Wednesday with Words: Parenting Tactics for Thinkers



This week in reading…

Current favorites at our house

Knox (4yo) has become reenchanted with St. George and the Dragon again, which makes me all sorts of happy.

Ilse (6) is still working through Pathway’s First Steps, with persistence and, most importantly, good cheer.

Jaeger (9) is reading and rereading the new Landmark series books I purchased for this school year. He says his favorite is The Story of D-Day

Hans (11) read the third Harry Potter after listening to the first two and part of the third on his trip to camp. He and I agreed it’d be best for him to wait to finish the series, though he does like the books.

screenshot-by-nimbus (5)

My Book Bag

I finished A Method for Prayer by Matthew Henry & The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean this week! I enjoyed them both. The Disappearing Spoon had several God-mocking cracks in it, but overall was a fascinating blend of history and science and strange connections.

Week’s Words

I am more and more of the opinion that learning about personality types is a great way to learn to be a better parent and teacher. Here’s a section I have dog-eared in Gifts Differing by Isabel Myers:

The thinker’s natural process is inappropriate when used in personal relations with feeling types, because it includes a readiness to criticize. Criticism is of great value when thinkers apply it to their own conduct or conclusion, but it has a destructive effect upon feeling types, who need a harmonious climate.

Both my husband and I are thinkers.

The feeling types have a great need for sympathy and appreciation. They want others to realize how they feel and either share the feeling or at least acknowledge its value. They want others to approve of them. [...] Uninhibited criticism makes life stressful for feeling types.

I have at least 2, possibly 3 or 4, feeling children.

People who are conscious of such damage and want to avoid it can improve matters. [...] Thinkers can do three things to limit the damage their criticism may cause.

To summarize the three things:

  1. Refrain from criticizing in the first place, recognizing it won’t help.
  2. Be careful not to exaggerate faults to make a point. Everything you say will be ignored because of the outrage this causes.
  3. Play by the feeler’s rules: “Remember how feeling types respond to sympathy and appreciation; a little of either will greatly tone down a necessary criticism, but the thinker must express sympathy or appreciation first.”



How shelves generally look at our house….

It means they’re being used, which is good, right? That’s what I tell myself to keep from hyperventilating, anyway.

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Simplified Organization Course Tour Video: Start Organized This School Year



The problem with organization is that we treat it like a short-term project when it is actually a way of life. We treat productivity as a few tricks to read about when it is a mindset. Both begin with our attitude.

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done is all about helping you recognize the truth, change your attitude, set up support systems, and make good choices about what to do moment-by-moment.

As a self-paced ecourse, Simplified Organization is always there for you, with bite-sized pieces of encouragement, action steps, and guides. You can return again and again, as many times as you need to, to continue on the journey or to get back on the path.

The course has audio messages, habit plans, action steps, a blueprint project, and many tool guides, all to help you wrap your head around your life and live it to the full. In addition, there’s a private G+ community with live chats every 6 weeks where we can chat about how we’re doing, ask questions, and get ideas from one another.

I’d like to give you a little tour of the course, so you can see what it looks like and all the content you’ll receive. Watch this video to get a peek into the course:

In this course, you will

  • learn why your attitude is the key to organization and productivity.
  • practice tools to change your attitude.
  • walk through the material at your own pace.
  • get the information you need in manageable, bite-sized, easy-to-navigate chunks.
  • set up the support tools and systems you need.
  • build the habits necessary for organization to stick.
  • interact with fellow participants and help each other brainstorm strategies for specific situations.
  • have the opportunity to live-chat with Mystie every six weeks about how things are going.

Here are what some people have said about the course so far:


Mystie has outdone herself with this Simplified Organization eCourse! If you, like me, need all the help you can get in the home – and life! – organization department, you won’t want to miss this. Not only will Mystie’s words inspire you, but her application and action points will give you the motivation and how-to you’ve been needing. – Candace Crabtree from His Mercy Is New and author of Hope: The Anchor for My Soul

“Finally. A course that teaches me how to be an effective and productive home manager while honoring my need to nurture my soul and fully live out my vocation. This is more than another system for what to clean when. It’s a paradigm shift.” – Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things and author of Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace


You know that moment when every stressor in your day, every undone thing, every nook and cranny of your home and life cry out for attention and all you can do is beg God for an answer? Simplified Organization was that answer. – Amy Roberts of Raising Arrows, author of Large Family Homeschooling

Mystie combines her welcoming kindness with her razor-sharp intellect to create a program that will give you the wakeup call you need without leaving you feeling discouraged. This course is packed with life-changing insights, heavy doses of encouragement, and practical tools that you can apply to your life right here, right now. I recommend it to any mother who feels like her life could use a tune-up. – Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary and author of Something Other Than God: How I Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It

From now through September 2, use the discount code backtoschool to get 30% off!

Find out more at Simplified Organization

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done



About a year ago I started writing an ebook that I thought would simply be an expanded and improved GTD for Homemakers. The more I got into it, the more I thought an ebook really wasn’t the best way to present the material. How many ebooks do I have just sitting on my hard drive? eBooks inspire, but they aren’t handy when you want one specific piece of information or encouragement from them.

After talking it over with my husband, we turned that material (which continued to grow and expand!) into an online, self-paced ecourse: Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done. It was a lot of fun to watch it take shape as pieces kept coming together.

Organize your attitude with Simplified Organization

This course is about starting where you are, shifting your mindset, and taking small steps toward growth – no major overhauls, no life mission statement, no superficial changes.

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done will help you recognize the truth, change your attitude, set up support systems, and make good choices about what to do moment-by-moment.

Productivity and organization talk for homeschooling moms, especially those with young children, is perplexing and often frustrating. Advice from moms who haven’t experienced it is often not applicable or practicable.

Our life at home is not the kind of world where things are often finished. You might check off “laundry” for the day, but before the day is out, there will be more dirty laundry in the hamper. You might check off “make dinner,” but dinner will have to be made again tomorrow. Not only that, but because you made dinner today, there are now dishes in the sink to wash.

How do we not sink under the weight of all the daily details? How do we lift our eyes above the mundane while still getting to the mundane necessities day in and day out?

I’ve been asking these questions for years. I don’t even know how many books I’ve read on the topic. I do know – from experience, unfortunately – that deciding housework is a necessarily evil leads to thinking housework is plain evil leads to thinking it’s not something I should be doing.

We simply must tell ourselves the truth about what we’re doing.

Get organized and stay organized with Simplified Organization.

What if repeating ourselves was actually a way we imitate and image God?

We get all frustrated as if the necessity of repetition is part of our finiteness and fallenness, but when we look to Scripture, we see that even the infinite and perfect God delights in the repeating cycle of day and night, of seasons, of sustaining the world today in the same way as He has since the beginning. On top of that, we see that He repeats Himself to us, as well, giving us story after story, example after example, admonition after admonition, patient hearing after patient hearing.

Perhaps there is actually glory in repetition, if we had the eyes to see it.

All these little, trivial details often wear us down. But perhaps that is because we are operating under a false paradigm, one that does not see how much repetition (breath in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out) is woven into existence itself.

If we want things all done, over, ended, is that not in a way wishing for death? Life is not only full of, but built with and upon, repeated actions and processes, change upon change.

Every morning when we get up and make our beds, we are making a statement to ourselves: I am the sort of person to brings order from chaos, who cares for her environment, who beautifies what she touches. Every evening when we clean the kitchen after dinner, we are making those same statements again. Every time we perform any act of housework, this is what we are saying, what we are living.

Learning to love what must be done is not only 1) knowing what must be done, and 2) learning why it must be done, but also 3) feeling affection for and delight in the what and the why.

I hope you will work through finding that delight with me in my new course, Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done.

It is possible. It is worth it. You can do it.


Start your journey with Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done today with the discount code backtoschool and get 30% off.

Convivial Contentment: School time again



~ Capturing the context of contentment in ordinary life ~

round button chicken

After a sick week, it’s good to be getting back into our school routines which hadn’t even had a chance to get normal again. September is nearly here, though, so then it will get really real and really normal. Actually, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to jeans-and-tshirt-and-sandals weather again after an exceptionally hot summer. 



~Pretty Curls ~


Too darling, if I do say so myself. And I do, even though those curls have been spending half of every school morning in bed, where fussy babies go.



~ Happy Shown Work ~

The one writing out the work might not be happy, but I am happy with the choice to give him graph paper for showing his work. So far place value is more easily kept correct and handwriting is more neat. Worth it.



~ Funny Index Cards ~

I’ve been having the kids make their own index cards when we go over the day’s agenda before Circle Time. I think the toddler likes it the most. She always, always pulls the pink pen out of the jar and gets right to work.


~ Real Napping ~


Knox was sick over the weekend and still recovering Monday. He listened to The Blue Fairy Book in the living room for his quiet time, and this is how I found him fifteen minutes later.

Quiet time is a good thing.

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done

Tomorrow Simplified Organization: Learning To Love What Must Be Done launches! If you’re on the email list, you’ll be getting an email this afternoon with an early bird offer and exclusive discount. I’m so excited! I think you’re going to love it.

Wednesday with Words: Planning for Providence



This week in reading…

Current favorites at our house

Knox’s current favorite he brings to the couch every time we read is one of the Frances books by Russell Hoban. I always love reading Frances books.

Ilse’s favorite right now is Pathway’s First Steps, because she can read the short, sweet stories all by herself easily, and it looks and feels like a big kid’s book with chapters.

This is what reading said book looks like at our house:


And that’s why we need quiet time: So I can have an hour or two of not being touched in order to recover.

Hans and Jaeger have been fighting over 10 Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Need to Know But Are Rarely Taught, a WTM forums find. I bought it thinking it might work well as an Elementary Lessons read-aloud, but it relies too much on graphics and comic strips to work well as a group read-aloud. However, the boys love it as a free-reading book.

My Book Bag

Week’s Words

A Method for Prayer by Matthew Henry has been great. Most of the book is reference, showing scriptural phrases and categories for prayer, but the back of this edition includes sermons on the topic by Henry as well. I copied out these quotes from the “Second Discourse” on spending the day with God.

We must expect the tidings and events of every day, with a cheerful and entire resignation to the divine providence.

Later, in the same paragraph:

While we are in this world, we are still expecting, hoping well, fearing ill: we know not what a day or a night, or an hour will bring forth, but it is big with something, and we are too apt to spend our thoughts in vain about things future, which happen quite differently from what we imagined.

And after various admonitions about when we are confidently hopeful and when we despair, he ends the second with this succinct summary that I want to make one of my life mottos:

Hope the best, and get ready for the worst, and then take what God sends.




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Find more great quotes & recommendations at ladydusk!

Humming Home Habits: Assess



During this series we’re talking about the organizational habits that help us stay on our game during the busy school season.

Previously, I’ve developed

This week we’ll discuss assessing and then next week we’ll wrap up with “Aim”: how to set good goals and target our attitudes.


Assess for a Humming Home

I’m always in the future, and assessing means looking back, so I’m not very good at it and I prefer to postpone it.

However, looking back is the best first step in moving forward. You can’t know what tweaks you should make unless you examine how things went and why they went that way. And I do like to make tweaks.


Assessment in Two Steps: Retrospect & Review

So, here are two parts of the assessment process and three times to run through it. This is the integral part of staying on top of what you have going on that makes all the difference.


The first part of the assessment process is the retrospective step. This means looking back over the time that has elapsed since your last assessment and doing a little analyzing.

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. This is the time we examine our lives and make them worth living. The reason this examination makes a life worth living is that we look at where we are and we look back to see how we got here. What do we like about where we are? What did we do or not do that made it happen? What do we not like about where we are? What did we do or not do that brought that about?

Now, this could quickly spiral out of control into a self-critical mess; at least, that’s what happens to me and is perhaps part of the reason I avoid it. However, we can pull out of that nose dive by starting off with this goal for our assessment:

Identify the one practice or habit that had the most positive effect.


Identify the one practice or habit that had the most detrimental effect.

Then, think about this:

How can you encourage that good habit still more? How can you cultivate it and help it flourish – thereby continuing to flourish yourself?

And conversely

What habit or practice should replace the detrimental one?

You can’t just cut a bad habit; it must be replaced. What small steps can you take to make it harder to practice the bad habit and easier to practice the replacement? Step up your environment for success, don’t try to do it by sheer willpower. See my Switch series for more ideas in that regard.

You are looking for two answers only, not a complete life inventory: What good practice will you cultivate and what bad practice will you replace?

That’s it. Small, steady changes made incrementally over the long haul will get us farther than booming and busting.


The second part of the assessment process is to review. This is the time to set yourself up for the coming day, week, or interval.

During the review (according to a GTD set-up), three key tasks are performed:

  1. Empty your inboxes (especially whatever you use for ubiquitous capture) and make sure nothing you need is about to slip through the cracks. Make sure everything is on the calendar that needs to be, your current project lists are up-to-date, bills are paid and not lost, and notes you want to keep are where you keep such things.
  2. Set aside a certain amount of time (15-30 minutes) to just do as many of the little nagging things that pop up on your radar as you can. Pay the bills, answer the email, file the papers, shred the junk mail, clear your desk – whatever small tasks you tend to put off, use this time to batch-process them. However, the way you do this fast and avoid procrastinating is to use a timer and limit yourself to only doing each batch-process task for a set, short amount of time. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference this makes!
  3. Get your lists ready: Depending on which review this is (daily, weekly, or interval), you’ll have different lists to print and prepare, but at each review, you want to look at them all:
  • Calendar
  • Task management
  • Interval plan
  • Weekly overview
  • Daily card

Looking these things over this frequently will help prevent things falling through the crack and will help you make wise in-the-moment decisions, because you’ll have a clear sense of what you have going on.

Assessment Three Times

There are three key periods to perform an assessment in order to keep your stuff conscious and your mind clear.

every interval

Late last year I tried using our six-week school terms to set boundaries around my own projects and habit-building efforts. I have been so happy with the results! Six weeks is the perfect period of time to try to learn a new skill, reinforce a habit, reach a small goal, or get something done. If I try planning anything specific or concrete any farther out, chances are high that something is going to happen which will alter the situation significantly enough to derail the goal. However, six weeks is predictable enough and a close enough deadline to promote that “nearing the deadline” motivation necessary to beat procrastination.

So, before beginning a new term or interval, I sketch out an action plan: One house target, one project goal (because I love projects and always have something going), and one habit.

every week

David Allen, of GTD fame, maintains that the weekly review is the key to the entire GTD methodology. An hour on the weekend to go through the three steps above is the practice that will make your systems work for you.

every day

Every morning we need to look over our lists and see where we are and what needs to be done. I like using an index card for this daily list-making, as I talk about in this Simplified Organization hangout:

Simplified Organization The Course will be available Friday!

If you really want to work at establishing these habits in your life, do it with me at Simplified Organization. The self-paced course will hold your hand through setting up the support systems and the attitude shifts we need to cultivate to make long-term change. There will be exclusive, deep discounts available by email only this weekend, so make sure you’re either subscribed to Simply Convivial’s email feed (form below) or sign up for the notification on the course page.

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