So, what’s new?
Seriously, this is not an idle question. We’re three weeks into the new year already, and I’m wondering how January is going for you. For some, it’s their favorite month (Fewer events on the calendar! More time at home! Lower airfares!) The rest of us are huddled down longing for spring.
Nearly 40 of you emailed, texted, or left replies online in response to our first exchange in ’24: “What Will You Do with Your 525,600 Minutes This Year?”, and your comments were fascinating.
And over 50 of you had thoughts about “If You’re Not Dead, Then You’re Not Done.” I’ve been thinking about your comments ever since.
So where do we go from here?
Do we jettison all our previous commitments, throwing them off our life’s boat for others to pick up? Not possible.
Or do we say yes to every new opportunity that comes along, figuring we can rest when we’ve become compost? That’s unsustainable.
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve tended to overschedule activities while underestimating just how long they’ll take. Anyone else guilty of the same? Most of us long to be useful, to live a life of significance, to be productive.
But while those are worthy goals, is it possible that our internal pressure to produce might have a dark side?
My friend Torrie Sorge unpacks the paradox this way~
“Productivity is good. But for some of us, it can become an idol. We believe the lie that we are only worthy, valuable, or needed as long as we are actively contributing. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve lived in that space for most of my life. It’s exhausting, and I’m not doing it anymore.
This year I’m making a change.
- I’m letting go of comparison.
- I’m trusting God to guide my steps.
- I’m embracing the truth that I am loved, worthy & valuable simply because God says so.
- I am prioritizing being present over being productive.”
My word for 2024 is margin. I’ve always given lip-service to the need to leave white space in our days, but I find it very hard to say no to requests for help or volunteers. You, too?
… this year I’ve decided not to do what I’ve always done, which is to fill each day to the brim.
That doesn’t mean furiously excising events from my schedule, but intentionally saving space for the new. While serving in my local church remains a priority, I’m also raising my hand for volunteer opportunities in areas where Christ-followers have traditionally not been well-represented.
“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.” - Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord: The Story of a Fellowship
My mentor of the past 30 years, Gail, has always stressed the importance of using our older years to invest in the next generation. When a younger writer asked me last fall if I’d mentor her, that was a clear yes. I’ll also be participating in the Mom2Mom group at church to be available to women still in the trenches of mothering.
The mission trip I had planned to take to Cuba next month has been postponed, so instead of taking water filters to another country, I’m going to support a fundraiser in my own county by once again “taking the plunge.” (I won’t reveal my costume yet, but I plan to dress as a famous American icon!)
Some of these are one-time events, others ongoing. But for each, I pose the same question: Am I using my time wisely and well? Is this what God would have me do today? Is He the Master of my schedule?
Did you happen to catch the article recently in Christianity Today in which well-known authors were asked what passion projects they would realistically never pursue? My favorite three responses were these:
Philip Yancey: The Parkinson’s Perspective: An Uncertain Journey Through My Stages of Unhealth
Joni Eareckson Tada: The Perfect 10: Springboard Diving Techniques from a (Somewhat) Reformed Daredevil
Leslie Leyland Fields: From Hair to Glory: Theologies and Stories of Tresses Lost, Distressed, Dyed, and Freed
A “passion project” for me would be publishing an in-depth sequel to This Life We Share, but I don’t envision that happening anytime soon. So instead, I’ve contributed chapters to a “kitchen devotional” coming this fall from Revell plus a new book from Guideposts, God’s Constant Presence: Held in His Hand. For 2025, I've contributed six pieces to The Message Women's Devotional Bible.
Perhaps “little is much” when God is in it.
“See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17 NRSV
Now it's your turn! What are you going to do differently this year? I’d love to hear. (There’s room in the comments to say. :)
- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2024
COMING NEXT WEEK: “That Burden You’ve Been Carrying? Here’s a Way to Let it Go”
SPECIAL OFFER: If you have a friend you’d like to surprise on Valentine’s Day, I’d be happy to send them a personalized, signed, gift-wrapped, hardcover copy of Life is Sweet, Y’all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass (including recipes just like Mom used to make.)
$15 includes gift-wrap and free shipping. Message me (Maggie@Maggierowe.com) for details!