The Nester
About the Author

Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, is a home stager, redesigner and design school drop-out. Her last home (a rental) was featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Cottages & Bungalows, Ladies' Home Journal and in her upcoming design philosphy book, The Nesting Place: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful....

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. Great post! I have been working through this issue in my life lately. By the time I get everything done that needs to be done, I don’t seem to have the motivation to do the things that I want to do and am called to do. So, I have been trying to jump start the day with time devoted to becoming all that God has designed me to be before the sun dawns and the task list is readable. While it is definitely a work in progress, I am learning to focus more on becoming the person I am supposed to be and letting the stuff I am supposed “to do” flow out of that place.
    Thanks for the great reminder and encouragement!

  2. Being intentional about friendships is such an obvious, yet inspirational idea. I should stop complaining about my lack of friendships and do something about it!
    I stop everything at 6pm. My ideal bedtime is 8pm. Glad to know I’m not alone 😉

    • Earlybirds, unite!

      Yes, one of the easiest ways that I started was I just told myself I was going to say “yes” to more friendy things. I’m very goal oriented and logical which works well when running a blog but it’s easy for me to look around 2 years later and wonder why I don’t know anyone. Lucky for me, my friends are patient. I bet yours are too.

  3. I hear you on the time crunch. I love the idea of being intentional about friendships. Definitely words to live by. I’m curious about the school your boys attend. I’ve never heard of an arrangement like that and would like to know more. Is it just a local school or is there a national network of some kind? Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  4. You’ve got my brain thinking radical thoughts about time – wow. I realize I haven’t thought of time, and what I want to do with it for too long, and the result is what you’d expect – I’m exhausted and over committed. I work outside our home full time Monday through Friday. I’m curious, according to your approach, that would leave me with no time for friendship. Is there a ministry or something else you devote your weekend to, or do you view that time as strictly family time?

    Your blog is one of the things I feel compelled to devote some time to daily. Like this post, you’ve helped me challenge some of my ideas about my home and overcoming limitations (window treatments, decorating, appreciating the small things, etc.). I appreciate your “31 Days’ series and that you’re encouraging SO MANY others to post their intentional thoughts. Thank you!

    • Hey Niclole a good question–I was wondering if someone would ask that!

      Currently, I’m not super involved in a “ministry” as far as one I signed up for and meet for every week. I feel my ministry is to my family right now. My husband has two jobs–one is at the church so he is heavily involved and I see my role right now as a support to him–for example, I’ll be doing the food and helping him set up for a meeting with all the parents tomorrow. One of the reasons I’m intentionally not part of a ministry that has regular meetings and such is so that I can have margin to minister to people in the way I am gifted and created {I’m a weird introvert}. One way is by writing here at (in)courage. Another is simply being available to my neighbors and my husband’s stuff when needs come up.

      I don’t want to step on any toes but I think sometimes people put too much emphasis on being a part of a documented, meeting every week, sign your name on the line, program kind of ministry.

      Sometimes I wonder if we would need less program “ministries” if we had the time just to minister to our own families. So I hope you would feel no guilt in backing off your commitments, if that’s what you feel you should do.

      We are also big believer in small groups/community groups/life groups/home groups~ whatever it is you want to call them. Normally we are a part of one if not leading it but, we are taking an intentional break while we figure out what my husbands routine will be with his new position on staff.

      For me, having people over isn’t a burden in any way so hosting a small group falls right into my giftedness.

      But yes, to answer your question, weekends are mostly family time–Sundays we like to have another family over for lunch if my husband isn’t too busy.

      And if you missed it, my sister wrote a great post yesterday about this very topic as well

      • But there is something to be said for contributing to the church you attend rather than going to just be a consumer. I’m certainly not saying that’s what you do, but so many people do, and it leaves a small portion o the body doing ALL the work… Which is kind of sad….

        • A valid point, Sarah.

          I think contributing comes out of a full heart that’s abiding and serving out of giftedness and fullness in Christ. It’s a natural out poring of who you are in Christ and who you were created to be. I sense some people “work” and volunteer out of guilt~not out of joy.

          I wonder if the sign that a certain ministry isn’t needed any longer or has run it’s course is the mere fact that no one is volunteering.

          Or if those who are volunteering are depleted, exhausted and have no rest is a sign that they are doing too much.

          • This is where the widow’s mite action happens. We give God our willing heart, and He shows us where and when to serve. Sometimes that means signing up for a weekly service. (We serve a month on, 2 months off teaching Sunday School.) And as the child of parents who were always, ALWAYS at church and not at home, I agree that service to the ones we love might mean less of a need for programmed ministries elsewhere.

            Last year I emailed 4 friends at church — we promised to read the Bible (even a verse) each day and email each other that day with what we read. If you emailed by midnight, you counted. No pressure, just a daily commitment and email chain. I got more out of that than all the other ministries we were in. It doesn’t have to be sponsored to truly minister to others. 🙂

        • Being a consumer of God’s Word on Sundays – I’ve heard the term “taking up pew space” – is not a sad thing. Who knows what the future will bring? Perhaps the ones that are taking it all in, growing, being fed will one day be the lead on some new project in the church or more likely, be God’s hands and feet to family, neighbors and friends, serving the Lord in their own way, in their own time. It’s all good, truly it is!

    • Nicole – I just recently found the Nest and others and am hooked. I’ve subscribed to only several that matter at this point – I, too, work M-F full time outside of my home (after being home for 9 years with my kids). If I have extra time I explore organizing or decorating blogs. I don’t have much time for anything else after kids activities and work and sleep, other than worrying about kids activities, work and sleep. If you have any tips on managing your time and balance, I would love to hear them. It’s nice to know there are others out there in the same boat as me.

  5. Thanks so much for this powerful reminder! I fall into the trap of being on the comp. or talking on the phone when it isn’t the “best.” Self-control… ughhh! But it is so important to figure out what God wants you to be doing right now. I always say: people are most important in my life so I try not to feel bad if a friend asks to meet for coffee. I don’t think we can regreat spending time with people who we love!

  6. I have had the same epiphany about friendships over the past couple of years. It does take time, but it’s time well-spent and I feel so honored to be a part of the lives of them. I had no idea what all I was missing!

    PS – I’m with you completely on the Room Mom thing. I mean, was your mom a room mom?? I never conceived of such a thing, back in the olden days.

  7. Great post! So often we feel that we run out of hours in a day. But, you’re right we have to make choices, and live intentionally. Thanks for sharing where you were with building relationships with real in “town” friends. I’m in that season now, and hope to head in that direction.

    You’re no weirdo, my best brain hours are early in the morning too:) Thanks again for sharing!

  8. I am so with you that limitations lead to creativity. Often when making scrapbooks for others, or a gift project, I will give myself “rules” to follow, thereby setting limitations by excluding other possibilities. It causes me to maximize what I can create with what I have. Regarding friends, the BEST thing that has happened to me in a long time was a group of women started meeting at McDonalds for coffee a couple of Wednesdays a month, after the kids were all on the bus. We are now in our second year and it is truly our lifeline to sanity!!! We happen to all be in the same Sunday school class, our kids go to the same elementary/middle/high schools, and we live in neighboring subdivisions. Our “Coffee Girls” laugh, share, pray, and encourage. We drop in when we can, and are always welcomed. Friendship is a precious gift. I love your approach to looking at time. Great food for thought. Blessings!

  9. This was so on time! I’m a first time mom to a 4 month old, I work outside of my home, and I’m in school finishing up my degree. My life is busy, but it’s mine. Lately God has been urging me to start living intentionally and I’m excited about it. I’m thankful for the days when I was so stressed out and crying in the shower because I couldn’t figure out how to manage it all, because it made me seek God’s plan instead of my own. In this season I’m investing more quality time into my marriage, my relationships and my home. I’m choosing to snuggle up in the bed with my boys instead of running around on a Saturday morning. Yeah, this is the good life!

  10. Nester,
    You always right the most inspiring – and yes, quirky – posts! Yep, we all only have 24 hours in a day. And, what we do with them is a choice we are making.

    Right now I’m in major prayer trying to figure out what this time in my life will look like. About 18 months ago I made a major change because I thought it would be the right move for me. And, I think some shifts with how I spend my “free time” might be in order.

    We’ll see.
    Thanks so much for the reminder.

  11. This is too weird. My lesson learned this week on today’s post is all about time moving faster as we grow older. Great minds, baby, great minds…

  12. This was a great post! And when you lay out your schedule as you did and point out your available “free” time, it helps me realize why I (working full time) felt I never had any. IT’S BECAUSE I DIDN’T. Even now with my boys grown I still feel I don’t have any “margin,” as you call it.

    Still don’t know what I can do about it, but your post helped me look at it in a whole different way. Heading over to Emily ‘s now to see that post you mentioned.

  13. This makes me feel rather sad. I’m mom to five kids, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 12 and one on the way (and one little angel in heaven). The youngest four are homeschooled while the oldest attends a local parochial school. Running the house and homeschooling the kids is a full-time job that doesn’t have regular hours (unless you count that there are always 24 hours in a day). We moved to this small town a year and a half ago so my husband could take a full-time parish (he’s a priest) for the first time which meant that I could finally stop working full-time (I was a nurse) and be at home with the kids. I wouldn’t change any of that. But our parishioners are very spread out geographically – probably half of them drive an hour and a half to get to church – so I don’t have any friends locally. There are also only a few people in my childbearing age in the entire parish. This means that all of my friends are long-distance friends. I have a “ministry” of sorts online: I have a website about miscarriage and keep up an online correspondence with people who write needing assistance in this area. It’s rewarding, but there’s nothing like the company of flesh-and-blood friends. I like to crochet and quilt but the combination of very little time and a tiny house means I am limited in that area too. Thank goodness my husband and I are best friends and homebodies or we’d be going insane. I accept that this is what God has planned for me for this season of life, but I can’t help wondering if it will always be this way.

    (P.S. Nester – I read you every day and love your quirky sense of humor!)

    • Matushka Anna,

      I really cling to the whole idea of seasons of our lives. Sometimes when I’m in a season it seems like it will last forever, but they never do. You are in an incredible season right now. And I really hope that one dear friend who lives close finds you {your season is too busy to find her and rightly so!}.

      I literally PRAYED for friends at the beginning of the year. I had like 3 goals and friendship was one of them. I kind of feel like a dorky, socially weird nerd to admit it, but it’s true. I needed guidance and help making friends. And I realized many times I was sabbotaging my friendships just by saying no to things like going out to dinner.

      • I too am a socially awkward dork. I have a hard time making and keeping friends. I also have a hard time trusting other women ( I have been betrayed many times by “friends”). I was called to attend an all women conference called “Women of Faith” with 100+ women from my church. I am nervous as I don’t know anyone, but I am trying to put myself out there and let Him do His thing!! Wish me luck.

  14. I love this. Thanks so much for saying it. We began homeschooling 13 years ago and, at that time, I felt my calling was serving my family. I backed out of so much and caught a lot of flack for it. Things such as “what are you doing for the Lord” or “you need to get busy serving the Lord”. I heard this a lot but I have persevered. I am so happy that I have focused on what I know is important at this season in my life rather than trying to do it all. Well said.

  15. Being that fiercely deliberate about time – I’m becoming like that too. And I have to say, I am profoundly relieved that I can now check the weird guilt from not volunteering as room mom off my list 🙂

  16. You really touched a place in my heart with this post… We home-school 4 days a week. Last year we were in a CO-Op that made us have to school 5 and I was over-worked, stressed and unhappy… It was a wonderful group of intelligent, creative, passionate women and I miss them, but now I have at least 1 day a week to spend with my husband (who is a pastor and is off on Friday) and follow my passions…

  17. I love this post. I’m in an odd season right now with one in college and one that I’m homeschooling, but she does most of the work herself. I thought this would be a season where I’d have plenty of time to pursue writing, but I didn’t factor in a few things.

    So, my priorities at present are:
    1. Health- not an option. I have to eat right, exercise, and rest to handle the hormonal and insomnia issues that I have right now. It’s top priority or life unravels very quickly.

    2. My family and flesh and blood friends. I need people, especially in this season. I need people that I can touch and talk to and hear their voice. I need people who are walking out this life by my side. My family ranks top on the list. Other than that most of my friends are from church. Beyond that, I’ve let most of the other relationships slide.

    My mind says I need to pursue writing, to work on my business, to develop on online presence, to make money. But God seems to perpetually bring me back to a place of rest and simply enjoying the life right in front of my eyes.

  18. Yes, yes, and yes. This post is just chock full of truth. I never thought about it in these terms: focusing on the things that only I can do. But you’re right. That sums up {for all of us} how we can best spend the precious time we have. I LOVE this post.

  19. Oh, I totally love this encouragement! We can all do Some. Thing., and all we have to do is evaluate our choices!

    And, no room mom for me, either! Sometimes I wonder if I should feel badly because I don’t go in and help out with my son’s class. And then I remember who I am!

  20. Love the question: “what can only I do well?” Great encouragement, with tangible help. And thanks for sharing a “good” that you’re not doing because there’s a “best” you choose instead. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  21. Oh how I wish that you, Emily and Chirstina were in my life all those years ago when I was trying to be all things to all people and ended up being nothing to myself! I love how you all are encouraging women to be more intentional about how they use their time, love and resources. If only I had someone to tell me that it would be ok, no more than ok, it would be ideal if I were not the room mom, the soccer mom, the pta mom, the i am on every committee anyone ask me to be on mom – I would have been a better wife, mother and friend to those people who really mattered.
    Thank you for how you are helping others view what is important in life 🙂

  22. Very good thoughts – thanks so much. Want to think on your thoughts and ideas – so many seasons in life (I am now empty nest season) – and always so good to evaluate and seek God for the wisest use of time. Thank you.

  23. Good stuff, Nester! I raised 5 kids, homeschooled and it seemed I had little time to myself. My hubby, God bless him, always gave me “time” as thank you. Time to go shopping, time to take a long bath and etc. Now I’m in the empty-nest season and it seems that my days are just as full. Now I must *choose* to make time to see friends, go shopping, serve. Thank you for bringing the message home to me today!

  24. Nester, I *love* how you always encourage us to give of our time and talents where God plants us, in the tailor-made-just-for-us way He asks. Whether that’s inside the four walls of church, home, or other places, we do what works best for us!

  25. great post… i love when you talk about doing the things ONLY YOU can do. so true and i hadn’t thought of it that way before. thanks for the insight.

  26. Nester – I have just discovered you (and your sister…and father for that matter!) this week. I teach computer technology full-time at an elementary school. attend seminary 2 hours away – I DO have to drive it isn’t online, have 2 middle school daughter and I’m a single parent. Add to that a new relationship and there is simply NO time left! But I have been inspired this week by your posts (and your sister and dad’s) to be more intentional. Period. It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday mechanism of life – going to work, writing papers, laundry, running kids here and there, this committee or that at church, feeding the dog (Oh! I have a dog?), making lunches, trying to find SOMETHING to eat for dinner, oh – and then there is this great guy who wants to spend some time with me if I EVER come up for air!…that it isn’t long before it (TIME) is gone! And as a result my time with God is non-existant. My time with my kids is me trying to do 6 things at a time…or fussing that they aren’t doing enough! And what do my middle school daughters need more than ANYTHING? ME! They need me to focus on them, their days, their hurts, their joys…yet it remains the hardest thing to be intentional about! So I find myself realizing I need to learn to be intentional about being intentional!

  27. What a wonderful post, I love your honestly, i feel the older I get (and the older my boys get) the more comfortable I am with putting my needs a little higher up the totem pole. Spending time doing things that I love and doing them well, makes for a happier me, if I am happy my family is happy. Thank you for always inspiring.

  28. This was a good read… especially cause I feel guilty when I need to say no to more volunteering… I have lots of other moms that say “well you don’t work”… REALLY? I need to read what you wrote again. You’re right, I can get lots of people to fold the laundry, or clean the house. I need to take control of the important things ONLY I CAN DO!! 🙂

  29. Intentional Friendships.

    Yes, that’s a biggie. I am relatively new to this part of the country (2 years), and we just moved to a new school/neighborhood this year. New school, new friendships…I need to make some friends. I need to invest in making friends, don’t I? Great post, thank you.

  30. “I don’t want to step on any toes but I think sometimes people put too much emphasis on being a part of a documented, meeting every week, sign your name on the line, program kind of ministry.” <— yes!!

    "Do you feel led to write a book, start a ministry, invest in friends? Maybe you feel led to be room mom. How much time a month are you fiercly protecting to do that Thing which you feel called to do?"

    Wiser words have never been spoken. This post has made me re-think some things!

  31. This is so true!! I need to be a little more jealous of my free time (of which there isn’t nearly enough, lol) Thanks for this great post. I’ve been asking God to help me use my time wisely.

  32. Oh, man! LOVE this post. I never comment, but thanks for this…total inspiration for me to continue investing in the important things in my life. (Well, “continue” is a stretch…I guess “continuing to aim for” is more accurate…)

    Funny how so many of us commenting here are in the same boat…all craving real, true, heart friendships. It seems to be a cultural phenomenon—we’re all running around, crazy-busy, yet desperately lonely for someone to connect with in the flesh. To really “get” us…isn’t being understood one of life’s greatest gifts?

    Anyway…thanks. 🙂 Good to know I’m not alone!

  33. My kids are mostly grown now, but still at home. They lead their own lives and it is difficult to live intentionally when I’m not sure of my new role. I teach full time so time spent at home is precious, but every day is completely different and who knows who will be home for dinner!? After twelve years as a stay at home mom and 13 years teaching, maybe I should take myself and my husband off of the back burner and turn up the fire! Thanks Nester! I guess I am being intentional now! Thanks for all u do!

  34. I agree with you TOTALLY! My husband and I are both very social and have also been involved in full time ministry in the past as well as volunteering at our church. Now we have 3 little ones (ages 7 months, 3, and 4). As much as I love doing “God’s work” I have quickly come to realize that God’s will for me right now is being a happy homemaker. And that means being at HOME! For me, it’s a full time job being a wife, a mother to little ones, and preschool-ing the 2 “older” ones at home. Often I am pressured at church to volunteer in various ministries or to attend them and I politely say, “No.” A few months ago I dropped out of all out-of-the-house activities that I had to be at. We host a weekly Bible study in our home and my husband also meets with a couple of men/week going to go through the Word. I also agree with you that if a ministry does not have enough workers, I would question if the ministry was actually God’s will for that people at that time. I’m tracking right with you. Thanks for the wonderful post – it was such an encouragement to me.

  35. I just wanted to say that as time goes by and life demands change, you can add the things that you wanted to do earlier in life to your life. I couldn’t ever volunteer in my children’s classrooms. There just wasn’t the time back then. But now, when my oldest grandchild is in kindergarten, I have the time. So his classroom sees me once every other week. And a few other grandparents have realized that they have the time for this that they didn’t when life was crazier. And they have joined me.

  36. man, you really struck a chord with us all, didn’t you? last night, i was telling my husband, “this was a good week, busy and full of ‘good things,’ but i just feel sort of used up…like i gave a lot of people my time, but not sure i did what i thought was most important.” been reading “Boundaries,” so i know i’m supposed to be responsible for this – no one else’s fault, but it’s hard to find your groove and protect it. i’ll be praying for all of the commenters and you and myself, that God will help us do that. as i type, my 8-yr-old son keeps coming to update me on his Wii status. dear God, please don’t let my groove be that i have to go play Mario Kart one more time, but alas, i think it may be…

  37. What exactly is a “Room Mom”? I’m a (Canadian) teacher, and I’ve never heard of it before. I do have wonderful moms (and a grandpa) who volunteer in my classroom when they can, but the term Room Mom sounds like it has great expectations and responsibility attached to it. (Maybe even great power for some who take it very seriously?!)

  38. Really enjoyed reading this post! It will definitely help me focus and let go this week. And you have a friend named Christiana spelled the same was as me! I’ve never met one. Please say hello to her from Christiana in Seattle.

  39. Wow that really made me stop and think about all the hours I have in a day and what I do with them.
    I have said no to something’s lately. The one’s I said no to have not understood why. I told them I felt that I was in a season of God saying “REST” After reading this I am sure there are more ways I can make better use of my time.
    Nester, thanks for making us stop to think how to use the time God gives us each day.

    Oh & the face to face friendship thing has been on my heart this year too. I wrote about friendship yesterday for 31 Days of Beautiful Blessings.

  40. M,you amaze me! One of your best! Keep sharing the message God has given YOU! Very inspiring. Tell C hello from us and hello to you too. Much much love,t

  41. Very interesting post. I will give lots of thought to this concept-of how time is used. I seem to struggle with it quite a bit. Yes, time is my biggest limitation…The fact that you actually measured your “free time” shows how little time many of us really do have…so we do need to be more intentional. Thanks for this. Now I need to act upon it.

  42. I thought about this tonight as I rocked my baby to sleep. We are praying on a life-changing move/job change. Life is about “stages,” isn’t it, and what “stage” we’re in. Right now, children are my focus as I also fit “full-time” work into “part-time” hours. What’s around the bend, we don’t know. But I know God has a plan.

  43. Okay, I know the room mom thing has been touched on many times in these comments…and I’m sure you didn’t realize you would hit on such a nerve but MAN! I can so relate. I have rather begrudgingly volunteered for that role in the past (at our UMS school by the way) and felt guilty when I did not do it this year. Why is there guilt with this?!! I, like you, have come to realize that the Lord was just calling me elsewhere and it is NOT a reflection of the kind of mother I am and my kids will absolutely be just fine!

  44. Wow – LOVE this post!! So much to think about. I love how you pointed out that you are the only one that can be a wife to your husband and mom to your kids. That is awesome and quite a job at the same time!!

  45. I feel heaps better after reading this post – I am a bit of a loner and prefer my own company to that of others a lot of the time – however I am no introvert … one of my goals for 2012 is to stop making excuses and saying “No” to invites and begin forming good relations with other female company. My husband has commented that I have become a little bit of a hermit over the last 12 months and this has egged me on to stop being “lazy” where it comes to forming relationships … I love the idea of having heaps of girl friends – I don’t have any sisters or close friends mainly because we have move heaps of times and it is a huge effort to start making friends all over again , but no more excuses!!! I am praying for special friends to come into my life in 2012.