Goals for 2015

GoalsIf you ever sit down with me to ask for advice on prioritizing areas of your life, I’ll tell you two things. One, simplify everything. Two, set no more than three goals to work toward at a time.

So for 2015 I thought I’d try something amazing, out of this world, life changing! I decided to actually try that out for myself.

I’m a prideful, impatient woman who believes I’m far more capable on my own than I actually am. I’m a project finisher who likes to get ‘er done, so any time I see a need for change, I reorganize my entire life by coming up with something like 30 things I’m going to change starting tomorrow. Perfect.

This time I started by listing all the roles I now have. I came up with 13 major roles and 57 sub-roles. Simplification is long overdue, can I get an amen!? So I got rid of as many roles as possible and took notes on what was left to see if patterns emerged. Three things popped out at me–I consistently rely on me instead of Jesus, I’m always distracted, and my house is NOT set up for the amount of people who live in it. Looky at that. No more than three things to work on.

As a result, my 2015 goals and sub-goals are as follows:

Gospel Centrality–I’ve lost this. I can talk the talk like nobody’s business, but my heart has forgotten truth. By God’s grace, I’m part of the most gospel-centered church I’ve ever known, which means my friends soak me with the good news of King Jesus. But in the times they aren’t in my face I easily lose my way and drift off into the horrible news of Queen Courtney. By the mercies of God, I want to immerse my mind and heart with Christ’s work, not mine. Most of the following sub-categories have all but disappeared in my life.

  • Regularly study scripture
  • Pray so I can more clearly see God at work
  • Memorize gospel-rich scripture
  • Read gospel-centered books (Bill’s helping me make a good list, and I’ll ask him to post it here in case the list would be beneficial to your soul)
  • Listen to gospel-centered sermons and music

Listen Well–My mind is busy, and I talk far too much. While I’ve tried to crucify my mouth and busyness on many crosses instead of resting in the grace that’s mine, my thoughts and tongue need a break. My ears, however, are flabby and need strength training.

  • One thing at a time when it matters–putting my phone down if the kids are talking to me, stopping school if a neighbor knocks on the door, or cheering with my man (and blessing the heck out of him!) for the Colts instead of knitting and half-watching–the point is to minimize multitasking to help my mind slow down and focus on what’s important
  • Ask questions followed by more questions in most conversations–in other words, be more interested in what others have to say than my own voice
  • Make time for intentional conversations–through both deliberate times (like a coffee date with a friend to just chat) and fun activities/events (like a craft or outing with my kids)

Set Up Home to Work Well for 10+ People–We have an OK size house, but there are many overhauls that need to happen to help it work well for a family our size. In addition to the ten of us, we plan to open our home to a young mom and her baby soon. Plus, we desire to adopt more children if the Lord wills.

  • Follow 52 Weeks to an Organized Home with my amazing friend, Lawana.
  • Use most of our “home improvement” budget on organization rather than beautification
  • Intentionally train the children to help more in this area






Clothes–The Least Wonderful Times of the Year

I’m happy right now. So happy. Because I’m officially finished switching the kids clothes to spring-wear. That means it will be six whole months before I have to do it again. Does anyone else get this elated about completing that task?

There’s nothing romantic about making sure your children have proper attire each season. If you find it to be so, please don’t speak so that we can still be friends. It’s boring, tedious, confusing, and messy. And sometimes I get jealous that my kids’ clothes are cuter than mine, but whatever. I’m not a fan, BUT through the years I’ve at least gotten the process down to a semi-art, an art that still takes more than a week to complete and has beauty that DEFINITELY is only in the eye of the beholder (namely me), but an art nonetheless.

So here’s the way this goes down with the Bells:

1. Organize your storage simply: We have a large tub for every size and each gender that are labeled with a fancy strip of packing tape and a Sharpie marker. It’s going to be in the basement. No one but you and Better Homes and Gardens cares about beauty here.


2. Have a fashion show: I make my kids try on every. single. garment. As with adults, there is no one-size-fits-all. So even though with one child size 8 shirts are clearly right, there will always be that one that lands somewhere just above the belly button and will be passed down to a child three years younger. Thank you, clothing designers.

3. Keep a good list of exactly what you need for each child: One year, a department store was having a killer sale. Bill and I knew the sizes our kids needed and went crazy. When we got home, we had something like 9 new outfits for our 3rd child (who didn’t need new clothes in the first place) and not enough for others. I also used to make the mistake of knowing how many tops and bottoms they needed. That worked great except for the fact that half of the tops didn’t have a bottom that would go with that doesn’t look like it’s from the 80’s.

Here’s the list we have for spring/summer. Ours is very simple because I love the word “simple” and because we don’t have to get dolled up for anything. In other words, this list isn’t a one-size-fits-all either. I have eight of most things so there’s a spare if one gets dirty (I don’t do extra laundry except by force) and so we avoid a fashion faux pax of wearing the same outfit every Thursday.

  • 8 outfits (that go together–don’t be us)
  • 8 pairs underwear
  • 8 pairs short socks
  • 1 pair tennis shoes (if there’s a good sale, my oldest son gets 2 pair because he prefers them and will need a 2nd pair by the end of the summer anyway)
  • 1 pair casual shoe (if you’ve met us EVER you know this translates into flip flops)
  • 4 pajamas sets (we wear these multiple nights in a row, yes, we do)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • 1 rain boot (this is VERY optional for us)
  • 1 rain coat/jacket
  • 1 umbrella to share between two people

4. Shop for what’s needed to finish the list for everyone and nothing more: No comments here about how to do this. If I did comment I might have to confess I never do consignment sales/shops for no reason except I’m lazy and want to get it over with quickly and might tell you I basically get everything from The Children’s Place and try to justify it by bragging about all the great sales I found. There are great blogs out there about saving money. This isn’t one of them.

5. Take pictures of the outfits you brilliantly put together: This is gold for us. We like to get a project done and then never think about it ever again. So when outfits are being decided for the day, we just look at the picture we’ve taped to their closet door. Voila! The kids have freedom to “choose” their own outfits and we don’t have to be ashamed to be seen with them. Win win. Oh, and as you can see, the picture doesn’t have to be pretty. Just good enough for you to know what everything is.


6. Do ALL your laundry: How long this takes is up to you. Sometimes I push to get it done in a day. Sometimes I stick to my usual schedule of one color-group a day. The point is, get it done so you can pull all the old sizes out (from closets and dressers, too), put them in handy dandy plastic tubs, and stick those babies in storage never to be seen again–until the fall…

7. Store a few opposite weather clothes in a handy spot: Since we don’t live in the deep south, we basically get four months of semi-predictable temperatures. The rest of the time we’re at the mercy of super reliant meteorologists to know if we’ll be wearing shorts or thermal underwear in the spring. I own storage tubs that fit under beds, and we fill them with a few articles of clothing for each child that are out of season. That way I don’t have to trek down to the basement to dig through the granddaddy tubs every other day, nor do I have to stuff the kids’ drawers with every article of clothing they own.

So there you have it. Nothing magical, but it works well for us. What magic tricks do you all have up your sleeves with clothes?