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



Praying Aloud and Letters from Camp

I love Ellen Degeneres’ quote: “August is like the Sunday of summer.”  I agree!  I’m going to be traveling the next couple of weeks and taking a little Sabbath so I’ll be re-posting some favorite thoughts from the past. Let’s just call it “Throw Back End-of-August.”  Ok, maybe we won’t call it that because it’s super awkward.  Let me know if you can think of a different title. This post was from August of 2012.

Some (most??) people dread praying aloud as much as they dread getting on a scale the day after Thanksgiving.

When it comes time for closing prayer in your small group do you hyper-ventilate?  Suddenly decide you need to go to the bathroom?  Get a case of laryngitis?

Me?  Like it or not, I’ve been doing it for a long time.  Occupational hazard.

So I’ve gotten at least fairly ok at the “lifting ups” and the “if it’s your wills” and Bibley words like “grace and mercy”.

My out loud prayers are kind of like business letters all proper and punctuated, politically correct and polite.

But my real prayers?  They sound more like David’s prayers of desperation than Mary’s Magnificat.

My “real” prayers sound like:

“Helpmehelpmehelpme!  Oh, look!  There’s a bird!”

Or like a letter from a kid at camp home to his parents:

But here’s what I’m thinking.  As a parent, any communication from my kids is golden.  I don’t care what they say, I just want them talking to me.

And as a parent, I know they’re kids.  They’re not going to talk like me or think like me, or always remember their manners.

Yeah, I want them to know me, to trust me, to obey me, to ask my opinion, but they’re kids, and if they’re talking to me that’s a start!

What do your “real” prayers sound like?  What do you really want to say to God?

4 Things to do When You’re Afraid of Snakes or Technology or…

Last year my One Word was Fearless.  Even if it wasn’t your “word”, it clearly struck a cord with many of you.

I’d really like to say, “Fear shmear!  Puh-lease!  We’ve dealt with you and we’re so done!  Shaking the fear dust off our feet!  Moving on!”

Unfortunately, like bad hair days and weeds, it can keep showing up.  What’s a current fear of yours?   Is it a risk in business?  A parenting decision?  A move or change? 

Recently as daughter Maggie was getting ready to head to northern Uganda she was researching snakes – a phobia we both share.

She texted me asking if I thought mace would deter a Black Mamba.  I said I thought it might just make him angrier.  Her husband, Austin did research and assured her that she’d have 20 minutes to find an antidote (in the middle of nowhere) before she died.  And then this:IMG_7102

So, she’s got that advice in her hip pocket.

But a fear of mine, not as dramatic as snakes, has been plaguing me recently – fear of technology. Continue reading

To All Those Who Didn’t Show

I wrote yesterday about the waiting on the Fool’s Bench at Easter.

As it turned out, I didn’t sit.  I stood near the door to church in the Great Room, craning my neck, looking over the shoulder of anyone I was talking to, hoping to see the shaved bald head of my next-door-neighbor and his blond wife walk in.

I prayed and prayed.  I saved seats at two (count ’em, two!) services, which did NOT endear me to those who did come and were tackling others for a spot, practically paying hard cash money so they could sit inside the sanctuary instead of in the overflow rooms.

It didn’t happen.  Yes, the other friend did show at an earlier service and I pray that she felt totally hogswaggled by the enormity of God’s love for her, but it’s hard not to focus on the ones who didn’t come.  photo-109

I’ve been thinking about them…All the friends and neighbors and co-workers and prodigal family members you invited to church this Sunday.  Or last.  Or any one of a bazillion times. Continue reading

The Words that Matter

Our friend Sharon always reminds us “Words matter!”

The truthful, timely word, the encouraging word, the destructive one.  They are all composing the story of our life.

Like a mess of Christmas lights though, we often get tangled up in the fearful words.  The “not enough”, “failing grade”, “grim prognosis”, “overwhelming odds” words. Continue reading

Diving in on Fearless Friday

It’s Fearless Friday and I’m excited to share a post written by Carrie Gleeson, an awesome young leader who is developing disciples and mentoring student leaders on staff at our church.  I’m privileged to call her a friend!


What does it look like to be fearless?

Well in my mind that’s somehow always equated with the high dive at Shady Oak Beach. I’m not even sure if the high dive still exists, but for me, as a kid spending her summers on Minnesota lakes, that was the Mount Everest of feats.


Back in the day, there were 2 docks out in the deep of Shady Oak Lake (yes, it was that dramatic . . . for a 10 year old at least). Both docks stood about 20 feet above the water. One of the docks had a normal diving board. Perched on top of the 2nd dock was the high dive (insert scary, forbidding music here).. This diving board was another 10-15 feet in the air toppling over the surface of this cool Minnesota lake. Continue reading

Fear, Small Things, and a Big God

One of the ways God reassures me is to say “do not despise the day of small things.”*  He uses the ordinary, and the overlooked, and the seemingly inconsequential.  And even the things He does with these can go overlooked.  Unnoticed.

I used to think that if it was “of God” it had to be big and bold and dramatic and flashy.  Like a super hero.  But then I learned that if he can use flour and oil, and widows, and dropouts, there’s hope for me.  I’m thankful for that, because my life is mostly a life of “small things”.

But lately I’ve been convicted that I’ve gone too far.  I’m settling for too little. I’m settling for a small god, instead of the real thing.   It’s not me who’s flashy and dramatic, but I can trust in God to do amazing things through me, beyond my ability.

Sometimes He wants to do big things.

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Nothing to Lose

This week I’m live blogging at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for their partner, Engage.  I hope you’ll take a look!  Meanwhile, it’s Fearless Friday.  I’m reposting something from three years ago.  Hope it speaks to you!

The other day a friend shared something exciting with me.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but instead of being able to rejoice in what was added to her life, I felt sad and small, focusing on what it felt like had been taken from mine.

It feels like the cup of life that is mine – that which is special to me alone, is so tiny. And it felt like for her to receive what she did, some of what was “mine” had to be poured out, leaving me with less. Kind of like spilled milk.

I didn’t like what this stirred up in me and I didn’t want to pay attention and look deeper because I was pretty sure it would reveal more insecurity and selfishness and ugliness about me.

But I gave in and grudgingly asked, “Lord, what do you have to show me about Yourself and myself in this?”

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Fear and Control


“Show me a controlling person and I’ll show you a person who is secretly afraid.” Donald Miller

What do you think?  Is that all of us?

Who doesn’t want to be in control?  If pressed, most of us are sure we have a pretty good plan for the universe, right?

I see this most clearly in my relationship with my adult daughters.  When you’re the parent of little kids you exert control for their safety and training.

But, dang if they don’t grow up and start actually having their own opinions and making their own BIG life choices!  Seemingly all of a sudden you’re totally out of control and, (Gasp!), what if their choices reflect badly on you?  Or make your life more difficult?  Or take them down a path you know will be painful?

I find my fists clenched, feel a vague undercurrent of anxiety, and my mind turns to ways to manipulate coerce  gently offer wise counsel.

When we feel that emotion of fear…anxiety…sadness…maybe we need to ask ourselves some questions.

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Fear, the Pathway to Your Greatest Potential?

Six months ago when we were sharing our “One Word”, a thoughtful friend sent me these. Tangible reminders of my word.


Whether this is your word for the year or not, a fear most people struggle with is the fear of failure.  The other day I listened to a phenomenal message by Craig Groeschel on this topic and I wanted to pass it along to you.  I hope you’ll be able to listen here because it’s great and has some delightful illustrations, but if you can’t, here are his main points:

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