Baby Steps… the Garage Sale

We reached a point in our home recently where we just had enough of stumbling over, and dealing with, the amount of stuff we had cluttering up our lives. It was time to pare down and simplify! We decided to get rid of some things we’ve had around for far too long, and a garage sale seemed to be the antidote. I haven’t had one in over ten years, nor have I ever read a How to Have a Garage Sale manual. The steps to having a successful garage sale were not clearly defined in my head. It seemed logical that the first step would be to set up a couple tables in the garage, figure out what items I want to sell, and then begin loading up the tables, right? Well, that’s where I started and it didn’t take long for the momentum to get rolling. With lightning speed, I began clearing cupboards, closets, corners, drawers, and shelves of everything that was cluttering up our house—and our lives. Before I got even everything into the garage though, my mind got bogged down with how I’m going to organize it all, how I’ll price everything, and what we’ll use for garage sale signs. Those were details that shouldn’t have mattered yet, and before I knew it, my lightning speed was hijacked by a sluggish crawl. I was off-task, distracted, and on my way to being overwhelmed as I stood looking at the hundreds of stacked books, kitchen paraphernalia, bedroom stuff, clothes, tools, toys, and all the other miscellaneous junk. I was surprised at how I felt at that moment. I thought maybe I’d feel a sense of accomplishment upon nearing the completion of step one, but it was quite the opposite. Even though I am able to multitask, sometimes the pressure to do so much all at once puts me on tilt, and before I know it, I’m paralyzed. Garage sale prep went from bad to worse as I thought of trying to keep up with my job while working at home, keeping the kids and household flowing, getting dinner on the table, keeping groceries stocked, continuing my daily writing, exercising, and laundry. I had so much to do! Balancing everything in my life is challenging even when there’s not a garage sale in the works, so now I felt like I was in WAY over my head. I wanted to quit right then and there. I’d stand in the garage for what felt like hours with a blank stare on my face, not knowing what to do next. In my eyes, my husband, Jon, is an expert problem-solver and compartmentalized-thinker, and he was right there to help me break the garage sale into small, bite-sized pieces. I was hoping he’d just let me quit, but nope! Even knowing dinner was on the chopping block if I went through with it, he STILL helped me press through and sort it out. 🙂 He encouraged me to do this one thing, and don’t do anything else until that piece is done, which really helped me. It was like hearing that I had permission to not think about all the other things begging for my attention. Baby steps relieved the stress. There are times in our lives where special circumstances should allow us a break from doing everything we usually do, without feeling guilty. After all, we never get more than twenty-four hours. If we don’t manage our days well (and realistically), we’ll be stressed out and scatterbrained… not to mention, wife- or mom-zilla! What do you do when your days or your life get out of balance? Do you see if there is anything in your schedule that you can let go of—if not permanently, then temporarily? I admit, sometimes I have been known to shed a tear or two in the midst of busy times. I don’t dwell there, but eventually pull myself together and ask the Lord to PLEASE HELP ME! Just like Jon was there to help me think through the garage sale step-by-step, the Lord is always ready to help us sort out our days into bite-sized chunks if we just ask Him. We don’t ever have to fear that He’s going to get frustrated with us for asking for help. With September quickly approaching, and most of our schedules getting filled to their fullest, ask Him to show you the perfect solution to your scheduling conflicts. Purpose to make your days more manageable, give yourself permission to not think about everything all at once, and be SURE to schedule in time to rest every day! Your spirit, soul, AND body...

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Waist-High in Water

In the summer of 1999… Jon and I had been married for four years, and our marriage had already been through the ringer.  Our lives were a mess in every way, and we both were questioning if this is all there is to life.  We didn’t know what we were lacking or looking for, but our lives were so empty.  We had recently moved to Stillwater and were looking for a church.  Jon was working at Honeywell at the time, and one of his co-workers introduced us to a church (Living Word Christian Center, Brooklyn Park, MN).  It was there where we recognized that we were SO lost.  We discovered exactly what was missing in our lives… We needed a Savior! The Bible, which was once like reading and listening to a foreign language… or worse yet, like reading a Periodic Table of Elements in my junior high science class (and equally as enjoyable), had now come ALIVE for us.  Our eyes were opened.  We dedicated our lives to the Lord that summer, and have not been the same since.  We had a new life, and HOPE for our future. Fast forward one year to July 9th, 2000… We had been born again for a year and our lives had changed so much.  Some of our biggest strongholds were breaking, and habits and desires for wrong things were falling away… Jon and I stopped drinking, we stopped swearing, we were beginning to make new friends, and were learning how to really love each other. On this particular day, we were preparing to get water baptized in Lake Rebecca at the annual church picnic, while our little 4- and 7-year old daughters watch from the shore.  But first, I HAD to have a cigarette!  So I broke away from the festivities, ran out to the car and hid as best as I could.  I didn’t dare risk the possibility of any of my new church friends seeing me.  If they knew I still smoked, I thought surely they would not accept me or want to continue being my friend.  I hurried back to meet Jon on the shore, along with hundreds of others waiting to be baptized. We were both baptized when we were babies, but we wanted to be baptized after we believed.  An outward sign of our inward change… a brand new beginning. I was EXPECTING this to be a life-changing experience.  The line got shorter and we slowly inched our way toward the water.  Each person entered the lake individually, and the closer we got to the front, the more emotional I got.  My heart was racing.  Pastor Tim Burt was baptizing our line.  As I walked toward him, he asked me if I was ready for this.  I stood there in the waist-deep water, and listened to him tell me in those couple minutes why this is such a big day for me.  He told me to imagine as though everything about the old me is getting washed away, and as I come up, imagine all those old things not reattaching to me, but staying there… washed away forever in the water.  I was nearly in tears because I knew God was doing something in me at that very moment.  I said a quick, silent prayer that my smoking addiction would be one of those things that was removed from my life forever (I started smoking when I was 12 years old, and on this day, I was almost 26, having smoked for over half my life… 14 years.), and cried to God to please make me new, clean, and empower me to live my life for Jesus in every way from this day forward.  It was incredible… One week later, July 17th, 2000, I quit for good!  I truly believe that God delivered me from it because the desire completely left!  He actually made it easy for me. Ten years later: Today, July 17th, 2010… Today I celebrate 10 years of being a non-smoker!  I mark this day on the calendar… in RED every year, and I celebrate this victory in my heart every July 17th.  It was one of the biggest miracles God has ever done for me.  The pivotal moment was those minutes at my baptism when I felt God’s deep love for me.  I began trusting Him to be everything He says He is in my life.  He has never let me down.  I continue to trust Him for all things, and always remember the promise I made to live my life for Him… while standing waist-high in Lake Rebecca. I hope you also begin to mark...

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A Risk Worth Taking

I’ve dealt with two different situations recently where someone was upset with me for things I either did or said.  Let’s just be honest… I HATE when someone is mad at me.  I also hate when there are unresolved issues in any of my relationships… whether in my marriage, with friends, co-workers, or whatever.  My personality is such that if I know (or sense) there are issues, I can’t help but go to them and at least attempt to work it out.  I’d say it’s a force within me as strong as the pull of gravity! 🙂 I try to always be nice to people, and 95% of the time, they are nice right back to me.  Sometimes though, you have to make tough decisions or say things to people that are not easy (or considered nice), knowing there is a very real possibility they could get mad at you… or even hate you.  In other words, it’s risky! You always hope they will respond with understanding (rather than offense), and can see that your intent is not to hurt them.  You hope they see the heart behind what you do, or a hard truth you speak into their life… but how many of us know that is NOT always what happens?! Recently, I acquired information about someone and was faced with a hard decision of what to do about it.  So difficult… one of the hardest decisions I’ve made.  If I didn’t speak up, this particular situation would have the potential to negatively influence and affect many people.  I did what I believed to be the right thing, knowing there would most likely be relational ramifications.  I lost sleep and agonized over it until I actually made the decision.  I took a risk and did what I believe God was telling me to do. As usual, I acted quickly to resolve impending issues with this person.  I wanted to patch things up right away!  I found out very quickly that they did not want anything to do with me.  What I didn’t realize is that they had their own issues to work through—apart from me.  They needed time and distance from me.  A few months have passed and it seems like they have begun to soften toward me.  While I hope and pray that it will continue moving in that direction, I have peace in my heart with how I handled the situation.  I have kept the lines of communication open with them, so whenever they are ready to talk it out with me, they know I’m here. In much the same way, it is often risky business to do what God tells us to do (either in the Bible, or what He speaks to our heart) if we’re overly concerned with how someone will react or what they will think of us.  Putting our trust in God (who we don’t see) takes faith.  More than anyone, He wants us to have strong, healthy relationships, so when we decide to care more about what HE says, we’ll be able to make those hard decisions more easily. As you keep being nice to people :), and trusting God to show you the best way of handling the relational situations that come up in your life, I hope and pray that you have confidence in His leading… that you are not afraid… and that your love and dependence on Him is evident in your actions.  Speak the truth in love.  No more agonizing… and no more lost sleep, okay?  He will never lead you astray.  Fear of the unknown will only hold you back, but I promise that listening to the Lord is always a risk worth taking. Eph. 4:15 (Amplified) ~ Let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things… Psalm 78:53 (Message) ~ Then He led His people out like sheep, took His flock safely through the wilderness. He took good care of them; they had nothing to...

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

For the past month and a half, I’ve been pressing toward my fitness goals with new enthusiasm.  I am embarrassed to say that have been in this place a thousand times before… and failed.  I have a track record of starting off with gusto, only to find myself burnt out after a month (or less).  I’m not really one to start something new without telling anyone, but most times I later regret having let anyone in on my secret for the sheer embarrassment when I either fell off the wagon… or threw in the towel altogether—yet again.  Seriously, why is the follow-through so difficult? We all have our own reasons why we want to lose weight or get toned up, and we all have different goals and different obstacles to overcome (physical, mental, emotional).  It is so easy to look at someone else and compare yourself to them and were they’re at.  Before we get down on ourselves too quickly though, remember that we’re all on a journey to somewhere… from somewhere!  We don’t know how long it took them to get there and how many times they, too, have failed.  Comparing ourselves to anyone—in anything in life—will either leave us feeling very good or very bad about ourselves.  That’s dangerous.  A slippery slope. When I started off this time, I asked God (pleaded is more like it!) to show me a realistic and workable plan for me.  He simply said, ‘Wear your pedometer and get in 10,000 steps every day.’  (Depending on your stride, 10,000 steps is roughly 5 miles.)  So I measured my “normal” activity and realized on any given day, without a purposeful effort, I would only take 1,000-1,500 steps!  Yikes, no wonder I’ve gotten so flabby!  I found that a 1-hour walk (or two ½-hour walks) every day would accomplish my 10,000 steps. I can feel the difference, and I feel so much better since I started.  I thought for sure I would see results in the first week or two.  SURELY I’m burning calories and being more active than I’ve been in many months.  In 1 ½ months, the scale shows I’ve lost one pound.  What?!  One stinkin’ pound?  Thoughts of Biggest Loser contestants who’ve lost my desired twenty pounds in one WEEK begin whizzing through my head, and the Lord gently reminds me that I’m comparing again, and their journey is not mine. The Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me of this… 1)     I did ask Him for a plan that I can stick to—and won’t burn out on. 2)     This is not a diet… or training for a marathon; it’s a lifestyle that I can continue until I’m 100 years old. 3)     Things are changing on the inside, even when the scale doesn’t reflect it right away.  If I keep at it, the results WILL come. 4)     Don’t allow discouragement from external things (i.e. the scale, people…) to dictate my consistency or my commitment. 5)     When I’ve been walking consistently for a while, we’ll: 1) take a closer look at what I’m fueling my body with (food); and 2) step it up with more intense cardio/ strength/ resistance/ circuit training. 6)     We’re starting slow so we can finish strong. (I’ve always started strong… and never finished, so I am learning patience, trust, and many other lessons.) God knows what goals YOU want to accomplish, and He is always ready to give each of us a tailor-made plan that leads us to success. What has He spoken to YOUR heart?  Oftentimes what inspires one, will inspire another.  Leave me a comment… I’d love to hear about it!  Praying you achieve everything that’s on your heart to do! 1 Cor. 15:57 ~ But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 71:14 ~ But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and...

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