Word of the Week

We all have limits on our days don't we? We can't go to every event we are invited to. We can't develop a friendship with every person we think is nice. We can't give our whole heart to every good cause in the world that needs a champion, can we?

To be alive is to have a relationship with our word of the week: boundaries. 

Boundary: a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something. 

Conversations about boundaries are everywhere these days. Folks speak of setting boundaries around their availability for a meeting. Folks set boundaries around unsafe relationships, or even around "me time" or "family time." Such intention setting conversations are full of intensity and courage and lots of planning.

But here's the thing I've been thinking about boundaries: the human experience naturally comes with built in boundaries (that we aren't in charge of). 

For isn't it true? We all have only 24 hours in a day. 

For isn't it true? We all have only so many days alive on planet earth?

For isn't it true? We only are a certain age in a moment in time once?


And these boundaries, I think, help you become more of who your Creator created you to be in the first place. 

I heard a fascinating conversation this week on a podcast about the difference between overachieving and high achieving. To be a high achiever is to work hard, set big goals for yourself and do your best to meet them (a wonderful place to be about something you care about). 

But to be an overachiever is to do all of that + all the extra to ensure success even if you are drained and depleted in the process. 

I've been thinking about that a lot since -- seeing boundaries as gifts. 

So this week, I want you to think about this: what boundaries has your life given you naturally in this season? How can these natural boundaries be teachers for you about what you need to do and what you don't need to do?

Maybe there's room in your life right now for someone new in your inner circle (maybe there isn't). 

Maybe a new opportunity to serve at a charity now deserves a huge "Yes!" (maybe it doesn't). 

Maybe connecting with your family looks like weekly or daily check-ins (maybe it doesn't). 

Do you get what I'm saying? Notice the boundaries in your particular life. Boundaries are already there! And then let them give you permission to be human. 



P.S. In my ​new website​ re-design, my tagline under my name is this: "Pastor. Author. Aspiring Underachiever." Folks have asked me what I meant by that? Well, it's all about this conversation around boundaries. For years, I've had my feet planted fully in the "overachiever camp" doing more than I should just because I could. But these days, I'm craving the slower pace of things, and being human. If this resonates with you, I'd love to keep chatting. It's one of my favorite conversations!

This week I'm wondering this: how often do you stop and think about WHYs of your actions?

I have to tell you that often don't. I lay my head on the pillow and night and wonder where the day went. What exactly did I do?

Yet when we live like this, we're lacking in this week's word: intention.

Intention is defined as the determination to act in a certain way.

I'm finding myself using the word intention a lot lately. In fact, the leaders I've worked with during my tenures as pastor have been known to roll their eyes when they know I'm about to say it (I know in love, of course).

And here is something I've learned from all this intentional talk: it's soul-stretching, discipline making, moving away "from the way we've always done things" kind of living.

And it comes in the big and small choices of our lives.

For example, think about your daily routines, how easy it is to eat out if you haven't made a plan for food at home. How easy it is to spend your time alone if you haven't reached out to someone for company. How easy it is dread going to work tomorrow if you haven't had experiences this weekend of rest and play.

Intention helps us make space for the best possible experiences. What we want. What we need. What God wants to bless us with!

I have a friend who asks to herself when she's trying to make a choice: "Will future me like this decision?"

She further explains this like: if eating a bowl of ice cream at 11 pm at night won't make her 8 am self the next day happy, then maybe she shouldn't do it. Or maybe if saying yes to watching her grandkids play baseball will make her smile for days to come, then maybe she should just go!

So this week, I'm wondering, what are you longing for? Whatever it is, start moving toward that feeling, or that dream or that mindset today.

Text a friend. Search for plane tickets. Turn off your phone after 9 pm. Take a walk.

Small steps are important steps. Small steps, daily steps take us the desired future you want.

Your soul today and of the future will thank you too.



P.S. I know that sometimes even when we make intentional choices in life, we still feel stuck. We do EVERYTHING we think we can do to change our circumstances and nothing changes. We wonder where God is in our life? SO frustrating. This is why I believe in the mystery of God, timing that I don't understand and committing to being still to know that God is God. If you want read more of my own experience of waiting in frustration from several years ago, I'd love to share this post with you.

Change is inevitable, growth is intentional –Colin Wilson

Such was one of the quotes we discussed together as a small group gathered at the Brunson's home on Tuesday night last week. Gathered together in the spirit of stewardship season as our theme is "An Intentional Life" we talked about the ways that we've each been both intentional in our life practices . . . and not.

As we sat around the long dinning room table and shared with one another stories from our own journeys, I could help but think about a theme that has been present in several of my conversations both in and outside the church lately. "Does life get better than this?" people muse with me. "Or, must I simply resolve that this is all there is?"

Every time I've heard this question raised, a part of me has cringed on the inside because of what it says about hope. To be moving in life without hope-- to believe the pain we feel in the present and the countless ways our lives have not turned out like we'd planned is the essence of life-- seems to be giving up too soon.

I often hear people saying similar things about our church. We'll never be this or that . . .  and it makes my heart hurt every time I hear it because it means folks are giving up dreaming thinking that what they see in front of them is ALL there is.

On Saturday morning, a group of us gathered ironically around the same table (thank you Brunsons again!). This time it was the church council planning retreat. We set our dreams first of what we'd like to see happen in the church in 2012 and then took a step back and said to each other we are going to be intentional to do this activity and lay aside the rest for later.

It was a freeing exercise I believe for all of us. Freeing because it allowed us to move in hope and not feel overwhelmed. While there are a lot of really GOOD things that all of us want to do (and usually it is the dreaming types that are in leadership positions in the first place), we simply can't do it all and keep going as a congregation. Putting our best foot forward often means taking a two steps back and those two steps really aren't so bad.

So, as our group drafted our 2012 intentions in areas of worship, fellowship and mission activities, we said to each other as church leaders that our little and mighty congregation is full of hope. And it is hope that we keep on keeping on and move forward.