discovering what matters



Last week, Blythe and I were discussing making something together, a little bracelet–the smallest of things, really–but not to a seven-year-old. She turned to me and said, “but you won’t be able to help. You’re always too busy.” I turned to her stunned and saddened. You’re too busy for me. I hated hearing the disappointment in my daughter’s voice, her expectation that I would fail her, not be available for her, but what’s worse? Her words didn’t surprise me. Instead, they echoed my own growing frustrations with our life pace and my disdain for the treadmill of activity I’ve found myself on–my running at ever-increasing speed without forward progression. 

I needed to breathe. I needed space to pinpoint my frustration, my impatience. I needed room to hear my heart, to hear God’s heart for me and our family. I needed to hear the answer to these always lurking questions: am I occupied with the right things? Am I doing what matters? This would require me to hit that large red button on the treadmill–EMERGENCY STOP– to get off the treadmill and onto a trail.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle, this demand to always be doing more, achieving more — especially as a mother! We want to raise children well and make career leaps and take care of ourselves and our marriages and our homes and build friendships and of course enjoy ourselves in the process! How could anyone not feel the struggle or worn thin by the pursuit?

A couple of weeks ago, I caught glimpse of this space’s tagline “enjoying simplicity” and laughed. My life is anything but simple these days, but I want to return to that place. The place in which I work through our busy days (because we have four children and work and a hundred-year-old home old house) with simple tasks and goals. The place in which we live intentionally, heeding John Wooden’s words, “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” Busyness does not mean our life is more valuable. The next few weeks, as we continue to inventory various aspects of our life and home, I’m hoping to share here more specific ways we’re simplifying, ways we’re discovering what really matters.

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  1. More people need to hear “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” I’m glad you have the introspective quality that makes you take a statement like that from your daughter, look inwardly, and make some decisions. You’re a GREAT mom. I hope you’re able to scale down, focus, and simplify; the Lord will guide you.

    1. Author

      Kate, thank you for sharing such affirming words. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes can be too hard on myself (and those around me), but when it comes to life (parenting included), I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be authentic and share the realness of this journey. I appreciate your words today.

  2. Bethany,

    Thank you for your honesty! Really appreciate it. I totally get you here and I personally go through this weekly in my life. Really looking forward to more posts on this of subject of finding balance, being present and finding oneself daily!

    1. Author

      Those lines that seem so clear prior to children somehow seem to blur once you have them. Thank you for sharing in this journey, Jackie. I hope to share more about this process along the way. xo

  3. oh, for the simple life.

    i think your tag line should remain, no matter how hectic your life becomes at the moment. because it’s still holds true, proven by this very post, that you enjoy simplicity. you want it. you crave it. and it’s evident, too, in the posts you publish. everything you photograph write about or feature has an air of simplicity. even the layout of your blog is such. so it’s not an unreconcilable thing to have that as your tag line even when your life is in a hectic stage. still, it’s so great when we recognize that our lives have become too busy and take a step back and question what might be good for us to cut back.

    i totally get you on that. i recently started a blog series called “life simplified” in 2014 where i hope to hold myself accountable, through posting about it, to radically simplifying and cleaning up my cluttered life. your blog is one of many of the inspirations that put me on that journey. so know that what you do here is not all lost. it’s a balance. think about your own childhood. i bet there were many times where you were left to your own imagination and free-time. it’s good for kids to have that sometimes. of course, not always. and your daughter definitely has a valid concern if she feels like she can’t do something special that she wants to with you. but you… just by the mere title of wife and mom… are by nature a busy person. and that is as it should be. where i struggle is filling up my time with non-wife/mom distractions. if i were too busy to play with my son because i was doing dishes and all the other many things i should be as a stay-at-home mom and wife, that would be one thing. but if i can’t find time because i squandered it on things that are fleeting, i feel a lot of guilt and pressure. so i crave the simplest live that gives me the most time.

    anyway, all the best to you as you look take a deeper look at your busyness. what a great quote from Wooden. when i visit your blog, i always walk away with such good morsels like that and it makes me think you must be so well-read on a lot of great writing. i’m not at all a reader, so i enjoy coming here {among other places} to find so many inspirational quotes from such good writing. okay… i don’t want to add to your lack of time by writing any more for you to read. =)

    don’t even know you personally, but i can see that your kids have a great mom in you… and that your heart for them beats strong.

    1. Author

      Wow. Thank you, Georgia. I’m so encouraged by all you shared, by knowing the ways this space has fed and inspired you. I think my hesitation with quality time comes with as you put it “squandering it on things that are fleeting.” I am with my kids all of the time and do show them I need time to myself, even for frivolous things, but I always want them to know time with them is so precious to me. Thank you for sharing and encouraging me this day!

      1. sorry, bethany… don’t know why my article link isn’t working the way i typed it in. this is what i was trying to link to…

        and I was trying to say “I saw this article this morning and it made me think of you and your post. I haven’t even read it all, but the little I read seemed to resonate with what you wrote, too.”

        1. Author

          Haha! Please don’t worry. I can hear your heart in all that you share, Georgia. Thank you for sharing the link. xx

  4. I too have been struggling with this. Oh to be able to find that happy balance. It seems so hard to attain! Looking forward to hearing how you move forward and what tips I can glean from you! :)

    1. Author

      I’m so grateful for your empathy, Manda. I’m always striving for this balance, but I find awareness and occasionally putting everything on the table for a value assessment is so helpful. I remember why I am doing what I’m doing and where we’re headed. Thank you for sharing your supporting words with me. ;)

  5. balance, i’m certain, will be a goal that will inevitably always be there. every season requires a shifting of priorities, attentions, etc. all the best finding that levelled out plain with where you’re at.


    1. Author

      Thank you. Yes, I agree that life requires this sort of regular attention to balance, to living well. It won’t happen on its own, for sure. ;)

  6. please, Please, PLEASE share ANYthing that is the slightest bit helpful to you in the simplifying/finding balance. i’m struggling SO badly with this right now. this post is such a fabulous introduction…i’m thirsty for more.

    1. Author

      I’m so grateful this encouraged you, Erin. I’ll definitely be sharing a few concrete ways this is happening in our home soon. Well, that’s the goal anyway. ;) Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thank you for the honest post. It’s funny how busy creeps up on us. I have to reassess often and it seems to get harder as the children get older. Good luck and enjoy the paring down process.

    1. Author

      I know! I suppose as each of the kids have more independence and opinion, I feel I try to accommodate too much. It’s good for all of us to have more intentional connection right now. They’re adulthood is only a heartbeat away.

  8. So so so good. And what I find, when I am ‘caught up’ in the busy… is days are not memorable. Even if I’m doing things to make them so! When it’s all I can do to keep my head from spinning, life goes by me and I regret not slowing things down. It’s so hard. I have one more super busy season and then we are making a big life change and cutting back and (hopefully) simplifying a ton. I can’t wait. I am excited to share this simplifying journey with you, although in our own ways. Thanks for the reminder, friend.

    1. Author

      Same here, Kaylan. Simplicity is an arduous process–a discipline really–but such a gift, too. I feel like I’ve just lost sight of some of it recently and need to remember the sweetness of simplicity. I look forward to sharing in the journey together. xx

  9. Beautifully written, and I can relate.
    My daughter have said those words to me a few times. And it’s true. Sometimes I’m to busy.

    Sometimes it’s not okay. Maybe at that time she really need me to listen, to see her.
    And sometimes it has to be a lesson for her. That life in it self is busy. And we can’t always see them spin on their toes for the 10’th time that day.

    I hope you find simplisity. I know I’m about to. Life have changed so so much over the last few days. And all tho it’s been hard, I’m also looking forward to a new start.

    Lot’s of love.

    1. Author

      Yes! And thank you. I’m always trying to share with her about making room in our lives for other things and other people. I have felt too thin though, stretched too far. It’s time to retract and re-prioritize. Thank you for sharing.

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