I was praying using my Spiritual Circle Journal. I had told the Lord about my dissatisfaction with my appearance, my kids’ behavior, and the progress I had made (or really had not made) on the language arts curriculum I’m writing. I waited to hear the action steps He would give me for fixing these problems.
Instead, He said:
The real problem is you aren’t content. I think you wrote about that.
I was surprised by that answer. I found the series of blog posts I had written on contentment (you’ll find them at the bottom of this post) and was convicted. But I wanted more than what I had written. The Apostle Paul said that he had learned the secret of contentment, regardless of circumstances. But what was that secret? I was on a mission to discover it and I wanted to share it with you.
Why Contentment Matters
1 Timothy 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain. It is an amazing blessing to be content and miserable to be discontent. Proverbs 19:23 tells us that when we rest content, we are untouched by trouble. That doesn’t mean that we won’t HAVE trouble. We know we will. Jesus says that’s a given. But Proverbs says that our trouble can’t have its way with us. We will be at peace despite our circumstances if we are content. If I’ve sold you on the value of contentment, read on.
The Secret of Contentment
1. Receive Christ
In Philippians 4:13, Paul tells us that he can do all things (including being content) through him. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life, it will be difficult–if not impossible–for you to have contentment.
2. Surround Yourself With Contented People
In verse 14 of Philippians, Paul goes on to tell us that despite the power of God enabling him, he is comforted by the encouragement of other believers. If you spend most of your time with people who are never satisfied, how will you be content? But when you share your burdens with contented believers, they will remind you of the promises of God and your contentment will grow.
3. Focus on What You Know
In Psalm 131:1 the psalmist tells us that he doesn’t concern himself with great matters or things too wonderful for him. We can become discontent when we want to know the answers to difficult questions like, “Why did God let this happen?” or worrying about the future. We KNOW that God is good and He loves us. Focusing on that truth gives us contentment.
4. Get Out of Situations That Make You Discontent
The psalmist continues in 131:2 to say he that he has calmed and quieted himself like a weaned child with its mother. As a mom, I know that when my baby is fussing, the best thing I can do for her is get her out of the situation. She needs to get away from the noise. I was watching a lot of home remodeling shows and found myself being discontent with my house. Suddenly, everything seemed so 80s! I have stopped watching those shows to quiet myself.
5. Fear the Lord
Truly the only thing we have to fear is God, because He is in control of our lives. Even if He permits something into our lives that we don’t want, we can be confident that He will give us His grace to endure. He will use it for our good and His glory. That truth fosters contentment. (See Proverbs 19:23)
6. Rejoice in Your Relationship with God
He is our portion, better and more satisfying than anything we are pining away for. He will never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that this truth is what makes us content. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us that continually rejoicing, praying, and thanking God is the antidote to discontentment. Our blessings can be like the bucket of popcorn at the movies that we mindlessly consume. The 5 Minute Journaling app has been helpful to me in focusing on my blessings. I have copied and pasted these contentment Scriptures to pray through on my Pocket Prayer app on my phone.
Do you have any other suggestions for fostering contentment in your life? Comment or tell me about them on Facebook.
I tried Periscope a few weeks ago and I’m hooked. I love it and if you homeschool, I think you will, too. Here are six reasons you should try it.
Wait! What’s Periscope?
Periscope is a new social media platform that allows viewers to chat with live broadcasters. Currently, you can only give comments and hearts (via taps on the screen) via the mobile app. You can watch replays for 24 hours on your mobile device and on the web and even longer at katch.me. Follow me @Psychowith6 for saner homeschooling and living scopes. You can also follow me at WatchonPeriscope. Click the red Follow button on the right when the page opens. If you want to know more, check out my Periscope page.
#1 Make friends
I couldn’t have homeschooled these past 16 years without my friends. But I am in awe that in just a few weeks, I have made great new homeschooling friends online. Watching live video of people is a much faster way of getting to know them than on any other social media platform. You can make new friends by watching other homeschool scopers, but getting in front of the camera yourself is even better! To make connections quickly, join our homeschool Periscope group on Facebook. Disclaimer: There are occasionally some rude people who will make inappropriate comments. If the broadcaster doesn’t share their location, that’s less likely. The scoper can just tap the comment and block that person. But for that reason, you may not want younger readers to watch scopes with you, even if you trust the broadcaster.
#2 Get real
One of the biggest problems in homeschool circles and especially with other forms of social media is the idea that everyone else has it more together than you do. All those perfect Pinterest photos and projects and even blog posts can make you feel inferior. What’s great is your homeschool heroes appear on Periscope sans makeup with kids screaming, misspeaking, and doing all kinds of very human things. What I also love is the confessions people make. They don’t speak like holier-than-thou experts, but like friends. That can take the pressure off of all of us imperfect homeschoolers. In that vein, you might enjoy 6 Reasons I’ll Never Be a Perfect Homeschooler.
#3 Ask questions
You can ask questions of your new real-life friends as they broadcast. If you want to know how to help your dyslexic student, homeschool Montessori style, or tailor an easy recipe, just ask! Scopers love to answer your questions. If your friends are always asking how you do something, why don’t you broadcast and share with all of us? Homeschoolers are all teachers and we would love to ask you those burning questions.
Let’s face it. While I absolutely love Pinterest, it can be overwhelming. But the little doses of ideas you get through Periscope broadcasts are perfect. I’m doing challenging and fun workouts with RocaBody on Periscope, have found a new mascara to try, and have watched new recipes being made that I’m going to make asap. I have been way more active in putting ideas from Periscope into use, probably because I *see* how easy they are. Periscope is the perfect prescription for homeschool burnout or boredom. If you need that little extra motivation to organize your homeschool, join me on Thursdays!
#5 It’s fast
While there is currently no way to fast-forward or rewind videos in replay, I find that I can get tips and ideas very quickly from Periscope. Most broadcasts are short and good scopers get to the point quickly. You don’t have to stay for the whole broadcast and you walk away smarter. Contrast this to homeschool sessions at a conference. It’s rude to walk out of a talk, right? But viewers pop in and out of broadcasts on Periscope all the time.
#6 It allows you to multi-task
It’s not as freeing as listening to a podcast, but you can listen to broadcasts on your phone or computer while doing something else. I listen to them as I get ready in the mornings and even while I drive. I am not typically commenting when I’m busy doing something else (like driving), but I can tap and give some hearts and I feel like I’ve hung out with my friends.
What are you waiting for?
Download the free app (you’ll need a Twitter account if you don’t have one), search for Psychowith6 with the magnifying glass icon, and join us today and Monday through Saturday at 3:45 p.m. Central time for Homeschool Happy Hour with #homeschoolscopes. I’ll tell you about some great replays to catch (there is no topical search function on Periscope as of yet) and we’ll chat about what’s happening in our homeschools right now. Can’t make the live broadcast? No problem! You’ll see the replay in your list of broadcasts if you’re following me. I’ll also share the replays at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook. We’d love to have you join the Facebook Homeschool Periscope group, too.
Have a homeschooling friend who would love this? Share it! Looking forward to connecting with you.
This is Week 4 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested the ability of Ann Voskamp’s daily and weekly planner to help me get more done. Scroll to the end of this post to see my plan. I was super excited to use my new folder/clipboard (from Target) with the pages. I even bought new pens to use with it! Pretty nifty, huh? Here’s what I learned in my week of using these paper planners.
How a Paper Planner Saved My Sanity This Week
- Reduced my anxiety about the upcoming week. I had quite a bit of anxiety at the beginning of this last week. I had the feeling I was forgetting important things. I printed out the weekly planner page and looked over my Google calendar. I started adding events to the planner. I then printed the daily pages and dated them. I could easily decide to put certain tasks on these pages because of my weekly plan.
- Gave me a focus for the day and week. My favorite part of the daily planner, possibly because I hadn’t done anything like this before, was the relationship focus. I realized that I was focused on all the to-do’s prior to an event this week and the relationship focus helped me to realize WHY I was having the event. Very powerful and made the event much more satisfying. I also really liked the Scripture focus. I memorize Scripture with my children, but I liked having a personal Scripture to focus on for the week.
- Paper gave me a sense of control. For some reason, the paper planner and even the notebook inside my binder gave me a feeling of having it all together that I haven’t had since I’ve been using digital task lists. I suspect it has to do with a limit on the amount of information I see.
How a Paper Planner Made Me Crazy This Week
Unfortunately, I think I would have been crazy no matter what this week. By Tuesday I was absolutely exhausted and just wanted to lie on the couch watching Biggest Loser and eating fatty snacks. I didn’t, but I didn’t get much beyond the “musts” done.
- This particular planner encourages too many habits at once. I wanted to get more done, not focus on keeping a food log and recording how much water I had. Even though I don’t think I have a problem in these areas, I felt compelled to add these habits. When I didn’t keep doing it, I had that all-or-nothing toss it out the window effect going. That was related to the next problem.
- Too many task options. Whereas the simple paper list didn’t pose a problem for me if I didn’t get a day’s work done, this planner really bothered me when I didn’t. I think subconsciously I pictured Ann Voskamp dutifully completing all her tasks and her workout and water drinking and her relationship focus and housekeeping tasks and Scripture memory and I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn’t do it. I also really disliked writing my daily activities down every day, especially when they’re already in my HomeRoutines app.
- The draft didn’t work. I loved the concept of the draft. Research suggests that planning when we’re going to do something dramatically increases the likelihood that we’re going to do it. But guess what? The research always focuses on ONE task. One lousy task! I could decide when to do one thing and do it. No problem! But when I started planning all the things I would do in the morning, the afternoon, and evening and when I didn’t get some of those things done, I became discouraged and gave up.
Did a Paper Planner Help Me Get More Done?
In terms of overall productivity, no. However, I absolutely didn’t forget the important things and had a much better sense of control because of using the weekly planner. I liked the weekly planner so much that I plan to keep using it.
While I still find myself drooling over this paper planner and others like it, I don’t use them consistently. I do love having the big picture in front of me, but I quickly stop using them in favor of digital planners. I did a Periscope broadcast on using paper planners that you may enjoy.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 5
I’ve written before about Mark Forster’s unique productivity methods. I’ve tried Do It Tomorrow and AutoFocus and plan to test them again in the coming year. But while Mark has continued to make modifications to AutoFocus, I haven’t been interested in testing any of his new approaches until now.
First, the rationale. He suggests that people like me may create huge to-do lists as a method of avoiding what they know they really should be doing. I agree! That’s why I quit using a to-do list for quite a while. To keep a long to-do list from obscuring what you know you should be doing, Mark suggests:
- Choosing three tasks in the order in which you plan to do them.
- Working on the first two as little or as much as you like in order.
- Adding two more tasks to the list and continuing on.
Like Autofocus, these tasks can even include routine things like “take a shower” or free-time activities like “get on Facebook.” I plan to continue using my morning and school routine and planning the week using Ann’s planner. I will send reminders to my phone via IQTell for tasks that I must do that day. Everything else will be worked on using Mark’s method.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Mark’s simple explanation of the method. He recently added a statement that the method is not recommended for other people. Ignore that and carry on. You can use paper or a simple to-do application.
To see how my week with Mark’s Simple and Effective Method went, click here.
If you’ve tried using a paper planner to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:
A Year of Living Productively
Week 1: Paper To-Do List
Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants
Week 3: Routines