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Posts from the ‘Simplify’ Category

Nothing Can Be the Best Something

Mom, what are we doing tonight?

Happily, I say, “nothing.”

Frowns ensue.

But, they quickly dissolve.

I’m asking myself these days…

Since when did this become nothing?


This isn’t just something.

It’s one of the best of the somethings.


The “glorification of busy” has been at the forefront of my mind lately. The following video from Paul Tripp has been very helpful. Hope you enjoy:


First Things First

“First thing at my desk, I make a list of all the fun things I get to do later. Then I get to work. Makes the work easier.”

Author of “Blue Like Jazz,” Donald Miller, posted these words on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. They have gone a long way with my 9-year-old who loves to have fun. We are on our second full week of homeschooling, and every morning before we start, we look ahead.

We look ahead at what we get to do for fun.

We write that one thing down.

We put our heads down and work hard.

Discipline is our theme.

(In our peripheral vision we can see what we’ve written down).

We check-off our list as we go.

Then, we have fun!

(And, sometimes our work is fun, too).

The motto of looking ahead to fun is encouraging us to work hard — for now anyway!


Introducing… Our Classroom

Mothers are working frantically to get in every little errand before kids get out of school for Christmas.

Added to my “to do” list was completing our classroom since Abby will not be returning to Dogwood in January. I feel sure we will add many more personal touches, but this is what we’re starting with — a room off of our Master bedroom that is sold as a “nursery.”

We have previously used this room as a junk room and an office.

I am grateful to have a space provided specifically for school.








Just In Time For School

Saturday, my dad and Chris built organizers/cubbies for the laundry room. They made great use of a small amount of space, a small amount of money ($97.89) and a small amount of material. The kids have their new area just in time for school!

  • Materials:
  • 6 hooks
  • (2) 1x12x8 boards
  • (1) 1x10x10 board
  • (1) 1x4x10 board
  • 4×8 beadboard


Too bad I didn’t get a picture of all the hard work!

A couple of coats of paint

August 6 — First Day of School

From Reflection to Objective

“His life was ordered by his objective. Everything he did and said was part of the whole pattern. It had significance because it contributed to the ultimate purpose of his life in redeeming the world for God. This was the motivating vision governing his behavior. His steps were ordered by it. Mark it well. Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of his goal.” Dr. Robert E. Coleman

Perhaps no words have impacted my life as these this year. The reason is that they are really just the culmination of the words God has been speaking into me for many months. I feel compelled to take advantage of time. Make the most of every opportunity. Have an objective. Stay the course. Have a healthy reflection at the turn of every “semester.” So, as I reflect on the last school year, I also look to the objective of the upcoming school year.

How will our family spend our time?

What will we allow into our schedule?

What will hinder evangelism? discipleship?

I am fully aware that I will lose sight of my goal this year — many times. We should still work toward that which we’re called; What Jesus commands, he also provides the strength and ability to do.

Goals are general and non-specific. Objectives are specific, always with an action verb and measurable outcomes.

What is my objective?

Is my life ordered by my objective?

Let’s just start here…

Is my “semester” ordered by my objective?

For more from Dr. Robert E. Coleman, read The Master Plan of Evangelism.

The Tools To Open Up

I do not claim to be a decorator.  I do not claim to be full of ideas when it comes to DIY projects.  But, there is one thing, Chris and I have done in our home in the past year that I want to share just in case it sparks an idea in your home.  It has changed the way we live and the way we do community, which was the majority of the goal.

Look beyond my girls in this picture to the wall behind them.  You can see there is just a doorway and a wall with a desk.  There is a hallway to the left where people enter our house through the garage.  (I’m standing in the kitchen taking the picture).  Used to, when people came in our home, they “bottle-necked” in the spot where the girls are standing.  Everyone wants to be in the kitchen.

Earlier this year, we decided to get rid of this wall, leaving about a 7 1/2 foot opening.  We did it all for around $240!  We paid our HVAC company around $180 to move a return, and my dad and Chris cut out the wall themselves.  The materials were about $60.  Our friend Cody, helped fix the tile, (the same one who helped in our 1/2 bath).



These second two pictures were taken from the other side of the wall looking into the kitchen.

This is the result…


And, this is what it looks like in use…

on a regular day…                                                                       and a small group day…


Everyone was still crammed in the kitchen, but trust me, there was really good Mexican food in there!

Is there a wall you can cut out in your house?  Wait!  Let’s start over before your spouse sends me hate mail. Is there something you can do in your home to “open up?”  Maybe you need to open up a wall.  Maybe you need to open up your life.  Maybe you could just start by opening your front door. Sometimes fostering community starts by restructuring our homes physically, and sometimes it starts emotionally.  We all have to start in different places, but with Christ living in us, we have all the tools we need to start.

One Thing Is Necessary

I am so overwhelmed with distractions that quiet and still feel like absolute chaos.  Do you feel that?

Since writing my posts on simplifying the family schedule and limitations in my life, I have heard from many of you.  I have heard a common theme of I don’t handle busyness well.  I can’t keep up with my schedule.  I keep forgetting to get this for my kid or turn in that.  How do other people do it?  I have one thing to say:  

You are not alone.

Well, I actually have more to say.  Busyness is not a badge of honor.  We are not winning any awards by running ourselves crazy. As a matter a fact, Jesus said, there is something better.  “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'” (Luke 10:40-45)  So, what was the “good portion” Mary had chosen?”  If Martha was distracted, anxious and troubled, what was her sister choosing to do?  “… And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching (vs. 39).”

What would it look like for us to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to his teaching?  Should we undo some things to enable ourselves to sit?  Maybe leaving the box on the calendar blank and not feeling the need to fill it with a lunch date.  Maybe saying “no” and not worrying what others think of us when we turn down an event. Maybe enjoying the quiet and not thinking that sitting still is a waste of time.  We must banish the idol of busy and self to honor the “one thing that is necessary.”

What if God wants to speak, but I’m too distracted?  What if I need to listen, but I continue to turn up the volume?  How can I afford to not sit at the feet of the only one can save me from my anxiety and troubles in this world?

What can you undo this week to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to his teaching?

For more reading on this topic, check out Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.

And, because our lives are full no matter what we eliminate, I posted an easy recipe for extremely hectic days this fall.

Simplifying the Family Schedule

This is the second part and definitely the more difficult of my two posts on how I am attempting to simplify.  The first post was on cutting out clutter, and this post will focus on the desire to keep our family schedule simple.

Because we are at the beginning of the school year, the last two weeks have been terribly chaotic.  With registration, school supplies to be bought, orthodontics appointments, cheer camp, finishing up swim team, needing groceries for an empty pantry, and more, I have one response — crumbling.  I crumble like the weakest of the weak.  Am I weaker than most when it comes to busyness?  Am I believing a lie from satan whispering everyone else can handle this. you’re weak.  Through prayer and seeking counsel from others, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:  Maybe I don’t handle busyness well, but maybe we weren’t created to be this busy.

Regardless of how we handle a schedule, what ultimately should rule our calendars is what our Creator has called us to.  For me, I don’t think I will look back on my life wishing I had run my child to just one more soccer practice, but I may wish I had spent just one more night around the table telling him of the goodness of God.  I may wish he had seen me open my table to a hurting family to tell them of the goodness of God.  If our schedule doesn’t allow for time with God, discipling our children and discipling others, as a family, we are not doing what God has called us to do.

Here are a few ways we try to keep our schedule in check:
1.  Kid activities to a minimum (usually one per child — this fall, Sarah has an activity that will take more time, so Abby will not be allowed to have one until around Nov.)
2.  Depending on the weekend, Sat. or Sun. will be our day of rest.  That means no friends over to play, no birthday parties, etc.  Our kids would never rest if it were up to them. 
3.  Chris and I check with each other before we say “yes” to anyone else, and if we want to catch up with the “guys” or “girls,” we try to do it over lunch so that it doesn’t take up family time at night.
4.  Some of our priorities include homework, family dinner (where friends are welcome – call for time) and small group

Can you love God and love people on the soccer field?  Yep!  But, I believe I am of better service to others when I am not running crazy.  Keeping our family schedule whittled down is what works for us.

Something to consider:  “If you call yourself a disciple of Jesus, and you are not helping other people follow Jesus, I just don’t know what you mean. I’m not attacking you, I’m just saying help me understand -Jesus gave his life for others, so if you are not evangelizing or discipling, I’m just not sure what you mean when you call yourself a disciple.” —Mark Dever, in a Gospel Coalition panel discussion.

Your comments on simplifying with money were helpful.  Will you weigh in and share how you simplify your schedule?

Lower Consumption Lower Possession

I recently wrote two posts on simplicity as a part of OneWord2011.  The first was expressing my desire for simplicity, and the second gave two ways I try to focus on a simplified life.  In getting feedback from some of you about the posts, I have been asked to give some examples of how I try to simplify.  Later, I will do a post on simplifying the family schedule, but for now, I’m going to focus this post on keeping consumption to a minimum and not having too much in our possession.

1.  My girls got new backpacks for this school year.  When I cleaned out the coat closet, I found 6!!! other backpacks!  Ridiculously enough, I was tempted to keep a “backup” for each of them.  Now, I’m trying to find children who really need them.  The more we have, the more we have to keep up with.  If you’re not using it, get rid of it.

2.  Chris and I have recently cleaned out our closet.  The rule is, if we haven’t worn it in a year, it goes.  Try to buy clothes that are classic, not trendy.  I’m not trying to give style tips here.  If it’s trendy, we’re just being consumers, focusing on appearance, and it will be a waste when the style changes in a month.  Also, I pass our kids’ clothes on to friends or children in need before I use Goodwill as a last resort.  It’s a preference, but I get to hear neat stories when I know who has them.

3.  My shock over this tip will show you what a consumer I am.  One of the most offensive things I read in a spiritual disciplines book on simplicity was to drink water.  What?  No diet coke?  No Izze? Water is the simplest, healthiest form of consumption.  Just think about it. (Don’t worry.  I still drink plenty of coffee).

4.  Most of the landscaping in our yard is second-hand.  When family members and friends are digging up bushes, we are happy to take it off their hands.  I’ve also been known to pick up azaleas that strangers have dug up and put on the side of the road.  I don’t know, maybe that makes us bums, but it saves money.

5.  Share with friends.  We should all share baby furniture/items, but we can go beyond to other household items, cars, homes, etc. to prevent one another from having to overspend. If this overwhelms you, start small, don’t throw out the extra food you cooked, share with a friend or neighbor, then move up to bigger items.  Also, teach your children to start giving things to others at an early age.

You’ve heard from me, but I have missed a lot.  I need more ways to cut consumption and move things out of my possession.  Others need to hear from you, too.  So, please comment below, and enlighten us.  No cutback is too small.

Specifically Simplicity / OneWord2011

I am eager for God to create in my heart an anthem of simplicity — to cut out the clogging and bondage of duplicity.

Yesterday, I expressed a need for simplicity in my life.  Clutter often gets in the way of what I feel God is calling me to, but I would like to be more specific about what that looks like for me.

1.  Keeping our family schedule whittled down to few activities.  When we are running around non-stop, there is little room for work, quiet, study, meditation or time to focus on Gospel-centeredness and Kingdom efforts.

2.  Trying to keep consumption at a minimum.  What I’ve learned is the more we have, the more we have to keep up with.  It’s bondage.  Not freedom. Simplicity means not having too much in our possession but also sharing what we have.

“Covetousness we call ambition.

Hoarding we call prudence.

Greed we call industry.”

Richard Foster

Simplicity comes down to time and money in my life.  The above are my desires.  They are not my accomplishments.  I fail at them daily.  I hope to look back at the end and believe my time and money have been well spent. So far, I’m not anywhere near satisfied.

What clutter is clogging your path?  What are you doing to simplify your life?