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

 

 

Three Things You Can do When You’re in Transition

photo-53Twenty-seven years ago my husband John and I moved from our home and families in the Chicago area to serve at a church in Washington D.C.  It was a huge change for us.  John was required to attend a seminar on transitions and while he was there he had to take an assessment that assigned points to the the different changes in your life.

POINTS???!  We love points!  We’re a tad competitive :).

For example, we were moving away from family for the first time, expecting a new baby (I was 8 months pregnant when we moved), buying our first house, starting a new job in a new church culture.  Each of these got points assigned to them indicating the amount of pressure in our life.

John came home and said, “Honey, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, we WON!   We had more points than anyone there!  The bad news is they said we should have been in counseling 50 points ago!” 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?

Checking Jesus off my List

Yesterday morning I tried to check Jesus off my to-do list.

This happens in seasons of stress and busyness (are there any seasons of not-stress-and-busyness??).  I check him off by giving Him a nod (Read: glance at a paragraph of a devotional or toss up a “bless so-and-so”).  Check.  Done.  Moving on to important stuff.

The thing is, when I do that, it’s kind of like being in the “fun” house at the circus.  Deadlines, people, circumstances become distorted like in those crazy mirrors – scarier than they really are.  My perspective is skewed.

I feel the fear of failure.

I feel the pressure of performance, not the presence of Jesus.

I miss the sacred moments.  I miss the small mercies to be thankful for.

But yesterday Jesus didn’t seem to want to remain as just a checkmark.  He graciously kept showing up in my day, reminding me that He goes before me and behind me (Isaiah 52:12b).

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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.”

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The Rest of God…Oxymoron at Christmas?

Years ago we lent my mom a book entitled, “When I Relax I Feel Guilty” by Tim Hansel.  She returned it a year later saying she was sorry she just hadn’t found time to read it.  Love that woman!  But why do I tell you this?

Well at the end of each year, my husband, John and I spend some time looking back, re-reading our journals.  In addition to helping us notice the faithfulness of God, and helping us pay attention to the stuff He’s been trying to teach us, we are also reminded of good books we’ve read.

One of the best books we read was called The Rest of God about Sabbath by Mark Buchanan.  I thought during this busy, stressful season it might be helpful to rememeber what impacted me almost a year ago.  Here’s some of what I wrote…(can you relate?)

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