How to P.R.E.P. for a Fabulous Fall!
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Summer 2014 is only a memory… Labor Day has come and gone! Whether you are back into the routine of filling backpacks and lunchboxes or at the stage of filling your calendar with work or volunteering, FALL can be a season of gratitude and fresh beginnings.
Since I juggle three jobs (writing, speaking and high school teaching) Fall is my serious kick-off-and-start-running time. May I recommend my own strategy for balancing life at this time of year? I call it P.R.E.P:
R – RHYTHM
E – EXTRAS
P – PRIORITY
PLAN – Right now, lay out your calendar pages for September, October, November, and December and write in everything already scheduled: work, activities, appointments, concerts, church services, Bible studies, etc. Include your childrens’ games, recitals, field trips and school holidays as soon as you get the notice. Take a look at the next four months. What is already on the calendar is a given – the empty space is now where your decisions for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ will occur. If there is (horrors) no white space, honey you are already in trouble! Pray about what might need to be reconsidered or culled from your life. I raised 4 kids and we chose to limit each of them to only 2 extra curricular activities per season. (They turned out alright because they had to learn early in life that you can’t ‘do it all’ – at least not at one time!)
RHYTHM – What time of day, day of the week, and month of the year do you find you have the most creative energy? It’s helpful to know your own unique ‘rhythm’ and plan accordingly. For instance, I’m a morning person so most of my creative writing is done early in the day and my ‘no mind’ tasks are relegated to the evening hours when my brain slows down. Also, after a full weekend of speaking, I’m usually ‘peopled out’ and thus choose to not schedule hospitality and too much outreach for Mondays. In addition, twice a year (January and July) I set aside an extended period of time to intentionally be quiet before the Lord and do some prayerful evaluation of my life on all levels – personal, professional, physical and spiritual. This includes a lot of listening….
EXTRAS – As you anticipate the Fall 2014 season, what are the Special “extras” in your life and how can you set aside the resources to prepare for them? I have a College Reunion in October (in SC) and a Family Wedding in November (in TN), not to mention adult children coming home to CT for Christmas throughout the holidays. If I begin now to set aside funds for gifts, travel, entertainment and house prep, I can actually enjoy the process of these events. What about you? Do you get frantic in November and December because you haven’t been strategic about the holidays (even though you know they are coming)? This year, try to do a bit each week in the fall towards your goals. Then enjoy!
PRIORITY – Long before now, you already established your life priorities and how you would choose to invest your time and resources based on your own life values. So today, as kids go back to school, a new church calendar is launched, and the air begins to get crisp and cool, once again you need to visit those “constants” – time with God, family relationships, health strategy, and… (you fill in the blanks here). In addition to confirming daily habits, it’s a great idea to nail down perhaps at least one goal per month. Mine are: September – Finish writing for all fall and Christmas speaking events and start using Fit Bit. October – Be extra supportive of husband as he seeks God’s direction in newly retired life. November – Concentrate on outreach and encouragement to all extended family members. December – Observe Advent daily with Mike and begin writing a new book proposal.
Remember, though it is our job to P.R.E.P., we must continually offer our lives up to God and trust that He will guide and re-direct as He sees fit.
“We plan the way we want to live,
but only God makes us able to live it.” Psalm 16.9 MSG
Fall is a grand and glorious season! And, friend, it’s HERE! Rather than be overwhelmed or overscheduled, use the P.R.E.P. model (Prepare, Rhythm, Extras, Priority) and remember to be thankful for the Gift of each new day.
©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell EncouragingWords.net
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