Have you taken time this week to write on your calendars or enter in your computer or phone important things you need to do? Do you feel overloaded and out of time for things that matter most? Excessive time spent planning, preparing, even doing things for work, church, home, school, recreation, civic, extended family, and personal desires can take a toll on one’s health and happiness. These are good things we do with good intentions, but going to the extreme with anything can overpower schedules and destroy relationships. Taking time for faith and family first is wise…with wonderful dividends.
Did you read last week’s column about my “filled-up” prayer journal? I pulled it from the shelf before beginning this story and held it close to my heart after reading the words on the cover, “Every Day Is a Gift from God!” I pondered the truth of those words, opened the journal to the first page and read the prayer requests and praises that James and I entered together on Oct. 8, 2013… our children and grandchildren were first for prayer; our love was first for praise. The page was filled with requests for people dear to our hearts and those we didn’t know. Many of those listed on that page have passed away. Thumbing through the pages, I remembered mornings with James and those we prayed for with joy swelling inside, especially the morning we were praising God for a great doctor’s report (for healing we had entrusted to Him). Before we prayed, James picked me up, lifted me high in the air, sat me on our kitchen counter, wrapped his arms around my old blue housecoat, prayed with sweet passion, and sealed our love with a kiss. That old song that says, “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before,” rings truth when time is taken to embrace His love. The same is true for loved ones. The choice is ours to make every day sweeter or sourer, which happens when time for close relationships is crowded out by busyness and burdensome living. I remembered Tim and me holding hands and kneeling beside our bed to pray together on our wedding night. We started a tradition that night that continues in our family today, holding hands and saying the Lord’s Prayer together. The last page in my filled-up prayer journal was dated Jan. 21, 2016. Our children and grandchildren’s names were penned again, along with my brother who turned 58 that day, my sister who spent January with me helping prepare for Rise Up, and for safety during the storm. My praise was for Heaven.
James and I enjoyed rising early and spending time together before our workday began. Writing names in our journal and praying together are gifts that keep on giving…even after James is gone. It took time! Some mornings we scrambled for time but always took it…to watch the weather as we dressed, exercise, write in our journal, hold hands to pray, and kiss one another good bye. Taking time to start our day with honor and love for our Lord, each other, loved ones, and embrace our life together with passion gives peace and joy beyond understanding. I see now that God sent James to teach me the beauty of taking time to slow down and enjoy blessings that can get lost in busyness. Has God put someone in your life to love, cherish, and teach you things too? What a blessing when we recognize His presence and power in our lives and restore relationships with people who color our world with love.
My filled-up prayer journal has a resting place on a shelf in my war room with several others that date back to 1979 when Tim, Cameron, and I made Clinton home. Those prayer journals will continue to be a source of strength in healing as I refer to them through seasons of growing older and coming closer to the time when my work here is done. Entering today’s date in my new prayer journal reminds me that each day truly is a gift. It is our choice to open it, enjoy living out loud in love, and share our stories.
My prayer entries today include names of family and friends of Tim’s Gift and Illuminate who worked so hard helping prepare for Rise Up – Restore 2016. There are too many to list, but God knows each one who prayed for and contributed to this local Christian Conference. My prayer is that each of you who came, supported, sponsored, or gave in ways I may never know, will be blessed beyond measure. My praise is that God’s sweet Holy Spirit was in that place as people testified in word and song of how their lives had been RESTORED.
May each of you reading this story be restored with a closer relationship with family and Father God. Take time to put Him and them first in your daily schedules. Begin a prayer journal, find a time for you and your family to pray for people and praise God for the gifts He gives every single day. Most of all, preserve that precious time together! Do not allow busy schedules to steal your joy and keep you from opening the gifts that matter most and last forever.
Take time to restore relationships today; trust God to protect your tomorrows. Pray together first and everything else will fall into place…piece by piece…per His plan.
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.