“the heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
She’s making a case for knowing God, but in doing so, she uses a husband and wife as her prime example. She explains hat the more we know something or someone, the more love and appreciation we will be able to feel and have.
So, while fancy dates are fun, they are a far cry from a necessary ingredient to a happy, thriving marriage (thank goodness!)
And regardless of your childcare situation or date night budget, you don’t have to coast mindlessly in your marriage.
For most of us, we have the opportunity to connect with our spouses, right now, in our actual life. All it takes is time and intentionality. It takes a return to simplicity, and to what “in-love” people do: a seeking to know each other.
These guides, questions, and activities have been crafted to help you do just that: to find out something new about your spouse, to go deeper, and to have fun.
With the longer, slower days of summer here, perhaps this is the perfect time to introduce a new tradition into your marriage: the tradition of recognizing that there is more to learn about your spouse than what you currently know.
That’s why, in the month of June, I’m offering our most popular product, the 90 Date Night Questions for Christian Marriage Couples printable for FREE.
To grab your copy, simply use code INTENTIONALSUMMER at checkout.
You can use this code to get the date night questions for free OR to get the entire Intentional Marriage bundle for just $4.99!
This limited time offer will expire on June 30th, 2018!
*Note, when you complete your purchase, you will be added to the Embracing a Simpler Life email list. This is how your printable will be delivered! You can unsubscribe at ANY time.
I’d love to share some of my very favorite Bible verses on living simply with you!
From a biblical perspective, what does it mean to live simply and why does it matter? You might be surprised that the Bible has a lot to say about this. It’s not the trendy, minimalism that you may be thinking of, but rather, it has more to do with a complete mindset shift.
For our purposes, I’m going to define simple living as living free from world-love, believing God’s promise that heaven is coming, with single-minded focus on the kingdom of God
When we truly believe that we will be rewarded for every sacrifice we make in this lifetime, we will live differently. Rather than pursuing wealth or ease or glory –rather than building our own empire –we will readily fix our eyes on Jesus, and run the race marked out for us with singular focus and perseverance.
In this list you will find Bible verses about simple living. Specifically, you will find Bible verses that:
deal with the folly of living for money
call us to a simple, quiet life
talk about complete faith in God
challenge us to follow Jesus no matter the cost.
These are all verses that define and cast vision for the living a simple life (in light of eternity).
Although these Bible verses are listed here individually, I would urge you to look deeper into the context of any verse that strikes you. Each verse reference is linked to Bible Gateway, which is my personal favorite online Bible study tool. After you click through to read the verse on Bible gateway, you can click the four lines to see the entire chapter.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.”
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.“
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
“… have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,’
declares the Lord.”
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds,appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”
Most days it seems that my kids leave a never-ending trail of messes as they go to and fro about the house.
With three (young) children who are not very aware of the trail they’ve left behind, and one mother who is overwhelmed by the tasks of keeping order in the home and training these children to pick up after themselves, something proactive needed to be done.
As I reflected on the situation, I noticed that these messes were often too complicated for my kids to easily sort through on their own. They could execute a single job (such as “put away the Uno game”), but they were not good at reducing a bigger mess into steps and then completing them.
The truth was, my kids were overwhelmed by their own messes.
Through the process of reducing what I had in my home, I eventually arrived at a level of stuff I could stay on top of each day without feeling stressed. It was incredibly freeing for me!
Less stuff = less opportunity for chaos = less work to neaten it back up.
So, a few months ago, my husband and I decided to simplify our kids things as well (not for the first time, but as you may know, this requires maintenance).
We hoped they too could experience success in keeping their things picked up.
How to Help Kids Keep Their Messes Under Control: Reduce and Gate Their Stuff
Simplifying the Toys
We began by dumping all the toys into a large pile in the toy room. This included all their toys in every room. Each child then had the opportunity to choose 7 toys and place them in a basket. We put all other toys up and away in our garage. (They’ve been there for the past two months with an uncertain future.)
Our children were also allowed to keep their dress up clothes, legos, and books. Fortunately for them, they’ve all had birthday’s since this time, so their toy stash has multiplied a bit.
Nonetheless, this was an instant victory for everyone.
The toy mess is no longer able to get “out of hand” any more, which has two critical benefits:
My husband and I feel less stress about the way our home looks and feels
Our children can be held responsible for picking up their own toy messes because these now qualify as “kid-sized” messes that I know they can handle.
Was I concerned about depriving my kids of their toys?
However, all my concerns proved needless. My kids are actually grateful that their messes are easier to clean up! They have fun with the toys available to them, which are their favorites, and they play games, read, and explore outside for hours a day. They also love to color and do crafts.
But speaking of crafts…
Simplifying the Craft Supplies
With the toy mess situation greatly improved, it was time to address another overwhelming mess-station in our home, our craft table.
My children have a small kids’ table. Beside it is a stack of plastic drawers containing paper galore, stickers, tape, scissors, colored pencils, crayons, markers.
Each day, to my delight, my children would sit down and create interesting artwork for long stretches of time.
However, to my chagrin, they would undoubtedly get up, leaving cut-up bits of paper, crayons, and all sorts of craft supplies covering the table and floor beneath them.
Although I frequently reminded them to clean up their mess before moving on, they responded with complaints, distraction, and “I’m too tired.”
And this was happening every single day, if not twice a day or even more!
As much as I loved that my kids were spending time busily creating, this was not working. They were being allowed to repeatedly make a mess that was overwhelming for them to clean up.
So, I applied the same tactic as with their toys.
I took the plastic drawers and rolled them into our office (a no-kid zone). I set a dish of crayons on their table and made a new rule. Each child could have one piece of paper per day, and that was it.
This created instant freedom and success! It lifted an burden from both my children and myself. Over a few weeks, we transitioned our “one paper policy” to include more craft supplies, but only with special permission and only with the promise that these would be cleaned up without complaint.
Miraculously, my kids even figured out how to control the mess as they work so it no longer becomes a complete craft-explosion! Simply by scaling back and setting clear-yet-doable expectations they were able to invent their own strategies for success.
I’d love to hear you chime in! What kid messes in your home cause you stress and how could you reduce the possibility for mess? Have you tried reducing or gating your kids’ stuff as a means to control the mess and chaos? How did you do it? How did it go?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, coming next week!
Do you ever wonder how some women make running a home look so natural?
I certainly have!
However, after many years of watching my friends who do this well, and after much trial and error, I’ve boiled it all down to 3 essential daily habits. With these 3 habits in place, a home can function pretty well! Without them, it will be perpetual catchup.
While I used to feel like a failure as a homemaker, I know feel a sense of success and satisfaction.
I’d love to share these 3 simple (secret) daily habits with you. If you focus your energy into establishing them, I believe you will achieve the same breakthrough in your homemaking that I did.
When my first child was born, I was consumed by the overwhelming feeling of desperation. The sleepless nights, the acid reflux, and the exhaustion all began to drain me day after day. All of the things that I didn’t know or expect as a new mom began to isolate and distance me from others. I believed the lie that I was all alone, because my close friends and family lived somewhere else. Instead of seeking friendships and community in my life, I wallowed in the idea that my life was doomed to be tied down to needs of my child.
Even as my child grew older and we added more children to our family, the thought of being alone in my journey never went away like I hoped it would. I thought maybe I just needed more confidence in my parenting to shake this feeling.
Over the past few years, God has used this loneliness to bring me to my knees. I began to pray and seek friendships with women outside of my circle. Through this process, I’ve learned that as moms, community is hard to commit to, but it is so worth it in the end.
Thankfully, God has brought a small group of women to my life that encourage me to think about the scriptures and pursue a deeper walk with the Lord. Today I want to share with you why striving for meaningful relationships within the church is important for you and your children.
It takes an (encouraging) village
We’ve all heard the sayings, “it takes a village to raise a child,” or “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” The truth is that as believers we do need a village, but one that always points us and our children to Christ. When we isolate ourselves, it becomes easier for us to judge others and hide our struggles and sins.
When we are open with those around us, we can lean on each other when life is hard. This may look like taking a meal to a friend that just had a baby and reminding them that they are not alone. Or taking a friend’s kids for the day when they are sick and need some recovery time. Loving others and creating meaningful friendships is an opportunity for us to serve without receiving anything in return.
While it’s important to surround ourselves with others, it’s also important that we find a group that strives to love and honor God through everything in their lives. We must seek community with those that know the Word and love us enough to speak truth in our lives.
When we have worldly friends that seem to care more about the latest trends, reality t.v., and celebrity gossip, it can influence us in a negative way. It can cause our thoughts to be consumed by things that don’t matter.
But if we find community in those that are truly seeking the Lord, it can change our lives. I encourage you to get involved with a local women’s Bible study or become more invested with those in your church. Finding people that will encourage you in your relationship with God can change how you view those hard feelings that we all deal with in this life.
I also want to point out that it’s important and beneficial for us to join together with singles, married couples, and families. Sometimes the people that encourage us the most in our Christian faith are those that are different from us. In fact, having a mentor that has grown children and may now have an empty nest could provide tons of guidance during your parenting hardships.
How our children benefit
It’s significant when we show our kids that community isn’t divided into groups but that it is good when we join together with other believers. When we pursue meaningful friendships with people or families who love God, we can lean on each other through training our children with the same goals in mind. When we fellowship with other families, it can be a great way for our children to make new friends. By knowing families that strive to honor and know God, we can hope to set our children up to also seek intentional relationships.
Whether it’s a single woman from church, or another family from your local homeschool group, inviting others into our home and serving them can be a great way for us to teach our children how to show God’s love to those around us.
How do you find time for community and fellowship with other believers?
I couldn’t believe seven people lived in this stifling, dark room. The heat wasn’t as oppressive as the lack of hope. I slid my camera back into my bag because I knew there would be no pictures here. There weren’t any smiling faces or laughing children. There was a sorrow I can’t explain.
The home belonged to the mother of one of the teen moms from the maternity home our family started nearly a decade ago, and our staff in Kenya wanted us to understand why we needed a transition home for some of the girls and their children. And they needed us to know why providing jobs is so critical.
When we asked how we could pray for her, she shared about the difficult issues in her marriage and the abuse by her drunken husband. We held hands and prayed over her. It was hot and hard to shake the hopelessness that pervaded the room. Just as we were preparing to leave her husband walked in the door—drunk.
And just like that, my little family was in the middle of a heated dispute in a dangerous slum with angry words being flung back and forth in Swahili. We sat back down. I held my little girl’s hand and whispered a prayer for peace and safety as we sat there, unsure of what was being said. I won’t lie—in that half hour I didn’t feel brave at all and longed to return to my normal.
But as soon as I thought it I heard the words thunder in my heart: This is their normal.
I closed my eyes and silent tears slid down my cheeks. My God, this is their normal. There isn’t a fun week of spring break ahead. There isn’t peace and provision. There isn’t enough bread for the day. And as hard as this is to experience for an hour, this is their way of life.
It’s easy to get so absorbed in our own little worlds that we completely miss the way the rest of the world lives. And I can say this because it’s what I did for a very long time. But I dare you, I beg you to hear this truth: your normal isn’t the world’s normal, and the greatest deception is that you believe that it is.
Your full pantry isn’t normal for the rest of the world. Your cold fridge with your favorite drinks and closets with clothes and multiple pairs of shoes—this is not normal for 75 percent of the world. In economic terms the global North (United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand)—with one quarter of the world’s population—controls four-fifths of the income earned anywhere in the world. Inversely, the global South (every other country)—with three quarters of the world’s population—has access to one-fifth of the world’s income.
In other words, a small percentage of us have access to most of the world’s resources while a large percentage of the world doesn’t have enough for one day. God uses people and builds bridges to connect the two worlds. But the life we are building is wasted if it doesn’t take us somewhere that matters. It’s tragic to build a bridge to nowhere. The only thing worse is leading our kids there.
The world and all its sparkling offerings give us temporary satisfaction. But we were created for the real thing. John Piper once said, “If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.”
It’s tempting to think that those with more than enough always rescue those without enough. I have discovered a mutual rescue because I’m just as desperate to see the Son. So with a worldview that acknowledges some have less, others have more, and maybe, just maybe God wants to use us as a bridge—we first need to answer the question, Why do we give?
I know we aren’t working our way to heaven, checking off an eternal list of good deeds to earn our way in and somehow building a bridge high enough to get us there. No, our salvation is only by grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy.
We give because He gave everything for us.
Kristen Welch, blogger at We are THAT family, is the bestselling author of Raising Grateful Kids in An Entitled World and Raising World Changers, releasing May. 1, 2018
From the moment we hold our sweet babies in our arms these thoughts waste no time creeping in. I remember having these thoughts when I first started nursing and the first time I buckled a floppy newborn into a car seat. They haunted me during sleep training, potty-training, and picking gum out of toddler hair.
All of those things have a way of eventually working themselves out. We survive, life moves on. But when it comes to discipline, those thoughts don’t want to let go. “I’m doing it wrong. This isn’t working.” Perhaps that’s because nothing brings out our frustration and doubts about our parenting like discipline. We know we’re supposed to be training these little hearts, but we didn’t expect it to be so hard.
I clearly remember a day that I disciplined my three-year-old for throwing a toy in anger. I told him to sit on his bed and think about what we learned about self-control. Situation over, discipline nailed. Right? Not so much. He turned around and said, “No. I will NOT think about ANYTHING.”
Oh, boy. I realized then and there that discipline is not something I can check off my to-do list. It’s an inseparable part of daily parenting – whether I like it or not. After having five boys in exactly seven years, I realized discipline was a train I was not getting off anytime soon.
But at the same time God began showing me that that’s a good thing. I not only want to stay on this train, I want to ride it all the way to its final destination: my kids’ hearts. Discipline allows me to connect with my kids in a personal, precious way. Most importantly, discipline lays the foundation for teaching my kids the gospel.
And now I want to come alongside you parents with a personal and embarrassingly raw account of what God has taught me about the “D” word. What does discipline have to do with the gospel? Theology is wonderful—but how does it help me with my screaming two-year-old in the middle of WalMart? How do we strike the balance between too much discipline and too little, especially when we are exhausted and discouraged?
I didn’t write this book because discipline comes naturally to me. I wrote it because my kid pushed your kid into the pool at swim lessons. I wrote it because last week I had to leave the grocery store early when my kids were wrestling in the aisles. And I wrote it because discipline seems exhausting and discouraging only when we leave out the most important ingredient: the gospel.
If you’re looking for a formula that will turn disobedient kids into perfect little angels, you won’t find it. God doesn’t give us a formula. He gives us principles. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to use those principles to point our kids to Christ. When your kids disobey, they are telling you something. Strain your ears to hear past the tantrums, the rebellious stomping, and the disrespectful tone. They are saying, “Mom . . . I don’t know how to obey on my own. Can you help me?”
This is our time. This is our chance to point our kids to the only thing that matters: the gospel. God has given us the task of discipline not just so we can survive today but to lead our kids to the cross. Discipline is a beautiful privilege and I want to show you how to find joy in it. There is so much more to discipline than creative strategies, checklists, and behavior management. There’s Jesus.
Sara Wallace is a wife, author, and stay-at-home mom. She and her family live in Idaho where they minister in their church plant and homeschool their five little boys. Sara loves to cook, decorate her home, and write about the crazy blessing of parenting.