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!

Good morning everyone! If you are new, welcome! And, to everyone else, I'm glad to be back after some time away. I've missed our weekly conversations!

Do you ever find yourself watching the clock out of sheer boredom? Do you ever find yourself wondering how you are going to make it through a long hard day? Do you ever find yourself counting the days until ___ happens feeling like life is going in slow motion until then? 

If so, you know what it is like to wrestle- at least in a negative sense-- with our word of this week, time. 

Time defined as the point or period when something occurs. 

I think when I was younger, I was all about rushing through things. Maybe you were too? I couldn't wait to be 16 so I could drive myself to school. I couldn't wait to be 18 and a voter. I couldn't wait to rent a car on my own at 25! 

But these days, I long for a different relationship with time. I notice how fast my children's interests change and how quickly I must adapt to the new versions of their becoming. I notice loved ones noticeably age and talk to me about the time when "they won't be here anymore." I notice how anything I build in community life is temporary-- the wind can always blow people to new opportunities far away. All of these things are normal and to be expected, of course, but it doesn't mean I have to like it! (Because I don't). 

Time in the biggest picture can be oh so frustrating. It can be oh so disheartening! 

Maybe this is why reading the artist, ​Kai Skye​' words this week struck me so. "I used to imagine the future all the time but I'd get so busy trying to make it turn out like that that I'd completely miss all the ways real life was going off in a different direction doing things that sounded a lot more fun."

There are so many ways in a week that you and I try to control, manipulate, achieve with time exactly what we think we want. But what if you and I stopped all that? 

What if you did as Kai suggests and just took life as it comes? What if you turned off your brains more to "making things happen" and instead accepted with gratitude whatever your days became?

Now, I know for the type A's in the room, the go-getters, such an encouragement might fall flat. You like to goal-set. You like to have your plans. You like things as you like them. 

But I have to think so much of our agony over time comes from looking back too much and looking forward too much and not enough being in the present tense. 

So today, try this with me: name something or someone that makes you brim over with gratitude. Connect with that. And when your head hits the pillow tonight, know you lived a day. A good day because of that. And it's enough for now. 



P.S. I am so excited to share the new "look" of my website with you and all of the archives of Word of the Week on one page for your reading pleasure! ​Take a look and see what you think. ​

I find myself being aware of the fact that I think about time almost all the time. . . . .

How I don't have enough of it. How fast it seems to fly on Saturdays: the one day of the week I get to spend completely with Kevin and other non-church friends.

How slow it seems to tick on Monday afternoons when it is just not time to go home yet.

How I'm already hoping God grants me some bonus years so I can go and do and see all I dream about experiencing, though I realize I'm only 31, with seemingly a lifetime ahead of me.

And, most of all, I think about how time is the great leveler for us all, rich, poor and middle class alike. We all get a chance at the same amount. Though 'they' say you can buy happiness, no one can buy time.

I have a friend, Sarah who lives with her husband and two small children in intentional community in North Carolina. Intentional community is just a fancy way of saying that she lives with others, both married and single alike, by choice, creating a makeshift family where all contribute to the financial and emotional load of the house. Sarah does not work full-time as most thirty somethings fresh out of school do. It's a lifestyle she began even before she had kids or was married. It has been her choice to devote her life to causes that she believes in first rather than her time being eaten up by the demands of a paycheck.

When I asked her why she chose to work less (and how in the world could she pay the bills?), she told me that the more she worked, the less simply she could live. And, living was more important for her.

Sure, she'd miss out on buying new clothes or getting fancy haircuts or go on trips without the consistency of a full-time income, but she'd also have the gift of time in exchange. She'd have time to garden. She'd have time to read. She'd have time to help the kids in her neighborhood with their homework whose parents were sight unseen. She'd have time to share lunch with her husband and friends who came in town to visit. Most of all she'd have time to contribute to the human race by breathing alongside it and actually being aware that she was doing so.

It's been years now since Sarah and I had this conversation, but its delightful tone has pierced me ever since.

More work= less time but more stuff (do we really need it?)

Less work= more time but less stuff (but stuff really isn't that bad when we need it?)

However, unless the solution to all of our time problems is to live in co-housing communities with one another (which simply just don't work with every lifestyle), what are we to do to make our lives simpler? Where are we to find time?

Thanks to my new ministerial colleague, Mary Ann, I've been musing more about the concept of Sabbath. Mary Ann, her husband and kids are engaging in a project of celebrating Sabbath (a day of rest from work) intentionally and she's writing about their experience in book to be published in 2012 called: The Sabbath Year. Mary Ann's project  (and the act of writing about it too) is forging a way of keeping the Sabbath as a lifestyle-- in the craziness of life in the DC metro area with three small children alongside-- enjoying time as God's gift to us.

What if we all weren't in a race against time? Practically, Mary Ann's words have stirred me to re-think Kevin and my run around crazy on Saturday trying to get errands done routine. Do we really have to go to Target every week?

Because isn't time is what we all make it to be? In the same way that my friend Sarah has made choices with her vocational pursuits to carve out time for people and things that matter in her life, so we all have the opportunity to make similar choices in each week's plans.

Though the phrase "I'm busy" or "I don't have time to ____" seems to rattle off all our tongues as quickly as "I'm hungry," we often have already made the choice to be busy. We allow our time to be eaten by stuff, no matter if the decision is conscience or not.

So, do we really have all the time we need-- in our weeks (to get the house chores done), in our months (to attend to the goals at work we'd said we complete asap), in our years (to fulfill all our dreams for ourselves and our families)?

Maybe we do in a spiritual frame of reference of time. Maybe such is possible, if less consuming lifestyle habits and Sabbath days of rest found its rhythms into us. Maybe. I'll keep thinking about it.