Surprising Clutter: You Will Never Guess What I Found Under My Couch

Surprising Clutter: You Will Never Guess What I Found Under My Couch

I started wading through the clutter in January. One week later I was disheartened. There was still a lot to do. I shared my dismay with my brave friend who had come over and worked alongside me for a bit, she said, “It will take a year.” She reminded me this was a process and that it would take more than a weekend to declutter. And here I am today, still working on organizing, decluttering, de-junking my house. I have made some progress and have discovered some surprising clutter.

The piles of toy parts, the box of notes from high school, and the bags of stained baby clothes, I expected. However, I was surprised to discover hidden pockets of clutter of a different variety. These were things I thought I would never misplace or lose track of. I unearthed encouraging words left unsaid, found compliments piled in the corners like stacks of magazines, and discovered a hoard of fun under the couch.

Surprising clutter 

I found a box full of family time that still had the packing tape on it from our last move. Nothing really prepared me for the waves of regret that quickly eroded my pride in the progress I had made. The cost of clutter had not really hit me until that moment; clutter steals and hoards what we are capable of giving to others.

I had not realized that my disheveled closet was hoarding confidence or that the chaotic art room had my children’s creative tendencies squirreled away in half empty crayon boxes and dried up paint bottles. I started to think that maybe we just weren’t as creative, fun or as kind as we used to be, but it was just that the clutter had taken over and obscured these attributes from our hearts and minds. My creative, kind and fun-loving family was there all along.

It was just that we could only see the mess.

It didn’t take me long to realize I could not hold on to the the regret that came along with this discovery. I certainly could not afford to stockpile regret, so out it went and in came a new way of living and loving.

How to clear out the surprising clutter

As we clear the clutter, we discover that our hearts expand to give more generously to those we love most, and isn’t that what we all want? I don’t need the old train table the kids played with years ago or the 20 reusable grocery bags that have taken over my side entryway, I do need every bit of my capacity to encourage my children and to love my husband well.

My words of affirmation and kindness must be said, otherwise they are just as useless as the boxes of VHS tapes in the basement. The fun hoard, along with the dust bunnies and dog toys, needs to come out from under the couch, so that our home can be a place of joy.

Clearing the clutter allows our hearts to be tuned into what is most important — the people we do life with. As I continue to declutter my home I am now more excited about what I will gain. An expanded heart ready to jump into joy, fun and love versus what I will lose.

 


You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.

 

 

Sleep Like a Baby: How to Have a Clutter-Free Mind

Sleep Like a Baby: How to Have a Clutter-Free Mind

clutter-free mind

Have you ever had a time when you secretly crowned yourself the Clutter-Free Queen of your house, and then you remembered the storage space under your basement stairs? You know, the storage space that was supposed to be only for Christmas decorations, but now houses every holiday decoration your child ever made from preschool through high school?

I, too, had one of those moments when I recently discovered a forgotten storage space in my life where I kept outdated and unwanted items. My storage space is smaller than the closet under the stairs, but it has enormous storage capacity. You guessed right, it’s in my mind!

Don’t Panic!

If you haven’t de-cluttered your brain yet, you don’t need to throw away your prized tiara. The mind can be conquered just like every other closet and drawer we face. When we successfully delete all the unnecessary information in our minds, we create room for new and peaceful thoughts during the day, and for restful sleep at night.

When we are at rest, particularly at night, our entire being, the mind, body, soul and spirit reaps the benefits. As I discovered while researching my book, Winning the Battle for the Night, unresolved issues in our mind often disturb our sleep at night.

As a Christian, I know from scripture that God gives us sleep. And the night should be a time for rejuvenation, rest and even revelation from God. Our Father did not intend for human beings to lie awake, tossing and turning on their beds all night.

Is a clutter-free mind possible?

Actually, have you ever heard the phrase, “I slept like a baby”? Well, God’s intention for us is to sleep like a healthy baby, in perfect peace. I believe this is the picture God had in mind when He designed our body for sleep. And yet, our mind robs us of the rest we were designed to receive at night.

The astonishing fact is that this small area of our body, weighing just three pounds, holds more than all our books, files, pictures and memorabilia combined. You may have a garage full of filing cabinets you purged. Maybe thousands of files shredded, but the brain can hold so much more information than anything you’ve ever shredded, trashed, or given over for consignment.

The brain holds about 25 million books worth of information. In computer storage terms that would be as much as 1000 terabytes of information. In comparison, the National Archives of Britain holds 900 years of history, which are contained in 70 terabytes.

Don’t worry!

Not everything in our brain has to be deleted before you can have a restful night of sleep. Deleting unnecessary files in your mind is not like the reformatting process for a computer in which all the files are deleted. A lobotomy isn’t necessary. We do have valuable information stored in our mind. Just as on a computer hard drive, there are many good files.

However, as I began an inventory in the filing cabinets stored in my brain, I was both shocked and embarrassed by what I found. I kind of felt the same way when I opened my closet in front of my neighbor and my belongings started tumbling out the door.

With the desire to sleep like a baby as my motivator, I decided it was time to look at my inventory and de-clutter my brain. Some of the contents of my filing cabinets were files that were decades old. I hadn’t looked at them for years, but they were still there, taking up space. Talk about cobwebs!

So here’s my list of seven storage cabinets that I’ve readied for removal.

1. Failures
2. Betrayals
3. Regrets
4. Disappointments
5. Conflicts
6. Accusations
7. Shame

Now What?

This storage space is not as easy to deal with as the closet under the stairs. I can’t put the contents in the dumpster or take them to Goodwill. So I devised a two-step method. It is called Give and Receive. Here’s how it works:

GIVE: Rather than calling a shredding service to shred all the files out of my seven cabinets, I took each file and gave it to God. Some files were harder to part with than others, but my desire for better sleep provided the power to pry the file loose from my grip. The surprising thing about giving the filing cabinets to Him was that He gave me something good to replace each file I gave Him. The shredding company never gave me anything for my files except a bill!

In order to benefit from God’s generosity, I need to anticipate and be willing to participate in an exchange with Him. This is the second step—receive.

RECEIVE: God is the ultimate Giver. He is resourceful, imaginative, and knows exactly what I need to receive. Here is a list of the seven exchanges I received from Him.

1. Courage to try again in place of failures.
2. Comfort for the pain of betrayals.
3. Hope for the future in place of regrets.
4. Joy in the place of disappointments.
5. Love to cover the conflicts.
6. Blessing to replace the accusations.
7. Forgiveness for all my shame.

clutter-free mind

Your brain may not have as many cabinets tucked as mine did. Regardless of how many you have, think about focusing on one cabinet a week. Give God the contents of your cabinets. Once you’ve taken this first step, the next step is easy, just receive what God gives you in exchange for what you released to Him.

You will be amazed at what He has already planned to give you! He has been waiting for this opportunity to fill your mind with good things. As you enjoy the fruit of your hard work—a clutter free mind, you’ll find sleeping like a baby comes more easily.

clutter-free mind


clutter-free mindFaith Blatchford, Author of Winning the Battle For the Night: God’s Plan for Sleep, Dreams and Revelation is also a conference speaker and composer. She has a B.A. in Religion from Vassar College. She is a pastoral counselor, as well as a creativity coach and sleep/dream consultant. Her goal whether in writing, speaking or personal ministry is to help people experience freedom in every area of life through deep connection with God, the giver of hope.

Are You Always in a Hurry? Count the Cost of Yes

Are You Always in a Hurry? Count the Cost of Yes

“I’m overwhelmed. I just need a break!” I said to my counselor. Minutes later, I left her second story office and hurried the length of the deserted hallway. I glanced at my phone while descending the stairs. My phone was dead, but I knew it was close to 4:00. I had just enough time to get to school and pick up my kids before their practices ended at 4:30. As I took the next step, I missed the stair and tumbled forward. When I came to a stop, I heard a loud “pop.” The pain was unbearable.

Tears came fast and furious and I cried out for help.

No one heard me.

I tried to push myself up to stand, but my left foot refused to bear any weight.

I cried for help again, thinking there must be someone nearby.

Again, no one heard me.

I tried my phone a second time in vain. My husband was in New York on business. Picking up the kids wouldn’t wait. I gritted my teeth and pushed myself up from the base of the stairs. I could stand on my right foot, but my left was completely useless. With great pain, I hopped to the car, frequently banging my left foot against the pavement. I managed to get myself into the car and drive across town to the school, sobbing the entire way.

The “break” I needed

I’d love to tell you my injuries were minimal and I healed quickly, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I got the “break” I needed in the form of broken bones and multiple sprains in my foot and ankle, six months of pain, restrictions, physical therapy, and a complete overhaul of my demanding pace of life.

Before my fall, I was at a breaking-point. Maybe you’ve been there too.

I had taken on too many responsibilities – running a nonprofit, serving as team mom, leading a Bible study, making play costumes, and so much more. I spent the previous year moving at record speed. I like to keep busy, but I was over-committed, under-rested, and probably not the most pleasant person to be around.

We don’t have to live that way.

Count the cost of yes

What I learned through my ordeal was that I’m capable of only so much. I’m learning to live within my limits. That means I only commit to a certain number of activities, projects and responsibilities. When my plate is full, I must eliminate an item before adding another. I guard my time and energy or they’ll be swallowed up by my desire to say “yes” to more than I can sanely accomplish.

If I hadn’t been rushed and feeling overwhelmed, I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed that step. I likely wouldn’t have even been in counselor’s office that day. The cost of over-commitment was high.

One of the things I contemplated during my recovery was that Jesus never rushed. He moved at an intentional pace. His time of ministry on earth was very brief, only three years. If anyone had a reason to pick his pace and do more than humanly possible, it was Jesus. But, he didn’t.

I’m learning to follow his example.

Luke 14:28 reminds us to count the cost, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

When we’re tempted to say “yes” and add one more thing to our busy schedules, pause and acknowledge that “yes” will cost us something. At the very least, it means we have to say “no” to other opportunities.

What will saying “yes” cost you? Will it cost your peace? Dilute your focus?

When we commit to pause and count the cost before taking on another thing, we are empowered to manage the opportunities that come our way. We focus on what we’re meant to do, the things most important to us. We walk in freedom, unhurried and confident.

What are you doing to follow Jesus’ example of walking out your life intentionally and unhurried? How have you learned to live within the limits of your time and energy?


cost of yesElizabeth M. Thompson is a writer and speaker. Prayer is her super-power and she loves helping women develop meaningful prayer lives. She and her husband have three children. They live, bike, kayak, and hike along the American River near Sacramento, CA. Stop by her website for a free download of “Jumpstart Your Stalled Prayer Life.”

How to Quickly Find Your Focus, Plus a FREE Download

How to Quickly Find Your Focus, Plus a FREE Download

find your focus

I’ve got to get focused on this project.

I set down my pen.

What usually works isn’t working right now.

I lean back in my chair.

And that’s okay.

I exhale.

This situation is different.

Several major projects are all due at the same time, and every single one is now or never.
I could say “no” to some of them.

Honestly, though, I don’t want to. I don’t want to miss out on any of these exciting opportunities.
I want to move forward with every single one.

But how?

When You Just Can’t Find Your Focus

Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation: You’re trying to make progress, but your brain can’t focus because it’s going in a dozen different directions at the same time.

In my situation, I had pushed myself to do the work—even though I really wanted to do anything but this type of work in the moment.

I went through all the usual techniques that typically help me focus:

  • I took a walk.
  • I turned off all distractions.
  • I set a timer.

But all of my fail-safe strategies failed.

The harder I tried, the muddier my mind became. I couldn’t make myself make progress.

Or even get started.

Which was crazy. These were projects I really wanted to accomplish, and I was grateful for the opportunities.

At the same time, they were demanding tasks for me. Each project involved writing. And not just ordinary writing, but the most challenging kind of writing where every word mattered.

I needed a new strategy.

What Made the Difference

Here’s what worked for me:

  • I used pen-and-paper, which forced me to slow down.
  • I limited my work to what would fit on one page, which narrowed my focus.
  • I quickly skipped over anything that wasn’t the best fit, which gave me momentum.
  • I saved ill-fitting ideas for later projects, which kept me from getting bogged down.

What made the difference?

My mind stayed focused on one task at a time without getting distracted by “Shiny Object Syndrome.”

This may be a challenge for you, too.

Combining strategies you don’t typically put together will help you find your focus.

How to find what helps you focus

Learning to combine old strategies in new ways is a valuable skill.

You already do this in the kitchen when you tweak a recipe — trying a little of this, a little of that, until the flavors blend together just so.

Here’s how to combine strategies to help you quickly find focus:

1)        Make a list of the typical strategies that help you focus.

(For ideas, download your free “5 Simple Ways to Quickly Find Your Focus”  checklist.)

2)        Check any strategies that usually work for you.

3)        Circle any new strategies that intrigue you.

4)        Combine several different strategies into a new “recipe.”

5)        Now, experiment with it.

How will you know that you’ve found the right combination of strategies?

You’ll start to feel unstuck. You’ll get going again.

As you gain momentum, you’ll make great progress.

All because you finally found your focus.

find your focus

Question:  What’s one strategy that helps you find your focus?


find your focusMary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative storyteller, connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”

 

 

 

6 Things Positive People Do Everyday

6 Things Positive People Do Everyday

positive people

When the situations of life don’t “feel” positive, it’s often hard to think positive. But fortunately, it’s not impossible.

Being a positive thinker doesn’t mean living with a Pollyanna/rose-colored glasses mentality. It simply means choosing to intentionally look for the best in things, and find reasons to be positive, rather than intentionally, or even inadvertently, focusing on the negative aspects of people, life and situations.

We can’t control our circumstances, but we can always control our thoughts about them. And when we change the way we think, we in turn change the way feel and live. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (NKJV) Our thoughts determine who we are and how we live our life.

If you have found yourself becoming a negative or pessimistic thinker lately, even if you have lots of reasons to justify that type of attitude, or if you feel like you’ve always been a negative person and think it’s impossible to change, might you consider incorporating a few of these tips into your everyday routines?

6 things positive people do every day

When you invite God to start helping you change the way you think, you’ll notice your perspective and outlook and the way you feel inside will begin changing too. A happier life with more peace, joy and happiness – despite the adversities life – could be as close as one positive thought away.

  1. Express gratitude. Ask God to help you live with an awareness of your blessings. Notice the little things that bring a flutter of joy to your heart – a butterfly, a streak of warm sunshine, the laughter of your child, the hug from a loved one. Try to focus on the things you have, rather than the things don’t have.
  2. Look for beauty. Life can be ugly, and at times we get so caught “seeing” the ugly, we neglect to notice the beauty around us. Take time to really look out the window as you drive today. Notice the blue sky, the green trees, the bunny hopping across the field. Smell the flowers, savor the aroma of dinner on the stove, and feel the softness of your baby’s hair. Beauty is all around us in a million different forms, if only we choose to not overlook it and miss out.
  3. Don’t compare anything to anyone else because doing so not only feeds your insecurities, but because comparison is the thief of joy. You are you, and God made you unique in every way; gifted with abilities, traits and talents that nobody else has. Rather than focusing on how you don’t feel you measure up in some way, most likely against some standard you were never meant to meet, focus on your positive attributes alone.
  4. Don’t overthink problems. The more we overthink a problem – letting our imaginations run wild with worry and fear and stress – the bigger those problems become. Instead of thinking the worst, try to think the best. Instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, try to think of some positives that might come out of it. If you’re prone to overthink be overly positive. A little too much optimism never hurt anyone.
  5. Change the way you typically think by asking God to help you begin recognizing each negative thought that pops into your mind. Reject that thought, and then think of a more positive true thought instead. Simply put, cultivate optimism in your patterns of thinking. Instead of seeing the glass half empty, intentionally tell yourself to see the glass half full. If you tend to think the worst when a problem arises, intentionally decide you are not going to do that, and try to think of the best case potential scenario instead. Making these practices a habit in your everyday life helps foster an amazing transformation in your brain and thought patterns.
  6. Invite God to be a part of your day, your life and your mind makeover transformation. When we ask for His intervention in our hearts and minds, we open the door for Him to begin an work in us that we could never accomplish on our own. Through His strength and perseverance, we overcome the pull towards negative thinking and retrain our minds to think optimistic, instead of pessimistic. After a few weeks of implementing practical thought control and intentional efforts to be positive, new habits will form are good for us and our lives!

If you want to be a more positive person and live a more positive life, consider trying to do each of these tips every single day. Think positive, be positive, live positive.  It’s a lifestyle that’s possible for everyone which always ushers in more peace, more joy, and more happiness!


To intentionally make positive living a reality in your life, and to begin experiencing a total life makeover through the transforming and renewing of your mind, consider purchasing Tracie’s newest book, Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies for Transforming the Way You Think, Feel and Live. You can also purchase a Companion Study Guide & Journal and other valuable, faith fueling resources on Tracie’s blog at www.traciemiles.com.

positive people

Sign up for Tracie’s free 5 Day Optimist Challenge. Visit her blog for more information at www.traciemiles.com.

positive peopleTracie Miles is a national Speaker and Author with the internationally known Proverbs 31 Ministries and has spent the last eleven years inspiring women to live intentionally for Christ  In addition to Unsinkable Faith, she is also the author of two best selling books,  Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future(2014) and Stressed Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World (2012). She is also a contributing author to the popular Zondervan NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, and the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional Book.

Tracie is a monthly contributing writer for the Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today daily devotions, which reach nearly one million people per day around the world with encouragement from God’s Word. Tracie has three children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

Clutter-Free Work: Free to Work in a Clutter-Free Zone

Clutter-Free Work: Free to Work in a Clutter-Free Zone

clutter free work

But all things should be done decently and in order.”  1 Corinthians 14:40

Ever felt frustrated or overwhelmed in your work efforts due to clutter around you?

You tell yourself you will get to it . . . eventually.

You don’t have time to declutter because your workload is pressing in on you.

Frustration turns into condemnation, so now working is made more difficult by the mental energy you must utilize just to do work. Deadlines are missed. Papers cannot be found. And the demands of life around you make it seemingly impossible to focus.

Clutter-Free Work

I get it. As a mom of five in a crazy busy life, sometimes I have felt like managing all the work around me, along with everyone else’s work (because moms are evidently supposed to manage everything), is overwhelming.

Our work environment matters.

Like a hamster, we keep running on our wheel thinking our work will be different, but the cluttered area surrounding us keeps us hampered and confined.

We could do so much more, but we continue to operate in the same manner, hoping we will still get the work done. Sounds kind of like that definition of insanity . . . doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Seems like a hopeless situation. But the very thing we tell ourselves we can’t make the time to do will actually give us the space to be able to work in a more effective manner.

We accomplish more when we have space and organization to work.

There is a misconception behind work clutter that needs to be debunked. It is not necessarily the amount of work that is the problem – it is how we work that does.

I have found that having more responsibilities requires me to be more organized. When every task has its place in space and time in my life, then I am not overwhelmed by tasks that seem to be too much.

Creating a clutter-free work zone is done physically, mentally and spiritually.

Physically

  • What is it that is in our space that we don’t regularly use for work? Is there a space in our home where we can do some of our work that frees us up to think? Perhaps taking a laptop and working on the back porch for some projects will rejuvenate our vision for work and not make you feel trapped in between 4 walls.
  • Maybe shelving units or a closet can also store work items (not thrown in the closet – too many skeletons in there) so we do not feel encumbered or stressed by a lot of “stuff” around us.

Mentally

  • Utilizing tools like Evernote to track “to do’s” that infringe on brain capacity takes the mental energy out of busy work lives.
  • We don’t have to allow our “to do” list to rule us. Make changes as needed.
  • Having a specific time for projects frees us up to do the work at hand, knowing we have time to do the other projects, too.

Spiritually

  • God is a God of order and having structure glorifies Him. When we are not hindered by our environment, we are better able to glorify God in our work and all we do.

Maybe it is the work itself that you dread. This article on The Hope in Work is motivation to keep pressing on in the work God has given us to do. Every task matters when it is offered as service to the King of kings.

Ultimately, we determine where and when we will work. Let the truth behind this power free you to set up your work space in the way that works best for you. Doing so will increase your productivity and help you to create a place in which God can use you mightily. Don’t have time to do it, you say? You don’t have time not to.

Look up from your work and around your work space and take five minutes each day to make your space more enjoyable to work in. What distracts you in your work space? How can you be creative with the space you have allocated?


Denise Pass is an author, speaker and CCM worship leader from Fredericksburg, VA, where she lives with her amazing husband and 5 children. Denise is passionate about writing devotions and music that foster unshakable hope and healing in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. Her ministry umbrella, Seeing Deep in a Shallow World seeks to be a compass grounded in Scripture and a place where real problems meet real, transparent faith and needed answers in Scripture.

You can read more about Denise’s ministry, read and hear her talks, blog and original music over at www.denisepass.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Avoid the Stress of Hosting a Shindig: Yes, It’s Possible!

Avoid the Stress of Hosting a Shindig: Yes, It’s Possible!

I shoo the dog from the cramped kitchen, greet new arrivals, and point to the bottle opener’s location — “The next drawer over. No, other side. There, in the front” — sticky sauce splatters the stovetop. Breathe.

“What can I do to help?” she asks.

I feign casual confidence: “I’ve got it under control” — and change the subject to her family’s most recent adventure.

The truth is, I don’t know what needs to be done. Or how to articulate it. So I might as well do it myself.

Avoid the stress of hosting?

Does this happen to you? Last-minute details keep you from enjoying time with your guests. And when someone offers to help, you’re so busy doing that you can’t think if there’s anything someone else could do.

Summer’s around the corner and, with it, the opportunity to host year-end celebrations, picnics, and potlucks. But can you host a meal, and truly enjoy your friends, without all the stress?

Is There a Better Way?

It began unintentionally.

My head throbs. But I’m unwilling to cancel tonight’s social event.

I can always excuse myself early; there’s no reason others can’t have fun!

Knowing my middle-aged brain is more compromised than usual, I list all the menu items and tasks to perform on our kitchen whiteboard.

I work my way down the list, erasing items as I complete them. When guests arrive, I hear the familiar question: “What can I do to help?”

“I’ve got it under control …”

I stop, look at the whiteboard, and say, “Could you finish the deviled eggs?”

Ahhh … My headache begins to fade.

Other guests offer to help. I ask one to cut strawberries. Another wipes down the picnic table.

Peals of laughter and conversation fill the air as we prepare the meal together.

Reduce the Stress in Your Celebrations

We’ve since perfected this dinnertime ritual:

  • Line the countertop with the necessary serving dishes
  • On a sticky note in each dish, provide simple instructions (e.g., fruit salad — strawberries, blueberries, banana, grapes).
  • Hang a list of non-food instructions on the fridge (e.g., bring chairs from the garage)

Now you can enjoy your guests from the moment they arrive rather than ushering them into the living room with drinks.

Or tripping over them as you attempt to balance food prep and conversation.

You’ll create a welcoming atmosphere and your guests will feel at home — nothing says “you’re family” like being asked to set the table!

You may even avoid scrubbing sticky sauce from your stovetop.

Need more ideas for focusing on fun and fellowship instead of stressing out about shindigs? Stop by my blog to grab your free copy of Helpful Hospitality Hints: How to Host a Meal Without Losing Your Mind.


Kendra Burrows delights in encouraging others to see God’s grace in the everyday — when she isn’t chasing the animals (and boys!) out of her kitchen. She’s still learning hospitality requires we share it all, not do it all. Connect with her at www.kendraburrows.com.

 

Maximize Your Quiet Times By Minimizing

Maximize Your Quiet Times By Minimizing

maximize your quiet time

Do you ever look at your 1,000-page Bible and think, “Where do I even start?”

We know we’re supposed to study God’s Word, but it’s easy to get bogged down with all the different Bible study methods.  Should you do a verse-by-verse study, a character study or study inductively? You could read an Old Testament passage, New Testament passage and a Psalm a day, or there’s always the option to read a chapter of Proverbs everyday.

So many choices leave a girl feeling exhausted before you even crack open the book.

How to maximize your quiet time

I’ve discovered a simple way to de-clutter quiet time: read a chapter a day and pray.

When you maximize your quiet time by minimizing, here’s what happens:

  • your focus improves since you’re digesting smaller chunks of scripture
  • you retain what you read
  • you slow your tempo enough to enjoy God’s word

I was a bit skeptical of the read-a-chapter-a-day-and-pray idea. Do less, learn more? That’s just crazy talk!

But friends, this is exactly what is happening. I added a commentary reading to my quiet time, and would encourage you to do the same, because it’s helped open my eyes to the depth of God’s word.

Listen, if you watch reality TV, flip to the Old Testament instead. I’m reading the book of 1 Samuel and there is intrigue, scandal, suspense, love stories and even a heroine in one account (check out 1 Samuel 25). The reading is so good I’ve had to force myself to stop reading in order to stick to focusing on one chapter a day!

How simplicity leads to depth

When we simplify like this, it clears away the clutter of too many options … and the guilt of avoiding quiet time.  We can commit to spending time with God daily because we have a doable plan. Simplicity actually leads to depth.

So, here’s what I want you to do:

– Pick one book of the Bible you’d like to read and commit to making it through that one book by reading one chapter a day.
– After you read, spend time talking to God in prayer and listening.
– As you read, consider these questions:

  • What do I learn about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit through this chapter?
  • What is the major theme or takeaway from this chapter?
  • How does this chapter contribute to the overall teaching of this book of the Bible?
  • What is God trying to teach me through this chapter?

You can do this!

Maximize by minimizing, and you’ll consistently spend time with God.


Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos, a boy and a girl, and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies.  You can connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.

The One Thing You Need to Clarify Your Current Calling + Free Download

The One Thing You Need to Clarify Your Current Calling + Free Download

current calling

“I keep asking God, ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it’!” My friend Lynn* has devoted years to following God’s call on her life.

But now, she’s at a crossroads.

“I’ve been crying out to God for direction,” she tells me, “and I have assurance that He is with me. But I’m not hearing any clear next step from Him for this new season. I feel stuck.”

Lynn knows, in her head, that there’s no perfect step-by-step plan.

“I just wish I knew for sure what to do next,” she sighs.

As we continue our conversation, I realize she’s afraid. She’s afraid of taking risks, afraid of messing up at such a pivotal time.

She wishes she could get absolute clarity and direction before taking her next step.

But so often we don’t find clarity and direction before taking action — we gain clarity and direction by taking action. 

The One Thing You Need to Clarify Your Current Calling

Do you sometimes wish that your current calling came with exact details of what to do? Maybe a step-by-step plan so you know for sure you are following God’s “perfect” plan for you life?           

Maybe, like my friend Lynn, you’re trying to navigate a life transition, all by yourself.

The problem with this approach? We quickly become isolated without even recognizing it. We get stuck in our own heads — ideas, options, and worries swirling wildly around — until fear takes over and paralysis sets it.

For my friend Lynn, her next step was to connect with a group of her Like-Minded Peeps.

And if you want clarity about your current calling, you need to find your Like-Minded Peeps, too … people who achieve what you desire to accomplish. 

The Power of Finding Your Peeps

 The rewards of connecting with your Like-Minded Peeps are numerous.

  • You’ll replace confusion with clarity.
  • You’ll exchange that stuck feeling for renewed energy, inspiration, and creativity.
  • You’ll move beyond over-analysis as you watch others take imperfect action that leads to success.
  • You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of new ideas.

But the benefits of finding your Like-Minded Peeps goes beyond you.

Collaborating with your Like-Minded Peeps won’t just add a little to your life; the benefits of mutual contribution and encouragement will multiply in everyone’s lives.

Best of all, you’ll be reminded of what is so easy to forget during times of change.

One Small Win: Your calling matters. You make a significant difference. Yes, you really do.

It’s time to find your Like-Minded Peeps.

Wondering how?
Click here now to download your Free Cheat Sheet “3 Ways to Find Your Like-Minded Peeps.”

(*Not her real name)

current calling


Mary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative storyteller,to connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”

 

How to Create a Family Night Your Kids Won’t Want to Miss

How to Create a Family Night Your Kids Won’t Want to Miss

family night

What happens on family night … stays on family night. At least that’s what we said the night I dramatically pantomimed changing my adult daughter’s diaper. It was the final round of Cranium. If my husband guessed correctly, our team would take the win. If not, it was sure to go to the other team.

In the last few seconds, he shouted, “Changing a diaper!”

I raised my hands in victory. “Yes!”

The other team groaned as my husband moved our player piece into the winner zone. My daughter got up off the floor, red-faced and raspy from screeching/laughing.

Now, whenever we decide to play a game on family night, her older siblings (and brother-in-law) always tease her with, “Let’s play Cranium.”

And she always spits back “No!,” much to their delight.

Creating a fun family night

Family night has been a thing in our family since the kids were little. Now that they’re all out on their own, they still love it. So do my husband and I. I credit family night for one of the main reasons we’re a close family.

It hasn’t always been easy. But I’ve learned some things (sometimes the hard way) to make weekly family nights an event they won’t want to miss.

1) Yummy food. If your kids still live at home, this is a night to put something special on the menu. When mine were little, they’d beg for pizza — an obvious way to make the meal fun for them.

There are other nights for “eat your vegetables” and “try it — you’ll like it.” Family nights are a great reason to put out those “Yay! Best mom ever!” foods.

Now that mine are young adults on a meager food budget, anything that isn’t Ramen noodles or Kraft macaroni and cheese puts a smile on their faces. I usually make this my night to put more effort into cooking dinner. It’s also our one dessert night of the week.

Whatever their age, choose a menu (or restaurant) that will be sure to lure them to the table.

2) Fun activity. Don’t let the night end with everyone slipping away after dinner and melding with their devices. Planning an activity keeps the conversation going, often getting into the deeper issues of life. We’re fond of board games, so it doesn’t take much to entice them to play a round or two. Sometimes we’ll hike at a local landmark or head to the nearby city park if the weather’s nice.

Some weeks, like Easter week, we’re simply exhausted. Those are great times to head to the theater or rent a movie to watch at home. This weekend, my heart melted when my youngest curled up next to her dad on the couch like she did as a little girl.

3) Safe conversation. Speaking from some of the most painful parenting lessons I’ve ever learned, I highly recommend saving the difficult conversations for later. Most issues can and should be dealt with individually, but if it’s truly a family matter, we schedule a family meeting.

We work hard at cultivating positive interaction, with more encouragement than correction. For me, the work is especially hard, since I didn’t grow up in a positive environment; too many times I’ve repeated the mistake of being too harsh with my children. Often, it takes intentional work on the parents’ part to create a supportive and affirming family environment.

I’ve watched the work pay off not just on family nights, but throughout the week as well. Recently, one of our adult kids sent us all a group text before a big job interview and instantly got 100% response with many variations of, “You go, girl!”

One Small Win: Whether your kids are just barely old enough to sit at the table, or if they have dining room tables of their own, family nights are a great way to create great memories and foster closeness.

family night

And if you ever find yourself playing Cranium and draw the “pantomime changing a diaper” card?

Do it with gusto.

Your family will be talking (and laughing) about it for months to come.


Lyneta Smith is an inspirational writer and speaker who lives with her husband near Nashville, TN.  Some of her favorite things to write in her planner: date nights and family time with her adult children. She’s owned by a frisky Boston terrier and a tortoiseshell cat. Connect with her at www.lynetasmith.com.