Tag: choices (page 1 of 2)

The Busy Burden and Badge

When you ask a friend, “How you doing?” I bet I can guess the answer you hear 99% of the time. It’s a version of the same response I get.

“I’m too busy!”

Busy has become both a burden and a badge of honor. We are stressed, but we are secretly kind of relieved that we are soooo in demand. We are soooo important to the world. We’re kind of a big deal.

An acquaintance of mine who’s also one of my favorite authors has a new book out that’s been getting a lot of traction. The gist of it is basically:

I was too busy. I learned to say “no”. It helps to have a lake cabin to retreat to.

You’re too busy. Learn to say “no”. It helps to have a lake cabin to retreat to.

Many, especially young women around me, find this simple message tremendously freeing and validating. I’m all for it and I’m thrilled for any resource that helps us become more grounded and Jesus-centered, but what are we actually doing about it? We don’t have to live by default or as cosmic victims. We all have choices. As Craig Groeschel says,

“We all have time for what we choose to have time for.”

What about if we asked some of these questions about our choices:

  • What am I filling my life with? How much of it is vital to who I want to become and who is most important to me?
  • How attached am I to my phone, to social media? What is it replacing?
  • Am I spending more time invested in relationships with the characters on Homeland than the people in my own home?
  • What is the most important thing I’ve been distracted from doing?

Adele Calhoun, in her chapter on Rest in Invitations from God, writes about soft addictions. These are behaviors that sap time, money, and energy just like work. She sites the statistic that 91% of us have soft addictions. They are the ways we overuse good things: food, caffeine, exercise TV, Internet, texting, Facebook, work, and shopping.

My friend James preached recently and talked about this as the stuff that pollutes the springs of Living Water Jesus promises us, clogging our lives like milfoil.

“Filling our blank spaces with every addiction, reduces our capacity to give and receive love.” he says. At risk are family dinners, face-to-face date nights, devotions, prayer walks…

Some of the things that keep us from lives that are peace and joy-filled are comparison, perfectionism, fear, and shame. Ironically, these are things that are reinforced more and more through social media, 24/7 news cycles, t.v. and ads.

Evidence of too-busy-too-preocupied-to-be-present-disease is present everywhere. Phones are just one distracting urgent-over-important choice among many.

When I see parents with kids in tow, absorbed on their smartphones, oblivious to their children. I want to snatch the phone and say “DON’T DO IT!! I know it doesn’t seem like it, but your time with them is so fleeting! God has entrusted them to you. You have stewardship of these precious ones for 18 years. Make the most of it! Talk to them! Listen to them!”

But it’s not just parents. It’s 20-something singles (and 50-somethings…ahem), gripped by FOMO, who hold their smartphone through a meal like a security blanket.

I’m not in a stressful busy season of life. I have margin. But I’ve lived to experience the truth a mentor of mine shared with me when I was in my twenties. She said:

“Yes, it’s especially hard to prioritize in seasons when you have little kids, or high stress jobs with long hours. However, in some ways it doesn’t get easier no matter what season you’re in. You will ALWAYS be tempted by distractions, and the Evil One knows exactly what is most tempting to derail you. How you spend your time is always a choice, so work hard RIGHT NOW to put good practices in place.”

When we listen more to the Lover of our souls than the Liar, we find grace and acceptance just as we are.

Then we’ll hear:

“I’m cheering you on as you serve Hamburger Helper and leave the carpet un-vacuumed because I love it when you choose people over ‘perfection'”

“The world won’t end if a few emails go unanswered for 12 hours. I’m delighted that you chose to walk with Me and talk to Me tonight.”

“It’s ok if you don’t know what Donald Trump said today, you listened fully to your 2 year old’s excited rambling about something crucially important to him.”

“Way to go. A phone-free walk outside with a friend who shares your heart is better for your soul than scrolling FB feeds for a virtual community buzz.”

We’re in this together! Let’s encourage each other today as we try to choose what’s most important to our souls.

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After I finished writing this, I happened to listen to a great podcast by Craig Groeschel called “I choose Important over Urgent”. I highly recommend it if you want more on this subject!

 

The Other “F Word”

Good Morning! I’m taking a little sabbatical this summer, and thought maybe with all tragedies in the world, and “other” bashing, I’d repost a series from several years ago. I pray you are having  a delightful summer and regardless of your circumstances you’re finding ways to make it more than “fine”.

One afternoon when Katy was in kindergarten she got off the bus and informed me that she had learned “the f-word.”

“Fart.”

She later told us she had also learned the “sh-word”

“Shut up.”

Honestly, in our family the real “f-word” isn’t fart.  And it isn’t another word that might come to mind.

It’s “fine”.

To my mind, “fine” may be the most terrible word in the english language.  And words matter as my friend Sharon always reminds me.

Continue reading

Choose Your Own Adventure??

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books maybe you read as a kid ?

In each story, you, the reader, get to make choices that determine the main character’s actions in response to the plot and its outcome.

We like Choose Your Own Adventures because we have control, right?

But real-life God capers aren’t necessarily like that.

ADVENTUROUSLY EXPECTANT is my One Word for this year.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” Romans 8:15

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Recently I received an invitation to participate in a trip and project with World Vision. It was totally unexpected. I was grateful for the invitation, but I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the project, and it is at a very inconvenient time when I’ll have to miss out on some meaningful events at home.

This isn’t just about me. Our two daughters recently had new job opportunities to consider. A young friend of mine is trying to discern where to go to college, and another started her own business.

When an invitation comes or a new opportunity presents itself (think new job, new project, new challenge), consider these steps:

  1. Ask friends to pray and give feedback.
  2. Ask questions:
    • What are the expectations of me before, during and after? (Every time we say “yes” to something, it means saying “no” to other things)
    • Are my gifts in line with this opportunity? Will I potentially add value by saying yes?
    • Is this opportunity or move likely to draw me closer to Jesus, or distract me from following Him?

3.  Pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (not your ego).

This recent invitation made me think of the story in the Bible of Paul and the man from Macedonia. Take a look, and try not to get bogged down in all the weird names.

Acts 16:6-10

6-8 They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas.

9-10 That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. 

It’s not wrong to make plans as long as we’re paying attention to the ways the Holy Spirit may want to tweak, refine, or change them.

Like I wrote at the beginning of the year, I’m trying to learn more about my “One Word”, so I read this and I reflect…What can I learn about God and myself?

  • God’s adventures are sometimes often inconvenient. I like convenience.
  • God’s adventures require open hands. I like control.
  • God’s adventures need us to pay attention. I am spiritually ADHD.

Sometimes the adventure lies in saying “no”, sometimes in saying “yes”. After prayer and counsel, I said “yes” to this opportunity. What about you? Where are you in the process of being adventurously expectant?

Soul Food Cornucopia

How’s your week been? For me it’s been a delightfully cornucopia-full-type week of time with family and friends, and open doors to new ministry opportunities. But always along with fun “asks” comes the need for hard choices.

Saying “yes” to the best things, requires some “no’s” to some good things. When I say “best” I don’t think that necessarily means the most exciting or easiest things, but those that click with our gifts, passions, and season of life. I’ve heard from a bunch of you who are feeling stressed now, when everything is starting up and everyone seems to want or need something from you. Here’s an article I’ve been passing along that might be helpful – How to Say “No” When You Feel Pressured to say “Yes”

Aaaaannnd, if you need a little encouragement, check out this amazing video 🙂 (sorry I couldn’t embed it in the post but it’s so worth a click!)

Seeing the Instagram post below from daughter Katy, prompted me to make my own batch of one of our favorite fall treats.

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Here’s the recipe 🙂

PumpkinChocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup almond slivers toasted (can leave these out if you don’t like nuts)

1 2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 TB pumpkin pie spice

1 ts. baking soda

1/4 ts. baking powder

1/4 ts. salt

2 eggs

1 cup plain pumpkin (I accidentally used the whole can last year and they turned out great – just more moist. And what do you do with half a can of leftover pumpkin anyway?)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick butter melted (ARGH! I forgot this when I made them last week, but the world didn’t end)

Mix flour, sugar, and all dry ingredients.

Break eggs in another bowl. Whisk and add butter (cooled a little) and pumpkin. Pour over dry ingredients.

Mix in Chocolate chips. Pour in greased muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes (less if doing mini muffins). Store in plastic container.

YUM! And you’re welcome!

While enjoying a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, here’s a delightful book I’ve been reading, by the same author who wrote Dear Mr. Knightly. It’s about two estranged sisters – one a chef, and the other fighting cancer, and a man who is a love interest. If you’re a foodie, or like Jane Austen references, or just want a good read, try Lizzy and Jane. by Katherine Reay.

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And when this was my view as I was writing this morning, I thought of a C.S. Lewis quote John shared with me last night.

“Miracles…are a retelling in small letters the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”

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What’s been some “soul food” you’ve enjoyed this week?

Re-Writing “Mother’s Day”

Mother’s Day is tricky. Can I get an “amen”?!

We all have a mother somewhere, but not every mom is accessible. Not everyone has a relationship with their mom that they feel like celebrating. Not every child is living the life you hoped for them. And not everyone who would like to be a mom IS a mom right now. Someone reading this has lost a child. Another has been adopted.

Mother’s Day is full of land mines, often triggered by the most tentative steps. Sometimes a day meant to be about love is one of longing or loss…of pain, tears, and unmet expectations. I’ve cheered you right up, eh? Continue reading

Soul Detox, part 2

Monday I posted on the challenge of of soul detox and specifically, the impact of social media.  For some of you this isn’t relevant and you can stop reading, but many are asking things like:

  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one posts about it has it still fallen ?
  • If I don’t post pictures of all my child’s “firsts” do they still have a chance to get into Harvard or will they be in therapy?
  •  WWJT*
  • How many cat pictures are too many cat pictures?**

This month, Andy Crouch, the editor of Christianity Today wrote: Continue reading

What to Do on Your Thursday & Friday When You Can’t See Sunday

It’s Thursday morning as I write this. I’m sitting at “my” table at Starbucks, greeting regulars in this coffee community between reading the account of Jesus’ last Thursday before the cross.

As I am sitting here, a friend stops by my table. A friend going through a dark, dark, time.

Her own cross. Her own death, waiting for resurrection.

She made a brave choice, but the pain on this side seems worse than ever. Betrayal from people near her, loss of community, questions of God. It’s her “good” Friday and she can’t see to Easter Sunday yet.

I think of her as I learn from Jesus walking through His Thursday and Friday before Sunday. We focus so often on how Jesus is God and perfect, and we aspire to be transformed into people who look more like Him, that we sometimes miss the ways He looked like us.  He had friends who let Him down, and desires for an easier way, but in His most Thursday and Friday moments maybe we can learn from Him.

  • On Jesus’ darkest days He gathers with His people. He leans into community. He speaks truth and He asks for help. (Mt. 26:17-46).
  • He gives thanks.(Mt. 26:27, 30) Not a fakey “Praise the Lord I’m dying here!”, but a genuine gratitude for patches of God-light in the midst of darkness. A sunrise, a loaf of bread, a hug, fresh spring breeze. There is power in thanksgiving in the midst of hard circumstances.
  • But Jesus leans into His Father more than His community. He prays, because He knows as important as the company of friends is, the company of God is the only sure thing. (Mt.26:39)
  • There is a rhythm of engaging and withdrawing. Going into Jerusalem and going out to Bethany to stay with friends. Sitting with his home team around a meal, and sitting alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, a short distance away. (21:1, 10, 17, 18; 26:6, 30, 36) Time for processing, and preparation, silence and solitude.
  • He’s doesn’t hold back. He pours out His heart. (Mt. 26:39)

“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”

  • He submits to His Father’s will because He trusts His good plans. He trusts His Father’s ability to bring redemption and resurrection. New life out of painful death. (Mt. 26:39)

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As I think of my friend right here at Starbucks, I also think of many of you who are reading this in offices and homes and dorm rooms around the world.  Is it Thursday or Friday for you today?  As you look at this hard time are there choices Jesus made that might be helpful to you?

 We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 14:15-16 MSG

**Just a quick note…I’ve changed the commenting system. The good news is it is easier to comment. The bad news is that the first couple of times you comment the system requires me to “release” or “approve” your remarks before they show up. I try to stay on top of it, but don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately! 🙂

The Prayer I Resist Praying

I was g-chatting with daughter Katy yesterday morning.  This is how it went…

Katy: Thanks for sending your Zambia itinerary! Turns out I may be traveling at the same time for work.

Me: Oh! Fun!  Where?

Katy: Kabul.

Me: WHATTTT????!!!  As in Kabul Afghanistan?

Katy: And this is why I told you over g-chat…to preserve my ear-drums.

We’ve made a boat-load of mistakes as parents.  Big ones, little ones, and ones we laugh at in retrospect, like the time John accidentally gave Maggie Ipecac instead of cough medicine in the middle of the night and wondered why she kept throwing up.

But one that looms large in my mind was when we let our then eighteen year old daughter, Maggie, graduate early from high school and go to live with a mission organization in Kibera – a terrible slum in Nairobi.

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We went to visit her in the rainy season of mud which just added to the despair.

There was someone stoned outside where she was living.

She told us of coming upon a toddler sitting alone in the dirt, chewing on a used condom.

What kind of terrible parent lets their child go live in such a place???

Well, apparently this one.

It’s a parenting choice that I’ve been tempted to regret, but one that God has used.

Today I was reading Acts 4:23-31.  Peter and John have just been released from the religious officials who were totally ticked off because they had healed a lame beggar and preached some crazy stuff about the power of Jesus and Him being the only way.  They come back to their friends and tell them everything that has happened.

And then they pray for a hedge of protection.

NOT.

They thank God and pray for BOLDNESS!  Not the go-plan I naturally gravitate towards for our family!

Note to self:  This does not say they prayed to have an EQ lobotomy or to be offensive for Jesus, but Peter and John have me thinking…

Does the kingdom advance without boldness?  Without taking the love of Jesus into dark places, trusting that He will be our light and our shield?

Holy buckets!  What does this mean for me, for you?  Boldness may not mean taking the light of Jesus half-way around the world, but just across town or into relationships that require supernatural love, or perseverance, or hard truth.

It has me praying with open hands, saying,

“We are yours.  Help us to be bold and brave and humble in carrying the light of your love into dark places.  Do what only You can do in us and through us.”

Is it hard for you, like Peter and John, to pray for boldness for yourself or your children?  How might God ask you to take His light into a dark place today?

 

How to be Truly Brave

There are many different ways to be brave, but it’s always a choice.

Yesterday I posted my friend’s thoughts on forgiving hard things and hard people.  I marvel as I watch her and others in my life who have endured deep, deep emotional pain, and, with God’s help, have made the choice to be truly brave – to face it and forgive it.

And it has made me think too, of friends who are enduring tremendous physical pain that weakens them to the point where they could question if their life is really a life at all.  And in the midst of it – with God’s help – they have persevered.  They have been truly brave, choosing to greet each day as a gift.

Still others have chosen hard, sacrificial roads of service to those who feel hopeless or left behind.  With God’s help, they’ve been truly brave, choosing to bring justice and mercy to dark places.

All of us have stuff that makes us want to give up, or give in, or yell at the top of our lungs “THIS ISN’T FAIR!!”

But instead, we can choose to be brave.  And fight for life, or our marriage, or our kids, or for justice, for redemption…

There are many different ways to be brave, but it’s always a choice.

5 Questions to Ask When You’re “CRAZY Busy”

“We’ve just been so CRAZY busy!”

I have a friend whose emails contain this phrase along with profuse apologies about her perpetual stress level almost every single time she writes me.

Sometimes I want to shout at the computer “Well STOP DOING so much!”

Brene Brown says exhaustion is the new status symbol. If we don’t feel overwhelmed we must not be doing something important.  Are you buying into that?

I want to tell my crazy busy friend about my sister-in-law who realized that they had had so many people visiting their lake cabin over the past few years that none of their family was actually able to enjoy it.  They were always hosting someone else, so she called a moratorium for this one summer.  A time out.  To that I say “Bravo!”  It can be done.

But I also realize how hard it must be to think of disappointing friends who don’t have lake homes and who look forward to visiting every year.  Boundaries are not without their downside.  They take courage and resolve.

As I’ve been thinking about my friend and my sister-in-law, 5 Questions have come to mind that might be helpful to ask ourselves when we’re “CRAZY Busy”:

1.  How does this level of busyness affect the state of my soul? Really.  Am I at my best at these rpm’s?  How much does my busyness feed my false self – the part of me that needs to be validated by my achievements?

2.  Is this just a season (temporary), or is it an on-going pattern of over-extending myself?

3.  Why have I said “yes” to each of these commitments?  Which have I said “yes” to out of fear or a need to prove something?  Examine your commitments one by one.

4.  Do I have choices where I may have been making excuses? (Ex.: I have to work on the sr. high school party because I did it when our other child was a sr.)

5.  Who are the right people to disappoint?

I’d really love to just sit down and have a conversation with you about this over a DQ Blizzard because I’d like to hear your thoughts too.

What do you think?  Is there one person you feel like you need to be willing to disappoint in order to have a healthier rhythm of life?

Need a little more encouragement?  You are not a victim.  You own your choices. Learn from Bob Goff who tries to quit something every Thursday.photo-157

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