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

 

 

Taking Out Drones, and 4 Thoughts about Meaningful Community

This is a picture of my small group from when we met the other night (with a few missing).

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Yep, these are my people.  Ready take out drones (which one of us is sure are pervasive and always spying on us).

photo 1-3 In addition to gun-popping, the evening included a potluck of appetizers, brainstorming about beer sleigh-rides, hysterical laughter, and prayer.photo 2-2John can’t get over how loud we are and how we are able to talk over each other in excitement, but still hear and respond.  These are the same yahoos who joined me in an “experimental mutiny against excess” ala Jen Hatmaker.  They are gamers for sure.

But what we were talking about the other night was relationships.  We’ve been using Donald Miller’s Creating Your Life Plan, which is a great set of ten modules looking back to evaluate different areas of your life, and looking forward to set intentional goals. So this week we were mapping out the most significant relationships in our lives and analyzing them.

“The people you hang out with the most over the next 10 years, will determine the kind of person you will become.” Donald Miller

Two of the questions we talked about were:

  • What relationships are positively affecting who I’m becoming?
  • What relationships are negatively affecting who I’m becoming?  What changes can I make or boundaries can I put in place?

I’d encourage you to go through the exercise yourself (or order the whole deal!), but actually it was the tangential conversations we had that have kept me thinking this week.  In addition to getting side-tracked onto talking about beer sleigh rides, we noticed these things:

1. We all experience loneliness to some degree, no matter how healthy or friendly or connected we are.  We long for meaningful relationships and can find them, but no other person will completely satisfy our desire for knowing and being known and completely accepted.  We were made for God and only are complete in Him.  But we are made for each other too, so doing the hard work of finding and investing in meaningful friendships is worthwhile.

2. Different seasons require different degrees of intentionality.  When we are young and/or single, or older and empty-nesters we have more freedom, more choice in our relationships, but we also have to do more initiating.  There aren’t as many relationships naturally built into the rhythm of our life.

For those in a season with kids, there are many years when community is comprised of “have to’s” – the people who are there at the soccer games, or on the PTA committee with you, or parents of your kids’ friends.  You have a lot of relationships built into the rhythm of your life, but not as much time to choose who you’re going to spend time with.  It’s important to identify what choices you do have.

3. There’s a wide variety of relationships where we need change. They may be family members.  They may be unhealthy people.  But they may also be great people who just bring out the worst in us – tempt us to compare or reinforce the negative voices in our head.  It’s important to ask both, “What might God desire to teach me through this relationship?” and “What boundaries might make this relationship healthier?”

4. No matter how extroverted we may be, we all have a limited capacity – a limited number of relationships we can maintain healthily.  And that may differ according to the emotional needs of family in different seasons.  It’s good for us to acknowledge our limits, adjust our expectations, and be gentle with ourselves.

That’s a little of what I’ve been learning about relationships.  That, and pop-guns make any gathering more fun.  What about you?  What are you learning or struggling with in this area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

First of all, a huge “Thank you!” to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey this week!  I really appreciate it and look forward to learning more about you and how I can improve.  Today’s title implies that the post is just about marriage, but I think every living being deals with this issue…

On July 30th, husband John and I will be celebrating our 31st anniversary.  That’s a long time.  Longer than the Internet or Chicken McNuggets have been around.  A lot longer than Kim Kardashian’s three marriages put together.  A. Long. Time.photo-127

He puts up with me waking him in the middle of the night to talk about “things”, and I try to take his unusual compliments in the spirit they are given. Like when he says I look autumnal, or compares me to yogurt, or says being with me is as good as being alone.  What can I say?  Our marriage works.

However, like in any healthy relationship between two beloved riff-raffs, we still have issues.  Well, one issue.  One very specific issue. Continue reading

What I’m Not Reading

I’m home.  Home to my little house in my “Mayberry” neighborhood and my community filled with people who cheer and frustrate, and are broken and in the process of being put back together just like me.

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The past two months have been rich and stimulating and very, very full.  Full of new relationships and places and ideas, and stories and prayers and intense conversations.  It’s been wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.  And not the norm.

I love variety and travel and learning new things.  It’s a blessing.  But I need to get back to living my real life.

So…this is the pile of books I’m not reading.

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Don’t get me wrong.  They look really good and I’m excited about digging into them, but here’s where I’ve felt a pinch in the butt by the Holy Spirit.

I’m getting fat.

It’s crazy wonderful to be exposed to stimulating relationships and new information and great books, but the danger is we become obese – filled up with all of the deliciousness and getting no exercise.  Processing and applying nothing.  A holy hoarder if you will.

I think…”Oh that’s such a great IDEA!!  I should tell someone and they should DO it!”

“I will think more about _______________(insert anything I hear that I’m convicted or excited about) and how real that can be real in my life…someday.”

“I’m gonna Tweet that quote!”

We consume more, tweet more, Instagram more than we live into.

These days I need to do more living into.

I have a friend who used to say, “Start reading Jesus’ words in the New Testament and when you get to a command, stop, and don’t read further until you do it.”

And then there’s Jen Hatmaker who writes, “At some point, the church stopped living the Bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts.  We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming.”

I’ll get around to reading these books and be glad I did, but not today.

Today I need to write a note of encouragement, take a walk and pray present, do laundry, and forgive that person who dinged me.  I need to create stuff and breathe deep and serve others in my real-life community.

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For you the challenge may be the opposite.  Maybe you need to stop doing and be still.  Or maybe you’re starving for more sustenance and need to fill up with inspiration from God’s Word and information about the needs in His world.

What are you living into today?

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Dear Comparison,

I’ve decided it’s time.  I’m breaking up with you.

No, it’s not me, it’s you.

And no, we can’t still be friends.

You seduced me by whispering sweet nothings in my ear about “better than”.  You flattered me with “friends”, “followers” or awards, “likes”, “favorites”…

But you’re a two-faced lover and now I see the real you.  Those sweet whispers easily morph into ugly taunts of “not as _____ as”.  Subtle accusations that lead to envy and discouragement and an unhealthy soul. Continue reading

What to do With Stress

I love being busy.  I thrive on more, but these days we’re a little over the top.

We leave today for a board meeting in London for 9 days (two weeks before our daughter gets married).  Yesterday, in addition to 731 wedding issues, most of which ended in disaster, there were 492 emails,

and we got updates on about 17 friends with hard health issues,

and then there were church staffing changes, upcoming moves, and housing issues for our kids,

and news that felt like betrayal and a punch in the gut for one of us,

Oh, and I shattered a pyrex bowl while trying to bake ahead for out of town wedding guests.

Yeah, sometimes it’s the little things that get you.

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I can hear you yelling at the computer about now. “Stress??!!!  That’s nothing!  You should see my life!”

The past few nights I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. for good and have sent emails with the subject line “things I woke up worrying about…” John’s favorite was:

What if our house is in the flight pattern the morning we’re outside doing the bridal brunch and prayer time and no one can hear anything over the roar of the planes?

The other night when I was awake the verse came to mind, “Don’t worry about anything.  Instead pray about everything.  Tell God all your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers.”  But when I started talking to Him about what was worrying me it sounded pretty ridiculous.

What do you do with stress?  Here are a few things I’ve been learning:

  1. Write about it.   I was reading yesterday about Adoniram and Ann Judson who were missionaries to Burma in the early 1800’s.  Talk about stress!  Ann had two children die, went five years without seeing any fruit in their ministry and went 6 months with her husband gone, not knowing if he was dead or alive.  She used the spiritual practice of journaling to pour her heart out and try to keep things in perspective.  But the key was that she didn’t just write about her circumstances, but also what she believed about the character of God. 

So I tried this and it was a helpful reminder.  After writing whining to God about my stuff, I wrote:  I believe in all things You work for good to those who love you.(Romans 8:28).  I believe you will never leave or forsake me.(Hebrews 13:5). I believe many are the plans of the human heart, but it is your purpose that prevails (Proverbs19:21).

  • Exercise.  One of the great things about starting to train for the half-marathon is that every day although I’m sure I’m going to die, I don’t.  And when I finish I feel great.  It’s a terrific (though a tad sadistic) stress-reducer!
  • Say the hard words: “Could you please help?” and “No, I can’t do that.”  Some of our stress is self-imposed because we don’t have adequate boundaries, and some is because we are too proud to ask for help.  I am so grateful for the many gracious people in my community who have said “Sure I can do that!” or just provided a listening ear.
  • Just.  Keep. Breathing.  I wrote about this here.

What’s keeping you up at night?  What helps you when you’re stressed?

No Phone, Part 2

For the Summer of 7 Media Week we tried to fast from the thing we’re most attached to.  For me it was my phone.

Well, it’s over.  We’ve been off the grid to one degree or another and have discovered we’re not “all that”.

We don’t need to be accessible to everyone all the time and surprisingly the world is still spinning and no one we were responsible for died!   

The biggest loss for me was my iphone and every app that goes with it (read here).  Apparently I’m not alone in my attachment.  Look at the stats I read this week:

  • There are 7 billion people on Earth. 5.1 billion own a cell phone. 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. (Mobile Marketing Association Asia, 2011)
  • It takes 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email. It takes 90 seconds for the average person to respond to a text message. (CTIA.org, 2011)
  • 1% of all smart phone users have their phone within arm’s reach 24/7 – (Morgan Stanley, 2012)
  • It takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet. It takes 68 minutes for them to report a lost phone(Unisys, 2012)

The benefits and drawbacks to technology and media were both intensified this week, but the biggest lesson for me is that I’m Media ADD –  totally undisciplined in this area. I need BOUNDARIES like Lindsay Lohan needs a better rehab program.

Confession:  I may be more responsive to my phone than I am to God.

There are no magic beans in this experiment.  In each area it’s going to take some conscious decisions about new habits and boundaries if we are going to move the dial even a millimeter.  Sooo… Help me out…

Do you have boundaries regarding media?  What are they?

For example, do you only check email or Facebook or Twitter at certain times of the day?  Put your phone away?  Or only use your phone for “necessary” stuff like calls and map quest?  Go without internet on the weekends?  Guard times of silence in your car or other places?