Tuesday, August 31, 2010


For day two of K.I.S.S. I thought I would broaden things even more to how we can keep things simple in life.  For me, I strive to focus my life in order to have a biblical perspective to help keep things simple.

I once heard an acronym for experiencing joy.  It goes like this:

J - Jesus
O - Others
Y - Yourself

I think this is such a good, simple reminder of how to focus our priorities each day. With this acronym in mind, it helps us to know what is important and what can be left undone or saved for later.  

So many decisions and responsibilities can crowd our day, but I think this simple acronym helps to remind us, as believers, what is important in life.  Any of the simple ideas I share this week fail quickly if I don't put Christ first in my day.  God's grace allows me to even be able to complete the tasks that I outlined on yesterday's daily magnets.  

I hate to clean, and on days when I get things out of order and move myself up to the top of the list, there really isn't joy in anything I do. But God has called me to be a wife and mom and I'm so thankful for his grace in giving me such blessings.  Keeping Him at the forefront of my days helps me to focus on others before myself.

Here's a little more detail to help us in savoring JOY in our lives.

J is for Jesus: 
In Mark 12:30 we are reminded of the greatest commandment to "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."  As we seek to love God with all of our heart, then He must fill us with the love we need to have to love others and love ourselves rightly.

O is for Others:
The second greatest commandment, showing the order of importance, is then seen in Mark 12:31: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Now, how do we love ourselves?  I think most of us would agree that we do pretty well loving ourselves.  We don't have to be taught to think of ourselves first, so we must ask God to help us to put others first.  

Y is for Yourself:
After we have focused on our Savior and others around us, then we are ready to rightly focus on ourselves. The Christian life is about laying down our own life for Christ, who laid down His life for us.  As we focus on Him and others first, we are able, with God's help to be filled with His strength to be able to see ourselves as He sees us.

How are you living simply?

Feel free to link up your posts on keeping your life simple or leave a comment helping us to focus on this today!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Daily Magnets

Thanks for stopping by for the first day of K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple, Sister!  Check out the details below if you would like to join in on sharing your ideas for keeping things simple.

Today, we are focusing on keeping it simple in the home.

One of the things that helps me to keep things simple in my home is organizing tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly duties.  For so long I would keep this in a folder or on my computer to help keep me stay on track, but I found that I wouldn't look there to see what I wanted to get done each day, and tasks just went undone.

That's when I decided to keep the cleaning and organization of our home on track by making my own daily magnets to remind me. Basically, if I don't have a plan, cleaning just doesn't get done.  So here is my plan: I have 5 magnets that include tasks that I want to get done on Monday through Friday of each week.  The top portion of the magnet includes items that I want to be intentional about doing at least weekly and the bottom portion includes tasks that can be done on a monthly basis.

I made the lists into a decorative picture in Photoshop and then inserted them into magnetic photo holders that I found on the picture frame aisle in Wal-Mart.  Not too much time or money! 

I realize it may be too over-the-top and not simplified for some of you, but maybe, just maybe this will seem simple to someone.  To me, it's simple because it includes reminders like cleaning out my e-mail inbox once a month, organizing my photos, and cleaning out my refrigerator.  Doing these tasks "when the magnet says to" helps me to stay on top of the organizing and cleaning that I might not recognize until it gets so out of hand that it is overwhelming.

Take for instance, the pantry.  If I clean it out well just once a month (when the magnet says to), then I am able to better see what items I have on hand and be sure to use items that may be close to expiring.  And to me, that makes things in my home a little more simple.

The main thing is just doing it! When I complete the weekly and monthly tasks according to my magnetic schedule, then my home is so much more manageable and tasks are simpler.

What ideas do you have for keeping it simple in your home?

If you blog about a simple idea for your home, then feel free to link up your post below.  If you aren't a blogger, then leave a comment about a favorite simple idea in your home.  

And Keep It Simple, Sister!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm all about keeping things simple.  But simple doesn't just happen. For example, I'm forever rearranging things in my house to keep organized.  Systems seem to work and then one day, I run across a better system that is so much simpler and I wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"

So next week, I want to share a few of the
simple things that have worked for me and I hope to hear from you about some simple things you have found to work in your life.  There are entire blogs devoted to simpler lifestyles.  A magazine entitled Real Simple.  And I have recently been reading a great book called The Simple Life.  

Interesting.  We don't seem to need books called
How to Have a More Cluttered House or How to Have A Crazy Schedule.  We do, however, seem to need help when it comes to simplifying things.  In fact, my pastor has even been preaching a series on simplifying different topics in Scripture.

So what does keeping things
simple mean?  Well, dictionary.com defines simple as "easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.; not complicated." And simplify is defined "to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier."

I don't know about you, but I like for things to be easier!  So, join in and share your best ideas to
Keep It Simple, Sister!  

Starting next Monday, you can check back here to learn some of my simplified ideas and link up your own ideas to share.  Here's where we will focus our ideas:

Monday: Keeping it simple in the
Tuesday: Keeping it simple in life
Wednesday: Keeping it simple in marriage
Thursday: Keeping it simple with kids
Friday: Keeping it simple in the kitchen

These areas are pretty broad, so as long as you keep it clean, I'm excited to hear what you have to share!

Feel free to grab the button below and encourage others to join in so we can learn as much as we can about
keeping it simple!

a new song

mission of the month: September 2010

Mission of the Month

There is so much to be said about accountability.  In all areas of life.

Last month when I embarked on the task of cooking for two weeks, there was a point when I was sitting on the couch, looking through the shopping list, recipes, and preparation plans and I really wanted to quit.  Then I thought, "I've got to do this.  I said on my blog that I would!"

So, I did.  And I was so glad that I did.

Mama Jenn is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs, and she has put out a challenge for her readers to join her in completing monthly missions.  I love this.  In terms of plans (and I love to plan), I tend to think on a daily or weekly basis, so large projects can seem more overwhelming during that time.

The mission I am going to embark on for September is creating (once again) a Blakley Family Folder.  This kind of serves as a control station of our home.  Granted, there are only three of us (+ Jazz), but things can easily spiral out of control when I don't have a plan.  I have had 3-ring binders before with our schedule, meal plans, budget, and other things in one place to keep down on the clutter, but I've let them go.

This time, I would like our "Blakley Family Folder" to include our schedule/calendar, our favorite "go-to" recipes, new snack & recipe ideas for Elijah, and learning activity plans for Elijah.  I have been working on our daily schedule for the fall, since I will start teaching piano lessons next week and things will swing back into gear from this (relaxing) summer.  But I want to spend some time collecting ideas for the other items in our BFF.  haha!  BFF....how funny!

I want to be intentional in my time with Elijah during the day, so I'm most excited about compiling ideas for continuing to teach him each day.  And snacks and recipes for him need to be planned so that he will eat so much better than when I just try to do things last minute.

So...hold me accountable.  I hope that this time next month I will have a great report of what our new, improved BFF looks like!

And if you want to challenge yourself to go on a specific mission in September, then head on over to Mama Jenn and link up your idea!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A few weeks ago we took Elijah to a nearby children's museum.  Now when I think museum I think about being quiet and walking around slowly looking at priceless items.  Not this museum.  It's definitely for children and a great place for their imaginations to soar.

I was most excited to take Elijah because of the different modes of transportation that he would be able to explore.  (After all, he is ALL boy!)  There is a train and an airplane to play on as well as a real police car and fire truck to discover.  I thought FOR SURE he would go crazy over these!

Not only did he not go crazy over them, I think he would have been content to stay in the toddler area and play with the blocks.  The same blocks he has at home.

When we entered the room with the fire truck, Elijah got so excited and ran right to the fire truck.  Not the real (huge) bells and whistles fire truck, but the toy fire truck right in front of him on the floor.  The one that was smaller than him.  

I couldn't believe it.  We have a toy fire truck at home.  Did Elijah not know we were at the MUSEUM?!  

And the same thing happened in the room with the train.  We have toy trains at home.  

This totally affirmed to me that we like what we know.  Not only that, but we gravitate toward what we know.  I was convicted by the Lord that this is so true in my relationship with Him.  How many days do I come before Him bringing what I already know and expect, totally missing out on the big picture of what He wants to do? 

I would also say that we expect what we know.  In Habakkuk 1:3, the Lord answers Habakkuk's cries for understanding by saying, "Look at the nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

I often come before the Lord questioning Him, already having the answer in my mind, instead of quietly waiting to see what great work He has in store.  Would I even believe if He told me?

On the way to the museum, we talked with Elijah about big fire trucks and trains we were going to see.  But in his realm of thought, the fire truck and train are to be played with at his level.  He wasn't ready to comprehend climbing and exploring on the real vehicles.  

I pray that I wouldn't be so stuck in my ways that I miss what God is preparing all around me. I pray that I won't just gravitate toward what I know.  I'm so quick to limit God and He is infinitely bigger that what I can even comprehend!

Monday, August 23, 2010

project complete!

I certainly didn't wake up this morning intending to complete a project, but I did!  I was checking out random blogs and ran across a project that I just couldn't resist getting done TODAY.  And it's rare that I have all of the supplies needed, so when I found what I needed I got to work!

This is the project that I just couldn't put off.  It was screaming my name!  So about an hour later...it was done!

Mine isn't quite as good as the original, but I like it!  I had been using some dry erase magnets on my fridge, but I like this so much better.  I'm perpetually making lists, so I love it when they are actually pretty to look at.

There really are lots of possibilities for this project.  In fact, I'm thinking about making a calendar like this as well.  What project are you planning to complete in the near future?  Or what project have you completed lately?  It sure feels good to start and finish something all in the same afternoon.

...Now off to clean up my mess and work on my to do list that didn't get done this afternoon.

musical monday

Our pastor has been preaching a "Simple" sermon series, breaking things down for us, and it has been so challenging to me. Yesterday's message was "Stewardship Made Simple" and it definitely challenged me as well.

So often I think the word "stewardship" sends our minds straight to thinking about how we're spending our money, but Christian stewardship is so much more than that.  Through stewardship, we honor God.  And we are called to honor God in every aspect of our lives. As our pastor challenged us yesterday (here come the three points), this means that:

 1. God is the Owner
 2. We are the Managers
We better do it (stewardship) right!

You can read Matthew 25:14-30 to for the origin of these truths.

One of the great points our pastor made is the fact that we are only responsible for the "talents" (read it: "all") that we have been given, not something that someone else has been given.

As freeing as this statement is, I still have to go straight back to Matthew 7:3 to be further warned to hold myself accountable.  Here we read, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?"  Let me tell you...I have a much easier time of figuring out how someone else should be spending their time and talents than I do for myself.  That's definitely how I feel challenged.

When I think about the three points from yesterday's sermon, they are all great truths.  #1: God is the owner of everything.  #2: He has allowed us to be managers.  #3: We better do it right.  These do not change, but we must submit to the authority of #1 and utilize well our role in #2, because #3 is serious.

A song that has really spoken to me lately is Starry Night by Chris August.  The second verse caught my attention this past week because it so poetically points to Matthew 7:3.

From the autumn leaves, 
That will ride the breeze
To the Faith it takes,
To pray and sing
From the Painted sky, 
To my plank filled eye
He is God of all, He is everything

God is Lord of all whether or not we acknowledge Him to have that authority.  He has given us all we have and amazingly, He even wants what we offer back to Him.  He just asks that we do.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

lost in translation

One of the things I have noticed with Elijah over the last few weeks is that he says some words almost perfectly and then other words are so far from the real thing that it is really difficult for me to understand.

For example, I remember talking to him about the word "empty" one day and hearing him repeat something that sounded like "got-be."  The next day when he said "got-be" and kept saying "got-be, got-be, got-be"  I finally realized that he was saying "empty."  And the pronunciation hasn't changed in the past week, so I'm so glad I figured this out!

Elijah tends to get frustrated in communicating with me if I don't understand what he is saying.  If he says "got-be" it's very clear that he likes and expects me to say, "That's right Elijah, the cup is empty," and continues to say it until I recognize his word.

This being said, I've tried to remind myself to have Elijah practice saying any new word that I teach him right then.  That way, just like the word "empty," I will (hopefully) know exactly what he is saying the next time he tries to explain something to me.

So, if you're having trouble understanding your toddler, be intentional with listening for how he interprets the sounds!

painting with water!

We have had so much rain here lately, which is great, but we haven't been able to play outside a whole lot.  Yesterday afternoon was a great time to get out, so I decided to do an activity with Elijah that we had tried a few months back.

If your child wants to paint, but you don't want to deal with the mess, just paint with water!  I think I remembered this idea from some childcare position I have had in the past and it's easy and fun.  Elijah loves to play with the paint brushes, but it's a little too much now (with an 18 month old!) to pull out the paints very often.

Here's a glimpse into our painting session.  Elijah painted a "train" and I painted a sun for him!  ...And then the activity is over when he dumps out all of the water.  Our water painting actually lasted much longer than I expected!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

finding holiness in a dishwasher

I remember one phone conversation I had with my dad a few months back and it always makes me laugh.  I was in the kitchen when he called and he asked me what I was doing.  I told him that I was loading the dishwasher, but he heard me say I was "using the dishwasher."

We got a good laugh out of that.  It's almost as if I said I was watching grass grow or using the oven.  All things that do need input from me to possibly get started, but ultimately are doing the work themselves while I go on with other things.

This random misunderstanding got me thinking.  How often do I say I'm seeking change in my life and simply sit there (or keep going about other things), waiting for God to do all the work.
One of the best books I have ever read is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.  In talking about holiness, he looks at our part combined with the Holy Spirit's part in becoming more like Christ.  He says, "we have misunderstood 'living by faith' (Galatians 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part.  In fact, sometimes we have even suggested that any effort on our part is "of the flesh." 

Galatians 2:20 says, 
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

When we look at Scripture as a whole, and not just one verse, we quickly realize that our Christian walk is not going to grow without work on our part.

Other verses that I am drawn to when thinking about this dual role in change are:

Philippians 2:12 - "
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

James 2:26 - "
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

James 2:18 - "
But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

I know (trust me) it can be easy to make excuses about the lack of transformation in our Christian life because we are (even faithfully) waiting on God to do His work in our life.  BUT there is a huge part of change that depends on us.

I know this is true, because I know that God desires for me to spend time with him, but he doesn't magically (like my dishwasher!) let me go to bed one night and wake up the next day a totally different person who never sleeps in again without reading from my Bible.  It takes an act of change in my own lifestyle and habits to be continually moving to be more like my Savior.

Of course, as believers, we are now "new creations in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17) with the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.  So, as I have to tell myself daily, we must
allow the Holy Spirit to work in us as we in turn work for change in our own life.  

Another challenge from Jerry Bridges:

We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness.  One Sunday our pastor in his sermon said words to this effect: 'You can put away that habit that has mastered you if you truly desire to do so.'  Because he was referring to a particular habit which was no problem to me, I quickly agreed with him in my mind.  But then the Holy Spirit said to me, 'And you can put away the sinful habits that plague you if you will accept your personal responsibility for them.'"

Remember that God's 
"divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness," so don't just sit around and wait for yourself to get clean!  ...You may have to pull out some of your own soap and use a scrub brush at the same time as God continues to complete the work that He has begun in you! (Philippians 1:6)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

toddler on a mission

As soon as Elijah started walking, it was as if the grocery cart became his worst enemy.  Especially if I went to a series of stores with him.  The poor thing did not want to get in another "seat," he wanted to be up and about.

As Elijah has learned more and more words, I've found something that has been extremely helpful for me as we're shopping.  Instead of (me) freaking out, I just (very calmly) speak to Elijah as if I'm setting him on a mission.  Here's how these moments in the grocery store may go:

Me: (after frantically looking around for something easily recognizable to a toddler) "Elijah, can you please tell me when you see a ball."

Elijah: Seriously focused on finding a ball, points emphatically when he finds it, as if in disbelief.

Me: "Ok. Now can you tell me when you see something orange?"

Elijah: May point out something prematurely, but then points again when an orange object does appear.

Me: "What about a banana?"

Elijah: Again, excitedly points to the bananas.

And the game continues.

I have found that this is helpful in the car and restaurants as well.  Perhaps something about my tone of voice does make Elijah feel that the excursion has quickly become about him again.  And, since all toddlers are all about themselves all the time, then it seems to work!

Even when Justin and I are talking at dinner and Elijah starts to get a little fussy, it's hilarious to watch Elijah's demeanor change when I turn to him and say, "Elijah, did you tell Daddy how we played in the pool today?"  Just taking a few moments to make him a part of our conversation again seems to satisfy him.  I mean, I would get pretty bored if everyone was leaving me out of the conversation!

Monday, August 9, 2010

musical monday

A few "oldie, but goodie" songs have crept into my head today, so I want them to be stuck in your head as well.
Here are lyrics and the videos if you don't know them!

I Could Sing of Your Love Forever

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the healer set me free
I'm happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when your love came down

I could sing of your love forever
I could sing of your love forever
I could sing of your love forever
I could sing of your love forever

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the healer set me free
I'm happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when your love came down


Oh, I feel like dancing
This foolishness, I know
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy
Like we're dancing now


Shout to the Lord

My Jesus, my Savior,
Lord, there is none like You.
All of my days, I want to praise,
The wonders of your mighty love.

My Comfort, my Shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength.
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down, and the seas will roar,
At the sound of your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love You,
Forever I'll stand.
Nothing compares to the promise I have
In You.

My Jesus, my Savior.
Lord, there is none like You.
All of my days, I want to praise,
The wonders of your mighty love.

My Comfort, my Shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength.
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship You.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

smooth road

I've decided to make Thursdays an emphasis on toddler things, so here's an example of a fun "song" to sing with your little ones.  I learned this at our baby story time at the library, and all of the kids just love it!  ...I figured the easiest way was just demonstrate on a video (so sorry for that), but I've included the words below.

A smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road, a smooth road
A bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road, a bumpy road
A rough road, a rough road, a rough road, a rough road
A hole!

PB&J Makeover

I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Elijah today and decided that I needed to "spice it up" a little bit.  I don't really have any cookie cutters lying around - my Christmas ones are in the attic - so I had to make do!  I grabbed the lid off of a water bottle (don't judge me on this point based on my previous post...it was a stray bottle...not an every day occurrence!) and hoped that it would suffice.

...And it did.  The lid made perfect circles for Elijah to be entertained by and enjoy.  And it was a lot less messy than me trying to tear his sandwich a part for him.  I did flatten the bread before making the sandwich and I was pleased that the lid easily cut the circles, which were also easy to remove.

By the time I made my sandwich, Elijah had already gobbled up his and wanted more.  At his age now, I think that eating is pretty boring for him unless I change things up every once in awhile.

As you can see...we started out with the sandwich and oranges and only ended up with oranges.  This may be our new sandwich method!

Any more simple ideas to share for spicing up lunches??

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

going green update


A few months ago we embarked on a "Greener" journey in the Blakley house as we went "paperless" in the kitchen.  I had realized just how many paper towels we were using every day and I realized we were so wasteful!

So, how have we done?  ...Pretty well, if I do say so myself!  As long as I am on top of the laundry, I really don't even think about how we're not using paper towels or napkins.  I have a larger stash of dish towels than before and our napkin holder turned into a "cloth paper towel holder" right by the sink.  Also, I had to commit a drawer to cloth napkins, but I believe it has totally been worth it for the effect we can have on our environment.  

We've probably used an average of 1 1/2 rolls of paper towels each month - for dog messes, grease, etc.  Really, I have been completely happy with the extra money I can use toward other groceries and baby items.


As for the compost bin...we did that too.  Justin used some stakes we had around the house and bought chicken wire.  I wish we would have done it last year so we could have reaped the benefits of some richer soil for gardening, but I'm looking forward to next year's soil!

The compost is as far away from the house as possible, so I got us a container with a tight lid to go under the sink.  I'll throw scraps from produce (corn husks, banana peels, onion peels, etc.) in there, then send Justin to empty it out once a week.  Pretty simple lifestyle change that has cut down even more on our waste.  


A long time ago we also switched to these great reusable bags from Target that have continued to be awesome!  I heard somewhere a while back that Washington, D.C. had basically banned plastic bags.  I honestly don't think this is a bad idea.  The only problem (for me) is remembering to put the bags back in the car so I will have them next time!  These bags have also been great for travel.  I use them often to throw Elijah's toys in for short trips or throw food in for a picnic.

As this has become more common, you can find tons of super-cute options for reusable bags.  Until mine aren't holding up, I guess I'll hold off on splurging for new ones!

I didn't realize D.C. put a tax on bags until I just found an article about it here.  Awesome.


I was torn on this "green" aspect for a while because my brother-in-law is a postal worker.  I kept hanging on to our paper bills because I felt that I was in some small part helping to hang on to his job in this (struggling) area of service.  However, when I thought about it some more, I realized that I am so tired of the amount of paper that accumulates in our home.  This alone made me make the switch for all of our bills to be seen and paid online.  

It's an easy switch, so check with your various companies about paperless billing options if you haven't already.


I am still a HUGE FAN of these cloth diapers.  They have worked great for Elijah.  At 17 months, he is still in the medium size, with a few snaps to go.  It's been very cost-efficient.  Especially because Elijah is pretty small, so we have really gotten our use out of only 18 small diapers and 18 medium diapers.  They are just a way of life for us now.  Elijah does use disposables for church (because I can tell no one else in the nursery is a huge fan) and for naps and bedtime.  

After just visiting the website, I feel that it may be time to treat Elijah (or his Mama) with one of the gorgeous chocolate colored diapers.  Gosh, I don't know why I love brown so much!


If you are reading this and are already (for some reason) thinking about the birthday and Christmas presents you would like to get me, then please just shop here.  I am a fan of basically anything you could find on this website.  It is really killing me to think about the amount of plastic snack bags we use on a weekly basis.  And I'm not really even packing many lunches yet!  This is my next plan for the Blakley family in terms of going green.  I haven't sat down and budgeted for these yet, so I may hold out for presents. (Hint, hint again to my family!)

What about you?  Are there ways you are "Going Green"  or do you have other simple suggestions on how to lesson our "Ecological Footprint"?