Prayer for the hopeful

As shared at the Internet Café today. Hope—such a beautiful thing. It’s the perfect take-away as we leave the Easter season behind because everything that happened in the crucifixion—all the pain and injustice and sorrow and mockery and loss—all of it gave way to hope. We’ve messed up. We’ve failed. Lost. Hurt. Been broken. But we have Jesus, and ...

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As shared at the Internet Café today.

Hope—such a beautiful thing. It’s the perfect take-away as we leave the Easter season behind because everything that happened in the crucifixion—all the pain and injustice and sorrow and mockery and loss—all of it gave way to hope.

We’ve messed up. We’ve failed. Lost. Hurt. Been broken. But we have Jesus, and He gives us a fresh start. Thank You, Lord, that Your mercies are renewed daily. Thank You for being a God who has the final say, who fulfills the greatest sacrifice, who has overcome the world. We worship You because You know the end to our stories. You hold all the answers, restore the fragmented pieces of our broken lives, and make us whole again.

Because Your story is also ours: The darkness came. And then You rose up out of it.

You are our hope. You embody everything that is and was and is still to come. Everything good and beautiful and perfect and right.

And so we can go on, no matter what we are up against. Because we are never alone, and You are always victorious.

Help us, God, to let go of our cynicism, our fears, our disbelief. Let us grab hold of every shimmery wisp of possibility. Let us see how the tiniest bit of light banishes the darkness. One word, one touch from You and we are changed. Barriers fall and love pours in. You are the answer to every question we ever asked, the solution to every problem, the joy to overcome every sorrow.

So we lean on You. Rely on Your strength. Trust in Your goodness. And remain, forever, hopeful.

Amen.

The Beautiful Word Bible giveaway

It’s somewhat ironic, don’t you think, that I would have a stack of these Bibles—just begging for someone to come along with colorful writing implements and a love for drawing—as my right arm is immobilized for at least five weeks for surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon? Yeah. Well. So I’ll content myself with ...

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It’s somewhat ironic, don’t you think, that I would have a stack of these Bibles—just begging for someone to come along with colorful writing implements and a love for drawing—as my right arm is immobilized for at least five weeks for surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon?

Yeah. Well.

So I’ll content myself with doing a brief review (because typing left-handed is still slow-going)… and then I’ll give YOU a chance to win one of two copies of this beautiful book. (They knew what they were talking about when they named it.)

The NIV translation is my favorite, and that’s what these giveaway copies are (although this also comes in KJV and NKJV versions). I’m always wishing for lots of space to write notes in my Bibles and for nice, clean, elegant typography. This Bible offers those things, plus key verses illustrated in a wide variety of styles (all fun and colorful). It’s nice to see Scriptures expressed artistically—it gives us a chance to focus on key words and concepts and better understand them. If you’re comfortable drawing in your Bible, that’s what this was made for—but even if that’s not your thing, use the space for notes or journaling. Write about what a certain verse means to you, what you’re learning, who you’re praying for, what questions you have about it, the definitions of words or other related verses… it’s wide open and flexible. You can find your own way and do your own thing. If you want to doodle or draw, then DO. It’s a whole new dimension of interaction with God’s word that can be meaningful and enlightening.

(On a side note, I find the recent surge of interest in coloring, drawing, and so forth pretty exciting… especially since my new book, Designed to Pray, is coming out in August. It’s full of hands-on prayer activities—coloring pages, writing prompts, charts and questions and pages on which to explore—to help you find new insights in prayer by embracing your creativity. Watch for more announcements, or pre-order now :-).)

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that the text in the Beautiful Word Bible is a little too small for my nearing-50 eyes. But the font is pretty and legible—an important consideration to this designer :-). I also wish the paper was a little thicker because some of the illustrated verses kind of show through the pages. Then again, Bibles always use thin paper or else they’d be too big and bulky to carry around!

Beautiful Word Bible composite

Would you like to win one of these Bibles? I have a hard-cover version and one with a leather cover to give away. To enter, just subscribe to my blog posts (right-hand sidebar) or leave a comment below. On April 8 (next Friday) I will post winners. And I’ll even include a little box of colored pencils I had produced as swag for the release of Praying Upside Down.

Hope lots of you will enter—I’m excited to be able to give these away! What do you think about this Bible? Does it scare you or thrill you to be invited to color in your Bible?


Some additional info from Zondervan that you might find useful:

Tips For Bible Art Journaling:

  1. Use the right pen: Look for a pen designed for Bible journaling to minimize bleed through and tears. There are many options in plenty of colors. Or, try your hand at colored pencils which make a great alternative to pens.
  2. Practice on scrap paper: Learn key factors like spacing and ink drying time before you make your mark on your Bible.
  3. Use back pages: When you get comfortable and want to move to Bible paper, try the pages in the back to help build confidence.
  4. Integrate Washi tape: Just a little tape under favorite verses and around the edge adds a lot of interest to the pages
  5. Peel and stick: You name it, there is a sticker for it. From letters and pictures, to shapes, ribbons, and designs. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to brighten your pages with stickers.
  6. Stencil and stamp: Just like stickers, there are endless options in these categories to enhance your Bible without having an art degree.
  7. Appreciate the paper: Use the translucency to your advantage by tracing your favorite images directly onto the Bible paper.
  8. Get inspired: Reflect on the designs found in NIV Beautiful Word Bible or your favorite verse art to help spark ideas.
  9. Don’t stress about mistakes: You will make them – learn and let go of perfection!

Shanna’s 7 Tips to Illustrate Your Faith (courtesy IllustratedFaith.com):

  • Spend time with God – read a devotional, listen to worship music.
  • Pray about it – ask God to guide you
  • Write it down – what is God telling you?
  • Draw it – bring that big idea into the margins of your Bible
  • Date it – Date your entries as you will want to go back to those verses and reflect
  • Tab it – Use tables to see what themes you’ve covered
  • Forget the rules – Connect with God in the way that is most natural to you!

He has risen!

Wishing you an Easter filled with joy. xo...

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Wishing you an Easter filled with joy. xo

Slowing down and paying attention

Poor me. All I’ve talked about for weeks is my elbow. I’ve spent the last week with my right arm immobilized in a brace. Most of the time has been spent half-snoozing, system full of pain-killers. Mindless Netflix episodes. A couple frivolous books. Trying not to criticize my husband for not doing all of my ...

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Poor me. All I’ve talked about for weeks is my elbow. I’ve spent the last week with my right arm immobilized in a brace. Most of the time has been spent half-snoozing, system full of pain-killers. Mindless Netflix episodes. A couple frivolous books. Trying not to criticize my husband for not doing all of my usual tasks exactly the way I would do them. Eating isn’t even much fun when it’s all about getting enough in your stomach to keep the meds from making you nauseous, and having someone else cut your food, and then shakily balancing food on an awkwardly grasped fork, hoping to end up with more in my mouth than tumbling down the front of my shirt.

Several friends, upon hearing about my injury, asked if it’s my writing hand. Yes. But I spend so much time typing that I didn’t think it would bother me much in that respect. Oh, what we take for granted. Signing a check or charge slip. Jotting new activities and kids’ sports practices on the calendar. Writing quick reminders on post-it notes. Grocery lists. Addressing an envelope. Filling in the answers in my Bible study book. Scribbling insights in the margins of books I’m reading. I typically spend lots of time with a pen in hand. A Tul medium point blue gel pen, to be precise. I love filling pages of any kind with my handwriting, smooth and glob-free thanks to my trusty pens.

But I jot things down because I can’t remember everything and there’s always so much to remember. Maybe I need to slow down and simply remember.

Interestingly enough, I just now got an email notifying me that a blog post of mine just went live on Devotional Diva, a site I’m excited to be writing for. Prayer for the Overwhelmed. The words I wrote weeks ago minister to me now. Huh. Funny how that happens.

I have no doubt that God is trying to teach me something. Slow me down and teach me to lean on Him in new ways. The first of these lessons I’ve already seen.

Friends — people I think a lot of but don’t know well — have sent me cards. Actually stopped what they’re doing after seeing my posts on Facebook, and sent me cards. I’ve gotten texts and gifts and food.

Apparently, there are still a lot of loving and thoughtful people in this world. People so much kinder than I am.

Friends with chronic conditions have shared their tips and encouragement. A woman with so many more health issues than I have has sent up prayers and offered advice for how to lean into the pain and not fight the body’s natural response. More people than I can believe have empathized, mentioning the time they had arm/shoulder/hand/knee surgery. (Where was I? How did I not notice or remember? Am I really so self-focused?) One friend has been without a voice for two weeks, unable to work — and yet SHE sends ME a get well bag of goodies. My sister tells me about the people from her work and church who ask about me. (On a side note, the people at C’ville’s First United Methodist Church and all the staff at Spencer Dermatology are among the nicest people I know.)

But the most humbling moment came when my friend Sherry walked into church Sunday. She has several serious medical issues and recently fell, hard, further injuring her already painful, messed-up back. She came into church, leaning on a cane, grimacing from the effort. Yet she threw her arm around me, hugged me, and said she’s been praying for me and worrying about how I’m doing.

She. Has been worried. About me.

I think that when we’re hurting, when we are facing a big change (whether tragic or emotional or physical), our natural response is to close in. Our world gets smaller. The pain defines us and gives us blinders to everything else.

But the people who make a difference are those who uncurl themselves, who come out of their circle of pain to reach out to others. Those who are not defined by their circumstances. Those who use their experiences to embody their compassion for others. Those who understand that even in pain, even in sorrow and hardship, God reigns. He never leaves. He’s not angry and punishing them. He loves and soothes and comforts and forgives and teaches and reveals and enlightens.

He reminds us that no matter how lonely we might feel, we are not alone.

We are not forsaken. We should not despair. We should, quite simply, love.

LORD, don’t let me waste this time. Don’t let me fill it with mindless noise and fail to hear Your voice. If I have to slow down, let this time have a new kind of value. Let my mind slow and my soul learn to wait. Remind me to listen. And teach me this kind of generosity of spirit. Help me love like You would. Amen.


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Luckily, I prepared the April prayer calendar before my surgery so it’s here and ready to go!

 

Prayer for the weary parent

Lord, I am so tired. Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. ...

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[Also posted at Internet Café today]

Lord, I am so tired.

Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide.

But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small.

It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them.

And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my bounds. As my friend Lisa told me once, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. To teach our kids what they need to know to live. To love. To respect and honor and obey and be productive.

And to lean on You. Because if there is one thing I do know, it is that life is hard. Even when it looks like we have it all together. The only way to get through is to turn towards You, to allow You to teach us individually, personally, in whatever ways we each learn best.

So, Lord, help me lean on You today. Let my kids see that even though I’m not perfect, my mistakes are made out of a desire to protect them, which stems from the amazing depths of the love a parent feels for a child. Let them see that, no matter what they face, it’s better to go through it with You than without You. You can lift the burdens which are too heavy, and enrich the good moments beyond measure. You will shine light into the darkness that they will inevitably face. You will reveal that which is a mystery in the right time. You will endure that which seems too hard to bear. And You will emerge victorious, with them by Your side.

While I wait, while I watch them develop into the people You knew they would become, let me be gracious. Let me cheer them on and not drag them down. Let me hold my tongue when they need to listen instead for You. Let me be a safe place for them to return, an unending source of love to come home to. Restore my weary soul, physically and emotionally. Remind me that You are in control so I don’t have to be. Show me how to relinquish my grasp on their lives and live in faith, how to turn my worrying into prayer.

As You help them grow, do the same for me. Because if anyone understands the turmoil of a parent’s love for a child, it is You. If anyone knows what it means to watch our kids go through hard things and not step in, it is You. If anyone understands the unending, deep and passionate and desperate love we feel, it is You.

The enormity of that takes my breath away, and I know once again the complete truth: We could not be in better hands. Thank You, Jesus. I love You.

A Grief Observed—review & reading challenge

For this month’s Branch Out Reading Challenge, the category was a classic Christian voice. I didn’t hesitate to pick C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. It was already sitting on my shelf because a good friend bought it for me, but when I started it back then (a year or two ago), I only made it a couple ...

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For this month’s Branch Out Reading Challenge, the category was a classic Christian voice. I didn’t hesitate to pick C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. It was already sitting on my shelf because a good friend bought it for me, but when I started it back then (a year or two ago), I only made it a couple pages in. Too painful. And it’s been on my shelf ever since.

The power in this book is how raw and real it is. C.S. Lewis was in the middle of his grief over his wife, and he is hurting. The pain is palpable. But I’ll be honest—it was almost too much. Because the beautiful thing it showed me is that, at this moment in time, I’m not feeling that depth of pain. I miss my mom tremendously, and those feelings have been especially strong recently, but this July it will be five years since we lost her. No, time doesn’t erase the sadness. But it does temper it somewhat. I still have moments where it jumps up and overwhelms me. But I also have some where I can laugh about something annoying she did. And it doesn’t feel as though I’m dishonoring her.

There were lots of parts in the book that I marked, but one section in particular pretty much stopped me in my tracks. It was only four pages into the whole book (which, admittedly, is rather short.) Lewis put into words the ultimate fear I felt after Mom died.

Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?…

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’

And that truly encapsulates the thoughts I dared not voice. I always believed God was there, that God was God. I did not waver, even in my most alone time, even as I felt like I was drowning in my grief. But I was terrified that He was not who I wanted Him to be, not who I thought He should be. I was afraid that His idea of what was good and true and right was drastically different than mine. That I had put my trust in someone I didn’t like or couldn’t rely on. That He just wasn’t good.

That was the root of my devastation. Because I need God. I need Him to be my strength, my compass, my motivation and inspiration and truth.

Just as I’ve slowly made my way out of that quagmire, so does C.S. Lewis. He says, later in the book, “You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.” And:

“I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own need that slammed it in my face? The tie when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”

He goes on to say a little later, “He can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.” Also, “Can I meet H. [his wife] again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not? Which is another way of saying what I wrote in my book, when I finally went to God, not in anger, not begrudgingly, but honestly telling Him how much I missed my mom. I felt an immediate response: “She’s as close as I am.”

Like Lewis discovered, the only salve for this gaping wound of grief is God. But I had to be willing to seek God for who He is, not for what He might do for me. He had to be the end of what I sought, not the means of getting there.

What about you—in your life, have you seen or discovered something similar? Do you agree or disagree? (I welcome diverging viewpoints, you know, and I love to hear your stories.)


MARCH: A book written by someone of a different faith

Hmm. I may want to re-read Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Devotion. But I really don’t know. I know there are a lot of different beliefs, and I’d like to branch out to something new. I’ve enlisted Google to help me find some options. They don’t have to be memoirs, but I tend to love those, so I always lean a little bit in that direction.

Do you have any recommendations? Can you help me?

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi
The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd by Mary Rose O’Reilly
Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Prayer for the broken

It hurts. God, do you have any idea how much this hurts? I know that Christianity teaches that Jesus took on all our sin, pains, and sorrows when He died on the cross. I’ve been told that You’ve experienced it all—felt love and joy, grief and sorrow. There is nothing I can feel that You ...

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It hurts. God, do you have any idea how much this hurts?

I know that Christianity teaches that Jesus took on all our sin, pains, and sorrows when He died on the cross. I’ve been told that You’ve experienced it all—felt love and joy, grief and sorrow. There is nothing I can feel that You do not understand. Nothing I can say that You do not already know.

But is this really true, Lord? This feels too big. And at the same time, too specific. Surely You didn’t feel this kind of pain. Our cultures and societies have changed. You were without sin. I have way too much of it. Can you really understand?

The right answer, I know, is yes: You know, You feel, You care, You understand, You will never leave me, and You are the source of all hope. I can only find my strength in You. I can only discover answers in You.

But what happens when I know this in my head but don’t feel it in my heart?

What happens when I feel doubt? I want You to be everything You are supposed to be. But I’m afraid that You are not enough. Or that I’m the exception—maybe I’m too far gone. Maybe I’ve made too many wrong decisions. Maybe I haven’t prayed enough, believed enough, tried enough. Maybe You don’t love me enough.

But then I hear You whisper, shushing my objections.

Or is that just wishful thinking?

Lord, I want You to prove me wrong. I want You to push away my doubts and replace my fear with faith. I want it to be an instantaneous, miraculous transformation. But I’m so afraid You won’t come through for me.

And I wonder where that will leave me. What it will say about my faith.

But I guess those things don’t really matter. What matters is that You don’t let go. That You hear my desperate pleas. And that You let me see You.

Oh, Lord, please fix this. Give me hope. Give me something—even the slightest little glimpse, the tiniest little proof that You hear me.

Because, somehow, as afraid as I am to lay myself open wide, to fully trust in You, I do believe. And I pray that this tiny mustard seed of faith will truly be enough to grow into something magnificent.

If You are all that I hope You are, it will happen. And I’m willing to take a chance, because I want to believe. Because I need You, so much more than I want to admit.

So I give You my pain, my fears—and my desperate, fervent, tremulous hope. And I wish, and pray, and wonder, and wait to see what You will do.

Amen.

Prayer for the overwhelmed

Sharing with you the prayer I shared today at the Internet Café… God, it’s too much. No matter how hard I try, how good my intentions, how little I sleep and how much I work, I can’t hold it together. Why do I feel like I have to? Why do I expect myself to be able ...

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Sharing with you the prayer I shared today at the Internet Café…

God, it’s too much. No matter how hard I try, how good my intentions, how little I sleep and how much I work, I can’t hold it together.

Why do I feel like I have to?

Why do I expect myself to be able to handle it all, fix everything, and do it without breaking a sweat?

Why do I let myself drown in worry and sorrow, sadness and fear?

Wash over me, Jesus. Wash away the emotions that drag me down. Lay Your hand on my weary head and calm the tumultuous emotions. Break the chains of things that weigh me down.

Carry this weight, Lord.

Carry me. And let me not worry that I’ve failed. Let me trust only in You. Renew the drive inside me and give me energy and hope. Make a way. Clear paths, open doors, transform my life.

It’s Yours, Lord, and I give it back to You. Asking—no, begging—You to make sense of it all. To untangle the knots that trip me up, over and over.

And let me know I’m not all alone. Remind me that You are with me, and that even when I don’t see or feel You, You remain beside me.

And no matter how lost I feel, how overwhelmed by the responsibilities I have and the things I cannot control, give me the certainty that it is not too much for You. Never too much for You.

Never too much.

And if this is not too much for You, and if You are right here with me, then I can do this. I can endure the hard moments, withstand the onslaught of too-much, and carry on. I will get through this. And when I come out on the other side (of this trial or sickness or deadline or broken heart or lack of resources), I will be stronger. Hardened by Your holy, refining fire. Made into something better, something more beautiful. Resilient and transformed.

And ready to face the next thing. Because there will always be something more—but that doesn’t have to discourage us, because there will also always be more of You. You endure. Never change. Always provide. Engender hope.

And remain faithful, always faithful. Amen.

Prayer for the restless

Lord, my life is pretty good. Things are where they’re supposed to be. I have my family and friends. Good relationships. Steady work. I know—more or less—who I am and what you made me to do. Don’t think I’m not grateful, because I am. But there’s a part of me that feels restless. Dissatisfied. I ...

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Lord, my life is pretty good. Things are where they’re supposed to be. I have my family and friends. Good relationships. Steady work. I know—more or less—who I am and what you made me to do.

Don’t think I’m not grateful, because I am. But there’s a part of me that feels restless. Dissatisfied. I long for more. I want something else. I don’t want to make drastic changes. And I feel like I should be happy. I want to feel contentment, to rest in this place you’ve placed me.

I want to serve You better. Serve You differently.

Love You more whole-heartedly.

Know You more intimately.

Believe in You more strongly.

Trust in You more completely.

I’m longing for something more, but I don’t know what it is. I’m feeling restless.

I don’t think this is me being whiny, nor is it envy for what someone else has. I think maybe it’s hunger for something deeper.

If that’s what it is, Lord, then keep stirring me up. Let me be ready, always ready. Allow me to embrace what You place before me. Enable me to see when You reveal, feel when You reach out, hear when You speak. And act when You call me. Help me to never settle for less than all You have to offer.

But if I’m using these feelings as an excuse not to commit, then change me. I don’t want excuses. I want You. I don’t want to fall short. I want to soar higher.

Whatever that looks like. However it happens. No more floundering, no more aimlessness.

Use these feelings to transform me into the me You made me to be. The one You want me to become. The version of me that is better, more grounded in my faith, more generous in my kindness, more genuine in my love.

The version of me that is more like You. Oh, how I long to be transformed. And oh, how I thank You for each step You walk beside me along the way.

My holy and gentle Lord, I am amazed by You.

Amen.

Finding Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy

The irony is not lost on me. I have post-it notes all around my computer monitor, lists of deadlines and checklists to keep me on task. I eat at my desk. I stay in my office until late at night, trying to squeeze in one more project, one more email, one more blog post, one ...

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The irony is not lost on me.

I have post-it notes all around my computer monitor, lists of deadlines and checklists to keep me on task. I eat at my desk. I stay in my office until late at night, trying to squeeze in one more project, one more email, one more blog post, one more cog in my social media platform. Then I get an email asking for help—can I read this book and post a review THIS WEEK in exchange for some free books? Of course, I say. Because, if you know me at all, you know I always think I can do one more thing. On Monday, I was a superhero designer, accomplishing massive, voluminous feats without breaking a sweat.

Tuesday was a whole other thing. A crappy day. Dreary, dark, blustery weather to match my mood. Work was making me crazy. Such a huge list of deadlines and not enough information. I sat at my desk and cried, but only for a sec, because who has time for this? I had piles of things to put away, galleys of my own second book to proof and return, and a son to pick up from school. I sent emails, checked the proofs, ran to the store, answered the phone, begged my husband to drive through someplace and bring back dinner because I had so much to do. Finished proofing while watching Downton Abbey. Power-watched two episodes of a brainless Netflix series (to escape reality and relax), and then I realized it was only 10:15. I could squeeze in a few chapters of my new book (the one whose review is due in three days) before bed.

I’ll be honest. I planned to skim it and get the review done quickly. But I immediately discovered that would not be possible. I underlined something on nearly every page. Marked almost every word on others. Drew clouds and thunderbolts and stars and boxes around things.

Breaking Busy Book. Alli Worthington. If it doesn't add to your life, it doesn't belong in your lifeAnd all the while, everything that I’ve been so frantically juggling decided to crash down around me.

I already knew my life was out of control, unbalanced. I knew I wasn’t handling things well. I’ve felt God nudging me, whispering to me, suggesting changes. But this wasn’t a still, small voice anymore. God was shouting. Not in anger, but it had to be loud to make me sit up and take notice. It had to be strong to get me to respond.

Earlier that same day, God spoke into my soul—hours and hours before I opened the pages of this little turquoise book—and said I need to make changes. I need to trust Him. I need to stick up for myself. Live the way I know I need to. Quit setting myself up for spiritual failure—spiritual, emotional, physical overload.

It needs to stop.

But it’s never quite as easy as that, is it? Because I feel like I have some kind of responsibility to do more, to do everything I’m capable of doing. Because I evaluate myself with such twisted measures of success. Because I need to earn money. That’s often what it comes down to for me. Quality of life I want schedule-wise, or quality of living money-wise?

Breaking Busy spells out the havoc of a life lived the way I have been living mine. It shows why we can’t and shouldn’t try to define ourselves by how busy we are. It spells out the dangers. Asks the right questions. Discusses warning signs and danger zones. And kindly, gently, with a good sense of humor, the author prodded me until I could see—no, admit—the problems I’ve avoided.

unspecifiedYou probably wish I’d talk more about the book and less about myself. But like all the best books, Breaking Busy spoke to me deeply. Books like this spark inner debate, stir up passions, and inspire—to such an extent that the change seems disproportionate to the actual words that started the spark and in a way that makes it impossible to separate the resultant change in me from the content of the book itself. But after sleeping on it, and getting up and reading more, I’ve prayed and prayed, talked to friends, and already taken some steps towards the changes God is showing me. I don’t know what it will all look like in the end because I’m still processing, still trying to ask for and hear what God is telling me. All I can say for sure is that this book has changed me, and I absolutely believe I will come out better in the long run, even if the process is hard.

If you don’t live the kind of crazy, always-striving life I do—if you do things like find quiet time for yourself, take the occasional nap, and let yourself fully engage with your family whenever you can—then this book probably won’t speak to you like it did to me. But it might, because it’s full of wisdom—new insights from scripture and old stories told in new ways. If you feel like there’s always more you should do, then grab some kleenex and a journal and sit down and know it won’t be a quick, easy read. It might, however, be just what you needed to hear. It will definitely be worth it to contain the “busy” and find the calm that comes when we live as the people God made us to be. No more, no less. But just exactly right.


Just say no to unnecessary crazy. BreakingBusy.com #BreakingBusy


I received a copy of this book plus a book bundle from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review of Breaking Busy.

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