Tag Archive for priorities

Fall Planning: Carve out time to live your true calling.

Whenever I talk to younger moms, the same question always comes up in one form or another: How am I supposed to get everything done?!

If you’ve had kids for more than two minutes, you know that, despite our best efforts, unpredictability and busy-ness is the name of the game. And the more kids you have, the busier you are.  P.S. Nobody ever told me that the teen/college years were going to be the busiest of my life! (Someone should write about that! Really, now.)

If you’ve read here for any length of time you know that I can commiserate with the crazy-busy life. With a large family, my plate is full.

And full is good, but an over-flowing plate is not so good. Overflowing plates look a lot like forgetting appointments, unplanned dinners, haphazard ministry, and a disorganized home.

So, my advice to the younger moms and the advice I give to myself is this: plan and prioritize to avoid frustration and save your sanity. Then start with the needful things.


Sally Clarkson, in Own Your Life, says,

“From the moment we take our first breaths, our days are numbered, so how we live matters. The decisions we make—the important ones and, yes, the mundane ones too—they all matter. Everyday decisions add up to form the life we live and the legacy we leave behind.” Own Your Life

I sit down every fall with my priorities sheet and pray over and eliminate any area that is wearing me down or where I’ve over extended myself.

“Someone has said that if you do not plan your life, someone else will. How true! Every woman should try to manage her own life and priorities with the help of the Lord. If you do not, more organized people will eagerly help fill your day and try to control your destiny.” The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook, pg. 269

The negative results of unmanaged, haphazard lives are:

  • “Unmanaged lives reveal personal weaknesses.”
  • “Unmanaged lives are influenced by dominant people.”
  • “Unmanaged lives surrender to the demands of all emergencies.”
  • “Unmanaged lives get involved in activities that gain public acclaim and are not necessarily important. ” CHH, pg 270


In The Life Ready Woman,Thriving in a Do-It-All World,  the authors give “Life Long Decision-Making Principles” that I found very helpful:

  1. There is a time for everything.
  2. Your core callings never go away.
  3. A choice for one thing is a choice against another.
  4. Make choices appropriate to your season.

This is such practical advice!

I don’t want to live with regrets, so I re-evaluate my season of life, pencil in the “non-negotiables”, those things that only I can do for my immediate family, then I add the things I’m called to do and passionate about, whether it’s ministry of some sort, hospitality, blogging, or encouraging women one-on-one, then add any extras that I might hold loosely, like local events, classes I’m interested in, or sites I’d like to visit.

In Teaching from Rest, Sarah MacKenzie wisely warns us to simplify our schedule:

“If God expected you to get thirty-six hours’ worth of work done in a day, He would have given you thirty-six hours to do it. If you have more to do than time to do it, the simple fact is this: Some of what you are doing isn’t on His agenda for you.”

“Take a hard look at the 168 hours in your week. Now consider nonnegotiables: sleep, eat, shower, pray. Plug in meal preparation, rest and church on Sunday, and enough wind-down time at the end of each day to ensure a good night’s sleep. See what’s left? You don’t get any more than that, sister.” pg 38,39 Teaching From Rest


So, as you plan your fall, remember that you want to embrace His agenda for you. If you are married, are you scheduling time to love and befriend your husband as a priority? Do you have margin in your life to assist him if he needs it?  Make his life special?

If you are a SAHM, be all there. Be an overachiever in your own home. Don’t shortchange your immediate family by buying into the lie that anything and everything outside the home matters more than what you are doing inside your four walls. Rock those babies. You are the only one who can. Comfort your children. Don’t despise work that is unseen. Be content living a life that looks different than others if God has called you to stay home. Plan to use your home to minister to others. Invite others in. Meet one on one for Bible study or encouragement with a younger mom. Use your home for gospel ministry.

Older moms who are running teens here, there, and everywhere, or who are trying to stay connected to married children, don’t forget that little things are still big to kids of every age. Show interest. Schedule time to write a letter or make that phone call. Plan one-on-one time with your teen because this is the time they need it most. Be as connected as they want to be. Show them you have all the time in the world for them.

Moms who work outside the home, be a stickler when it comes to adding extracurricular commitments. You can’t do it all and thrive. Decide which activities feed your soul and which are adding frustration. I recently read that it’s more important for a child to learn to cook than to learn soccer. I think there’s some wisdom to that somewhere. 😉

As you plan, pray that God’s kingdom would come to fruition in your little home as you plan your daily tasks. Ask Him for grace to do what’s right, to love what must be done, and for a heart to follow hard after Him as He guides and leads you.

Are you planning for fall? What tools are you using? What do you need to cut (or add!) in order to live the life God has called you to? Feel free to share in the comments.

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How I Plan and Prioritize My Weeks

Several of you have told me that you wish you could sit at my kitchen table and see how I plan our busy life so I thought I’d do a post about what that looks like.

For years I’ve used this Weekly Priority Printable that I made for myself.

It’s just to plan the HIGHLIGHTS of our week, not every little task. It’s also a reminder of our IDEALS–how we want to look back at how we spent our life. It’s a run-down of what God calls me to in Titus 2.


For instance, at the end of a week, I want to have spent time in God’s Word. That’s goal #1. I want to intentionally LOVE my husband and children. This includes meals, emotional support, and mutual spiritual encouragement.

I can’t tell you how many times this little sheet has helped me say “NO” to things that were fine and good, but not the best for our family–LIKE every week. It also helps me see the “ebb and flow” of our life–aka–when I’ve over committed myself and need to rest.

Basically, I set aside an hour a week to jot down my “plan.”

  • I print my guidelines.
  • I pray and ask God to guide me as I “plan” and to redirect my plans as He sees fit.
  • I then plan for my devotional time: what I’ll read and study in Scripture and what devotional books I’m going through. I keep an ongoing “What Do I Know about My God? notebook. I also keep a leather bound notebook for all of my Bible study,notes for teaching or speaking, notes from sermons, seminars, or quotes that impacted me.
  • I try to plan a time to connect with Peter. In this season of life it’s usually either a coffee time or just shopping or doing something mundane together so we can talk.
  • I then mark and plan for “special days” like birthdays or anniversaries.
  • I look at the flyers to make our weekly menu based on what’s on sale or in season.
  • I block out school times.
  • I note doctors appointments, weekly lessons or commitments that I have with the kids.
  • I plan to do something fun with the kids.
  • I plan to do good to someone God has put on my heart by either a phone call, note, visit, or coffee run.
  • I note our ministry schedule and plan to invite people in for fellowship/hospitality if our schedule allows.
  • I plan personal ministry times like blogging, encouraging a friend, watching a friend’s kids, “kitchen table counseling” as God gives me time.

When you write this all down, you’ll see right away where you are out of balance or too busy. As you look back, you’ll KNOW that you lived life according to your ideals instead of just living re-actively and haphazardly.

There you have it. Nothing elaborate, but it works for me.

How do you plan your weeks? Do you struggle to say no to good things so that you can live the best life you can? (I highly recommend Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love, one of my favorite books of 2015!) Feel free to share any great resources with me! I love to hear how you organize your life.


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Balancing Ministry and Motherhood

Update: Hey girls, I’m reposting this from the archives, because I get this question quite a bit. :) Happy Planning!


I received this question yesterday on balancing ministry and children from a lovely reader and thought I would post on this topic.

Q: 1. How can a mom with young children find a balance between serving outside the home and serving her family? I have so many desires to serve, give, volunteer, etc. but right now my young children need so much guidance, teaching, love, training, etc… that I often feel so worn out…

First of all, every Christian mother of young children can relate to this question. Honestly, balance is tricky because it implies that you are trying to hold on to many important and good things and not drop any of them.

Ice Skating with my sweet Hope Elizabeth.

So here are my thoughts on balancing ministry and motherhood:

1. Your husband, kids  and home are your main ministry. When your home is well cared for, and your children are obedient and happy, and your husband is well loved, the gospel looks attractive to the watching world. For women, this is a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because this culture does not value homemaking. If you raise someone else’s kids, then that is all fine and good, but if you stay home and JUST raise your own, that is thought of as meaningless or a waste of  your life. So sometimes we fall into the trap of filling our lives with the “valuable” jobs/ministries to the detriment of our own family. I am not saying that you should not serve in the church in some capacity. I do think you should use your God given gifts. But God is not going to call you to use your “gifts” to the detriment of your own family. No, God has commanded that the older women teach the younger women how to care well for our families.

2. Levels of commitment to outside ministry change as your family grows. When Peter and I were first married, I was very much involved in helping him with the Youth Programs at our church and with running other activities. But as I had babies, my priorities had to change. While my children were young it was more important to lay the foundations for our  home life and establish “cultural norms” for the Beals home.{We don’t whine when we want something. We don’t bite each other. We don’t yell. You may not disobey mommy and daddy.} My main goals were things like establishing routines, child training, cooking good meals, teaching simple doctrine and character lessons.

When my children were babies, I rarely attended our evening service at church. Why? Because we were in a season of establishing sleeping patterns that are crucial to the newborn. There were times when most of my “outside ministry” came in the form of cooking meals for a sick person while I cooked my own for my family, or having a friend into our home for a Bible study. Hospitality is a wonderful way to minister to others while you have little ones in the home.

I am a big believer in rhythms of life. I use the word rhythms in place of the word routines because it seems more palatable and less “business like”.  But in any case, routines, especially in the young years, bring a sense of stability and comfort to children. They know what to expect. Life is not helter skelter: We rise and get ready for the day. We make our beds. We sit down and eat breakfast together. We read our Bibles together at the table. We read books on the couch or start school. We take a walk or run an errand after lunch.

3. This season of life is not forever. Your home will be quiet and empty some day. Just let that sink in for a moment. Don’t look on these times as useless or less productive for Christ. They are EXTREMELY important times. You are influencing generations right here, right now by what you are doing in your home today.

I would encourage you to pray and evaluate your own situation.(You may be able to handle more ministries outside the home  than I was able to.) Of course, I don’t have all the answers and I have struggled to maintain balance as well.

Some indicators that I used for our family: (again, just my opinion, not biblical mandates)

*If your family is too busy to have family meals together because of ministry, you are too busy. So much is learned at mealtimes.

*If you are struggling with discipline/bad attitudes/serious character flaws with one  child, I would suggest pulling away from extras/ministry for a while to minister to your struggling child. I want to help my own child first, then someone else’s child second.

*Establish GO days and STAY days if you can. Kids like time to be home and in their element. It is easy to run aimlessly in our run here, run there society. Sometime quiet times of rest and a slow pace produces more than hustling and bustling about.

Here is a post about how I prioritize our lives: here

Here’s what works for me! Seeing my priorities written out each week helps me live the life I know I want to live. If I don’t plan, of course, I fail at my ideal priorities.

I wrote my priorities in order on the left, with lines so that I can fill in what specifically want to plan that week. It helps me visualize what I am doing with my time. As I pencil in my week, I can see where we are out of balance or lacking. I have given this to countless women who asked for help keeping life in balance! ——–> PRINTABLE —>Weekly Priorities

Hope this helps!

Need some help with time management? Consider this 30 page ebook, Tell Your Time that gets rave reviews, and is written by one of my FAVORITE bloggers, Amy.

Have We Lost Something? Missionary Wives Speak.

Do you ever wonder if we have lost something as American Christians?

Have we lost perspective? Focus? Are our eyes on the right goals?

We live in the wealthiest country in the whole world in a continual state of relative ease and comfort.

One of my favorite pictures of my friend Toni Hafler teaching children in Zambia.

Being a Christian in America doesn’t cost us anything. Not really. Sure, we might get disapproving looks from friends and family, but “looks” don’t really count as sacrifice, do they?

Not when you hear of Christians in Sudan who are being gunned down because they hold to the name of Jesus. Little girls. Walking to Sunday School. Or of North Korean Christians who are persecuted more than in any other country.

Do we care enough about the gospel to suffer? Or are we so soft that we consider sitting in an un-airconditioned building suffering?

Do we really care about Christ? Yes, I know we use His name. But what is He worth to us?

We drive to church in air conditioned cars, arrive carrying hundreds of dollars of electronics on our person, and sit in our climate controlled buildings. We get ancy when the pastor goes overtime, because, you know, we have things to do! We are busy. We come to church to “worship”, but only on our very slim timetables, thank you very much.

I am afraid that we have lost something.

I think we’ve lost our first love and turned our eyes onto something else:  ease, excess and entertainment.

We’ve been anesthetized by the luxe of our country. And I fear we don’t even know it. (click to tweet this)

I asked a few missionary wives what they thought. I wanted to see through their eyes, fearing my own vision might be blurred.

I wanted to know what they see when they re-enter the United States. I was surprised by some of their answers. (Reverse Culture Shock, they called it.)

I hope their answers will prove to be helpful to you as they were for me, and might help us all to re-examine our own spiritual state.

Sweet Toni and her happy little girl, in their cottage where they stayed for a 6 month intensive Swahili language program in Limuru, Kenya.

Question 1. What do you notice upon re-entry into the US that shocks you most? 

“How easy life is here…there seems to be a gadget/gizmo for almost anything you would even dream of needing.” Heidi Seawright, Cambodia

“Being overwhelmed by choices. Standing in the cereal aisle, frozen, and overwhelmed at how many brands there were. I finally just reached for Raisin Bran.” -anon.

“Materialism, that everyone is constantly using some form of media {iphone, computer, cell} – Joy F., Indonesia

“We saw how busy people are–even with good things (sports, music lessons, church activities)–so that time together as a family is really unusual. Our American children might be really well-rounded, but possibly at the expense of losing their hearts.

Even though people seemed busier, some people seemed less
interested in regular church services (especially Sunday PM and
Wednesday pm). Church bodies seem to be together so little for
corporate worship, prayer, and Bible study.  Dinners and activities
were still well-attended, though.”– Susan Knipe, South Africa

“Immodesty, religious freedoms lost, disrespect towards adults, a love for the latest, love of the world and it’s entertainment. A seeming indifference to sin. A poor knowledge of scripture and knowing how to apply its truths.

Ladies having to keep up with the fashions, pedicures, etc. but not having time for serving in the church. No time for Bible reading.  The constant running of kids to their next activity.

I am surprised that in a country where we know how to read and we have so much out there to help us in our spiritual walk that still few read for that purpose. In Africa my friends there would read if they knew how and if they could get their hands on a good book.

Many times Americans can sound ungrateful for what they have in life. It really stands out to me when we are fresh back from Africa. I’m not saying the places we served didn’t have these issues. What stood out to me was how quick the decline was from our furlough to furlough.”–Toni Hafler, Zambia

“Nearly everything seems to be obtained instantly. Even memory making things are pre-packaged so you don’t have to put much work into things–for 4th of July I saw packaged cookies at the Wal-mart with sugar cookies, frosting, and sprinkles all ready to be decorated.” Heidi Seawright, Cambodia

“Everyone is interacting with phones/ipads/computers/TVs all the time! Even 2 year olds on the flights yesterday were glued to their screens!”

“What surprised me on my first visit back to the States after moving to Argentina was the cleanliness, comforts and all the conveniences.

I was floored by all the stores that catered to the shopper and how everything is available 24/7. And what’s more, everyone expects that kind of service! I don’t know about other countries, but that doesn’t happen here. –Jennifer Smith, Argentina

“Apathy – not using the overabundance of resources God has given, specifically spiritual. ”  Amy Greenwood, Buenos Aires

“We noticed people’s obsession with their pets!”

“My first shock was how many people are so disconnected from everyone around them. Cell phones in everybody’s hands. Go to a restaurant, and people even sitting at the table together are on their phones instead of talking. This really shocked me.” -Althea N., Brazil

” It did amaze me at how many people I saw one furlough looking, acting, listening to and reading things that we both thought were wrong. We’d then to go back on another furlough and they are using whatever translation, listening to “christian” rock and their girls are wearing things that do not make them look different from the world. It’s not just one family, but even whole churches. It’s very discouraging.” -anon

“It really saddened me and actually bewildered me, how many [ladies] were not modest in general. I have often wondered what caused them to change in this area. I have not had the courage to ask anybody.” anon


These types of responses make me think: Am I living a life of ease and complaining about it? Am I apathetic? Discontent? Using what I have for God’s glory or to indulge my own flesh.

In other words, Is Jesus Christ really all I am seeking? Is He enough?

What about you? What are your thoughts?





An Opportunity I Will Have To Miss

Everyone is looking for ways to balance their busy lives. We have so many things tugging at us as 21st century busy women. And as school starts, life can feel like a frantic rat race. We have to sift through the good to make room for the best. This is a lesson that I am still learning.

I was recently given the opportunity to do something that I was very excited about doing.  It is something I have a passion for, enjoy doing and  is a good thing. I wrestled with it, knowing that just because it is a good thing, does not mean it is the best thing for me and my family right now.

My youngest little "opportunity."

I love this quote from Elisabeth George.

“We must say no, not only to things wrong and sinful, but to things pleasant, profitable and good, which would hinder and clog our grand duties and our chief work.”

Sometimes we get excited about the big, exciting “opportunities” in life.

But life is not made up of the big, red letter days.

Our real opportunities are where we are everyday.

They are serving those who we see on a daily basis. Your testimony should be of a life well lived– an “others” focused life– even when it feels mundane. Your opportunity is to honor God with your day, today. ( even if  nobody else sees what we did all day! God sees!!)

What big opportunities have you passed up in order to focus on the little opportunities that are in front of you every day? Do you believe that God sees all of the deeds that you have done in secret, and that He will reward you openly someday?


Linked To Courtney

Honoring God With My Priorities (plus a Printable Weekly Planner)

Life gets busy and before you know it, if I am not careful, I can be swept away in its tide.

So, in order to live intentionally  I sit down on the weekend and plan my entire week. I know that God has given me things that only I can accomplish, for instance, caring for my husband, children and home.  It is God’s will that I do these things (Titus 2) and they  have to be top priority.

Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Titus 2: 3–6

So my weekly list looks something like this:

  • Devotional Life
  • Peter
  • Children
  • Home
  • Extended Family/Friends
  • Outside ministries

My lone planning session usually only takes a few minutes, but I schedule in the things that I know are the most important in my life right now. Here is my printable planning worksheet.Weekly Priorities

Devotional Life– I jot down what I will study from God’s word, what commentary to use, verses to memorize, etc.

My husband, Peter– How can I build that  relationship this week?  Maybe by planning a special coffee/dessert time for just the two of us. Maybe it will be a lunch date. What is it that he is trying to get done this week and how can I help him to  accomplish that goal.

The kids–  What special thing can we do this week together?  Maybe an afternoon tea or walk in the woods. Maybe Christmas crafts. What is it that I want to teach them this week from God’s word? What are they struggling with individually, and how can I address each little need?

The Home– this would include organizing, seasonal decorating or any small improvement that I would like to make.

Extended Family/Friends– This includes our parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews and friends. Who has a special need this week? Have I been in touch by phone or email?  Who needs encouragement this week? Are there any special birthdays or anniversaries that we need to honor?

Outside Ministries– These are opportunities to do good unto all men. They may include entertaining in our home, serving at our local church, volunteering or visiting the sick or elderly.

When I stand before Christ someday, I know that I will be responsible for the people who lived under my roof first and foremost. I am responsible for my husband and children ,as they are for me.  When God gave me a husband and children, my priorities became them. By caring for them “as unto the Lord” I can make the gospel of Jesus Christ look attractive to the world. And by taking care of my children’s souls well, I am nurturing the soil of their hearts as I gently plant the seeds of God’s word into their little minds.

So here are some photos of some of our special times this week.

Late night tea party and movie with Mom and Dad

Daddy bought special desserts.

The youngest girls set a special fall table for dinner.

Gingerbread House Decorating

Mint Hot Chocolate, anyone?

Need some help with time management? Consider this 30 page ebook, Tell Your Time that gets rave reviews, and is written by one of my bloggers, Amy.