Posts tagged slow down

Before I had kids I made a vow to myself: I will never, under any circumstances yell at my kids. Ever.

I broke that vow.

A lot.

Way more than I hope they remember.

Looking back, most of my mad had to do with messes.

Our big home on the hill overflowed with messes every day. Every. Single. Day.

Four kids + two cats + two dogs+ two horses + a spontaneously fun husband = MESSY!

I am a woman who craves order. I make my bed every day. Hang my towels perfectly even. Organize my spice drawer alphabetically. The only thing I don’t like about traveling is that it feels messy.

I get a rush from walking into a perfectly clean kitchen, from opening the garage door and seeing matching boxes perfectly labeled, lined up evenly on orderly shelves.

For me, neatness is like a drug, a high. It makes me happy, frees my mind to think.

It has taken me years— decades— to learn these few must-do’s that make my often-messy life a little more realistic. These are things I wish I’d known during all those messy summers when my kids were home. Summers I cannot relive.

1.  Nothing of value gets done without making some messes. People who get a lot done— people who invent and learn and try new things, inevitably have to wade through some messiness. Okay, a lot of messiness.

 2.  Neatness is nice. Everyone functions better when their space is tidy. Teaching my children how to put their things in order could have been fun if I had allowed it to be my gift to them instead of being so uptight about it.

3.  There is a vast difference between neat enough and perfect. To indulge in my propensity for perfectionism will make me weird. And crabby. And mad at a world that cannot ever be perfect.

4.   Consumerism is the enemy of neat. I have spent hundreds of hard earned dollars on plastic containers. What a waste! When I finally learned to keep only a few things in my cupboards, my few things stayed naturally neat. It’s better to have less stuff than to organize more stuff. 

5.   Slow down to order your life. More than anything else, I have found that my pace of life perfectly parallels my sense of order. By adding in one more meeting, one more adventure, one more trip to the store, one more project, one more item on my to-do list… I create a world in which messes reign.

I cannot do it all.

Living now in this cottage in the woods, I relish a degree of neatness that simply wasn’t possible with kids at home. When the Grands come to visit, their messes don’t worry me at all. My whole world stops and I delight in their creativity. I see a bigger picture now and that picture is filled with beauty. How I wish I’d know, all those messy years ago, that…

God creates beauty out of messiness.

From my heart,


P.S. Can you give us your best, most workable tips for keeping your place neat? Any mamas want to tell us how you teach your kids to be tidy?




Yesterday, I fell apart.

After a whirlwind week… at the end of a whirlwind month… following a whirlwind season, I just caved in.

I couldn’t make decisions, form complete sentences, or remember where I put my phone. Or my sunglasses. Or the boarding pass that would get me on the plane to take me home.

And I know that real life gets busy, that even Jesus worked to the point of exhaustion at times. He was harried by crowds who wanted too much, pushed by men trying to control the uncontrollable. He, too, got tired.

Yet I see a pattern in my own life that cannot be healthy—does not feel like His way:

First, I work way too hard, too fast, too much. My shoulders tense, the clock ticks. I work harder. I wake in the mornings to the press of hurry. I can do it. I will.

And if I’m honest, sometimes I crave the addictive rush of planning and crossing off and getting all that doing done.

But it’s not sustainable. Before I should, before my list is marked all through, I drop. Like a pricked balloon I leak. And then, like every woman I know, I look for someone to blame. I resent the unseen enemy who made me work too hard.

Poor me.

Then, zombie like, I rest by doing nothing. I withdraw into myself. I sleep too long, do too little, hide too deep. All the while feeling guilty and slovenly and shamed.

Even my rest seems too… much.

Yet as I read through the bios of Jesus, those stories recorded by always busy Matthew, and excessively dramatic Mark, precise Dr. Luke, and friend-of-God-John, I cannot help but see that He did life different than I do. There was a steadiness to his rhythm, a calm amidst the chaos.

He didn’t rush.

And so, I propose that we follow in His footsteps.

I propose that for the month of November we refuse to rush through our days leaving our people neglected, our space demolished, and our souls depleted.

I propose that we institute No Rush Novembers into the rhythm of our lives.

And maybe we is just me, but I dare to think that I am not alone in this need to slow down, to do life better… to intentionally take more time to engage.

And so, this morning I have been talking to the Father and asking how to be a woman who embraces life at a pace that allows me to live and love and work and accomplish… from a place of rush-less rest.

Instead of a list of what I will not do, I’ve found a strange urging to make room in my life for doing more… living better, steadier, more bravely.

Here is my list for me, things I am going to do this month on purpose:

I AM GOING TO… walk in the rain.

Living here in the Northwest, it rains a lot. As in nearly every day. Which means that to go outside at all is to get wet.

Most days a mist falls, a gentle leaking from porous skies. But some days the clouds battle unseen forces, lashing rain on the world, throwing branches to the ground in a fierce show of fury.

Those are the days I stay inside, safe, protected— and limited.

Not this month. During No Rush November I am going to walk in that rain and let it soak into my skin, and with it, this truth: that He is Living Water, Master of Storms, Soother of Seas. That to hide is to limit His use of me.

I AM GOING TO… build a fire in the fireplace.

Even though it’s messy. Even though I don’t need to. Even when I don’t have time to clean it up or pick up pieces of pine needles and bark that follow sodden footsteps from the wood pile to the inside.

Because I do have time. Not for perfection, but for rest, for warmth. And I am going to take time to draw near to the fire of a love that is all-consuming.

I AM GOING TO… make a big pot of chili and let it simmer all day.

Hot and red, spicy and rich, I am going to breathe in the scent of home. And then I am going to fill every bowl for friends and family, and a few more besides. To celebrate our not-aloneness. To relish those relationships that chase the chill of loneliness away. To open my arms and my kitchen to souls who hunger with the want of a shared bowl of goodness.

I AM GOING TO… clean out the garage.

You’re laughing now, but hear me out. That garage has been bothering me and shaming me and confusing me and making me feel like life is too busy to live well. Every time I open that door I see chaos. I feel the defeat of disorder.

My messy garage has become symbolic of a life hassled by hurry.

In no great rush I am going to finish sorting through the excess. I will keep only what I use, what I need, giving away the dishes I haven’t used in forever to someone who will.

I will lean into the whisper I heard months ago— to SIMPLIFY FOR THE NEXT SEASON. To actively choose to live with less so that I am useable, available, free.

For this one month I will recalibrate. I will re-think and re-order and remember. I will rest. I will create. I will make room in my life for surprises.

Will you join me?

From my heart,


Show us how you’re engaging in Now Rush November by taking a picture and posting on Instagram.

Use the hashtag #norushnovember so we can all join in the fun.

And check out our new Instagram account, @hespeaksinthesilence for more ideas on how to live at rest in the midst of real life.

I’d love to read your own ideas in the comments. Let’s keep this conversation going all month!