When my children were small, I was a stay-at-home mom—except I was rarely at home. I volunteered, carpooled, and took the kids on excursions to museums, the zoo, even the mall. When I was home, I worked part-time as a freelance writer. My pace was intense.
I remember having coffee with an older friend, describing my life to her—mothering my children, keeping my house in order, volunteering at three places, working for four different clients.
My friend looked at me sympathetically. "You have 'focus creep,'" she said. I was scattered, going in too many directions.
I knew I had to simplify. So I pulled out colored pencils and turned to a fresh page in my journal. On one side I put the months of the upcoming school year. Along the top I listed all I'd said "yes" to: leading a Bible study, coaching my daughter's soccer team, volunteering at school, and so on.
Then I drew arrows down from each commitment through the months to see how long I was committed to them. Soccer season ended in late October, so it was a two-month commitment. Next to each arrow I wrote the hours per week required. What emerged on the page was the picture of an overcommitted woman. I'd committed to more hours than there were in a week!
Next came the hard part—asking God where I should prune. What should I focus on, what activities should I let go?
That exercise began my journey toward what I call Sabbath Simplicity, which I define as a "sane-paced, God-focused life." Here are three spiritual practices that helped me.1