Rereading a valuable book

I just reread this book: DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. Crossway, 2013.

The first time I read it was back in 2013. It convicted me then. It convicted me again.

This is what I wrote about it eleven years ago:

Point: Business is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to rule your life.

Path: DeYoung gives three dangers to avoid (ch 2): 1) Business can ruin our joy. 2) Business can rob our hearts. 3) Business can rot our souls. He then gives seven diagnoses to consider (chs 3– 9) including pride, trying to play God, unidentified priorities, false parenting conceptions, the effect technology plays, rest, and expectations. The author finishes by giving one thing we are to do (ch 10), and that is to know Christ.

Sources: Personal experience, Scriptural principles, various authors on productivity and rest.

Agreement: Here are some of the things I appreciated about this book:

It was short

The author is sympathetic

He has a good chapter on pride

He has a good chapter on parenting

He recognizes that all business is not sin

He pointed me to Jesus

Disagreement: I would disagree with very little of what he said. It would have been nice on one hand to have someone who has been in the trenches of business and has come to tell us, rather than someone who is trying to crawl out with you. However, that is also one of the positives of the book.

Personal App: What am I busy with?

Favorite Quote: Here is just one of the many that made me think “If someone recorded your life for a week and then showed it to a group of strangers, what would they guess is the “good portion” in your life? What would they conclude is the one thing you must get done every day?”

Here are some other quotes from my latest rereading:

Just remember the most serious threats are spiritual. When we are crazy busy, we put our souls at risk. The challenge is not merely to make a few bad habits go away. The challenge is to not let our spiritual lives slip away (loc. 240)

When our lives are frantic and frenzied, we are more prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability. (loc. 246)

What does it say about me that I’m frequently overwhelmed? What do I need to learn about myself? What biblical promises am I not believing? What divine commands am I ignoring that I should obey? What self-imposed commands am I obeying that I should ignore? What’s going on in my soul, so that busyness comes out as my chief challenge every year? (loc. 300)

We have to be okay with other Christians doing certain good things better and more often than we do. (loc. 523)

There is smoke coming out of our chimney

It might not seem like a big deal, but having smoke coming out of your chimney is important. In rural Spain there is a type of association that affects those living in the area. The Comunidad del Monte is the association that regulates the use of the communal property of the town or village. Those living near these lands typically have rights and privileges to that land. For example, you could be allowed to harvest fire wood, graze your livestock, or go hunting on land that is public. But it has to be YOUR public land, not others. Not just anyone can come and harvest wood or wild game from this area, you have to be part of the “comunidad”.

Which leads us back to why chimney smoke is important. In previous eras, the determining factor of whether you could be part of the comunidad was whether you had smoke coming from your chimney for at least three months of the year.

Don’t ask me how they measured it, or how reliable that is, but when I asked how to become a member of the comunidad del monte, that was one of the answers I was told.

Either way, we have a fireplace installed and pumping out smoke so everyone knows that we live here! (And the extra warmth is nice as well…)

Everyone can do what they want, but…

“In a village, things are different.” In many ways that seems true. In other ways it could be that things are different just because there are fewer people. An apartment building is like a village stacked on top of itself. In a village, no one has to hear the toilet pipes from the person who lives on the floor above them. But in an apartment, no one has to smell the next door neighbor burning leaves…never mind, neighbors smoke all types of things. Either way, villages and apartment buildings in Spain share some commonalities yet also have their differences.

One thing that is common is that neighbors are neighbors no matter where you live. You can have great neighbors who want to be helpful, polite, and bring you over something they just baked or bought (which we have been blessed to have). Or you can have neighbors that just want to avoid you at all costs. While not being as good as the first, there are still some benefits to this arrangement. But then there is a third kind of neighbor. These are the neighbors who seem to believe that they don’t just share the building or village with you, but expect you to share your home with them. They want to know what is happening. They want to make sure you obey all their rules. They want you to make sure to keep your four year old from scampering across the floor because it is too loud, or your children from going outside without a coat on a sunny, 60 degree day.

We are not sure how all our neighborly relationships will turn out in our village. We have had some of our neighbors share their produce with us, teach us how to prune the fruit trees, and bring over freshly baked bread pudding. Then every once in awhile you have a gem of a conversation like this:

“You need an electrical pole.”

I know. It has been ordered.

“Everyone can do what they want, but…you need to get that replaced.”

You are right. It was ordered.

“I just look at it and it is so dangerous. Someone could touch it and it could fall down.”

Yes. I hope they come and replace it soon.

“You can do whatever you want, but I tell my husband that he needs to be careful because it could fall.”

Well, the electrical company knows. The telephone company knows. I just don’t know when they will actually do it.

“Well, it really needs to be fixed.”

I agree. Well, I need to go check on the kids now.

The interesting part is, as I understand it, it was her nephew who installed the dangerous light pole. I wonder if she ever mentioned it to him?

Sometimes the stories that follow, “When I was a kid” make me thankful that I wasn’t a kid at that time

There are times when you realize that life in the good ol’ days was pretty complicated, and I am not just talking about walking uphill to school both ways. One of those illuminating moments came upon us while we were out walking our village one afternoon. We came across a neighbor and stopped to chat about the animals, other homes, and the weather. As in normal conversation, one thing led to another, other neighbors joined the circle, and eventually the conversation shifted to birthdays.

It turns out that one of our children shares a birthday with one of our neighbors. Well…sort of. She was born on the same day, but her birth certificate states she was born two days later.

“There has to be a story there!” You say. You are correct, my dear reader, there is.

Apparently in the good ol’ days there was a law that if you did not register your child on the day they were born, by going to the city hall, you would be fined. So the birthday just shifted to the day when you could actually walk in to the city hall.

But not only is the actual date of her birth wrong on the certificate, but her place of birth is as well. Both our neighbors chimed in to explain to us that the “Municipio” (municipality) (see this post) where she was born, the one adjacent to ours, is oddly shaped. Being very long and pointed, intervening rivers and mountains, and the fact that the city hall was all the way on the coast, made the trip to the city hall rather daunting. And a daunting trip is not one which her very tired parents were willing to make in that moment. So instead they took her to the adjoining municipality where the city hall was conveniently located a few miles away. Then they told the officials she was born in a different village than she was.

But wait, my dear friend. There is more.

Come to find out that the name we know her by is not even her real name. Everyone just knows her by her nickname. Under the regime of Franco a law was established making it illegal to give your child any first name other than a biblical name, Mary and Joseph being preferred. Therefore there are generations of people who all have the same first name, and now go by any number of nicknames in order to not be the same as everyone else.

“Your whole life is a lie! But don’t worry, we won’t be going to tell the authorities about your falsified documents!” I joked.


I don’t know, maybe seventy years is too soon.

A map of our Autonomous Community, Galicia with the red being the very oddly shaped municipio were she was born.

What is that?

“That’s a really pretty hórreo!”

“Well…it has some nice aspects to it…”

“Maybe you could paint it.”

My neighbor’s evaluation diminished as the two of us walked toward the stone shed on stilts. But she was kind enough to put a nice spin on things.

The shed under scrutiny stands about four feet off the ground on stone pillars. Similar stone columns hold up the roof and provide the main support for the structure. The walls are composed of cement and brick. The roof is tiled with terracota. The steps are leftover stone columns left in a pile.

 It isn’t a pretty thing, but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in…strangeness. So, I guess it has that going for it.

 Here in Galicia it was estimated that there were roughly 30,000 of these structures at the beginning of the 20th century.⁠1 That works out to be about 2.5 for every square mile. Hórreos (pronounced like the chocolate cookie, Oreo, just with the “e” being an “a” sound. O-ray-o) are common here in Galicia. You can find a smattering of them in other parts of Spain, but by far they are most likely to be seen here in the northwest corner of the country.

Their history goes back to the 15th century where they were used like grain silos. The animal feed, produce, or other food was kept off the ground and away from wild animals. The walls are slatted so the air can pass through, discouraging mold in the wet climate. Today their use seems to be more nostalgic than agrarian. People like having them because of the memories they hold, not the rotting apples.

We have one in our yard that the kids are now using for their club house.

I am maintaining the dream of converting it into a sauna some day.

Either way, my opinion is that when it comes to hórreos, like the Oreo cookie, it doesn’t matter what the outside looks like. I am there for the inside.

Photo of an hórreo in our village, without the high level of “character” that ours possesses.



Delivery guys don’t wait around

I stepped outside the gate to meet the delivery guy, and greeted our neighbors. They were out pruning their vineyard and I had some questions I wanted to ask them as we tried to figure out how to prune our own vines and trees.

Those questions had to wait because delivery guys don’t wait around. When packages are supposed to arrive at our house we either get one of two phone calls. 

“Send me your exact location. I can’t find where you house is.”


“Make sure you are there. The doorbell doesn’t work.”

Regarding the first, Google Maps apparently hasn’t made it back to our little part of Spain. It also doesn’t help that we live in a “Lugar” (place) which is part of a “Pueblo” (village) which is part of a “Parroquia” (parish), which is part of a “Municipio” (municipality), which is part of a “Comarca” (maybe a county?), which is part of a “Provincia” (province), which is part of a “Comunidad Autónoma” (Autonomous Community). Also, our address appears in two different languages, depending on who is writing it. It can be in Spanish or it can be in Gallego, different spelling for each.

The second issue for deliveries, that of the doorbell, is a little easier. Our gate has no doorbell. There are just bare wires sticking out of the wall. If someone feels the need to touch those, I suppose that the shock will induce a loud enough noise for their presence to be announced. But barring that, the delivery guy just honks his horn. If no one stirs immediately, he doesn’t wait around.

But as difficult as it might be for some to find our place, deliveries do arrive!

A Liturgy for when treated unkindly

The following was taken from the resource we have compiled for pilgrims on the Camino De Santiago. You can get a free digital copy here. Downloading and giving your feedback helps us to spread the word.

O Jesus, rescue me.
I am angry and resentful.
I am fearful and discouraged.
I am confused and unnerved.
All of them bundled together,
One coming to the surface and then disappearing while another takes its place.

What did I do to deserve this treatment?
I opened up with another.
I thought we were agreed.
But then I was treated as an enemy.

Is there something that is within them
A memory, a similarity, a fear,
That was triggered by my presence or my actions?

O Jesus, you were treated as an enemy,
Yet you are the friend of sinners,
The lifter of the weak,
The protector of the helpless.

You were carried to the cliff.
You were forced out of town.
You were stalked in the darkness.
You were nailed to a cross.

O Jesus, you felt the disapproval of the elite.
You felt the betrayal of friends.
You felt the abandonment of humanity.
You felt the wrath of God.

But yet you forgave.
You prayed for your tormentors.
You fed those who forsook you.
You held out your hands to those who doubted.

O Jesus, you know my heart.
You know the pride that lies beneath my actions.
You know the fear that motivates so much of what I do.
You know the anger that undergirds my words.

O Jesus, you know my heart.
You know my desire to love.
You know my desire to make peace.
You know my desire to give hope.

Forgive this treatment that I have received,
O Jesus,
And forgive me.
Luke 23

A Liturgy for kind villagers

The following was taken from the resource we have compiled for pilgrims on the Camino De Santiago. You can get a free digital copy here. Downloading and giving your feedback helps us to spread the word.

I don’t deserve the kindness of strangers, O God.
Thank you.
Thank you for this demonstration of your common grace.
You have reminded me again that you keep evil at bay,
Your image in us impels us to value others,
You care for your children wherever they are.
Thank you.

Thank you for these men and women who give what they have,
Who point me in the right direction,
Who walk with me to the next turn,
Who speak too quickly for me to understand but don’t get frustrated,
Who smile.

Thank you for those who painted the arrows
And those who laid the cobblestone.
Thank you for those who clean the fountains
And those who pick up the trash.

Thank you for the lady who watches from the window 
And greets me with a smile.
Thank you for the man with the cane
Who keeps the dogs from nipping at my heels.

Thank you for the gardener who shared her produce.
And thank you for the one who planted the fruit trees so close to the road.

Thank you for the child that shared her laugh with me.
Thank you for the elders who shared their bench with me.

Thank you for the panadería that baked this bread.
Thank you for the pharmacy who cared for my feet.

Thank you for the waitress, who without complaint
Cleaned up the mess I made.
Thank you for the couple who encouraged me in my own language.

Thank you for the stranger who gives of themselves.
Thank you that today I am the stranger who can receive.
Thank you.
Luke 10:25-37