Posts tagged big thing

“…the wise of heart will know the proper time and procedure.”

Ecclesiastes 8v5


For as long as I can remember I have fought the feeling that I have too much to do. Too many errands, too many deadlines, too long a to-do list. Too many things I should have done but didn’t because I had too much to do.

 And often— too often— that too-much-to-do feeling has turned me anxious, fretful, and inevitably crabby.

Do you know what I mean? Is that your story too?

Or are you like all the women I put up on a pedestal— cool, efficient, and AMAZING? You know who I’m talking about:

They post pictures of their four-year-old’s Princess Party on Pinterest. Gauze and glitter, crowns on every child (and DIY directions on how you can make them for under a dollar!). The birthday girl looks overwhelmingly happy, not a tear or a temper tantrum in sight.

The women who manage to keep their house perfectly clean, their clothes perfectly stylish, and their lives perfectly managed. Women who never lose anything, never run out of anything, and are never, ever late.

Oh! And whose Christmas gifts are wrapped in perfectly coordinated paper— of course.

I am not one of those.

And if you’re not either, I’d like to share with you some things I’m learning about what to do when that feeling of too-much-to-do begins to choke your joy. And how not to let your LIST chase your dreams right out to the rubbish heap where dreams go to die.

1.    Rejoice by choice.

I know that sounds hokey but it’s a phrase that has stuck in my head and keeps coming back to me whenever I’m running helter-skelter to get more done than I am capable of doing.

The apostle Paul was stuck in prison and couldn’t do or accomplish anything! Instead of going crazy and complaining, he chose to “continue to rejoice”[1], dictating a letter to a group of Jesus followers for whom it had “been granted on behalf of Christ… to suffer for Him” the “same struggle” as Paul was enduring.

Here’s Paul’s motto: “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.”

Rejoicing by choice replaces stressfulness with gentleness.

2.    Hide and Abide

Once, years ago, I was hiking high in the Alps with Phil and some friends. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a sense of panic— the drop on either side of the path was dizzyingly steep. I froze. The only way I could get down that peak was by putting my hands on Phil’s back as he led me step by step down the mountain. I think of that often when I remind myself to hide my face in the One who loves me like no other.

By hiding in, and abiding with Jesus, we can make it step by step down any mountain we face.

3. Get your Assignments from God

When I wake up every morning early enough to spend a luxurious amount of time listening to the Father, He directs the paths of my day. Which is why I make my list after I’ve spent time in the Word.

I get my list from God by knowing who I am and who I’m not, lest I try to be superwoman. Or someone else: my best friend, that woman I admire, or the pretend person I follow like a puppy dog, wishing I were her.

I cannot do everything but I can do the all-things God has assigned just for me.

4. Know your Big Thing

The same man who rejoiced by choice, had purposefully cleared his life of anything that wasn’t about his God-given purpose. That specific, clarified purpose gave him the power in Christ to “strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” [2] It was Paul’s Big Thing.

For most of my adult life, my God-given purpose was raising four children to love God with all their might and mind, soul and strength. Now that’s changed. Now my Big Thing is to invite women to know God intimately, to learn to listen to His Voice.  And it’s also to partner with Phil to teach parents to intentionally raise children who become passionate Jesus followers. All the while, continuing to do all I can to help my own children raise the next generation of passionate Jesus followers.

Your Big Thing is that one thing that, if you found out your death was imminent, you would regret you hadn’t done.

5. Turn your Dreams into Goals

What do you dream about doing and being? What do you wish for in those quiet moments when you can listen to the longing in your heart?

I’m not talking about dreaming of cruises and castles and becoming a super star. I mean those God-given dreams, the things He has equipped you for but life keeps getting in the way and you’re afraid you’ll never do what you know God has called you to do.

Rather than spend your life simply wishing, what if you laid it all out before God and under His guidance dared to turn your dreams into actual, bona fide goals?

Goals are dreams purposely put on the calendar.

What a difference might it make if instead of forging ahead, list in hand, working harder, smarter, better, and more, we chose instead…

to rejoice,

to tuck ourselves in close to the Father,

to get our assignments only and always from God,

to ask Him what is our Big Thing, and then

to confidently put His dreams for me onto my calendar?

From a heart learning wisdom,


P.S. How are you learning to tame your to-do list? I'd love to know.

[1] Philippians 1v18

[2] Colossians 1v29

Finding Your Big Thing

 I was 19 when I married Phil— a girl just emerging into womanhood. I hardly knew myself, let alone what I would do with my life. I thought what I wanted was to be a wife and mother and home manager/beautifier/creator. And I did. I still do.

As my children grew, however, my heart widened to want to do more. I had poured so much of myself into my family for so many years and learned so much about myself in the process. Now they were leaving to embrace their own lives and callings and I wanted to do the same.

Instead of aching at the loneliness of their empty places at the table I wanted to set more places. I wanted to make room to bring more people into my heart and life.

But, truth be told, I am a raging introvert and by the time all four of our children left home I needed unstructured hours to relish vast spaces of time alone. And that’s what I did. I puttered around the edges of those things I’d never had time to do. And the more I crossed off my To Do list for “when the children grow up”, the more I found myself disappointed by what I’d thought would be so satisfying.

I canned peaches. The idea of rows and rows of cans lining my pantry appealed to every part of me. But my peaches turned out just a little too soft and mushy instead of bright and crisp like my friend-the-expert-canner.

I burned fancy jams on the stove when my head wandered into lines of thought that sent my scurrying into my library to look something up or write something down.

My house refused to stay as clean as I’d thought it would. And when it was sparkling and pretty I just didn’t get the rush out of it that I’d thought I would. The dog still shed atrociously, the yard still grew weeds, the windows still suffered the onslaught of Oregon rain.

Soon my time filled with the miscellany of urgent must-do’s and ought-to-do’s that I hadn’t done while I was giving myself to the task of raising four children. And...

All those musts and oughts of grown up womanhood left me underwhelmed and unimpressed.

What was supposed to satisfy me didn’t.

That is when I ran smack into a truth I hadn’t seen, hadn’t known was meant for me too. I found it in the New Living Translation of Ephesians 2:10,

“For we are God’s masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,

So we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 And it dawned on me that those “good things he planned for us long ago” are actual, real, tangible tasks!

Then I bumped into Mark 13v 34. Jesus is telling a story about His coming again. As He so often does, He puts His truths into a real-life context for us so it’s more than simply pie-in-the-sky theory. He’s painting a word picture about a man who goes away and…

"He leaves his servants in charge, each with his assigned task."

 Hello! I have an assigned task?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

And so do you.

Long ago, God planned tasks for you to do, then He master-crafted you into just the right combination of gifts and personality and talent to do those assigned tasks. He gave you a story to live with room for dreams and risk and wild ideas about how your life might make a tangible difference in this world.

And now He is weaving your story— the good, the bad, and the ugly— into the your own coat of many colors as His empowering mantle enables you to do those things that only you can do.

That is your Big Thing. That task, those assignments that God gives you, and only you.

Have you discovered your Big Thing?

Because if you haven’t, you will flounder. You’ll be frustrated, sidetracked and unsatisfied with the daily doings of the stuff of life.  Or you’ll be comparing yourself to all those other over-achievers who manage to don their superwoman costume before they’re even out of their twenties. And then you’ll feel inadequate and disappointed in the YOU you have become.

Do you know why your Big Thing matters?

Our Big Things are not first and foremost about us and our desires and gifts and opportunities, but about God’s story and the part we each get to play in it. If you miss your Big Thing by ignoring or being ignorant of His assignments for you, the whole Church suffers and so does this world. You are needed.

Do you know how to find your Big Thing?

It might not be something that will put your name in lights and have people begging for your autograph. It might not make you money. For my friend, Kathy, it means getting up the courage every week to visit the women in jail who have become her "girls". To pour the love of Jesus over them and into them, to make disciples in prison. Now she's got a whole list of us who pray for each of these women and for Kathy. Her Big Thing is a very big thing to those scared and scarred young women who hang on to her every word.

And if you’re a parent, your first and foremost Big Things have names. God’s astonishing first plan for evangelism is stated in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. Nothing could be a bigger thing than creating in your child a deep, authentic love for Jesus and training him to follow Him.

Is there any urgency about doing your Big Thing?

Yes, I do believe there is. Jesus said this:

All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent Me,

because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

John 9v4 NLT

 Do we get more than one Big Thing in this life?

 Yes! Once upon a time my Big Thing was all about my kids. Then it was all about leading the Ministry to Women at our church as a means of helping my husband and loving our people. Then it was all about writing my story. And just as I see the completion of that, it is pouring myself into the Intentional Parenting ministry with my husband so we can come alongside a generation of parents who need help.

These Big Things have filled my days with meaning. When I remember that the Big Things are what matter more than all the pressing duties and deadlines, I live with a sense of accomplishment, of grateful rest. I am needed and I know it.

When you identify your Big Thing, you live every day with a sense that you were made for this!

And in case you’re wondering what a Big Thing looks like, I’ve lined up women to tell you about theirs in the coming months. Because it is my earnest prayer that each of you find your Big Thing and hold on for the ride of your life!

From my heart,


P.S. It would be so fun if you would write your Big Thing in the comments so we all get a glimpse of what God is doing with other women’s lives.

P.S.S. There is so much more to be said here. My son’s newest book, Garden City, will give you the full theological scope of these “assigned tasks”.