More on Shared Secret: Answering a Comment

Recently, the blog post Shared Secret, generated interest and more questions. Here’s a question we thought would make a great topic for a new post. Following it is my answer.

I concur with the idea that entertainment detracts from more useful application of one’s energy, especially since time can so easily slip away when you’re distracted. My question for you is whether there comes a point in time when one is too focused on serious pursuits, i.e. being a “work-a-holic”? How do you balance focused learning or on-task time with relaxing fellowship time? Erica

Hi Erica,

First, I’m not sure it follows that the opposite of loving entertainment is being a work-a-holic. It seems like there might be a subtle inference of that in your question. That aside, maybe there are some who become too focused on serious pursuits. However, our personal experience and observations of others is that the natural pull/tendency is toward wasting time, particularly through various forms of entertainment, versus too many serious pursuits.

For believers, Scripture sets an example of working six days and resting one. Thankfully, most don’t have to work six days to live, but Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:23 is important: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Given available time, how can it be used to edify (build up) ourselves or others?

To spend time beneficially has become a guiding principle for our family. Serving, loving, and learning are foundational verbs in making time edifying. The following verse keeps everything in balance because it is easy for something to get out-of-balance, whether it be learning, resting, and even working. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

That verse means that our time is to be completely surrendered to our Lord Jesus. He may for a season shift time so that it is heavy in one area, maybe serving, or another time in loving someone in need. But if our time is under His direction, then we can have confidence the result will be good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

In Christ,

I’m so glad to have kids who are hard workers and jump right into a project.

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are
without, redeeming the time.”
Colossians 4:5

Saturday Organizing

For the past year, Anna has spearheaded organizing projects on Saturdays when we don’t have other things going.

We’ve been in our current house for 10 years and accumulated stuff, and before that, our “around the corner” move didn’t lend time for clearing out.

Mom loves to organize, so this has been something she’s enjoyed too. If we had tried to de-clutter in one week or a month, it would have been overwhelming. Mary has been an incredible help on the projects too, and Jesse sometimes joins.

Having a consistent time set aside (even when it’s not every single week), helps there to be steady progress. There’s not even a certain amount of time slotted for the projects, because it depends on the Saturday.

It’s really amazing to go around the house and see areas that have been organized.

What is it that you could dedicate consistent time to? You will make progress!


Sorting through Anna’s collection of children’s fixer-upper bikes.
This was early last year when John and Chelsy came over to sort through John’s garage things which he hadn’t moved yet.
Ready for a dump run
Anna tackling basement shelves!
Dad and Mom organizing

“To every thing there is a season, and a time
to every purpose under the heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1



Our family likes to bake with freshly ground whole wheat. Our faithful mill of many years stopped working last summer to our disappointment. Steve called the company seeking to purchase a replacement part. To our surprise, we were encouraged to send it in as the technician felt it could be covered under warranty.

It was gone 2 weeks and returned to us, postage paid, working properly. It is so rare to have an appliance from a company who truly stands behind its products. If you are like us, we appreciate quality companies and quality products. The NutriMill is available from PleasantHillGrain, a family-owned business (not an affiliate link).

Now we are back to whole wheat tortillas with fresh ground, healthy whole wheat flour for our Sunday family lunch of burritos.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the
ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth
forth much fruit” (John 12:24). 

Christmas Day

Christmas Day dawned beautiful and mild. After a relaxed morning–with personal Bible time and exercise–Dad and Jesse made breakfast. It’s been a tradition that the guys make Christmas breakfast.

Meanwhile, Anna and I worked on disguising Mary’s gift. Our family has some very good guessers, so unless one disguises the present (hint: wrapping a gift in the original box is not a good enough disguise), the recipient might just guess it. Mary also baked more cookies for the police force as we like to give them a cookie basket on Christmas! The girls had already worked on making some of the cookies earlier.

We love putting time and thought into finding the right gift for each other.

How was your Christmas celebration? I’d like to know!


Mary putting final touches on the cookie treats
Practical gift of workout shoes
The disguised gift
One of my gifts sent me on a treasure hunt.
The end result was upstairs under a bed where the gift was — a new exercise mat!
Running socks!

“That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest
obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him:
for he is thy
life, and the length of thy days …”
Deuteronomy 30:20

Christmas Eve Day

I want to share a peek into our very special Christmas celebration with my married brothers, their families, and Gigi.

Years ago, when Nathan and Melanie were first married, we settled on Christmas Eve as the day we would have with the extended family. Melanie’s family got together on Christmas Day, so this made it perfect. Then on Christmas Day, Dad, Mom, Anna, Mary, Jesse and I celebrate. Watch for that post soon. There are too many pictures to combine both! 🙂

This is our second year to try a new approach to the big Christmas celebration. Each niece or nephew gives to one aunt or uncle and vice versa, and then all the Maxwell grown kids give to one married sibling or spouse, and then all the nieces and nephews give to one cousin. My parents still give to everyone and vice versa. Anyway, I loved, loved, loved seeing the little kids’ delight as they often sidled up close to the aunt or uncle and watched them open the gift. Then, the same thing happened when they gave to a cousin.


It all started with a special breakfast.
Handing out Gigi’s Christmas gift cards at breakfast.
I found Arnold peeking at the gifts while we ate breakfast.
Mom and Dad gave clothes to the grandkids, and they were so excited!
Those pizza shirts are way too cute!
Calia gave to John, thus she’s eagerly watching.
Betsy sewed this adorable pillowcase for Anna. She even picked all the fabric out.
A leash for Ellie from Lydia (who loves Ellie).
A little dart board from one of the kiddos
Gigi loves to read to the little greats on Friday morning.
Trucks and little guys are a great mix.
Organizing tubs for Melanie
A cousin whispering session
Happy times
The weather was so nice, the girls took the kids out to run off energy.
Relay race group (notice Lydia with Ellie and leash)
Games in the afternoon
The crew for dinner
Then, onto the Christmas program! (see this link)

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the
mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21

Shared Secret

Many ask how I taught my children to do so many things. Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family is the long version of this.

Teach your children that they can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). If God calls us to do something, He will enable us. If we don’t know how to do it, we have to first learn how (the easy part), and then we do it. Parents set the example by being sponges to learn (and enjoy work).


  • of the Lord Jesus, first and foremost
  • technical/vocational skills (make your time worth something)
  • relationship skills
  • communication skills, one-on-one and speaking to groups.

(Side note: if you aren’t a self learner, learning will cost you.)

Now comes both bad news and inversely the key. The enemy of learning is entertainment. If you and/or your children love entertainment, sorry. Ignore all of the above. Your children might as well be wearing a 100-pound backpack through life. Few want to learn and work when they can play.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).

This is what I shared with my weekly Seriously Dads e-mail list. I encourage any Christian guy reading this to sign up if you haven’t. You can sign up through the button at the top of the sidebar or at this link.


Pouring concrete together for our house
Oh, the bus days. John learned so much about fixing things through research and trial and error.
Laying a beautiful wood floor at Joseph’s house. Joseph had never laid a floor like this before, yet he jumped in and learned.
Jesse also jumped into his house remodel! It was really awesome to see him figure things out as he went.
Nathan working with his girls at Jesse’s house.
My girls are amazing learners too.
Anna and Mary jumped right into demolition at John’s house.
Christopher loves working with Joshua, and this summer, they did lawn projects.