Our time with family in Hawaii this year unfolded at a slower pace—partly because there were only two couples instead of four. Which allowed for time to read on the beach. And time to leisurely journal on the balcony to the crash of waves.

All photos: Marlys (or someone nearby)

One lazy day, we took a boat to Lanai for snorkeling. On the ride home, a pod of dolphins kept pace with us, swimming and jumping and laughing.

We spotted a mama whale teaching her calf the best tail-slapping techniques.

We came across turtles sunbathing on a beach.

Oh … and I spotted this rather colorful fish.

And of course there was family that enhanced the experience—a brother- and sister-in-law, a nephew.

Gauging my worth

There’s a quote from author Shauna Niequist that speaks to me because I’m trying to learn this lesson and I’m not there yet:

Maybe what makes a day good or valuable or worthwhile is not what you accomplished, what work you did or thing you fixed or task you checked off a list. Maybe there are other metrics—pleasure, connection, caring for someone, learning something new, experiencing delight.

Shauna Niequist

As a list-writing girl, I tend to gauge my worth by how many things I check off my to-do list on any given day—even though my brain knows this isn’t a true measurement of worth.

God is slowly teaching me that spending time deepening my friendship with Him, connecting with people, and getting off the couch to try something new, to learn something new—these are indicators of a life well lived.

I’m happy to report that while in Maui, nothing got checked off my to-do list. Dan and I accomplished absolutely nothing while on the island. Unless you count walks along the beach, visiting with family, and eating shaved ice as accomplishments … and I do.

In his book, Love Does, Bob Goff wrote:

I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement … It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily in from the kitchen.

It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Bob Goff

Meanwhile, back at home

We don’t have to go to an exotic island to live full out, to invest in people and adventure and new experiences.

The other day, with snow still decorating our lawn and the high reaching 42 degrees, I had just read the Shauna Niequist quote when our doorbell rang. It was the Shepherd’s House supervisor for the shower truck, dropping something off for my husband. I invited her in, and got to know her better by asking questions about her kids and grands and how long she’s lived in Bend and what brought her here.

Later, I stopped by Shepherd’s House where Dan had driven the shower truck for an afternoon of service. They didn’t need my help—there was only one female client for the full afternoon—but in the process, I got to know one of the volunteers better by asking questions and listening and sharing my own story.

Back at home, I pulled out pans and measuring cups to make a hearty bread to go with dinner, anticipating the aroma and pleasure it would bring my husband as he walked in the door after cleaning shower stalls all afternoon. During the process, an out-of-town girlfriend called and we had a nice catch-up conversation.

I’m a rabid list-checker-offer. I’m organized and efficient. But on that day, not much got checked off my to-do list. Because I’m learning that while organization and efficiency have their place, people are so much more important.

Do I want it said of me at my Celebration of Life service: “Wow, she sure got a lot done in a day,” or would I rather hear, “She knew how to love people and live fully”?