How to Slow Down Life

I have a gauge that helps me recognize if life is getting too busy.

Lately, it has been.

With our summer trip to Kenya and recent move, it feels like life is set to speed dial. This has been going on in Kenya while a storage building has been going up in our backyard this week to house Mercy House operations and volunteers. It’s good stuff, but even the good can make you tired. It’s perfect breeding ground for burnout and I’m smart enough to sense it.

I long for it to slow down.

And half the battle is admitting I have the power to control the setting on the dial.

We can’t put everything on pause, work and school and our commitment to Mercy House demand our attention. But we are discovering some powerful ways to recapture strength and focus on what we are chasing:

How to slow down life:

  • Say no: I like saying yes, I like being involved, but I recognize that I’m in a season of saying no. For the first time in years, I won’t be attending the Allume Conference or the (in)courage writer’s retreat this fall. I’m honestly just too tired and I can think of more reasons not to go than to. I am limiting speaking commitments to just a few times in 2013, as part of my commitment to slow down. My kids are also choosing to say “yes” carefully. Saying no takes a lot of courage and consistency, but I know we won’t regret it.
  • Stop and ask for help: I stink at this. I really do. But I am convinced it’s the key to making time for what really matters. I am still a volunteer worker at Mercy House and depend on many, many volunteers for help. But after wise counsel and objective opinion, I’ve hired part time help (15 hours a week) to help me manage The Mercy Shop and the administrative end of Mercy House. I also hope to focus on writing just because I love it. I’m at capacity and can be honest to admit it. I’m learning that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s proof of strength.
  • Schedule family time: Without a doubt, having regular date nights with my husband and kids and not letting life get in the way of being together is vital to the health of our family. This is actually our most effective gauge to help us recognize when we’ve become too busy.

Key question: Are we having regular family dinners?

If the answer is no because we aren’t home to be around the table or we are high-fiving and rushing thru a hurried meal, it’s time to make some changes. Obviously we all have busy weeks, but when missing family meals becomes the norm, it’s time to slow down. I realize just by typing this I’m suggesting something counter-cultural. I’m okay with that.

Chasing what doesn’t matter is the temptation in this life and when we do, we speed up life and miss what is important.

Our family meal time is our one serious connection of the day. And honestly, it’s not that serious. In between our family devotion last week and our missions focus where we pray for a country, I told my kids about the time before they were born when their dad played this song (Daddy Cut the Big One) for our parents. I let them guess which set of grandparents thought it was funny and which set didn’t crack a smile. We laughed and then of course, listened to the song before we prayed for Bali.

Immediately after we break bread, we break Bread. It’s our time to have a family devotion, think about others, pray for a country out of this book, and memorize a Scripture if we’re really on (our book list). We let our kids doodle if it helps them listen better and we all clean up together. Toby Mac dancing music is optional.

Hands down, this is still the best part of our day.

And it’s even better when we aren’t too busy to recognize it.


P.S. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for this: Aug. 27, 2012


  1. 1


    :) One of the things I am most excited about in our new house is the fact that we have room for a dinner table again. I can’t wait to start eating with my family around the table. We’re starting tonight with chicken salads. Whoo hoo!

  2. 2


    Eating at the table is very counter cultural. It is what we have always done, so it surprises me to find out that other people don’t do it. One of my daughter’s friends, age 12, loves to come to our house, because dinner time is so much fun. They have a nice dining table, but eat around the tv instead. We rarely, rarely miss a night eating around the dinner table.

  3. 3


    Chasing what doesn’t matter is the temptation in this life and when we do, we speed up life and miss what is important.

    I love this statement! It is so true. We are saving for a home and I can’t wait to buy one. Trying to be patient and not “speed up” the process is a task, but I can do it. I long to have a dinning room table for a central meeting time for the entire family to come together for a meal. I remember eating with my family at the table, working on projects at the dinning room table & having my dad help me with math at the table. Dinning room tables are important! Heck….I would settle for a dinning room at this point! :-) Great post, thank you for sharing.

  4. 4


    Loved this. I know that I need to schedule in family prayer and worship time—something we used to do regularly but had forgotten after moving a few times. Thanks for these helpful (and applicable!) reminders, Kristen.

  5. 5


    great reminders! life has felt too busy lately. we are “getting away” from it all, including the 115 degree heat here and heading up to the oregon coast to just squeeze in some family time before school starts monday. the high of where we are going? 64. crazy. anyways, i have been feeling the same thing as you and we need to slow down and learn how to say no and/or ask for help. great encouragement.

    my recent post: did you look into their eyes today?

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    So glad to hear about your hired help. I was hoping that would happen soon. Not because I thought you couldn’t handle it, but because there are only so many hours in a day. Love you to pieces! Wonderful gem of a post!

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