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My Thinking Bin

A colleague learned a really neat word picture from her almost-four-year-old: the “thinking bin“:

Her eyes welled up with tears, and she said, “But Mama, I’m just sad. I’ve reached into my thinking bin, but all I can pull out are sad thoughts. The happy thoughts are all the way at the back.”


The rest of the night passed without incident, but a few hours later I lay in bed pondering her unintended metaphor. To be honest, my thinking bin is often filled with melancholy, worrisome, busy thoughts that keep me from sleep too. How much effort would it take to reach into the back and pull up the pleasant thoughts that I know are there? Maybe I simply need to reorganize my thinking bin and make those thoughts more accessible!

My thinking bin is a bit of a mess lately. Connie and I have been helping her sister make some important decisions about the care of their elderly parents. The next two weekends are going to be filled with “extras” at church, some of which we are directly responsible for. The boxes cluttering up the new basement are still there. I can identify with “worrisome, busy thoughts” intruding on my days and nights.

So maybe it’s time to take inventory of my thinking bin and try to clean out some of the clutter. The stuff near the front is most interesting. For starters, there’s

stuff I wish I had blogged about

But these are merely a part of what lies randomly strewn at the frontmost layer of my thinking bin. There are also

the daily distractions of life

  • I could use a haircut.
  • The lawn needs mowing.
  • I’m going to have to take off work again in November for a quick trip to Kentucky.
  • I’d really like my new voter registration card to show up soon.
  • Those books stacked up on the cedar chest aren’t going to read themselves.

This part of my thinking bin also has some treasures, however:

things that make me smile every day

  • Connie’s smiling face.
  • Rebecca singing in the shower.
  • I have a job where I get to learn something new every day.
  • I love my new house.

My thinking bin also has a part “way in the back.” It’s where I keep the things I don’t think about very often. Either

things I ought to think about more

  • The grace of God.
  • My role in advancing the kingdom of God.
  • How to be a better husband, father, son, and neighbor.
  • The joy to be found in the little things of life.
  • Long walks.
  • Memories of my grandparents.


things I shouldn’t be thinking about at all

  • Fears.
  • Grudges.
  • Temptations.
  • Feelings of inadequacy.

Paul said it well: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Straighten out your thinking bins so that the good thoughts you need in order to live as faithful disciples are all up at the front where you can find them.


  1. Anne says:

    I think the four-year-old sounds much like the part about how the good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and out of its overflow our hearts speak.

    God’s blessings of peace and discernment to you.

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF


  2. SingingOwl says:

    I loved this post! 🙂 Hugs to all of y’all.


  3. Terri says:

    Its been too long since I gave over my morning coffee time to reading your blog. I’ve just done that, clicked the links, and thoroughly enjoyed the thoughts and ideas you share here.

    Smiled at Rebecca singing in the shower. Tucker does that when he takes his bath and Michael and I both laugh with delight. (He would be so mortified if he knew we could hear … )


  4. Kelley says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Dr. P. It was good to have you visit my blog. Don’t we learn some of the best lessons from our little ones? I just hope they can remember these lessons as they grow. I guess part of our job is to make sure they do. I enjoyed your response post about your own thinking bin. Now I’m going to have to give my own bin a more careful look. (:


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