Sunday, September 11, 2011


Sometimes I just wonder..

It’s fall. New routines, new activities, and new schedules.

Of course, we’ve got to have our kids involved in “extracurriculars.” It’s just what we M/UMCs do. They’ve got to have an opportunity to make friends, to learn “socialization.” They’ve got to develop a skill, a passion, a talent. They’ve got to develop their strengths. And shore up their weaknesses. Be well-rounded individuals. They’ve got to get exercise, learn teamwork, leadership, or to just plain follow directions. They must have fun – structured, organized fun. They’ve got to keep up academically. And whatever they do, they’ve got to start early/right away/ASAP/yikes, we should have started last year!

It’s fall. We run from activity to activity.

It’s fall. Our schedules are full.

It’s fall. We are already stressed, over-extended, overwhelmed. We are BUSY.

But it’s okay. We’re all in the same busy-busy-boat. Our culture acknowledges this. So now, we are taught it’s okay to say NO. We must learn to say NO, even to the good opportunities. It’s healthy and right and good and sanity-preserving to say NO.

So now we go around being busy and saying NO all the time.

Does this seem backwards to anyone else?

Sure, you’ve got to learn to say NO. But what is not emphasized enough, I believe, is saying NO a little earlier in the process. Saying NO at the beginning, before we’re even close to full.

Leaving blanks.

Big, fat, awkward-feeling blanks.

Just leave them there.

Until …

We are needed. By someone else. By another family.

Until we can say YES when it counts.

Blanks are opportunities to give ourselves to others when the unexpected need strikes. What percentage of needs are unplanned and unexpected?

(That was a rhetorical question. But I’m betting it’s most.)

Blanks are opportunities to teach our kids that life isn’t about us and our own activities and interests. Sure, we can do special service projects around the holidays or sprinkled throughout the year and involve our children. We can repeatedly admonish them, “Life isn’t about you all the time!” But, in reality, life IS about ourselves and our personal enrichment activities 95% of the time.

What if instead, we taught and practiced service together as a day-to-day lifestyle?

To do this, ya gotta have blanks. Lots of gigantic ones.

I have a new kindergartener this year. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking about and picking on “extracurricular activities” right now – but this could apply to all our involvements and commitments at any age. As I begin to make decisions about all those “extracurriculars,” sometimes I just wonder….

What if our kids’ extracurricular activity was being available to help and be a friend to others? Just whenever. What if we developed this as a special talent, as a way to have fun, in our kids and in our family unit? “Who can we help today, kids?”

What if we said NO. And left it all blank. Or at least mostly blank.

Sometimes I just wonder...


  1. I am SO with you. And I was just talking with a friend this week who shared some great advice she'd gotten from another friend - God most often works in the margins. He works in the margins of our lives, our days, our plans. Which means we gotta leave some margins, some white space, some blanks! Love it.