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


One chilly morning, I happened upon this guy.


Whether or not a worm is capable of making decisions is unknown to me, but at some point he opted to cross a stretch of pavement instead of staying in his safe, shady, and grassy home.  From my vantage point on high and my life experience, I know this is a very bad idea.  His path will be fraught with danger – humans, dogs, or bikes may squish him flat, or his death could come slowly, the sun beating down on him as he inches his way across, his skin tightening until he resembles his crusty, desiccated cousin just down the path a little.

It’s the same with our kids.  As soon as they leave our arms and begin to explore the world, they start making choices, some good, some not so good, and some disastrous.  Again, our wisdom and knowledge of life prompts us to guide them, to divert their attention or stop them from doing things because we know the potential consequences of their actions.  As they get older, we explain more, tell them the why, and what we think might happen.  They don’t always appreciate it, this seemingly constant denial of permission, this narrow mindedness that they perceive as simply us using our power to keep them from having any fun.  Or they may not believe that we do have this purported knowledge, how could we possibly know what they are thinking or feeling?

As parents of teens and young adults, we ease up a little, allow them to be more autonomous, (hopefully) let them experience some consequences of their choices.  Since they are no longer in our sight at all times, we may not even be aware of what they are choosing, or we’re in denial about it; surely my kid wouldn’t skip school, do drugs, get drunk, have sex, steal, or harm another person.  When we do see them taking one of these bad paths, we’re distraught, we know what might happen and we want to spare them the pain of what these choices may bring.  And we’d also prefer that they not do anything to embarrass us, of course.  Even though they know a lot, they don’t know what we know and don’t always believe it or appreciate our attempts to guide them. 

As adults we make lots of decisions, lots of choices, and for most of us, are accountable for what happens as a result.  Some people have become adept at avoiding those consequences, but that’s a different blog post!  Typically this goes one of two ways for me – I’m super confident about what decision is the right one and do it quickly and easily, or I’m completely clueless and wish I knew the outcome of each option so I would know what to do.

Sometimes I wonder as God is watching over me, if he hurts the way I’ve hurt as a parent, grandparent, friend, child, and co-worker when I see someone I care about making a poor choice.  Does he roll his eyes, when I do the wrong thing, even when I know what is right?  Does he utter, “Are you kidding me right now, that’s what you’re going to do?”  Does he weep when he knows the pain I’m going to experience? Does he long to take me in his arms and make it all better?  Or does he know that the broken road was one that I had to travel to learn to rely on him? 

Enabling is one of my gifts so I picked up that poor, misguided worm and put him back in the grass, hopefully allowing him to continue to live a good wormy life.  He probably won’t think to appreciate it and may even try to cross the path again.  Let’s hope that I am smarter than the worm, that whatever path I happen to take, I remember to be thankful in the good and bad, that I appreciate all the blessings I’ve been given, and that I’m not alone when it’s a bumpy one.

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?