Today I’m posting on my organizing page. Watch for several weeks worth of tips on managing school papers.
It is summer. I am off schedule with the blog. In the past, that would have stressed me, but no longer. It’s just a natural part of life. It is a natural occurrence of the change in seasons, change in schedules. Life is a little less hectic and the daily routines a little less hurried. The lack of schedule affords more time for play, projects, and my favorite-reading. I always get a little more reading in during the summer months. I also find, that summer is often my time to dream-dream about the year to come, dream about what I want to do to the house, with the yard, etc… Reading, reflection prompt dreaming.
Today I want to encourage you to get a copy of Melissa Michaels’ book, “Love the Home You Have”. Mrs. Michaels is the author of the blog “The Inspired Room”, which I have followed for some time. I absolutely LOVE this book. I have long had a love affair with home. Even as a young girl I loved arranging my room, creating order in an effort to have my own haven. I love home. I love creating home. But, and there always seems to be a ‘but’, I can get sucked into the world of discontentment. I can find myself procrastinating, slipping into a home care slump, while I yearn for that new couch, piece of art I can’t afford, … I can find myself living the comparison game thinking my space is inadequate. It’s a trap. Too many of us find ourselves there. Some use it as an excuse to give up: give up on decorating, cleaning, hosting. ” Love the Home You Have” reminds us what home should be about. It encourages us to breathe, play, collect and enjoy the process of creating home.
I have often believed our homes are a reflection of who we are-really who we are. They reflect the state of our spirit, our priorities. As we settle in to who we are, learn contentment, it is reflected in our homes. We worry less about the things we don’t have, and value what we do have. We embrace our style, our likes, and that is reflected in how we care for our home, the treasures we display, the furnishings we choose. A house full of clutter is often a reflection of someone lacking direction, someone living with stress as the result of an overbooked schedule. A house where furniture is falling apart, floors are dirty, the kitchen sink is piled high all the time, is often the reflection of someone avoiding , someone avoiding discipline, trying to find purpose, struggling emotionally. A house that seems cold, void of personal items, can be a reflection of someone desperately trying to control all of life, function in their own strength.
Truth be told, our homes at various times can reflect all of the above. The condition of our homes reflect the condition of our spirits, our hearts. “Love the Home You Have” not only shares ideas on how to care for and create a place of beauty and peace, but encourages us to care for ourselves. Mrs. Michaels encourages us to find contentment, not just with our homes, but with the person God created us to be. No home is perfect, believe me I have built 5 and still haven’t gotten it 100% right! My budget will never afford me the opportunity to buy what I want when I want. My love of hospitality means my home is often full of people, and things get dirty when people fill your home. Just as I live and breathe, so does my home. As I grow, mature, so does my home. As I release worldly expectations, I am free to create, find joy in the quirky parts of life and home.
“Love the Home You Have” is full of decorating ideas, home management ideas and personal care advice. No matter where you are in the ebb and flow of loving your home, I encourage you to order your copy today.
I am a firm believer in everyone having a month at a glance calendar and weekly calendar. A daily page is fine, but it really only functions like a list and can often cause us to micro-manage time, losing site of the big picture and where our time is going.
A monthly calendar lets us keep track of the BIG items, the major appointments, the birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. The weekly calendar lets us look at our week from a broad perspective. I believe we can either think about 24 hours per day, or we can think about 168 hours per week. When we allow ourselves to focus on 24 hours per day, we confine our time. There is no way in a 24 hour period to do something in each of your priority areas. Planning day to day means we have to be extremely disciplined each day to think about ALL of our priority areas and deliberately decide which one is most important for the day. I have never been disciplined to do that. When I confine my thinking to 24 hours I find I fail to do any task in some of my priority areas. I also find that carrying over tasks from one day to the next grows, sort of the snowball effect, the farther into the week I get. Planning day to day also makes it more difficult for me to say “yes” or “no” to requests that come up. Allowing myself to focus on 24 hours limits my awareness of what’s next and not being fully aware of that often means I respond in the wrong way to requests.
Weekly planning gives me a broader picture of my life. It also affords me the opportunity to map out activities in each of my priority areas. I also find that with weekly planning I can be more flexible. I can move tasks around depending on unexpected interruptions/opportunities and feel comfortable doing so because I know I have mapped out my priority areas for the week. Weekly planning makes me more aware of time-realizing how much I actually have. Laura Vanderkam in her book, “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”, speaks to this point. Through her research she found that time and time again people over-estimate the amount of time they work. It is doubtful that anyone in this country really works more than 60 hours per week. People think they do, but only because they really have no concept of time and how they are spending it. When I focus on 24 hours, I find myself in this very position. Feeling overwhelmed and rushed.
Successful weekly planning begins first with knowing what “Must Do” appointments exist for the month. Block those items off in your calendar using a red pen. Doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher meetings, kids’ events, staff meeting, etc.. Estimate how much time each appointment will take and block that amount of time off.
To help me balance where I spend my time, I like to keep a running list of the tasks I would like to or need to complete that week for each of my priority areas. I love the Planner Pad and the space it offers for this (see above). I jot down tasks for home, my business, my blog, board appointments, the kids etc… I generally have about 6 areas. Once I have those lists, I either block off specific times on the calendar (a client appointment, blog deadline…) or block off periods of time I know I will be less distracted and able to tackle a few projects. Each priority area has a color. If there is a task I really need to complete in order not to fall behind, I highlight it in yellow.
Each week I am surprised by how much “white space” I have left. And that is important. We all need white space. That’s a whole other post, but white space affords us time to breathe, deal with the unexpected or experience the joys of the spontaneous. 168 hours is a lot of time. When I sit down and look at my time from that perspective, looking at the week as a whole, I can always find time to block off for the important, the necessary. By color coding I can visually see if one priority area is getting more of my time than another, and determine whether or not that is warranted.
Weekly planning frees my mind. Instead of watching the 24 hours tick away, I find myself enjoying each day and looking forward to the hours yet ahead.
If you have felt overly stressed by your schedule, seem to never get everything done, find yourself spending more time making lists than doing tasks, I challenge you to try weekly planning. PlannerPadCopycat This coming Friday set aside an hour. Pull out your phone, calendar, slips of paper lists… and think about how you want to invest next week. Block off your time. Know there will be interruptions and opportunities. Leave yourself some space for those. Then, enjoy your weekend knowing you are prepared with a weekly plan of action come Monday morning.
I had a little mini vacation this past week visiting family. In those moments of down time I often find myself reading, reflecting on where I’m at, how I see myself etc… Just before leaving two separate clients had commented to me about some organizing my business partner and I had done for them. Their comments were reminders that I do indeed have talent, see things in ways others don’t and am good at what I do. While I love getting those kind of comments, I am going to be honest and tell you it is very hard for me to accept those kind of compliments. I rarely see myself as skilled or good at something. I am most often my own worse enemy and critic. What a shame.
If you have been following my blog you know I am revisiting the Proverbs 31 woman, as I do once each year. In the process of revisiting those scriptures I always learn something new or am challenged in new areas. This year, seeing myself for who I am, being the person God created me to be, has been the recurring theme and place of discontent and conviction. This woman of God was strong, physically, mentally and spiritually. She put much effort into her daily living, seeking to fulfill her purpose. Who she was, was so much more important than what she did. I am reminded she was confident. Not in a haughty way, but in a wise way. She feared the Lord and praised Him with her hands, her words, her actions, her concern for others. She accepted who she was and set out to live for Him. Her example reminds me I am to embrace the person I am, the way He created me to be. It is sin not to. To belittle who I am is wrong. I am not to be haughty or confident in my own abilities, but I am to embrace the gifts and talents He has given me and set out to use them for His purposes and His glory.
If you have been struggling with doubt or have a tendency to be your own worse critic, look back at the Proverbs 31 scripture and ponder over Psalm 139:14. You are unique. There is but one you and your purpose, your talents and gifts do not match anyone else’s. You have purpose. Be glad. Rejoice in who you are. Embrace all that He has given you and commit to use it for His glory.
I wanted to share a great blog post from Shambray. We all struggle with keeping our closets organized-after all, mom’s space is often the last space we find time to take care of. It’s a nice rainy day here where I am. Never hurts to do a little closet purging-things I haven’t worn all summer, things that still don’t fit, … Plus, it’s fun to make room for new fall clothes!
It seems to me that somewhere in time the gospel became watered down. The concern became more about “saving” others and less about personal relationship and accountability. Focusing on others, and not ourselves, brings on judgement, condemnation, argumentation-all while the log exists in our own eye.
Raising children in a world where civil law mirrors scriptural morality less and less is difficult. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about adultery, homosexuality, murder, slander, stealing, etc… The list is endless. Why? Because we are sinners. We live in a fallen world and each and every one has opportunity to make one single decision-the decision that changes everything. Yet living in a world where social and civil law are far from biblical morality should be no surprise. Scripture tells us about this world. This world has always existed-a depraved and fallen world. There is no doubt social media and network television amplify it, making us acutely aware, but it has always existed.
God’s word gives us very clear direction. Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One true God, and determine to follow Him in faith, we have but one great (greatest) commandment. Contrary to what I see posted, it is NOT to love one another with abandon, with no teaching, equipping, encouraging, and accountability. The one greatest commandment is this:
I am to first and foremost love God with my entire being. My relationship with Him matters most. Am I following His commands? Am I working to become more like Him each day? Am I mindful of my own sin and seeking forgiveness and wisdom to change? Those things matter most. Out of a right relationship with God flows the ability to love others. I am not equipped to love them as He does. I am not judge. I am not forgiver. I am not savior. I can only love them as I love myself, which pales in comparison to the love He extends. I can only share with others what I know of Him. I can only share with others what I have experienced of Him. It is not a love that loves with abandon. I do not love myself with abandon. Like you, I am my biggest critic, and rightfully so. If I am seeking to love God with all my heart, soul and mind, then I am seeking daily to shine the light on my own sin, to determine where I need to grow. Most importantly though, it means my compass is His word, my standard for morality is not civil law or social law, but His law.
Today, my job as a wife, mother, friend, neighbor is to make certain my children and those around me know God’s word. My job is to encourage them and equip them to desire to know more about Him and to experience more of Him every day. My job is to remind them that we live in this world, but our home is in Heaven. I am to teach them to put on the Armor of God. (Ephesians 6: 10-18) I am to equip them to “live carefully-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5: 15-17) This scripture is often used as a scripture reference by pastor’s exhorting us to make the most of every opportunity to witness, to go and share the gospel. That is not what this scripture is saying. This scripture is reminding us to be careful, to realize the dangerous condition(s) we have or are slipping into. It is a reminder to keep our standards high, to live according to God’s word.
Must we witness? Yes. In no way am I seeking to minimize or belittle our responsibility to share our faith. However, if our eyes are so focused outward that we fail to see the depravity of our own lives, what good is our witness? What if I focused more on HOW I lived being my witness and relied less on my mouth, my fingers posting to social media?
Coming to know Christ as your personal savior is a simple act of faith. He requires absolutely nothing of you. We must simply acknowledge one true God, who sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to live amidst humanity, and after being rejected by most, died on a cross that we might ALL have forgiveness. He will always be rejected by many. Yet, His blood still covers the sins of anyone desiring to know Him, follow His commands and live according to His ways.
I don’t agree with many, many things within our civil law. I am thankful I am not of this world, but am of Christ. I choose today to hold myself accountable, to speak truth to those with whom I have contact. I will seek daily to be careful, to put on the armor of God. I will train my children to do the same. I will pray my actions are a testament to Him. I will leave the judging to Him, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God. I will not accept into my life anything that is not in accordance with His word, His will. I will remember daily I am not perfect, I am a sinner, I am nothing without the shed blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. I will remember His love for me cost Him everything. I will remember that He can not look upon sin. I will remember He loves us enough to give us a choice-a choice to believe in Him, the one true God, to accept the Bible as the incarnate Word of God, complete and lacking in nothing, or to reject Him. I will remember I am accountable for my actions, my words and no one else’s. I will grieve for those who choose to reject Him and I will encourage and love those who accept Him. I will live in accordance to civil law while on this earth, but I will live according to His word only.
Father’s Day. As with any holiday there are those who celebrate with great joy, but I am mindful too there are those who struggle with this holiday, having been abandoned, hurt or maybe even never knowing their father. I thought of those yesterday, maybe because in my circle I know too many struggling there. Maybe because it was the Spirit’s prompting as I seek this year to be mindful of joy, to be mindful of others.
My small family is pictured above. A family my husband and I longed to have, waited to have, and fight for every single day. As I watched my girls prepare for the day, celebrate their father, I had to pause and thank God, not just for this man of mine, but for giving me the wisdom and the discernment 26 years ago to pick this man. 26 years ago my own family was going through a difficult time. Relationships were strained. Somehow in the midst of it all, I was able to see this man for who he was. He didn’t let the strained relationships of my family deter him, instead he became my rock, my encourager. He often held me accountable, reminding me time heals, and that what I did with the situation would set the course for my life, more than the situation itself.
My girls wanted to get their dad a tie this year. Yes, the proverbial tie. It was a stylish little Southern Tide model. They always seek to keep their dad in the latest and greatest. He loved it. He really did! As I reflected though over the course of the day the tie became symbolic. My husband works for himself and NEVER dresses up for work. However, he is a traditionalist when it comes to worship and every Sunday dresses in his very best-right down to the tie. The tie for him is a symbol of “best”, a reminder of more traditional days and times. It is a reminder to me I married a man who values tradition, not in an “I refuse to change kind of way”, but in a traditional values and morals matter kind of way. He believes in family. He fights for family. He encourages family and friends a like to value their family. He has raised our girls to honor family, even in the difficult times, even when it hurts. He holds firm to the biblical teaching that God created family, it is His plan for man on earth. It was created long before the church. Family matters, and matters more than church, work, ministry. Family isn’t ALL that matters, but it is priority, it is the foundation on which societies are built. I am so thankful this man has taught right priorities, has lived what he preaches.
Our family is far from perfect. On both sides of our family we have those who have hurt us, some who have strayed from faith, others who have never known faith. I am thankful the leader of my family says, “That’s no excuse to quit family.” I am thankful my girls are learning grace, how to give it and how to except it through family relationships.
Families are the ties that bind. They are the building blocks of society, they are the building blocks of the church. How we manage our families, how we respond to crisis, hurt and disappointment in our families reflects our faith. Who we are at home reflects our true selves. Families are the ties that bind.
My husband and I celebrated 25 years of marriage this week. We did so with little pomp and circumstance. When we first got married I remember talking about extravagant trips when we hit the 25 year mark. Funny how life changes. No extravagant trips. Instead we had a quiet week (our girls have been gone) and spent much of it reflecting on the past, making some decisions for the present and prioritizing for the future. We celebrated with a quiet evening out, thinking how quickly time had passed.
Our marriage is a testament to the grace of God. By all measures, we shouldn’t have made it. We can now laugh about it, but we seriously faced just about every stressor you could face in our first 5 years of marriage. My parents divorced about a year before I got married. That meant lots of emotions running high during the wedding planning and day of. It also meant VERY limited resources and I had to be creative. Two weeks after our honeymoon a cyst was found on my cervix and we went through a “this could be cancerous” scare. Fortunately it was not, but out-patient surgery followed. Within our first 18 months of marriage my mother lived with us and then my brother. Within the first 2 years of marriage Paul’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, we built a home, entered a 6 year long infertility phase, and my mother lived with us again. Paul’s mom passed away shortly after our three year anniversary. My brother lived with us one more time and over the course of the next 15 years my mother lived with us several more times for various lengths of time. The firm Paul had been working for disbanded and we were faced with opening his own appraisal firm.
I won’t bore you with any more details, but as you can see, our marriage was full of stressors at the beginning. I wish I could tell you we handled it all well, but we didn’t. There were arguments. I was on some occasions an emotional wreck. We were hurt, disappointed, angry and often felt alone. So how did we survive? By the grace of God, and a whole lot of humor. I don’t say that tritely. There were moments we both wanted to call it quits. We loved each other, but boy was it hard to like each other some days. Not to mention, we both grew weary. Have you ever been there? You don’t want to give up, but you just honestly don’t have the energy to keep going? My husband, a fixer like most men, felt defeated on many a day. I can remember evenings when we didn’t have the energy or emotional reserves to be happy or angry. There were even moments when the only words we could speak were, “Divorce is not an option.”
Thankfully during those difficult years we also had much to celebrate. We welcomed three nieces/nephews. We built three homes. We had some fabulous vacations with friends. Paul’s business flourished. We worked in the youth department and had lots of entertainment as we served and bonded with those students, many still dear friends. We had a pastor who prayed for us, walked alongside us, and again, became a very special friend. The day we finally arrived at the hospital for an emergency C-section this dear pastor immediately brought his staff and prayed over me and the staff as I was wheeled into surgery.
This week as we looked back, while the difficult times were real and are still vivid in our memories, we were able to think more of the joy, the lessons, the character building. We are able to stand at the 25 year mark truly believing we can survive anything-by the grace of God. We are able to see that while we made decisions to help family too much, financially gave too much, we also see that each decision was made based upon scripture, our desire to honor our mother and father, to care for family, the wounded, the desolate. My husband is so good at staying away from the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” thoughts. (unlike myself) My husband is so good at looking to the future with hope, trusting God. Throughout each decision he has always looked me in the eye and said, “He will provide. He always has and He always will. Not necessarily what we want, but it will be what we need and what we can handle.” I married a rock. Sometimes a stubborn rock, but that is another story. I married a rock, a man of faith who gives way more than he takes, who fights for family and lives by faith. He brings laughter into our days and keeps his eye on the prize.
Standing at the 25 year mark feels good. I would love to have taken some of the moments back. I’d love to have NOT experienced some of the experiences. Yet, as we stand together in this place I know we are who we are because of each moment, each experience. I have no doubt we’ll make the next 25 years. I also have no doubt they won’t be easy. I have no doubt we have more trials to face, more heart ache ahead. I also know we have much joy ahead. By the grace of God we’ll carry on.
Summer. It is amazing to me how we as moms can have such a love hate relationship with summer. Come about April most of us begin to long for the “lazy” days of summer. We are tiring of the lunch making, the homework, the after-school activities, the schedules. We dream of days filled with no schedule, moments by the pool, sleeping in a little later (if we are lucky), no back packs to check, no homework to battle through.
Then summer hits. BAM! Within the matter of a few days we begin to seek out activities. What will we do with these children all summer? The camps, birthday parties, family vacation, reunions, etc… fill the calendar and we realize that in no time at all we will back at it. We gaze at the long list of all we thought we’d do this summer and realize there is no way!
It is a love hate relationship. But isn’t much of life that way? Too often we look forward to something missing the moments right in front of us. We find ourselves in the midst of the time we anticipated and we panic, we realize we have failed to plan or the reality of our limited time hits us in the face. In a matter of moments we can go from dreaming to being overwhelmed and panicked. The words ” I’m bored”, are uttered by a child and our emotions go through the roof.
Our family intentionally cleared our calendar this summer. No family vacation. No camps. We decided instead to simply be at home, a home we just had the opportunity to build. We decided to go with the unexpected, to spend more time with family and friends. I decided to keep pursuing better health and engage in more of my creative pursuits.
Sounds great doesn’t it. A “lazy” summer at home. Well, let me be honest. Two weeks in and the above picture is where I think I want to be. I’m missing the family vacation. I’m doubting our decisions-even though we reached them as a family. I see what others are doing and I feel the comparisons creeping in. Why? Why do we go there?
I know why I do. I take my eye off the prize. I look around more than I look within. I forget that I am right where God wants me to be, with the people He has entrusted to my care for just a little while. I forget that through prayer and seeking we made decisions we believed were best for us. I forget to trust He will see us through, even the leaner times, the darker times.
So, while I have moments wishing I was in a chair on the beach, I am going to focus on being where I am. I’m going to treasure the moments by my pool listening to nieces and nephews laugh, taking in the squeals of high school girls, breathing in deep the quiet moments captured sitting alone in the sun by my little space of paradise. I’m going to be thankful for a home in which we rest, land safely. I’m going to appreciate the fact my 16 year old daughters would rather be here than elsewhere, that they still share with their dad and I.
Summer is here. I have anticipated it. I’m going to rest in it-soak it up. I’m not going to rush it. I’m not going to fall prey to the comparisons, the regrets, the looking around. I’m going to take today for what it is and be-be in the moment, be grateful, be content.
This month Mary & Martha has challenged women to a “No Compare Dare”. It is a timely message for me. And as I have followed others within the company, consultants, and their customers in taking this dare, I am reminded how quickly we as women can become discouraged or defeated by the simple comparison game. Satan knows his way into our lives, and all too often we allow him to take hold. I am guilty.
I Peter 5: 8-10 says, ” Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings, and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” NIV
In my organizing business my partner and I spend time working with our clients regarding their time management. One of the things we try to impress upon them is the importance of being aware, self-controlled. It is important to know how time is spent, to know how one wants to spend time in order to meet goals, and then make adjustments. Life can’t be lived on auto-pilot. Discipline and self awareness are key to being organized.
One would think that because the above is such a part of my “message” to clients I would not struggle personally with the comparison issue, but oh how I do. In fact, even just yesterday I allowed satan a stronghold in my life, my business. Yesterday I lost two clients (one lost her job the other decided to sell her home in lieu of getting it organized) and had a potential client decline our services in favor of another. When you are a young business, still building, those kind of things seem HUGE! Immediately I began comparing- to others in the organizing business, to friends running their own businesses, etc… The thoughts in my head became negative and self-defeating. Did I lose the jobs because I failed to be alert? No. Did doubt, fear and discouragement set in because I failed to be alert? Yes. I allowed my thoughts to wander and instead of focusing on what was true, bowing my knee in prayer, I opened the door for satan to begin his whispers. I didn’t resist. I didn’t keep my thoughts on the truth. Fortunately I have within my circle women who hold me accountable. In one simple text a dear friend, and business owner I admire snapped me back to reality. Her words were not harsh. They were simple and straight forward. They were spoken in love and with authority. In that moment I became aware. I suddenly became alert, seeing what I had allowed to happen. I didn’t just snap out of it. No, when we let satan in, he’s hard to remove. He isn’t some little pussy cat, no he is a roaring lion. He is on a mission. No, it takes faith, it takes strength and fortitude to make him leave.
My business is my #NOCOMPAREDARE focus. How do I keep satan at bay? The same daily disciplines that keep me focused on the truth, on my priorities.
- Rise early and let His word (scripture) be the first thing to enter my mind.
- Sit in stillness allowing His word, His thoughts to permeate my mind.
- Pray for His will.
- Pray continually, with all thanksgiving.
- Be honest with my sphere of influence so they can hold me accountable, speak truth into my life.
- Be alert throughout the day to shifts in my thinking, my mood…
I dare you. I know you struggle. We all do. The comparison game. It’s so easy. We are bombarded with messages, with visuals via Facebook, Instagram, television, radio, stores, friends… None of us is immune. It will happen. We just need to be alert, to capture the thoughts before they take hold, remembering that satan is the author. Let truth prevail.