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How to Ignore the Noise and Focus On What Really Matters


“It is difficult to overstate the unimportantance of practically everything.”

As parents, our lives are just naturally busy.

Things change without warning.

Distractions are limitless!

It’s no wonder that research, articles, and books are constantly noting that we, as a society (and as parents), have essentially traded long-term thinking in for short-term, “just-make-it-through-the-day” thinking.  And it’s not serving us well.  The minute we start thinking about something we want to begin addressing long term, we get distracted by an email about soccer practice changing times and the consequences of that on the rest of our day.  In the process we often don’t get back to the important, long-term thinking.

If the above quote is true and there are few things in life that are truly essential – few that truly matter, then how do we train ourselves to begin to invest time into those things and ignore the noise?

“People overestimate what they can do in one day and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

Greg McKeown

First, we need to quit putting so much pressure on today and remember that what is done over time is more important.  Not only is it more important, it has a longer shelf life.  If we are willing to do small things over time, the cumulative effect will be far greater than what we can accomplish in one moment.  Anyone else tried to download an entire life lesson in a moment of frustration?  It’s been building and next thing you know you lecturing your child on a major life lesson in the checkout line at Target.  You ultimately know this doesn’t work, but you desperately want them to be growing into the right type of person, so all the pressure falls on getting it right today.  However, major life lessons are best served over time.
(Check out 6 Things Over Time Every Kid Needs for more on this idea.)

Second, identify one thing that you believe is essential and start to work on it.  Just pick one at this point.  Remember, since we are no longer overestimating what can be done in a day and we are done with underestimating cumulative effect, we are going to be starting really small and trusting this will build over time.  So, pick one thing that has value in the long-term and identify one small thing you can do today to start working on it.  (Our brains actually work against us here, check out Play the Long Game to learn more.)

Third, remove some distractions.  Bob Goff is someone I greatly admire and he has a great way to help us here – it’s called Quit Thursday.  The idea is simple, every Thursday look for something you can quit.  It’s funny how when you start doing it you look forward to Thursday and figuring out what else you can quit.  I’ve quit some small bad habits, but I’ve also made some big decisions.  Most recently I’ve deleted a time sucking app on my phone and quit watching a TV series that was stealing too much valuable time.  Bob has resigned from a Board on a Thursday.  The possibilities in our distracted lives are endless…So, what are you going to quit this Thursday?

Here’s what I know to be true – you have what it takes!  You are more than capable of accomplishing incredible things, especially as we take the pressure off getting it all right today and leveraging the cumulative effect of time.

It’s Good to Be Known


“Sometimes you want to go…

where everybody knows your name

and they’re always glad you came.”

We all want to be known.  It’s just wired in us.

When it comes to parenting, how do you get to know your kids?

I’ll never forget the AHA moment where I realized I needed to get to know my kids better.  I have two kids close in age and for weeks they were both a little clingy/needy, they were both melting down way to often, and I was doing my best disciplining and redirecting.  My efforts weren’t working, so I had to try to figure this out.

As I begin to pay attention, I noticed that one was desperately needing attention and the other was needing reassurance.  It’s as if the older one was asking, “Can I please have some attention?” and the younger was needing comfort, in a sense, asking “Am I going to be ok?” but all I was hearing or seeing were behavior problems.  There was a new baby in the house and life was busy, and if I hadn’t slowed down to get to know them, I might have missed this and grown in my frustration.

When it comes to faith, being and feeling known matters.

If you’ve been around middle school kids, this is very evident.  As they enter a room full of other middle school kids, they scan the room – looking – asking – “Where do I belong?  Where am I known?  Where am I safe?”   If they find it, they rush towards it.  If they don’t they are (noticeably) uncomfortable.

It makes sense that before a young person can really start to grappling with big ideas and concepts like faith, identity, meaning, hope…they need the sense of stability being known brings.  If they have the security and confidence of being known, they are much more willing to engage on a deeper level.  I watch a lot of kids spend their time chasing being known and rarely get the opportunity to be comfortable enough to consider issues around faith and life.

Here’s some help.

There’s a great project called, It’s Just a Phase ( and I want to share with you one element of their work in hopes that it will help you know your son or daughter just a little better!

In each phase, there’s a question that is central in a developmental sense.  As my example above indicated, these questions can be hiding under a lot of other behaviors and attitudes.  Once you know the question, you have a better shot of knowing and understanding your child.

In each phase, this is what each child wants to know:

Zero to One:  Am I safe?
One to Two:  Am I able?
Three to Four:  Am I okay?
Kinder to 1st grade:  Do I have your attention?
2nd to 3rd grade:  Do I have what it takes?
4th to 5th grade:  Do I have friends?
6th grade:  Who do I like?
7th and 8th grade:  Who am I?
9th grade:  Where do I belong?
10th grade:  Why should I believe?
11th grade:  How can I matter?
12th grade:  What will I do?

Next week I will share the One word that the project discovered that helps us engage these questions with our kids.  This week, take a moment and see if you can recognize this question in behavior or other areas of life.  Take a moment and answer this question, even if they aren’t verbally asking it, and see if it leads to some results.

Back to School Fears


As another school year begins, I’m aware of how much of my child’s life is outside of my control.  Will they have a good teacher?  How are we going to survive this crazy schedule?  Will they make friends this year?  Will they have a bully or make good choices or… the list can go on and on.

I wanted to share this article below that include 5 simple steps to face your back to school fears.

How I Hope my Back-to-School Faith is Different This Year  
by Kara Powell

A few days ago, I was struck by how Jesus praises the faith of the centurion: “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:10). That affirmation stands in stark contrast to the condemnatory greeting Jesus gives His disciples when they wake him in the middle of a furious storm: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26).

Why did Jesus praise the centurion and condemn the disciples?

After all, the disciples respected Jesus’ power enough to beg him to save them.

And the disciples were experienced fishermen, so this must have been a major storm.

So what did the disciples do wrong?

They were afraid. They panicked. Like the centurion, they knew that Jesus could deliver them, but they weren’t sure he would. So they were still full of fear.

My kids’ back-to-school season kindles new fears in me as a parent.

After the more relaxing pace of summer, I worry about the influx of school stress—ranging from trying to get out the door in the morning to navigating hours of evening homework.

I worry that my kids won’t get the teachers they want. Or that I want for them.

I am afraid that my more introverted child will withdraw into books.

I am afraid that my more extroverted child won’t hit the books enough.

I so want to have the type of faith that Jesus applauds. And I think a gospel-infused response to fear is more than repeatedly telling (or more accurately, berating) myself, “Don’t be afraid, Kara. Trust Jesus.” There has to be a healthy middle ground between denial and despair.

What can we do when we face back-to-school anxieties and fears?

1. Pay attention to them.

Don’t deny them or dwell on them, but acknowledge the fears you have as your family plunges back into the world of school lunches and rushed carpools.

2. See if you can figure out what’s underneath that fear.

What is behind the fear you have about your child, or your family’s schedule? Is it your own feelings of inadequacy, or your own struggles with loneliness?

3. Talk to others about what you’re fearing.

I often forget that I’m not alone in these fears. Most of my friends have their own fears, and even if they aren’t identical to mine, they generally stem from the same roots of shame or inadequacy. Knowing that brings me comfort.

4. Talk with Jesus about them.

Talking with a friend helps. Talking with Jesus helps more. Fears get smaller when I talk with Jesus about them.

5. Talk with Jesus with your kids.

When any of my kids share their concerns about their teacher, homework, or friendships, I try to talk to Jesus aloud right then and there. We pray that God would guide them to the right friends at lunch. We ask God to put them in the classes where they can best be salt and light.

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