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Romans 12:2
Encouragement to fulfill God's purpose through Practical Life Application and Navigation

When Did Hard-Workin’ Become Hand-Holdin’?

 

My hubby and I were talking the other night about this very thing…

 

Have you noticed that in general, the confidence and competence of our society has eroded? The entitlement generation which began a few years back has produced a people group who are easily offended, who want it all NOW, and who require constant affirmation. And lest you think this is limited to the twenty somethings, think again. This infection is now widespread among all generations.

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The Danger in ‘Using’ God

The Holy Spirit is the voice of God, and as Believers, we are filled with His presence. He speaks to us, guiding and directing our path. He may steer us towards a certain course of action, create a situation which is far more than coincidental, or strategically insert someone into our lives. There are instances when we KNOW God is speaking to us. Absolutely, positively just know.

 

And there are many times when we KNOW He isn’t.

 

How many times are you unsure what God is saying, yet you make the call on His behalf? Are there decisions which you credit to God, all the while knowing in your heart He’s not behind the urging?

 

There’s a fine line between serving God’s purpose in your life and using God to serve yours!

 

 

In Declutter Now!, I speak about a time when I began dating my ex-husband. Okay, so many of you can already see the caution flags waving wildly with this behavior, but sadly, I did not. Discretion was not on my radar! I just KNEW the life lessons God had just walked me through were for this man and I KNEW I was the one who was chosen to make him happy. I was going to make it work, no matter what the cost, and I had it all figured out.

 

Did you notice how many ‘I’s’ I just used?

 

The truth is, however, when I actually listened for God’s word on the matter, I was way off base. It wasn’t what God had in mind at all, but in my brokenness, it was all too easy to use God to serve MY purpose.

 

Our choices are often buried in a mire of confusion. Even when we might legitimately attempt to listen, we can still get it wrong. But think about it. Have there been situations when you knew better? When you hid behind the façade of what ‘God wants’ and used him to serve your purpose instead? This is the dangerous, dangerous territory.

 

God takes His responsibility to us very seriously. He follows through on every promise and never falls short. We can depend on Him to guide us, provide the tools we need for success, love us unconditionally, and keep His word forever and always. If this is the case, then why would we circumvent His desire? Unfortunately, our humanness can get in the way. Can you relate to any of the following?

  • Impatience – You want what you want…in your time, not His.
  • Selfishness – You want it your way and only your way.
  • Pride – You think you know better than God. If something’s going to get done right, you’d better do it yourself.
  • Rationalizing – It’s going to happen anyway, so why not help it along and just get it going quicker.
  • Control – Hanging on to the reins tightly gives you a feeling of greater security and having more control.
  • Waiting it Out – If I can just get past this point in my life, I’ll start making right decisions and it will all be okay.

 

These are all very common emotions which trip us up from time to time. The bigger problem, however, lies with attributing YOUR decisions to God’s will, That’s a far more serious slippery slope.

 

Navigating on our own, apart from the will of God, will lead to disaster. Intentionally stepping outside of God’s protective covering leaves us exposed and vulnerable, frighteningly susceptible to the ways of the world and the full consequences of our actions. The temporary ‘feel good’ from a selfish decision is not worth a lifetime of repercussions.

 

When we walk in obedience, keeping God’s will at the forefront of our thoughts and decisions, we fall under the protection of His grace and mercy. God will never set us up to fail, and while we might face challenges along a difficult journey, we can take each step knowing with faith and assurance that we’re ultimately heading in the right direction. It’s incredibly freeing is it to know that even in difficult circumstances, God is protecting and blessing us. The rewards of heaven are ours, and God wants nothing more than to spoil us forevermore.

 

Ephesians 5:17 is very clear on the matter, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

 

If you are going to credit God’s will with the decisions you’re making, be extremely careful that you’ve genuinely sought out HIS will and followed it to the best of your ability.

 

But what if you’ve listened? You’ve got God front and center and have made every effort to seek His advice and counsel. Are there going to be times that, try as hard as you might, you’re going to get it wrong? Sure. But God reads and knows our hearts. An honest heart motive is a far cry from a blatant disregard for God’s will, and even in times of error and miscalculation, God blesses a sincere and repentant heart.

 

 

Anyone brave enough to share a story about a time when you overrode God’s direction and took it upon yourself to carve an alternate path while justifying it as God’s desire? Did you learn from the error of your ways? Bless others with your truth, love, and hope.

 

 

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Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse, Relove

As my hubby & I enter a new phase of decluttering, I’m reminded of this post and how super exciting the whole recycle / repurpose movement is to both of us. Sure, it may take a little more creativity and effort but the results are well worth it.

 

Recycling isn’t just for soda cans anymore.

 

In case you missed the memo, ‘recycling’ has become ultra-chic and repurposing is the new buzzword.

 

Thanks to the new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trend, Goodwill storewhich is enormously popular on television, in magazines, and online, AND a hugely successful Goodwill marketing campaign, things are changing! And for the better if you ask me!

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The Love Pie!

Love is in the air! With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d rerun a love-filled favorite! We pray you “love well, love often, and love much”. Enjoy!

 

What kind of pie NEVER gets smaller, no matter how many pieces you cut out of it?

 

 

The love PieTHE LOVE PIE!

 

The Love Pie is something I came up with years ago during a conversation with my niece, Kelsea. She was unsettled because another family member was coming to visit me – a young girl just about her own age. Kelsea was looking for reassurance that I loved her (best) and seemed concerned that this other little girl would be more important to me than she was. She had nothing to worry about.

 

 

Ahhhh, but what a great teaching moment.

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Getting Un-Lazy

Getting Un-Lazy    

When the inspiration for this blog hit me, I’m not gonna lie, I rolled my eyes and giggled a just little bit. What a silly post for one of the un-laziest, most energetic people I know – ME!  Actually, for one of the un-laziest couples I know as well. My husband and I are probably busier than we ought to be. We’re the folks who have to intentionally make time to relax, and honestly, likely fall short in this department. People constantly tease us about how we’re always ‘going and doing’, often commenting that they could never keep up our pace.  Most wouldn’t even want to.

 

Who in the world would believe me or take me seriously? If my coaching and writing is based on personal experience, how could I pull this off? And honestly, why would I want to? There are so many other areas I could speak to with far more conviction and experience.

 

But the topic kept nagging at me and God wouldn’t let it go. So I listened…and began…

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Decluttering the Christmas Crazy!

The upcoming Christmas season is a perfect opportunity to put into practice all the decluttering tools in our arsenal. I believe so deeply and passionately in the concept and am anxious to share this post with you as holiday encouragement! I’ve pulled it out, dusted it off, and refreshed it a bit. Please enjoy this tried and true message.

 

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Blessed to Breathe – A Timely Reminder

With all the devastation and sorrow going on in the world, it’s all too easy to count our fears and heartaches instead of our blessings. Today seemed fitting to remind myself, and you, that in spite of horrific circumstances, we are insanely blessed by a God who loves us dearly and there is still much hope and joy to be found. 

 

I thank God for the air I breathe. All the time. ‘No foolin’ as my Nana used to say. I really do.

 

I also thank Him for food to eat, the roof over my head, an amazing husband to love, adorable grandchildren to spoil, family to cherish, friends to ‘do life’ with, and for loving me even when I’m at my most unlovable, which happens more than I’d care to admit.

 

The glory of life has become my ‘Praise List’. Today I share just a bit of my heart and the blessings for which I am eternally grateful.

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Decluttering Fantasyland…AND Envy!

My husband and I enjoyed the most perfect day at the lake. Our little boat, The No Agenda, hadn’t seen the water in a couple of months and it was time to get her wet and take a day off for some R & R.

 

We left early and beat the crowd at the boat ramp. A storm the night before brought a welcome (albeit small) drop in temperature, the water was smooth, and the company great.

 

Take a look at a few pics and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about:

 

Blog collage good

 

Fantasyland!

 

Picture.perfect.day.

 

And that’s exactly how I could choose to sell it on social media or in conversation with others.

 

Perfect.

 

And it wouldn’t be hard, would it? Heck, I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

 

Many of my family and friends would be envious wondering why their outings don’t go as perfectly as mine. Just as I sometimes do when I look at their pictures.

 

You know the drill. You scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and see ‘perfect’ moments in time that others have captured. The perfect child. The perfect spouse. The perfect meal. The perfect day. The perfect vacation.

 

Sometimes we might just throw up in our mouths a little. (Sorry!)

 

We pretend to be happy for them. And sometimes we genuinely are. But more often than not there is an awful, little tug right down in the core of our being that wishes their life wasn’t so perfect. Or that ours was. And we are ashamed. 

 

We don’t set out to be negative or resentful. Our intent isn’t to hate on their joy, but in that deep, dark, quiet spot we keep hidden from plain sight, our sin nature rears its head and it happens all the same.

 

There is shame and embarrassment in our reaction, so we hit the LIKE button and make some lame comment declaring our phony enthusiasm. If we’re really feeling guilty, we go straight to the HEART button and share our love.

 

But, would we be envious if we knew the REST of the story? Because as we all know, there are very few perfect children or spouses or meals or days or vacations.

 

Here are a few shots I might opt NOT to share because they paint a very different picture:

 

Blog collage bad

 

Gross, right?

 

SAME DAY PEOPLE!

 

Same.Exact.Day.

 

How perfect does it look now?

 

The storm the night before blew in tons of icky dust that had settled like a thick, dirty cloud on the valley and the threat of more storms cut our day short. There were loads bees buzzing around at the boat ramp and a few stuck with us until we were well underway. EW! And we spotted several dead fish floating on the lake which was really unsettling. Sure, we’ve seen them here and there before, but never eight or ten of them in one trip.

 

Perfect Day?

 

Ummm…..Hardly!

 

If I posted THESE pictures either instead of my ‘fantasyland’ ones, or at least in addition to them, how many of you would feel oh-so-much better?

 

What if my write-up about the day went something like this:

 

“Okay friends, if you know me at all you know I’m TERRIFIED of lightening, allergic to bees, have asthma, and hate the humidity. So check out the bees on OUR boat who seemed ONLY interested in ME! My hubby was cracking up as he sat there undaunted, teasing they could ‘feel’ my anxiety. Ya think? And I DO NOT LIKE TO SWEAT but the humidity had me ‘glistening’ far more than I’m comfortable with. YUCKERS! And with the dead fish on the water, I had NO desire to hop in and cool off. Okay, we still had a good time and absolutely made the best of it, but a few hours on the lake was more than enough for me!”

 

“Bee” (pun intended) honest with yourself folks. Would our ‘not-so-perfect day’ be FAR less threatening to your psyche?  

 

You might feel a little sorry for me, get a chuckle out of the whole ordeal, and even relate on some level.

 

And you would feel good about it.

 

But envious? That likely wouldn’t be your first reaction. And just about anything but envy is often welcomed and appreciated.

 

Sympathy, pity, empathy, humor, and relatable are far more palatable than a dish of perfect.

 

 

Good Lawd! What does this say about us?

 

We are flawed, imperfect human beings, and regardless of where we are in this crazy journey, we should continually strive to improve the standard.

 

How?

 

The lesson here is twofold.

 

Declutter Fantasyland 

If you feel so inclined to share a snapshot of your life, share reality. Give em’ the whole picture and story. Just be honest and don’t pretend or mislead. If you have a moment that feels perfect, then by all means, spread the blessing to your friends and family. However, when the not-so-perfect occurs, don’t feel you have an image to uphold or reputation to protect.  Don’t worry about reactions or competition. Just be real and be yourself. Rest in the comfort of honesty.

 

Declutter Envy

If you’re listening to or looking at someone else’s journey, don’t allow selfishness or insecurities to dictate your reaction. In that deep dark quiet spot, battle for goodness and love to win. Fight to conquer unhealthy and destructive emotions. Whether it’s a picture-perfect post or one wrought with angst or sadness, commit to a genuinely loving reaction. Relish in your friend’s joy and take no delight in suffering or sorrow. Regardless of the circumstance, love purely and deeply.

 

When it comes right down to it, how we feel has little to do with someone else’s post or life. It speaks more to our own personal contentment and joy. Or lack thereof. While never much of a jealous person, the few remnants left of this unwelcome emotion have all but disappeared. My joy truly comes from the Lord and the closer I walk with Him, the harder it is to feel any shred of discontentment, competition, or envy.

 

Draw near to the Lord and do a work of decluttering in your heart and mind. Set an unprecedented standard for love, appreciation, and most of all, joy!

 

 

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TRADITION!

Tradition, tradition…….TRADITION!

 

tradition

 

Okay, be honest, how many of you sang that line when you read it? Or perhaps you read it, got where I was heading, and then went back to hum it out?

 

Tradition – a very popular song from a very popular Broadway musical turned movie.

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Give Your Child the Gift That Keeps On Giving

It’s that time. Mommy and Daddy are heading home from the hospital with their little one to begin a new, glorious life together as a family.

 

Dreams are big and plans are many.

 

The nursery is decorated, diapers are on standby, and the latest and greatest video monitor is plugged in and ready to go – assuming you’ll even let your baby out of your sight. You’ve got everything laid out, planned out, and figured out. And if not, well, love conquers all, and there’s enough love going on right now to assure victory in any battle.   

 

God is good and life is sweet.

 

New baby - morguefile - 3-14-2017

 

But reality doesn’t always mirror aspirations and success isn’t often achieved through happenstance.

 

You are going to have to prepare your family and equip your precious bundle of heaven with useful life skills and tools necessary for the path ahead.

 

That may be hard to envision right now. Thinking ahead to the toddler and adolescent years, never mind the faraway teenage trials, is the furthest thing from your mind. You’re likely more consumed with round the clock feedings, removing the yellow spit up stains from cutie-pie’s outfits, and squeezing in a few moments of shuteye, yet here I am sounding more like a General preparing her troops for battle.

 

For now, you’d rather just stay floating on your cloud of sheer contentment.

 

I get it. I really do. And I want you to enjoy every second of that experience.

 

But you can’t deny hearing your friends lament about how fast kids grow up, and while you may not have personally experienced it yet, the anticipation of sending your baby off to kindergarten in a few short years produces a gargantuan-sized lump in your throat.

 

The point? The days pass all too quickly and you’ve got to start laying out the foundation for your children’s future now.

 

And this involves more than just teaching ‘please and thank you’, encouraging accurate aim at the center of the toilet, and coaching how to graciously eat horrible tasting food when staying the night at a friend’s house.

 

Much, much more.

 

You must teach them to declutter.

 

Actually, teaching your kids to resist clutter in the first place is the best lesson of all!

 

But in today’s world, this is no small task. It’s easy to get sidetracked and tempted by the unimportant. Consumerism is big business and every company on the planet is making it Job One to get your business. The hunger to rise up through the ranks for top dog salary or status is insatiable. We strive to be everything to everyone and suffer guilt overwhelming if we attempt to say ‘No’. Keeping up with the Joneses, or the Kardashians, is a full time job, and acquiring the newest and bestest toys and technology is irresistible.

 

More is better!         

 

Or is it?

 

I’m here to tell you it’s not. Not by a longshot.

 

I used to be a crazy woman, going Mach 10 in all directions, and squeezing every second possible out of each day. When my kids were younger, I rushed them around. Into adulthood, I bossed my sisters around.  And in an attempt to keep up with life, I ran around. Everywhere. Shopping, sports practices, band concerts, Student Council events, Boy Scout meetings, playdates, doctor appointments, luncheons, workouts, coffee dates, etc. It was nonstop Go, Go, Go!

 

In addition to my spastic pace, I stockpiled stuff for ‘security’, worked into all hours of the night, made decisions out of fear, and acted out of obligation.

 

I thought I was Supermom, but instead, I was just Super Tired.

 

Ironically, I was happy. Really happy. In the midst of the chaos, my heart was overflowing with joy. But ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, and I didn’t know what I was missing.

 

And I was missing a lot.

 

Things have changed. After meeting and marrying the love of my life, I figured it out. Choices. Freedom. Wiggle Room. Guilt Free Living. Inner Peace. Abundant Joy.  I’d been losing out on so much. Now I know.

 

I’ve spent the past five years decluttering every aspect of my life and sharing my message of hope and happiness.

 

For the young parents reading, I offer you knowledge and wisdom from my experiences…and from my mistakes. Give your kids the gift that keeps on giving and teach them to declutter from the get-go. Just like wearing a seatbelt, the non-negotiables easily become the norm when they are taught from the beginning. So teach away!

 

Today I’m sharing my 8 best tips for loving your little ones well by creating a clutter-free childhood:

 

Fire Your Child – Your baby shouldn’t be born with a job to do. Babies don’t fix marriages or personal problems, so declutter the notion that having a baby will ‘make it all better’. If there is work to be done, you and your spouse must commit to seeking help and taking care of business without leaning on your baby for support or putting them in the middle. They should get the very best you have to offer and it’s your job to make that happen.  

 

Kick Competition To the Curb – It doesn’t matter whose baby giggles, rolls over, or says ‘Momma” first. A competitive or jealous spirit will only breed discontentment. Declutter any desire to participate in this arena and simply celebrate your precious baby for exactly who they are.

 

Take it Slow – Put the brakes on and slow down. Declutter the hustle and bustle of the rush, and instead, relish in every moment with your little one. Get on the floor and spend time on their level. Make outings to the store relaxed field trips. Remember, your toddler’s little legs are much smaller than yours and dawdling is naturally a two year old activity. Join them where they are and embrace a leisurely journey. As your kids get older, resist the urge to allow overcommitted schedules. It can be hard to say no to extracurricular school activities or fun events, but too much of a good thing ain’t so good. Help your child develop a culture of balance and thoughtful, healthy choices.    

 

Chat it Up – Some of the best conversations I’ve had in my life have been with my sons and grandchildren. Conversation and communication is so important, even at a very young age. Declutter the impulse to brush off their words or ignore monotonous babble and engage in dialogue every chance you get.

 

Toys are Not Tops! – It doesn’t take long to realize that raising kids is an expensive venture. Parents go broke and wind up deeply in debt over spoiling their kids with ‘must have’ toys. Declutter the misnomer that stuff will make your child happy, and instead, instill a sense of imagination and inspiration by promoting creative play. Give my youngest a bowl of water, ice cubes, and a ladle at two years of age and he was happy for hours, as long as I refilled the ice cubes of course! Cardboard boxes and blanket tent forts were the bomb, and craft time was always a hit. It doesn’t have to be bright, shiny, and new to be fun. There’s a lot to be said for the freedom to color outside the lines.

 

Guard Your Words – Both the manner in which you say something and the words chosen will make an indelible mark on your children. Declutter any inclination towards abrasiveness, criticism, and insensitivity. Strive to make interactions with your little one full of encouragement and praise. Positive, constructive words delivered with love can make the difference between a defensive and icy reception, and a child who respects and values the wisdom you have to impart – even if they don’t immediately admit it. Trust me, the payoff comes!

 

Paying Attention Means Really Paying Attention – In this amped up age of technology, it’s easier than ever to be sidetracked. Declutter distractions that diminish your ability to be fully present for your children. Of course it’s appropriate, and even advisable, for them to have independent play time, and if you are talking with a friend, interruptions are unacceptable. In general, though, when you are in the company of your kiddos, afford them the courtesy and benefit of your undivided attention.

 

Equip and Enable – Sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself, but that’s rarely the right choice where your child’s responsibilities are concerned. Declutter disabling your kids by practicing tough love. Don’t be afraid to hand out fair consequences or enforce punishments. Don’t let them slip. ‘No’ today should be ‘No’ tomorrow and ‘No’ the next day. Teach your kids they can count on you to be consistent and love them enough to prove it.

 

Whether your babies are just an exciting thought or are already here, NOW is the perfect time to start. Set them up for a life of purpose, contentment, confidence, and joy by modeling and teaching clutter-free living.  Give your children the gift that keeps on giving – love them, equip them, and by all means, keep em’ decluttered!

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