Sometimes Less is Enough

About 12 years ago I was in a pretty horrible traffic accident in Beijing. It was a four car pileup and I was in Unlucky Car Number Three. We slammed into two cars and then the fourth car slammed into us, bending the back seat I was on into a very odd angle. In shock, I thought a rib had punctured my lung. Once I realized no one was going to come and help me or check if I was OK, I knew I had to get out of the car.

All four of the drivers were fighting over who was going to pay what. No one seemed to notice as I stumbled across many lanes of rush hour traffic and did all my shocked brain knew to do – hail another cab and go home. Long story short, when I got home a friend took me to the hospital. She did say, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m so glad it was YOU who was hit and not Erin because she would never have let me photograph the whole process.”

Less in enough

She was right :).

Thus began problems with my neck, back, and wrists. Years of pain and money have been invested to find out I don’t have a wrist problem and do not have carpal tunnel syndrome. No, I have a neck problem that manifests itself in my wrists. I haven’t had a flair-up in over two years and had wondered if I had learned to manage the pain with better posture, exercises for my core, and chiropractors and massage.

I wonder no longer. Which is a not so cute way of saying I’m in discomfort at best and pain at worst most days. Typing is not the complete joy it normally is. Other forms of movement are good for me. Yard work, walking, using movement to try and soothe these muscles in my back that have locked up. I don’t like having to be this intentional about my days. Or think through projects I have for the week and pace myself.

I don’t like it. But I submit to it.

We might hear whispers that less is more, with the emphasis on not less, but more. Or bigger is better. I don’t think God is nearly as taken with less, more, bigger or better as we are. Instead He is a God of enough.

Even though I’m not able to write as much as I would like, these seasons of pain remind me of this truth: sometimes less is enough.

What could you do this week that will be less than normal, but enough?  

How to pay back a friend and oust yourself

Amy's bookcoverWhen I got into this blogging scene I knew zero about it. Nada. Nothing. So I did what I do, any bone threw at me I wrestled it like it was a gator and we were in a death match.

I met David Rupert in real life and he invited me to join The High Calling (Thanks! and Bone #1). I did and started stalking  researching bloggers. That’s how I met Michelle DeRusha (Spiritual Misfit) and Amy Sullivan and started commenting on their blogs.

Amy  liked something I said (Bone #2) and asked me to write a guest post. She didn’t know it was my very first guest post and I felt so honored. (It also turns out Amy’s close friend Dusty is close friends with my sister Elizabeth talk about a small world!)

What she also didn’t know is that I chose her to be my model and the portal through which I was going to figure this blogging thing out. I went to every place she guest posted and figured out which would be a good fit for me to guest post at as well (Bone #3). At one, Amy commented, “Wow, what a nice surprise to find you here.” That’s one way to look at it.

So when I heard my (unbeknownst-to-her) patron had a book coming out I wanted to let you know because she’s funny, plugged into real life, loves Jesus, and I’m sure drinks Diet Coke. I’ve ordered mine and I don’t care whether you live in America, China, or some other festive land, this book has something to offer you. Amy graciously agreed to chat about her “messy middle” life, (she’s going to be surprised to read this intro and find out “the rest of the story.” Hi Amy!).

Too many people live lives on auto-pilot. The messy middle is about living engaged lives even when it is a bit messy. Where are you tempted to live on auto-pilot?

For me, when I’m overscheduled, I tend to live on auto-pilot. I’ve worked hard to beat down the idea that a full calendar equals a full life. In most situations, a full calendar equals a life, which is just too full.

I am a serious offender of filling-up my days in the name of good, only later to realize I forgot to ask God what He thinks about my manic toiling.

But when we engage, not everything is going to go according to plan. (Cue the laugh track!). Could you share something in your life that hasn’t gone the way you envisioned.

A recent event in my life, which hasn’t gone as planned is publishing a book.

I hoped to write a little book, and then to toss that bad boy into the world with a few online friends encouraging me from somewhere far away. Think Australia or perhaps somewhere in Asia. I certainly didn’t want to ask my actual community to get behind my book.

My online friends would share a small blurb on Facebook about my new release, and then write a nice review, and that would be that.

Instead, I felt as if God wanted me to rally the people who live right next door to me and hold a community event in my hometown. Since my book is on generous living, He wanted me to lead people to a smorgasbord of volunteer opportunities in our community, which by the way, isn’t very close to Australia or Asia.

“This is very uncomfortable,” says the girl who struggled on her wedding day. There are too many eyes on me! I’m making myself so vulnerable! Can’t we just make this a small private affair?

Where did you see God in that situation?

Well, I told God I would certainly be happy to have a community event announcing my book’s release and encouraging people in my community to engage with each other, but I didn’t have a place to do it.

So He provided a free venue.

Then, I told Him thank you and that the venue was a fantastic gesture, but I didn’t have the money to hold a event!

So He provided a big check from a group of friends.

Then I said, God, this is super, really, but remember this is me, Amy, you are talking about, I struggle to plan my kid’s birthday party. Remember the ordeal about me ordering the cake less than an hour before the party? Remember? I don’t have the skills needed to make a big community event happen.

So He provided my own cheering squad who happens to have connections and be talented and know things about decorations and music and creating a popcorn and candy bar.

Therefore, I’m holding an event announcing my book’s release and encouraging the people in my community to get involved with one the many, many local service agencies right here in North Carolina.

I would be lying if I said I’m excited about this event. I am terrified.

What have you been reading recently?

Lately, I have been chewing-up books at lightening speed. Recent faves include the following:

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

15 Ways to Make Love Impossible by Lori and Steven McClure

Wonder by RJ Palacio

50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha

Amy, thanks for chatting, sure, but really thanks for being someone folks are drawn to and unbeknownst portals to blogging and living lives that are about more than stuff.

Check out her book When More Is Not Enough


Surely I”m not alone. What have you done that might highlight some “charming” part of your personality?

Taco Bell, I Didn’t Expect This Gift From You! {Linkup}

Amy at the garden

Remember in May when I gave a shout-out to Denver’s Botanic Gardens and the Chihuly blown glass exhibit? Just to feed your soul a bit, here are a few pictures: I know right? How does he do it? How many injuries are there with blown glass? So many questions. Thank you to my friend Gloria […]

[Continue reading...]

When the Burden Is Heavy


One of my friends has started jokingly referring to herself as Jobetta, Job’s little sister. In the last few weeks friends have taken hit after hit. Death, cancer, accidents, broken bones, sick kids, drunken drivers involved, plane crashes, car crashes, life plan crashes. It’s heavy stuff.   The first few hits certainly connected and I […]

[Continue reading...]

9 Ways I Have Been Mentored by People Who Didn’t Know They Were Mentoring Me

A few weeks ago we talked about mentoring at Velvet Ashes. I think all of us are FOR people pouring into and investing in others! If only it was always so simple. What can you do if you can’t find a mentor? Does that mean you can’t be mentored and are a hopeless case? No. While […]

[Continue reading...]

Ten “Americans Really Do THAT?” from Chinese Scholars Living in the U.S.

Mooncake nutritional info

Loving more than one land means having lots of holidays to celebrate :)! Monday was the Mid-Autumn Festival in China. Traditionally it is at harvest time with the family gathering, looking at the full moon and eating mooncakes. Now, it’s a good chance to comment on the sky and “share the love” by giving friends […]

[Continue reading...]

I am too am a Spiritual Misfit

Too much this

One sign someone is a decent human? When you write a person you haven’t met and they don’t know you from Adam (other than a few comments here and their on their blog). In the email you ask to use a photo you saw on their blog, and they write you right back sending the photo. Michelle […]

[Continue reading...]

Can Labor Day be a holy day?

labor day

Happy Labor Day for those of you in the U.S! This weekend a conversation I had last May with a visiting scholar from China keeps coming to mind. I wished him a Happy Labor Day, telling him it wouldn’t be Labor Say in the U.S. until late August. He gave me a quizzical look and […]

[Continue reading...]

Is Jesus a Liar?

Already not yet

My friend’s mom died recently. In her late 80’s she’d been a nursing home for 44 months. Another friend celebrates today (how macabre!) the five year anniversary of her dad being medevac’d to the hospital on he eve of his birthday. The hospital he ended up dying in months later. Others I know are dealing […]

[Continue reading...]

What’s your breadcrumb legacy?

I was in the States in 2008  because of the Beijing Olympics and was able to be with the Family on Dad's birthday. Looking back at pictures I had forgotten that was the day #4 was dedicated and we went out for Dim Sum for lunch. Oh, and Dad had present helpers :)

Sunday would be my dad’s 75th birthday. Given that his parents lived to 83 and 92 and my mom’s parents lived to 95 and 101, 74 feels like Sesame Street’s “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” But then we remember he had Hepatisis C for […]

[Continue reading...]