Tag: priorities

Knowing Ourselves and Knowing When to Say Yes

When I was in high school and college I worked as a waitress most summers at country clubs. It took me awhile to get the hang of everything I needed to balance both physically (as in plates) and mentally (as in orders). One time early in my “career” I remember a bin of dirty dishes slipping out of my hands and crashing to the floor. In the silence that followed, every eye turned to see who had  messed up.

That would be me, blushing bright red and wanting to crawl into a hole.

This is a little how I’ve felt recently. I LOVE variety and doing ALL OF THE THINGS!

I want to talk to ALL OF THE PEOPLE AND GO ALL OF THE PLACES AND NOT MISS ANYTHING! (For those of you familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a 7…ahem. Yeah… “No” is not a familiar word in my vocabulary.)

I like being the Queen of Multitasking, but that’s not always a good thing. It may mean that I prioritize activity over substance, or I choose the easy wins over investing in hard work for the long haul.

Some of you have been kind to check in with me as I haven’t posted in awhile…wanting to make sure I haven’t died under a pile of crashed dishes. No, I’m fine and I want to give you a little update.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus. He was busy, but not rushed. He did a lot, but was always present to those around Him. He knew His job.

I’ve been considering the many good things Jesus had to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to the best.  Looking at the “I did not come to’s…” and the “I came to’s…”

Jesus didn’t heal everyone. He didn’t talk to everyone. He didn’t go everywhere.

It’s important to know ourselves – our temptations, our calling, our season of life – in order to know what to say yes and no to.

I recognize the tendency in myself to shy away from the hard, long haul work that feels risky and sometimes monotonous. I’ve got some projects that I’m working on that require some extra time so I’ve given myself permission to back off posting consistently on the blog for a bit.

In addition to focusing more on preparing for speaking opportunities, friends and I have been working on a devotional with a twist that I’m super excited to make available to you soon!

Also, the hardest, scariest thing I’m working on is a manuscript (it’s taken me a long time to be able to actually have the courage to call it that!) I’m not ready to say more, but if you are a pray-er I’d appreciate prayers for the right words!

All that said, I may be a little hit or miss on posting regularly. I also want to give Facebook Live a shot. I’ll let you know when that is coming.

What about you? What are you most tempted to say “yes” to that isn’t important or bearing fruit? What’s one thing you need to say “no” to this week?

If you struggle with wanting to do ALL OF THE THINGS like I do, you might take a look at this book, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.

Some posts on this blog contain Amazon affiliate links – I receive a (very) small commission on any purchases but I’m not paid to recommend any particular item and I’d never link to something I don’t own and/or feel strongly about.

What is it that you do, dear?

I was putting together a little care package of cookies and flowers for a friend who’s pregnant and on bed rest.

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For months.

With two other toddlers. Active toddlers.

Yeah. Wow.

As I  pray for her and write a note, this is the verse that comes to mind:

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Nehemiah 6:3

God gives Nehemiah the important job of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but there are many who would like to distract or deter him from his work – get him to come down off the wall.

My friend has the great work of resting so that God can safely nurture and grow the life in her womb.

Another friend has the great work of finishing her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Another has the great work of gently confronting a friend with a drinking problem.

My 88-year-old aunt who has the great work of praying for the world.

Our “great work” can take so many different forms. But often the refrain that plays in our head is:

“I’m not doing anything important. I’m only a _________________” 

Whatever we’re doing is a “great work” when given by God and done for Him.

What great work has God given you to do that you need to resist distractions from?

If you’re a mom at home with kids this Mother’s Day, remember what Peggy Campolo would answer when someone asked, “And what is it that you do, dear?”

Peggy would reply, “I am socializing two homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia that God willed from the beginning of creation.”

Then Peggy would ask the other person, “And what do you do?”

Single or married, mother or auntie, volunteer or paid, we all have a great work – significant work from God.

You are doing a great work. Don’t come down.

Moving Through a Crowded Life, Part 1

A few Sunday mornings ago I was rushing a young staff member through our crowded church Great Room between worship services, trying to get to John’s office to shoot a video resource with her and get home.

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“Didn’t you once tell me the more successful you get the more slowly you need to walk through a crowd” she asked pointedly.

“Yeah, yeah, but this is an exception!” I tossed over my shoulder as I simultaneously “Excuse’d” my way around bodies, wishing for a parting of the Red Sea.

People (including my young friend with her annoying memory) can be so…inconvenientright?

I had quoted a mentor of ours whose line had really impacted John and me even though I resist the word “successful” because I’m definitely not. But being in ministry I seem to know a lot of people, so I’m trying to learn this discipline of walking more slowly through crowds.

When I rush through a crowd

  • I’m saying I’m a big deal because I’m busy.
  • I’m saying tasks are more important than people.
  • I’m saying my time is valuable and you’re not a priority.

Ouch, ouch OUCH!

My words sometimes often almost always come back to bite me.

This morning I was looking at the passage in Mark 5:21-43 that is about Jesus and crowds and individuals. I may or may not have heard the Holy Spirit say, “Ahem…”

And IF the Holy Spirit had eyebrows He/She might have been raising them looking meaningfully at me.Unknown

Can you put yourself in this setting with Jesus?

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders,named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

We all live crowded lives. But Jesus did too.

Even in a crowd, Jesus is present to individuals.IMG_1332

Jairus was a distraction to Jesus, but Jesus moved slowly enough through the crowd to notice and respond to him as an individual.

You’re single or married, a coach, an employer, a mom, a leader, a pay-check earner, and you have a crowded life. You want to be like Jesus – want to respond to the “holy interruptions” that come your way, but it requires discernment.

Maybe the best we can do today is to start moving more slowly through the crowds, look people in the eye, and pray,

“Lord help me to be present to You and others. Show me what love requires of me today.”

 

 

Soul Detox, part 1

So, Lent is over. All of you who have been fasting from chocolate or coffee are celebrating the return of All The Good Things. The season of entering into Jesus’ experience of sacrifice and cross-carrying, to the other side of Easter is over. Dark to Light. Death to Life. Winter to Spring. Vegetables to dessert (How lame are we, right?)

I was a little late to the Lenten party (so to speak), but I shared how I was trying to be intentional about being present to Jesus during Holy Week.

Part of that meant a social media detox – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – and also turning off the radio, because these are things I suspect can distract me from Jesus, and foster a less-than-healthy soul.

I thought it was going to be a terrible, awful, no-good, very boring week.

I was wrong. Continue reading

Self-awareness and the Busy

Monday I wrote about “crazy busy” and questions we might ask ourselves.

I’m fortunate.  I happen to be in a season of life where I have plenty of margin and discretionary time because my kids are grown and I don’t have the financial pressures some people have. However, I do see how I need to pay attention to busyness in two areas. Continue reading

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

Participating in a link up with…

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Defining the Relationship

As I write this we’re in London with some of our closest friends, heading to a board meeting where our husbands will work, and the wives will continue to play. We pray for them and drink tea.  Or wine.  It’s an arrangement I’m partial to.  

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Anyway, I wrote this post (below) a week or so ago and as I read back over it this morning before hitting “publish”, I think it is true, and hopefully helpful, but like most things, it’s certainly not the whole story.

We are blessed beyond belief with the relationships God has given us.  If they are healthy, they ebb and flow.  We weep together in one season and laugh together in another.  Sometimes those seasons are one and the same.  We give and take, rant and chatter and share vulnerably.  We listen, and pray.  A lot.  We gather around a table or show up to help each other move or we write a note. We are all resourceful, important, trainable, nice, draining people…and somehow in the midst of doing life together we are changed.  We are iron sharpening iron and I am so grateful that God has given us all to each other.

It seems like there’s been a recurring theme in a bunch of my conversations lately.  It’s the DTR theme, and I don’t mean in the dating sense of the word. Continue reading

Coming up For Air

This morning I sit across from John at Starbucks early.  I keep hearing deep sighs as he sips his skim white mocha.  There’s a mixture of snow and rain coming down outside.  The fire is on in the fireplace, which is the reason for my sighs, but not his.

We just returned from several days of meetings in one setting and he is heading into a long day of meetings in another.  New place, new set of challenges.  He’s trying to ignore the clamoring emails and choose the daily disciplines of devotions and journalling.  It’s a struggle because… there’s just.so.much.

I’m privileged to have a lot of close friends who are world class leaders.  They are humble but brave.  They are wise and trust God for great things.  They are kingdom bringers.  And somedays they make mistakes, and most days they’re praying like crazy for discernment, and many days they are under a tremendous amount of pressure.  Lately it seems even more stressful than usual.  And they’re facing a lot of situations that feel “between a rock and a hard place-ish”.

“World class leader” may not describe you or me, but we all get into seasons when we’re in over out head.  Whether you’re a student or a CEO or a mom or you just feel like you’ve been holding your breath for too long, I want to stand up and shout Continue reading

Christmas Lists

I love making lists.

And I’ve been making a lot of them lately.

To-do lists, grocery lists, lists of goals, and especially Christmas lists of gifts, and party planning, and elf-like stuff.

I think one reason we make lists is because we like the illusion of control it gives us.  It says “I have a plan!”  We get to check things off, accomplish things (and yes, I’ve been known to do something and then add it to my list so I could check it off).

But sometimes those lists are the very thing that threaten to leave us clutching a bottle of Advil, wondering “How in the world did I get in this mess and how many days til January 2nd?”

And then I imagine Jesus saying, “Come to Me all who are weary with Christmas and give me your lists.”

Continue reading

How Do You Correct Spiritual Day Blindness?

I’ve been struggling with something recently, and it’s led me to pray differently.

Not all the time.  Mostly at meals.

It’s happened because awhile back we spent time with some Christians in a foreign country who never prayed.  I’m sure they did sometime, but not in our presence.  They’d let us pray if we asked to, but that’s all.  And it flumoxed me.  It was curious and dissonance-producing and I wasn’t sure how I felt.

I was confused.  I thought, “We’re Christians.  We’re supposed to pray.  It’s what we do.”

On our own, but also together.  Out loud.  At group devotions in the morning and at meals at the very least.  It’s kind of a rule.  Like brushing your teeth before bed, or saying please and thank you, or taking out the garbage.

Eventually, what I noticed about the people we had been with made me notice something about myself.  The speck in my own eye if you will.  I realized how rote my throughout-the-day prayers had become.

Predictable.  Going through the motions.

We say the same thing.  “Bless this.”   “Be with them” (a phrase I hate).  And  “Thanks for that.”

It made me think, “What are we really doing when we pray before meetings, or at meals or whatever…?  What does God desire?”

So I talked to God and my husband John, and processed for awhile.  And during that time God used His word like a megaphone.  It seemed like every time I opened the Bible I’d come across verses like:

Psalm 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.”

And Matthew 10:32 “Whoever publicly acknowledges me I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.   But whoever publicly disowns me I will disown I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Psalm 34:3 “Magnify the Lord with me.  Let us exalt His name together.”

Magnify huh?  Acknowledge what?  Ascribe to who?

I have a condition called night blindness.  It means I have no depth perception when I drive at night.  I get disoriented easily.  I’ve driven through stoplights and on the shoulder of the road.  One dark night I was driving home from seminary and wasn’t paying attention.  I made a wrong turn without realizing it and all of a sudden looked around and had absolutely no idea where I was.  I couldn’t get my bearings.  I’m beginning to think I (and maybe all of us) also have day blindness.

We need periodic reorientation so we don’t forget who we are (not God), and whose we are and where we are – far from our true home, dependent on the king of that kingdom.

I try to orient myself to God in the morning, but once the busyness of the day begins I’m at the center again, putting Him on the margins in my manic busyness.  Treating God like He should revolve around ME.  Through-the-day prayers are a chance to switch places back.  Again. And again.

These through-the-day prayers with others are about stopping.  More about submission than supplication.  The wise men and the shepherds bowing before Jesus.

Re-orienting.  Like a sailboat that’s drifted off-course, re-aligning sails to the wind.

Silence.  Stillness.  Pausing with others at lunch, in a coffee shop, in a meeting room…truly being present to God seems to be my best reminder to start with.

We get so wrapped up in the speed of the day that often those prayers at meals are “throw-aways”...a quick word because we’re “supposed to”, and not because we’re truly aware of returning to an awareness of the presence of God, ascribing to Him the glory due His name.

So, I’m trying.  It’s not easy.  But I find, like a sailor who has turned his rudder, I sometimes catch just a bit of breeze and feel the delight of the Holy Spirit.

Do you pray in public?  Does it feel meaningful?  Awkward?  Pretentious? Rote?  

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