The Wisdom of Intentional Living

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Next October will be my husband’s and my 25th wedding anniversary. Steve did some research a few months ago and sent me an email on some possible anniversary trips for us to pick from. We had been talking about what we might want to do for more than a year, but someone had to make a move and start dreaming before we could take a step in the right direction. I’m thankful that my husband got the ball rolling.

One thing Steve and I have learned over the years is, if we don’t set the money aside for things like date nights, marriage trips and family vacations, something else will always come up to take that money. Since we don’t want that to happen we have to be intentional about continuing to set some aside whenever we can.

Don’t get me wrong, Steve and I talk often about how thankful we are and how we don’t need vacations or an anniversary trip to give us joy. Our joy comes from our relationship with God. He is truly our satisfaction. We just believe it’s neat to honor our marriage by doing something special together and we LOVE us a good marriage getaway, so it is a win-win situation. But it wasn’t just going to happen on it’s own. We had to start by dreaming, praying and taking action!

It makes me so happy when I see couples being intentional about scheduling dates with each other, dates with their kids, family vacations, personal retreats and marriage getaways because I know when people make these types of choices they are investing in their future.

I fully realize there is only so much money to go around and I’m certainly not suggesting people go into debt to do these things, but I like it when people have the positive attitude that says, we can start somewhere. We can start with what we do have. Even if we don’t have money to go out on a date this month, we’re not going to let that stop us. We’ll do a stay-at-home date. Steve and I do this on a regular basis!

If Steve and I do not have all the money saved for our trip by next October then we will simply wait and save for another year before going. We’re not going to go into debt for an anniversary trip, that’s not necessary. We just need to be patient and continuing setting money aside until we have what we need.

If you get a chance, check out my blog posts titled What’s Rest Got To Do With It and Plan A Dream Date With Your Spouse. There are more good tips in these posts along the lines of intentional living, the value of rest and the importance of taking time to dream!

We can’t just work, work, work our lives away. I know that life is demanding and often there seems to be a never-ending list of things to do. In fact, just last night I stood in the kitchen with my family and wrote down a list of what needs to be accomplished in the next 3 days. It felt overwhelming and I said to my family, this list makes me feel anxious. But then I said I know I can choose anxiety right now or we can pray about this. We chose prayer. We stood there in the kitchen and Steve led us in prayer over all the things we needed to accomplish.

Oh, and writing and publishing a blog post was not on my list. God gave me this post idea after I made the list, but I’ve learned and am continuing to learn, when God says go, you go and when God says stop, you stop. 

If we are doing what we are doing according to His plan and His will it all falls into place. Our list of jobs is really not the problem, but it can become a big problem if we don’t give it to God in prayer and ask Him for help.

I 100% guarantee you that every single job on my list that has to be done in the next 3 days will be done and in addition – writing and publishing this blog post. How can I guarantee that? Experience with doing things through God’s grace instead of my own efforts these past 3.5 years. It works out every single time when we trust Him.

Now, He may show me something on the list that can wait until next week or He may show me a better way to accomplish something than the way I had planned to go about it, but the things that have to get done will get done. In fact, they already are.

I had a highly productive, grace-filled day today and I know for sure this is because I turned to God and asked for His help yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m so confident in God’s ability at this point from seeing the miracles He works in my life day in and day out as I choose to put my trust in Him.

Now, back to what I was saying! We cannot just work our lives away. It’s awesome to work hard. I believe in working hard, but it is also God’s will for us to have fun and rest and relax and really, the Holy Spirit wants to teach us to do everything we do from a place of rest, including work!

But regarding the practical aspects of scheduling, Steve and I do talk about this pretty often because we experience, just like you do, that the duties of life can swallow us up real quick if we don’t stand our ground. We absolutely refuse to live running from one thing to another to another at breakneck speed.

Our kids do one extra curricular activity at a time, not three at a time. This is what seems to work for us and keeps us in a place, schedule wise, where we can remain in peace and we know for sure that it is God’s will for us to live in peace.

I encourage you to start making some intentional decisions regarding things that you want out of life.

Let me give you some examples:

Steve and I want to have a great marriage so we go on dates and communicate regularly. We aren’t perfect at this or any of the examples I will be giving you, for that matter.

In fact, just a few months ago we realized that we became so busy we had neglected to schedule our date nights. Time just flew by as it always does, but when we started feeling the lack of fun, laughter and communication in our marriage we said, “Let’s get back to date nights!”

We didn’t feel like failures or freak out because we got off course and I didn’t get upset at myself because I had let so much time slip by without noticing that we had stopped dating. That’s a big deal that I didn’t get mad at myself.

If you only knew how many times over the years I would just fall apart in fear every time I made a mistake or had to make an adjustment in my personal life, my marriage or my parenting.

My reactions were coming from perfectionism which was a result of wrong believing about God as well as not understanding that my worth and value was solely wrapped up in my relationship with Him – in the fact that I am His child and SO very loved by Him!

So please don’t read these examples and think to yourself, I’m coming up short, I’m not good enough, I need to get on the ball, I’m a failure. That won’t do you any good.

What will do you a lot of good is to think through this post, see if there are any changes you would like to make and then tell God that there is no way you will be able to pull it off on your own. Instead, you can pray this: “Dear God, can You please help me grow in the area of living with more intentionality by Your grace, in Jesus’ name, amen.” 

He will help you. He hears our prayers! The Holy Spirit will begin to lead you and guide you in how to go about this.

Now, back to my examples. Steve and I not only enjoy our date nights, but we are already dreaming about the things we will do together after our kids leave home. Our marriage comes before our kids and this actually makes them feel more secure knowing that we love each other enough to put our marriage first. After all, it wouldn’t be much fun to spend the remainder of our lives together, after the kids leave, if we don’t even know each other very well; therefore, we are taking steps to prevent this from happening and you can too!

Steve and I want to have great relationships with our girls. We want them to want to keep hanging out with us like they do now, when they are teenagers. We want them to keep talking to us so we spend quite a bit of time listening to them.

Steve and I both want to take care of ourselves by eating healthy and exercising so we make time for this and it takes a good deal of time to do both of these, but our health is so worth the time. 

We trust God that through the finished work of Jesus on the cross we will indeed have a long, healthy life. We believe it and we confess it, and above all we endeavor to live our lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit and guess what? –  the Spirit leads us to do the things that contribute to our health by helping us use wisdom.

Hopefully this short list gives you an idea about how you can get started living with more intentionality by deciding what you want out of life.

Let me reiterate this idea that I have weaved through every one of my other blog posts and that is how important it is to keep Jesus at the center of it all. One of the ways we do this is by stopping, when we feel we have a list a mile long that is making us anxious, and choosing to invite God in by receiving His grace… once again.

Intentional living is not always easy, but it definitely pays off in the end!

Proverbs 4:6-7 (NLT)
6 Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.
7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom