5 Disciplines – Week 4 ~ The Mind


If you want to revisit the first 3 weeks of this series here are the links:

Week 1, the Discipline of the Body.
Week 2, the Discipline of our Time.
Week 3, the Discipline of our Spirit.

How are you doing with the challenges?  Update us in the comment section – this is your accountability!  On weight loss I’m around 3 pounds…on time management…I’m feverishly writing lists :) and on Spirit – I consistently (but not perfectly) gave the first minute of everyday to being in God’s word last week.

Now we are to week 4 – Disciplining Our Mind!

Do you feel like you have a lot of brain clutter?  On days when I’m overwhelmed, I feel like I’m losing it!  There’s a lot of noise in our world – voices come at us from facebook, twitter, television, cell phones, our family, political figures, spiritual leaders, and inner noise of our own muddled thinking.

Relational issues, spiritual issues, time management issues, financial issues and weight issues all take up space in our brain and can cause brain clutter.  This noise in our heads can cause us to lose the peace of mind that God wants for us.  Sometimes it’s because we are too busy, over committed, or own way too much stuff.  Other times it’s because we have a past that haunts us, a spouse who is difficult or a child who consumes our mind with concern.  And many times it’s because we are lacking in prayer.

Philippians 4:6,7, says: Do not be anxious about anything,   but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   7 And the peace of God,   which transcends all understanding,   will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This post will only scratch the surface of a very broad topic of discipline of the mind. I could take this in many many directions but for the purposes of this week’s challenge – we will keep it simple since simplicity is something very lacking in our culture!

Elizabeth Elliot writes: “A simple and orderly life represents a clean and orderly mind.  Muddled thinking inevitably results in muddled living.  A house that is cluttered is usually lived in by people whose minds are also cluttered, who need to simplify their lives.  This begins with simplifying and clarifying their thinking.  Mind and life need to be freed from the “disorder of the unnecessary.”

There is a lot of wisdom packed into this little quote, so let’s break down this quote and apply it to our own lives.

A simple and orderly life represents a clean and orderly mind.”

Would you say you are leading a SIMPLE and orderly life?  The reality is  – life in 2012 is extremely complex.  We own more things and have more food, church and career choices than any generation before us.  We have more voices speaking into our lives through computer technology than ever before.  Life is complex…and it’s affecting our ability to think clearly.

“Muddled thinking inevitably results in muddled living.”

Because our thinking has become muddled by so much information – our living has become muddled.   If we are not filtering all of the information we read through God’s word – we will lack the peace of God that will guard our hearts and minds that Philippians 4:7 speaks of.

“A house that is cluttered is usually lived in by people whose minds are also cluttered, who need to simplify their lives.” 

Look around your house  – would you say it’s simple or cluttered?  Elizabeth suggests that a house that is cluttered usually (there are exceptions to this) is lived in by people whose minds are cluttered.  So if you are not the exception and you live in a cluttered house – the solution to get some clear thinking back is to declutter.  But how and where do we begin?

 “This begins with simplifying and clarifying their thinking.” 

Recently I cleaned through our stacks of bins on tall shelves that I keep in our garage.   As I pulled down the bins and took a peak inside I was mortified at the junk I was keeping!  I had old Elmo party decorations that I used for my son’s second birthday and I thought I might use them again – so I was storing them…my son is 9!  I had decorations I bought the first year of our marriage stored in case I might want to use them again someday…you know – in case I change our color scheme!  We’ve been married 14 years!  I had old college newspapers…why?  I don’t know why? I guess at the time I couldn’t part with them!  Clearly I’m going to end up on the show “Hoarders” if I don’t start getting rid of these things! lol!

  “Mind and life need to be freed from the “disorder of the unnecessary.”

And there’s our challenge!

Week  4’s Challenge:
Prayfully identify one unnecessary thing you can eliminate from your life.  Is there a room, cupboard or closet you need to clean out?  Clean it out this week!  If clutter is not an issue for you – maybe it’s your calender.  Is it so jam packed full with to-do’s that there’s no room for you to think and pray clearly?  Prayfully eliminate something from your calender.  Are you spending too much time on your computer, ipad or watching too much television?  Choose to limit your time this week – in exchange for some quiet moments of reflection, being in God’s word, praying or reading a mind enriching book.

 Be brave and throw out anything in your house you have not used or worn in over a year.  Be brave and limit your children’s activities that require the family to be on the run 24/7.  Be brave and quit saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way!  (I just sent an email this morning to the 3rd media company this year that would like to do a television interview.  I didn’t even bother to hear their pitch – I simply said – “my plate is full” because it is and there is no way it could be God’s will for me to give any more time to my on-line ministry during this season of my children’s lives – no matter how inviting the offer.)

You know the saying “If the devil can’t make you bad – he’ll make you busy.” Let’s not be the ones caught in that trap!!!

What one unnecessary thing are you going to eliminate from your life this week?  Leave a comment letting me know your commitment and if you are a blogger, write about this challenge or the past 3 week’s challenges and link-up below!

Walk with the King,



  1. Elisabeth Ross says

    1 Time waster – checking Facebook on my phone!
    2 When I think about disciplining my mind, the area that comes to mind as needed discipline is NEGATIVE THINKING. I get really bogged down sometimes in a panic over little things or feeling overwhelmed, or focusing on the negative. Reading Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss right now. This week I am going to try to replace a negative thought with a positive thought.

    Update: I did not do so hot on my Weeks 1-3 committments the last few days of this week. Need to refocus! Again, thanks for what you do to encourage women!

  2. says

    This week, it is absolutely time for me to de-clutter my mind with more intentional prayer. I am great at praying with out ceasing…little moments with God throughout the day. I fail miserably at intentional prayer in a quiet place without distractions. I have no excuse, my twins go to sleep by 8pm every night! This post is very timely for me as I focus on navigating out of my cluttered frenzy.

  3. Christina R says

    1. I haven’t been keeping track of weight loss but I am able to fit into my pre-baby clothes!!
    2. As for Time Management, I’m using the “plan of attack” and it is working well.
    3. For this week, I have spent time in God’s word for at least 1 minute every day but 1!!

    Looking forward to the new challenge!!

    • Christina R says

      And for this week, I’m going to go through my kitchen cupboards! Gasp!! I did go through my clothes last week with all the time I had from staying away from the computer!!! That and the baby is sleeping better so I didn’t feel like a zombie!

  4. Sara says

    Such a timely post for me! I have been on a total house declutter mission these past few weeks. But I also have been suffering from alot of migraines lately. Partly due to stress. I am one of those people who plays things over and over in my head. The past few years i have learned to do calm my mind and truly give over my worries to God, but apparently I need to spend some more time in prayer. I accepted a committee position at church that I shouldnt have with my husband’s schedule, and this week we have some stressful things to do. This week I will be cutting back on Facebook and cutting back my kids TV time. And spending more quiet time with God. Thanks for the post!

  5. says

    Great timing on this one. I will be praying about this challenge. I feel very overwhelmed with end of school year commitments at my children’s school and church. I need to prioritize my time to what it appropriate and learn to say no.

  6. kimmya says

    I just went through a bunch of stuff in the basement that I had saved from high school…why??lol it felt good to get rid of it and donated a bunch of other stuff we didn’t need anymore…a clutter free house helps me feel peaceful however i can totally see how a crazy cluttered brain creates a lack of peace and more cluttered life to begin with…good thoughts. I will be working on praying through some of my brain clutter and releasing it to God this week..He is the only one who can turn this mess of a brain unto something beautiful and useful:) love you girl…you are doing great with your disciplines!! Way to go!!!

  7. says

    We recently moved. I figured it’d be a good time to work on clutter and finding homes for everything. It’s really going to be a challenge because of the stuff we “inherited” with the new house. Not only do I have my own stuff to declutter but I get to do it with someone else’s stuff too! There are some treasures in there though, so it will be worth the time. My commitment is to take at least a couple of small steps each day tackling all the work, and ALSO keep up with what’s already been done.

    I do read Scripture each morning before reading anything else-the week 3 challenges. I can’t remember the other two well enough to know if I’ve been doing them!

  8. says

    Last week I quit Facebook. Well, deactivated my account. I said it was temporary (until I finish my studies in 2 months time) but we’ll see. It’s gonna take a lot to get me back on there, I already have been way more productive and less anxious. We’ve also just renovated our house and over the weekend we painted. Everything’s still a big jumbled mess, and we’ll be sorting through everything before we put the ‘stuff’ away – I suspect a lot of ‘stuff’ will end up in the bin. That’s our job for this week and next.

  9. says

    The greatest lesson that I learned about simplifying my life over the past year is to stay true to God’s plan and purpose for my life. When I do that, everything else — my relationships, my home, my work, etc — all falls into place. Thanks for the post!

  10. barb says

    This is wonderful…thanks for the encouragement to be more disciplined. God was working on me and your site was just another proding to get disciplined. The weight loss is going great and took up the C25K program as well and love it. Still working on the time management. Purposing to put God’s word first, before I even start a load of wash in the morning. And now this decluttering. I actually cleaned out a large storage closet last week and it felt great to take a huge load of stuff to Salvation Army. Will possibly tackle another closet this week and apply Isaiah 26:3 to my life. A great verse for decluttering of the mind. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

  11. Chris Floyd says

    This week marks my first “free-er” week of the season. The kids’ music classes are on summer break, Awana is over until the fall as well. Homeschool for my three older kids is still in session for another month or two, but we’ll have a lot less scheduled time. I’ve been reading decluttering books for the last few weeks, and they have all said the same basic thing that this post is saying. I’ve been systematically going through our house (again–why can’t this stuff not *stay* decluttered?!) and getting rid of as much as I can. One of the other powerful messages I’ve read about our “too much stuff” syndrome is that we expend so much energy, care, and worry in maintaining it. In other words, why do we let the things we own control us? Silly, but something I believe our culture has trained us to do. This week I commit to decluttering my clothes closet and also going through my big box of photos, discarding the blurry or scary ones, and putting them in some albums that I’ve bought, but not used yet. Huzzah! Thank you for the kick in the butt to commit to it. 😀

  12. Heather says

    Well I am starting fresh this week. Last week was miserable for weight loss. I spend time with God and used my list sort of. This week is FB only before breakfast and after my kids are in bed.

  13. Melinda Elam says

    I love all these challenges. We need some prodding most of the time. I would love to use the water and exercise tracker, but my computer won’t let me download it. You may have answered this question, but I got lost in all thenpost! 😉 Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can relate to soooo much to you post about. Any help would be just fabulous!!

  14. Amanda@EmbracingGrace says

    Courtney! I think we should be friends! Thank you for this post today! Love the encouragement. I think you should take a visit to Arkansas so we can visit in person:) (…… Ok… That makes me sound like a creepy internet person……) I promise I’m not a weirdo! Haha:)

  15. says

    My biggest time master is the computer…reading blogs, commenting on blogs, Facebook, twitter and now Pinterest. I need to make better use of my time for focused prayer. During my daily activities I’m praying the Rosary, but I need to do it while sitting still. Focus this week will be on setting a time limit to how long I’m on the computer, and a better schedule for writing on my blog.
    Thanks for the challenge Courtney!

  16. Cynthia Quiroga says

    “Prayerfully identify one unnecessary thing you can eliminate from your life. Is there a room, cupboard or closet you need to clean out? Clean it out this week!” Thank you!

  17. Nicole French says

    I just found your blog. I’m looking forward to starting the challenges from the beginning! This week’s discipline is a little ironic for me. I’m adding a lot to my schedule out of necessity, and I don’t have much that I can unload. But I can keep up with the decluttering around the house (if I gave into my impulses, I’d be on Hoarders) and be intentional about how I use my time. I do have a cluttered a mind and constantly stopping myself when I start to drift would be helpful. Thanks for this series!

  18. Amanda says

    I’m loving the challenges. The things that you are brining up are things I have been feeling God has been working on me so it is great to have the accountability.
    From week one: Slowly losing the weight. Not as fast as I would like but I am making progress. I need to be intentional about what I eat.
    From week two: I have more of a schedule for my days and they are running a lot smoother. It is so helpful to me to have a list of tasks to keep me on task.
    From week three: It usually isn’t that hard for me to get up and read my Bible first thing, but this week so many other things wanted to my attention first. Again I had to be intentional about going right to my Bible in the morning.
    This week: I have been working for the last few weeks on getting rid of clutter and things we don’t need. I just need to continue through the house decluttering.

  19. says

    This is a very timely challenge because I am doing the 31 dys to clean e-book. So any extra cleaning is welcomed over here! I agree with cluttered mind/cluttered house theory. We got twins almost two years ago and my homekeeping went down hill fast. They were small and sweet boy has been to the hosptial several times over the year. I’m late to the challenges and will be reading them all today but I’ll enact them a little slower then that.

  20. April says

    “Sometimes it’s because we are too busy, over committed, or own way too much stuff. Other times it’s because we have a past that haunts us, a spouse who is difficult or a child who consumes our mind with concern. And many times it’s because we are lacking in prayer.”
    For me it was all of these things that happened one on top of each other coupled with my husband’s and my debilitating injuries… all in the span of a year. The current events seemed to bring up so many emotions from the past, and I became overwhelmed, and unable to even make the simplest decisions about what to keep or not keep.
    With a good counsellor, good books (like “Boundaries”), and the support of friends, I have slowly regained my balance, and started de-cluttering in all those areas. It has been a long 2 year journey, but the result is a home that is not so cluttered, more time at home with my kids, more patience for their ‘child-like-ness’ (which is so endearing to God, and now, once again to me) and more peace in my heart. I LOVE that I just spent a couple hours last night planning our next 2week’s meals, our learning & sensory activities, my errands, etc. Each morning when I wake up I feel I have a purpose. I can sit and meditate in peace – instead of panicking over whether or not I should be doing something else more important for the day (like dishes, laundry for ballet, groceries for company, learning tools/activities for my kids, etc. I have a plan, and even if I don’t accomplish my whole plan, I am giving my kids at least some of what I really want to provide for them. I am successful!
    I share all this to say that if anyone reading this is feeling stuck, angry, overwhelmed and alone, that I have been there and I promise you, there is a way out -God knows how to lead you through it! It can get better. Remember to rejoice in every baby step you take, and take a moment to breathe, to relish the joy in this moment. Losing loved ones (and friend’s infants) to death, I want to tell you that NOTHING is more important than connecting with the ones you love RIGHT NOW. Breathe in every moment you have together as though it might be your last. Don’t let ANYTHING be more important.
    You can choose what to do with this moment. Choose life! For life in Christ/Yeshua is beautiful.

  21. says

    To bad I missed the first three weeks though I am doing last weeks challenge this week! I had already planned to go through my clothes because I have been holding on “just in case I’ll like it/ want to ear it/ need it… some other time!” I already did some cleaning up this weekend and today! I need to throw away junk! Amen, ’twas a good post!

  22. says

    My challenge for this week is to limit my time on Facebook reading status updates to 15 minutes per day. I have a feeling that I spend a lot more time doing that than I would like to admit. Thanks for the challenge!

  23. Melinda says

    My challenges this week are purging the pantry and cutting back on TV time. Although, TV time runs in cycles for me, some weeks an hour a day and some weeks not at all. I’m happier with the not at all. I’ve already drastically reduced the amount of time I use the computer during the day. Thanks.

  24. Stephanie W says

    Oh how timely this challenge is for me!! As I dug deep into a closet just moments before reading this hoping to find a pencil sharpener in my stash of school supplies, I found myself thinking I don’t even know what all is in here!! I know my starting point!! I’m motivated and excited!!

  25. says

    Courtney, you are providing such a gift to your readers by doing this series. As a life coach, I cheer you on for leading women in the right direction. You’ve offered me inspiration and accountability! Thanks!

  26. Robin Still says

    Courtney, What a wonderful post today…this one hits close to home. I stink at the weight loss although I have managed to squeeze in walking one hour a day in them midst of our crazy family schedule. Spending time in God’s word is slowly finding more time….still working on this one for a bit more time. This post about clearing the clutter…perfect. I feel like I am living in a house full of stuff that is keeping me from enjoying my family more because I spend to much time cleaning it! We are all, as a family, going to go thru each room in our house (I am giving us one month) and truly get rid of stuff we don’t need, use or wear! It will be so freeing.

    Thank you for holding us accountable and giving me inspiriation to get me going!

    Smiles and Blessings,

  27. Kim says

    Week one: 6+ glasses of water a day… I’ve met this every day and even started ordering water at restaurants.

    Week two: time management schedule…going great, added a prayer schedule as well.

    Week three: spiritual… Reading 1 John for at least one minute each day…check

    This week: I’ve decided to not get on the computer except for work related activities and devotions here from 7 am to 7 pm daily.

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