Okay, here we go again! The challenge for Day 13 was to reflect on how you invest your time, decide what to change, and figure out how to do it. A tall order for sure! I've actually kept a time log before, but it's been a while since I've done it, so I think I'm going to do it again starting on Friday and see how I invest my time. Did any of you look at how you invest your time? I would love to hear any insights you came up with!
Today's chapter is called She Plants...
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Focus Verse: With money she's put aside, (she) plants a garden. (Proverbs 31:16, The Message)
Last Saturday, one of my friends and I went to a local farmer's/artisan's market. One of the booths had little markers made of spoons and forks that you put in your garden to keep track of what you're growing. I started talking to the lady running the booth about starting a garden and what it would take to grow certain types of plants. Although I decided that right now isn't a good time to start a garden, it made me think about what it takes to grow plants, fruits, and vegetables.
Gardening is a process. You plant seeds, nurture them, then wait for the harvest. Your harvest won't surprise you. If you planted tomato seeds, you'll end up with tomatoes (well, if you do everything correctly you will!). If you planted carrot seeds, you'll end up with carrots. I'm sure you're following me here. As Sarah shares, the same is true in life; when you metaphorically plant something in someone's life, like love or kindness, it will come back to you, much more than you planted in the first place.
Planting and harvesting is not a quick process. Planting prepares for the future. Sarah uses this example to show that amazing people are future-minded. One way to plant for the future is to think positively about the future. Sarah's insight on this is great: "If you think the future is bright, there is a good chance you will enjoy life and make good decisions. Conversely, if you think the future does not hold much, you will live in the moment with no consideration of tomorrow." This rang true to me because when I dread the future, whether it's an event or just a general blah feeling, I don't really care about anything beyond how I feel in the moment. I'm not likely to make good, healthy decisions, and I'm more apt to spend money because it makes me happy now, rather than thinking about how that money can be used more wisely.
When I'm feeling blah, I also feel hopeless. This is a direct result of my negative outlook and feeling like the future is bleak. If you think the future is bright, you will be hopeful and have a positive outlook. \Sarah points out that hope is one of the essentials of life, and that when all hope is lost, it often signals the decline of life. Luckily for you (and me!), amazing people have hope, which can also be seen as an expectation of good things and believing in a good outcome. That sounds a lot more fun than being mopey! Also, when you have hope in your thoughts, you sow great seeds for your future.
Another way you can plant seeds is by what you do. Matthew 7:20 says "Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions." As Sarah points out, to get a tree and fruit, you first need to plant seed and actions are seeds. She even says that everything you did today was a seed. That puts a different spin on just going through the daily motions if you think about everything you do being a seed that sows into your future. Kind of makes you want to quit playing Candy Crush, huh? (I'm talking to myself here but if it applies to you too...).
Let's go a step further with our actions being seeds. We'll include our thoughts here too because our thoughts are what propel us to take actions. Every action falls into one of two categories: life and death.
Let that sink in for a moment. Every action falls into one of two categories: life and death.
That's a big thought that I've never really considered, so I want to share what Sarah said about this:
If what you do will bring life to all those involved, then it is a good choice. If, on the other hand, your action will lead to death, don't do it unless you don't mind sowing bad seed. I don't want to give Satan any of my seed. He has taken enough from humankind, and I have no intention of freely giving him seed from my life. I want to sow seeds that will produce life.
Using this life and death principle is a good way to determine whether you're sowing good or bad seed, if the action is not something that scripture deals with.
Your words are also seeds. Words are extremely powerful. God sowed seed with words and ultimately created the universe! You can sow good seed with your words by taking the advice from 1 Peter 3:10: "...If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies." This means speaking good, life-giving words, no matter what your circumstances are. Sarah uses an example about being loving and understanding, even if someone cuts you off in traffic. That hit a little close to home for me because I've been hitting some frustrating high school traffic on the way to work lately, and let's just say that I've been a little less than understanding and loving with my words! She ends this section with another great quote that I want to share:
Planting seed thoughtfully is a huge challenge. What you think about is seed planted for the future. What you did today was seed planted for the future. Every word was planted for the future. What you did at work today will impact your future. How you responded to your spouse is seed planted for the future. There is only one way to consistently plant good seed, and that is to think, act, and live like Jesus.Unfortunately, even if we plant great seeds and sow them carefully, bad circumstances are going to come along. In an actual garden, people have to deal with things like weeds. In life, we have to prune weeds too- problems, difficult circumstances, challenges. Everyone faces these things, but the amazing people are those who can still flourish and grow in spite of these difficulties. As Sarah says, "problems are inevitable; growth is optional."
One final note from the chapter relates to money and saving for the future. When you plan for the future, you should remember that money is a commodity for today and the future. Be wise with your money. Save and invest so you can harvest when the time is right.
Today's challenge: Choose to sow good seed today. Talk nicely to the person who makes your coffee. Be kind to the person who annoys you. Find a verse in the Bible that you can confess over your life and watch for it to take place. Sow for your future.