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