Five Ways To Combat Stress, a Guest Post by Dan Erickson

Dan Erickson writes about writing and blogging in a hectic world.  His blog,  “writing for the sake of my humanity,” is an eclectic combination of writing and blogging advice, poetry, music, and minimalism.  Dan has written two books including, A Train Called Forgiveness , based on his personal experience of being the child victim of an extreme religious cult.

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Dan EricksonStress.

I’ve had my share.

I was the child victim of a religious cult, basically a slave to a megalomaniac cult leader.  After my escape as a 16-year-old boy, I went to the opposite extreme and enjoyed my freedom a little too much.  I spent years wondering aimlessly, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, which be the way, didn’t relieve the stress.

After a dozen years of self-abuse, I finally found my way back to normal.  Whatever that is?  I went back to college at the age of 30, earned my master’s degree by 38, and was married about the same time.

My spouse wound up having extreme mental health issues.  More stress.  We lost our firstborn child.  Stress on top of stress.  She couldn’t care for our second.  Her meddling parents tried to convince her she could.  Triple stress.  That led to a divorce that took five years to complete, and to me becoming the single parent to my daughter when she was 11-months old.  Superstress.  Yes, that’s a new word.

So as you can see, I’ve dealt with my share of stress.  Recently, I added more stress to my plate.  I started a blog (or three).  I wrote a book (or two).  I bought a house (only one).  And now I’m teaching double-overload classes as a college instructor in order to pay for the house.  Geez!  Will I ever learn?

Yes!  I will.  And I have.  What I’ve learned is that one doesn’t necessarily have to eliminate stressful events, but rather there are ways to relieve stress during those events.  The key is balance.

Stress becomes harder to bear when we focus only on the stressors.  So we must find other outlets, other places to focus our energy.  We need to learn to compartmentalize our activities.

Here are five things I’ve done to help myself through the most stressful times in my life.

  1. Eating right: I put this at the top of the list because it’s essential to well being.  When we eat foods that lack nutrients, it’s like fueling our bodies with bad gas.  If you get bad gas in your car, it can cause it to sputter and run inefficiently.  When we eat junk we get tired and worn down.  This is the last thing we need when we’re under heavy stress.  Make sure to spend the extra time and money to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, and other foods rich in nutrients.
  2. Exercise: My divorce was strung out and frustrating.  The waiting and the expense was enough to drive anyone crazy.  So… I ran.  I discovered that running is an excellent way of dealing with pent up negative energy.  Something happened when I ran.  It was meditative.  I focused only on the moment, each step, my breath.  That allowed me to disengage from the stress of the divorce.  Exercise helps us think clearer.  It’s an essential part of dealing with life’s stressors.
  3. Team support: I’ve always been a bit of a maverick.  If I can’t do it myself then forget it.  When I became a single dad, I discovered that I could not be a one-man show.  I had to reach out to others.  What I found is that there are a lot of good people out there who are willing to help out someone in distress.  Several members of the church I attend stepped up to help take turns watching my daughter so that I could work and take occasional getaways.  Having people in your corner during stressful times is a Godsend.
  4. I’m a musician.  Music has always been an incredible outlet for me.  But sometimes life has become so complicated that I’ve set my music aside for short periods of time.  When I’m stressed I’ve found that returning to music is another effective self-therapy.  For you it might be writing, cooking, or gardening.  But having a hobby to turn to helps to balance things out a bit.
  5. Meditation: I’m not a Zen Master.  I’m not a Yogi.  In fact, I’m a Christian by faith.  But I’ve found that meditation can be extremely helpful in relieving stress.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in prayer.  I do.  And I practice prayer, too.  But sometimes prayer can cause us to focus on the problem when we should let it go.  I’ve found that practicing simple breathing exercises while letting the mind relax, letting thoughts dissipate, can bring down tension levels considerably.

I’m sure there are other things one can do to combat stress.  From my own experience, finding a balance that includes good nutrition, team support and healthy activities has worked wonders.

DISCUSSION: Tell me about a stressful situation in your life.  What methods were most effective for you in dealing with the stress?

Dan invited me to guest post on his site, “writing for the sake of my humanity,” earlier this month. Check out the post, “writing, why you should trust the process,” on Dan’s blog. Be sure to peruse the rest of the site while you’re there!

For the month of April, Struggle to Victory is focusing on my virtual influences by featuring guest posts, by guest posting on other sites, and by highlighting some of the regular visitors to this blog. Hopefully, you’ll be encouraged, strengthened & challenged by these people as much as I have on a regular basis, people I am proud to say have an impact on my thinking in ways that matter eternally.

Virtual Influences

InfluenceFor the month of April, Struggle to Victory is focusing on my virtual influences by featuring guest posts, by guest posting on other sites, and by highlighting some of the regular visitors to this blog. Hopefully, you’ll be encouraged, strengthened & challenged by these people as much as I have on a regular basis, people I am proud to say have an impact on my thinking in ways that matter eternally.

With that in mind, the following is a list of individuals with whom I interact with on a regular basis on this blog, on their own blogs, and/or on other blogs. Please take the time to visit some (or all) of them over the next few days, and I think you’ll soon realize why they are part of my virtual influences.

There are others for sure, but these are the ones who not only do I read their blogs regularly, but they are regular participants on Struggle to Victory over the last few months. Many of these individuals are also people I email periodically, some more than others, for advice, prayer, etc. I truly am blessed to have these godly individuals in at the core of my virtual influences.

DISCUSSION: Who are the individuals at the core of your virtual influence? Give kudos to anyone on this list, or add to the list with some of your favorites!

5 Ways to Be Strong for the Stressed

Strength for stressedLife fluctuates. Sometimes we live in more struggle than victory. But sometimes, we get to bask in the mountaintop sunshine. Most of the time, though, we seem to live with a mixture of both struggle and victory.

Fortunately, for the most part, we each fluctuate at different levels and paces. For example, sometimes my exercise partner encourages me out the door. Other times, I’m forcing her to meet for a run. Sometimes my husband provides stability and help in my busyness; other times, he leans on me.

What relationships in your life reflect this same exchange of encouragement?

I remember a time when I did all of the leaning and needed all of the encouraging. I felt so buried in struggle I had no strength to lend to others. What others did for me during that time taught and prepared me for how to be strong for others later.

The following 5 ways to be strong for the stressed stand out as tremendous helps during my own season of needing to draw strength from my others:

  1. Encourage. While what encourages differs from one person to the next, finding small ways to encourage others helps them put one foot in front of another.  A “praying for you” text or even just a smile from across the room go a long way in encouraging someone when they are struggling.
  2. Listen. Simply listening to a person talk about struggles helps tremendously. Whether it just allows that person to vent or helps them find solutions, authentic listening truly relieves the intensity of stress.
  3. Create space. Find ways to help unload the person’s schedule. Take a friend’s kids for the evening or clean her house while she’s at work. Giving the gift of margin creates breathing room that might be just enough to encourage hope for more permanent relief.
  4. Pray. Often, someone who is overloaded got that way because they refused to allow others to help them. No matter what you can pray for them, and you can let them know you are praying for them. So many times, I could sense extra strength coming through the prayers of those who loved me.
  5. Create comfort. When stressed out, comfort seems absent and quite distant. Bring a friend coffee or make him a favorite meal or treat. Find out what brings comfort, even if only for a moment.

Strength for OthersFor the first time in 20 years, I’m less stressed than my husband, kids and most of my friends. A new experience, to be sure. Perhaps a better way to put it is that I am just balanced and in rhythm right now, and they are all going through times of intense struggle and less balance. I know this will probably change, that I’ll need their strength more and they mine less at some point. But for now, I can take what others did for me and pay it forward.

DISCUSSION: What other ways can you suggest to be strong for others who are stressed and overloaded?

Refined by Waiting

Christian Powerpoint Religious BulletinFour years ago, I crashed and burned physically, mentally and spiritually, I couldn’t work, and I barely functioned at home. Socially, I ceased to exist. Spiritually, only getting by.

A big part of my crash and burn involved adrenal fatigue. Essentially, healing from adrenal fatigue requires a lot of waiting. My body, mind and spirit needed replenished after years of stress, continual drain and constant overload. Only waiting and resting could make that happen.

Life as a whole involves a lot of waiting, small and big pockets of time spent waiting for what’s next.  All too often, I try ending the waiting on my own by forcing “things” to happen. Never works out all that well.

Who likes to wait, after all? Not me! Yet, so much of our lives require waiting. Lines. Arrivals. Departures. Growth. Maturity.

Since life involves so much waiting, we’re all experts, right? Again, not me. Just put another car in front of me going a bit slower than I want to go to illustrate how easily I get frustrated with waiting, with life moving slower than I think it should. Can you relate?

Focused WaitingGod-Or-My-Agenda

Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers calls waiting “the hottest flame” because it reveals the depths of our hearts. He also notes that God “is capable of applying as much heat as it takes to surface the garbage in our hearts.”

Garbage? The arrogance that makes me need to get ahead of others in line. The pride that refuses to admit mistakes. The lack of peace that leads me to force immediate answers rather than waiting for well-thought out responses.

Sometimes, pure selfishness fuels my inability to wait. But equally, and perhaps even more so, I simply give up on the waiting. I give up on God’s way and pursue life on my own terms.

Depth takes time to develop. This is true of one’s character as much as it is of one’s relationships. God wants to develop that depth, and He knows that waiting is often the best tool for making that happen.

A focus on Him in our waiting reveals opportunities from Him to cultivate depth. A focus on Him in our waiting leads us to pray for the mother of four in front of us at the checkout counter and to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study as we allow our bodies the physical rest needed to recover from stress overload.

But a focus on the waiting itself and how much we dislike it turns our gaze toward pushing ahead and ending the wait, which causes us to miss out on God’s refining of our character. Instead of pushing and forcing and moving to get rid of the waiting, consider what Sorge says about how to wait.

“Run after Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Waiting is aggressive repose. Waiting is a stationary pursuit. Waiting is intense stillness. Waiting is vigilant listening.”

Be someone willing to wait for God, no matter the length of time. Be willing to give Him both your small moments and your seasons of waiting. Be aggressive in your rest, extreme in your stillness and vigilant as you listen for Him.

DISCUSSION: What does waiting for God mean in a practical sense? How do we live life and wait for God at the same time? Also, how does our ability to wait on God impact our relationships?

This post is a part of a weekly book discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact and Sarah Salter of Living Between the Lines. Be sure to check out their posts!

A Detailed Life

Ever had your car professionally detailed? I have not, technically, but it was done to the “new” cars I have purchased. The pre-owned vehicles once moved and breathed in other lives but transferred into my life with the previous owners detailed out.

Neither have I detailed a vehicle myself. Why? Because it’s tedious work. Detailing involves getting into cracks and crevices and digging out accumulated grime. It’s taking out the floor mats and vacuuming. It’s reaching way under seats and getting all the crumbs and forgotten pencils, papers and water bottles. Sometimes, it results in “that’s where that is” or “I forgot all about that” or “Eeewww!”

Detailing sort of hits a reset button. It reorganizes and renews. Changing outside appearances in most areas of life really isn’t all that difficult, but making lasting change where our inner life matches our outer life, where the details of life balance with one another, can be a real struggle. Detailing our inner lives means digging into the cracks and crevices and reaching way underneath the surface to hidden places to find the forgotten, lost and unsavory.

2014 Word 365 – Details

Details 4Detailing my life, which I consider focusing in on the details as much as the Holy Spirit leads, in 2014 will lead me to do everything I do “simply, slowly and clearly,” in essence, to get into the cracks and crevices in a way that allows for hitting the reset button in some areas and discovering new direction in others. Specifically, focusing on the details of life will help me…

  • Simplify. My natural tendency involves complicating everything. If I don’t deliberately think of keeping the details of my life simple, I get overwhelmed easily. Focusing on the details will better establish a habit of simplicity.
  • Slow down. When I read, I move quickly to reach the end in order to move on to another book. But I miss out on the processing and applying. When I write, I also do so quickly and fail to carefully consider every word. Listening, too, often involves forming responses instead of truly hearing. Slowing down will amplify the quality of the time I spend in my favorite activities and with the people I love most.
  • Clarify.  Focusing on the details will also help clarify my focus. If I can find ways to stay clear in my focus (God’s will for the details of my life), I believe my life will be simpler. I also believe I will be more productive the clearer I can get and keep my focus.

Focus Determines Reality

In Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, Qui Gon Jinn tells Anakin, “Your focus determines your reality.” Unfortunately, Anakin’s focus continually drifted toward fear, resulting in him choosing the path of darkness.

As I choose to focus on the details of life in 2014, I too realize that my focus will determine my reality. If I fail to detail certain areas in my life, I may continue down a hurried and complicated path. I may continue to find myself increasingly confused and less productive. But if I guard my focus, I can walk the path of an amplified life that produces and inspires depth of character.

Details 5So once again, as I refocus on the two verses in Isaiah given as a focus for my life almost four years ago, I realize the necessity of creating a detailed life, one that exists in immediate and thorough obedience.

DISCUSSION: How’s your focus?

Want help with your goal setting?
Check out the terrific resources offered in
New Year’s Bible Study” at Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer.

3 Ways to Reduce Busyness & Discover Simplicity

busyToo busy?

Recently, I overheard a friend say, “I am done with holidays.” She explained that holidays were just too stressful and gave her too much to do along with having to deal with the drama that often accompanies family gatherings.

Since I know this person well, I also know that these words really characterize her whole life. She always has too much to do, and she’s always stressed. Which basically means that the holiday (Thanksgiving in this case) undeservedly received the blame for her stress.

Why are you so busy?busyness

Our culture is one of busyness, and I truly feel burdened for those I know and love who are simply too busy. This burden comes from living in that reality, being broken by it, and rebuilding a simple life without the weight of busyness. In other words, I’ve been there and know the way out. More importantly, I know that there IS a way out.

Much of this busyness comes from the seasons of life. Kids need attention, loved ones are sick, work is overloaded and ministry calls. This busyness, to a large extent, is simply the inevitable busyness of life itself.

But busyness reaches toxic levels when we, by deliberate choice, choose to do more than we are capable of doing. These are the things we say “yes” to because we “should” or because “someone has to do it.” They are the things born out of perfectionism and long-standing habits. This toxic level reaches epic proportions when we pile on “things to do” as a way to avoid doing the hard work of creating a balanced life focused on true priorities. Instead, we get lost in the multitude of activities, obligations and commitments.

When we’re too busy, we don’t have time for deepening relationships. We don’t have time to work through issues that created rifts. We don’t have time to read that which would deepen our character. We don’t have time to get the rest we need. We don’t have time to make healthy choices. And, worst of all, we don’t have time to spend one-on-one with God.

But my friend who said, “I am done with holidays” actually got at a very important point. Busyness and overload seem amplified during the holidays. We may casually notice at other times, but busyness suddenly jumps out as out of control during the holidays. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years seems to magnify the need to slow down and enjoy friends and family. It emphasizes the crucial need to worship God made flesh, which has a way of making us realize our desperate need for a simpler life.

Trapped in busyness?

Many people feel trapped in busyness. They realize that busyness creates an inner conflict that seems impossible to reconcile. This becomes amplified during the holidays and is really why my friend meant when she said, “I am done with holidays.” With that in mind, let’s explore three ways to reduce busyness and discover simplicity no matter the time of year.

busy 2Reduce Busyness and Discover Simplicity

1.) Make small changes. Small changes done consistently over time add up to make a huge difference. Becoming instantly un-busy won’t happen, but making small adjustments will slowly reduce busyness. Taking your time with this process rather than trying to “quit cold turkey” increases its staying power.

2.) Accept the painful truth. You will have to say “no” to some good things. You will have to let things you really want to do go in order to do the things that are truly important.

3.) Commit busyness to prayer. Ask God to show you how to become less busy. Ask Him to show you how to simplify. And most importantly, ask Him to change your heart towards busyness and to help you realize that obedience to Him does not mean saying “yes” to every opportunity that passes through your awareness.

Transforming a busy life is really hard. It requires brokenness. It requires letting go of attachment to accomplishments. It means admitting that under our own strength, we try to do too much. And it means admitting that without some help and without deliberate choice, we will continue feeling the increasing weight of busyness.

Sunday Reflections – The Privilege of Prayer

While the majority of countries in the world elect leaders by vote, there are 15 countries in the world that still do not elect leaders by voting. In some countries that do elect by vote, many have compulsory voting and fine people who fail to vote. In the United States, voting is optional, a privilege we can choose to exercise or not.

Voting provides just one example of privilege that some people have and others do not.

What do you think of when you hear the word privilege?

A privilege could be considered an advantage, allowance, benefit, birthright, entitlement, exemption, favor, freedom, immunity, liberty & opportunity. It gives someone advantage over others and provides benefit to some or one that others don’t get. Privilege can also exempt someone from certain obligations and give them special access.

My favorite example of experiencing privilege comes from when my oldest son (about 8 at the time) and I were traveling with my husband who had earned elite flying status because of how much he had flown the previous year. My husband’s privileged status gave us first class seating along with its accompanying advantages. Our son, who was an experienced business class flyer, expressed the feeling of privilege when right after he sat in his first-class seat exclaimed, “Now this is flying.”

Who gets privileges?

What is often considered privilege comes for many reasons. The reasons that quickly come to mind when we think of privilege in our culture include having money, social status, the right heritage and even, in some cultures, the right gender. We might even think of famous actors, singers and authors as having privilege, though their loss of privacy might negate the feeling of privilege to a great extent.

Prayer is a Privilege!

Our discussion thus far has revolved around what our culture considers privilege. But most people don’t consider prayer when they think of privilege. Yet, prayer should not only feel like a privilege, it should feel more special than almost any other advantage we posses. Unfortunately, though, it all too often feels like a requirement and something we “should” do. Prayer sometimes feels like an obligation. Why do you think that is?

How is prayer a privilege?

Let’s take the reasons our culture considers something to be a privilege or not and look at why prayer trumps all other privileges.

  1. Complete Access. Jesus provided complete (Hebrews 4:14-16) and constant (Ephesians 6:18) access for us to God the Father. No longer do we have to meet the requirements of the Old Testament system of sacrifice. Jesus provided a better – a complete – way!
  2. No Limits. The way to God comes through Jesus. Once we commit our lives to Jesus, we have access without limits (Hebrews 9:6-8).
  3. Irrevocable. No one can take away the privilege of prayer. No one can stop you from praying. Paul & Silas in prison (Acts 16:25) illustrate this point about prayer well.
  4. Advantages. There are too many to name here, so let’s touch on two. Prayer brings healing (James 5:16) and unification (John 15:5 & Matthew 18:19). If that’s all I got out of prayer, that would be tremendous.
  5. Exemptions. Prayer also helps prevent many things from happening in our lives. Again, there are many, but let’s name three. Prayer can keep us from giving up (Luke 18:1-7), from anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7) and from guilt (1 John 1:9).

What will you do today to exercise the privilege of prayer? What advantages of prayer do you enjoy regularly?

How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2

While in the throes of depression for many years, the idea of taking thoughts captive simply seemed impossible. In fact, the idea to do so never really entered my mind. After I felt a release from depression somewhere in my 28th year of existence, the ability to take thoughts captive began to grow within me.

God used my husband, a godly counselor, my awesome pastor, my faithful exercise partner and several people in my church family to move me along in this process. Even more, though, His Holy Spirit worked within me to train me and teach me how to wear and use His armor. (See How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1 of 2 for more on the role of the armor of God in this process.)

There are five strategies that taught me to take my thoughts captive. These five strategies make up the continual training plan I use regularly to never again be in a place where my thoughts hold me captive.

  1. Retrain thoughts. My negative, self-defeating thoughts needed saturated with scripture. Reading A LOT of positive books also helped reprogram my thought processes. Also, I had to be very careful with whom I spent time in fellowship.
  2. Learn truth. Because my thoughts were so messed up, I had to find out what God was saying about what I was thinking. Since the best way to know falsehood is to study the truth, I continually sought to bring my thoughts up against God’s truth.
  3. Become teachable. I am ashamed to say that I was not very teachable as a teenager and for most of my twenties. I had to learn to become teachable and willing to change.
  4. Admit fault. I had to recognize and admit that my thoughts were leading me astray. For a time, I couldn’t trust them much at all and had to rely on others who were thinking clearly and based on God’s truth. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at repenting when my thoughts wander from truth.
  5. Maintain. Recently, an online friend advised me to say this simple prayer, “Lord, You know my weaknesses. Speak to me.” This prayer works well for me in a lot of ways, not the least of which is to help take my thoughts captive. But here’s the important step: You have to listen for God to speak. This is the heart of the maintenance program. Then, I cycle through the other steps (not necessarily in any particular order) routinely.

With complete certainty, I can say that this training process saved my marriage and my sanity. And as I continually cycle through it, I use a variety of methods to help create a more full and complete captivity of my thoughts. The methods I use the most are:

  1. Prayer. We are never disconnected from God.
  2. Journaling. Helps tremendously with focus. Barb Raveling’s post on Truth Journaling is a terrific resource.
  3. Idea book. I have a notebook where I record all my ideas. Just getting them out of my head and onto paper seems to put them in captivity and to keep them from taking over my mind.
  4. Accountability. Having an accountability partner to talk to and to help apply God’s truth takes thoughts captive by removing emotion, which can taint our ability to think clearly.
  5. Fellowship. Know the difference between fellowship and socializing. We need fellowship to grow emotionally and spiritually. (Note: Watch for a future post on fellowship.)

Please know that by no means do I think this topic has been sufficiently or completely covered. What I can testify to is that the two posts on this topic do accurately reflect my struggle to understand and apply God’s truth in a very sensitive and vulnerable place in my life.

DISCUSSION: What advice do you have for “taking every thought captive”?

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Recommendations for Daily Devotions

Lately, my morning devotions have become somewhat eclectic. What I mean by this is that instead of using one source for my study (such as one devotional book), I have been using several small sources. I certainly don’t advocate against using a single devotion, but I do believe that routine can become a dangerous place. (See The Danger of Routine and Habit in Our Prayer Lives for more on this topic.)

For me, mixing up my routine gets my spirit going in new directions and keeps my from going through the motions. The Holy Spirit never ceases to use the small steps that we take to do amazing feats within us. In my life, this has meant that He connects the small sources that I am using to direct me to the dusty corners in my spirit and to clean out the cobwebs. Sometimes, this involves using all of what I study to focus on one main issue. Sometimes, this involves getting at several small issues.

For what it’s worth, I thought I would share some of the sources that I have been using lately as a sort of recommendation for trying something new & different, especially if you feel like your routine is working against you. In addition to the wonderful blog posts I receive regularly from a variety of blogs (most of which I have featured on my blog through a guest post, recommendation or source link), I offer the following resources as ideas to help stimulate your daily devotional time.

What resources do you or have you used that you would like to recommend?

Guest Post – 3 Moves That Get You Closer to God

Today’s guest post comes from T. Neal Tarver, a native Texan living in Wisconsin, Tom has served churches in Texas and Wisconsin. He, his wife Ellen, and son Daniel lived and worked for three years as missionaries in the Russian Far East. Tom speaks enough Russian to both converse and confuse.

In 2011, Tom was selected as a semi-finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest. He’s also been a two-time winner of MBT’s “Make Every Word Count Flash Fiction” contest. His debut novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes, is available through WestBow Press, Amazon, BARNES & NOBLE, and other retail outlets.

He currently writes from his home in Richland Center, Wisconsin, or from wherever his travels take him. He posts articles weekly at A Curious Band of Others. Tom has spoken in churches across America, and in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

3 Moves That Get You Closer to God

Doggone it!

No Internet connection again.

Reboot.

Check the cable connections.

Flick the router power button off and on again.

Still … nothing … nothing at all.

Grrr!

This has been a problem I’ve had for weeks now—a hit-or-miss Internet connection and it’s been more miss than hit. I’ve had trouble communicating via email. I haven’t been able to Google facts. I’ve gotten assignments in a day later than planned. Pictures for a newspaper article couldn’t go out when I needed them to.

All because … doggone it … no connection with the Internet.

Until …

I moved.

I don’t mean changed addresses. I simply mean I got up from the kitchen table where I was comfortable and started working at the coffee table (which isn’t comfortable but, hey, now I’m connected).

Been having trouble connecting with God lately? May I suggest you move.

Move your body. If you tend to nod off during prayer time (and I have), maybe you need to relocate. If I sit in my comfortable easy chair, I nod. If I kneel at my easy chair, I tend to remain awake and aware of what I’m doing.

Even better for me, I walk. The movement stimulates my mind and allows me to pray with greater energy.

Move your schedule. In other words, reshape your schedule around your priorities. I had to rethink my email priority. It swallows up enormous amounts of time if I let it. In the past, I’d check email first thing in the morning, but what I thought would take a few moments would chomp out a huge hunk of my time.

I still check email but I’ve moved it down the priority list. My prayer and devotional time zipped to the top of the list (mainly because, if I wait until I have time, I find no time in the day).

Move the clutter. For financial reasons, we decided television in our home wasn’t a priority so we dropped cable (and without it, we get no programs). I am amazed how much time I have for other things, like sleep, when I’m not watching sports on television.

This also opens up reading time, studying time, devotional time, walking-the-dog time … I think you get the point.

I moved something out and allowed time for other things to move in, including time with the Lord.

One benefit of the move to the coffee table is I’m closer to my wife (she does her computer work—editing, Facebook conversations, etc.—on the couch by the coffee table). I find when I move my body, my schedule, and the clutter I’m also closer to God.

What moves would you add to the list?