The Important Things

It seems that I say this a lot, but it’s been a busy week.  There’s a low level anxiety that seems to manifest just below the surface – how will I ever get everything done?  It’s not that I am not trying, I am, I am doing everything, every little thing, yet so much escapes me at the end of each day. 

While I was doing dishes tonight, I was listening to The Minimalists’ podcast on Mental Clutter and I had an epiphany.  Though I am getting things done, am I doing the important things, the things that matter?  Sure, the bed is made, pajamas are hung neatly in the closet til bedtime, I went to my day job, played with the dog, cooked some dinner, did the dishes, checked four dozen or so emails, texted with some people, maybe wrote a blog post or some emails, tended to my finances, maybe watched a little TV, checked Facebook and Pinterest (just for a minute, of course), flossed and brushed, did some reading, and collapsed onto my pillow the minute the light went out. 

Some of those things are important but some of them aren’t.  And I’m seeing that there’s a lack of simplicity that makes some of these things take longer than they need to.  Though I’ve drastically cut back on the time I spend on social media, it’s still something I make time for every day. 

Two things need to happen, first, I need to decide what the important things are.  You might think that’s an easy thing to determine, but it really isn’t. There are certain things everyone needs to do on a fairly regular basis, sleeping, eating, personal hygiene, shopping, interacting with friends and family. There’s my day job that takes almost half of every weekday if I include the time it takes to commute. This is important because I do need to earn a living. There are the not so glamorous tasks like cleaning and laundry and filing, all necessary tasks that need to be done with some regularity. Laundry becomes really important when there’s not one clean pair of underwear in my drawer. There are also things that I want to do daily, like read my Bible, read books, do something creative, cooking or knitting or writing, walk, and play with the dog. You can see where all these things take on various degrees of importance depending on the circumstances.

Knowing that time is finite, I need to determine where I spend the minutes and hours I have available, identify where I lose track of time, figure out what I need to change, what in my life needs to be simplified, and create a plan to make it happen.  The truth is that it’s simply not possible to do everything, to do it well, and still do what’s necessary to maintain my physical and mental health.  For a long time I believed that I could multitask and do it all, only to find out that I’d bought into a lie, because our brains weren’t created to do several things at once.

What do these changes look like?  Do I just cook a couple of different meals a week and eat the same thing for lunch and dinner until it’s gone?  Do I hire someone to clean so I don’t have to?  Do I fast from social media?  Unsubscribe from some of my favorite daily emails?  Use a shopping or delivery service so I don’t have to fight the crowds, roam the aisles, and pick stuff up?  Figure out a ‘uniform’ to wear to work so I don’t have to decide what to wear?

The weekend is just getting started so I’ve got some time to figure all this out.  It’s a quiet weekend without much on the agenda so hopefully I can spend some time thinking and planning.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Breathe by Jonny Diaz.  If you see yourself in the verses of this song, join me in “laying down what’s good and finding what’s best.”

Just Breathe

Food Trucks and Concerts

Even though my most favorite thing is being home, last weekend I had the opportunity to do some fun stuff here in Nashville.  After a great service and teaching at The Move Church by pastor Josh Hawk, my housemate and I headed out to Centennial Park to Nash Spring Bash

It was a beautiful day, about 85 degrees and sunny.  We’d made our selection ahead of time so we headed to the line for the Grilled Cheeserie Food Truck.  There were lots and lots of people ahead of us so we had plenty of time to soak up the sunshine and get the first sunburn of the season. 

The Grilled Cheesery

The Grilled Cheeserie Food Truck

First Sunburn 2016

It only hurt a little bit

My selection was the French Onion sandwich, Swiss/Gruyère Blend, Onions & Shallots Slow Braised in Organic Beef Broth, Sherry Wine & Fresh Thyme on Rosemary Garlic Bread, kettle chips and some Boylan Ginger Ale in a glass bottle.  It was fantastic, definitely worth the wait. 

French Onion Grilled Cheese

I may have eaten a few bites before I remembered to take a picture . . . 

Boylan Ginger Ale

Bradleys Creamery

No room for Bradley’s Ice Cream after that giant sandwich!

Check out that cool old bike!

While we wandered around the venue checking out the vendor’s tents, we listened to Beatles tribute band, Sixty Four.  Afterward we strolled around the Parthenon and headed back to the car. 

The Parthenon

 From a distance

Parthanon Up Close

Extreme Close Up!

The plan was to rest and have a bite to eat when we got home, but after that giant sandwich, I wasn’t even remotely hungry.  Before long it was time to head down the road to a concert at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church. 

The first band up was I Am They from Carson City, Nevada.  It was a short set, but they played one of my favorites, From The Day.  You should give it a listen.  Next up, Hawk Nelson.  They were full of energy, decked out in their skinny jeans, leaping all over the stage.  While I was familiar with a lot of their songs, I didn’t know a lot about them as a band, so I thought one of them was actually named Hawk Nelson.  It turns out that there’s absolutely no meaning behind the name – who knew?  When they sang Drops in the Ocean, I was singing at the top of my lungs.  Last up, from West Palm Beach, Florida, Tenth Avenue North.  By the time their set was over, I felt like Mike was an old friend. Song after song, so many of my favorites, By Your Side, Healing Begins, and Worn.  You should listen to all of them. 

Hawk Nelson

I Am They

I Am They

Hawk Nelson

Tenth Avenue North 2

Tenth Avenue North

Tenth Avenue North

Tenth Avenue North

No doubt you’ve enjoyed hearing all about my big day in the big city, but here’s something I’ve been thinking about that I want to share.  Thanks to The Minimalists, I constantly ask myself whether what I’m doing with my time or money adds value.  In our consumer culture, it’s really easy to get caught up in the moment, in trends, in what other people are doing, in what looks soooo appealing in advertisements.  Sometimes I say yes to something and when I think about it later, realize that’s not what I really wanted at all.  In addition, it’s hard for me to spend money on entertainment.  It seems so selfish and far from the altruistic life I desire to live. Here’s what I’ve come to realize. I love music. I love to sing and I love to dance. Though I am not good at either one of those things, what I lack in talent, I try to make up for in enthusiasm!  Music adds value to my life and I want more of it.  Don’t worry, I’m not about to become a groupie or anything, I’m just going to go to more concerts and I think you should, too!  Is what you’re doing with your time and money adding value to your life?


The last week hasn’t been conducive to thinking about any stuff whatsoever, let alone getting coherent sentences on a page.  Instead, life seems to be happening in snippets, some of which I’ve shared below.

Hours in the car, driving, driving, driving, a route I can do in my sleep.  It’s not necessary, but the GPS is on so there is visible proof that I am moving forward, making progress, getting closer to the destination.  The back seat is full of stuff but empty of someone to share my chips with, to make me laugh, to pant on the back of my neck when I dare to inch the thermostat up to a comfortable temperature.  The walks, playing ball, the way Hannah is just so happy all the time, I miss it more than I thought I would.

  Hannah in my Chair

Doesn’t look like she’s missing me . . .

Little girls in pink and white dresses, faces beaming, innocent and confident in their beauty, so much more so than we bigger girls who spend much more time primping, yet never quite feel beautiful.

Tiny seedlings pushing through the dirt, the combination of seed, soil, water, and sun creating a miracle capable of sustaining life. 


Watching Dad and the speech therapist interact, refraining from giving a fist pump of victory when he correctly sorts the hearts in a deck of cards and and is able tell the correct meaning of various idioms.  Surprised by how much I want him to succeed, amused by his sarcasm, the way he uses it to cope with all the things over which he has no control.

Applying mascara, I contemplate which takes more energy, faking fine or being real.  When I look into my own eyes, I see no answer there.  Seems prudent to stick with faking fine.

A co-worker shares that his father is dying of cancer after being in remission for several years.  He smiles and empathizes with me, with all of us whose parents are aging, whose lives keep changing.

My efforts at helping are met with anger and harsh words.  A short list of my infractions is delivered. Do better I must, Yoda’s voice says in my head, an attempt at comic relief to hide the hurt I feel and the bewilderment about how I’ve lost my voice in this relationship. 

Seeking distraction in a game of Scrabble, I accidentally choose random opponent instead of playing against the computer.  Despite a rack full of vowels, I’m in the lead. Apparently too much time goes by before I get back to the game and I get a ‘nudge’ from Random Opponent 9587.  Really, a nudge?  Spurred on by my own immaturity, I vow to win by an obscene margin.  Game on!


Yes, that’s my bingo

While reading about lazy pirates who don’t do anything, he gently rubs my hand.  For the last year he’s talked about my hands a lot, wanting to know if they look the way they do because I’m old.  Yes, I tell him, that’s why they look this way. And I love that he’s perfectly okay with it.

Sharing a room with Silverstein, a much loved but very sick cat.  Sleep eludes me with him by my side, his paws kneading me, his too sharp claws catching on my flannel pajamas.  I know – I know – that cats will purr in distress, but with each purr I convince myself that he is getting better, he’s going to make it.  “Get well,” I whisper, “I am over my limit on the number of sad things I can endure right now, please get well.


Playing outside with the grandkids, pushing them on the swings, helping them load buckets of dirt into dump trucks, burying treasure and marking it with an ‘X.’  Holding their hands while they play the dangerous game of running down the slide.  The two-year-old birthday girl bursting into tears when I say it’s time to go inside.

 Selah on her Birthday

Before the meltdown

Lying awake, listening to the thunder, watching the lightening illuminate the room.  A thunderstorm in March in Michigan? 

No point in crying, it doesn’t help, the stuff that doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. As I think about how much I hate that saying, I notice that my cheeks are wet, tears slipping down without my permission.

Still awake at 2:00 am I quietly sing, Come, Lord Jesus, Come, then stop when I remember how few people I’ve shared the good news with, how much I suck at evangelizing.  It would be selfish of me to hope for Jesus to come now and make everything right when there’s still work to do here on earth.  I switch to singing Amazing Grace and finally sleep comes.