Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Big rocks first.

Maybe you have heard the rock and sand analogy. It goes something like this. We all have a bucket. And in it we want to carry a few big rocks, a few pebbles and some sand. The dilemma is how to fit everything in. If we fill our bucket up with sand first, we will never have the space for the large rocks, let alone the pebbles we also wish to carry. But if we choose to place the large rocks in our bucket first, then the pebbles and sand have a way of slipping in between the cracks. With careful planning, we have more room for both.

Colleen Adams, Christian wife, homeschool mother and counselor, helps women to plan the “big rocks” they wish to focus on with their lives.

In her experience as a counselor, she has met with many older women who are now deeply discouraged because they allowed life to simply “happen to them.” They allowed their buckets to be filled with unimportant things- sand- and never prayerfully considered the big rocks they wish they had carried.
Do we have a clear direction? Are we excitedly and vibrantly living the purpose God has for us (Jer. 1:9, Eph. 2:10)? Or are we feeling hopeless, discontent and like life is just happening to us? Colleen encourages all women to set godly goals; to check these goals quarterly (a big key in success) and to use the talents God has given them- to the max! I recently had the opportunity to hear Colleen speak, and I wanted to share her insight with you.


Enjoying a Winter Brunch with CVP and RPC.

Of course, the only good goal for our lives is a godly goal. We desire all of our pursuits to be lined up with Scripture. Colleen is so careful to explain that setting godly goals is a tool to help us clear our thinking and help us to pursue the things we feel the Lord is calling us to do. We do not seek to do something for God (to earn His favor) but we do seek to be an intentional steward of the talents the Lord has given us.

You may say, I just want a simple life. Well, that is just what goals help us to have. Instead of being pulled one hundred different directions, we are able to set a course following prayerful planning with the Lord and our husbands.
You may not feel like you are a natural planner. Colleen encourages us that we can all plan. If we were able to plan our wedding and Christmas, we can plan our marriage and our goals for the next few months.
You may feel like you don't see the benefit in being structured. Colleen shares that life goals cultivate an awareness in us and asserts that a lack of awareness causes us to make poor choices. She shares that every contestant on the Biggest Loser has the same things in common: they were not aware of the calories they were eating, they did not plan their meals or exercise and they chose the wrong things to eat (not enough protein, very little water and very little whole grain). Soon they were not in control at all, but at a loss as to how they were hundreds of pounds overweight. We are continually choosing one thing over another. Doesn't it make sense that we would want to be aware- clear sighted and prayerfully directed- when making these choices?

Our daughters Faith and Michaela (right two) with friends at the brunch.


Colleen suggests that we each prayerfully consider what our non-negotiables (or big rocks) are. These are the daily things that must happen. Making your own non-negotiable list is eye opening. You will quickly see that many items that you spend valuable time on each day really just don't make the list! They aren't really important to us, but they do take up “rock time” without our even realizing it.
Some of the categories she encourages us to consider for our Top 10 list include:

  1. Self Care (Being a good steward of God's house- this includes diet, exercise and sleep)
  2. Spiritual Life (Bible and Bible and/or Catechism Memory, Family Worship)
  3. Intellect and Emotional Life (Are you growing your intellect? Do you have a reading list for the year? Reading works by saints who have gone before us is valuable- we take strength from godly examples. What are your children using as their copy work? Are you dumping the bad baggage- rebellion, dreams of what isn't, bitterness?  Do you take 10-15 minutes to be alone each day?)
  4. Relationships (Maybe this is making one-on-one time with your children each month, Connecting with one of your few close friends, Practicing gratitude)
  5. Life Strategies and Time Management (Maybe this means logging your day to see where your time is going or planning how you will spread the gospel)
  6. Nest Management (Our homes- Colleen suggests taking time to focus on the Master Bedroom first and clearing it of clutter to make it a haven and not a garage.)
  7. Financial Stewardship
  8. Unique You (What interests and talents has the Lord given you?)

There is so much I could share about each of these categories, but one thing she specifically warns women to avoid is the false and dangerous piety of neglecting self care. She says that we should not insult God by letting His house get run down. Caring for ourselves is not an end in itself and should not be out of balance with other goals, but self care does prepare us to serve others, to spread the gospel and to keep us from the temptation of pitying ourselves. Note: Items next to each category- in parentheses- are just to get us thinking about the goals we might wish to set in each category.

Sweet friends and family.


Colleen suggests that the surest way to succeed in keeping our goals is to:

  1. Set just two very specific goals for each of your non-negotiables (ie. Don't just say for relationships that you want to be a "better" wife, but that you want to be a "better wife by" choosing to do something specific that will be meaningful to your husband.) 
  2. Write your goals down on paper. Keep track of how you are doing (Colleen's family has even made a weekly checklist to keep their goals in sight each week).
  3. Meet with your accountability partner- you husband or close friend once a quarter to review how things are going.  You don't have to wait until the New Year rolls around again to check in on your progress- by meeting quarterly you have the chance to start again every three months!

Our dear sister, Wendy, faithfully serving the women of CVP.

I hope you will be blessed by Colleen's wisdom as much as I was.


Question: What are your tricks for keeping first things first/ making sure you are getting your big rocks tackled each day? 


Todd, Colleen and their five children serve as missionaries
in Quebec.

You can reach them at:

Field and Hearth Project, 3220 W. Monte Vista #300, Turlock, California 95380


  1. GREAT post! Getting out a notebook now :) Many blessings to you for passing this along. I wish I had some tricks to pass along. Other than making a daily to do list (that sometimes even says "shower")I don't have anything. Looking forward to seeing what others have though.

  2. Great post and I do like those categories. I have always had lifetime goals but some years go by and I forget to update them and set specific goals for myself and that first category often gets bumped down the list. Well no longer - today I bought myself a new hairdryer and straightener and my goal must be to actually use them to style my hair at least twice a week! My last hairdryer ended up being used over winter to get the fire going and someone melted the plastic! Now I have reclaimed the dryer and its use to blow hot air onto the fire will be banned!
    My other strategy is to have the Bible for breakfast - I don't ever skip breakfast but it is easy to skip my Bible reading if I don't have a specific time set out.
    Thank you for sharing this, it was very helpful to me!

  3. Thanks for sharing your notes on Colleen's talk Rebecca! This is actually really spot on on somethings I've been pondering lately. I need to take the time to set out some goals for myself!

    Lots of love,

  4. Quote: "Nest Management (Our homes- Colleen suggests taking time to focus on the Master Bedroom first and clearing it of clutter to make it a haven and not a garage.)" Hmmm...hitting a few chords. I've been pondering over just how to make this work lately. A large family in a small home doesn't help, but it's time to ship out the clutter and minimise!

  5. Hi Sommer- Oh good! Yes, this has been really helpful for me as well. And I decided to help our two older girls set goals as well which has been great. Love to you!

    Amanda- I hear you! I have been working on this as well and just donated two bags of things from my Master closet this week. It felt great.

    My good friend, Gabe has started a blog about balancing it all with a big family. If you haven't seen it yet, you will want to meet her:

    Blessings to you!

  6. I am so happy I found this as I was preparing to blog about goal setting. I got so much out of Colleen's workshop, and you do an amazing job of explaining her system, with the added beauty of your gorgeous photos.
    Happy New Year!

  7. Thanks, Jennifer! I agree, Colleen is such a blessing to hear. So glad this was a help! Hugs to you! :)