Children: assets, not obstacles

People don’t consider me the poster child for the simple life. With five small children underfoot, I have been told that I have my hands full. A bustling household may seem to be at odds with simple living, but it is not. Children make noise, cost money, and wake in the middle of the night. They are hard work if you are going to raise them right, which means raising them yourself. Yet I can think of no sweeter means of enjoying the simple, good things in life than alongside God’s gift of children.

A Simple Life
A simple life is a single-focused life. It is one that glorifies God, and children are not obstacles to doing that. Sure, it’s a little loud at times, but above the din I can still make out God’s clarion call to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We must purge the things that encumber us, so that the goal is not obscured. Our family’s aim is a straightforward one—to glorify God with our lives. Children only add to the pleasure of living life to the glory of God.

Now I know it’s easy for us to lose perspective while we are waist-high in laundry, and so in this space, I will explain two ways our family purposes to avoid getting lost in the clamor. You don’t have to go crazy. Things happen and milk spills, but commotion happens whether or not you have children. Each person who endeavors to live a God-honoring life has a choice: the narrow way, or the wide way; the way of the cross, or the way of the culture; the simple way, or the encumbered way. Each one of us chooses each day whom to serve; your own laundry pile is there, no matter how you choose.

The first way our family is learning to walk a narrower path is by decluttering—discarding those things that hinder our mission to glorify God. The second way is by choosing well—purposely embracing the things that help us to glorify God. We rid ourselves of the frivolous things, so that our arms are not too weak to carry the essentials.

Be Simple: Declutter
E.F. Schumacher said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” In other words, simplicity doesn’t just happen; we default to the complex. As our family learns to liberate our lives from litter, we’ve chosen to purge the things that encumber, not those things that have lasting value. This seems obvious. The difficulty lies in differentiating between what matters and what doesn’t.

One simple test is to ask, “When I get to heaven, what will I bring along with me?” Children are eternal; material goods are not. Instead of attributing complexity in life to children, taking a good look at life’s clutter would be a better way to spend our time.

Clutter is the noise of life, and it keeps us from doing the will of God. Recreational shopping can keep us from the simple life, tempting us to spend beyond our means. Leaving home each evening makes it difficult to linger around the dinner table. Swallowing a daily mass media diet leaves us too full of the world’s candy to enjoy the meat of God’s Word. These things are temporal, and don’t deserve our attention.

Mailbox

It’s always planting time here in Florida…

Be Simple: Choose Well
When my husband and I set out to simplify our lives, it was more from necessity than from philosophical choice. We had a goal, and we weren’t able to get there the way we were swimming. We’re just learning how to swim upstream, and the current is a strong one. But now that we have taken carefully considered steps toward simplifying, we are persuaded that glorifying God is more within our reach when the noise of life is turned down. And now that another season is upon us, in a few days he and I will sit down together to plan, strategize, and reevaluate the course our household is on.

Some of the questions that we will ask and answer are: Are we on track? What is working? What isn’t working? Why isn’t it working? What can we do to make it work? Does it need to work, or can we eliminate it? What’s essential, and what’s not? This is one way we strive to choose well, to live our lives intentionally.

To give one example, we run our household on a loose routine; not because we’ve extrapolated some Bible verse to support the way we want to do things, but because routine answers the question, “What’s next?” It helps us to live life purposefully. Our weekdays have a specific flow of schoolwork, chores, and family time each evening. The children know that on Saturday we tackle house projects, and after that we play. And they especially look forward to Sunday, when we worship with our church family.

When we plan, the first choices we make are the ones that we believe God is asking us to make. We will fill our lives, but with what? Many of our choices follow from knowing that God wants us to train up our children in the way that they should go. Since that isn’t something that happens by chance, we have to deliberately set aside time for this training. One way we set out to obey this command is by including Scripture reading in our plans for the day.

We still sometimes struggle with doing life backward, but we are getting better at rearranging our priorities. It is common for people to look at their commitments, and then try to fit in the things that matter. We’ve learned that the better way is to make sure your commitments are the things that matter. Other good things can be added as room is found to fit them in.

We should not be surprised that we raise up worldly children if we’ve raised them the world’s way—in a causal manner, without care, without forethought. God says in effect, “Go this way!” There is a path, and He will help us to walk it if we will ask Him.

Conclusion
Children are enormous wealth in God’s economy. Children are not a hindrance to living a simple, fulfilling life; they are the stuff of life that matters. To embrace this truth, Christians should rid their lives of the things that hinder them from glorifying God, and they should take thoughtful steps to choose just those things that help them to reach that goal. Sometimes we find Biblical precedent that is obvious, and sometimes we ask for wisdom as we apply His Word. In each case, though, it is important that we not just think, but think biblically. And when we think biblically, we find that the only fitting conclusion is to simplify, in order that God might be glorified.

(editing by Rick Saenz)

45 Responses to “Children: assets, not obstacles”

  1. 1

    Well said, Amy. I’ve had a similar topic on my mind today, but wrote about it ina much more abbreviated post (my kids need dinner and daddy’s working!)

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. 2
    Anonymous

    obstacles

  3. 3
    Amy Scott

    Thanks! :eek_wp:

    Apparently, I need an editor before I put up a title too!

  4. 4

    Great post!
    I like the focus on a simple life. It’s what I have been trying to do but didn’t quite know exactly what to call it. I have been calling it decluttering which it is– but a “simple life” is right on. I love your plan!

    Blessings,
    Maria

  5. 5
    Val

    So well said!! Thanks for sharing :D

  6. 6
    Jo

    Amy, What kind of flowers are those?

  7. 7

    I think a God is speaking to His children more and more about the importance of living a simple, God-glorifying life-despite the distractions of the culture. I just posted something along these same lines on my own blog, but I don’t think I expressed it nearly as well as you. Great post!!

  8. 8

    It can be a fight for me to untangled myself from the STUFF of life. Thank you, Amy for these wise and encouraging words. Please don’t hesitate to share some more practical ways you did this. Take Care and God Bless.

  9. 9

    “Make sure your commitments are the things that matter.”

    That is so perfectly put. Thanks, Amy!
    To God be all glory,
    Lisa of Longbourn

  10. 10

    WOW Amy. All this has been at the forefront of our minds recently as we are expecting no. 4 and everyone we meet says “You will have your hands full”.:rolleyes_ee: I want to reply “Yes, indeed….full of God’s precious gifts, his goodness, and his grace and mercy. Full of work in the furthering of our sanctification.”

    Naomi

  11. 11
    ES

    Excellent post, Amy. By the way, do you and Greg know if your newest little one is going to be a boy or girl?

  12. 12

    Hi Amy– I have heard your name so often in the blogging world, but had to venture over to read after reading Lindsey’s recommendation on her blog. After reading this important post, I have also recommended it on my blog! Good stuff– thanks for sharing it with the rest of us who need to hear it!

  13. 13

    Wow, that is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been thinking of this past week and put on my Sunday Afternoon Tea today. No wonder I love reading what you write. :)

    When I look at my grandchildren, I realize how important decisions made thirty years ago affect their life and their destiny today.

    Life truly can be simple when we realize what (who) is important.

  14. 14
    Valerie

    Great post. I was actually just listening to your “Plain Talk” CD again this morning for about the fifth time! It goes right along with what you are saying.

  15. 15

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement that my decluttering of home and commitments is a good thing.

  16. 16

    Timely advice for us, Amy.
    Thank you.

  17. 17

    Amy–You make an important distinction between raising children and simply letting them grow up. Any child can be fed and grow physically, but it takes planning, intention, forethought and careful instruction to train children in the way they should go. Thanks for the reminder.

    elizabeth

  18. 18

    Burden or Blessing?…

    Children are not obstacles … but assets at Amy’s Humble Musings, or blessings?……

  19. [...] are not obstacles … but assets at Amy’s Humble Musings, or [...]

  20. 20

    I agree with all you’ve said–so beautifully too! It’s good to know there are likeminded people out there; trying to raise up Godly children. Thanks.

  21. 21
    Rose

    Very good post; now how do I get hubby on board?

  22. 22

    assets as opposed to liabilities.

    in the world’s view, children are reduced to mere economic equations.

    in the Lord’s view, children are an inheritance & reward.

  23. 23

    My hubby laughs at me because when I feel overwhelmed with life I say, “Just give me a one-room house with a dirt floor, a bed, a stove, and broom. That’s all I need.”

    I’m sure I would miss many modern conveniences if I was really given this arrangement, but there are probably many things I wouldn’t really miss that much either.

    You say, “…simplicity doesn’t just happen; we default to the complex.” So true.

  24. 24

    We are expecting our fourth and I am constantly bombarded with less than enthusiastic remarks. Thank you so much for your encouragement. At seven weeks from delivery, I really needed those words.

  25. 25

    Okay, that pregnancy weight gain calculator just ruined my whole week!

    In bettter news, have you seen what I’m giving away at my site? A hand smocked baby bonnet! C’mon, Amy, you know you want to enter.

  26. 26

    Thanks for the post, children are a blessing from the Lord. God is a provider He blessed with childreb as well as $$$. Their is much to learn to live with less because we do not want to be slave to money but to God

  27. 27

    Amy, thank you so much for this biblical reminder about raising children. My husband and I too, want to go against the flow. Not living the way this world does, but the way Jesus has called us to live. I so appreciated when you said, “One simple test is to ask, “When I get to heaven, what will I bring along with me?” Children are eternal; material goods are not.”

    Very true! Thanks again!

  28. [...] Amy’s Humble Musings reminds us that children are not obstacles, not even to the simple life we want. Did You Enjoy this Post? Subscribe to Parent Extremis. It’s Free! « Back Home Posted in Family Planning Link to this Entry Email This Entry [...]

  29. 29

    Thank you for the great reminder and your practical thoughts on following through in regards to be glorifiers of God in everything that we do. Decluttering definitely hit a nerve for me as I find comfort in my clutter and yet great distraction as well.

  30. 30

    Wonderful article… fantastic blog! I just found your site and will be back often! I am a mother of 4 children ages 10 and under…
    Have a great day!
    Heather

  31. 31
    Amy Scott

    Amy, What kind of flowers are those?

    They are purslane, which I planted two years ago and they died. This year, I put in marigolds. Their cycle finished and up popped the purslane. This is my life.

    By the way, do you and Greg know if your newest little one is going to be a boy or girl?

    Greg is an ultrasound genius…”Ah, yes, that’s the left upper view of the kidney there.” It’d be impossible not to know with him around.

    Very good post; now how do I get hubby on board?

    I’ll let you know when I figure out how to live six other clutterbugs. Whew.

    Part of living a good, simple life is just being content with those things you cannot change. I’m responsible for my part, but getting all frustrated with the people God has sent me to live with doesn’t help much.

  32. 32

    “Part of living a good, simple life is just being content with those things you cannot change. I’m responsible for my part, but getting all frustrated with the people God has sent me to live with doesn’t help much.”

    Nice. Thanks for pointing that out, Amy. :)

  33. 33
    Another Heather

    Tee Hee, I’m reading this post surrounded by ten (very cluttered by the looks of it) years of junk. We are in the process of buying some land and moving the family out to the country to pursue the simple, serving lifestyle. God has been good, and we are moving as fast as we can to keep up with Him–that means losing the junk. Our next home may be barely habitable by modern standards, but we can’t wait to soak ourselves in God’s goodness without the distraction of our mainline culture. Thanks again for your timely reflections. God is still guiding you to that neat property for you family. Hang in there.

  34. 34

    Yes, now I too have something against you.

    That horrid weight gain calculator simply must not realize what it is like to be a real life pregnant woman.

    :)

  35. 35

    Finally got around to reading this post! You are so right. My husband always reminds me that our children *are* wealth, not a hinderance to it. And boy are we ever rich. :)

  36. 36

    Thanks Amy, I’ve read this post twice and I am very encouraged by it. I pray that our family will purpose to “simplify” our lives and make what really matters first and fore most.

  37. 37
    brietta

    I’m responsible for my part, but getting all frustrated with the people God has sent me to live with doesn’t help much.

    Thanks for such a great and timely reminder! Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting a simpler/different values life that I think God must be chuckling at the way I’ve missed the point entirely! Being content with where I am, who God is making me to be, who He has given me to love and nurture, and the tasks set before me: this is simplicity of heart.

    P.S. While I was glad that I at least fell within the ranges of the pregnancy weight gain calculator, I had to laugh that throughout every stage in this pregnancy, I’ve only fallen either in the maximum or normal categories– never minimum. So, basically, I’ll be trying to lose a lot of weight this winter. :longface_ee:

  38. 38

    I have made a decision last week that will de clutter my life a lot and that’s to get rid of my homes chooling blog… I just loved keeping it but spent far too much time thinking about it and working on it. I will keep my blogs about my testimonies but that’s it.

    It was a choice that I knew I was going to have to make sooner or later but now that I have I am happy about it… free. I will continue to check out your blog and one or two others. I love to have even this little bit of contact with other home schoolers and I enjoy the contact with Christians. You however, keep up your blog because it really is a great help to me and I am sure many others! God bless.

  39. 39
    worldweary

    I have three beauties four and under and I’m trying understand how other women get through the sometimes long postpartum periods of burn out. I read that you have discontinued one blog but are keeping the blog of your testimony. How much time do you allow yourself for blogging and other activities that are not immediately serving the needs of your kids, husband, household etc.? What do you allow your self that isn’t catagorizable as “of service to lord”?

  40. 40

    Lots of wisdom here. I agree! Glorifying God does eliminate a lot of unneeded clutter…stuff clutter, brain clutter, and heart clutter.

    I appreciate your thoughts,
    Kim

  41. 41
    Amy Scott

    worldweary,

    I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else. I’ve only ever kept just one blog.

    As for how much time I allow, I post about 2-3 times a week and answer emails as time allows. I’m about a week or two behind (for anyone waiting for a reply…). All my time is “for the Lord” –even my downtime–so it is hard to make the divide for me. I consider downtime (especially during the children’s naps) essential for avoiding burnout.

  42. [...] was recently reading a post on another blogger’s site that touched on a topic Nathan and I repeatedly discuss. Our basic idea is this: children and [...]

  43. 43

    Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, OUCH! but in a really GOOD and NECESSARY way! This is a great encouragement to me today! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  44. 44

    Amy, great post, wow! I need to get over here more often, whenever I do I so enjoy what you’ve been writing, you have a ministry here, and such a wonderful way with wording your heart.

    Mary

  45. 45
    Kelli

    Amy,
    I think the comment about being responsible for my part and not getting frustrated with the people God has sent me to live with , has been somewhat of an epiphany for me. However, there are many times when I struggle with what exaclty IS my part!! that balance is very hard for me to maintain sometimes. Especially as I was a single parent for 8 years before I remarried. It’s hard to not run the show:cheese_ee: Thanks for the reminders that we are not superwomen that are supposed to do it all, matter of fact, we are supposed to DO way less.
    kelli


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