Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kids & Responsibility


A week or so ago, I took the kids shopping for some new fall clothes.  I know the temperatures can't stay over 100 degrees forever, and they will eventually need some long pants when that happens!  Being 9 and 7, Benjamin and Hannah are pretty much past the ages where I can go shopping for them, bring home what I buy, and expect that it will all fit and be approved.  As I'm sure you can imagine, the prospect of shopping and trying on untold numbers of clothes was not necessarily appealing to either one of them.  But I had some inspiration and a discovery along the way that made it much more bearable, even enjoyable, for them both!

When we arrived at the first store, there were not many people there at all, and the layout of the store is very wide open (read:  my 6' 1" frame could pretty much see over everything and be able to spot either of my children in half a second!).  Since I would be able to check on him as I shopped with Hannah, I sent Benjamin off to his section of the store to look for his particular size of pants (this was a resale/consignment store, so some searching was necessary).  That responsibility immediately put some life into him, and I could see his dread of the process melting away.  In just a few minutes, he was back with a few pairs of jeans in hand.  "Okay, now what can I look for?" he asked.  So I sent him off to find some long sleeved shirts in his size.  A few more minutes, and he was back, obviously very proud of his finds. 

It was now time for the dreaded dressing rooms.  But this particular store had one area of dressing rooms, rather than one area for girls and another for boys.  It was just a line-up of five separate stalls for trying on and chairs outside for a waiting area.  The kids asked if they could go into their dressing rooms by themselves, and I thought, why not.  That added even more life to them both because they suddenly felt very grown up.  They even wanted to do the dreaded task of putting the clothes BACK on the hangers after trying them on by themselves!  Again, they liked the responsibility and being trusted with the task.

Because I was willing to give up some of my control and my need to do everything my way, the process that was originally dreaded ended up being very pleasant for us all and resulted in my children doing some growing up in the process.

It's got me thinking...where else can I let go of some control and give them responsibility??

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 10 in Review & Wrap Up

Okay, altogether now...WHEW!!!  How are you feeling??  Do you have a simpler home than you did ten weeks ago?  I'm quite certain that you do, even if it's not exactly like you want it to be.  You have started, and that is the most important part.  After all, the road to simplicity is a journey, not a destination.  This is an on-going process that you have begun--but after this ten-week start, you are well on your way.

I hope these posts have been helpful to you as you've navigated your way through the Organized Simplicity book.  Even though our class is officially ending, these posts will remain here, so feel free to go back through them as you complete this round of decluttering, cleaning & organizing or as you start round two somewhere down the road!  This is my second round in the past year, and I know there will be other rounds to come in the years ahead!

This week's assignment is just to wrap up the class by reading the final chapter of Organized Simplicity.  That's it!  It isn't an official assignment, but I think a family celebration might also be in order as you celebrate all that you've accomplished during this time!

I'm curious to know a few things--you can leave your answers in the comment section:
  • What is the best thing you gained from this book and class?
  • What was the worst thing about this book and class?
  • What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in your house from the past ten weeks?
Thanks for letting me be a part of your journey!  Be sure and come back to visit me here again.  Now that I'm in the groove of posting at least once a week, you never know what might be coming next!  Blessings to you!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 9 in Review

We are coming into the home stretch!  (Can you tell I've been watching Olympics for two weeks?)  Tell me:  what was the easiest part about decluttering, cleaning & organizing your master bedroom and closet?  What was the hardest part?  I'm anxious to hear about how it went!  For me, for whatever reason, the master bedroom has never been a clutter-magnet.  But I do know that is one clutter hot spot for some people.

Another question I'd love to hear you comment on is this:  what did you think of the wardrobe guidelines that were included in this week's chapter?  Were they right on?  Totally off base?  Were they helpful?

We have one more week to declutter, clean & organize, and then one week to wrap up everything!  Wow--can you believe you've made it to this point?  I am proud for all the progress you have made and hope you are proud of yourself as well!

As we focus this week on our entry ways and coat closets, I am reminded of a tip I read once that I thought was very insightful.  Since the entry way is the first impression most people get of your home, you want it to look nice, clean, clutter-free and welcoming.  The suggestion was made to walk out your front door, closing it behind you.  Then turn around and walk back through your door with fresh eyes and see what your guests see when they initially come into your house.  Is the view what you would want it to be?  And if not, what kind of changes can you make that would give the impression you want to give when someone first walks into your home from your front door?  Also, can you view another room from your entry hall?  If so, are the visible areas also clean, clutter-free and welcoming?  Maybe those questions can help you this week as you seek to make your entry way a positive first impression.

Our assignment for this week includes:
  • Read Chapter 15
  • Finish memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize entry ways and coat closet
Have a great week, and I'll see some of you Thursday night for our Mom's Night Out!  Mexican food and Mom's Night Out--just can't beat that!! :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 8 in Review

If you are reading this, then you survived decluttering, cleaning and organizing your kids' rooms--good for you!!!  Was it as bad as you thought it was going to be?  Or was it worse??  Tell me about it in the comments section--I want to hear your stories!!

I spent this past weekend in Houston for the Texas Home School Coalition convention and was so blessed to be there.  There were fantastic speakers and tons of exhibitors--I really had a great time there!  I went to a session about juggling life and homeschool, and one topic the speaker covered was decluttering and its importance in helping us manage the chaos that can become of our homes.  She shared a definition of clutter that I believe came from a book called "Clutter's Last Stand" by Don Aslett: clutter is anything that takes more from us than it give to us in practical use and enjoyment.  That's certainly not earth shattering to us at this stage of our study, but I thought it was a different way to look at our clutter and yet another reason to get rid of it!!

This speaker also shared a method of dealing with the emotional things we have in our homes that make the decluttering process more difficult (again, I think this idea came from the above book by Don Aslett).  The recommendation was to have a box when you are decluttering that is your "emotional withdrawal" box.  Anything that you just can't part with because of emotional ties goes into that box, and when it is full, you seal it and date it.  Put it away in your attic and leave it be.  After six months, if you can name even one item in the box, you are allowed to open it.  Otherwise, to the trash it goes.  A good friend might be especially helpful in this situation who can challenge you and help you make those decisions that seem tough because of the emotions tied to those items.

The assignment for the week ahead takes us to our master bedroom.  This might be your easiest assignment, or it might be your hardest.  It does involve your closet, so that in and of itself might be quite a mountain to climb.  But you are up to the task, I just know it!

My closet is one area that I have decluttered tremendously in the past year.  I mentioned earlier in the study that I no longer shop just to shop or because there is a good deal to be had.  With that mentality, it has kept me from continuing to add more and more to my already full closet.  I have fewer clothes in my closet now than I have had in years, and I really love almost everything in there.

Since we are on the topic of clothes, I want to share another story that I heard at the home school conference.  One of the speakers was talking about the importance of getting ready each day.  For starters, you and your kids will both feel better about yourselves and be more motivated to work if you are dressed and ready for the day--as opposed to staying in your pajamas.  She pointed out (and challenged us to test it out) that we will treat our kids differently if they have clean faces, combed hair and even a hair bow (for the girls)!  To me, an added bonus is, if you need to go somewhere in the middle of the day, everyone is already ready to walk out the door once shoes are put on, rather than having to rush around, comb hair, make sure clothes match relatively well, etc. before you can even head out.

She also shared that recently her mother-in-law had made quilts for her husband and his siblings made of pieces from their grandmother's clothing.  As soon as they opened their gifts, they immediately started telling stories about this dress or that blouse, represented by the pieces that had been sewn into a quilt.  She concluded by emphasizing that our kids will remember what we wear, so don't spend your life wearing ratty tshirts and sweats!

Maybe you can use these stories as you go through your closets this week and sort out the worn-out clothes and those that either don't fit or don't look good, and only leave behind those pieces that you love and that fit you well.  After all, life is too short to wear ugly clothes!  (that quote is also courtesy of the above mentioned speaker!)

This week's assignment includes:
  • Continue memory work on Matthew 6.19-21
  • Read Chapter 14
  • Declutter, clean & organize master bedroom
Keep me posted on your progress--we might should all have an open house at the conclusion of this class so we can all show off our accomplishments! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 7 in Review

How did it go in the bathrooms this week?  If there is a room in the house that can attract clutter in the form of half-empty bottles and containers, the bathroom is it!

Some of you have asked questions about homemade cleaners, and I wanted to share a little about this.  I have been trying various homemade cleaner recipes (including laundry detergent) for the last several years, and now there are very few cleaners that I actually buy in the store.  Homemade cleaners are so much cheaper and easier on the budget, as well as being safer since they don't contain all the toxins that many store-bought cleaners do.  My new favorite blog for homemade recipes from cleaners to skin care products is www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com.  She always has such good ideas that she tests herself before posting them, from easy homemade gift ideas to various homemade cleaners.  You can go to her blog, and at the top, there is a "Categories" button.  One of her categories is "Homemade Solutions."  If you click on that option, it will bring up a list of all of her blog posts that she has categorized under "Homemade Solutions."  You can scroll through them and see if you find any you would like to try.  I use her all-purpose cleaner, streak-free window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and one of her laundry detergents and am very happy with them all!

For the comments section this week, share what you found the most of in your bathrooms that needed to go!  Was it too many travel toiletries (my issue!)?  Shampoo you bought on sale and forgot about?  Junk you threw back under the sink for another day that you finally had to deal with??

Okay, are you ready to tackle this week's assignment--your kids' bedrooms?!?  This assignment may be one of the more painful ones, but it's also one where you can see some drastic improvements and progress made once you are completely finish.  It may also be an assignment that is more easily tackled when you can have some time WITHOUT the kids!  It's easier now that my kids are getting older, but when they were smaller, I would wait and clean out their rooms at a time when they were not at home.  That way I was free to throw away what I felt like needed it and could put other things in the give away or sell pile that needed to go. 

If your kids are old enough, involve them in this week's assignment and take time to explain to them why you are doing what you are doing--too much stuff for not enough space, a crazy amount of toys that never see the light of day that could be used by kids who don't have much, excess clutter causes stress, or whatever your situation may be.  If they understand the reasoning behind what you are doing (and that you're not just being a mean mom!), they will be more likely to go along and be helpful.  If you begin teaching them now, before long, they will be voluntarily coming to get a trash bag and cleaning out their room on their own--believe me!  It happens! :)

As a reminder, here is this week's assignment:
  • Read Chapter 13
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize the kids' bedrooms
You can do this!!  Don't get discouraged if you have too many kids' rooms to tackle at once.  Choose the one that needs it most, and then save the others for a few weeks down the road when you are finished with the rest of the house!

Please let me know how you are doing and if there is anything I can do for you (short of coming over and throwing things away for you!).  Many blessings to you for another great, simplified week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 6 in Review

I want to start this week with a testimonial from Abby P.  She sent me this story about her sister, Libby, and gave me permission to share it with you--I hope you are as blessed and encouraged by it as I was:

'I wanted to share a story with you about my sister.  She's as bad or worse than I am, and she came to stay the week with me a couple weeks ago.  I handed her my book ("Organized Simplicity") and told her she should read it.  She was reading it, and then just shouted out "I don't want to move!".  I was taken back because I didn't tell her to move, but evidently God did :)  She is wanting to stay home and homeschool her oldest son and her baby.  Anyways, they are living above their means and her husband knew they needed to move for a long time.  Fast forward to today... their house is now on the market and they're looking for a smaller, more affordable home for them.  She has also gotten rid of 20 lawn & leaf bags of "stuff" that they don't "love or find useful".'
Isn't that exciting??  I'm so glad Abby shared that with us, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is going to bless Libby and her family for their faithfulness to follow His guiding of their family.

I hope you had a good week in your kitchen!  How did it go?  Though I was looking forward to working on my kitchen, I bypassed it this week and went to my closet.  With the fire that happened here in Perryton Friday evening and the clothes drive that is taking place for the victims who lost their homes, I decided my time would best be spent cleaning out more clothes and finding what was of appropriate sizes to donate.  You have to keep in mind that I have gone through my closet once already and gotten rid of many items.  As embarassing as it is to admit, Monday I cleaned out about a dozen items that were of a size that I could donate to the fire victims and cleaned out another five pairs of shoes and about two dozen other items of clothes that I either don't love or don't wear anymore!  Yes, I love clothes!  Up until this class, I've shopped when I wanted to shop, and when I found bargains (which is my favorite way to shop), I would buy something if it was a good deal.  Now, though, I shop only when there is an item of clothing that I need in order to dress the way I want to dress.  I must love every item in my closet or else it goes out, and if I buy something new, something else has to go out.  Just because I have the space in my closet (I am blessed with a huge walk-in closet) doesn't mean I need to fill every available space with clothes. 

But enough of that--I am ready to go back now and do my kitchen!!  Here's a couple of questions for the comments section: 
  1. What is your biggest clutter issue in the kitchen--is it piles of mail?  A disorganized pantry?  Too many (must-have) gadgets?
  2. If you had to choose one, what is your most favorite/important gadget or appliance?

I've realized, as a result of this book, that I am a lover of gadgets! I love to cook, so any gadget that is out there that might be useful to me is attractive!  But as Tsh points out in this week's chapter, single-use gadgets are often not worth the space they consume.  Many of the gadgets that I thought I just had to have I now see as clutter.  I can do the job of several gadgets with just one or two basic tools.  So when I finally get at my kitchen, I will be happily getting rid of several space-consuming gadgets and will rejoice over some extra cabinet space!

As for my favorite gadget or appliance, it would be my slow-cooker, hands down.  I LOVE my slow-cooker and use it at least once a week if not several times a week.  I would be so sad if I were to have to make do without it!

This week, we will be tackling our bathrooms!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 12
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize bathroom(s)
This may not be a favorite area of the house to be cleaning out, but I can almost guarantee it will bring you much satisfaction to get your bathroom(s) clean from top to bottom and cleared of clutter!!  Have a great week, and keep me posted on your progress!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 5 in Review

(We are finished with our stay-cationing for the most part, so I should be back to getting these posts up on time!  Thanks for your patience!)

In my devotion time, I am studying the spiritual disciplines with a book by Richard Foster called "Celebration of Discipline."  In my reading today, I came across this quote:
"In contemporary society, our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry & crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness" he will rest satisfied."
What more motivation could we have for this process of decluttering and simplifying that we are undertaking?

So how does your living room look now??  Was the process as painful as you might have expected?  Clydene said hers was relatively easy--it's her kitchen and kids' rooms that she is dreading!  I completely understand that!  When I went through this process the first time last fall, my living room process included getting rid of DVD cases for our movies that stay in a travel-friendly case; getting rid of CD's that haven't been listened to now that they are all on my iPod; purging books on the bookshelves that haven't been read in years; and going through our game cabinet.  This go-round, the game cabinet needed to be purged again, but that's pretty much it.  I'm with Clydene--the living room wasn't that difficult!  The kitchen, however...well, that's what we get to tackle this week!

Before we move on to the week ahead and our new assignment, I don't want to leave this past week just yet.  Did it resonate with you like it did me when she discussed holding on to items that tend to clutter just for the fear of losing the memory associated with it?  I remember the first time I read that how much that impacted me.  Towards the end of the chapter, Tsh wrote:
"You have permission to keep the valid memories in your life and to toss the mere object you've associated with them.  Your memories will remain, even if the objects are removed."  --pg 125, Chapter 9, Organized Simplicity
 I hope this gives you some freedom to get rid of things that are not useful or beautiful to you, knowing the memory connected to that object will still remain.

Have you tried any of the homemade cleaner recipes that are in the back of the book?  I use many homemade cleaners in my home.  Not only are they non-toxic and less expensive, it has simplified my cleaning process to have fewer products rather than thinking I have to use different cleaners for each different task.

Share with us in the comments section below how you are feeling so far about this decluttering, cleaning and organizing process.  I know we are only finished with one room, but do you already feel better about your home?  I hope so--I know every bit of progress will help!  Be proud of all you've been able to accomplish thus far.

For this next week, we get to tackle our kitchens!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 11
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize your kitchen 
I've been eyeing several things for weeks that only take up my already-limited cabinet space and aren't used enough to justify their inclusion in my kitchen, so I'm looking forward to doing much purging this week of excess gadgets and dishes!  I'm also looking forward to rearranging my pantry space (I don't have a pantry, so some of my kitchen cabinets have to be my pantry) in order to be, well, more orderly!  I can't wait to hear about your progress!!  Blessings!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 4 in Review

First of all, please forgive my tardiness in getting this post completed.  We have been out of town for a few days for some much-needed R&R and just returned last night.  I had to take care of first things first (like unloading all of our dirty laundry and making a trip to the grocery store!), and now I am able to sit down and focus on Organized Simplicity for a bit!  There were some great comments from this past week, and those have just now been posted for the same reason.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  --William Morris
I urge you to memorize this quote.  I believe you will find it invaluable in the weeks to come as we decide which of our belongings needs to stay and which ones need to be thrown out, sold or donated.  If you are like me, you will come across many things during the cleaning out process that will make you ask yourself, "Why is this here?"  My answer often times was "because so-and-so gave it to me" or "I've just always had it" or "I used to think it was pretty" or (here's my favorite) "it was on sale." :)  When I am cleaning out and purging, if the item in question is not useful in some way or beautiful to myself (or my family, depending on what the item is), it is leaving our home, one way or another.  This concept makes the decision-making process so much easier when attempting to simplify.

Here are a few questions for you to think about and discuss in the comments section:
  • What skill or craft have you always wanted to be able to do or learn, but have never had the time to do so?  How can you make that skill or craft a part of your life now?
  • Were you able to identify any changes that needed to take place in order for you home to be congruent with your family purpose statement?
  • Are you interested in having a joint garage sale with other interested families within our class, or would you rather do your own thing (plan your own sale, donate everything to charity, etc)?
Okay, this upcoming week gets down to the nitty, gritty work--we start the process of decluttering, cleaning and organizing our home!  As Tsh mentioned in the chapters we just read, the process will be hard, potentially emotional, and probably will involve some sweat--but it WILL be worth it!!!  DON'T GIVE UP!!  Here is our assignment for the week ahead:
  • Read Chapters 9 & 10
  • Begin memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Do a quick sweep of your home, as mentioned in Chapter 9
  • Declutter, clean & organize your living room
From this week forward, we will tackle one room per week for the declutter/clean/organize process.  Once again, I urge you to plan for this--each week, mark the day or days off your calendar that you will set aside for each week's assignment.  If you don't plan the time for this, other activities or plans will prevent it from ever happening.

I'm praying for you all--I can't wait to hear your success stories as we begin to simplify!  Feel free to take pictures of your before, during and after--I'd love to include them in my post next week!!  Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 3 in Review

Happy Independence Day!!

A few thoughts on a few key points made in this week's reading:
  • "Simple living is a state of mind.  It's a choice to not let the consumer-driven culture dictate how you live, what you invest in, and how you spend your valuable resources." (Chapter 5, pg. 69) --The same could be said for the Christian faith, no?  With both simple living and Christian living, it's a choice to go against "what everyone else is doing" and make the decisions that are right for your family.
  • "It is infinitely easier to practice simple living when you don't have any debt." (Chapter 5, pg. 70) --Amen and amen!  We have been debt free now for several years, and the feeling of paying off that final debit is priceless!  Knowing each month that every dollar of our income is assigned a specific place OF OUR CHOOSING is most certainly more simple and so much less stressful than deciding how much will be paid to which particular place that owns us because we owe them money.
I talked briefly about my personal home management notebook the day of our workshop.  Mine is modeled after Tsh's, but personalized to make it work for me.  I cannot emphasize enough how important I think it is to figure of some sort of home management notebook or system that will work for you.  Having everything in one place will reduce your stress greatly and will greatly simplify the daily workings of your home.

For a few years, I kept mine in a 3-ring binder, which is nice if you aren't sure what all you want to have in your notebook.  You have the flexibility of adding to or subtracting from the notebook or system based on your needs.  After a few years of fine tuning and tweaking, I felt like I had the contents of my notebook pretty well refined, so for this year's planner, I had it bound at Office Depot.  I have loved having it bound, and the bound version is much more portable than the heavy, bulky 3-ring notebook I had been using.

The sections for my home management notebook include:
  • Daily planning page:  This is a laminated page that is similar to Tsh's daily docket that she refers to in Chapter 6.  I chose to go the laminated route so that I could erase and reuse the same sheet day after day rather than using a new sheet of paper everyday.  It's worked well for me.
  • Calendar:  I make my own calendar pages in Excel with one week per page.  I've done this for several years and was prompted to do so because I could never find a planner that suited my needs like I wanted it to.  Each page has a small monthly calendar at the top, the seven days of the week, with space for menu planning and notes each day, and an overall notes section at the bottom of the page.  You can also find templates for planning pages here on the Microsoft Office templates page.
  • Notes:  This section just has sheets of pretty paper (I like dressing things up!) that I use for anything I need to take notes on (i.e. plans for family vacation, birthday party plans, Christmas gift ideas, etc.)
  • Finances:  I have a copy of our budget in this section as well as some notepaper to make notes on other finance-related things.
  • Misc. Lists:  This section is just what is says--various lists, including a list of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc), a form where I keep my internet passwords for various websites, shopping lists for when we go to Amarillo, and such.  Next year I plan to combine the Notes section and Lists section--there is some redundancy there, and I sometimes get confused as to which location I've used to make note of a certain thing.
  • Homeschool:  This section is for all things homeschool-related (co-op notes, curriculum notes, etc)
For my dividers for each section, I used simple pocket folders and cut them in half.  That gives me a pocket in each section to place various notes, coupons, and other related items.  I made myself a cover sheet for my notebook and had Office Depot put a heavy cardstock sheet for the back cover and a clear sheet to protect the front cover.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding my notebook--I'm happy to share my tips and ideas!

This week's discussion questions:
  1. What is your greatest challenge regarding money management?
  2. What do you see as the greatest benefit of being debt free (whether you've experienced it yourself or hope to experience it once your family gets there)?
  3. What will you include in your home management notebook?
Here's a reminder for the upcoming week's assignment (Week 4):
  • Read Chapters 7 & 8
  • Memorize Romans 14.19
  • Evaluate your home in light of your family's purpose statement.  Identify at least one change you feel needs to be made.
Have a great week!!  I look forward to hearing your discussions on this week's topic!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 2 in Review

I'm disappointed before I even get to the second sentence of this week's reading assignment.  "I hate to break it to you, but you can't do it all."  Phooey.  Because I really want to do it all, and not just DO it, but do it really well, if not perfect.  What a battle to fight, especially if we let Satan get a hold of that one and help us beat ourselves up over NOT being able to do it all.

Sigh.

I hope you were able to sit down at some point during the past week with your spouse to develop a purpose statement for your family.  With a purpose statement in hand or posted where we can see it regularly, we can better decide what is truly important for our families and get rid of those urgent things that just like to shove their way into our daily schedules and to-do lists.

I'll share with you our family's purpose statement (feel free to share yours, too--I'd love to hear it!!):
The purpose of our family is focused upon honoring God as we care for one another.  We strive to accomplish this by:
·       Valuing love and service as our main guiding principles
·       Making our home a welcoming place of peace and joy  
·       Maintaining an atmosphere of continual learning
·       Prioritizing a simple, healthy lifestyle above lesser values

A few questions for you to respond to in the comments section:

Where do you find yourself battling between urgent and important?
What was the hardest part about developing your family's purpose statement?
What is one area of time management that needs the most help at your house?

I hope things are going well for you with this study so far.  Are you having issues with anything?  Questions about anything?  Feel free to ask them in the comments section or email me, whichever works best for you!

(I'm surviving VBS, but just barely...maybe next week I'll be a little more inspiring!! :)  )

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 1 Review

I hope you have all had a good week and that you are liking what you've seen so far of "Organized Simplicity."  Your wheels are turning by now, I'm sure, with figuring out just exactly what simple living means for your family.  Our assignment for Week 2 will get you even further down that road.

The concept of simple living is certainly contrary to what the world tells us we need in order to live a successful and fulfilling life (again, in the eyes of the world).  I think that is why Week One's memory verse is a great place for us to put our focus as we think about living a life that is contrary to the standards of the world:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.      --Romans 12.2

 Discussion questions for today:

    1. What are you most looking forward to as we enter this challenge to simplify and declutter our lives?

    2. What are you dreading the most about this journey?

You can answer these questions and make any other comments in the comment section below.

Looking ahead, here is our assignment for the coming week:

Week 2:

  • Read:  Chapters 3 & 4 of "Organized Simplicity"

  • Memorize:  1 Corinthians 10.31--So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

  • Other assignment:  1) work with your spouse to develop your family's purpose statement (from Chapter 3);  and 2) prioritize your everyday activities, as mentioned in Chapter 4

I can't emphasize enough the importance of spending time with your spouse this week to develop your family's purpose statement.  So much of what you do from this point forward will hinge upon the purposes and goals of your family.  I will share our family's statement with you next week.

Have a great week!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Invitation to Join

I am leading a group of ladies (area homeschool moms and their guests) through a book study on Tsh Oxenreider's "Organized Simplicity."  If anyone else is interested in joining us on a journey to simplify, declutter, and organize your life, feel free to grab a copy of the book here and join in on the fun!  We will be meeting here each Wednesday for the next 12 weeks to share in what should be a very adventurous journey, to say the least!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hurting Hearts

I am sitting on the love seat, typing by lamplight, for the other end of the living room is dark and holds a sick, sleeping little girl.  She's been throwing up since this morning and has finally relaxed enough to sleep a bit.  I should have had a clue when I found her on the couch this morning, fully dressed, laying down with her blanket, just wanting to sleep.  Why I didn't go get "the bowl" at that point, I don't know--guess that's what I get for trying to think positively.

I don't think there is much of anything that makes my heart hurt more than when one of my children is sick or hurting.  And when that sickness also results in plans changing--plans that include the Harlem Globetrotters and much anticipated excitement--it makes me want to cry.  I just want a "mommy magic wand" to wave over them and make it all better.

I guess God knew what He was doing when he gave mommies such sensitive hearts.  After all, it's these hearts that instinctively know something is wrong without a word spoken, just by the looks on their faces.  It's these hearts that make us want to don a cape and save the world, just for the sake of our sweet babies.  And it's these hearts that will do it all over again tomorrow because we love them so stinkin' much.

But sometimes it hurts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Love the Lord Your God

One morning this week, my devotion for the day was centered around Deuteronomy 6.5-9.  If ever there was a passage of scripture to guide our lives as Christians and as parents, this is it.  I wrote the passage in my journal, making some notes for each part of the passage, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength..."  I am to love the Lord with everything I have and everything I do.  My walk must look the same as my talk.

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts..."  I have to commit God's commands to my heart and mind before I can pass them on to my children.  I can't give what I don't already have.

"Impress them on your children..."  After I have filled myself, I am to pour that out onto my children so that they can know God's commands.

"Talk about them when you sit at home..."  Include God and his desires for our lives when we do school, when we read books, when we do chores, when we live life.

"...when you walk along the road..."  Continue that dialog when we are out and about in daily life, making sure it is reflected in all aspects of life, including in our talk and in the music we listen to.

"...when you lie down and when you get up..."  Start and end your day with prayer, scripture reading and conversation about God and his involvement in our life.

"Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..."  Post scripture in prominent places so that is ever before us all day every day. 

I loved what the footnote had to say in my Bible on this passage:
"The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life.  The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented.  The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses.  If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences.  You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related."
One of my favorite things about home schooling our children is that God is central in EVERYTHING we do (not that God can't be central to your life if you are not home schooling, but God gets to be a major part of our education here at home, and that is unfortunately not the case in public schools).  We start our school day in prayer, then in reading the Bible story for the day and discussing what it tells us about God and what we can learn from it, and then we work on our memory verse for the week.  I am blessed beyond belief when I sit down each day with my children both to teach them as well as to learn right alongside them.

Our faith in God must be an all day, everyday kind of thing, not just a Sunday morning thing.

What do you do to make your faith an integral part of life?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Progress

I know I've made progress as a mother when I can look up, see a reflection of my daughter in the glass, notice that her face is buried in her bowl that formerly held veggies and ranch dip--and just smile.  For I immediately know what she's doing--she's finished the veggies and is now literally licking the bowl clean.  She loves ranch dip--after all, it's made with sour cream, and she could sit down with a carton of sour cream and a spoon and go to town.  Gross, I know.  But she loves it.

Back to progressing as a mother...there was a time that I would have immediately jumped up, told her that licking a bowl is not using her manners, and asked her to please stop.  After all, licking a bowl is NOT using your manners.  But in the grand scheme of life, is that really a big deal?  I mean, really--have YOU ever licked a bowl clean because it held one of your favorite things and you had to get every last bit of whatever?  I'm sure I have, especially if it held chocolate or something else ooey, gooey and sweet.  Was she hurting anyone or risking injury to herself?  No, not at all.  Was she really cute when she came to me with her bowl in her hand and had ranch dip from the bridge of her nose to the tip of her chin?  You better believe it!! :)

My type A self has learned a lot on this journey of motherhood.  I'm far from perfect, but I'd like to think I'm in a better place than I was when I began.  Life is too short to stress over the little things.  There are bigger battles that are more worthy of my time and energy than the little piddly things, like licking a bowl clean when no one is around to be offended.  I try to say yes to my kids as often as I can (I don't mean to unsafe or otherwise detrimental things--I mean to the questions of "can I paint on the easel?" or "can I play in the bathtub" or questions of those sorts), especially when saying no is self-centered and focused on MY desires rather than on the desires of my children to simply have fun and enjoy life.

It's amazing what God can teach us through our children if we'll just stop and pay attention.  And it's amazing how much more fun we can have each day if we'll just stop and let our children take the lead!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Simplified Christmas

Receiving this book for my birthday last summer started me on a journey to simplify and declutter our home and our lives.  I will be telling you more about this journey as we go along, but I've been spending some time reflecting (isn't that what new years are for?) on some things I did this past Christmas season that proved helpful in simplifying what is a very busy time of year.  Here are a few things I did:
  • No gifts under the tree:  After reading this suggestion on a blog I enjoy, I decided to not put gifts under the Christmas tree until the night before they would be opened.  My hope was that it would be easier for all of us, but especially my children, to stay focused on the reason we celebrate Christmas and not just on the gifts we would be receiving.  Having the gifts there for days, even weeks on end, is pure torture for my gift-loving children.  Not having them there, however, worked wonderfully--I plan to continue doing this in years to come.
  • No cards until after the New Year:  In years past, I have added "send Christmas cards and letter" to my ever-growing list of things to do during that crazy busy time leading up to Christmas Day.  It usually just adds stress, and I don't enjoy the process like I want to (I like adding personal notes to my cards/letters rather than mailing them straight off the printer).  This year, with no guilt attached, I chose to see how things went and do it when I had time--which ended up not being until after Jan. 1.  I am preparing to send them out this week and hope our friends and family will enjoy receiving our New Year's greetings!
  • No guilt over gift sacks instead of wrapping and bow: If I had all the time in the world, all of the gifts I give would be boxed, gift wrapped, and tied with a fluffy, perfectly coordinating bow.  Guess what?  I don't have all the time in the world!  When it came time to wrap gifts for whatever holiday gathering we were attending, if I had the time, I wrapped the gifts and topped them off with bows.  If I didn't have the time, I chose gift sacks for the gifts and did not let myself feel guilty for doing so.  It didn't seem to dampen the spirits of those receiving the gifts, either!
  • No "obligation" decorations:  Our family hosts an open house (we live in a parsonage) the first Sunday of every December for our congregation.  In years past, I always put pressure on myself to 1) put out ALL of my decorations, with no regard to whether I loved them or not; and 2) to put decorations in every room of our home, because you just never knew who was going to wander back into the master bathroom and be appalled to find there were no Christmas decorations in it!  I changed my tune this year.  First of all, I only put out the decorations that I wanted to and that I LOVE.  If it wasn't one of my favorites or had no significant meaning to our family, it ended up in a box that will soon be taken to our local crisis center.  Secondly, I allowed myself to be free to decorate where I wanted to and not decorate where I didn't want to.
  • No procrastination on thank yous:  This was one of the best things I did for myself this year.  In year's past, I began keeping a list of gifts received when the holiday season began.  Being a pastor's family and being a part of a kind, generous congregation, we are blessed with many gifts throughout the holiday season.  In my free time (you know how much of that there is during Christmas), I would sit down to a long list of gifts received and write the thank you notes.  I am a stickler for sending thank yous, so I would never consider skipping it, but it was such a chore and so daunting to sit down to that long list.  So this year, I purposed to write the thank you note THE DAY we received the gift.  (I usually did not mail it for a day or two--I don't want it to be completely apparent how Type A I am!)  The most I ever wrote in one day was two or three, and never did I feel like it was a burden to write them.  Why didn't I think of this before now??  This will be my mode of operation from now on!  The only thing I didn't do was require this of my kids--I just made a list of their gifts, and we've been working on them now that we are back at school.  Next year, they will be writing their thank yous the day they receive their gifts as well.  That will make it easier on all of us!
Do you have a favorite tip for simplifying the Christmas season?

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Look

New year, new look.  Simple.  Goes right along with my recent journey to simplify and declutter.  More on that soon!

Happy New Year!