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



2 Questions, 2 Truths

When you I write a blog post I rarely never have the time to find all the scrumptious words or present my offering with the “voila!” of someone serving a gourmet feast at Thanksgiving.

But this morning, more than most, I feel like I’m serving up “bare naked chicken” – just a couple of things I’ve been thinking about that seem to go together.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a sermon podcast by Craig Groeschel and honestly I can’t remember the point of the sermon because as an aside (not having to do with the message at all), he said his counselor had asked him two questions.

Those two questions are what my mind keeps returning to.  Here’s what they are: Continue reading

One Word and Clark Griswold

Back in January, (yep, it’s been a long time) we talked about choosing One Word for 2013 – a word that God might desire to expand in our life…grow us into.

 My word was Fearless, which gave birth to Fearless Fridays, because even if that wasn’t your word, we all deal with Fear in various forms.  

In January I also posted some thoughts from my brother, David, on this.  So the other day I asked him for an update.

I’d love to hear from you too!  What has your experience been with your One Word (if you identified one)?  If you didn’t, looking back now, what is one word that would summarize your 2013?  Post your thoughts in the comment section!

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What Really Breaks God’s Heart?

I hate it when people go on mission trips and come home all “Oooh, you couldn’t possibly understand it, but we went to Abracadabra and Bibbidybobbityboo and that’s in the southeastern corner of the district of Allacazam in the country of Boolaboola (don’tcha know) and it was AMAZING!  The poor people there need so much but are so full of joy!  We need to help them and you should have been there!” 

And those who haven’t been think, “Well, I wasn’t there.” And eyes glaze over and they think “No, I couldn’t possibly understand, and what could I do even if I did understand and you’re being a little obnoxious right now.” 

All that to say that as I post from Africa I’m going to try not to do that and I pray you find these thoughts relevant for you.  

There is a much repeated prayer in World Vision, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”  There’s a lot that I know breaks God’s heart around the world.  Obvious stuff like poverty, injustice, violence, corruption…

Whenever we travel in the developing world and we pray that prayer, our go-to response is to be sad and compassionate and prayerful about what we’re seeing.  We want to know how we can partner with God to bring His kingdom to every corner of the world.  And that’s a good thing mostly, I think.

But poverty isn’t just “out there” or “over there”.

It’s here too. In me.  Poverty of spirit, of humility, of understanding, of awareness. Continue reading

Thanking God You’re Not Miley Cyrus

The last couple weeks I’ve felt pretty good. So much “better than.”  Maybe you have too.

I’m in Washington D.C. this week where everyone is angry with Congress and thankful they’re not one of “them”.

In the past few weeks I’ve also thought, “Boy I’m glad I’m not Miley Cyrus!  Or basically any of the Kardashians.  Or Honey Boo Boo’s mom.  Or Anthony Wiener.”

Each of them has had their mistakes broadcast, ridiculed, autopsied.  Their intellect, integrity, and wisdom were brought into question.

My response?  “Phew!  Glad I dodged those bullets!”

“Can’t BELIEVE they were so stupid, evil, clueless, out-of-control…whatever…bless their heart.” (I add that last part cuz I’m a Christian don’tcha know) Continue reading

Trading Places

Sometimes I’m just in the wrong place.

I walk into Starbucks in the dark of the very early morning before dawn and drop my books and computer in “my” place – the table the baristas say they’re going to put a plaque on with my name in case anyone should arrive before me and not know that it’s “mine”.  My guy Cory’s been known to tackle customers with their eye on my spot.

I sit for a minute and resist the urge to open my computer immediately.  I try to feel what I’m feeling…Anxiety, butterflies, stress…fear??  Yes, fear.

Fear of failure.  Of not adding value.  Not producing.  Ugh.

And then I come across this, scribbled in a notebook I keep in my purse.

Yep.  I have FPSD.  FearPrideSuccessDisorder.  You too?

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The Temptation of Cool

This week we’re in Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference.

For the uninitiated, this is the church world equivalent of the cool kids’ table in Junior high.  The one with the vibe that everyone wants.

Catalyst is for the young and hip – the guys who wear the rumpled uniform of untucked plaid flannel shirts or V-neck t’s, super skinny jeans and tiny black Rob Bell glasses.

They use product that makes their hair spiky or shave their heads if there’s not enough “there” there to mousse.  You used to see a lot soul patch and piercings going on, but not so much lately.

People like to write about Catalyst.  Tweet about it. It’s a good place to see and be seen.

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Three Ideas for Dealing with Mice and Dirty Little Secrets

I see myself as a pretty darn adventurous person.  I love a challenge.  I’ll go anywhere in the world and I’m open to eating bugs.  Daughter Maggie and I were finalists to compete in the Amazing Race last year.  And I want my second career to be as a spy, for which I’ve already prepared by spending hours at the Spy Museum in D.C. and doing a simulation bomb location exercise.  Learning to hot wire a car is on my bucket list.  I’m just sayin’…I think I’ve got some game.

But, there are two things I don’t do.

Snakes and mice.

I’d jump out of an airplane if I had to, but look at, much less empty, a mouse trap?  No way.  Fortunately this has not been an issue as we have not had mice to deal with.  Until we got home from vacation this week and discovered evidence of one in a kitchen drawer.  Nowhere else (and believe me I went over the house with a magnifying glass, inspecting any tiny piece of lint to make sure it wasn’t a mouse dropping).

Anyway, we set out multiple traps in the kitchen around and in said drawer.  The next morning I left John a bazillion notes reminding him to check and deal with any corpse that might have appeared and I carefully skirted around the kitchen with my eyes averted from anything close to the killing field.

It’s not like I wasn’t vaguely aware there might possibly be carnage.  I just didn’t want to face it.  To deal with the ugliness.

Recently I referred to a message I had listened to about comparison that Andy Stanley preached and I was forced to face a mouse corpse.  He talked about the land of “er” and “est” where when we compare and don’t measure up we either hate the other person or hate ourselves.  Near the end, he asked a question :

Is there anyone you would secretly be glad to see fail?

It totally rocked me because immediately two people from different parts of my life, who I haven’t thought about in awhile came to mind!  No, no one reading this (honest).  And before you get sidetracked and all judgmental, ask yourself that question.

It freaked me out. “Why?” I asked myself.  “Is this born out of comparison?  Competition?  Insecurity?” And “What do I do with this? (Besides confess it and ask God to change my heart).  It was a very ugly mouse corpse I couldn’t avert my eyes from.

The first step for us in catching the mice was facing the evidence.  Acknowledging they were there.  I was ticked at Andy for asking the question that made me even admit the death in me, but once I realized the truth I couldn’t just leave a drawer full of “mouse poop.”

The second step has been figuring out how it got in.  For my “mouse” I’ve been asking the questions above and have realized they definitely squeezed in through the door of pride and comparison, but it’s also complicated by the pain that comes when someone succeeds at your expense or hurts you personally while getting what they want.  Perhaps this mouse snuck in in the moments when I wasn’t vigilant about living out of the security of God’s lavish love and delight in me…confidence in His win/win power to bring about good no matter what.

The third step has been killing the mice and, most importantly getting rid of the dead corpses.  I’m fine with steps one and two, but this one….?  Could I please just jump out of an airplane?  

Instead I picture both of the people who came to mind.  This morning I read, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”  I picture the three of us, together, huddled beneath God’s wings.  His beloved children, all three of us dependent…taking refuge in His mercy.  I am truly moved by this image as I sit with it.  It helps me.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Is there anyone you would secretly be glad to see fail?                                            Are there ways that have been helpful to you in facing and dealing with the mouse corpses in your life?

Are you really Here?

I love this photo I saw recently of a basket at the door to someone’s home.

Be with the friends who are here!”

I love it because it expresses what I desire.  For people who are with me to be truly present and attentive to… ME!

But it’s also convicting, because I’m an ADD, multi-tasking friend and wife who isn’t always “present” to others.

Have you ever been talking to someone on the phone and can hear them typing on their computer while they talk to you?  Or people having coffee with you, texting (even under the table!) at the same time they’re talking to you?  Or you’re in a meeting and someone is surreptitiously checking FB?

Does it make you wonder if you’re that boring?  Or if they’re that important?

I keep thinking of Luke 10 where it says “Martha was distracted“, but “Mary chose what was better.”  Being present to Jesus.  Is technology distracting me from my relationship with Jesus, others, and even myself?

Just this morning as I was reading scripture, and praying, I stopped to text someone I thought of.  Could it have waited?  Absolutely.  I wonder…when we’re not fully present are we really saying to the other (in this case, Jesus)…

  • Someone or something else is more important than you.
  • I am more important than you.
  • Posting, tweeting, texting, being in demand defines my value.

Here’s something that really impacted me this week.  I’m not an “important” person (yeah, yeah, I know I’m important to God, but I mean in a worldly sense).  I’m not famous, but somehow I’ve been privileged to spend time with many people who are.  Leaders who are having a huge impact in the world.  They are smart, articulate, anointed, sought after, and extremely busy.

This past week I was with one of the most gifted, influential teachers of our day, and the thing that struck me the most powerfully was that I never once saw him check his iphone while he was with us.

He wasn’t receiving texts during dinner.

He didn’t interrupt conversations to answer a call.

His eyes didn’t stray around, searching for more “important” people other than who he was talking to.

And he didn’t hurry through the room.  He was truly present to the people he was with.

That in itself is a big deal.  But the question I thought of beyond that was, what does this say about his ability to be present to Jesus?  To not allow the demands, interruptions, requests, distract him from the discipline of being truly with Jesus?  I wonder if these two things are related.

How might the practice of being present to Jesus affect our ability to be present to each other?  And vice versa.  Does practicing being present in one relationship carry over into another?

How can we “Hang up and arrive.” as Jon Acuff says?

Are there times we leave our phone at home?  Days we turn it off?

How much does technology affect your ability to be present to Jesus and others?

3 Questions to Ask When Community is Hard

Three months ago daughters Katy and Maggie moved into an apartment in D.C.
And so far both of them are still alive.
Here’s a sign I gave them when they moved in (Can you tell we had a hard time hanging it?)

How does this affect you, you might ask?

Well if you have ever lived with a roomate,
or worked with a boss,
or married a spouse,
or served on a committee
with a person that’s the exact opposite of you,
you know that living in community can be as ugly as putting Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi in a room together.
Recently they collaborated to write up their experience.  Maybe you can relate to their story of community and share some of what you’ve learned in your experience.

Have you ever taken the Meyers Briggs test? Where you answer a bunch of questions, and at the end you’re assigned four letters that make up the basics of your personality?
4 powerful letters that tell someone all they need to know about how you’d respond…

If strangers showed up at your door inviting you to a costume party,

Or if you had to decide under pressure, which wire to cut to diffuse a bomb,

Or whether you’d say “Suck it up.” or “You poor, poor baby!” if someone told you their hamster died.

Well in our family, the 4 letters that sum up Maggie are exactly the opposite of the 4 letters that sum me (Katy) up.

In spite of being opposites, while growing up, the two of us were inseparable.  Walking to and from elementary school together, taking (voluntary) trips up to the local library to stock up on Sherlock Holmes books to read aloud to one another in the privacy of the latest edition of our ever-improving fort.  We’d rally the neighborhood kids for night games and home made video productions, snow forts and magic shows.  We were a dream team.

But then, something happened. I think professionals call it “puberty”. We turned into the worst versions of ourselves, camping out on the far edges of our opposite personalities. Things that were cute about Maggie became shallow and annoying. My attitude went from an indulgent older sister to, frankly, a superior jerk. Those halves on Meyer’s Briggs became like some sort of bizarre science class punnett square exercise gone wrong.

In our case, it took about 6 years apart and the advent of gchat to start a new season of communicating. Rather than the cutting remarks and dismissive sarcasm, we began to speak with each other as people, rather than sisters.  Each of us slowly slid towards the center of that personality chart, first recognizing our weaknesses, then working to develop into more balanced people.  It sounds quite nice and simple in that sentence, but some of this “realization” came through heated phone calls and the occasional adopting of our high school personalities.  AKA our “worst selves.”

Now, years later, here we are, co-inhabiting a 900 square foot apartment in the heart of our nation’s capital.  Had you told us 5 years ago that this would be our living situation, we would have thought you were a lunatic.  Surprisingly, it is going quite well.  There have been a few flare ups where we’ve seen those high school selves resurface, and it’s embarrassing.  But we’re truly enjoying one another’s company, the sharing of friend groups, being invited to the same parties, and attending the same church for the first time in years.  We find ourselves working to carve out “sister time” and we’ve seen this time become increasingly more meaningful.  As we earn one another’s respect, we are better able to speak into each other’s lives.

The bottom line is that when we allow the other person’s strengths to threaten us we’re our worst selves.  But when we move towards each other in humility, ready to learn from the other’s strengths, and seek help in the areas where we’re weak, we thrive.
When I can sincerely say, “Maggie, what would you do in this social situation?” where I feel unsure, and she can sincerely ask “Katy, what bus should I get from U Street to get home? or Who is Christine Legard and why do we care about her?” we both benefit.

What I’ve learned from watching Katy and Maggie grow as they live in community is to ask questions.  When I’m in situations where the emotion seems to rumble in my stomach and travel to my face and threaten to come out of my mouth in unwise words I’m trying to ask:

1.  What am I afraid of?  Really.

2.  What can I learn from this person?

3.  What questions should I ask to gain better understanding?

What collaborative, or community building situations are the most challenging to you?  When do you feel most threatened?  What is helpful?