22 March, 2016

Breaking Busy Review

I was recently given the chance to read Alli Worthington’s new book BreakingBusy. In it, Worthington writes about the need to stop doing things because we feel obligated or wearing the “badge of busy” like a symbol of honor.

The Lie of Busy

The theme of taking a step back and reevaluating our lives, what we are committed to, and what we have let define us, is coming up all over the place. Finally the lie that we can “do it all” or should be expected to is finally starting to crack. There is no “having it all” unless it includes rest, relationships and a new defition of “success.”

I read Breaking Busy after reading Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday and Lara Casey’s Make it Happen (both of which I’d highly recommend). They all speak to this idea that while we are busier than ever, we feel like we are getting less done and losing what really matters in our quest to conquer the out of control to do list.

Okay, let me get this straight. Worthington writes. Women are sacrificing sleep, recreation, hobbies, friends and even family on the altar of busyness. So we aren’t sleeping, aren’t taking care of our bodies, and we aren’t doing things we enjoy with people we love. Then what in the world are we doing? (pg. 22)

Worthington starts off talking about capacity. She looks at her cell phone as an example. Your phone can only do so much at one time. It will only work for so long without a recharge. We tend to keep going on empty, to try to do more on limited reserves. It just doesn’t work.

There are several signs Worthington points to as a sign of being on overload.
1.     Inability to Control Your Emotions
2.     Lack of Self-Care
3.     Illness
4.     Chronic Lateness
5.     Self-Medicating and Excess
6.     Neglecting Important Relationships
7.     Neglecting God


I read this book first in November and looking back over my notes, I can see I am still on overload.

I am not “busy” per say. My planner is mostly work, writing and working out. I do not have children, am not committed to anything outside my job. My life is relatively stress free. But that does not mean I am not outside my capacity or am not overloaded.

I tend to focus on too many things at one time. In my creative life I will try to push forward too many projects. I will get too many ideas of things to try (got to love Pinterest). I will want to excel at cooking, become the perfect Bible journaler, and run my own business. I join clubs on Facebook I have no intention of engaging with and have more newsletters coming to my inbox than I will ever read. My desk is cluttered with impulse buys, notebooks and print outs to read and digest.

All of this can stimulation leads to feeling overwhelmed. And to me it is a sign that something is not sitting right in my core.

Too often we restrict our barometer of busy to our planner, but what about how much time we waste multi-tasking or on social media or procrastinating? I find it easier to escape online than to take action for my own health and happiness (pg. 27), Worthington writes. And I totally agree.

Worthington’s list is a wake-up call to me to re-evaluate where I am. Yes, according to my planner my life is the last thing from busy. But internally – in my head, in my heart and with my emotions – I am so overloaded it leaves me feeling empty, not creative and tired.

The heart of Breaking Busy is learning to say no.

Learning to say no when it comes to what we are committed to, what we let consume our time, what traditions we cling to, to who and what we let speak into our lives.

The Question of Calling

I have to admit, I found her chapter on Calling a bit discouraging.

She writes about her experience of leaving behind a very successful blog event for what – she wasn’t sure. Worthington started the blog conference after her husband lost his job. It grew and blossomed and at the peak moment God called her to walk away.

It’s an incredible story of trust. And what came next for Worthington can only been seen as God’s perfect timing.

She does provide some thought provoking questions for identifying your calling. She is right in that we have to let God tells us what we are made for (instead of assuming we know or telling God what we want to do). It is in relationship with Him we find out what we are designed to do.

Where it falls flat is that she doesn’t do a good job of addressing the obligations of our lives and how those can interfere with calling. What do we do when we know our calling and God says wait?

Worthington does not have a lot of encouragement for those of us in this place. She paints the picture that determination is enough. It’s not. You can be determined and hustle your heart out and still have not enough to cover the bills.

It is the biggest failure in the book.

Editing is Key

One of the biggest ways that we can start to break busy is by editing what we are committed to. Worthington looks at “proactive edits” and “natural edits.”

Proactive edits are “what we need to stop doing if we are to live the life God created us to live.”

Natural edits are ones we do not choose for ourselves. They are, “limitations we have and losses we suffer (pg. 88).”

The natural edits are the sticking place. How we respond to them determines a lot. Our limitations can keep us from inserting ourselves in places we shouldn’t. They help determine what we do and where we spend our time.

I will say sometimes God works through our natural edits, and those can be amazing and glorious.

Worthington looks at the life of Jesus. The God of all things did not, “say yes to everything because he wasn’t called to do everything (pg. 91).” And that is a good reminder for us.

My Efforts at Editing

I found Worthington’s list of how to make proactive edits very useful as I started editing my obligations. I was able to look at what was hindering me, to face some fears in my heart, and ultimately lay the edits in my life before God.

The reality is sometimes edits hurt.

God was trying to alter my life and was refining my character to suit His particular purpose. But sometimes edit hurts, and sometimes they cause others to hurt. When you feel the need to edit something out of your life, expecting the process to be easy will only make that change harder. Like most growth in life, editing out the good is not easy, but it is ultimately worth it (pg. 86).

Later on, Worthington writes about the difference between worry and anxiety. Anxiety is a sense of doom rooted in fear hat is often a lie from the Enemy. Worry is nothing but our attempt to control the future (pg 111). She addresses these two issues and provides steps to overcome our negative thoughts.

The False Sense of Urgent

The problem is that maybe important tasks (such as getting adequate sleep, spending quiet time with God every day, and working towards our big goals in life) don’t seem urgent enough to demand our immediate attention, while urgent tasks … aren’t always important (pg. 142).

We lose too much of our day in things that don’t ultimately matter. Worthington writes: we should be done more life-giving activities that make us happy and help us grow into who we are meant to be. But we will never get to those activities if we don’t first set out goals and our priorities (pg. 144).

At the heart of this is boundaries!

Setting boundaries is the only way to ensure we stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually (pg. 149).

What we think, believe, hope for, study or dream about does not affect the outcome of our future. The decisions we make and the actions we take do (pg. 159).

She also writes a very good chapter on communication and if you are an over or under sharer, how to relate to each other, and how to better communicate overall.


Worthington’s final chapter deals with worth. It was my favorite chapter. It’s the one I keep going back to, the one that really struck a cord in me. I feel Worthington could write a whole book on just this topic. So many struggle with this and yet don’t even know what to name it.

“Keeping us busy trying to prove our worth is the easiest way to keep us from the life God created us to live because it makes us think that our worth is based on what we do, instead of who God is (pg. 197).

It is a refreshing chapter with a lot of heart and tips on how to take a breath, identify how you face this issue “being enough.” It provides some great guidance on how to cultivate a more healthy sense of worth.


Worthington goes back and forth between being conversational and providing tips/tricks and questions which tend to make the book more formal. Her strength is in the latter. There are very few authors who can write well in a conversational tone. Not done well, the writing can come off a bit weak.

It is a good entry into the idea the idea of breaking the cycle of busy and reclaiming our lives. Though I might recommend Simply Tuesday or Make it Happen more.

In the end, Breaking Busy is a worthwhile read. There are gems of wisdom and practical tips throughout and one of the ten ideas Worthington addresses will strike a cord, as a few did for me.

What are you currently reading?

04 March, 2016

Friday Creative Prompt - The Painter


The Rules:

1. Set a timer for five minutes

2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write.

3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.

4. Save what you write

Image via Huffington Post

10 September, 2015

Hagar: The Slave Girl with Much to Tell


(I recently contributed an article to A Pinch of Faith's series on women in the Bible. Here is the start, the rest can be found on A Pinch of Faith.)

Hagar is one of the most over-looked women in the Bible. Very little is known about her. Born in Egypt, she somehow came to be with Sarah and Abraham as Sarah’s slave. Her place in the world is shaky at best. Overall she is powerless in the day-to-day dealings of her life. We don’t know her age, how she looked, if she had family back in her homeland. In fact, Hagar would have faded into historical obscurity except for one fact: Sarah chose to use her for her own end.

When we think of Hagar we have to keep her lot in perspective. She had no control over her life, body, or time. She could not say no. She could not come and go as she pleased. She was enslaved, under the rule of Sarah and Abraham with no hope or expectation for change. The reason for this caution is too often we turn Hagar into the villain of what comes next, when she is quite simply anything but.

Read more on A Pinch of Faith

04 August, 2015

The Discovery at the Laudromat

Here is my entry from the July 31st Creative Prompt

Where did he go?

Sara spun around again looking at the now empty laundromat.

She stared at the last place she had seen the man. It was impossible that he had made it to the door as she was between them. There was no back entrance. So where did he go?

She thought over what he had been saying, talk of tea parties and croquet. He kept repeating he was late. He tried to get Sara to turn around and was rather miffed that she refused to give him the chance to ambush her. She was put on guard by the fact the man had no laundry. He did not dress like someone who would use a laundromat with his top hat, white suit, buffed loafers and pocket watch.

The creaking door caught her attention. That dryer was not open a moment ago. There was only one machine being used – the one with her laundry.

She called hello, feeling foolish. There was no one there. She reached to close the dryer door but stopped. Where there should have been a drum there was nothing but darkness.

“Hello?” she called into the dryer, her voice echoing. “Mr. White?” She did not know if this was the man’s name, but it’s all she had. Realizing what she was doing she jerked her head out of the machine. Pull it together Sara.

Her hand still on the dryer she looked at the darkness. It was the only logical explanation, if a rabbit hole appearing in an ordinary dryer was logical. Was she really saying that a man leapt into a dryer the moment she pulled her gaze for a moment?

Confident no one was coming, Sara tried to hoist herself into the dryer. It was the top of a double stack and was remarkably hard to squirm into. She thought about how she might look, her bum sticking out, legs flailing. Maybe her sister was right, the stress was getting to her.

Feeling something wet under fingers, Sara pulled them back to find them covered in dirt. Dirt? She smelled it. What was going on? Realizing she had nowhere to go but further in, Sara braced her arms and pushed, sending herself tumbling down the rabbit hole.

03 August, 2015

Leadership Lessons from Deflategate

Last week the NFL upheld its four game suspension of Tom Brady for his involvement in deflating balls below the designated limit in January’s AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The news has been all over the media as well as questions about the future and legacy of Mr. Brady, the actions of the Patriots and the implications for the season. While there are tons of articles out there about the situation (see list below for a few), I wanted to see what lessons we can take from the situation as to what good leaders do not do.

1. Good Leaders Do Not Look for Someone Else to Blame.

Almost from the moment hints of under-inflated balls hit the airways after the AFC game, Brady and the Patriots have declared their innocence. This did not stop them, however, from blaming anyone outside the organization for their situation.

This is not the first time the Patriots have had cheating allegations levied against them. They have been accused of having inside intel on other teams, to the point of filming practices. They have used illegal plays and formations during games.

And as before, the Patriot are indignant, taunting and putting on one hell of a performance in their quest to be “vindicated” from charges everyone knows are true.

The team has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar. At this point it’s best to stop blaming everyone else, circling the wagons and trying to play the victim and maybe admit to what is right in front of them.

2. Good Leaders Take Responsibility

In what seemed like a series of excuses from day one, Tom Brady has not come close to admitting to, much less apologizing for well, anything.

In one of the more bizarre (and telling) moments, Brady told the NFL investigators that he did not know the, “permissible inflation range set by the NFL Playing Rules” (NFL Nation 5/6/15). It’s like a world-class piano player saying they don’t know what the pedals do or an electrician saying they don’t know how to ground a wire. It’s a basic of the game. A basic all 32 teams have agreed to.

Brady even went so far as to deny knowing staff on the team. Staff who deal with the very equipment he uses daily, staff who have been with the Patriots for decades, staff with whom he corresponded with via test message. It would be laughable if Brady did not think people were dumb enough to buy the lies.

A leader stands up and takes responsibility. Even IF Tom Brady had nothing to do with the balls being deflated, he should have gone to the podium and taken one for the ball handling team. He should have admitted the balls were low and promised they would not be this season. He should have cooperated fully and then accepted the punishment levied against him. Brady and the Patriots could have saved a lot more face if they had appeared to be humbled, corporative or even open in any part of what’s happened because of their decisions. This is not happening to them – they brought this on themselves by cheating.

3. Good Leaders are Transparent

Good leadership would have been coming out the day after the first hint of improper deflating was announced and been honest. It is not grand standing, proclaiming your innocent, blaming everyone else, or playing dumb. It’s not using long words and strong language that attempt to garner sympathy and paint yourself as the victim when evidence and common sense says you are anything but.

To put it simply: good leaders are not indignant, they are not martyrs and they stand up and tell the truth.

In all of this, the other big black eye against Brady is the destruction of his cell phone from the time of the incident on the very day the investigators wanted to talk to him. It was a key piece of evidence Brady knew the investigators wanted.

His excuse? Well he (supposedly) destroys all of his old cell phones. And why does it matter – the league has communications has what they need from the Patriot staffers’ phones?

Through his decisions Brady has made the conversation as much about his (lack of) character as it is about his actions. His unwillingness to just take responsibility for his actions will ultimately hurt his legacy more than the actions themselves ever will.

If Brady had just taken responsibility for his part this could be a footnote but since he insists on playing the victim way beyond the point of believability, this has become a bolded line in how he will be remembered. His legacy is tarnished by his choices.

4. A Leader Does Not Cheat

The most basic leadership lesson we can learn here is: leaders do not cheat.

There are rules, rules established by the league, approved by the owners. Rules that should be common sense to every player and staffer on all 32 teams. These rules lead to fairness and ensuring that all 32 teams have an equal playing field.

Someone who is a leader plays within those rules. They look at the PSI levels and find a level that works for them. They don’t spy on their opponents; they don’t try and pull a fast one on the referees. They don’t play the victim, and when that fails they don’t become bullies.

The Patriots are a well-oiled machine. They are disciplined and everyone does exactly what they are supposed to. There is little denying they are a powerhouse team. But when faced with something as severe (and proven) as cheating, the last thing a leader does is look to somewhere else to place the blame. But that is what the organization and those closest to Brady are doing.

Until now they have not had to pay in any way that hurts them. The fines levied against them are laughable when you consider how much they make, losing draft picks doesn’t hurt because, well, they are at the bottom of the list anyway because of how good they are. Instead of letting them buy themselves out of another cheating fine, the NFL hit them where it hurt: by benching a key player.

Where We Are Now

Ultimately, the Patriots and Brady are in a place of leadership because they are in the public arena. Children look up to Brady and emulate what he does. But they are not leaders. They have shown their entitlement comes from a place of privilege and power. They expect that by being at the top they have the freedom to do what they want. And if they get caught – there is always money.

Brady’s reputation and legacy have been altered by the situation and mostly by his reaction to it. While some might have suspected that the leadership of the Patriots is content to play outside the lines, I think many hoped Brady would not display such arrogance. The unfolding of Deflategate since January has shown only the worse side of many. And maybe the discussion we should be having is why the NFL (also in a position of leadership) is doing so little to address the core issue here.

If you can only win by working outside the rules, does that really make you a winner? 

If you are powerful only because you are a bully, does that really make you powerful? 

If you want to escape responsibility because of your status, what does that really say about your character and who you are?


31 July, 2015

Friday Creative Prompt - The Laundromat


The Rules:

1. Set a timer for five minutes

2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write.

3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.

4. Save what you write 

23 July, 2015

Simply Tuesday: Becoming More Childlike


Playing Dress-up

I loved playing dress up as a child. I remember countless afternoons being at my grandmother’s house in her closest putting on her skirts and blouses, slipping my tiny feet into her heels. I would slip her pearls on my neck and let her clip-on earrings pinch my tiny ears. Then I would try to walk. I would have to hike the skirt up and shuffle to the bedroom.

As an adult I have often felt like that little girl in her grandmother’s clothes. I have struggled with wondering if I would ever feel like I belonged. Would I ever truly fit in and as if I wasn’t just playing in my grandmother’s closest?

Simply Tuesday

I am currently reading Emily Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday. In it, she writes about the need to become more childlike. But Freeman reminds us: being childlike does not mean being childish (pg. 138).

We often get those confused. One is forging responsibility, throwing a tantrum and being self-involved. The other is wonder, awe, trust, surrender. It is hope and belief. It is being open and ready.

She writes about the image of a daycare room coming to her one day in prayer. Little tables and chairs, paper and crayons. Then she realizes she is a child. “This day belongs to the Lord,” she said. “This is not the day Emily made to toil and strive and earn. … He invites me to surrender myself to His agenda and trust that He intends good things (pg. 134)

In my prayers I am often a little girl in a flower field. I run my hand along the tops of the flowers that grow wild, up to my waist. I am looking a field with a lake and a beautiful mountain rising before me.

Too often, I think that someday I will be a grown-up here, that I will finally not be playing dress-up. But what if that is the entire opposite of what God wants?

Being Childlike

What if He wants my curiosity? What if He wants my wonder? What if dress-up is okay because it keeps me dependent on Him?

What if the wonder, joy, awe and ability to see the small things is really what it is all about?

It is resting in God’s presence vs. trying to do it alone.

It is being filled with possibility and being open vs. being skeptical and analyzing things to death.

Freeman writes: choosing to believe the simple, true words about my identity is a childlike quality that often takes mature faith. (pg.139)

Believing What God Says

It takes more faith to let go and let God be God than to try and control it all. Like kids in a tantrum refusing to sleep though they are exhausted, surrendering and letting go bring rest, comfort and release!

When I let myself be childlike, I say okay to being messy. I do not have to have it 100% together. I can move towards others, not in “perfection” but with my mess – loving them and inviting them to embrace their mess too.

“Jesus speaks to the interior soul, inviting the child within to come to Him for validation, protection and truth” (pg. 141).

Ultimately, our souls are young! In our pain we try to fortify them – but our inner being is childlike. That is what breeds wonder, worship, love and hope! An adult has no use for those – but a child is all over them.

It’s our woundedness that cause us to fortify the child inside. We are taught not to trust. We are taught to be reserved. We are taught to hold back, play along, fall in line – be an adult! But God did not tell us to become upstanding adults resting on practicality, logic and reason. No he told us to become like children.

“He invites us all…to finally take on the truest shape of ourselves: a small and dependent child of God” (pg. 142).

Being Childlike in the Every Day

The other day I was on a run. I was having the hardest time finding a rhythm. It was a mental block. I was exhausted. I couldn’t make it down the block. I wanted to quit. But I had a distance I was determined to go.

In my frustration, I decided to sing. I got found a beat with my steps on the pavement and just started to sing. My song: He is good. He is with me. He is my strength. He will get me through. I can do this. As I focused on that instead of my pain, I started to run. I made it further than I had so far.

I realized reading Freeman’s book that was a childlike moment. The song made no sense. It was off the cuff. It was totally silly and repetitive and did not always rhyme. But it was pure. It was me – unadulterated before God. It was undignified. But it was real. It was me with my God in a moment when the veil was torn and I was just with Him.

And isn’t that just simply amazing?

How can you be more childlike today?
© Amanda Lunday