Stone Soup for Five

Oct 5, 2015

Living the four quadrants when you usually just put out fires

Quite a while ago I read Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey talking about the four quadrants of our life.  They are originally from the book by Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but I loved how Dave explained them.

So I wrote them down, determined to live in quadrants 1 and 2.
Then put it away and promptly forgot about it.

But after living the life of a firefighter, and last minute urgency, I wrote them out again, this time where they'd be right in my face, because I'm usually living in quadrants 3 and 4 by default.
And I'm so SICK of default!

So here's how it's going to look in my life this week.

 I'm going to complete quadrant 1 items, the urgent and important, ASAP each day (homeschool, gas for the car, pay the bills, and buy groceries).  My goal is to get Q1 items done before noon each day.

I'm going to try to live most of my day in quadrant 2.  This is the stuff I want to do and need to do and if I don't do, they'll gradually move over to quadrant 1.  Stuff like homeschool corrections, making a menu plan, reviewing my goals, reading good books, and good eating and exercising.

The only way I can live in Q2 is to delegate and/or avoid quadrant 3 items and completely avoid quadrant 4.  Quandrant 3 items are things like pointless arguments with the boys (avoid), checking email like a crazy woman (and then not responding to it... I can only check it if I actually have time to respond!), cleaning up my teen boys messes (delegate to them), "real quick" social media check-ins (avoid), spur of the moment online searches (delegate to paper, then when I'm back on the computer if it's still important, I can look it up then).

Quadrant 4 items are just stupid items that I get sucked into every. single. day.  Ugh!  Stuff like getting stuck in the loop on youTube, Facebook scrolling (it just never ever ends), celebrity "news" articles on news sites (really? this is news? Really? I just clicked to read this?), #trending hashtags, click bait links (those headlines like "This woman picked up an egg carton and my jaw dropped when she did this".)  I HATE this quadrant and HATE that I waste SO. MUCH. TIME. HERE!

So that's what I'm trying to get back to.  Living in Quadrants 1 and 2 are so much more fulfilling, so much more productive, and require real discipline and effort.  Quadrants 3 and 4 are default, deception, and lies!

What are the Quad 3 and 4 items you get sucked into?  What do you want to do in your Quads 1 and 2?  I'd love to hear!

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Oct 2, 2015

How to Spend the Day with God, Part 1

I thought it might be really interesting (convicting?) to do a modern translation and discussion of a essay by Puritan pastor and theologian Richard Baxter.  Baxter lived and wrote in the 1600's and was one of the most prolific theological writers of his time.  I've only read a few short pieces of his work, but was assigned to read one for a class and it surprised me with its practicality almost 400 years after it was written.  Four Hundred Years!  Really man's struggle, MY struggle, is nothing new.  We just have new ways of adding to it.

I also want this to be a discussion.  Let's talk about what you agree with, what you disagree with, and what hits just a little too close to home.  And let's not just talk about it, let's put some action into the areas we are convicted of and do something.

I'll put Baxter's words first, then my translation below.  Then let's walk through them together.

Baxter's Introduction: It somewhat tends to make a holy life more easy to us, when we know the ordinary course and method of our duties, and everything falls into its proper place; as it helps the farmer or tradesman to know the ordinary course of his work, that he need not go out of it, unless in extraordinary cases. Therefore I shall here give you some brief directions for the holy spending of every day.

My Introduction:  A life pleasing to God is easier to live when we are not overwhelmed with chaos and distractions.  If we have a basic routine for our days and know the usual things we should be doing at certain times of the day, everything just goes smoother.  True, there will be days where nothing goes how we want, but having a plan helps us recover quickly and move on better tomorrow.  Following are a few thoughts on how to turn the chaos into calm and do this Christian walk a little better each day.

Baxter: Direction 1. Proportion the time of your sleep aright, (if it be in your power,) that you waste not your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be rationally fitted to your health and labor, and not sensually to your slothful pleasure. The morning hours are the most precious of all the day, for all our duties; especially those who are scanted of time, must take it then for prayer, if possible, lest they have none at all.
Direction 1:  Be intentional with your sleep.  Don't waste your very few morning hours in bed any more than you need to (NEED, not want).  Figure out how much sleep your body needs to function well and stick with that routinely.  Don't lay in bed in the morning because it feels good, these few quiet minutes are the only few you'll have when someone doesn't need you.  If you are especially harried in the mornings and don't have time to pray, its hiding right here... after the alarm, before the snooze.

What I liked: 
I really appreciated that Baxter doesn't lay out a specified number of hours of sleep.  Our days and our bodies and our seasons of life are all different.  I like that he took that into account.  Not a one-size-fits-all kind of approach.

What convicted me (the "ouchie" part):
"..and not sensually to your slothful pleasure."  Ouch, Richard.  Ouch. Low blow.  But, I do see his point.  If I want to get better at this living life to the fullest thing, I've got to make the moments count, because those add up to my days.  That doesn't mean I'm legalistic about my hours of waking and sleeping, but that I'm thoughtful, intentional, and purposeful.  I'm starting to realize that the more I live life on default mode, the harder it is to do anything of meaning.

What do I need to do in light of this?
Well, for me, with teen boys that sleep in until noon unless they have to get up, sleeping in is a very real temptation.  But, I've been waking up early for so many years that it is a habit now.  So my struggle isn't so much with the getting out of bed part, but more with the prayer part he mentions at the end.

How will I do it?
I get up okay, but not until I've hit snooze too many times, so I will move my alarm clock out of arm's reach.  I will put my feet on the ground and just get up the first time it rings.  Because, really, that snooze is just too tempting to give in to my slothful pleasure... and really, are those 9 or 18 minutes worth it?

It is actually pretty amazing to see Baxter's wisdom from 400 years ago, turn up in a Huffington Post article.

Now it's your turn.  What do you think?  What did you like? What hit home? What are you going to do?  I'd love to discuss with you in the comments below!

Sep 24, 2015

When the decision is hard and the outcome seems ugly

Earlier this summer, we drove our oldest son to a military-style boarding school four hours away from our home.  It was a decision he made and after the long drive there, we went through intake processing with him, hugged him, and said goodbye for five and a half months.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done.

Sep 13, 2015

Our Homeschool Loop Schedule for Middle School

Because I always want to do ALL THE THINGS for ALL THE SUBJECTS in homeschool, and make elaborate plans and then crash and burn about week 2, this year I'm trying something different that will allow me to still hit the subjects that I want to teach, but make it much more relaxed and do-able.  I'm going to Loop Schedule!

Sep 1, 2015

Sponsor shout out and a new introduction!

I'd like to introduce our newest sponsor to you!   Sue Kemnitz

Sue is a talented artist who also hand draws coloring pages for adults.  Her coloring pages are so whimsical and beautiful and are available as PDF downloads.

Sue sells a packet of multiple coloring pages all centered around a theme....

Aug 21, 2015

In light of the Josh Duggar wreck

I hate "celebrity" news.  I really do.  But when something as crushing as the Josh Duggar mess comes to light, there are lessons here that are so important that I can't ignore them.  This morning I was wide awake at 4am with my mind swirling about Josh Duggar.

I won't speak on if his parents did what was right when he was a teen, because none of us know the FULL story.  But I will speak on what I can do now with my own teens and pre-teen.  Some lessons I learned the hard way, and some are gleaned from others wiser than I.

Aug 20, 2015

When you've stopped doing the important things

In an ideal world, I would be awesome at my goals.  I would plan the week in my Bullet Journal, review the previous week, record progress toward my goals, and start the week with laser focus.

But in reality, when Sunday rolls around, I glance at my bullet journal and calendar, guilt trip myself for a bit, then surf online, take a nap, or procrasti-clean something.

Aug 10, 2015

Monday books, plans, and goals

I hope to start a new weekly post on Monday about the week's plans and goals and then follow up later in the week with a report on how it went.  I need the accountability and organization.

Since we just got back from 8 wonderful days of camping, I'm feeling refreshed and clear-headed and hopefully can get more summer fun crammed in along with planning for the new school year!

Aug 5, 2015

The most important thing you'll learn from the Corinthians

The Corinthian church was a church of men and women saved from a culture of idolatry, lust, gluttony, greed, and sin.  It was the first Christian church in a very dark, dark culture.  The apostle Paul planted the church in Corinth and labored to see them grow in the wisdom of God.

Aug 2, 2015

A peek inside Tammy's Bible Journal

I want to introduce you to Tammy who was kind enough to let us snoop inside her Bible journal.  I love Tammy's simple creativity and how she makes the study her own.  But she can tell you better than I.  Thanks for sharing with us Tammy!

 I am 50 years old, divorced, and have two beautiful grown daughters.   I accepted Jesus as my savior at the age of 9 and was blessed with Godly parents.  In my younger years and into my teen years, I was in active in GMA’s (Girls Missionary Auxiliary) in our church.  We had a handbook with different levels and in each level we had to memorize verses and read biographies about people in the Bible.  When we passed that level we had a ceremony where we received recognition for what we had learned.  That was my first introduction to reading the Bible.  

Jul 31, 2015

A peek inside Candice's Bible Journal

Today we get to see inside Candice's Bible journal!
I love taking a peek inside other people's journals and seeing what they are doing and learning!  Thanks, Candice.