It’s easy to get caught up in all the activities and chores and clutter that surround our lives. Is “busy” and “more” what God truly wants for us, though? Merissa Alink, founder of the Little House Living blog and author of Living Slower: Simple Ideas to Eliminate Excess and Make Time for What Matters has learned to uncover the joy of doing what is needed rather than what is expected. It’s a grace to welcome Merissa to the farm’s front porch today…

Guest Post by Merissa Alink

This past week we had a little incident in our house. The kids were actually getting along with each other and playing nicely, both inside and outside (a miracle!). We followed our normal daily routine but included a little extra cleaning. I’d gotten off track recently because we had been trying to get as much done on the house we were building as we could before winter set in.

Even though I had tried to even out our routines and schedules, things were a little crazier than usual. We went to tuck the boys into bed and had to take away foam swords that they insisted on taking to bed with them. (If you happen to have little boys who share a room, you can likely see how this scenario was about to play out.) That should have been the end of it. It was dark in the room and time for bed. Time to snuggle in and close our eyes for the day.

But it was not to be so. My middle child lost it. A full-blown meltdown over a little toy that he couldn’t even play with in the dark anyway. As we struggled to grasp the meaning behind this episode over something seemingly so small, I heard him cry, “You are just too busy!”

I asked him to come downstairs to the living room and sit on my lap. “Explain to me what you mean. Mommy is not busy,” I said.

He said, “I’m not mad that you took the sword away; I’m worried that you won’t remember to give it back in the morning because you are too busy!”

I spent the next fifteen minutes assuring him that I would not forget to give his toy back in the morning and reminding him that not all little boys are as lucky as he is. He has toys to play with. He gets to see both of his parents every day. We have three meals a day together. He knew these things, but reassurance is always helpful. He calmed down and trotted back off to bed where he slept soundly the rest of the night.

But was he right? In the evenings, after the loudness of the children has quieted and I can hear my thoughts again, I always take time to reflect on my day. I knew that my son was a lucky little boy—all my children are. Since my husband and I don’t work for anyone else, we have the flexibility to make our own schedules and spend as much quality time with our children as we want.

“As we grow in our walk with God, our knowledge about ourselves, and our relationships with others, sometimes things have to change.”

But is it enough? I think our family leads a slow life, but I know there is always room for improvement. As we grow in our walk with God, our knowledge about ourselves, and our relationships with others, sometimes things have to change.

This small incident was my reminder that my routines weren’t what I needed them to be or what my children needed them to be. As a mother, my children are one of my biggest priorities (behind my marriage and my relationship with God). It’s paramount that I make the necessary adjustments. In this case, I needed to add a little more one-on-one time with each of my children into my day. Not only that, but it needed to be an affirming time, a time when I could not only be with them or play with them but also encourage them and build them up.

Perhaps in your day, you have times like these. Little moments that make you stop and think, Is this how I want to be living my life? What are the real reasons behind these actions? Are they things that I can fix or change?

Maybe for you, they’re not little moments but perhaps big ones that take your breath away and make you wonder if you are doing the right thing. Maybe you lost your job, your family is down to one income, and you wonder how to make life less stressful.

I believe we all have these times in life that cause us to stop, think, and pivot if necessary. I believe God uses these moments to teach us, rebuke us, and steer us in the right direction.

“Are you able to live the life God wants you to live with the plans you have right now?”

Are you able to live the life God wants you to live with the plans you have right now?

With the activities you are doing right now?

With the stuff you have right now?

With the daily “routine” you have right now?

With the busyness you have right now?

Or does it make more sense to let some of that go, to rearrange certain areas of your life, so you find yourself having the time and motivation to follow those ultimate commands—to love God and to love others? Do you believe that if you are able to do that, God will bless your life?

There are plenty of paths we can choose in this life that are easy to take. Living a simpler, slower life isn’t necessarily one of them. It’s hard to break the cycle of the constant hustle and deliberately put aside the things that are distracting us. But if we make the effort and we pray fervently, anything is possible.

Merissa A. Alink is the blogger behind the popular Little House Living, a website that she started more than a decade ago to teach people how to live a simpler and more frugal lifestyle, including DIY projects, from-scratch recipes, gardening tips, and advice on modern homesteading. She and her husband, David, live in the Black Hills of South Dakota where Merissa homeschools their three children.

In Living Slower: Simple Ideas to Eliminate Excess and Make Time for What Matters, Merissa will help you reevaluate your priorities, seek God first, and take small steps toward a life more in line with your values, including decluttering to create space in your home and your mind, making simple and healthy meals, taking a weekly Sabbath, limiting the influence of media, and taking time to nurture your most important relationships.

[ Our humble thanks to Baker Books for their partnership in today’s devotion ]