It all started with two completely different incidents that told me the same thing. First, there was a book a friend thought I should borrow. Someone else had recommended it back when my Dad was in the hospital. It was about a doctor who had a near-death experience and spent an extended period in a coma. When, against all odds, he regained consciousness, he had a story to tell about the experience “on the other side.” Since two people had recommended it, I figured it was worth giving it a read.

A few chapters into the book, something just started to seem off to me — and with a nod at giving as much respect as possible to the experience this guy says he had, something in my gut was just going Uh-un. {Let’s also acknowledge another fact that I had to come to terms with — this guy was in a coma for seven days and had a miraculous recovery, and my Dad was in a coma for seven days, with a very different ending.} By the time I was almost midway through the book, I sensed this whisper — that quiet voice where you’re not sure why, you just know it in your knower. And the whisper said, “Stop reading this. It’s not good for you.”

Being the very sensitive and thoughtful gal that I am, I promptly reasoned out why I needed to continue reading the book in my own mind. My counterarguments included the fact that I would have to tell the truth if my friend asked what I thought: “Um, thanks but, I kinda dropped that book like a bad habit” and another thought, which I rarely live up to, “it’s good to finish things, you’ve started, right?”


But a chapter or two later the whisper was unmistakable — and I finally closed the book and only opened it again to remove the business card I’d turned into a bookmark.

Over the next few days, I pondered the reason why I needed to close the book, and it became clear that the guy was describing an experience of the afterlife that doesn’t line up with Biblical Theology. In contrast, if you read Heaven is For Real, for example, the things that Colton Burpo describes about his near death experience agree with descriptions of heaven in the Bible. The encouragement about the beauty and greatness, and goodness of Jesus in that book strengthened my faith and encouraged me to dig deeper, celebrate more, remember again how great and powerful, and how kind and loving God is.

This book, instead, left this icky feeling in my gut, as if I was trying to build a brick house with sand instead of bricks — trying to pull together something that was never going to build anything, never give me a firm place to stand. And it just made me feel bummed I lost my Dad, really.

But a redemptive purpose was at hand — the bigger lesson behind the experience. The real sermon in the nutshell was:

The Holy Spirit is speaking. I might hear, but I am not listening or obeying.

A few days later, a completely different encounter seemed to whisper the same message. I am still juggling many tasks surrounding the settling of my Dad’s estate, and picking up an estate-related check at a lawyer’s office about twenty minutes away was on the list. I decided on a whim, about forty minutes before lunchtime, to throw the kiddies in the car and quickly run this errand before lunch. And — maybe I should mention — I didn’t know exactly where the lawyer’s office was.

Sometimes stupidity looks a lot like bravery.

I loaded the small people into the van with no small amount of effort, and was eventually ready to go, after running back inside to grab something and something else at least twice. Neither of those something elses were a diaper bag, by the way. I didn’t even remember that.

Finally pulling out of park and into reverse, I glanced over my shoulder to see a big red truck in the driveway. I put the swagger wagon back in park and hopped out to find out Who and What. A roofing estimate was ready and the gentleman who’d done the estimate dropped it off personally to explain a few things. I thanked him for the estimate, and after a brief chat hopped back in the car to get going.

And there was that whisper again.

This is not a good idea. Put the car back in park and take the kids back inside. Don’t.

But brave (stupid) me, being the sensitive and thoughtful gal that I am, promptly reasoned This needs to get done. And, it’ll be really quick. And, I’ll feel like thebombdotcom if I manage to cross another chore off the list with three kids in tow. And, I’ll call the hubs and he can help me navigate my way there since… look at that… Google Maps doesn’t actually know how to get me there.

An hour later, I was back where I started. In the driveway at our house. With a crying baby, two whining and hungry kids, and no check. I never found the lawyer’s office. Google Maps and Bing completely failed me. An extended detour wasted a good twenty plus minutes of my time. It. was. a. stupid. waste. of. time.

And there the message was again, a solid sermon in a nutshell:

The Holy Spirit is speaking. I might hear, but I am not listening, or obeying.

We took a trip up to the mountains a few weekends ago celebrate our anniversary. In six years of marriage, we’ve lived in three countries, had three kids, and called about six different places home. There is good cause for celebration.

I decided to “unplug” for the weekend. My laptop stayed at home, my phone was only used for the purpose of calling or texting, and I kept that to a minimum. And I learned a few things in the process.

First, if you can figure out where your heart is by observing where your mind is, my mind wonders where my phone is, and not where my heart is, no less than twenty times a day. If HH walks out of the room — even just to the loo — I immediately grab my phone to glance at how my game of Words with Friends is going, the time, maybe my email, or … you guessed it… Facebook.

And I mean what I say — if my mind immediately thinks PHONE before I sit down to nurse a baby, before I change from one room to another, anytime someone exits the room, or when I’m about to go to the bathroom — my phone is where I am devoting a heap of my time and attention.

Here’s some scary sauce for you. It’s the definition of worship:

The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.

My pattern is clearly one where I show more love and devotion to this sacred object that I constantly keep in close proximity, rather than the Deity — the Lord, my God, my Savior, the One I want to call my All in All.

If step one is diagnosing the problem, step two is finding the solution.

I started by apologizing to God. Lord, You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’ve repeatedly sold you out for an extra half hour of youtube before bed.

And then I apologized to my Words with Friends buddies, acknowledging that if I don’t have time for my Lord, my Bible, or prayer, then I don’t have time for Words With Friends. Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That, replied my understanding friend, Mona.

I proceeded to begin deleting apps my from my phone. And I began to feel a great weight lifting. The self-inflicted pressure of keeping up with social media fluttered away. No, Pages Manager App, I don’t care that we got new likes. Sorry, Facebook, you are no longer allowed to notify me every time anything happens. To anybody anywhere ever.

But more important than the removal of the things that are not beneficial is bringing in the things that are. This means renewing my commitment to choose a reasonable bedtime over an episode of whatever show it is at the moment we’re barreling through a season of on Amazon Prime. What a novel idea — to get up early and be with the Lord, rather than to stay up late just to be entertained!

My Dad would’ve turned 65 today. And dealing with losing him is a constant reminder that we don’t know how much time we have — and time is the one thing we can’t buy more of — so it’s in our best interest to give ourselves a good long look in the mirror to ask — what am I doing with the time I’ve been given?

Just as the bucket empties just the same whether you knock it over or it has a slow leak, I am praying for help as I slowly take baby steps toward re-focusing, re-centering, and re-committing to live a circumspect life with Jesus at the center. He will fill up the cup to overflowing again, He will show me what to do with the time that I have. Thank heavens for a God who comes near to the contrite (Psalm 34:18) — I regret allowing urgency to determine my daily course of action, and allowing entertainment to pretty much fill all the space between one urgent task and the next one.

More thoughts on this Re-centering are on the way, but in the meantime, I’d love a slice of your story. Do you feel like you’re making the most of the time that you have, or do you feel caught in a cycle of distraction?



P.S. Thanks so much for your prayers when I shared a message about my Dad on Father’s Day. If you’d like to hear it, you can download it here. I kept it together – and I know prayer had everything to do with that. Thank you.