Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 … Out With The Old, In With….Whoa!

I love Beginnings! I love Once Upon A Times! I love making decisions to better myself, my life or the life of my family. I love stories and being a part of new story, on chapter one, that’s the absolute best thing in the world!

Well, it’s that time of year again! We’re here at the brink of making resolutions. We’re here at this awesome, incredible point of decision … To DO or not to do. To CREATE or not to create. To DREAM or not to dream. Pretty heady … but, before we do all that I believe it is important to do a little ‘housekeeping’. Physically and mentally we need to just say: Whoa! Heads up here. Time for a little consideration. Is what I am about to decide on a blessing or an added burden? Am I going to tackle more than I can or need to handle? Am I going to add to an already too full life? A new club membership, a vow to lose that extra weight, an inspirational book club subscription, a new sports league to join, a charitable work to be a part of … it’s all well and good with a few actions to go along with our considerations.

We have to reduce the baggage, let go of the pounds of stuff or it will make it next to impossible to carry on to completion any new resolution. Out with the old must take on meaning and call us to doing so we can indeed be free to resolve to improve our role in the scheme of history.

Out with the old is a necessary, but a sometimes difficult, part of life. Deliberation over what is of worth in the things we have and deciding what can be trashed, recycled or still used must be done. Life is filled with times when we get rid of the extras or the nonfunctional. We try this method or these products and if they work, great, if not, go to the next. It’s how we live … experimentation, or trial and error. The key factor here is - taking stock or inventory. This is necessary so as to be able to survive in life … without being surrounded in utter chaos and clutter.

Okay, so, this is all well and good with the stuff life is made of … the things we have, the clothes, the gadgets, books, papers, maybe even something as big as a car … but you have to draw a line at what is truly disposable. Be careful not to undervalue life and what we have. What is throwaway and what isn’t?

When assessing the past year, let’s look at some disposable vs non-disposable life-stuff. First, we’ll go with out-and-out disposable and for me, these should be pretty cut and dry. Well, actually one of the first items is maybe a surprise … out with the old in the matter of TIME … hmmm.

***Time-clutter is such a biggie in today’s world. We not only get involved in keeping up with the Jones in material stuff and nonsense we think we have to keep up in schedules, club activities, sports leagues for the kids. Community and church activities take precedence over family meal-times and game-nights. Our homes so easily have become a point of reconnaissance on how to conquer the week’s activities rather than being a refuge of strength and renewal. Our family life can be so cluttered with good works that we lose the core of who we really are. Before adding one new program or good deed, re-assess the Old Way and pattern of your TIME. It just may be you want to discover a New Way of living fully and loving deeply with a renewed sense of peace. Just decide: OUT with the hurry-hurry rushed lifestyle that is killing you and yours.

***Clothing/shoes is a biggie folks! Clothes can pretty much be re-cycled, shoes are a little harder  … Personally, I love a good Thrift Store or Goodwill deal. I’m not crazy about yard sales but have been known to stop if I am in the market for something in particular and see a good lay out on someone’s front yard. But for you die-hard mall or outlet addicts, wow! the year-end sales are fabulous, I know! Fashions are erratic and so I never have gone much into spending the big bucks on keeping up. Good classic lines and simplicity are more my standard. Because I choose wisely, I am more apt to hang on to clothing for myself for a number of years but am quick to give-away and change out. So, to me it’s easy to say out with the old when it comes to clothes. However, because it is so easy to collect clothes nowadays it seems we have over-flowing drawers and closets for us and our children. Purging our closets and dresser drawers from room to room in our homes is a must! Share your stuff … Out it goes!

***Books/magazines are something our family tends to collect and then turn-over but the really good ones, we will be inclined to hoard. The so-so category books are very quickly put into the out with the old box. With membership sites and kid corners in major bookstores, magazines and books for kids can pile up easily as well. Keep the classics but chunk others as they out-grow them. Of course, every kid has their favorite so make sure you take feelings into account when making decisions to give-away. Otherwise, bless someone else with these goodies – Out they go!

***Toys and gadgets seem to accumulate in every house – at least in houses of people I know here in the states (things aren’t so easy to come by other places in the world). I guess because we have turned into this nation of infomercials, ebay buyers, flea markets, outlets, yard, moving, rummage, and whatever sales, besides Craigs list and Jennys list … well, we have become consumers of the next best gadgets and gizmos and toys – our houses are bursting! Look at what you have, reassess its value to you and chuck what you can … out with it! Share with others, re-gift, whatever … to reduce!

***Papers, correspondence. Yuck! Piles of paper seem to reproduce overnight at our house. I hate this part of life … well, not personal letters and cards from folks … that kind of snail-mail I LOVE! However, paper junk … how in the world did our name and address get on so doggone many mailing lists!?! We get so much junk and even though we try and trash as it comes in there are those pieces that tend to be ‘if-y’ but redundant! So for some it, straight to the burn pile (or for those in the city – the shredder). But really, all this paper? File what absolutely must be saved … and the rest? out with it!!

***Food! Wow, this is getting to be a cluttered part of life as well! Our cupboards are fairly bursting with favorites and also, new foods we decide to try out this week or month, or we go berserk-o with taking advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free, and double or triple coupon promotions. We’ve become a land of not just providing for our needs but indulging in desires so much so that we’ve transformed into gluttons! Have you seen how every, single magazine has the next best tip on losing the pounds! Seriously, re-evaluate your bodies’ needs and the health of your family. Get rid of unnecessary, give it to someone who can use the surplus. Decide for this next month, or even, for the year of 2010, that buy-one-get-one-free means: the local food pantry is being blessed! Extra $$ in the budget will go to a food ministry! Yay!  And those “all you can eat” buffets … they are absolutely the worst thing you can do for your health! Spend those $$ on your charity of choice and eat at home. Out with the old habits of self-indulgence!

Here are some good tips to consider when making the decision “out with the old…”

  • How much is this worth?
  • Should I throw it away or try to sell it?
  • Does the this hold any sentimental worth?
  • Do I really need it? Or do I barely use it?
  • When was it last used? Can I remember?
  • Where did I get this? Was it a gift?
  • Did I buy this from another country?
  • Could it be an antique? Collectable?
  • Am I going to miss this?
  • Will I use it in the next week to 3 months?
  • Is our life blessed by this?

So, let 2010 be a year of deciding to reduce, de-clutter, appraise what is valuable in our life and definitely, with all this accumulated STUFF, go with … OUT WITH THE OLD!

Tomorrow we’ll look at some stuff that makes up our lives and it is truly NOT DISPOSABLE! Yep, in all our busyness, our priorities get screwed up and sometimes we need a few gentle reminders on just what to throw away and what is valuable enough to KEEP, or even fight, to hold on to!

Here are some great reads for a little help in Out With The Old!


922630: 101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter 101 Ways to Clean Out the ClutterBy Emilie BarnesBetter than a how-to television show, this compact resource written by home management expert Emilie Barnes, can help you transform your home, church, or office into a clutter-free zone. With 101 tips to choose from, you’ll soon be on your way to ridding your rooms of piles, stacks, and disarray. Paperback.


924627: The Quick-Fix Home Organizer: Making Your Home Beautiful and Your Life Clutter Free The Quick-Fix Home Organizer: Making Your Home Beautiful and Your Life Clutter FreeBy Emilie BarnesGot a minute? Use it to your advantage when you put Barnes’s fast and easy ideas into practice! Sharing ways to infuse peace and personality into your home and workspace, she helps you start and finish projects successfully, organize paperwork, get the most out of your daily planner, and more. Formerly titled The One-Minute Home Organizer. 144 pages, softcover from Harvest.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Marriage = Celebration!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marriage is marvelous on a Monday. I love Mondays because to me they represent the new beginning of a ‘work-week’. We are not the norm here because actually, Mondays have usually been our family ‘day-off’ instead of Saturday. With Lowell being in the ministry, Saturday is generally a day of preparation. Also, because we’ve home-schooled you may just find us involved in some great family-time activity on a Monday. Not today though. Today was for Lowell and me … we went on a date in the middle of the day. We celebrated our marriage.
Wow! We have been married 31 years today. In some ways it seems like yesterday, or maybe last month … even last year that we were married and began this journey of life together. In other ways it seems like it has been forever but in a good way. I mean, like I want to say ‘I can’t remember life without Lowell’, but of course I can. Suffice it to say life has been at its best with him and because of him.
I love who we are but I daresay if you put us in a room with 10 other married couples we would be the least ‘normal’ of the bunch. (Maybe there is not a normal.) We do not and have never typified the ‘American dream’. From career choice, to aspirations, to possessions (or lack thereof) I realize we are just not in the same boat as many of our peers. And that’s okay. It takes all kinds to make up this glorious world and we’re just one of the mix. I love and delight in our unique story as it unfolds … but I must say I am always and forever wanting to turn the page already and see what’s going to happen next!
Marriage is a pretty awesome part of life and when it’s a good marriage, well, there’s just nothing else like it. Isn’t it the coolest thing to see older married couples and they just seem to ‘go together’ – like ‘two peas in a pod’? I started my morning reading a magazine Lowell had given me the other evening. In it is an article – “Magnificent Marriage – Stories of Marriage and Success”. It takes nine couples, married a total of 548 years, and shares with us, the readers, their courtship, the challenges they have faced together, and their words of encouragement. 69 years, 66 years, 64, 62, 61,61, 60, 55 and 50 … and I said ‘Wow’ for Lowell and me!!
I am so excited to think that maybe we are merely halfway there … that we may just have the privilege of another 31, or even 41 more years together! I pray we will because it just keeps getting better and better as the years go by. Of course, we have our struggles, our ups and downs, and our times when life is topsy-turvy – but hey, if the ride’s an adventure then that just comes with the territory. Any of the negative is far out-weighed by the brilliant sunshine that comes after each storm and sometimes valleys are pretty sweet.
If you stay steady and true to your course then this journey is what it’s supposed to be … just right.
December 28, 2009, 31 years!
December 28, 2009, 31 years!
Click here for the link to “Magnificent Marriage”. You’ll find the article on page 14, but the whole magazine is terrific if you need to have your faith reaffirmed in amazing families.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wives and Gifts

Okay, men, listen up!

Women, for the most part, need a present from you that tells her you listen, you love her, you think she’s beautiful as she is. A gift that expresses your appreciation for her ‘wearing all the hats’ she does.
She does not want a gift that will put you in to further debt and ultimately cause her purse strings to be pulled tighter. She does not need a DVD on weight loss, a facial massager kit that guarantees she’ll look younger, some cook-book that claims she’ll be the best cook ever, or some gadget to grill with. Choose your gift with thoughtfulness and take time to make it special!

Gifts that say you listen:
a music CD, a book by her favorite author, a romantic comedy or drama with some of her favorite actors

Gifts that say you love her:
a inspirational book of poetry that praises womanhood, a hand made coupon she can redeem for a date night of her choice! Or, even better, a romantic date night planned totally by you!

Gifts that say she’s beautiful:
a piece of clothing in her favorite color, a piece of jewelery (whose cost does not ‘break the bank’) that is made more lovely when she wears it.

Gifts that say you appreciate her:
a gift card for a trip to a spa, or to get her nails done, a coupon for a night a babysitting so she can go with her girlfriends.

I have been married for 31 years this year. My dear sweet husband has had his ups and downs in the gift department. Some presents are best forgotten … I ended up with hurt feelings but tried hard to mask them with appropriate responses.

Some of his best presents I still marvel at:

One year he got me complete series of books written by my then favorite author.

I have received kitchen ‘gadgets’ from hubby but they were uniquely for me and things I had been longing for and so were truly appreciated! A Capresso coffee maker with thermal pot! (I love to sip on a cup of coffee throughout the morning and with this it stays hot and no burnt taste!) And an Asian rice cooker … big size! We eat rice OFTEN and this is so easy! Ah! These were unexpected and the best!

It’s hard for me to pinpoint my favorite present but I tell you what, this next one will live on as one of the most romantic and has been enjoyed and acknowledged many times since.

If you’re like me, a lot of times you may have a favorite song of this music artist and a favorite of this other one. Well, in 2006, Lowell made me my own Country Music CD from 15 artists – honestly, this took a lot of work, it took consideration, it meant he had been listening to me for months! He used his ITunes account to buy and download the songs, created a CD cover and package cover and it was GREAT! It’s not all love songs, but the ones he did include are like from his heart to mine or mine to his. The other songs make statements that I loved. It was and still is, just totally cool. In fact, the CD is in my player right now. This gift lives on and the sentiment is the same today as it was December 25, 2006. It speaks to my forever-in-love-with-my-husband heart.

Whatever present you give to the woman in your life this year, let it be from your heart – expressing love and romance, appreciation and the fact that, to you, she is indeed beautiful! Let her know you are celebrating her as a woman. Do this and you will be her hero.

Here is a place to shop for the women in your life – YOUR NINTH HOUR – it is A Store With A Heart! Come by, browse and buy your gifts here … online, hassle-free shopping at its best!
Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are You B,U.S.Y.?

Do the holidays create extra busyness in your life? If you’re like me, before you know it you add this to your already hectic day, and then this comes up and then before long your week looks like … well, not too good. I read this morning “Busy stands for ‘Buried Under Satan’s Yoke’.”  And so I started thinking.

Just who do I think I am? What do I think I’m doing anyway? Wow, I have been in the middle of what I have been claiming as ‘busyness’. I’ve been adjusting ‘to-dos’ and saying ‘ta-da’. I know in the past, like on those proverbial Holiday letters, I have even ‘bragged’ about our busy schedules. I’ve found myself almost flaunting all I have to do … what for? Do I think I deserve some sort of merit badge for getting all huffy and stuffy about sharing a minute here or giving you a moment there? Like, ‘Mmmm Hmmm, I am sacrificing my time here and don’t take it for granted!’

Now that I have had a few hours to ponder this admonishment I am happy it came when it did. I needed it today. It was necessary to – not relax in my efforts – but to take on a calm spirit of work and diligence. Sometimes we put all this stuff on our agenda, pretending to be some super-hero that has more hours in a day than God. I re-evaluated once again the to-dos in my world and know that the important stuff is getting done. I got to check off some pretty powerful accomplishments. And yep, I also, moved several items to tomorrow’s deadline and a couple even further … therefore, I felt less frantic and pushed.

Some synonyms of ‘busy’ are drudging, laboring, toiling, over-busy, tied up … and I think these not so fun words helped me realize being busy isn’t always the thing I want or need to be. Let me preferably be steady, diligently moving forward and redeeming the time but not be caught up in the yoke of drudgery and laborious tasks that weigh me down.

The holiday season can take its toll on us by our choosing to say ‘Yes’ to this and that in addition to our regularly full schedules. We need to reduce stress not add to it. We must claim our time. Make worthy, stabilizing choices and not just be busy for busy’s sake or for bragging rights! Sometimes you just got to take stock and say “No more!” “My schedule is complete.” “Opps, sorry, no thanks, this plate is full!”
Satan, get lost, this woman is claiming some freedom! Be gone ye yokes of busyness, be gone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas!! Hooray!

Wow, this is great! Do you remember? I do!
Well, Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Relax and enjoy!!