4 Tips on Making Your Life Quieter (Even if You Have Kids)

4 Tips on Making Your Life Quieter (Even if You Have Kids)

In this particular post, we are going to look at four tips on how to create yourself a quieter environment, and become a steward of media instead of a servant.

Isn’t it an interesting thought that quiet and order DO NOT just happen. (Unless you are a hermit who lives in a box who doesn’t eat or sleep.) If you are around people, there is noise. If you sleep in a bed, you mess up the bed.

Actually, even if it’s just you and your phone you are still being inundated with noise – noise from advertisements, social media, news, picture noise from Instagram or Snapchat.
It seems in the beginning there was just chaos, it was “formless”, so no structure was put into place. Without God’s word and and intention, there was no creation or order.
In Genesis 1 it begins with:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The Nature of Mess

In the nature of things, if you don’t act and use your “word” as God did at the beginning, life begins to unravel.
Messes pile up, communications are unresolved.
Without your action and initiative, nothing gets done. The same rule applies to your inner life. If you don’t take the time to resolve internal conflicts, sleep enough, or spend time thinking about your life, or simply being quiet, those things will just not happen. Those conflicts don’t get solved, the choices you make will not be thought through, rather they will be “acted upon”. And eventually you will burnout because your body will not physically be able to carry on that way.

For example, in my own life, if I did not purposefully stop and read my Bible in the evening, it would not float to me and lay itself on my lap and beckon me to read it. I have to take the step and do it myself.

 

Four Tips on Bringing More Quiet into Your Life

All that being said, one SUPER simple way to create order out of your chaotic life is to create more quiet space.  I want to encourage you to use your “word” as God used his, create yourself a quieter environment, and become a steward of media rather than a consumer. 

s

Tip #1 Turn off your phone

And you said, “Shut it off!” and there was silence.
One giant hindrance to having “quiet” is the fact that most of us are accessible at a moment’s notice. Our culture right now values immediate gratification. That means, we expect an immediate response to messages and emails. And since we all have our handy best friend around (aka. our phone) , we are all accessible at any given moment.
I hope you can see the problem here. Those messages won’t stop automatically, nor will Facebook or Twitter stop their notifications.

It’s not just instant access that draws our attention, but the constant need to be entertained. Be it Netflix, or Youtube… our attention is being begged for at every corner.
s

Tip #2 Have a Media Free Night

Why not instead of lounging around and flipping through your Facebook and Insta feeds, or watching TV you turn it all off for the night?

Do you find yourself craving to check for any new updates and notifications? Chances are you need to tell your body and brain that it’s okay to just BE. 


Make yourself purposefully unavailable. The world will not end and you will have a greater peace.

s

Tip # 3 Save your Sanity - Three Dangers of Social Media, Phone, and Entertainment.

1. Our entertainment addiction affects all aspects of our society

It’s not breaking news that there are some serious adverse effects to your constant phone, social media use. In fact, already in the 80s there was a great book published called, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” which basically was a prophetic look at how entertainment would shape our politics, journalism, education and even religion.
Scarily enough, a lot of what Neil Postman wrote 30 years ago is  valid and happening today.

2. Too distracted to care

Brave New World is a startling dystopian novel where the population is too amused by distractions to realize that they had been made powerless. The truth is, that’s our reality. When times are tough, or if there is an overwhelming problem with no easy solution  there is a tendency for us to seek an escape. Escape often being in the form of entertainment and flicking through social media.

3. A filtered life

Another problem I see is the increasing false perception of the “perfect” life everyone leads on social media. Even if our images don’t have a filter on them, they are only a snippet of who we really are, or what we are really doing. This leads (more often than not) to feeling like you’re the worst!

Have you ever looked at those around you, and felt like you weren’t good enough because your pictures aren’t that pretty? Or you haven’t been to all those amazing places? Or your home doesn’t look like that.

Social media alters your perception of reality. And that’s a dangerous thing for our fragile selves.

s

Tip # 4 Embrace Boredom

I love this Ted Talk from Manoush Zamorodi where she does an experiment with her Podcast listeners called “Bored and Brilliant”. They spent a week tracking how often they’d pick up their phone, and they were challenged to leave the phone alone. She argues that our boredom actually enables us to be our most productive and creative selves. 

 

When was the last time you were bored?
Are you ok just sitting and spacing out? Or do you instantly grope around for your phone?

This reminds me of a couple years ago, when my sister and I decided to together fast our phones once a week. The first time we ever did it was ROUGH! I kept feeling little twitches like I should be looking something up, or checking the weather, or checking the news. I would walk past where I put my phone and glance at it, thinking I should look at the time or something, but it was off, and it made me a little sad. I felt really strange. My sister had a similar experience.

Read about how our family turns off all of our stuff once a week: Electronic Free Saturdays

Media Stewardship

The idea of media stewardship is now so much more important than ever before. We have children growing up in age of instant gratification, instant entertainment, and social media distortion.  One comment from Manoush in the above Ted Talk was that in her Brilliant and Bored group she had young people commenting on being without their phone and feeling emotions they had never felt before. 

How can this generation and future ones learn to feel and deal with emotions when there is no opportunity to? 

I think Postman is correct in his insistence that we regain control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

This is our ancient calling, straight from the Garden we were given the job to steward the resources we have.

Let’s start considering media a resource, and steward it to the glory of God.

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

Game Changers for Your God Given Destiny | 3 Things You Control

Game Changers for Your God Given Destiny | 3 Things You Control

In the last post, we talked about two parables: the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Virgins. Where we saw that Jesus used these stories to wake us up to be ready and prepared for when he returns. We saw that He has entrusted us with resources, time and talents and he has high expectations in how we use them. Today we are going talk about one thing you are probably ignoring.

But first, a riddle:

What is the longest, and yet the shortest thing in the world; the swiftest and the most slow; the most divisible and the most extended; the least valued, and the most regretted; without which nothing can be done, and with which many do nothing; which devours everything, however small, and yet gives life and spirit to all things however great? Voltaire

and the most regretted; without which nothing can be done,
and with which many do nothing; which devours everything,
however small, and yet gives life and spirit to all things however great?

Have you guessed the answer yet?

 

 

 

Time!

This is a tricky one, but have you ever thought about time as a resource? It is in fact, a finite resource. Meaning you cannot make more time, nor develop time, but you can only use exactly what’s given to you.
And I know there are a million things vying for your time at this moment. You probably have a lot of great excuses why you DON’T have the time to ________ (fill in with your choice of: invite people over, start a new project, or visit someone who you know is lonely,or write a letter to so and so, journal everyday etc. )
So what do you do? Just sit there and feel bad and blame all the things stealing your time?

No, this is where management comes into play. God has given you, like he gave those women, all the resources you need to please, serve him, and live out your destiny (check out this awesome sermon from Mike Bickle on Power of a Focused Life).

We ALL have 24 hours in a day, the challenge is to find the little foxes that eat up, waste your time, and savagely get rid of them.

Why I Ditched Netflix

For instance two years ago my giant time waster was binge watching Netflix every night. My excuse was that I was “too exhausted” every day to be able to do anything else, which seems totally valid when you have four kids six and under. BUT there was a problem, one day I would stand before Jesus. I just couldn’t imagine myself standing in front of Jesus on the day of his coming, or the day of my death and talking to him about all the time he gave me that a spent binge watching Netflix.


This image was SO revolting, that I had to change something. So I bit the bullet and ditched Netflix.

Take a moment to think about what the little foxes in your life could be, and how you can savagely get rid of them.

You Are Here On Purpose

In a moment we are going to look at three things that you can do for your destiny, but first let’s look at John. 15:6 –

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

You were placed here on this Earth for a reason, and provided with personal resources, gifts and abilities that you need in order to walk in the destiny God has planned for you.

Today we are looking at the resource of time, because we are ALL given this same exact resource, and God expects us ALL to manage this precious resource with an eternal perspective in mind.

I think this is a great quote:

Passion for your destiny translates to an aggressive approach to managing your time… there is no reality [of your destiny] until your time commitments and management have the same kind of energy in your life that your passion for your destiny has. Because passion for your destiny and managing your time is the very same subject.

 – Mike Bickle

What this means is that whatever God is calling you to do, or serve, or to be doesn’t just magically appear.

You don’t flow by the Spirit into your destiny. But it requires your control in at least these three areas:

Three Ways to Influence Your Destiny

s

Clarity and Motivation

Actually writing down the changes you’d like to see in your life, or the character you’d like to develop is a great starting point to be clear in what you want.

In my example, I imagined my standing before Jesus and was disturbed at the thought of  and that was my intrinsic (or inner) motivation to change how my time was spent. Every choice that comes before me I try to is in light of this eternal perspective, this scene we will all take part in.  From this motivation, I can look at all of the choices in my life and make a decision based on this one moment with Jesus.

s

Action

You actually have to start. God is most likely not going to take away all of your time wasting temptations. You have to get rid of them. Maybe this means cutting your cable, or shutting of the internet.
s

Discipline

Using my example of ditching Netflix took discipline. I had to address what I wanted to do with my time instead of Netflix, and even if I felt like vegging out in front of the TV, I had to be steadfast in my choices to not do it. That really required discipline as my brain was hard wired to “relax” in front of entertainment.

A Truth and A SECRET

There is a temptation to look around and compare yourself to all these amazing people who are doing great things.
The truth is though: No one can be you.

God has given you exactly what you need to be faithful to him. Don’t look around at everyone else and get depressed because they are doing great things and you barely have the capacity to invite someone over for a coffee.

Here is the secret:

If you are faithful in the little things, that is GOOD! That’s what he sees. Yes, Jesus has high expectations of you, but they are only based on what your ability is. Sometimes he stretches us because he knows we are able to do more, but he provides you with ALL the is necessary. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Good news for the overwhelmed mom here! Even giving a cup of cold water to the kid down the street on a hot day is seeking the kingdom. He continues in Matthew 10:42,

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

 

The Richest Place on Earth

I’m going to end with one more quote, that a friend shared with me many years ago:

“The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”

-Myles Munroe

Take some time to think about what God has given you, and if there is anything you are wasting or hiding?

What are the little moments you can be faithful in this week?

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

3 Ways to Bring Your God-Given Gifts and Abilites to the Next Level

3 Ways to Bring Your God-Given Gifts and Abilites to the Next Level

Below you’re going to find some inspiration about three God-given gifts and abilities you could be hiding today. But first… a story!

A land owner, a kind and rich business man, comes to three of his employees with a proposal
“I will be going away for a few weeks, but when I return we will be having a large celebration. I need you all to help me prepare it.”

He knew the first woman was especially good with preparing food in a variety of ways and knew she could make an unforgettable feast. He brought her to a large kitchen, and provided her with all the ingredients she would need. She marveled at it all, jand got straight to work.

The second woman was particulary good with any art and painting. So he commissioned three pieces of art in honour of the celebration. He gave her canvases, paint and brushes and showed her a beautiful atelier where she could paint to her heart’s content.

Since the owner loved music, he requested the third woman compose a song in honour of the feast. He took her to a beautiful piano in his personal music room, and told her to write something he would love. “This piano belongs to you now, use it well!” he said to her.

Over those few weeks the first woman planned and prepared. She found more unique ingredients from the area and created new recipes. Then she thought of two other talented people who would be suitable in helping her in create this feast fit for a king and trained them.

The second woman created not three pieces of artwork, but five! Each piece represented a season in one of the the owners’ local farms and a fifth piece portraying a scene of the owner and his employees in their daily life together.

The third woman was totally terrified with the thought of playing a song in front of the owner.
“What if he hated it?” “What if people laughed at her?” She thought. “Oh, he doesn’t really care anyway.”
She barely touched the piano she was so afraid. She decided she’d clean it for him instead, and then watched a movie to forget about her discomfort. “Maybe, he’ll appreciate that it’s clean and untouched?” she wondered.

He returned the day of the feast to see how the women were faring. After looking around at everything prepared by the first woman his eyes sparkled. “You have created a fantastic feast, and have invested into the future of my business by training more people! From now on, this entire kitchen belongs to you. You shall be promoted to my vice-president and help me run my entire business.

The second woman revealed the five paintings one by one. The owner marvelled at each of her unique representations of the seasons of one of his local farms. After the unveiling of the fifth, he was overjoyed, “I did not expect this!” he exclaimed, “you’ve captured our lives together with such mastery.” You have done well, from now on the atelier belongs to you, and I will provide whatever tools that you require to keep painting such beautiful pieces. You and these five pieces will travel the world with me on an art tour that depicts our area and work. It will be the experience of a lifetime.

Timidly, the third woman came to him. Full of expectation, he walked with her into his music room. “Sir,” she said, “I know that you have high expectations, so I was afraid and I have nothing to show you but that your piano is still here and clean.”
Shaking his head in great displeasure, he was sad when he spoke to the woman.
“I gave you this task because I knew that you could do it. You have every talent and resource needed. All you had to do to please me was to use those things I gave to you. From now on this piano, which was yours, will be given to the first woman for I know she will make good use of it.”
He ended with this, “Look, if I give someone resources and talents, I want them to use it and manage those things well. If they waste it or hide it in fear, I will take them away and give more to those who are already using what I’ve given.”

If you haven’t guessed it already, this is my rendition of Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents. I’ve always found this to be both an intriguing and convicting parable. Here God is portrayed as a sort of wealthy business man, with high expectations of his employees.

In a few moments we are going to look at three things you may not be using, but before that I have a couple of questions for you:

How do you feel when you hear this story? Which woman do you most identify with?

I think Jesus used this story to wake people up.


In fact, right before Jesus tells this parable, he catches our attention with the Parable of the Ten Virgins. There are five foolish virgins who didn’t have enough oil for their lamps and five wise virgins who were all ready to go. When the bridegroom arrives in the middle of the night, the five foolish virgins are out shopping and the ones who are good to go are waiting in anticipation and get to go the wedding party. Jesus uses this story to remind us to stay awake, be ready, and prepare for his return. It’s interesting how Jesus uses stories as reminders that we should be prepared for his arrival, they evoke so much emotion and self reflection in such a gentle but powerful way.
I think he uses oil as an illustration of us being ready with everything we have: our talents, money, resources, and giftings etc so that we can be a light and glorify the king.

Before we get to those three things you may not be using, let’s look at a couple of scriptures.

Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 4:19 confirm that we are created with a plan and a purpose with ALL the resources and talent that are required to do the good works he’s prepared for us.

Ephesians says:
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

and in Philippians it says:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

3 Gifts and Abilities You May Not be Using Today

1. Could it be your money? You’re careful at saving, and spending it wisely, but has God given you this gift so that you walk in the calling of being irrationally generous?

2. Perhaps you have a talent you’re hiding? You’re too embarrassed to create a painting that is sub-par in your opinion, so you don’t do anything. But the King is waiting for you to stop hiding it under a bucket and exemplify his glory using your hands. Start  small and simple. Meditate on your favourite verse, put your brush to the canvas and paint together with the master artist.

3. Maybe it’s writing, your head is filled with poetry and stories but you have managed to get anything out of your head onto paper. In that case, it may be helpful to start the habit of writing something every day (no matter how simple and small) to get you started on developing those words of yours. God created using WORDS, check out the jewelry my friend makes with words. What a precious gift to be able to use them co-create with the ultimate wordsmith.

 

I hope those three things get your creative juices flowing, and help you think about what God-given gifts and abilities you already have!

Next week I’m going to share with you a huge fourth thing that most people ignore.

But right now I have a hard question for you.

What are you wasting?
What has God given to you that you’re hiding under a bucket?

A Change of Perspective about your God-given Gifts and Abilities

But before I finish, I have a story to tell you along with this verse in Matthew 5: 14- 16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Every good thing God has given you is for a reason and a purpose.

He gives gifts for you to give.

This reminds me of an illustration used by some friends of mine as they were teaching about the Holy Spirit, and I think it works well here too.

There is as man who gives a woman a gift to pass on to her neighbor. She is so excited about receiving the gift that she doesn’t actually pass it on. Rather, she stands there looking at it, admiring it, turning it around in her hands, but doesn’t pass it on. She is just totally enamored with having the gift. The man reminds her that the gift is actually for her neighbor, it’s not actually hers. The woman continues to gaze at the gift, and finally it’s taking so long for her to pass it on that it’s getting a bit ridiculous.
Finally, after a bit more pressure from the original giver of the gift, she finally gives it to her neighbor who receives it with joy.

I like this illustration because all too often we think we OWN our time, talents, resources or even spiritual gifts that we actually hoard them. Though the WHOLE reason God has given those things to us is to pass them on to others.

To recap today we talked about two parables, the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Virgins. We see that Jesus wants us to be ready and prepared for when he returns. He has entrusted us with resources, time and talents and he has high expectations in how we use them. Next time we will talk about one other thing you are probably ignoring.

So let’s end with this question: is there a gift God has given you that you can you pass on today?

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

Letting go of Stuff

Letting go of Stuff

It’s Just Stuff


A few years ago I encountered a woman who caused a turning point for me and my regard for things. She and her husband ran a guest house that was often filled with youth sports group retreats. I used their industrial kitchen and baked my friend a cake for her birthday. Unfortunately, the cake got rather stuck to her pan. Since I wasn’t able to get it out of the pan without destroying it, I had to cut the cake right in it, thus causing irreparable damage.

Apologetically, I went to her and begged forgiveness. And she astounded me with her response.

“It’s just stuff.” she said and shrugged it off.

She wasn’t just being polite when she said that either. I know this because she’s German. Germans aren’t overly polite… ever.
She kept going and said, “I can’t take it with me when I leave this world, and I can always get more things.
Done.

I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around that thought. Of course I knew that her words were her paraphrased version of what’s in the Bible. But I still held on tight to my feeling that when it’s wrecked, it’s the end of the world.

Her three simple words started me on a different trajectory though. This has helped me rethink my attitude when (especially) my children break my things. It’s just stuff. 

It can be replaced, and I can’t take it with me when I die anyway.

Who or What Do you Love More?

Last week we packed up our whole home and moved into a storage unit. We will be living out of suitcases for the next seven months until we move country. I’ve spent the last three months going through all of our things and trying to decide if I should sell it, keep it, trash it, or give it away.

But only six months ago I was struggling with the idea of  even moving to a different country and giving up my beloved Amazon Prime, and the fantastic German postal system. I have four little kids at home, so I take no pleasure going out to the store and buying things. I’d rather use my phone and computer and have it delivered to me.

These thoughts literally stopped me from thinking about working and living in a country that’s not as developed as the one I live in now.

I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was telling God that I didn’t think his call elsewhere was really worth me giving up Amazon Prime, or my new washing machine, or my lovely antique desk, or all my childrens’ toys that I spent so much money on.

It was shocking to find that in my heart. My husband and I have been in missions and Christian ministry for most of our marriage… so it’s tempting to think that we’re pretty holy. But God knows better though. We are not holy without him. 

I’m so thankful for God’s patience with me. Over the last half a year he’s been redirecting my heart to him, and away from the things I started to treasure too much.

The danger sometimes is that those treasures require our attention and responsibility. Sometimes so much so that we don’t have enough attention for our wonderful Father.

The many benefits of getting rid of possessions

 
Last year, I got rid of about 3/4 of my wardrobe.

Day after day I was standing in front of my closet wondering what to wear. After four kids, my body had changed multiple times and some things just didn’t fit the way I liked anymore. Others had colours that I liked, but rarely matched with the rest of my clothes. After feeling constantly depleted in my mind, I figured clearing out my closet was one way to help me make better decisions. We can only take so many properly thought through decision per day. I decided I didn’t want to waste that capacity on standing in front of my closet.

It was such a freeing experience to let go of stuff. It was like bits of bondage being cut away from me.

I bought a few more pieces of clothes over the year that matched. This helped me create a more cohesive wardrobe that I felt really good about.

 

Now, one year later, I love what I pick out and wear every day. Even though I have MUCH LESS selection.

Less selection = Less decisions.

 

You can read more about how you can make better decisions by getting rid of stuff here.

 

Other benefits of letting go of stuff include:

 

  • More space in your home
  • Spend less money on things you’re going to throw away anyway.
  • Less problems when things break (because you don’t have so many things)
  • You are less attached to things, and consequently more flexible
    • I know people who would love to travel, or could even imagine serving as missionaries but they are stuck with multiple car payments and a mortgage. 

Jesus our Declutter Guide

Jesus constantly challenges our hearts in passages like Matthew 6:20-21:

 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

How easy is it for our stuff to become treasures and take hold of our hearts? Jesus knew that our belongings had the tendency to become an idol. He knew that when we declutter our stuff we also declutter our hearts.

I think he also knew that we only had a limited capacity for decision making. Belongings require responsibility and more decision making. It’s easier to have less stuff when we are already inundated by myriads of daily decisions. He knew that to really capture our hearts and attention, then we couldn’t be bogged down with baggage (literal and physical). I love that he’s not only the healer of our wounds, but he gave us some pretty great guidelines for living life to the fullest.

Making More Space

Decluttering your wardrobe won’t necessarily change your life. But it can be an intentional step and proclamation that you want to make more space for God.

To get you started, I made a simple little checklist below. Sign up and it will be sent right to your inbox.

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn’t mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?

 

Our single income family has experienced years of living paycheck to paycheck, and large chunks of time without even that (lots of God miracles in those years!). After paying all the bills, we operated on a “spend as needed” basis.

 

The problem with this is: You can always spend money.
A “spend as needed” basis just invites need.
Sure you don’t have a donut maker, the money may be there, but do you really need it?

 

Needs end where the money ends.

 

If you have no plan, you’ll have no money.

 

When it came time to buy the kids new clothes, or when my husband and I just wanted to go out and have a coffee date together, it was always seasoned with guilt. I constantly felt the nagging lack of money.

 

In part, this feeling came from my childhood  where money was sparse. But there was another problem which we’ll look at next.

 

Who Does it Belong to?

 

At some point, I just got sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and was wondering if God had another way. I felt convicted that we were not stewarding his gifts wisely, but squandering them instead. After all, the money didn’t really belong to us, but God!

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Ps. 24

 

So we see the heart of it here, the problem is realizing our responsibility and lack of vision and overview.

This is incredibly important if we desire to take care of something we have received (which in this case, is money). This is one principle of biblical stewardship. The money doesn’t belong to us, it’s God’s, and we’re to use it in a way that honours him. And finances are important to Jesus!

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11

The money in our bank accounts is not the true riches, but what we do with it has eternal importance!

No Purpose = No Money

One major culprit of spending guilt: The absence conscious spending and saving.   Without a plan, our family just spent the money as it came.

After feeling convinced that we needed to change our financial habits I browsed Pinterest and looked for different money solutions. I came across a cash based system using envelopes. I believe that this method was made popular by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I watched a few of his teachings via Right Now Media. I would really suggest  anyone interested in a biblical perspective of finances to check this out.

This got me started on writing out every single thing we bought and setting up my envelope system.

Three Ways to Begin Controlling Your Money

Get an Overview

Write every single thing down that you spend for three months. To the penny. Though this takes effort and persistence, you will get an overview of just where your money is going. Eventually, by looking through this list you will get a good idea of where your money is going. Where can you cut back? Where should you save more?

Cast a Vision

Then, you can think about the things that are missing. Are there goals you’d like to reach? Perhaps things that you want, or want? Check out the free budgeting resources here.

Fill up Envelopes

The benefits to having all your budgeting categories separated into envelopes, is that it’s incredibly satisfying to fill them up with cash. And when it’s empty… it’s empty. There is something much more impacting when you’re faced with an empty envelope, compared to an empty online bank account. Oh, that novel feeling of physical money. We put more thought into whether we should actually hand over that 20, than when we flippantly swipe a card.

Planning for the Unexpected

Before our financial shift, when the unexpected happened, we scrambled!

Here’s a little secret though: the unexpected always happens!

This was a critical change in our spending habits. Once I realized that you can plan for the unexpected I started setting aside money for new appliances, car repairs, and house repairs.

I have to tell you, this has made life SO MUCH EASIER! We always have at least a bit of money set aside for those emergencies, so they are no longer emergencies.

Spending without Guilt

Before my envelope system, I struggled every time I spent money on something that wasn’t absolutely “necessary”. After reviewing my budget, I saw that I wanted to be able to buy clothes for my kids and myself.  We wanted to go away on vacations as a family. We didn’t eat out that often, but when we do I want it to be a nice experience. Therefore, I budgeted for that.

I budget for all of those things.
That means, I have a monthly budget for clothes, entertainment, and savings for vacation. When I need to buy some clothes, I do it, the money is there, it’s for clothes.

NO MORE GUILT!

 

Because I have an eye on our spending, and saving, I feel a lot more freedom.
Freedom to be generous, freedom to plan for our future, and freedom to purchase what is needed and what we would like.

Ultimately, my desire is that God looks at that all and says, Yes! Well done, good and faithful servant!

How do you feel about your spending? Do you have other methods that have worked for you? Comment below and tell us about them!

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.

 

I’m really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She’s a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker (Austrian to be precise), and seeks to live an intentional, simple life that glorifies God.

 

Today, she will give us some insight into how cultural differences impacted her life and  how she is intentional in the choices she makes with her time, food and talents.

 

The Spotlight on: Amanda from Maple Alps

1. What are you reading right now? How did it get into your hands?

 

I have always loved reading and it seems that I always have something new to pick up to read. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books because I have a long commute during the school year, and listening (I still make time for the physical ones, of course) to books is the only way my busy life can accommodate more of them! I am currently listening to Radical by David Platt. I actually read it a while back, but my husband, not knowing we had the book, grabbed it on audible, so it’s been fun to “read” it again.

 

The most recent completed book was called The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC. It really inspired me on my plant-based journey. Of course, I daily read my Bible, which is a book of books and the ultimate love letter that I highly recommend!

 

2. You’ve traveled quite a bit! Could you share with us one cultural difference you’ve experienced that has impacted you for the better?

 

I do love traveling and I’m still working on my bucket list! I think growing up in a home where two different cultures were dominant helped prepare me to be open-minded about all of the different ways of life I’ve encountered. I’ve met people on my travels who didn’t seem to have a desire to embrace other cultures and instead resisted or complained. I always felt that they had somehow been robbed of a truly amazing experience because of that.

 

I suppose on a practical level, moving to a country and having to get used to a completely different political situation has opened my eyes to a lot of different things and has made me an advocate for things I used to take advantage of. Things like affordable healthcare or even simply recycling or knowing exactly what goes into the food we buy. Most importantly, I’ve learned that despite cultural differences, we are all human and we are all in need of a Saviour! It has made me take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to take the Gospel to the ends of the world more serious.

 

3. How do you understand the stewardship of your time and talents?

 

I believe that we were placed on this Earth for a purpose. That purpose is to show and tell others about Christ and His love for us! Everything that has been given to us is actually more or less on loan.

 

We cannot create time – we can only use it to the best of our abilities.

 

We do not choose our talents – instead, we can develop them to glorify God!

 

I think that it is really important to use our time and talents wisely. Our time is precious; our days are numbered (see Psalm 90). Once it is wasted, we can never get it back.

 

 

4. How does this look practically in your life now?

 

Filling my time with family and doing good and ministering to others is something I prioritize. There are so many distractions in this world that take up our time. All of the mindless entertainment (think: Netflix, video games, etc) that does more harm than good is something I believe is better off left out of our time slots!

 

As for talents, I try to develop them so I can reach others in different ways. For example, I play the piano for church and enjoy having people over! I also love using and developing my talents for photography and design for my blog. I also see my teaching career as a ministry (I teach in a church school) and I feel called to pour my heart and talents into that as well.

 

5. How do you understand food and intentionality?

 

I think that God gave us a design for a diet we should eat. When He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them all sorts of trees with fruit they could eat of. There was no death there. Because of this, and because I believe that our bodies are a living temple for the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6), and for many other reasons, I have chosen to adopt a plant-based diet. I think what we put into our bodies is very important and affects our entire lives. We should not live to eat, but eat to live! Being healthy in all areas of life are important!

 

 

Thank you Amanda for your time, your thoughts and experiences!

 

 

 

#

Follow Amanda

Amanda Walter is a teacher, writer, wife to a pastor, and mom to a cat. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sipping tea, and trying to keep succulents alive.
Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

Pin It on Pinterest