Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: SIMPLICITY

by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.
Ann’s monthly contributions will be in a Q & A style format, as we hear her heart
(balancing raising 7 children while also being passionately involved in missions).


How do you keep your heart free of clutter?


We all realize that our homes don’t stay clutter-free by themselves. Clearing out paper-piles, castoff-shoe-corners, and mountains of outgrown-kids-clothes takes persistent effort and a vision for a clean and peaceful environment. In our family’s home, there are certain areas I call Hot Spots; for some reason, if anything lands in these convenient (yet forbidden) zones, the item instantly transforms into a magnet for a giant mess. These Hot Spots include the stairs by our entryway, a chair in our master bedroom, and a bench by our kitchen table. If I don’t “fight” for these Hot Spots to be spotless, they take over.

The same holds true for my heart.

My thoughts and attitudes don’t stay clutter-free, kingdom-focused, and unselfish on their own accord. There are certain places in my mind and heart and emotions that I need to diligently guard against continual distraction and discouragement. For me, a few Hot Spots in my heart are keeping vision for homeschooling (even after 20 years), staying consistent with our ministry correspondence (especially when I don’t feel like writing our newsletter), or being frustrated by ministry leadership decisions that are not my concern or responsibility. I know that I can’t trust the foolishness of my momentary emotions, and just do or say “whatever I feel like.” If I’m grumpy, I can’t just “let go” of my unruly thoughts and dump everything I’m thinking on my husband, kids, or church friends, any more than I can continually display all of our family’s dirty socks and stinky rags on our dining room table.

Instead, I know that I need to rely on God’s grace and the constant presence of His Holy Spirit to keep my heart clean. I need to continually bring my emotional clutter to God, and allow Him to filter through my thoughts and attitudes, or even unnecessary busyness.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” and II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

For me, it also helps to review God’s focus for my life and His call for our family. If the clutter in my heart doesn’t have a place to fit into God’s plans and purposes, I know that I need to get rid of it. Sometimes, a simple prayer walk helps me adjust, requesting prayer from Jon or a godly girlfriend, spending time in worship, or praying out-loud key Bible verses that speak the truth of God’s Word (rather than proclaiming the lie of my negative feelings).

How do you keep time with the Lord your priority amidst raising seven children?


I remember a time early in our marriage (when we had only one baby!) when I was really struggling and feeling guilty for not getting “enough” (whatever amount that is!) quiet time with God. At the time, our church was emphasizing a one-hour early morning prayer time, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to stay consistent. I went to our pastor’s wife to earnestly ask for help. She was so sweet to encourage me, simply saying, “God understands a young mother.”

Over the years, and through all the different seasons of life with a houseful of babies, and toddlers, and kids, and teens, I’ve had to learn to take whatever time I could find. Many times, my only quiet time was in the middle of the night, while nursing a baby (I actually always loved that special one-on-one time to have our newest baby all to myself, and often clung to II Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby…”). Other times, I’d earnestly grab for a few minutes here and there, or Jon would watch our kids while I’d take a much-needed prayer walk. It’s much easier now that our kids are older; nearly always, the kids and I begin our day by having our individual quiet times, often right next to each other. But don’t feel bad if you can only grab a few minutes. Like a sweet kiss and a hug-on-the-go with your husband, special moments with the Lord, sprinkled all throughout the day, can keep you abiding in His presence and continually relying on His grace.

For me, it’s helped to establish a Quiet Time “appointment” and “place” before I go to bed. I’ve found that if I have my Bible, Bible reading chart, prayer journal, pen, a devotional book or Bible study, and a warm snugly blanket waiting for me next to my favorite chair in the living room, I’m more likely to begin my day with God. I’ve also been especially encouraged by the devotional book, A Place of Quiet Rest – Finding Intimacy with God through a Daily Devotional Life, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, this SUPER-MOM vs. ABIDING MOM chart, and here’s my favorite one-year Bible Reading Plan.

How do you guard against time wasters (TV, computer)?


Our family hasn’t had network TV for over 15 years, and we have NO regrets on this decision (especially in regards to the blatant beer commercials or immoral sitcom ads). We do have a collection of wholesome DVDs, and as parents we carefully monitor what our kids watch (and how much). A few times a week, I ride an exercise bike and my 13-year-old does laundry while the two of us watch 1/2 hour of a good-and-pure girl movie (like Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, or Roman Holiday), and several times a week, our family sits down for a fun wholesome movie and a giant bowl of our famous popcorn.

For me, the computer (including facebook, twitter, online writing, and keeping up with our ministry website) is a tremendous tool for outreach, yet it’s definitely my biggest challenge and has the potential for being my biggest time-waster Hot Spot. My current strategy is to not even turn on the computer until 10:30 AM on Mondays through Thursdays. During this time, I’m focusing on homeschooling, getting our home life in order, doing laundry, or even reading a good book or hand writing in my journal. I struggle to keep a good attitude about it, because I want to be diligent with the day’s work that needs to be done, but this current plan seems to be working. I’ve known friends who went off-line for a while, or deactivated their social networking accounts until they could get control of time-wasters. For a long while, I used a timer, where I would keep track of my daily online time by “clicking in” each time I logged onto the computer. Sisters, if TV or computer is a time-waster Hot Spot, we need to get a godly vision for life, and reclaim our time and family priorities for God’s Kingdom.


Do you have a mission statement? We’d love to hear how your prioritize your life.


During college, my husband felt the Lord tell him, “The epitome of your spirit it to win souls,” (and at that time, he didn’t even know what “epitome” meant). Since then, Jon has always been laser-focused on international soul-winning and evangelism. For me, briefly articulating my LIFE MISSION has been much more difficult. As a wife, I know I’m called to support and help my husband in His calling, and I know that I’m called to “mother” our seven children; however, my brain has always swirled with some sort of new idea or ministry plan, and for years my heart has yearned for a specific target-focus or mission statement for my life.

When I was pregnant with Philip, our seventh baby, someone casually mentioned, “You know, Ann, you’re just made to have babies.” I took those words as a beautiful compliment; yet privately, I went to God in prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I SO want to know your specific target and mission for my life. I want to be laser-focused and effective for Your kingdom. Some say I’m just ‘made to have babies,’ and I know that pregnancy and godly motherhood and supporting Jon are my primary callings; but I feel such a yearning, even beyond the personal needs our family, for Your kingdom purposes, and for other families, and for the lost and hurting people of the world. Can You give me a concise MISSION for my life?”

Only a few days later, right between my dreams and early consciousness in the early morning, I believe I clearly heard the Lord answer the cry of my heart. He simply said,

“I’ve called you to BRING FORTH LIFE.”

To me, this is the clearest MISSION STATEMENT I have ever had. It includes birthing and raising children, winning souls and motivating for evangelism, encouraging teens and families for world missions, and even my heart for rescuing orphans. It’s what God has made me for: I’m called to BRING FORTH LIFE!

For more specific details about how I’m continually learning to prioritize my life, and how I systematically seek God for His daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and life-long purposes — in practical ways — you’re welcome to take a look at my 2011 MISSION-MINDED New Year’s Guide, for prayer and evaluation. Over the years, I’ve been tweaking and adding to this FREE 15-page guide pray to help myself and others to discover God’s focus, fulfillment, and fruitfulness. I hope it could be a blessing!

Thank you Ann for sharing your heart with us!

About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

25 Responses to Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: SIMPLICITY

  1. Kathleen Smith March 7, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Greetings to Ann, in Jesu s’ Name!

    I love your blog and am writing to ask if I may link your blog to my website when we upgrade our site at the endof this month (March).

    My site: Parents on the Move! (www.parentsonthemove.com) is to assist families moving whereever the Lord leads, whether missionary, corporate, military, NGO- however the Lord calls!

    I will be speaking on UCB (United Christian Radio) in the UK this week and would love to recommend your “fridge chart!” SO good….bless you, Kathleen

    • ADunagan March 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

      Kathleen, feel free to link all you want! The Abiding Mom vs Super Mom chart is from AbidingMom.com – I heard of it from my friend and homeschool leader, Heidi St. John. It’s blessed me so much, I wanted to pass it on!!!

      Let me know if there’s any other way I could help !

  2. Kelly January 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Ann, Thanks for sharing from your heart. It is so great to hear from Godly mothers/Godly women and be able to learn from their stories and goals.

  3. Lynn B January 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I was just thinking about this very truth today as I was decluttering a junk basket from my entrance. If I leave the basket there, then it makes a cozy home for clutter that I just “get used to seeing”. I don’t want to get “used to” sin in my heart! If we keep short accounts with God, then when spiritual clutter tries to make a cozy, nest in our heart, then the Holy Spirit can bring it to our attention right away. I love it when God is saying the exact same thing to another Mom at the same time as I!

    • Ann Dunagan January 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm #


      That’s AWESOME!!! How encouraging.

  4. Amanda Kay January 18, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I can’t even express how encouraging this was to me! As a young mother and fairly new ‘preacher’s wife’, I especially loved the story about finding quiet times as a young mom wherever she could take them.
    It’s refreshing, too, to hear words of encouragement from moms who have already been there and lived through it. Thanks for posting this! I can’t wait to pass it along.

  5. Journey11 January 18, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I really enjoyed this interview, especially the part about identifying and organizing Hot Spots, both physical and spiritual. It was a blessing and an encouragement to me as a young mother. I only have one child right now, a 3-year-old daughter, and often feel so overwhelmed at that. Ann’s godly words of wisdom have blessed my heart today. God knew I needed to hear it, these same issues, from the perspective of an experienced mother who has been there. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  6. Lacey Wilcox January 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    You have no idea how much I needed your encouraging word to new moms about time with the Lord. I actually kind of had a breakdown (and by kind of, I mean actually) about that very thing this morning. I still don’t feel like I’ve figured out how to have a consistent time with the Lord, even after 4 1/2 months…:)
    While I do not at all take your words as an excuse to not try for that consistency, they were a much-needed encouragement.
    Thank you…sincerely…:)

    • Ann Dunagan January 18, 2011 at 12:02 am #

      Oh, BLESS YOU, dear Lacey!!!

      I wish I could give ou a big HUGE (((HUG!!!))) — and just whisper a prayer into your ear, for God to fill you with increased GRACE for this beautiful new season of being a godly mommy, and for you to know, that “GOD UNDERSTANDS A YOUNG MOTHER!!!” Lacey, God understands You, and remember, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

  7. Dream Mom January 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    What a lovely post. I especially like the part about not turning on the computer until 10:30 a.m. It’s so easy to get lost in that and there isn’t really anything most days that is particularly critical.

    As a mother of a severely disabled child, I’ve learned to be flexible with my time, fitting things in where I could. I learned that there are times when I only have 1 minute or 5 minutes and that is the way it is. Over the last twenty years, I learned that I had to break everything down into 15 minute intervals to get it done so I totally understand the part about not having “an hour” for devotion.

    • Ann Dunagan January 18, 2011 at 12:06 am #

      Sending you a big (((HUG!!!))) too, Dream Mom, both to you and to your precious child. It’s awesome to hear how God is giving you wisdom for your unique circumstance, and also we long for that special “extended” time in the Lord’s presence, He’s powerful enough to take a few loaves of bread to feed a multitude, or two mites from a poor widow and say it’s more than the huge offerings of the rich.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your story!!!

  8. Sherrin January 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Thank you for this inspiring post as we seek to bring God’s priorities and vision to bear in our lives in the coming year. These are life giving words!

  9. Sarah S. January 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    How wonderful to find this Q & A! I just listened to your interview on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. As a mother of 4 young kids, I thank you for you speaking into our lives through both mediums!!

  10. Tasha January 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Wow. In the middle of the night last night I could not sleep. As I rolled around in bed, God was really challenging me about how my family can be missional. Once I gave up hope of getting back to sleep, I stumbled downstairs to my computer to do some research on the issue. And wouldn’t you know, this is the post I came across on my favorite blog. ha. The Lord is awesome. Thank you for your insights and for the free downloadables. This post was a big encourager and affirmer for me early this morning.

    • Ann Dunagan January 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm #


      Thanks for sharing such a cool testimony!!! YAY GOD!!!

  11. Jenn January 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Thanks Ann & Lindsay. As an almost 33-yr old (this month!) single woman, I’ve never really given much thought to a personal mission statement. You’ve inspired me to really seek the Lord for what mine might be!

    • Ann Dunagan January 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm #


      One of my favorite verses about seeking God for His life purpose for our lives is Eph. 2:10,

      “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” NKJV

      Blessings to you!!!

  12. Holly January 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Thank you so much for your encouragement, Ann! I learned very early in my motherhood that I could not keep up with my family life and still be involved in a lot of the activities I saw other moms doing. Now, years and a few more children later I certainly have all I can do just do adequately spend time with my children and keep up with cooking/cleaning/schooling! I am not a super mom. And I had to let God quietly comfort me that if all I ever accomplish is to “bring forth life” that that was good enough for HIM :) God gave me things that I could do from home to encourage others and showed me wonderful ways that I could serve Him without having to leave my house!! I am so glad that you posted on this topic!!

    • Ann Dunagan January 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm #


      Thanks so much for sharing your heart for virtuous womanhood, passionate homemaking, and godly motherhood. The important thing is that we are drawing close to the Lord, allowing Him to move through us with love and compassion for others, and simply that we would OBEY whatever He tells us to do.

      Something that has really helped me is thinking about the verses and points from this SUPER-MOM vs. ABIDING-MOM chart. It’s not what I do to impress or please others, but simply that I please GOD. That’s all that counts.

      • Holly January 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

        I LOVE the chart!! Thanks! I just printed it off and it’s going on my frig :)

  13. Mandy January 17, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Thank you for you honest answers! I have also been told that I am “made to have babies,” even though we’ve adopted one child in addition to our biological children. I love the mission stmt God showed you…to bring forth life. That’s great! I feel like I am called to the children of this world too, whether bio, adopted, orphan, friends, family or church kids…I want them to know they were created with purpose, loving molded just the way they are for God’s plan. Blessings!

    • Ann Dunagan January 17, 2011 at 11:06 am #


      May the Lord give you wisdom and direction in reaching out to the children of the world. It’s true that we’re called to be wives and mommas, but as followers of the Lord, we do need to seek God’s direction for how we can help be His love and heart extended, to kids who desperately need a godly woman’s care — like unsaved children, orphans, and children in desperate need.

      GOD BLESS YOU!!!

  14. Laryssa @Heaven In The Home January 17, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    This was so encouraging. Thank you!

  15. tracy January 17, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    Thank you for this Q&A.