A Simple Life: The Good Old Days

The Good Old DaysHow often have you heard it, or even thought it?  I was born in the wrong century.  I should have been born in a simpler time.  Oh, to have lived in the good old days!

In the good old days life was simpler. There weren’t as many distractions or expectations or outside demands on people’s time. A woman could focus on her home and on her family and on what truly mattered. Or so we tell ourselves.

Get this through your head: these are your good old days.

It isn’t the century or the circumstances that make a simple life.  It is you.  Your mindset, your priorities, your attitude.

Yes, society has expectations of you, but so what! So what if your children aren’t in little league and dance and swimming and debate and choir.  So what if they’re not hosting slumber parties and going to summer camp and learning three languages and having a birthday party for all the kids at the roller rink. (Did I just date myself with that roller rink remark?)

So what?

Society’s expectations do not need to be your expectations. Change your mindset to what is best for your family at your stage in life.

Prioritize.  Let your family be your true focus.

I think of a mother not unlike you and me.  She lived over two thousand years ago.  All I know of her is that she packed her boy a lunch.  Five loaves of bread and two fish.  Read about it in John 6:1-14. (If you don’t have a Bible, contact me.  I’ll send you one.  No, I can’t afford it, but neither can you afford to not have a Bible.)  How huge, how utterly enormous was the eternal impact of that one mother’s seemingly small, loving action.  And all she did was take the time to feed her boy.

You can never know the depth of the impact of your simple actions, sharing a smile, listening to a story, packing a lunch.

Be there to pack the lunch.

Don’t just pack it because it’s your job.  Pack it because you care, because you can, because you want to.

Nothing is more painful for the one being served than knowing that the servant serves out of duty rather than joy.

You know that long, rambling, seemingly pointless story your teenage daughter wants to share with you just as the baby slipped off to sleep and you were about to sneak your first shower in three days?  That daughter is a gift.  Love her by listening with joy, and slather on a little extra deodorant.

You know that book your new reader wants to read to you over and over and over (repeat ad infinitum) in that halting, loud, hey-I-just-learned-to-read-and-have-to-shout-every-word voice?  Love the simple joy of the moment.

Live in the joy of this moment, this simple, beautiful, unembellished moment.

These are the good old days.

What is Clearing Your Queue?

Clear: to remove (people or objects); to make free of confusion, doubt, or uncertainty.

Queue: a line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for something.

Bear with me as I share what will at first seem a completely pointless glimpse into my life.

What is clearing your Queue?Some time ago we subscribed to Netflix. Through Netflix we could stream videos to watch instantly.  We could also add shows to our Netflix queue to watch at will.

Netflix offered some great shows that I loved using for school on those days when I would fall asleep while reading out loud to my children.  (Let’s just keep that last bit between you and me, shall we?)

After the children were tucked in at night, I would often attempt to preview a show for school or occasionally completely relax and watch an old favorite.  Notice I said “attempt.”

I never actually watched anything. Ever.

I spent my limited viewing time filling our queue with great shows that we couldn’t miss.  There were over 400 “can’t-miss” programs in our queue.  The queue was so full that it was difficult to find anything.  Yet, instead of watching some of those carefully selected goodies, I only added more to the queue. I was so afraid of missing something, that I missed everything.

My life had become like my Netflix queue.

It was too full of “can’t-miss” programs.  Too full of great ideas.  Too full of projects. Too full of plans and schedules and curricula.  Too full of expert advice for health, faith, education, parenting, marriage, and fun. Too full of everything it took to live up to everybody’s expectations. Yet, instead of implementing those carefully selected activities, improvements, and experiences, I only added more to the queue.

I was so afraid of missing something, that I was missing my own life.

It was a harsh lesson.  A painful lesson.

It was hard to accept that all the time I spent researching and planning for the benefit of my family was in reality a detriment to them.  It was difficult to admit that I was doing what I ungraciously condemned other parents for doing: I was doing “for them” instead of doing “with them.”  What made it even more humbling was that I have always preached “family first” and honestly thought I was putting my family first, but I wasn’t. I was putting my queue — my agenda for my family, my preaching of family first, my self-improvement on their behalf, my research for their betterment — ahead of my family. This preacher needed to heed the preaching.

My family would rather have my attention than my expertise. They would rather have my time than my theories.  They would rather have me playing shortstop with them in the back yard than chopping veggies without them in the kitchen.  They would rather have me laughing on the couch with them than micro-managing their futures.  They would rather I formed a united parenting front with my husband than with the parenting specialists.

They would rather have me enjoying life than figuring out how to extend it. They would rather eat a few preservatives here and there with a happy mama than eat everything from scratch with a haggard grump. They would rather hear what’s on my heart than listen to my recitation of the latest parenting guru publication. They would rather have the honest, dorky me with all my foibles than some unnatural replica of the “experts.”  They would rather see grace than perfection.

In short, my family needs me–the imperfect, unpolished, simple me.

Accepting this crucial truth in my life was the first step to clearing my queue, to releasing the baggage and expectations, to putting my priorities back where they belong.

It was the first step to living a simple life and truly loving my family.

Welcome to my journey, as I continue to release the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical clutter that was in my queue.

Do you need to clear your queue?  Join me, and return to a simple home, simple faith, simple life.

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Tips for Contentment

5 Tips for ContentmentHarboring discontent robs us of joy and contaminates our lives. It is soul clutter, plain and simple. And since we are trying to enjoy a simple life, there is no room for clutter. Discontent has to go.

For some people, living a contented life is a daily challenge, a sometimes hourly choice. For others, contentment seems to almost come naturally. I, sadly, fall into the first category. Contentment is a constant battle, and its nemesis, discontent, is frequently jumping in to take my eyes off the daily blessings God has given.

Following are some tips for encouraging contentment and giving discontent the boot:

  1. Gratitude–find a reason to be grateful in all circumstances. Did you catch that? ALL circumstances. Thank God for everything. Count your blessings. Make it a game. Keep a list. Do it as a family. However you do it, just do it.
  2. Don’t compare–never ever look at someone else’s situation and compare it to your own. And don’t listen to others who will enthusiastically do the comparing for you. You don’t know what hurts and fears and sorrows are hidden behind a happy facade, good job, big house and successful children. You also don’t know the purpose God has for you in your situation.
  3. Don’t dwell–don’t pine away after what you don’t have. Just plain stop. Period. Return to Tip 1.
  4. Don’t complain–don’t grumble, don’t hint, don’t whine. Just stop. It didn’t work when you were four (and if it did, your parents dropped the ball), and it’s not going to work when you’re 24 or 54 or 84. There is no room in the contented heart for complaining, so just get rid of the option. Don’t do it, don’t let others do it, don’t listen to it. By the way, complaining in your head is still complaining.
  5. Focus outward–stop looking at what you want for yourself, and think what you can do for others. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whenever you find yourself reverting inward and cluttering your life with “if only’s,” think of a need in your community, extended family, church family, anywhere, and pray. Drop someone a note. Bake cookies for a neighbor. Kiss your husband. Play catch with a child. Get your focus off yourself.

Discontent has got to go. There’s no room in the simple life for discontentment!

What are your tips for contentment?

I believe the idea for a contentment challenge came from Joy, the precious gal who runs The Stay-at-Home Missionary.  Journey through her blog for encouragement and guidance.  Time well spent, my friends.

Contentment in the Desert

Contentment in the DesertYears ago I told my then newlywed husband that I would follow him anywhere except the desert. While some people love the desert and others think–say it with me–“it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” I did not even want to visit. I’d been there three times and that was three times too many!

The Lord tested my loyalty. Apparently, I passed the test, because we moved to the desert three years into our marriage, and we have been here ever since.

God has funny ways of eliminating the clutter of discontentment. The desert is one of the tools He uses on me.

While I frequently chose to be blind to the stunning beauty of the mountains surrounding our home in all directions, He forced me to see. He used little girls calling us outside to watch the glorious sunsets paint our mountains. He used my husband’s songwriting ability to focus me on the wonders of Creation and Creator.

Whereas I was immune to the amazing weather we experience nine months of the year, He forced me to appreciate it, setting my husband to the task of making a mini-paradise in our backyard. There we have enjoyed hours of simple fun, exercise, laughter, and togetherness.

When I grew oblivious to the remarkable day-trip destinations that surround us, He filled my camera with pictures of the stunning places we have been, possible only because of where we live.

Discontent clutters the mind, contaminates the soul, and saps life of joy.

Contentment is not a right. It is a battle. It is a struggle. It is a prize. If I cannot be content right here in our desert valley, then I cannot be content anywhere. I would like to say with Paul that I have learned to be content in all things….but I’d like to forgo the circumstances that brought him to that truth! No shipwrecks for me, thank you! I’ll stick with my beautiful desert.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on tips to declutter the discontentment.

The Value of the Homemaker

Value of a HomemakerIt saddens me when I speak to women who feel they are not contributing to their families or to society if they do not bring home a paycheck. Some believe their contributions need to be measured monetarily to be of value. Others are nagged with guilt at the thought of their degrees growing dusty on a closet shelf, while they pack lunches or potty train toddlers.

Even though the thriftiness of a conscientious wife goes a long way toward enabling her husband to support the family, some women frequently see themselves as not contributing financially to the family, and society will too often second that view.

Why is this?

Why do women fall for the lure of the feminist movement that claims a woman needs to succeed in the same arena as a man in order to be successful. Why should her immeasurable worth be defined and therefore limited by a paycheck?


Imagine, for a moment, how blessed a husband can be by a wife who tends lovingly to his needs and makes wise use of the money he brings home. Imagine how much more successful that husband will be both in his career and at home, with a caring and supportive wife beside him. Imagine, from a financial aspect, how much farther that husband’s paycheck can go if there is a frugal and conscientious wife at home, making every penny of her man’s hard-earned money really count!

Imagine the joy of having a mother who is always available to explore and play and bake cookies with her children? Imagine what a great contribution to society those confident and well-raised children will become because they had a mother who took the time to teach them that life does not revolve around pleasing themselves and their peers, but around serving each other. Just imagine!

If you stay at home and tend your brood and your husband, do not undermine your contribution to society and to the kingdom of Christ! Your value cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Your worth is far above rubies!

Linked up to 31 Days of Femininity.

Returning to a Simple Life


The calendar is packed. The closets are overflowing. The list of wonderful activities you have planned with the children is so long it needs its own filing cabinet. You spend your whole life planning and organizing, trying to do everything, afraid you’ll miss something. And in the process, you miss everything.

Does this sound familiar? Life has become far too complicated.  There is too much lined up demanding your attention. Your home, your calendar, your mind is filled with clutter. The result? Stress! Anxiety! Missing life!

It is time to clear your queue!  It is time to say farewell to unrealistic expectations.  It is time to get rid of the weight cluttering your life, ruining your family time and stealing the joy God intended for you.  Today is the day to get back to the basics and start enjoying the simple beauty of an uncluttered life.

Join me as I too clear my queue and return to a simple home, a simple faith, a simple life.