Open Spaces 

What we do with our time tells the world a lot about us.

How do you spend your time? What does your calendar or planner say about your life?

Last month I didn’t like what my planner said about me. It said I’m busy doing a lot of things. Good things, too. But when I’m not careful about how I plan, I end up doing a lot of additional things and ignoring essential things.

I have to regularly ask myself: is my life busy or bountiful? Manageable or meaningful? Do I value relationships over routine?

We are afflicted with the idea that we aren’t accomplishing anything unless we are rushing here and there, checking off the items on our “to do” list. But a full calendar doesn’t equal an abundant life. I cannot feel the spaciousness of God’s love when I’ve crammed my calendar full.

When I crowd my calendar with a lot of additional unnecessary activities, I crowd out opportunities for good conversations. I push away the chance of a meaningful encounter. I cannot live on purpose when I’m running around trying to accomplish a lot of things. When I’m rushing from one place to the next I don’t see the people around me. I may see them with my eyes, but not with my heart.

I won’t take the time to smile and say hello to the elderly lady behind me. I won’t notice the young boy in the cereal aisle that’s lost his mother.  I’ll rush through a phone call from my sister.

Because I want to live like it matters and after years of doing it the wrong way, I know that I need time in my home with my family and I need solitude. So I must be wise when planning and making commitments. Since I work full-time most of my days are filled but I can be intentional about my evenings.

I’ve learned that I need plenty of blank spaces in my calendar….some unplanned blocks of time…………time to move at soul-speed. The kind of time when I’m still and my heart is open to any kind of heavenly thought that God might send my way.

The unplanned time can be the most meaningful time spent. The kind that allows for a lengthy unrushed phone call with a long distance friend. Or a cozy movie night at home with my husband because the kids are out of the house unexpectedly. Or a nap on a Sunday afternoon.

We all need open spaces in our calendars.

My Live Like It Matters Challenge to you is to leave some open spaces in your planner. Circle them if you have to but leave them blank. See what it does for you. See what it does for the people around you.

Unplanned time is time well spent.

Because how you spend your time matters. And how you plan or don’t plan matters.

Live like it matters.

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash


Merriam-Webster’s 2nd definition of full-time is : devoting one’s full attention and energies to something.

I am fully devoted to learning how to love and live well. But the thing is – I am a work-in-progress. I always will be. Nevertheless, I have something to share about what I’ve learned so far.

I’m a wife and mother of three teenagers. I also have a full-time job that I get paid to do. I’m an accountant at a construction company and I love it. I want to do it all well and I get it right sometimes. Mostly, I get it wrong and I write so that you don’t have to. But if you do get it wrong maybe you won’t be as hard on yourself because I did too.

There are moments when I’m in awe of my wonderful life….grateful and overjoyed and content. In other moments…..I’m restless, underjoyed and wondering what the heck I’m doing.

I want to live an abundant life. With a husband, 3 teens, too many bills, and a few dreams how do I do that? How do I love the people in my life well, take care of my responsibilities, pursue my dreams, and live life to the fullest? There’s no secret formula or “one-size-fits all” answer. So I learn as I go. The full life I want is in the things I do everyday. My relationships, the choices I make, the conversations, and my attitude.

The restlessness, this “divine discontent”, keeps me seeking, moves me forward and is where the abundant life is found. The journey and the searching make the mundane meaningful, the routine rich, and everyday extraordinary.

So I do it all full-time with all of my heart.

Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—into God’s way of doing things. Romans 6:12

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”


My “to do” list for the weekend wasn’t long.

  • Go to the grocery store.  Like the “load down the cart” kind.   Done.  My husband does a lot of this lately but my family says I do it better.
  • Actually do something with the food I buy at the grocery store and cook a great meal.  Done.  This made my family very happy.
  • Finish addressing our son’s graduation announcements.  Done.
  • Reconcile our bank account.   Done.  And to the penny… an Excel spreadsheet.   I love it.  I’m an accountant, people.
  • Trim the hedge and cut the dead branch out of the cedar tree.  Done. My husband finished this because he’s taller.
  • Post on my blog. There’s no “done” here.

On my drive to work this morning, I was thinking of the one thing that I hadn’t checked off the weekend “to do” list.  It bothered me terribly.  It didn’t matter that I’d accomplished way more than what was on the list.

I cooked and cleaned. I visited the neighbors, talked with my kids, and washed five loads of clothes.

I played with the dog, trained to increase my 5K speed, pulled weeds, and watched two great movies.

Folded clothes.

Piled the clothes in front of the appropriate doors so the owners would put the clothes away.

I laughed with my husband.

Had a nice lunch with my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day.

I did hundreds of things this weekend.  But all I could think about was the one thing undone.  My blog.

I want to write.  But I can’t push “pause” on every other part of my life so I can blog.  I do close myself off in my room to write but the interruptions come.  I’m distracted.  My son has a question.  My daughter’s boyfriend comes to visit.  My husband wants me to look at something. And then I stop my writing to be with them.

I’m still a wife and mother. A friend and a mentor. A sister. An employee.

But if I could just post something……anything on my blog.

Then I could check off the last thing on my list.

Well, here it is:


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves.”

The Middle

It was already past my youngest daughter’s bed time.  

“Brady, gather your uniform!  You have a game tomorrow,” I said. 

“Ok, I have everything except my game socks,” she said.  

She looked again after I assured her that I’d washed them.  But it was late and we were too tired to care about her red game socks. We were certain we’d find them in the morning.  

We didn’t. I was aggravated and she was crying when she left for school with her brother and sister.  I waved them goodbye and marched back into the house, determined to find those socks.  I had five minutes.  Not under the bed, not in the dirty laundry pile, not in her brother’s room.  No red socks and I had to leave for work.  Ten minutes into my drive to work I realized I’d forgotten to write a note for her teacher about the change in afternoon pickup arrangements.  

“It’s ok,” I thought, “I’ll just call the school.”

Seconds later my cell phone rang.  It was the school.  My daughter went to the office to tell them I forgot to send a note.

I cried the rest of the way to work. And I was late. I walked into the office with a big grin on my face trying to hide my ruined makeup and wished my co-workers a good morning.

But my eyes didn’t lie.  Even with a fake smile, I’m sure they weren’t fooled. I can usually hold it together, but not lately.  I think I have “Acute Emotionalosis”, an abnormal condition pertaining to my emotions.  Crying one minute, annoyed the next.  I’m overly sensitive to songs about only having 100 years to live or kids growing up.  Trace Adkin’s song, “You’re Gonna Miss This” does it to me every time, and so does anything by James Blunt.  Even commercials cause tears.  Have you seen the Subaru commercial with the 7-year-old little girl at the wheel?

I don’t feel like I’m doing this whole life thing well.  Whether it’s my role as wife, mother, daughter, friend, or employee…..I doubt myself.  Sometimes, I know I’m not doing it well.

That was three years ago. I was going through a difficult time and getting used to a new normal, adjusting to working full time outside the home after mostly being home for ten years.  And in my spare time I was studying for the CPA exam.

I remember how I felt then. Besides tired and overwhelmed I felt inadequate. Less than. Like I was failing at everything, disappointing everyone and I was on the verge of tears most days.  

My family and I finally adjusted to the job. But as soon as I was used to that everything changed again. And again. And then again.  

And more change is coming.   

Change has changed me. For the better. I still have moments of doubt and stress. I mess up with my husband and kids. I say the wrong things, I’m not always there when they need me, and I’m impatient. I forget to write the check or the note. My house is still not as clean as I’d like it to be. I fail sometimes. But they’re only moments. 

When faced with a loss, a problem, crisis, challenge or any kind of change I try to remember it won’t always be this way.  I’m right in the middle of this whole life thing, doing it the best way I know how, and learning how to do it better. I will still feel the sting of failure, but I will take each day as it comes and remember the words to one of my favorite songs, “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.  

“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.  It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.  Just do your best, do everything you can.  And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.  It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.  Everything, everything will be just fine, everything, everything will be alright, alright.

I wish I could tell you I was my daughter’s hero that day because I found those red game socks before her game that afternoon three years ago.  I can’t. We never found the socks. And just last night she asked me where her black athletic pants were.

“I don’t know, baby,” I said.

She asked, “Have you washed them?”

“No, not recently.” I said.

“MOM!” she said.

Oh well, I’m in the middle.



The discussion in the house last night was intense.  At times it was angry shouting.  My 19 year old daughter and her daddy don’t see eye to eye.  Her daddy can’t believe she even asked the question and she can’t believe we said no.  

That’s how far apart we are on this. More and more she isn’t seeing what we see.  Disagreements, tension and rolling eyes are becoming the norm. She is finding her way in this world, working and paying for college.  She feels like she should be able to make her own decisions even when we see it as foolish or dangerous.  

She desperately wants to be out on her own but isn’t quite able to afford it.  How do we make the most of the time we have left with her in our house?   She feels misunderstood and stuck. We feel frustrated and under appreciated. We’re all at a loss at how to come together on this.

How do we find common ground when the divide is so vast? 

One thing I know:  we have to love one another. We have to do the hard thing and keep at it. We have to choose to let love rule instead of our emotions.  

Love is the bridge.  Love is the way we find common ground. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.    John 13:34  NLT. 

Daily Prompt: Crossing


I have a long list of “must dos”. A longer list of things I need to do. And a short list of things I really want to do. We all have these lists, whether on paper or in our heads.

The long lists take up most of my time. They include the everyday things like be a wife, be a mom to 3 teenagers, and be an accountant at work.  It means at home I do laundry, help with homework, cook dinner, and wash dishes.  At work I figure contracts, reconcile GL accounts and analyze financial statements. That’s already a lot to do.

The other items on the long lists are those that can wait but still need doing.  Like painting behind the toilets because we installed new ones that are shaped differently and now a patch of the old paint shows. We need to paint the garage and organize our closets. We need to fix the backdoor.  I need to have my oil changed and the tires rotated.

But what about that short list?

Running a 5K is on my short list. I want to fly somewhere with each of my kids and hike in the Bankhead National Forest at least 10 times this year. My husband and I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to learn sign language and Spanish and do some ballroom dancing. These things don’t need to be done and as one of my favorite authors, Mark Buchanan, put it, the world isn’t changed by my doing them or not.  

But I need to play. You need to play. Because we need a break from the ever growing “to do” list.  

Because of the chores and responsibilities and deadlines the short list tends to get shoved under the others. Disregarded as less important. Forgotten about.  

If we’re not careful, adulthood can turn into one big obligation and we forget we need to have fun. We forget how to play. 

If you’ve neglected play for so long and don’t know what to do, start small. Play Go Fish with your kid. Dance in the living room. Fly a kite or jump on the trampoline. Take that cooking class, join a book club, or visit Six Flags again just to ride the roller coaster.

I’m not going to tell you how you’ll benefit from playing.  Or if you will at all.

I want you to find out for yourself.  And then let me know.

How did you play and did something good come from it?

Excuse me while I do some cartwheels in the front yard with my daughter and the dog.

In response to the Daily Post’s daily prompt Nothin’ But A Good Time.


He protects me like a strong, walled city, and he loves me. He is my defender and my Savior, my shield and my protection. Psalm 144:2. NCV

I have an odd mixture of sweet and sour childhood memories. Some of the best are summer Saturdays. The entire family worked in the yard or the house all day, then Daddy grilled steaks in the evening. Mom baked potatoes, put together a beautiful salad and toasted the barbecue bread. We’d eat then enjoy a restful evening.

But there were weekends not filled with happy hard work and eating well. Sometimes Daddy was on a drinking binge. Sometimes there were strangers in the house. And the music and laughter were too loud and the air smoky. I didn’t feel safe. It felt chaotic and scary.

My response to the chaos and fear was to build.

So I was a little girl going to The Little Red School House building walls. Around my heart. To make me feel safe.

In high school I gave my heart to a boy who didn’t know what to do with a young insecure heart. So he broke it.

So I built more walls.

I wanted a place where I could laugh and be myself and run and be strong and courageous. A place I wasn’t sad and scared. A place where I didn’t worry. I wanted a sanctuary. But I didn’t know how to get there.

When I was married I didn’t stop building walls. Every hurt, disappointment, or unmet expectation caused more walls and eventually my heart was surrounded. My children were the only ones that could get to the tender part of my heart. My husband saw glimpses of softness but the walls never stayed down long enough for him to believe that was who I really wanted to be.

There was no sanctuary inside the walls. The trials and betrayals and disappointments came and they still hurt. Years and years of building the walls were useless. I didn’t feel safe. The walls made the space too small. There was no hope there. There was no room to be myself and no room for others.

Thankfully God is inside the walls. He knew.

The pain. The fear. My desire to follow Him wholeheartedly. He held the tender part of my heart and never ever let it go.

He is my sanctuary.


He is tearing down the walls. Because I don’t need walls.

For I,’ declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
Zechariah 2:5



You know how it feels when someone remembers your name? You feel uncommon, distinct, worthy of being remembered. God knows you. By name. He knows you by heart. He even knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). God knows who you are and what you’re about. He knows what makes you laugh and cry. Your deepest pain and your greatest joy. He knows your darkest places and your most shiny ones. He knows your compassionate acts, the selfish ones, your meanest thoughts, and the softest places in your heart. Your secret desires and your dreams. He knows when you feel out of place or when you’re puffed up about being an insider. He knows when you care too much about how you look or too little about your neighbor. God knows you …..completely. And He loves you.

He loves you when you’re scared or courageous. He loves you when you’re thoughtful and when you’re careless. God loves you when you’re the bully or the bullied. He loves you when you want to cuss someone out and don’t because you know better. He loves you if you do it anyway.

He loves you when you don’t go to church and He loves you when you do. He loves you when you raise your hands in worship or when you stand there and think the people that raise their hands are weird. Your rebellion or “poor me” attitude doesn’t make Him love you less. Serving all day and night at church on Easter Sunday doesn’t make Him love you more.

God knows your name. He knows you completely. And He loves you.

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.
John 3:16 (MSG)

I Never Knew

Once upon a time a man fell in love with a lady but after they had been together a while he grew tired of her.  He searched for another.  He didn’t realize that he already had everything he needed to make him happy.  Recognize this story?  It’s told in a song titled, “Escape” or better known as the “Pina Colada Song.”

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long.

Like a worn out recording, of a favorite song.

So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed.

And in the personals column, there was this letter I read:

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.

If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.

If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.

I’m the lady you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape.

The story may be more familiar to some of you because you’ve experienced exactly what Rupert Holmes is singing about.   I have in my own marriage.  We all tend to be creatures of habit and routine.  The problem is the same old dull routine can become quite boring.

The song continues:

I didn’t think about my lady.  I know that sounds kind of mean.

But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine.

So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad.

And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad.

Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.

I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne.

I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape.

At a bar called O’Malley’s, where we’ll plan our escape.

Although most of us never resort to reading or taking out personal ads, we do resign ourselves to an uninteresting, lifeless marriage.   But what if we sought to learn something new about our spouse or discovered, again, those things that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place?

This happened for Johnny and me when we changed a few things and forced ourselves out of the monotony of our lives.  We were in the habit of doing things separately and rarely had together time.  About a year ago we became involved in a small group from our church that meets weekly and have made a lot of new friends.  We have taken two classes together.  This helped us see each other in new ways. We realize we don’t have to settle for a dreary marriage if we take the time to discover new things about each other.  Because of that, we love each other deeper and we’ve learned a lot about each other…..things we never knew.

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place.

I knew her smile in an instant; I knew the curve of her face.

It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “oh, it’s you.”

And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”…

That you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.

And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne.

If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.

You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.

It can be this way for all of us when we realize there is more to learn about the people we love and if we take the time to discover those things.