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Volume 10, Issue 21: He is a Day Maker

I read a paragraph of a YouVersion Bible plan called "Breakfast Bites" a couple of weeks ago and it quickly resonated with my spirit. It said, "if you regularly begin your day with the Lord, you already know what a way Maker He is." If you haven't settled into this practice, I encourage you to start today and see how God's loving presence affects your days.

The author advised that "before the day has had a chance to disappoint you, before the enemy finds a way to distract you, seek God first. Invite Him into every waking moment. Sense Him in your interactions and transactions. Notice the tenderness with which he sees the people you encounter. Invite Him to contribute to your decisions. Observe how He consistently places you on the path of love. Allow Him to carry your burdens and see if a joyful song doesn't swell up inside you. Allow it to overtake your heart." This is so true. I couldn't agree more.

Once while catching up with my sister over the weekend, she described her just ended week at work as "brutal." It was during the time when I was also having hellish weeks at work. The one thing that sustained me through those brutal days and weeks was my daily morning quiet times and walks, and evening conversations with God in my journal.

Inviting God into our day doesn't keep hell from breaking loose around us. But it strengthens us and helps us cope and conquer. Spending time with God gives us fortitude to face difficult situations, carry heavy burdens, stand our ground and make the right decisions. I know that conversing with God and taking my walks in the early morning breeze are what keep me sane in difficult seasons. My boss and colleagues often asked me how I manage to remain calm and steady through the demands and drama of my work.

God is a way Maker. He is more than enough. He is the one who makes a path for us. I remember years ago a friend telling me that her family life was the most challenging part of her life at the time. She had just relocated back to her home country after college, got married and had kids. We lost touch years ago but if I were to catch up with her now, I would tell her that my work has been the most challenging part of my life these last couple of months.

My work hasn't always been tough. In fact it's been wonderful. Plenty demanding but wonderful. But I think it would be foolish to expect life to be always rosy. I wouldn't have made it thus far through the difficult weeks and months if it wasn't for my way Maker. I have discovered that when we allow Him to conquer us, nothing that comes against us can conquer us. Begin your day with the Lord. He is a day Maker.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 20: Helping Kids Navigate COVID-19

It easy to ignore the needs of our children during this pandemic as we align ourselves with the changes we are having to make for our work and home lives. But we are not the only ones who need to find our bearing in COVID-19, our kids need to find their bearing too, and adjust to the new normal.

Let's not forget that our children have been used to a weekly schedule - with us at work and them at school, or daycare or at home with the nanny. Now everyone is home and everyday looks the same. Depending on where you live, some of our kids can't go out to play with their friends. Therefore their options for indulgence have shrunk quite a bit.

Help your children cope with the social distancing, quarantine and lockdown. Kids are used to being up and about. But with these restrictions, if left to their own devises they are likely to be glued to a screen all day. Structure provides kids with the boundaries they need to thrive. Hook up your children with a quarantine/lockdown program for wholesome living.

If your kids are anything like mine, they can spend day and night glued to a screen and sleep in most of the day if they can't go out to play. You will agree with me that this doesn't work well for family life. We not only want to interact with them during our waking hours, we want them to spend their time wholesomely. Going by what your kids like, as well as the skills you want them to learn or improve, prepare a robust weekly program for them to give them a structured space to operate.

My kids' daily lockdown program gives them freedom to do whatever they please as long as they spend an hour on personal Bible study, an hour on reading a book and 30-60 minutes exercising. They also take turns preparing lunches and dinners, washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen flour after meals. They are also spending a few minutes cleaning their bathrooms and ironing their clothes.

We are having them wake up by 10am, to be off hand gadgets by 5pm and to switch off the TV by 9pm. We also had to specify the time by which each activity has to be completed to ensure they are done before evening. This way, we get to see them and do life with them, while instituting wholesome living into their days.

Regardless of your children's ages, it's likely that the social distancing, quarantine and lockdown is having an impact on them. Almost overnight, all their daily routines that they relied on for stability changed. One of the best things that we can do for them right now is to establish a new normal. I encourage you to figure out what that is and put it in place for your children.

Use this time to develop new skills in your children and improve what they already know, as well as strengthen their sense of responsibility. Some of the things my kids are doing now like ironing their clothes is a new task that they did not have to do before. I am thrilled that my ten year old son is getting comfortable with fixing simple meals by himself. Let's make the most of COVID-19. We can never go wrong with grabbing every opportunity to develop life skills in our children.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 19: Navigating COVID-19

It dawned on me the other day that I wasn't the only one struggling with work-life balance these last couple of weeks of COVID-19 constraints. For most of us, the switch from working from the office to working at home was very sudden. There wasn't much of a warning or time to prepare for the adjustment and learn the rules of the game.

As a result, we found ourselves almost always being on duty, always being available for work as we hadn't set clear boundaries for work life and home life. If you read the article I posted before this one, you know that I found myself working long hours and barely enjoyed my beloved lunch breaks. What helped me get my balance back was when the Easter break came along and I knew I couldn't go on in that fashion.

I have learnt a few tips that have worked for me in this regard that you could consider for yourself to help you stay balanced and happy in this season. We have to set boundaries for ourselves, otherwise we run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin and burning out.

Start by implementing a punch in and punch out system for yourself and keeping your working hours regular. Establish working hours, preferably similar to the ones you had before when you worked from the office. Try not to do any work outside those hours. Turn off your computer and don't send or read work emails, and don't make or answer work calls either. I felt harassed when colleagues called after working hours. Some of the phone calls lasted more than an hour, and I even had to restart my laptop for some phone calls.

As much as is possible, make your workspace a designated work space. When I started working from home I sat all over the place - worked from different spots in the house. That didn't help with transitioning from work life to home life. I felt that the spots I enjoyed for relaxation were tainted with heavy work energy.

If you don't have an office, set up an office spot at one specific place in your house. When I embarked on a mission to get a designated office space for myself, I tried the dinning table but figured out in a few hours that my back would not forgive me for seating on a dining chair for 8 hours! I finally settled for my kitchen island, and had an adjustable workstation for my laptop brought in so I can alternate seating and standing while I work.

Once your punch out time reaches, turn off your laptop and work phone and get all your work tools and papers out of sight so that you can switch on to your home life. This makes a big difference for relaxation. When we worked from the office, when we left for home, we didn't have to see our work tools and papers until we went back to the office the next work day.

It helps to not have to see work stuff on your kitchen table after working hours. Keep it out of sight so you can fully relax. Having your laptop lying around after and before working hours might just tempt you to sneak in an email, and while at it, respond to new emails. We don't want to do that if we want to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Establish a daily routine. I have heard people talk of how their routines have gone out the window with this pandemic. Try to atleast stick to your bed time and morning routines. I am going to bed a little later than usual but I try to wake up at the same time as before each morning as hard as it is. This way, I can keep up with my morning routines of quite time and exercise. These activities help keep us steady and invigorated, which is especially crucial during this season, so don't put yours on hold.

Take care of your appearance if that boosts your morale. Getting out of your pajamas and grooming yourself for your work day at home may make you feel more productive. I border on the extreme on this as I typically dress for home stay just as I do when I am going somewhere, even when am doing nothing all day. But you should do what works for you.

Looking put together for my day regardless of whether I am spending the day at home or not makes me feel good about myself and prepared to tackle all that the day may require of me. So, don't feel out of place if you are anything like me. In the same breath, if you care nothing for dressing up for home stay, go ahead and rock your work in your dress code of choice.

Since we don't know how long this pandemic is going to last, we had better adjust ourselves and get comfortable in it. When the children of Israel were in captivity in Babylon, they couldn't wait to go back home. God knew they were going to be there for awhile and encouraged them through His prophet Jeremiah to settle down and prosper in the land of their captivity. He told them to build houses and get married and continue with the business of living.

Just like the children of Israel's captivity, this COVID-19 pandemic is temporary. It's highly unlikely to last 70 years like the captivity lasted. We are probably looking at months, not years of lockdown. However long it's likely to last, there's no point holding our breath until it ends. Let's embrace healthy habits that will sustain us until life goes back to the normal we know and love. All it takes is a little creativity and determination to thrive in our current normal.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 18: Rest Habitually

I don't suppose God was overly tired after creating the world in six days. But He rested anyway on the seventh day. The second chapter of the book of Genesis records, "By the seventh day God had finished His work. On the seventh day He rested from all His work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy day because on that day He rested from His work, and all the creating God had done."

Just because we don't feel tired doesn't mean we shouldn't rest. A habit of rest week after week is what keeps our bodies and emotions in check. When we push ourselves to the limit and only pause to rest when we reach beyond exhaustion levels, our bodies don't recover very well.  But let's face it, if the demands on your life are anything like mine, you sometimes find yourself over-working consistently without necessarily planning on it.

That's where I found myself the last couple of weeks before Easter. We had just started working from home due to the COVID-19 constraints and I found myself busier than ever. I envied those who found themselves with extra time in their hands because I was drowning in work. From my bad experience with over-working last year, I had gotten myself into a rhythm of putting a halt on all work by 5pm. I got comfortable not carrying work home anymore.

But that all changed when I carried all my work home with me when COVID-19 reached my country. All my boundaries got marred and smudged. I stopped having my beloved reading and writing lunch breaks and 5pm got a new definition. But I thank God for the Easter break. An extended break has a way of bringing things into perspective. We get the extra time we need to reflect, ponder and formulate plans and strategies for the times ahead.

I am going back to my healthy routine of working normal hours from tomorrow, indulging in my lunch break rituals, enjoying the evenings with my family and going to bed on time. It's time to hit the reset button. It's okay to get off track but we don't have to stay off track. If you got sidetracked like me, join me in getting ourselves back into our work-life balance schedules before we get too ingrained in unhealthy patterns. Let's be sure to make rest part of our daily routine and slip back into resting habitually like we know we should.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 10, Issue 17: Work Heartily

The last two weeks I worked on a task I dreaded and tremendously disliked and it pushed me to my limit. Sometimes we forget that our work is not about us. Our work is about God. Just before this experience, I had studied a "God at work" devotional on the YouVersion Bible app provided by Dr. David Mende. He wrote that "since we spend so many hours at the workplace everyday, God is concerned about our work and He's at work even as we work. He doesn't want us to see our work as drudgery. Rather, He wants us to give our best as we work."

Am glad I don't hate my job, but I certainly feel no love for a few of the tasks I have to undertake. It is so hard to give your best at a job you don't like. But I had no choice but give my all to my dreadful assignment. I bet most people who hate their jobs don't either. Dr. Mende guessed right in the devotional that "most of the slaves at Colossae didn't like their jobs. They didn't apply for those jobs anyway." But Paul wrote these words to them: "Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:23).

I certainly understand the concept of this verse but I had never thought of it the way Dr. Mende put it. "Paul's instruction reveals that even if you don't like your job, you must do your work as unto the Lord and thus glorify Him. You may say: "But I hate my job!" Until the Lord directs you to move out of your job, keep working wherever He has placed you and give your best as you work." I am certainly at the point in my career where I can't wait to transition to pursue my passion. But I gotta keep doing my best at my current job until the Lord opens the next door for me.

It's not enough to do our best, we must also work with sincerity of heart. Dr. Mende wrote that "it's easy to fall into the trap of becoming people-pleasers at our workplace. Some people work hard in order to gain the approval of their bosses or colleagues. We all like our work to be recognized and appreciated. But our work is not about us, it's about God." That's why Paul says that we must work "not by way of eye-service as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord" (Col. 3:22).

Additionally, just because I hated the assignment didn't give me leeway to do it poorly. I had to still produce quality work and Dr. Mende's devotional drove this point home for me. "Our work must not be sloppy. Instead, we must work diligently and excel in whatever we do." The "excel" part was really hard for me in this assignment but the Bible says, "Do you see a man skillful in his work, he will stand before kings. He will not stand before obscure men" (Prov. 2:29).

Some of us may not like our jobs, but to some extent I believe the majority of us have a choice of the jobs we settle in. Whatever job we either find ourselves in or choose to make ours, it is entrusted to us by God and he expects us to be faithful at it. We do earn our living from our jobs but money should not be our main motivation for working. I agree with Dr. Mende but I must admit that this is a deep concept to grasp. We must not work for money, power, identity or glory. Rather we must work for God's glory: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi