The Slackers guide to a Successful Life Part 2:

OR Twenty seven requests for a Cookie does not an emergency make.
Once upon a time, I got a bunch of leadership training that I figured wouldn’t really apply to the slacker mommy life. Guess what? I was wrong. One of the most helpful, non-spiritual pieces of advice I’d ever recieved can be found in this commonly used chart from the book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Basically, there are 4 quadrants

1) Important and Urgent                                   2) Important /Not Urgent
feeding everyone                                                     Relationship building

keeping the house warm                               planning/dreaming/organizing/creating

sitting at Jesus’ feet and encouraging my kids to do so

3) Urgent/Not important                                 4) Not Urgent/Not important

others minor crises                                                                   facebook

phone calls                                                                    TV, mindless activities

I’d modify it a bit to meet my needs, but it is no coincidence that the father of the family the book “Cheaper by the Dozen” was based on was, in fact, a real life Efficiency Expert. Sometimes the reason stuff doesn’t get done is because we spend all of our time oiling the squeakiest  wheels. Sometimes we waste time, but very often we find ourselves driven by  the urgent rather then our true priorities. Sometimes the dishes can wait while we color with our child. Sometimes an hour dreaming is a better use of time  then playing Candy Crush.

Basically, we want to spend the first fruits of our time in the Important boxes.  If nothing else gets done in a day, I want to accomplish my important and urgent things (everyone’s physical needs/spiritual needs are met), move on the the important not urgent things (other needs are met ) I may throw in some not so important things along the way, and that’s fine- but the important stuff gets priority

One lesson it has taken me a long time to learn as a parent is that entertainment is not a need. Boredom  can seem like a minor crisis to a child, but they are far better off learning to :read a book, collect rocks, color, ride a cardboard box down the stairs, chase chickens, catch slimy critters, and otherwise amuse themselves. I am not doing my children any favors by trying to keep them happy.  In fact, the greatest precursor to happiness in adults is a high level of contentment.  I am not saying that as a homeschooler that I should not be intentional about helping my children get their social needs met. I am not saying that parents shouldn’t take time to do stuff with children, relationship building is VERY important. I am saying that  “I’m bored” isn’t a problem that I, as a parent, need to concern myself with.  My children know where to find the art supplies.

Relationship building could involve working together on common goals. Dreaming together. Talking. Creating. Exercising. Gardening. Chasing goats. Cleaning the kitchen. Folding wash. Serving someone. Anything we do together with open hearts is relationship building.

What about house cleaning? For me, aspects of it can fall in all four categories.  To a degree it goes with meeting kids physical needs-Important and urgent. Having a model showroom house-not all that important. Having clean dishes and clothes- Important.  Making my home as comfortable and useful as I am able–important/not urgent. Making my home impressive to outsiders- not so important to me in this season of life.

Lastly, we can never underestimate the true importance of dreaming.  We live in a society driven to distraction, but we were made for more. Dreaming trains our minds, and focuses our creativity towards it’s true purpose. It pulls us from despair as it seeks new ways through our problems. It empowers us. What is dreaming? It is making goals and coming up with ways to work towards them. it is looking for new solutions to old problems. Sometimes its figuring out how to make lemonade. Dreaming is part of our dominion work, it is the seeing of the garden beneath the thorns and thistles. It is making the vision plain so that we can work toward it.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we’ll learn how to worry , and why the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply to canning or anything involving chemicals


The Slackers Guide to a Succesful Life Part 1


I am a slacker. I am by nature a lazy person. I also get stuff done. I didn’t used to. Just in case there is anyone else who suffers from the same affliction of “just don’t wanna do JACK” that I do, I’d like to share I couple things that it has taken 30 + years to figure out.

1) Set Small goals and work in short increments

A 15 minute Bible study time is better then none at all. It is easier to write 1000 words a day then to set some empheral goal of finnishing a book in a year. Getting the dishes washed by 3pm is better then setting out to clean the kitchen at 9AM and giving up halfway through. I used to want to do great things. Now I do lots of little things that eventually add up.

2) Forget perfection.

I don’t like to clean, but I do it because I love my family. I used to be really stressed out because I felt like there was some really high bar for how the houses of “good mommies” looked and I never met it. I didn’t even know how. I’d get frusterated at the little messes that are just a part of life with kids, especailly on a farm. I realized that I wasn’t working to please my family or God, just trying to measure up to my idea of what other people did. Now I have my routine and do it. If the house looks good or bad at any given moment- that’s just life

3) Get a routine and stick to it.

Don’t let yourself be ruled by stress or drama or fear of others. Come up with a common sense routine and stick to it- no matter what is going on with the rest of the world.

Mine is something like this:

Devotions at 9

Kids school in morning.

Clean kitchen at 3 and after supper

put on 1-2 loads of wash a day.

Excersize with Em 4 days a week

Write 1000 words a day.

Some weeks I never get to mopping the floor. Some weeks a lot of extra stuff gets done. I know though, no matter what, the the dishes and laundry will be caught up, the kids will be physically and spiritually fed, and I will be workingon something that makes me happy. It’s enough.

Stay tuned on more tips how you too can be a successgul slacker…

Today in the Life

Had a slow morning. Right now I am listening to Emily read a Zoology lesson to the girls. We’ve done Bible time, and I’ve helped Emmy with her Shorter Catechism questions for confirmation class. Gracie may still be working on writing out a Bible verse from Isaiah that went with the “true God/true man” question from the Heidelberg. I’ll have to make sure she gets her math done.
I haven’t done spelling with the girls yet. Or had my own devotion time. I haven’t taken my vitamins or written my 1000 words for the day. A stack of dishes is calling me from the kitchen. I’m a little worried about the low temperatures (-20 with wind chill) called for tomorrow night and am trying to figure out how to help our chickens and goats stay warm. I’ve got a lot on the list and need to get moving.
For a moment though, I’ll savor my coffee and the warmth of the stove. I’ll listen to EM read. I’ll hold a child. The kids have eaten, the house is warm. What is important is being accomplished.


How I Met Your Father- A love Story

Today Shane and I celebrate 9 years of marriage.  We were married January 1, 2005

January, 15 years ago, we didn’t know each other. Shane had a house, the mailing business, and assorted room mates. He was able to use his home as a ministry to men who needed a place to stay. Sometimes he lived alone.  January, 15 years ago, I was getting ready to throw up my hands and declare my family situation hopeless. It was pretty messed up. I was working at Good Shepherd with some of Shane’s family members, but I didn’t really know it at them time. I’d never heard of Shane. He’d never heard of me.

13 years ago ,January, I moved to Texas. I never planned on coming back. Shane had stocked up on Y2K supplies the year before. He was still doing the mail business, he had some goats, and he had pretty much come to terms with the fact that he was a lifelong bachelor.

11 years ago, January. I came home. In November of that year, I was with a group of young adults ministering in New Orleans. I met several pagans and Wiccans, psychics, a worshiper of Dianna of Ephesus, and a boy who called himself Puck. Puck was a teenage runaway. His father had been a youth pastor. He dared me to convince him that Christianity was the only way. An epiphany dawned. I knew Jesus, and I knew the work of the Holy Spirit. So did Puck. I did not have to argue this boy into the faith. He belonged to Christ and no kicking against the goads was going to change that. It was just a matter of time. I looked at him and assured him that he was going to be ok. God had not let him go.  And suddenly,  I had to go home, because if God was big enough to straighten Puck out, he was probably big enough to straighten out my family.

I did go home. I left an environment where fiery young men and women were being trained for Christian ministry and went home. I still wanted to get married. There were (seemingly) far more fish in the Gulf of Mexico, where I was, then where I would be going. But I had to go home.

10 years ago, January.  I’d heard there were a couple of single Shank guys left, and that one of them was really into books. I was really into books. I’d come home, but family stuff was still crazy and it wasn’t in my power to change it. Shane’s parents started working part time at the school were I worked. I liked them. I enjoyed getting to know them.  I volunteered to work with his Mom. She asked if I’d marry her son. I said I’d be willing to meet him. I’d gotten an invite to come over for New Year’s Eve, but for some inexplicable reason, went to a prayer conference instead. (Which was ok- the conference was awesome) While I was there I had a dream about a tall thin man in a cowboy hat and blue Suburban. I’d not met Shane yet

I showed up at Shane’s parents church for sunrise service on Easter. Shane was reading and had a hard time getting through the passage in Isaiah without crying. I was intrigued. Over the spring, Shane and I had some really awkward “random” meetings at his parent’s house. Eventually, it got a little less awkward. (Not like the first time when I walked into the room where Shane was and everyone got up and left). We would meet and play card games most Sunday afternoons. We talked about books. We liked a lot of the same authors. We talked about Church History and theology. He seemed like a very polite man who put up with me well but just really wasn’t that interested. That summer, I went to South Africa on a misisons trip. I tried explaining to friends that I was in some weird “arranged courtship”. I decided Shane was just being polite. I would go back one last time to see if he showed any interest. My only excuse is that the Shanks are pretty cool people. Even if Shane hadn’t been there, I would have probably dropped in some Sunday afternoons to play games.

In July, just returning from a cold South African winter, I crashed his brothers wedding. Shane seemed glad to see me, so I kept showing up on Sunday afternoons. I kept moving my chair closer to Shane’s–just to see if this were going anywhere. He didn’t seem to mind. In the fall, he made some vague comments about a Reformation Day service. I showed up. He’d saved me a seat. A couple of weeks later, his grandmother died.  Shane invited me to the funeral. He called several of his relatives, to let them know he was bringing a girl for them to met to the funeral. Many of the people I met that day assumed a was Shane’s “something”.

Four days later, in the middle of November, Shane asked me to marry him. We were married 2 and a half months later, January 1 2005. Despite the short notice, we had over 200 people at our wedding.

Since being married, we’ve had 4 children, adopted one (after being told we probably wouldn’t have any). We’ve had most of my family living with us at one time or another. Seen a lot of the crazy situations straighten out. Done foster care.  We’ve kept eachother warm every night for nine years, save the week Shane went to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.  We’ve enjoyed some good books, played numerous rounds of Canasta. Renovated a house.  Had a phone bank in our laundry room.  Worked on mail jobs in the middle of the night.  I left work to be with the kids, Shane got a job at the Post office. Seen Shane sustained as a Presbyter, and seen him called to lay that down.  Wrestled goats, gotten to know neighbors, survived surgeries and illnesses.   I can’t wait to see what the next nine years bring.