How I Found Five Extra Hours Each Week and What I Plan To Do With Them

I’m busy 170 out of 168 hours per week. That was my result from a Time Assessment Test I took while we were on vacation. And while it is obviously “off” just a bit, it is an accurate reflection of how I feel. How so many of you feel too, I’m sure. Too busy to find any margin in life to explore the things you feel God is actually calling you to do.

That’s unbelievably frustrating.

But every once in a while I read a book and know it’s going to change my life. Because it resonates at a deeper level. And the central message “sticks” somehow, becoming a part of me.

That’s how I feel about Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes.

This is one of those books.

For the person whose life is filled with a lot of “good” things, but is often left to question:

Am I fulfilling my personal assignment for God? Am I giving God my Best Yes?

Because life is filled with so many “good” options for how we can spend our time.

Teaching Sunday School.

Serving on a committee at school or church.

Volunteering at a local outreach organization.

Being good at our job.

Leading a Bible study.

The list goes on and on.

But just because these things are “good,” it does not mean they’re our “Best” good.

In The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst shares part of her story about becoming a writer. For years, she wanted to write, and for years, she never “got around to it”.

(I think she’s been spying on me.)

Lysa TerkeurstBut then she assessed how she spent her time. She discovered that when she added up all the hours she spent each week “doing,” she had 3.5 hours of margin she could devote to writing. So she got out her calendar, found 3.5 hours of time, and scheduled it to write, just as she would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a meeting.

She said:

God had given me a gift of this time.

My time. My choice. My approach.

Your time. Your choice. Your approach.

What’s that soul thing for you, that God-honoring thing that keeps slipping away because there’s been no time to set aside and actually start? What’s your number? Take your 3.5 and schedule the start of your thing right now.

(The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst, pgs. 26-27 Kindle edition) (emphasis added).

Yes! That will preach, won’t it?

So that’s where I am.

I’m at the beginning of my Best-Yes-for-God journey. At the beginning of my 3.5.

And if you’re willing, I want you to come alongside me and share yours.

I’ll go first…

For me, (setting aside my personal relationship with God, and my marriage, family, and job which must come as the top “Yes”es in my life) my Best Yes is writing. I know in my soul that it is. Just typing these words makes the tears well.

I will never put myself in the category of Lysa Terkeurst or so many other authors I hold in high regard, but after attending the She Speaks Conference last weekend, I know that God has given me a little gift and a big heart for writing.

Jen She SpeaksAnd He’s screaming at me to dive into it through this blog.

Without an agenda.

And without a plan for what the future will hold.

He just wants me to be obedient and do it. With my Best Yes.

But how can I dive in when I’m busy 170 out of 168 hours each week?

I’m a pastor’s wife.

A mom of three.

And a lawyer, for the love.

I’m in a small group.

I’m serving on two busy committees at church.

And school is about to be back in session. In six days.

Where’s my margin?

She Speaks ScriptureI’ve wrestled with this every day since I returned from She Speaks. Because I feel there are so many things I should be doing because I’m a Christian that I’m not doing right now. And developing my writing skills feels so self-indulgent. But yesterday, Kory launched a new sermon series with a sermon titled “We Are Evangelists,” and God spoke directly to the center of my heart as I listened to the message.

As Christians, we are all evangelists. None of us is excused. Spreading the Good News and showing the love of Jesus Christ to the world is not a suggestion.

It’s a mandate.

But what works as evangelism for one will not necessarily work as evangelism for another. Because God has gifted each of us differently, and it is through our unique gifts, that we are called to spread the Word and show His love to others.

And so for the first time, I considered the possibility that maybe, God is calling me to evangelism through transparent writing.

Maybe there are people reading this blog who need to hear what God has to say through the telling of our family stories, our “confessions”.

Maybe this will be the most impacting form of ministry I will ever have my hand in, even though my ministry’s central focus has always been through service to the local church.

And maybe.

Just maybe this is my personal assignment straight from the hand of God.

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know this.

I can live in the world of maybe for the rest of my life.

Or I can obediently dive in and wrestle this alligator to the ground.

And given what I’ve learned over the years through trial and error, I think I’ll choose obedience. Because doing something out of a desire to be obedient is never a waste of time. Even if we fall flat on our faces.

But how?

How do I take my Best Yes decision and give it life?

I’ve been thinking, praying, and reading about this since I got back from She Speaks. And I have some ideas. I do have a plan. So I’m committing five months to conduct a little personal experiment. And I’m embracing five principles to help me along the way:

1. Seeking God: I will be nothing as an evangelist without my own dynamic relationship with God in place. As a result, before I do anything. Before I ever put fingers to the keyboard, I will spend my quiet time with God. Every day.

2. Creating The Margin: To get out from under the “170 out of 168 hours” of busyness, I’m cutting some things out. I’m giving up all weekly TV (except Food Network because it’s my inspiration for meal planning, and my people need to eat!). And as a family, we’re taking a break from youth sports this fall (GASP! We live in Texas and might never live this down!).

3. Developing A Schedule: I’ve poured over our fall calendar to find the best places to devote to writing, and I’ve scheduled a five-hour block to occur while our kids are at school. Absent an emergency, this block of time will be sacred, and I will write whether I feel like it or not.

4. Leveraging The Early Hour: Since radically changing my diet three months ago, I’ve become an early riser, waking without an alarm before 5:00 a.m. So I’m leveraging that hour for writing each day, before my family gets out of bed and before things get crazy. In just one week, I’ve been amazed at how much progress I can make in one extra hour each day!

5. Embracing Discipline: If I’m not going to let anything cut into my writing time, then I can’t let my writing time cut into the other “Yes”es in my life. Sure, there has to be some flexibility in every area. But there also has to be some boundaries in place so that each “Yes” gets its share of time. This will require that I lower my expectations, let some things go, and learn to say “no”.

So what about you?

What’s your Best Yes for God?

Right now.

Right this minute.

Are you practicing it? Or are you putting it off?

Could you spend the next five months, using the five principles listed above, to put your own Best Yes plan into action?

Whatever your answer to these questions, know this.

God has given you the gift of some time.

And as Lysa says, it’s “Your time. Your choice. Your approach.”

What are you going to do with it?

I can’t wait to find out!

P.S. If you’re interested in following my journey or sharing bits and pieces of your own, be sure to “like” and “follow” us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I’ll be using #5forfive to post some updates along the way. (It’s my first hashtag y’all…I’m so excited!) Please follow along, join the conversation, and share with us your own “Best Yes” journey! Until then, may today’s “Yes” be your “Best Yes” yet.

14 thoughts on “How I Found Five Extra Hours Each Week and What I Plan To Do With Them

  1. I tried to order Lysa’s book on Amazon and ended up getting the study guide. Now I really feel the need to go buy the actual book and get it read. I have heard so many good things about it!

    • Rebekah: You will not regret the time invested to read this book. It just makes sense. And is so compelling. It has virtually changed the way I’m approaching every decision. If you do get around to reading it, stop back by and let me know what you thought!

  2. The Best Yes was one of those life-changing books for me also! My husband and I use TBY language in decision making all the time!! My Best Yes following She Speaks this year was to make a commitment to my call to speak which has started with a commitment to actually taking a lunch break at work each Wednesday for a call with my speaker coach! She’ll be giving me homework which will involve me making the time to do it so I will be using your five principles and joining you on the journey 🙂

    • Sarah: That is so exciting! Congratulations on making a specific commitment to do something towards your call. I know that it feels good to be obedient in your yes. We should definitely stay connected and cheer each other on during the journey! I’ll be lifting you up in prayer, sister!

  3. Thanks for your encouragement Jennifer. I particularly was drawn to your words about evangelism. I’m praying for a heart that sees that in my life more and more each day!

    • Yes, Joan! My husband spoke a needed word to me during that sermon. It has really helped me look at what I’m doing through a new lens. I feel remarkably lighter with this fresh perspective and am so grateful!

  4. Great stuff, Jennifer! I like how you said that you will make sure you make time for writing, but you will also make sure your writing time doesn’t take over all the other most important things in your life! Very good point. I’m writing that one down!

  5. That book was revolutionary for me, too! I am excited for your new-found mission and your new-found time! It is so important to schedule in what is important to us. Love this! #SheSpeaks15

    • Kelly: It’s such a simple concept — something I actually already knew and had read in a thousand different places. However, her presentation stuck in a way nothing else has. It’s making a monumental difference in my focus. I am forever grateful!

  6. Jennifer,
    I think God has given you a BIG talent for writing, and I can’t wait to see what else you do with it. Thanks for your Blog!

    • Eileen! Your words…what an encouragement today. Thank you for taking the time to share them. I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. It is my heart’s greatest pleasure!

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