3 Tips for Making Healthy Boundaries


One of my favorite authors, Richard Swenson, discusses the concept of “dysfunctional math, ” when he uses mathematics to demonstrate that humanity simply can’t keep up with the speed of progress.

Here are just a few of his examples:

  • The average American is exposed to 10 hours of media per day and watches 34 hours of television per week.
  • Go to college and you can choose from over 500 baccalaureate degrees.
  • There are 55,000 configurations of coffee at Starbucks.
  • In the next century, we will have a million times more technology than we do now.
  • Knowledge workers check e-mail 50 times a day, instant messaging 77 times a day, and visit 40 websites per day.
  • The average desk worker starts something new every 3 minutes.
  • One third of us live with extreme stress and 48% believe it has increased over the past 5 years (2008).
  • There was more change in the last century than in all of recorded history prior to 1900.
  • There will be a thousand times more change in this century than the last.
  • Apple offers 800,000 apps in its Apps Store, and 50 billion apps have been downloaded.
  • There are 90,000 governmental bodies in the U.S.
  • In 1800 there was just 1 city with a million people; now there are 381.
  • The percentages of households in the U.S. that are married couple households: 1950–79%; 1960–74%; 1970–70%; 1980–61%; 1990–56%; 2000–52%; 2010–49.7%.

Cutting the Fat


The facts of the world we live in are listed above. While some people (perhaps the Amish and other likeminded orders) have fallen outside of this paradigm of dysfunction, the majority of us are being rushed along a rolling river and are in desperate need of a safety raft!

In an increasingly complex world that produces information at the speed of light, where should we stand? How should we as Christ-followers adapt to this overload? How can we set healthy and sustainable boundaries in our personal lives and our families that will ensure God-centered living and priorities?

These are all questions that I have pondered regularly the last several years. Our own family has increased from 2-6 people over the last seven years. We have had to adapt and find a “new normal” with each new addition. We have had to work together to find and keep healthy boundaries a priority.

3 Tips to Setting Healthy Boundaries

1) Prayerfully determine a personal and/or family mission statement. This doesn’t have to be a complex thing, but it will help you clearly focus and define your priorities in one sentence. Some great examples are here and here.

2) Evaluate Your Current Commitments – Write out everything you do. Everything. Make a list. Look at it for awhile. Pray about it. Put it aside. Look at it again. Ask yourself some questions such as:

~ Do these activities clearly reflect my mission?
~ Do these reflect my priorities, or what I would like my priorities to be?
~ Is there simply too much on this list? Not enough margin for rest, play, or Sabbath time?
~ Is there enough time for investing in important relationships with others?
~ Is spiritual growth reflected as a vital priority based on how I have chosen to invest my time?

These are some questions just to get your mind rolling. I am sure you can think of many more!

3) Make Necessary Changes and Implement! – Make a decision to cut the fat. Be okay with saying “No,” to social events, service requests, or other activities if you know that saying “Yes” will keep you from what you consider a vital priority.

If you tend to procrastinate necessary duties such as meal planning, grocery shopping, lawn maintenance that end up stressing you out later, put it on your calendar such as “Every Saturday morning I will take 30 minutes to meal plan for the week,” or something similar.

Take charge of your life and sow in the field that God has appointed to you. As the Scripture says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (Galatians 6:4).



The Gift of Solitude


A harried executive who went to the desert father and complained about his frustration in prayer, his flawed virtue, and his failed relationships. The hermit listened closely to his visitor’s

rehearsal of the struggle and disappointments in trying to lead a Christian life. He then went into the dark recesses of his cave and came out with a basin and a pitcher of water. 

‘Now watch the water as I pour it into the basin,’ he said. The water splashed on the bottom and against the sides of the container. It was agitated and turbulent. At first the stirred-up water swirled around the inside of the basin; then it gradually began to settle, until finally the small fast ripples evolved into larger swells that oscillated back and forth. Eventually, the surface became so smooth that the visitor could see his face reflected in the placid water.

“That is the way it is when you live constantly in the midst of others,” said the hermit. “You do not see yourself as you really are because of all the confusion and disturbance. You fail to recognize the divine presence in your life and the consciousness of your belovedness slowly fades. “

It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the water anew. Guilt feelings may arise immediately. The shadow self insinuates that you are selfish, wasting time, and evading the responsibilities of family, career, ministry, and community. Theologian Edward Schillebeeckx responded, “…silence with God has a value in itself and for its own sake, just because God is God. Failure to recognize the value of mere being with God, as the beloved, without doing anything is to gouge the heart out of Christianity.” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child.

The Blessing of a Broken Toe


Yesterday as I left my 35 week prenatal appointment, I managed to slam the big toe of my left foot against a curb while walking back to my car. The throbbing, stabbing pain immediately informed me that this was not just a stubbed toe. Through tears, I drove home in a torrential downpour only to walk into a house with no power, a sleeping husband, and hungry, crying children.

It was, in every way, a perfect storm. After the kids were finally fed and put to bed, my toe cried out to me for attention. A visit to the Urgent Care clinic confirmed what I already knew: “You have a fractured toe. Stay off of it completely for three days and slowly begin to increase your activity after that.”

I wish that I could say I said, “Sure thing, doc!” I merely laughed in her face. “I have three little kids,” I said. “Slowing down isn’t exactly an option.”

But sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us to slow down. A friend of mine in college said that she thinks that is why it says in the 23rd Psalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

Two days before this accident, I was spending some time teaching my girls about how we hear God’s voice. I wanted them to know that He doesn’t only speak to us through the “still small voice of His Spirit within us” or Scripture alone. “Sometimes,” I told them confidently, “God speaks to us through our circumstances. Like if we get sick and are forced to rest, it can be God’s way of saying, ‘slow down.’

Little did I know that God would speak to me these exact words two days later. I am 4 or less weeks away from giving birth to my 4th child and I will be very honest with you. I haven’t slowed down at all. But God saw fit, in His sovereignty, to force me to sit still and embrace rest, solitude, the gift of literally putting my feet up and just basking in His presence.

Embracing the Gift of Brokenness


Our culture has got some things really screwed up. One of them is that if we slow down or rest, we are failing…missing out…losing ground. But it is only when we slow down that we can focus completely on what really matters. It is only by embracing times of solitude and quiet that we come face to face with our true selves before the face of God. In that place, He can show us what we’ve lost through a turbulent lifestyle and restore it through His loving presence.

Do you fight or flee from solitude and rest? Do you press through fatigue and run towards busyness? Let Christ take your hand today and lead you into the stillness of His presence. Embrace what He may be speaking to you through circumstances that slow you down.

Sometimes weakness and trial can open doors to greater gifts than we could have ever imagined, but we must embrace them as such.

Experiencing God Through Nature

This morning I went jogging on a mountain trail I’ve walked since I was a young child. I looked at a stream I used to play in, naming every section based on the fairies or little animals I imagined lived there. I took pictures of ferns I remember turning into fans or roofs of houses for salamanders I played with.

I watch my own girls – 6, 4, and 2 explore my old stomping grounds with glee and wonder at God’s creation. Separated from highways, media, and everyday responsibilities leaves me with lots of room and space to reflect on the intricate patterns of a single leaf or flower and find myself filled with joy as a result.

To hear birds singing and smell the cool mountain breeze – I find myself becoming small again and the world becoming large and friendly – beckoning me to exhale and explore and let my soul be cleansed of heavy burdens.

These are moments when I can reflect and remember what life is really all about – Knowing and Enjoying God.


I am grateful for God’s gift of His Creation, which:

1) Gives ample demonstrations of God’s provision for all the creatures that He has chosen to create; (Matthew 6:25-34).

2) Shows me a beautiful picture of God’s created order and balance; (Colossians 1:17)

3) Invites and beckons me to enter into praise and worship as I “consider all the worlds His hands have made…” (Psalm 148)

4) Stirs creativity in me as I stand, awestruck, at God’s many masterpieces: a beautiful sunset, a pathway dusted with flower petals, a roaring stream teeming with life (Psalm 8).

What do you gain when you engage God through His creation? How do you heal, grow, and recover your childlike wonder and faith?

Whether it’s gathering seashells, swimming in ponds, or planting flowers, don’t let age or busyness stop you from receiving nature’s sweet therapy.

Jump into God’s creation this summer and re-learn what it means to discover and explore once again.

Your soul will thank you for it!

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