Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simplify

Simplify, de-clutter, re-organize… these are all words that have been running through my mind lately. With spring coming and my garage full of boxes, I’m thinking some deep cleaning is in order. I have too much junk! I am a packrat I confess, but I’m really getting better. I watched that show on TLC called “Clean Sweep” and it’s almost cured me. I guess I don’t need to save EVERYTHING for some rainy day in the future. I suppose if I haven’t used it in the last 5 or 10 years, then maybe I really don’t NEED it.

I’m sure many of you have taken the time to clean up and reorganize your houses, but have you ever thought about simplifying or de-cluttering your lives? Sometimes we can get too busy for our own good. Most of the time, it’s busy with things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of life. Running our kids to all kinds of sporting events, watching that favorite TV show, catalog parties, shopping, hunting, reading, etc… What pulls you away from what is important and steals your time?

Not everything is bad for you, but there are a lot of good things that can pull us away from God’s best for us. At times we may need to give different areas of our lives a “time out” to help us reprioritize what is best for that season. For instance, my husband loved basketball in college and played every chance he could. He even played when he was supposed to be studying, doing homework, or other important responsibilities. In a time of prayer, he felt like God was leading him to set his basketball down for a season to focus on Him. He took a “time out” for awhile and when he felt released by God, he picked it up again. He was better because of it.

I Corinthians 10:23 (GNV) says…
“We are allowed to do anything, so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. We are allowed to do anything…but not everything is helpful.”

To de-clutter our lives is to re-evaluate what we are doing and see why we are doing the things we do. Think about it… What is taking up all of your time? We are all given the same 24 hours each day, but each person spends it differently. How do you spend your time? Map out a week for yourself… what do you do? Where do you go? Who or what is getting the majority of your time? In the light of eternity, will all the time you are spending doing what you are doing really matter? If not, you need to make some changes.

I want to encourage you to re-evaluate what is really important to you. What do you value? Set some goals to make these things the core of your life…“Your Core Values.” You may need to change some things in your schedule, cut something out, add something new, or give some “time outs.” Do whatever it takes to make God your number one priority and He will help you take care of the rest. How we spend the majority of our time generally shows what is important to us? What is important to you?

Colossians 3:2 helps us see where our focus should be…
“So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (NLV)

My husband and I decided a long time ago to make some tough decisions to keep first things first when it comes to God and our family. We wanted to make sure God was a priority no matter what. Here are some things we are doing to keep God the focus of our home.

Church- It is our job to raise our children in the ways of God, so we guard our Sundays. We don’t ever allow the boys to spend the night at a friend’s house on Saturday nights, because we want them in church with us on Sunday mornings. We also made a commitment to never allow our kids to miss church because of sports. We want to help them to grow by putting them in an atmosphere that encourages growth in God weekly. By our actions, we want to show our boys how important it is to guard Sundays as a family.

Sports – Early on, we decided that we were not going to allow sports to rule our lives and our schedules. We have done our best so far to limit the sports our kids play. They have also been on the same team so far. This has limited practices and games to attend. We know that this will change in the future, but our goal will be the same. We also have them choose one sport per season so we aren’t always on the go. Occasionally we may even take a “time out” from a sport if things become too busy.

Family table – We do our best to have at least two sit down meals a week with our family. This gives us a chance to hear about each person’s day and we read a devotion book with the boys. We love the One Year Book of Devotions. This helps us to pour into our boys godly principles in a light hearted way.

Family nights – We try periodically to have family nights with the boys where we all plan to go out and do something special or stay in and watch a movie. This cements our relationship with our kids and builds memories to last a lifetime.

Bible time for the boys – It is important to us that our boys have their own personal relationships with God, because some day they will have to walk on their own spiritually with out us. We want it to be personal for them. In order to foster that, we have tried something new this year. We send them to bed 30 minutes early each week night to read their Bibles and any other books they want before bed. We emphasize the importance of feeding their spirits to make them strong. We noticed that they had a desire to read their Bibles, but didn’t follow through in doing it on their own. They needed us to create the opportunity for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. So far it has been a success.

Prayer before bed – We pray every night with each of our kids before bed. This is something we started when they were little. Al and I each pray for them separately. It is important to them and they won’t even go to sleep unless each one of us comes in to do it. We also call to pray with them if we are away. Prayer cements us together as a family.

These are just a few ideas of how we have tried to keep first things first in our home. I pray God will lead and guide you as you endeavor to simplify your life. May He direct you as you determine what needs to stay and what needs to go for you. As we clean up the clutter in our lives, we make more room for Jesus. I can’t wait to hear all of the incredible things God is going to do in and through you, as you open your hearts and lives up to Him in a new way. Bring it on!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

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