Friday, November 13, 2009

Seeking a Simpler and Healthier Lifestyle

The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.

I long for a simple life. Drama doesn't appeal to me and complications just seem to eat up time and energy that could be better spent.  I've been praying and focusing lately on how to simplify my life without wimping out on the adventures and commitments to which God has called me. I doubt that any of my thoughts are original, but they're my thoughts nevertheless.

  • Start and End Each Day with God - my best effort to start and end each day wisely! It's the "in between" that can snag me! :)
  • Think First - I'm sure all of you already do this, but if I don't actively note this, I will speak and act unwisely. Specifically, right now I think about my tone and my motivations.
  • Take a Minute - I tend to jump and I can be rather impulsive. Pausing for a full minute to think it through can change your life drastically! Mostly, I am finding that this prevents me from working hard rather than smart and from having to regret time wasted.
  • Embrace God's Design - I think that is one of the most challenging aspects of having so much information about other people at my fingertips. I look at other women and think that I'll never be that kind of mother, writer, etc. Guess what? I am right...I won't. That's not who God designed me to be. Embracing who God wants me to be means growing through my weaknesses (for in these, He makes me stronger!) and accentuating my gifts by using them for His glory.
  • Just Because I Can Doesn't Mean I Should - this is huge for me. Someone has a need, I have an ability, voila! I get in a lot of trouble because I forget that many people can do what I can do and it's not my responsibility to fix everything for everyone! I think I have a serious desire to please others and that can cause me to overextend myself, with my family usually sacrificing.
  • Prioritize - God, family, church, etc. - prioritizing helps me avoid reacting rather than responding when a complication arises. Realizing that I will either have tomorrow to work on what wasn't done today or I'll be in heaven, helps me sleep better. For many years, I stressed over what couldn't be finished. I would wonder if I chose wisely. I was constantly seeking closure. I  have come to realize that closure isn't a reality...there's always something new so I address what I can and leave the rest for tomorrow.
  • Balance, balance, balance - probably my greatest issue because I tend to be obsessive when I get excited about something. Learning to balance the different areas of my life and giving my time for to those things I have prioritized as higher is a lesson which has taken me most of my life to learn. I've learned that my relationships (particularly my marriage and my children), my health, my "free" time, my work and my spiritual growth all need to be balanced so I don't feel stretched in one area and neglected in another. This is an ongoing process for me, but for the first time in my life, I don't feel guilty for watching a movie with my husband or taking a walk just to take a walk! I am also able to focus during my quiet time with God rather than mentally processing my to do list!
  • Put Margins into Place, even with those we dearly love - some people just drain you because they don't have margins or boundaries. They dive into relationships and expect you to do the same. That's just not usually possible for me and believe me I've tried! However, I am learning how much I can give and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have found that when I put margins in place, practice self control and don't get involved beyond my emotional and physical capabilities, I am a better friend. Many thanks to my business partner and friend, Dana Wilson, for explaining this to me a long time ago, even though it has taken me years to implement it!
  • Love Mean People - my daughter, Ally, recently reminded me that we are called to love the unloveable. I realized at that moment that I have great love for those I like but I am not that great at loving those people I find offensive. For some people, it's physical appearance or disabilities. I have no problem with a person who is uniquely designed physically, but I have such a problem with mean people! What I have learned is that loving others, even those I don't like, does make life simpler because I am not wasting energy in a negative way. I can love a person in Christ without having to agree with him or even accept his behavior. As I do this, my own love grows internally and I am more able to handle other situations with more graciousness. God uses such love to grow us in Him, making us more valuable for His kingdom. 
I hope you find my lessons in life valuable. Praise God for His patience with this child as I strive to grow in His mercy and grace daily!

In His Holy Name,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seeking Beauty in an Ugly World: My prayers

I spent some time with the news on today as I was working on curriculum. Primarily, I learned about a mass murderer, a baby who was kept in a box under a bed (although she ended up being saved, Praise God!), the horrible attack on Fort Hood, Texas and a lot of information about a health care plan that it seems many in our nation oppose. I had to stop and pray over my own heart! This is the world we live in. I looked over at John Paul and immediately praised God that he was sitting next to me, healthy and happy.  I said a prayer for Darrell and Ally that God would protect them!
I don't think never watching or listening to the news is the answer. I tried that a while back and found that it didn't really help. I eventually heard about it all from one source or another. So, what is the answer? How do we find beauty in such an ugly world?

As I try to do with conundrums in my life, I turned to Scripture. Immediately, I thought of Philippians 4:8 - 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
And I prayed: Heavenly Father, lead me to Your beauty, place a desire in my heart for what is noble and right, help me to long to be pure and reveal all that You have created that is lovely. Let me think upon these things, as Your Word commands, and help me to not be overcome by the ugliness of this world!

Another verse that the Lord allowed me to recall is Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And I prayed: Gracious Lord, transform and renew my mind and my heart. Do not let me succumb to the fear and evilness of this world. Reveal Your good and perfect Will for my life.

How could you ever question God perfect will for our lives? 
He who so lovingly designed not only a beautiful but perfectly balanced atmosphere?

And yet another verse from Romans 8:15,
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
And I prayed: I do cry out to you, Abba, Father, to remind me of the Spirit you have instilled in me...a spirit of love and not of fear, no matter what is happening in the external world around me.

And finally, 1 Corinthians 2:12
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, 
that we may understand what God has freely given us.
And I prayed: Thank you, God, for Your Holy Spirit, freely given by You. Help me to remember that I do not have a Spirit of the world and that this world is temporary, unlike your heavenly realm that I have been adopted into. 

Fear became compassion, uncomfortableness became hope, concern became confidence...not in myself or anything that I can do about this world, but in my Lord and Savior who works through me and is always with me in this dark world. 

May your day be filled with all of the beauty of the Lord!

Many thanks to my sweet husband, Darrell, for taking these pictures for my blog. I love you!

In Him,

Friday, October 23, 2009

Busy vs. Fruitful

I remember a time, not so long ago, that I thrived on adrenaline.  I was once told by my son that I have a work ethic on steroids! While I do enjoy feeling accomplished and seeing the fruits of my labor, I am finding more and more that I want to be more discriminating about how "work" is defined. What it comes down to for me is Am I working on something to be working on something? or Am I going about my work as I am instructed in Scripture, to glorify my Lord and Savior? I think that being wise in our labor requires time to meditate and think about exactly how and why we are doing any particular task. Now, I realize that I don't necessarily need to pray over doing the dishes (some nights I think I should since I am one of the three women in America without a dishwasher!), but even running errands, completing household chores, schooling my son and running my company operate so much better when I am focused on Christ from the start. I am a list maker, which helps me keep an overloaded brain on the right track, but even my list works better if I examine it before I begin and discern whether I am spending my time in a way that is pleasing to God.

I used to feel guilty if I took time to read (something I love) or sat around talking with my son. I could seriously feel the time ticking by and I would think of all of the things on my list that weren't getting done. Well, as I have sent one child off to college and only have one more at home, I have come to realize that the toilet can be cleaned a day later but my relationship with my son requires "now" time. John Paul told me recently that while this no longer occurs and hasn't in the past few years, that there was a time that he would avoid me if I was working and he was not. He said that he knew if I was working on something and he wasn't, I would put him to work! Now, a solid work ethic is a beauty to behold in my eyes, but having your child afraid of approaching you because you won't take a minute to stop and share that moment with him is not something any mom ever wants to hear. I am glad to know that he no longer feels that way and I no longer act that way.

Time doesn't stop because we behave foolishly and we certainly can't get that time back. So, for today, I will try to do as God pleases and follow His lead. If my list is part of His agenda, so be it. If not, it will still be there tomorrow.

God is good. He grows and refines us. I don't like to see my faults but I love that even through them, He loves me and He uses even my weaknesses to draw me nearer to Him.

May your list today include precious time with family and friends, a phone call that needed to be made, a relationship restored, a random act of kindness or a well timed note of encouragement. Bless you as you go about blessing others!

In Him,

Note: Did you know that Abraham Lincoln wrote poetry? Intrigued? Check out my Epi Kardia blog about using primary source materials when teaching. Even if you're not a teacher, you might enjoy it if you like history.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Helpful Educational Resource

For those of you who homeschool or work with your children at home on school assignments and haven't yet checked out my blog on my curriculum company's website:, you might want to look at this week's topic. It's a review of a fun program that can really assist moms with creating copy work pages and worksheets, design books and more with their children! We have really enjoyed using it and I wanted to share it with all of my friends who are moms and/or teachers!

Have a blessed day! 

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Quiet

I love the peacefulness of my home today. My son is sitting on the couch next to me working on school. He likes to tap, drum, etc as he works...he says it helps him think. But today, even he is quiet. Hope he's thinking!  My husband, Darrell, had some errands to run and other than my keyboard clicking, there's not much noise. We live next to Darrell's family and a few minutes ago, I heard Aunt Edna calling out to someone. My dog barked once about a half hour ago...probably some small sound noise disturbed his sleep. Occasionally a car goes by. But really, it's just peaceful. Praise God for peace. Praise Him for the times when my mind isn't racing with the million item list and my phone isn't ringing demandingly. Praise Him for the fact that televisions have an "off" button and children sometimes slow down long enough to enjoy the peace with you! Praise God for sending the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior. May your day be filled with the peace and beauty of Christ. 

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Acts 10:36

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love, Obedience and our Heart's Desire

I was chatting with another mom today about Charlotte Mason's teachings. This other mom made a comment about the habit of obedience. While I agree that the habit of obedience is a wonderful immediate blessing, at the same time, obeying out of love rather than habit seems so much more significant to me. I thought of a friend who has the most polite children, they never forget to say "Yes, ma'am", but it has become such a habit for them, I wonder if it still retains any meaning of respect. They sound so rote at times. Some would say that it's awesome that they're always outwardly respectful and that is great. But I am much more concerned about the heart of my children, to be honest.

This brought to mind being taught that we show God we love Him by obeying Him. I was reminded of a verse in 2 John (if you know me very long, you will learn that John is my favorite disciple!): And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. When we can get our children, and ourselves for that matter, to toss aside the worldly conditional definition of love and embrace true Biblical love, found through obedience to our Father, then they and we will find our heart's desire. I pray that over anyone who reads this blog...that you will discover that love in Christ, for Him and for one another!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spiritual Pictures

Recently, I have become attached to photos. I think I am just extremely content in my life for the first time in a long time and I don't want to forget what that contentment looks like. For example, the photo that is in the heading on my blog is valued by me for a couple of reasons: 1. my son, John Paul, took the photo and 2. it's a photo from my backyard dock. The flower right above this post is one of the first photos taken by my husband, Darrell, with a new camera. I love all of the aspects of that flower...the vibrant color, the way it's so up close and the fact that it was growing in my front yard. Look to the right and you'll find a photo of my son with our dog. Again, the simple joys of a life of peace. God is so good!

So as I was discovering my desire to document my life, I began to think about spiritual pictures. If God were taking photos of my life, what would He see? I immediately think of those photos I would never want to be shown...times when I'm angry or when I say something thoughtless. But it goes deeper than that. God knows my heart. 
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.
Acts 15:8
What pictures are revealed to God in my heart? My joys and triumphs over sin, my sorrow and pain of letting Him and those I love down at times. God sees all of the pictures of my life and as I write this I realize that I want to be very careful about the pictures I produce for Him. I want to be that woman who treasures God's opinion above all others. 

Big Charlotte Mason fan? So are we!