Discipline Outweighs Tools & Skills


The past few weeks I have needed to tackle some mundane items, updating processes and products.  The kind of items that easily fall to the side, as daily, urgent tasks take precedent.  Yet, these mundane items, are the backbone of what we do, they are the foundation upon which so much else is built.

While my challenge is at work, I remember these same struggles when I was a full time, at home mom.  The mundane items:  laundry, grocery shopping, bed making … easily fell to the side, sometimes for the urgent, and sometimes for the “more fun” tasks.  Yet, these items were the backbone of my home.  They laid the foundation for a well managed home, a home where my family could find rest and peace.

Finding a way to manage the mundane, to keep the foundation of your work, home, ministry, strong is important.  So, how do I tend to the mundane, build the foundation?  I live by the 15 minute rule and Friday planning.

I learned the 15 minute rule from Emilie Barnes, author and Christian time management expert.  It is amazing what you can accomplish in 15 minutes, especially the mundane tasks!  More importantly, using the 15 minute rule can help you get started, take that first step.  One of two things happen- you either get started and begin working on the task you have been putting off, OR you begin and keep going, realizing the task wasn’t as difficult or as to be dreaded as you thought.

Friday planning I read about on a blog a few years back.  I had been a Sunday planner, but found I often let the planning time slide.  Friday planning, especially now that I am back working full-time outside of the house, is so much more effective.  I set aside about 30 minutes each Friday morning.  I sync my calendars, make note of any high importance task for the week not yet finished, transfer unfinished tasks that can wait to the next week, and look over goals and objectives determining if there are any new “to do” items.  I find this helps me have more productive Fridays and frees me to go into the weekend focused on family and rest.  I know I have a plan for the next week in place and have a better chance of letting the mental clutter go.

The real trick though comes in disciplining myself to live by these two rules.  I have to develop the habit of setting aside 15 minutes in my daily schedule to tackle the task/project I have been putting off or simply don’t enjoy.  I have to discipline myself to keep Friday mornings clear so I can plan for the week ahead.  It takes thought and a decision to make it happen.  Yet, like so many disciplines, the discipline of time can set me apart, outweighs my skills and has more impact upon my productivity and effectiveness than the tools I use.  Discipline matters most.

This week, give it some thought.  What is weighing you down?  Is it the same old tasks/chores left incomplete each week?  Is it that project you just can’t seem to start?  I challenge you- set aside 15 minutes a day and start.  Then when Friday rolls around, set aside some time to plan for next week, doing the same thing-setting aside 15 minutes a day to tackle the mundane.  Better yet, set aside 4 minute segments of time to tackle the mundane!  You’ll be amazed at what you get done and you’ll be on the road to a more disciplined life.



Embrace being Invisible

I love to read.  I love to learn.  As I have made this transition back to full-time work and have sought to effectively lead an office through re-organization, reading and learning have been vital to my success, but more importantly vital to my emotional well-being.  My reading and learning must be balanced.  I can’t just read about management practices or leadership skills, I have to feed my spirit.  My whole self has to grow in order to be effective and healthy.

I recently read “Unseen” by Sara Hagerty.  (http://sarahagerty.net/unseen/)  Initially I thought this book would have nothing to do with my leadership, but would be a good read for me personally.  I was wrong.  Creating change, leading people through reorganization is all work done quietly.  A great deal of it is work the leader must do in the hidden spaces.  It is being faithful to show up, to keep moving forward, to wait patiently on others to begin to see and take hold of the new mission.  It is the unseen work.  It is prayer.

“Unseen” is an authentic book.  Sara Hagerty shares what many of us would never voice to another.  It is a vulnerable read, but it will stir your spirit.  As I have led, I will be honest… I have wanted kudos, a pat on the back.  That hasn’t come.  I have felt discouraged, wondering if the mission to engage others in service to meet the needs of our community would ever resonate with anyone outside our office.  But reading Sara’s story challenged me to dig deep, to deal with the reality- Who am I living for?  Is my identity wrapped up in what others think?  Those aren’t easy questions to answer.  The truth was painful because the answers didn’t match what I say I live.  I say I live for Christ, that my identity is in Him.  Yet, all too often, that is not the reality of how I live.  “Unseen” has reminded me to focus on who I am, the relationships with those around me, and believe I am where I am to serve Him.  Being obedient to Him.  It has reminded me to stop in prayer, breathing in His word, when doubts or frustrations rise.  It’s about our focus.  When we focus on what the world cannot see, we live free from the need for worldly success.

There is something freeing when we embrace being invisible.  Being the best version of me is all that matters.  I am the best version of me when I am focused on Him.

You Can Have it All, Just Not All at Once

This week I have been doing a little evaluating of my current life.  Back to full time work, two girls graduating high school, a home to manage, friends to see…  As I pondered my own frustrations, disappointments, I also saw a post from another hard working mom asking if there was such a thing as balance.  Another young mom messaged me asking how I managed, what could she do different.

As women we all struggle.  It is hard to be all the things we want to be.  Sometimes we have choices, other times the circumstances of our lives dictate whether or not we have choices.  As Christian women the struggle can run deep.  Not only do we hold ourselves to the standard of the world, but we hold ourselves up to the Proverbs 31 woman and create expectations we often can’t meet.

Going back to work at age 50 is a completely different experience from that of my 20s. It’s not better, it’s not worse.  It is just different.  Experience has taught me.  Struggles with anxiety and fear have moved me.  As I thought about the questions of dear friends, as I pondered my own momentary frustration I was reminded that today matters.  What I choose today is what matters most.  Who I am today affects my tomorrow.  I cannot be all things to all people at all times, but I can be who I need to be today to the persons God brings across my path.  I can choose today to return home from work and turn my attention to the ones I love most, preparing food, washing clothes, caring for their needs. There is not a lot of time for relaxation, for outings, for extra time with friends.  But that is okay.  All too soon the girls will be gone, their adult lives unfolding.  I will no longer have the chance to wash their clothes, light a candle to say welcome home, cook their favorite meal.  When that time comes there will be more time for friends, for personal rest.

Life is a journey.  Spiritual growth is a journey.  I can have it all, just not all at once.  Each season brings new opportunities.  Each season requires saying no to some things, so others can be cherished.  As I read back through scripture I am reminded the Proverbs 31 woman lived a full life.  She too experienced and lived her life in seasons.  And most of all, I am reminded that what God desires I learn from her is her character traits- patience, love, perseverance, joy, hope.

Remember.  God has you in this season to do His work where you are at this time.  You won’t be able to do it all right now.  But over a lifetime you just might have the chance. Be patient, love well, persevere, and hope in the future.


Proverbs 31:10-31New International Version (NIV)

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Don’t Fit In

I don’t usually post on the weekends, but as I sit quietly in my “special place”, quiet house, sun glistening off the water and a cup of coffee, I caught up on some blog reading.  I felt compelled to share this post, not because you need it, because I need it.  As a woman I want friendships, I want my place to belong.  But God has been teaching me, showing me, that is not the desire of His heart for me.  I don’t want to fit in.  I don’t want to be a part of “the group”.  I want to embrace.  I want to embrace the place God has created for me and I want every woman He brings to that place to be touched and I want to be open to being touched. There is no need for group.  There is only need for relationships and love.



Truth for Daughters-And Mom Needs to Hear It Too

I was up at 3:00 a.m.  The doubts, the fears, the wondering…  How easily we fall prey.  Add menopause in the mix and getting a good night’s sleep seems truly elusive.  Then, this message.  The one that tugged at my heart and spoke to the depths of my womanhood.  I printed this devotional message and placed it in the journals I keep for my girls.  They need these words, this message.  Today, I need to impart it to them in my own words.  Once they have left my nest, I pray they treasure the journal.  The one filled with my prayers for them as they grew in my womb.  The one full of magical moments caught in words.  The one with tear stained pages when I felt I wasn’t enough or had lost my temper in a very un-Christian like way.  The one with letters of congratulations marking the day of their baptism and public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, Lord of their lives.  I pray, as I pray over each entry, these pages tucked in will serve to remind them their worth, their value.





Beauty in the Brokenness

I have been in the midst of preparing a session for a women’s conference.  My topic is “WMU & Women’s Ministry: Incorporating the Two and Bringing Women Together.”  It’s really about leadership and reaching the heart of women.  I love the array of information available through other blogs, Lifeway, Family Life etc…  I also love the incredible women of faith God has placed in my life full of wisdom and incredible leadership qualities.  Most of all I love God’s Word, the Bible.  I love the way He takes a story and breathes new life into it as we seek to find wisdom and words to share.

God spoke to me through the stories of Mary and Martha.  Two incredible sisters whom Jesus loved and spent a good deal of time with.  Their home was often His resting place.  This time through though God opened my eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of each.  Mary didn’t spend enough time taking care of work/duties, but Martha didn’t know when to set the work/duties aside and enjoy the moment. Both, however, clearly loved the Lord.  They believed in Him.  They trusted Him.  When their brother, Lazarus, fell sick, they didn’t hesitate to run straight to Jesus.  They didn’t hesitate to ask for his healing.  They didn’t hesitate to let Jesus hear and see their raw emotions.  And Mary, with her sensitive spirit and obvious gift for discernment showed the depth of her understanding when she took the alabaster jaw of fine perfume and shattered it at Jesus feet, using the expensive oil to wash his feet in an act of pure humility and sacrifice.  They got it.  These two sisters understood who Jesus was.  They understood His significance and they gave of themselves freely to worship Him.  They didn’t let critics stop them.  They weren’t concerned with what others were doing.  They didn’t spend their time at the city gate or the water well talking about how well they knew Jesus, when He was visiting next.  Their focus was on Him.  Their focus was on serving Him, worshiping Him.

As I have pondered their story and thought about how important it is for us to just be real, to let our broken hearts, spirits, dreams, bodies… be an offering to Him, I have realized how foolish it is, and how often I seek to hide my flaws, mistakes, fears, from others.  We all have them.  We are all fallen sinners living in a world full of heartache.  Yes, we also have victories, strength, talents… but most often those are developed through trials.  We are able to connect, to use our whole lives (the brokenness and the victories) to be a testament.

Having spent the bulk of my childhood and formative years living in Japan, I loved this picture and message.  I am more beautiful because I have suffered damage and have a history.  You are more beautiful because you have suffered damage and have a history.  Let’s share those stories.  Let’s be real.  Let’s honor one another’s stories by being faithful to respect each other’s stories.  Let’s allow each other the opportunity to have our own story, not try to create the same stories.  As women God created us to be beautiful, to create beauty.  Be beautiful today.  Embrace the damage, your history and see the beautiful person it has created.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful” – Billie Mobayed.

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful" - Billie Mobayed


The Organized Life: It’s Not Magic

I am often asked how I do it all.  On the one hand I am somewhat honored/flattered, but more often than naught it makes me twinge and feel a little guilty.  While I want to daily present and be the best I can be, I never want to present an illusion, I never want to seem to be more than I am.  I am imperfect.  I sin daily.  My family sees my bad side, and that makes me sad.  I do not do it all.  I used to want to.  I used to strive to.  I used to believe I could.  But there is no magic- no magic wand, no magic formula, no magic planner, no magic system, no magic container, no magic home.  

I am fairly organized.  I function better in a cleaned up, uncluttered environment.  That’s my nature, the way God wired me.  I also believe God is a God of order and desires we, especially as women, create order and beauty in our lives.  He created us to create and complete.  However, I have learned the real key to organization is discipline.  I prefer to think of how I live my life in those terms. Am I living a disciplined life?  Do I honor God and His precepts with my choices, my words, my actions?  I do not do it all, because I no longer attempt to do it all.  There are a lot of things I say “No” to.  There are a lot of things I desire to do, but I know God has reserved for another season.  Living that way, and that way only, enables me to do what I need to do, no more.  In that I can find rest and peace.  I no longer have to rush, chase the illusive “do it all” mantra.  I can let go and enjoy the very best God has for me.  I have times where I take on too much, lose sight of the “best” and run after the “good”.  Fortunately though I have built in some disciplines that provide me time and opportunity to step back and take notice when these things happen and I can recover, before life spins out of control.

Disciplines to a more balanced/organized life:

  1. Daily quiet time with God BEFORE the day begins.  
  2. Pray over daily calendar.
  3. Know priorities and evaluate them yearly.
  4. Use a monthly and weekly calendar.
  5. Leave white space on the calendar:  at least 15 minutes between every task/appointment.
  6. Review calendar and set up the following week’s schedule on Friday, so the weekend can be enjoyed.
  7. Sabbath retreat the 31st of each month with 31 days.  Solitude, Prayer, Reflection, Planning
  8. Rest:  physical rest (early to bed/early to rise) and the kind of rest that means to quit striving
  9. Write it down: goals, appointments, thoughts for future, to do…
  10. Purge: 4 times per year focus on problem area in house and in schedule.  Purge.

It takes discipline to be organized.  Like most everything worth having in life, organization comes from doing a few things you don’t want to do and making sacrifices.  It also takes real desire and want.  Not to want to be organized, but to want to have time to live life fully, to enjoy your home, your family, the things you choose to engage in, your friends.  

I don’t do it all.  I don’t strive to do it all.  I seek order, but solely to enable me to care for what I have (be a good steward) and to enjoy life.  When all I sought was organization, order and/or perfection, all I got was fatigue, illness and poor attitude.  Life and things managed me.  I now manage life and things as I follow God’s direction and seek to do only the very BEST things He has placed before me.  I can let go of the rest, knowing He has a plan and a time for everything.  I’m not missing out.  I’m not needing to keep up.  I’m getting to live, live fully.