wonder why we don’t have time for things when the most important thing is connecting to God first each day. Everything else will fall in place and If there is no time for some things, then I guess they weren’t meant to be. Easier said than done. Worry over nothing he said. Taking time for ourselves is not selfish, it is needed. If we can’t take care of ourselves, we certainly can take care of others as God has commanded.

    Love you girl.

    Georgia

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    1. We make time for what’s important to us is what I’ve always heard…and if we’re feeling out of balance, maybe it’s time to re-jigger our schedules! And I’m in total agreement about seeking God first! AMEN! ♥xo♥ to you!

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  7. I love this message! So many times I have to remind myself to stop and live in the moment, enjoy the moment, look around and appreciate this beautiful world God made for us to live in. I think God must smile when we take time out of our busy schedules to look at a gorgeous sunrise and say “Wow, what an amazing sunrise God has created”. I wish I could be more like my daughter who can stop moving forward so fast and enjoy the little things. For example, I have walked down my sidewalk several times in the last few days heading out to the car to keep that schedule going forward on time. But is wasn’t until yesterday when my daughter said “Stop! Our tulips are coming up! Look everyone!” And we stopped to admire all of the new tulips popping up. So I have to ask myself, how many more days of walking down that sidewalk would I make with my head down carrying three bags before I stopped to realize my favorite flowers were blooming?? I guess the cliche “stop to smell the flowers” is a cliche for a reason!

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    1. Amen girl! I am so guilty of doing the same thing- head down to the wind just trying to soldier through. There’s a new song out called “Just Breathe” by Jonny Diaz and it is so on point with your comment and all our crazy schedules that keep us from noticing God’s glory. Off to take a deep breath… Hope you get to do the same today ♥

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  8. That’s a beautiful quote from Rick Warren which pretty much sums up our purpose in life. Sometimes our schedules get in the way of our loving others.

    Wonderfully written as always, Heather.

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  9. “Story not schedule.” I love that so much. It’s very much what God has been writing on my heart about the blog, and reach, and platform and all that “stuff” that I’ve determined I’m not called to. It’s truly about the story He is writing over our lives – His story unfolding in and through us. “Guard that good thing entrusted to you.” 1 Timothy 1:14. It takes great bravery to set down all the “ought to’s” and “should do’s” and guard His story that has been entrusted to us to tell. But as you know, it’s His voice I want to hear above all the rest. Love this, friend.

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    1. oh your comment gave me chills ♥ Yes we should be more careful to guard the story rather than the schedule– what a great add to this idea! Seek Him First… and all other things will be added… and truly doesn’t every single pursuit of ours fall under the “other thing” category?!? Listening with you girl, for His voice in both our stories. Thanks for being here. xo

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