Too Much Tuesday: Simplicity in Spirituality

While rereading Dom Hubert Van Zeller’s outstanding Holiness for Housewives (and other working women), my primary Advent spiritual reading this year, I ran across the following words of wisdom I thought worth sharing. So often we make growing in our faith a complicated matter and are discouraged when we don’t seem to make much progress. Or, alternatively, we can become complacent and coast along in our spiritual practices and not really bear much fruit along the way.

I believe this holy Benedictine priest nailed it when he wrote this book as his way to holiness is, in Benedictine tradition, one of stability, obedience, and ongoing conversion–all the while balanced by moderation. I hope his words–summed up in his phrase “religion is yielding to Christ” are helpful to you as well during this time of waiting and preparing for our Lord and Savior’s birth.

“Training in spiritual things…can be done only by the combined activity of God and yourself. Concentrate on the service of the will…Obedience to God’s will is…is all that religion amounts to. Religion is God. Religion is recognizing God in His own setting. The setting is provided by Him, not by us…Religion is yielding to Christ.

The only thing that really matters in life is doing the will of God. Once you really appreciate this truth, and act accordingly to its implications, you save yourself a lot of unnecessary heart-searching [overthinking] and resentment.”

Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Lupus edition

Today’s reblogged post is written by someone who knows the ropes when it comes to managing her lupus. Thanks to Sara Gorman’s innovative, comprehensive approach–detailed in her outstanding book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness (my all-time favorite book on living with chronic illness)–she has been able, over the years of learning to live with lupus, to write a book, blog (Despite Lupus), have two children, and start a home-based business related to her lifestyle (Sara Gorman’s Pillbags). Despite what you might think, she’s no superwoman but rather an extremely realistic person who has accepted her limits and learned how to manage her health so that it supports her life’s priorities, all one step at a time. I thought this post might appeal to my readers who are chronically ill and/or are writers who are chronically struggling with finding time to write.

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Strength

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on developing a flexible routine that tries to accomplish both routine household maintenance (including administrative tasks) and the necessary self care chronic illness requires. I have made more progress than I have in previous years–where I set my sights way too high and then crashed and burned–but I’ve been struggling with my old foe perfectionism and what I “should” be able to get done. Thankfully my therapist provided a much-needed perspective last week by reminding me that my overachieving personality was creeping back in as I was feeling better and so when I had some not-feeling-so-well days I was being too harsh with myself.

As a result, over the past several days I was able to be both more flexible on a daily basis and yet more productive 0ver the course of the weekend and beginning of this week. Of course I also asked for help when needed! I now am giving myself credit for what gets done and am not beating myself up for all that remains to be done, especially as I remained physically and mentally stable through a family member’s out of town birthday celebration.

Now as this week gets underway I’m rereading the chapters on simplifying one’s weekly and daily schedules in Marcia Ramsland’s book from which I’ve been sharing these Back to Basic posts’ prayers. As she points out, we need to organize our time both horizontally (“looking forward to the week and the month ahead to pace your schedule and energy accordingly”) and vertically (“accomplishing the day’s tasks in a time sequence from morning until night”). Marcia also says, “The key to successful time management is evaluating your time from both angles. When you plan horizontally and vertically, you control your schedule, rather than allowing life’s events to control you. Being proactive rather than reactive is a wonderful way to live.” I can personally attest to the truth of this statement from a lack of doing this for decades! She also advises “only plan up to 70% of your time with a 30% time cushion for the unexpected.”

Finally, whether or now we have less energy due to chronic illness we all need down time, transition time, and unscheduled time to handle the fact that Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans” (Allen Saunders, Reader’s Digest 1957 but also slightly modified in John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy”). 

Here’s the corresponding prayer for this topic:

“Dear God,

You know my life, and You know how much I can handle in a day. Please help me to organize my time so I can accomplish all that is in front of me. Gently remind me in stressful times to quiet my heart with a quick prayer so I can draw upon Your great strength to help me. Amen.”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!



Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer as a Mom

As today is the last day that I’m the parent of a minor I’m naturally reflecting upon all that my son has accomplished toward maturity…and how the years have flown by! It seems like just yesterday that, a few hours after giving birth, I nearly passed out on our garage floor upon standing up too quickly when exiting our car, giving the new dad a near heart attack as he had our son in the car seat carrier in one hand and had to simultaneously grab for me with the other without dropping a newborn. (Personally, I blame it all on the nurse who failed to bring me milk to go with my king size Snickers that I consumed almost immediately upon celebrating the safe–after not without excitement we could have done without–delivery–as I feel more stable blood sugar levels would have kept me vertical…but I digress).

Yesterday as his dad and I were pondering how to best spur him on to continued growth while giving him increasing latitude in managing his life I saw this quote that more or less sums up what we concluded:

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him and to let him know that you trust him.”

Booker T. Washington

I also find myself encouraged by these words from a veteran parent:

“We highlight our teens’ successes while acknowledging their challenges. We limit some struggles toward independence by offering new freedoms. We link rewards with responsibilities, privileges with productivity, and money with good management…If we parents work more on our relationship with our teen than we work on our teen, we balance loving them unconditionally with trying to fix them. Then we imitate God’s way of parenting. He loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.”

Kimberly Hahn, Legacy of Love: Biblical Wisdom for Parenting Teens and Young Adults

So today as we get together with his lifelong friends to celebrate this auspicious occasion I am embracing this prayer knowing that my role as a parent is not over, just changing, as he moves toward adulthood:

“Dear God,

Thank You for my role as a mother. Please grant me the patience and wisdom I need to train my children as they grow up. When they’re all grown up, what a blessing it would be to not only be their mom, but to be their friend–and have dinner at their house!”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way! 


Dog Days of Summer

“But life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far and superior to that of muscle and sinew. Let me tell you, if you don’t know it from your own experience, that reading a good book, losing yourself in the interest of words and thoughts, is for some people (me, for instance) an incredible intensity of happiness.”

― Isaac Asimov

I am looking forward to kicking back this afternoon with a favorite book. In my case that is Elizabeth Goudge’s The Heart of the Family, the third book of the Eliot family trilogy. If you haven’t given yourself permission to get lost in a good book lately, why not do that today?


Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer to Make a Difference

In the midst of another pile-up on our living room sofa–because I do my paperwork and phone calls et al. from my comfy wing chair, thereby sometimes resulting in a nearby crazy pile of clipboards, papers, and other paraphernalia related to household administrative activities–I definitely needed to be reminded of this prayer!

“Dear God,

Thank You that You have a purpose for me in my job. Help me to recognize ways I can simplify my work spaces and working habits so I can better accomplish what’s before me.  Help me to make a positive difference in the world through the work I do today. 


Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Perseverance

Here is another great prayer for help with getting things done when for whatever reason you might be struggling with accomplishing the things that need to be accomplished.

“Dear God,

Thank You for putting a roof over my head and a place to call home. Help me to keep at the clutter and cleaning pick-ups so my home becomes my castle. Help me to persevere and stay focused. I am grateful that at least You and I know what I did today.


Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!


Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Help

Over the past few weeks I’ve been on new meds and am feeling better than I have in over a year–praise God!–so naturally I’ve been tackling the backlog of chaos around our home. Having energy, motivation, and focus–not to mention less pain–go a long way in my getting things done. So, I’m spurred on to get into a regular routine again for a variety of reasons including that it’s the beginning of school for the last year for our son and so our family routine changes. The following prayer states my intention perfectly. Maybe it will also reflect yours.

“Dear God,

I really would like to simplify [and thereby help stabilize] my life, but I’ve tried before. This time help me actually do it, especially when I don’t feel like it.


Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Writers’ Wednesday

Long day. Late night. Tired brain. But you, tireless reader, shall not be left without something to peruse since I have committed to providing you with grist for your writing mill. I’ll keep it short and sweet. It’s my three all-time favorite books about writing.

Madeleine L’Engle: Herself—Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott

Freeing Your Creativity: A Writer’s Guide—How to write more and better than you ever thought you could, Marshall J. Cook

These gems are time tested classics for me and were instrumental in pushing me past thinking about writing (although I did journal, naturally) to actually writing. I hope at least one of them will be both inspirational and instructive in helping you take the next step in your unique writing journey.

Writers’ Wednesday

I’d like to try featuring some regular posts about writing, writers, and perhaps even my own experience with working on crawling out from under my shell as a writer. So today is my first plunge into this venture. Join me as we explore together something that, I hope, will be of interest to those of us who are newer to this craft. Those of you who are more experienced are encouraged to fill the com box with your own inspiration, tips, resources, etc. Since there is so much written about writing I know I could just share favorite authors on writing, websites, and writing services but what I’d like to do is go beyond that, although I’m sure I’ll include a fair share of them along the way. Here we go!

I’d like to start with sharing a post from a wonderful author, blogger, and generally amazing online influence on me who has been an enormous inspiration to me long before I began blogging but was longing to do some kind of writing other than journaling. It didn’t hurt that during the years I homeschooled our approach to learning was so similar. I always wished she lived near me so I could meet her in person—still do!—because I felt we had so much in common. The versatile woman I speak of is none other than Karen Edmisten, a convert to Christianity (eventually Roman Catholic) from atheism, who has multiple book credits, has written for magazines, and maintains a unique online presence–plus she loves naps, as do I (an added bonus, in my opinion).

The story of how she came to find her own writing vocation can be found here:

I’ve reread it multiple times since first seeing it and printing it out for my own personal motivation to push past my fears about pursuing writing. But although I set up a blog domain, it took me until 2011 to overcome my anxiety about writing for anyone’s eyes other than my journal’s, even though I had published an article in a small magazine for the homeschool community in 1995, despite not yet having any children (the article being on infertility). In the intervening years, my chronic anxiety levels had become amped up and it wasn’t until the past few years or so that I was diagnosed with mood disorders, which explained, in part, the difficulty I was having with my writing (or lack of it, other than in fits and starts).

In my case, I think the biggest problem was I always secretly wanted to write fiction but never felt I was creative enough to do so, so much so that even when I would get something down on paper it started to overwhelm me almost instantly and I gave it up almost as soon as I started. Non-fiction is another matter. I can gab on my blog almost as easily as I can rant (my son’s favorite term for when I speak at length about any topic). Then one day it finally occurred to me: why am I trying to mentally think of myself only as a writer if: a) I write fiction, and b) I get published? I owe my release from that self-prison to Marshall J. Cook, author of Freeing Your Creativity: A Writer’s Guide—How to write more and better than you ever thought you could.


This quote of his from that very book is what finally liberated me:

“Not all writing has a large audience—or any audience at all. We write because we want to, because we need to, even because we have to. We write for what the process of writing can do for us and to us. For some of us, writing is as much a part of life—and as necessary—as breathing.”

Now I just try and follow the old adage, “Write what you know.”

For what it’s worth, the “Coach” (Marshall’s nickname) maintains a fun, contributor-friendly monthly newsletter for writers. I have found it a refreshingly unstuffy e-zine that always leaves me pondering both serious matters as well as usually laughing so hard it results in some level of inconvenience; a small price to pay for inspiration. You can find it here, including back issues:

So, if you also are a writer—and if you write then you are, whether or not it’s for anyone else’s eyes—what is holding you back from taking the next step in developing your craft? Or if you’ve already done that, it would be great to hear what helped you get over that hump.

Until next time…fellow writing nerds, keep writing if you want to keep breathing (not really, but it sounded cool!).

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