One Step at a Time

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by something on your To Do List? You know it needs to be done, and there may even be a deadline approaching, but you just can’t seem to get started? I have several of those projects staring me in the face. Some days I procrastinate, and some days I can’t even bear to think about them. Today I had great plans for tackling at least one of those projects but was diverted by a problem with my car that took up over half of my morning. One of the biggest issues is planning to do it all, or most of it, in one day. That approach rarely works because of days like today, so we should take a page from Nehemiah’s playbook.

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. It was a daunting task that two other groups had failed to complete. Nehemiah approached the problem differently than the other groups, and that approach can be applied to any project. First, he started with prayer. There was nothing he did that wasn’t preceded by prayer. Next, he looked at the project objectively from every angle to see what needed to be done. Then, he designated out sections to different groups. Finally, he followed through despite obstacles and opposition.

Starting with prayer is always good advice for any situation we may encounter, but sometimes we don’t think about in when doing practical everyday tasks. God wants to be involved in even the smallest details of our lives.

Looking objectively at a daunting task can be overwhelming at first, but until we get all of the details down, we won’t know exactly what is required or the best way to approach it. It is like cooking a recipe. You need to know what ingredients you need for the recipe to see if you have them all in the kitchen. If not, you need to add a shopping trip to the list.

While you may not have other people helping you with a task, it still helps to break things down into smaller jobs. That way if time is limited, you can still accomplish part of the job. Progress of any kind is still progress.

Finally, it is just a matter of not letting the world and everyday problems get in your way. You have to keep working until the project is done. It may take longer than you first thought, but it doesn’t matter as long as it gets done.

Take advice from Nehemiah and tackle big tasks one step at a time. Don’t let naysayers get you down. Focus on the goal and keep moving. Let God lead and he will help you through step by step until you get to the finish line.

Not Responding

Not Responding. Those two words seem to be the phrase of the day. I spent an aggravating hour, on and off, trying to reach the mortgage company to find out how to proceed with taking care of an issue. First, I waited in line on hold only to have the operator never pick up after 10 rings. I tried twice with same result. Finally dialed another number and got a response but forgot to clarify one thing. Started over and was sent to the same person’s voicemail that has not returned my last 3 voicemails…still not responding.

I went to the garage to see about mowing the yard. My tires all loose air, so I have to pump them up before I start every time. I pumped them up, but one tire looked suspiciously out of kilter. I backed the mower up a bit and my fears were confirmed. No matter how much air I tried to put in the tire, it was not responding. It had come off its rim.

Just now I decided I should just work on grading papers until I could get someone to assist me with the rim and downloaded a file. When I tried to open it, Word was not responding.

I was afraid to touch my knitting at that point, or anything else for that matter.Needless to say, I was getting very frustrated, but a thought occurred to me. I wonder how many times God has sent me a message or given me a task to do, and I was not responding. How many times has he left a voicemail that was un-returned, tried to work with stubborn material, or had his commands ignored? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

 

UFOs and the Power of Finishing

In knitting there are a lot of technical knitting terms, but there is also universally recognized jargon.  One such term that falls under jargon is UFO, which stands for Un-Finished Object. A UFO is when you start something and later discard it for any number of reasons, including it was too hard, confusing or boring. It then ends up under the bed, in the back of the closet or in the bottom of one of multiple knitting bags. If someone were to pick it up, it would most likely be unrecognizable to anyone else and possibly yourself. In contrast, a WIP (Work In Progress) is a project that you are actively working on or at least contemplating. You know what it is and have a good idea where you are even if you have laid it aside for the moment.

In a previous blog I wrote about having a few UFOs lying around. They had been lying around long enough to cease being a WIP. As a task-oriented person, UFOs bother me. Most of my goals for the New Year include finishing some things I started. For instance, a shelf of books that I’ve been meaning to read and some knitting UFOs that I found when I cleaned up the house for the holidays. I have read 6 of the books and finished 3 of the UFOs. Finishing those things makes me feel lighter and productive. It makes me want to finish other things.

One of the principles of physics is that an object in motion will stay in motion, and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon. I had become an object at rest, but the word rest is misleading. I was sitting still, but I was not resting. The goals I set for the New Year and the cleaning fit I get when it is time to put away the Christmas decorations set me in motion. The more I finish, the more I want to finish. Then, I can move on to new things.

So, do yourself a favor. Look around for a UFO and turn it into a finished project. It will make you feel better. If you totally are not interested in the UFO anymore, get rid of it. Frog the project (undo the stitches and roll the yarn into a ball) and do something else with it, or just give it to someone else. Lighten your self-imposed load and free yourself to do something else, just don’t become an object at rest or worse yet…a UFO.