making the most of rest

It’s been a blur of a year. I started out teach­ing classes dur­ing the Spring semes­ter almost every­day. I also met my dream girl the begin­ning of the year. As the semes­ter ended, the triathlon sea­son started and I was aver­ag­ing 2 races a month. Throw in some wed­dings and a cou­ple other road trips, and it was a very time con­sum­ing sum­mer. Oh, I for­got to men­tion I also started my own teach­ing company.…AHH!!!

I just fin­ished my last race which hap­pened to be the Nation­als 2 weeks ago, and the dust has finally set­tled. I was just star­ing at my cal­en­dar and it is com­pletely empty. After 8 months of busi­ness, I hon­estly feel uncom­fort­able with all this free time. I don’t want to fill it with another reg­i­ment of projects. So, the ques­tion is raised, how do I make the most of this sea­son of rest?

Well, busy lives equate to dis­trac­tion. Dis­trac­tion from God, other rela­tion­ships, good habits, etc. A focus on spir­i­tual things should always be the fore­most thing. Dig­ging in a lit­tle deeper with the church, amp­ing up daily devo­tional time, and seek­ing dis­ci­ple­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties. Sec­ond is strength­en­ing rela­tion­ships with a core group of friends (includ­ing your sig­nif­i­cant other if applic­a­ble) which sta­tis­tics say we can’t main­tain more than 6 close friend­ships. Third would be tak­ing up some gen­eral good habits like read­ing, writ­ing, inten­tional solitude/​mediation, and so forth.

So, if you find your­self in one of these rare sea­sons as well. Resist the urge to fill the void. Embrace the empti­ness, attempt to pro­long it as long as pos­si­ble, and use the time to focus on the fun­da­men­tals of your life.

simple productivity tips

Some­times though we wish life were sim­pler, it just isn’t. For those of us with com­plex and busy lifestyles in the pro­longed process of sim­pli­fy­ing our lives, there’s a few pro­duc­tiv­ity tips to help.

  • Take sup­ple­ments. Most of us don’t get all the nutri­ents we need, and nutri­ents play a big role in our energy level and sleep qual­ity. Here’s a few of the things I’ve been tak­ing that I’ve noticed mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence. Juice Plus+Opti­mum Nutri­tion, Omega 3 Fish Oils.
  • Wake up early. I like to get up between 5–5:30am (I feel great now that I’m on those sup­ple­ments). There’s no sci­en­tific research, but I always seem to get more done when I wake up early. By 10am I can have most things done that would oth­er­wise usu­ally take all day.
  • Use a to-​​do list. To-​​do lists aren’t just for peo­ple with bad mem­o­ries. When you have some­thing writ­ten down to accom­plish for the day, there’s an instinc­tive nature to want to check off those items. I use Things, but there’s plenty of other free appli­ca­tions out there. Try to find one that has a com­puter and phone app that sync.
  • Exer­cise. This will help get the blood flow­ing, release those endor­phines, and make you more focused. 20min of ele­vated heart rate is all it takes. Swim, bike, run, yoga, hike, rock climb, lift weights, etc. You can’t say you don’t have options.
  • Plan ahead. To-​​do lists are good for the daily details, but you also need to map out the big pic­ture. Take one day a week to jot out your next week’s sched­ule. I put down work appoint­ments, exer­cises and their times, recre­ational blocks of times, and per­sonal study times (because I always want to be learn­ing). Per­son­ally, cer­tain cat­e­gories I plan for the upcom­ing week and some I plan 2wk in advance due to my sched­ule fill­ing if I don’t plan far enough out. Once you make your sched­ule, decide to stick to your guns (like exer­cise) if some­thing else comes up (friend want­ing to get coffee)…there will be other days.

5 reasons why commitment and responsibility trump the independent life

Most young peo­ple (and even older adults) run from things that might tie them down. A full time job, buy­ing a house, mar­riage, etc. They want to live a life that’s free. A life where if their desires change, there’s noth­ing hold­ing them back from fol­low­ing through on them. At a quick glance, peo­ple might say that inde­pen­dence is the sim­pler life. There’s less respon­si­bil­ity and there­fore more joy (after all, that’s what this blog is about, get­ting the most out of life through simplicity).

How­ever, I’m going to argue against that premise and lay out 5 rea­sons why hav­ing com­mit­ment and respon­si­bil­ity are more free­ing and enjoyable.

1. In order to build a life of sub­stance, there needs to be a solid foun­da­tion. You can’t build a sky­scraper on sand, nei­ther can you move up in life if you never set­tle down and take on respon­si­bil­ity. I’m not speak­ing of only mov­ing up finan­cially. In all areas of life, there’s room to grow, and growth requires a firm foun­da­tion (phys­i­cally and emotionally).

2. Per­ma­nence allows for you to invest. Whether it’s invest­ing in rela­tion­ships, the com­mu­nity, your church, etc. Not that you can’t make a dif­fer­ence in a person’s life in a short time period, but some of the most reward­ing moments in life are see­ing your hard work and invest­ments grow and mature over time.

3. Rou­tine takes away the stress of the unknown. Some could argue that hav­ing bills, a fam­ily, and a full time job can be stress­ful. On the other hand, it can be just as stress­ful when you’re always won­der­ing if you’ll get enough hours this week or if the you’ll have enough free­lance projects, your retire­ment, when that spe­cial some­one is going to come into your life, and liv­ing pay check to pay check can be rough when your car unex­pect­edly dies.

4. Sta­bil­ity and reg­u­lar­ity build cred­i­bil­ity. As you invest in those rela­tion­ships, your net­work grows, and assum­ing you’re a per­son of char­ac­ter, so does your rep­u­ta­tion. This is another aspect of mov­ing up (from point 1). A good name is to be more desired than pre­cious met­als (that’s what the Bible says). And as a Chris­t­ian, a good name is what you want because it implies an abil­ity to more effec­tively min­is­ter to other peo­ple and have influ­ence in their lives.

5. Per­ma­nence in the begin­ning allows for more inde­pen­dence in the long run. As you work that full time job, as you put in the years in one place, and as you build your sav­ings account, the oppor­tu­ni­ties abound. Per­haps you can’t take week­end road trips all the time in the begin­ning, and maybe you can’t spend the sum­mer back­pack­ing through Europe, but a well planned and invested life will give you more oppor­tu­ni­ties in the long run to do just as many, if not more, amaz­ing things that your friends did in the first few years of their young adult­hood. Because when you reach your 30s and you find your­self well estab­lished, your friends who didn’t want to set­tle will find them­selves fac­ing a harsh real­ity that they’re 10yr behind the eight ball hav­ing to start a career, and their days of inde­pen­dence will for the most part have ended, while yours are just beginning.


*Side note: If God’s called you to live a life as a missionary, evangelist, or mil­i­tary per­son­nel, that’s a dif­fer­ent story. I’m talk­ing about the peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing to God’s leading.

John Flavel on Finding God’s Will

John Flavel:

If there­fore in doubt­ful cases you would dis­cover God’s will, gov­ern your­selves in your search after it by the fol­low­ing rules:

  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offend­ing him. God will not hide his mind from such a soul. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
  2. Study the Word more, and the con­cerns and inter­ests of the world less. The Word is light to your feet (Psalm 119:105), that is, it has a dis­cov­er­ing and direct­ing use­ful­ness as to all duties to be done and dan­gers to be avoided…
  3. Reduce what you know into prac­tice, and you shall know what is your duty to prac­tice. “If any man do his will he shall know of the doc­trine” (John 7:17). “A good under­stand­ing have all they that do his com­mand­ments” (Psalm 111:10).
  4. Pray for illu­mi­na­tion and direc­tion in the way that you should go.Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that he would not per­mit you to fall into sin…
  5. And this being done, fol­low Prov­i­dence so far as it agrees with the Word and no fur­ther. There is no use to be made of Prov­i­dence against the Word, but in sub­servience to it.

The Mys­tery of Prov­i­dence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Ban­ner of Truth Trust, 2006), 188–9, empha­sis mine.

HTJonathan Par­nell

The Danger of Retirement

Retirement is a funny thing. So many people set their hopes on the day they get to retire, kick back, and relax. But if you talk to most retired people, they’ll tell you their lives seem busier than ever. I’ve heard it said that retirement is just getting new treads on the wheels. Get it? Re-tire.

Ok, but in all seriousness, why are retired people some of the busiest people?  Well, here’s the conclusions I’ve come to.

  1. Planning. The days that are planned out in more detail always seem to be more productive. Retired people let planning go to the way side and as a result end up with more stuff on their plate than they were “planning” on.
  2. People assume. Society looks at retired people as having loads of time. So, a retired person ends up with all the calls to watch grand-kids, help with house projects, and running errands.
  3. Obligation. Retired feel some sense of obligation to help with all the incoming requests because otherwise they feel lazy since they have no “real” work.

So what’s my advice to all retired people? Ironically, it can be found in my last post The Rule of 3s. Creating priorities and getting involved in something that defines their life and creates structure will help get the message across to others that even though they’re not working a 9-5, they still have a life.

Personally, I cringe at the thought of retirement. It goes against my whole life philosophy. I believe you should do what you love, and if you love what you do, why would you want to stop!? Problem solved.