Happy New Year!
I've asked professional counselor and guest blogger, Heather Hall, to share some ideas on how to figure out what's most important in the big picture of life and in the day-to-day implementation of it all. Her ideas are practical and, I think, will be a help to us all. Welcome, Heather!
When God sets a blank sheet of paper (such as a new year) before us, how do we decide what to put on it? How do we capture all the hopes, dreams, trials, and responsibilities that clamor for our mind and emotions and make them “obedient to Christ” and His plan?
Several years ago a friend suggested the idea of taking a DAWG day (Day Alone With God). I try to do this at least once a year but more often than not, it ends up happening when life is pressing in, change is coming, and I need to take some time to “be still” and do some rewriting suggested by the Editor of my story.
The idea is to set a whole day aside to bring ourselves before the Lord. Be intentional about putting it on the schedule. Send the kids to Grandma’s or swap babysitting with a friend. Get the kids on the bus and your husband off to work. Take a day off from work yourself or set aside a Saturday. Turn off the phone, computer, and TV.
Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, your calendar or planner, and find your favorite place of solitude. I like to camp out on my living room floor and light some candles. I start my DAWG day with praise by singing along with some favorite praise and worship songs.
Next, I pray through the thing that is most heavy on my heart. This past year my family, including me, has been through several serious health issues, so I needed to take some time to identify my emotions and fears and then identify the truth regarding those situations. Those go off to one side of the page.
After that, I get out my calendar and pray over the days and months ahead. I bring before the Lord vacations, trips, weekend plans, and my daily schedule. The first items go right onto my calendar and the daily schedule goes in the middle of the blank page. Everything is a question, and I must purpose to listen for the answer. “Lord, when you do you want me to get up? When do I get to spend time with you? When do I exercise? When do I go to bed? What do I do before work? After work?”
Some of the other items I might pray over are personal Bible study (“Lord, what do you want me to study next?”),what ministries to be involved in at church and outside of church, mentoring opportunities, and finances. Each gets its own space on the page.
Always, I must take time to consider offenses I must forgive or ask forgiveness for.
Lastly, I surrender all the things above to God, which I’ve tried to do throughout my time with Him that day, and ask Him if there is anything else I need to surrender.
At the close of my DAWG day, I find myself refreshed and at peace with my now much-written-on sheet of paper. However, as I begin each new day remembering that “His mercies are new every morning,” I must present both my filled up page (that’s why it’s in pencil) and my blank page for that day to the Lord with the following question: “What’s the plan today, Lord?”
Heather Hall is a Licensed Professional Counselor who counsels and teaches at The Love Life Marriage & Family Center. in Clarks Summit, PA. She will be having another DAWG day soon as she finishes a PhD in Human Development and considers what God wants her to do with all that time she no longer has to spend studying. She’s hoping voice lessons, travel, quilting, and cooking for friends and family are part of the plan.