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Entries in priorities (11)


How Ready Are You to Celebrate Christmas?

Yvonne Ortega writes a lot about broken people, and to be sure, there are many broken people who struggle during the holiday season; but God desires to do beautiful things in their lives. In this Christmas UPGRADE, she asks us to examine our hearts before Christmas arrives.

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest," Yvonne says, "how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

I (Dawn) am one of those "ready early" kinds of people at Christmas, because I want Christmas week to be as peaceful as possible. But having a ready heart is not the same as a ready home.

Yvonne continues . . .

I’ve had people tell me, “I’m all set for Christmas. I bought the gifts in August, decorated the house, trimmed an artificial tree, filled the Christmas stockings with small treats, and mailed the Christmas cards.”

Others have told me, “I’m ready as can be. I did everything over the Thanksgiving weekend. Now, I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas lights, programs, and parties.”

From an earthly perspective, the person appears to be ready. However, as Christians with a heavenly perspective, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our readiness to celebrate his birth has nothing to do with Christmas decorations, a trimmed tree, gifts for family and friends, stockings filled with goodies, or Christmas cards.

These three steps will help you decide how ready you are to celebrate Christmas.

1. Have you forgiven family members, friends or co-workers who hurt you?

You don’t want anything standing between you and God.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Do you still feel unforgiven for past sins? Are you burdened with shame and guilt?

If you’ve confessed your sins, God forgave you. He didn’t make a mistake when he did that. You can do no less.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

2. How often do you read your Bible, pray, and go to church—especially during the Christmas season?

If you do these things, how do you do them?

Do you do them on the run with an eye on your watch?

Do you do them grudgingly or cheerfully?

My late mentor often said, "You make time for what’s important to you."

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (NIV). You show your love by how much time you spend with the Lord and get to know him.

Make time for the most important relationship in your life. It is one that will last for eternity.

3. How comfortable would you feel if your family, friends, and coworkers evaluated your trust in God?

Perhaps you’ve lost a job, a car, or a home. Maybe you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or have a prodigal child in the family. You may have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one. Any one of these situations can cause turmoil in your life.

It can also result in your questioning your faith and God’s character.

Rate your confidence in his promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

As I wrap up, I ask you the same question I did at the beginning:

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (paperback, Kindle), Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), and Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness, all available at She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Find out more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic of candle, courtesy of Pixabay.


10 Steps to 10 Get-It-Done Goals

Retreat guide and life coach Letitia (Tish) Suk loves to help women get a fresh start on their goals. In this Goals and Priorities UPGRADE, she suggests a unique way to move into September with a goal-oriented perspective.

Letitia says, “Ready for the REAL New Year? Create a winning plan for the next 90 Days.”

I (Dawn) have to admit, I thought: REAL New Year? What could she mean? But then I read her unique approach. You don’t have to wait until January!

Letitia continues . . .

Beach towels are stashed, picnic baskets stored away, and flip-flops relegated to the back of the closet. The dramatic page-turn from August to September has occurred and the empty calendar spaces from now until Christmas are rapidly filling up.

Most of us are ready for a fresh start this time of year.

In fact, The JEWISH NEW YEAR comes around every fall and the rest of us would do well to observe a similar time of renewal.

In between stocking up on Halloween Candy and starting on those home-made Christmas gifts, try taking a chunk of time and planning for what could be possible in the next 90 days.

I love the blessing in Psalm 20:4:

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Without some intentional reflection time, we may never be clear on what the desires of our heart or our plans are.

Ready to make some plans?

Life Coaches like myself and others offer an exercise to shape this process called “10 Goals in 90 Days.”  This plan is always my go-to when a new season comes around, especially in the fall when my energy level seems at its highest.

Before the flurry of fall hits, here are ten practical way to bring some measurable change to your day to day life in the next three months.

10 Goals in 90 Days!

1. Set aside a chunk of time like at least an hour when you won’t be interrupted. Ideally, this is a place away from your home like a coffee shop, a park, or better yet, a personal retreat! Check out my book Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat for some ideas. 

2. Write down all the ideas that come to mind for what you could accomplish in the next 90 days. Once you get going, it is hard to stop.

This is the fun part, just imagining what might be possible.

3. Pick out a few that are easy and might take just a short time.

We all have these—like cleaning out your junk drawer, scheduling that medical appointment you have been putting off, answering five emails you have been ignoring.

The immediate gratification of crossing those off will feel great!

4. Add some one-time items you have been putting off or waiting for fall.

Invite your neighbors over, visit a friend you’ve been missing, take a class or attend a day-long event for training of some sort. Pick apples before they are all on the ground.

5. Tack on a couple more that are do-able but will take longer, even the full 90 days.

Redo your resume, start a short -term Bible study, write the first chapter of your book, get your finances in order.

6. List these 10 (or less) goals and pull out your calendar. Set aside time for each.

7. Make sure they are very specific goals (i.e. S.M.A.R.T.).

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

“Walk More and Eat Less” do not qualify as specific!

8. Decide which form of accountability will be the most effective for you.

If the list stays on your desk pile or in your purse nothing will happen.

9. Enlist a friend, your small group or a Life Coach to check-in with on how you’re doing.  Review your list often.

10. Pray over your list each day and get ready to see progress!

90 days from tomorrow is December 13. By the time you get through the holidays, you will be ready to repeat the process!

How Can You Start Today?

Letitia (Tish) Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger ( and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat) and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of moritz320 at and


5 Questions to Decide What Deserves Your Time

In this Time Management UPGRADE, Julie Sanders helps us consider something we all have a lot of, but often misuse—our time.

"On a full plate, not everything is equal," Julie says. "The more options, the more important it is to decide what deserves our time. How can we plan for our priorities?"

The more I (Dawn) talk to women, the more I realize how full those plates are. My own is overflowing and needs some paring down, and I have to tell you – Julie's tips here really help!

Julie continues . . .

Your plate may overflow with feedings and laundry, deadlines and events, or presentations and correspondence. If we start each day hoping important things rise to the top, we risk drowning in a flash flood of urgency and emergency.

Whatever the parts of our busy life, we can’t afford not to plan to make our priorities first. Being in the place where we need to plan is a good place to be.

By learning to count time, measure resources and compare the weight of work, we learn wisdom. The Psalmist said, So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Counterfeit priorities will beg for attention with a simple knock at the door or chime of the phone.

Ask 5 questions to plan for the main things to take the main chunk of your time and attention. First things first.

1. What can only I do?

Some tasks require my attention. Only I can be my husband’s wife and mother my children. When God directs me to a hurting person, only I can respond in the moment.

But I am not meant to answer every problem or be the savior for every need. Can someone else meet the need?

2. What can someone else do?

When we delegate a duty to someone else, we wisely use our time. I don’t have to do every load of laundry, return every call, teach every lesson or pray for every need.

Since resources are limited, I’ve learned to let go and let others share the load.

3. What can wait?

Someone else’s poor planning does not constitute an emergency for my schedule.

It may feel good to be the “answer” to a trauma, but being swept away by the urgent requires saying “no” to other things of value. Some things can wait. When weighing a request or responsibility, ask, “Can it wait?” 

4. What can be a process?

Deadlines present opportunities to plan ahead. Choose a tool that works for you to schedule times to make progress, and resist letting longer term projects turn into last minute problems.

5. What matters most to God?

When deciding what deserves our time, consider what matters most to God. What does He consider a “priority” and what can take a back seat or fall away?

This means priorities are constantly changing, in light of how God guides our steps, including the people He brings into our lives.

Hold tightly to what God cares about, but hold loosely to the order of business on your planner.

After all, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

We don’t know how many days we have. We do know each will be 24 hours, with 365 in every year. We can’t hope or plan to do it all.

First plan your priorities and your priorities will happen first.

Is the way you spend your time a real reflection of your real priorities? How could you plan to put first things first?

NOTE: Julie created an Alphabet Priorities printable bookmark—a helpful tool for sorting through what matters most. It's available here and here.

Julie Sanders speaks and writes with seasoned wisdom. Since moving to the Northwest with her husband, Julie is numbering her days in a new season of life. As the director of early learning programs across nearly 16,000 square miles of urban and rural country, she has daily opportunities to put first things first and live out God’s priorities. Julie writes from her online home, “Come Have a Peace.”


Prioritizing People: How to Upgrade Your Decisions

Author and international speaker Pam Farrel always seeks to breathe life into relationships, and in this Relationship UPGRADE, she focuses on the sometimes tough subject of "who should get my time"?

"Good decisions," Pam says, "will protect and provide for those who might not be able to, or yet know how to, protect themselves"

I (Dawn) know women struggle with prioritizing the people in their lives. However, none of us has unlimited time, energy or focus. As my friend Pam says, "The reality is, we must learn to see people and how we spend our time with and for people from a more heavenly point of view."

Pam continues . . .

Often women feel frozen when trying to decide on just how to prioritize people. However, even Jesus had to make choices on how He would spend His time and with whom.

Here are two of the questions I ask when trying to decide people-time priorities:

1. Who has earned more right to my time?

Some people truly deserve to be prioritized. For example, I will always answer my cell and quickly return a call to my mother, or rearrange my schedule if she is in need of my help. I do this because she gave birth to me, then gave of herself to raise me into the leader I am today. (Believe me, with my strong will, she had her work cut out for her!)

When I said, “I do” to my husband, God asked me to become a quality “helpmeet” to him.

Also all of my sons, their wives, and my grandkids deserve my time, because God gave them to our family as a gift.

My siblings, grandparents, in-laws, those in my extended family may also rotate in my schedule if they have a pressing need or issue that my skills set can help with.

In addition, if I make a commitment to a client (or boss), a disciple or a mentee, I do everything in my power to keep promises made.  

Most of us understand this concept in principle—but what happens when several of these people —or others—all seem to need us all at the same time? 

At that moment, I ask:  

2. Who is "the least of these"?

Jesus used this principle in a parable:

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

In your situation, ask, “Who needs protected or provided for most?”  

“The least of these” are the very smallest or least of status. Jesus said how we treat those who we cannot gain from—and may not be able to protect or provide for themselves—is a reflection of how we are treating Jesus.

In a family setting “least of these” might be:


If you are a parent, every decision you make, know that your children are your “least of these”. So ask:

  • “How will this impact the kids?”
  •  “What choice do I need to make to give the best long range outcome for the kids?”
  •  “Who do I want my child to be as an adult? What choice here will get them there?”


The least of these does not always mean a child focus. For example, we went from directing and caring for our sons, and then a few years later, it was obvious Bill’s aging parents needed to become a high priority. Because their health continued to decline, we put our home up for sale to move nearer to aid them. 


God might move one of the relationships listed under the first question above to the front burner of your life if something catastrophic hits: a death, an illness, a financial collapse, etc.

These are more often a temporary shift of time, energy and focus given until the storm has passed.


When you fly on a plane, the flight attendant always says, “In case of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then on the person you are traveling with”.

To care for “the least of these” means we also have to care for ourselves, so we can care for others!

Today, who is your “least of these”?  

Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books, an international speaker, and relationship expert who seeks to breathe life into people’s most vital relationships through the ministry she runs with her husband, Love-Wise. Today’s blog is adapted from her newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success At Keeping It All Together.


Well Done or Burnt Out?

Kathy Carlton Willis knows a lot about living under pressure. I've followed her and her husband during a difficult year, and she focused on the Lord to keep her faith strong. Kathy also knows a lot about the stress of burn-out, and in this Spiritual Life and Self-care UPGRADE, she shares wise counsel.

"Sometimes I wonder if my efforts will lead to me hearing 'Well Done' or being burnt out," Kathy said. "Let's look at the recipe for finding the balance."

I (Dawn) think this is such a vital topic in our busy, busy world. Several years ago, I almost totally lost my ministry because of a health issue related to burn out. Loving friends did question all I was doing at the time, but I wish someone had pulled me aside and asked tough accountability questions about my priorities and why I was doing what I was doing.

Kathy continues …

In most recipes, the difference between making a crispy creation and a delightful dish is in two variables. Time and temperature. (Just like the old phone service you could call for that information!)

Getting the best out of life for God’s BIG glory without burning out requires those same two variables. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Time

  • How long do you spend on the things that require your attention during your waking hours?
  • How long do you sleep and rest between periods of busyness?
  • Do you have time to add something new to your schedule, or do you need to delete something before you add anything else?

2. Temperature

  • How hot does your passion burn for your specific projects?
  • How consistent are your efforts before you need to take a break?
  • Do you get bored easily with the project?

Oftentimes we evaluate the ingredients of a recipe to determine if it will be a success, when the real issue is to make sure we have the time and temperature set correctly.

It’s wise to ask God to lead in adding to or taking away from your workload. Seek Him to reveal what activities tickle your taste buds. And follow His lead when it’s time to take it easy for a bit.

If it’s been a while since you had a day you could label BLESSED REST,  then you probably need a day like that!

Overdo or overdue?

Are you on the verge of burning out? I realized it was time to slow down and relax when I wrote the following paragraph to my mom:

“I want one day to relax and do what I want, when I want.

I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time. Overdo.

Sort of my Merry Christmas present to myself!”

See the problem? I spelled “overdue,” overdo. And that was the problem.

I was overdoing it—rest was overdue!

We rarely will admit we’re burning out until it’s too late. The toast is already burnt. We’ve pushed the time and temperature too long, too hot. 

And you know what happens when you let the toast burn? It stinks! It stinks when we push ourselves too hard, as well. We’re no good for anyone, at that point.

Let the toaster cool off and add more bread. You rest, then decide what God wants you to add or subtract from your life schedule to fuel your passions and feed your purpose without overdoing it!

Burnt Out?

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9 KJV)

Well Done?

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21 AMP) 

When you seek Jesus to be Lord of your life (Master) and are faithful in His instructions, seeking to be effective for the success of the Kingdom and not merely personal success, you will hear Him exclaim about your work, “Well done!”

Where are you headed—to hearing “Well done” or being burnt out?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.