Learning to say No, so that I can freely say Yes.

I heard that Ryan Woods passed away yesterday.

Just one month ago I posted the video about him and his family and wrote about how I know that I’m dying too, but I don’t live like it.  I wrote about how I wanted to live my life dying to myself, and living for the things that really matter.  One month later, I’m back to (mostly) living my life as if I’m invincible and going to die old.

But then I was reminded.  Life is short.

I’ve been feeling bombarded lately.  Spinning in circles.  So much work to do for photography, and naturally family life is busy with three littles running around, but I also have a bit of an addiction to my phone.  Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs to read, texts to reply to.  I take regular breaks from my phone, deleting apps and fasting for a while, but I always come back.  I do well for a while and then, before I know it, I’m checking-checking-checking, what’s new, what are people saying?  It takes time away from my family, my children wait on me at times, or sometimes I even react angrily or impatiently toward them when they interrupt me.

…the ‘greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.’  We spend so much of our energy and time putting out fires, answering phone calls and e-mails, and in the meantime, we let the most important things in our life pass us by… We let the things we value most take a backseat to whatever is begging for attention in the moment.” – Tsh Oxenreider in “Organized Simplicity”

I don’t write all of this to condemn social media, in fact I think social media is amazing and can do a lot of good.  And some people are totally normal about it, they just check it and get on with life.  It just all depends on your heart, and too often, I let it take over mine.  I let it come before the things that really matter.  And I waste my life, because while social media is beneficial at times, it is not what is most important in my life.  I’m tired of letting it be more important.

I’ve deleted the majority of my social media apps, and I’m aiming to live a more simple, balanced life.  I can’t say that they are gone forever, but I am taking a big break to focus my heart and my life again.  I have so much peace whenever I go on a social media fast, it makes me wonder why I ever let them back into my life (but they are important for connecting me to certain family members and friends that I don’t want to lose touch with).  I am craving a more holistic approach to life which, according to Oxenreider, “means that your spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical and financial lives are working together.  They’re not competing with one another.  One area doesn’t scream out attention to the detriment of another area of your life; these parts exist to complement and strengthen one another.”

That definition really spoke to me, as I often feel my life is imbalanced.  If I focus on my home life, my business suffers, then I get so busy with work that my house falls apart and my children are ignored.  Or I spend so much time responding to texts, reading blogs and social media streams that I don’t spend any time reading my bible, enjoying the small moments with my children, or hear God whispering his truth into my life.

My goal is to simplify my life and to focus on the things that really matter.  I am going to get back on track with my yearly bible reading plan (I’m about a week behind right now).  I am going to start to count the gifts that God gives me (a la One Thousand Gifts).  I am going to focus on my kids, on my family life, and Peter, if you’re reading this, I want to come up with a family mission statement for us to stick to and measure our choices against.  I want to breathe and live as balanced  of a life as possible, to live life instead of merely trying to survive.

“Simplifying your life is meant to make things better, not worse.  It’s about choices — about saying no to the things in your life that aren’t the best so that you are free and available to say yes to those things you truly want.” – Tsh Oxenreider in “Organized Simplicity”

I have been reminded how short this life is, whether I die tomorrow or in 50 years.  Some of us have already had to leave this life, and I’m going to say yes to the important things in my life while I still can, remembering those who don’t have that luxury anymore.

Here’s the video again about Ryan Woods and his family, for those who haven’t watched it yet or who want to see it again.  It’s deeply touching, get the tissues.


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One thought on “Learning to say No, so that I can freely say Yes.

  1. Anna

    I was so moved by this video, and I am sad to hear that Ryan passed away.I wrote about him on my blog also. I hope that his message reaches far beyond his years.


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