Article by Malcolm Marler, Edited by Dee DeWitt

 

As I begin the new year of 2010, I’m thinking about simplifying my life.

 

What I mean by this is … owning less stuff.

 

The time I spend in maintaining cars, fixing things around the house, and keeping up the yard makes me wonder who really owns what? 

It wasn’t always like this in my life. 

I used to want to “own more.”

 

But no more.

 

I’m also watching and learning from the finches and grossbeaks on our deck flutter as they enjoy our bird feeders each winter morning. 

And I am reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:

 

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? …  

34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’”

 

As my wife Mary and I consider this next step of living our lives in an empty nest, all I know is that I want our nest to be smaller, simpler, less cluttered.

 

How about you?  Do your things own you?  Or do you own them?  I’m ready to simplify my life so that I can fly.  Want to join me?

 

Malcolm

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

-Matthew 6:19-34 (NIV)

 

Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit www.MalcolmMarler.com.

 

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Posted on 7 January, 2010 in Balance, Simplify
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Article By Dee DeWitt

 

Generally speaking, I believe the tendency for most of us is to say “yes” to most of the things coming into our lives.  I know that’s the case for me.

 

Sometimes we’re too nice to say no.  Sometimes we’re afraid that if we say “no” others won’t like us.  Many times, we are overly optimistic about how much we can get done.  We don’t want to look bad by saying we can’t do something. Or we’re afraid to miss out on opportunities by saying no.

 

So we say “yes” to more than we can actually handle.  And we become overwhelmed, stressed … and in the process … exhausted.  This seems to be especially the case over the holidays. Read More »

Posted on 30 December, 2009 in Balance, Goals
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Article by Dee DeWitt

 

The holidays are a busy and stressful time for most people – with family visits, travel, work, gift shopping.  Not to mention all the many types of events – many of them “command performances” – that happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

 

And we try to stay sane.

 

So … what’s the secret to having a wonderful time during the holidays?  Well, I don’t pretend to have the answer.  If I did I would have bottled and sold it long ago.  

 

What I think may be one answer to having a great holiday and dealing with the additional stress is to stay in the moment as much as possible.  I have been trying to do this.  It’s a work in progress.  And it’s easy to forget when the stress is staring you in the face.

 

This is something I work on all the time, and it’s easy to forget.

 

I think it is also we can all do with a little practice. Try thinking of something that make you happy … makes you smile … makes you feel calm and relaxed.  When you feel yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed, remember the feeling.  Say something to yourself to help you remember that positive feeling.  This is your tool to pull out and use whenever you feel the need.

 

Now try the same thing with whatever you’re doing that adds to your stress during this holiday season – shopping for a gift for a loved one, a company Christmas party, your tenth school Christmas performance you need to attend tonight after work.  Whatever it is, while you’re there try to focus on that one thing to the exclusion of everything else.  Really be in the moment with that thing or that person.

 

Remember what’s most important to you during these holidays.  Family, friends, church, God.  Focus on that during these holidays, and remember that the rest is only noise.

 

“There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”
-Erma Bombeck

 

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Posted on 23 December, 2009 in Balance, Making the Day Count, Simplify
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Article by Mary Bea Sullivan

 

We all “know” we need rest.  Many of us struggle with giving ourselves restorative time.  And yet, how often have we found ourselves declining in “productivity” as we continue to push on through a project … or during a busy day?

 

Culturally, we have erased the line between “work” and “play.”  Many of us feel we need to keep working, keep volunteering, keep whatevering, until we are depleted, empty shells of ourselves.

 

Wayne Muller reminds us in his compelling book, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, “Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy … a period in which we lie fallow, and restore our souls.”

 

A few years ago a wonderful friend told me that she tries to give herself one day off each week … a day when she doesn’t answer the phone unless she wants to; reads if she feels like it, naps if that appeals to her; watches a movie if that is what calls her.  This friend is one of the most spiritually connected people I know.  

 

And I have to wonder if there is a correlation between her practice of rest and her connection to the Divine?

 

Of course the thought of taking a day off is different for someone who has young children at home, or caring for an elderly parent.  Yet this soul restoration project is particularly important for caregivers. Read More »

Posted on 9 November, 2009 in Balance, Fitness & Health, Spirituality
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Article By Dee DeWitt

 

The idea of “enough.”  It’s one of the most important concepts in our lives.  Often we want more than we have now.  I have been guilty of it most of my life.  I still am … however I am working on it.

 

More money, more toys, better furniture, a bigger/better house, more or better cars, more clothes, more success …

 

And what happens when we get more?  Mostly we aren’t satisfied.  There are ads for new cars (“we’ll even make your payment if you lose your job”!), new computers, new cell phones, new clothes.  There are entire television channels dedicated to selling you more stuff or to making you think what you have is not good enough.  It’s impossible to satisfy that hunger for more, because our culture is not satisfied with what we have.  We are wired to want more.

 

Ask yourself how much is enough.  How much do you need in order to be satisfied? I suggest that the answer is that most of us (including me) already have enough … possibly more than enough.

 

So … what does “enough” mean? Read More »

Posted on 2 November, 2009 in Balance, Finance & Family, Happiness
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