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Do you ever feel like God is working really hard on you some days?

Today I was reminded of a great deficiency in my life. Well, actually, one deficiency begets another begets another and so on.  There’s a pity party inside my head with a very exclusive guest list. It’s just Satan and me, but doubt and insecurity just arrived, and fear is expected any minute now.

I think it’s time for this party to end, though. I’m going to take Steven Furtick’s message to heart and look at this as yet another sign that it’s time to move on, time to make a change, and time to finally accept God’s invitation to accept the something greater I know He has planned for me.

And you can rest assured Satan, doubt, insecurity, and fear did not receive this invitation.

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Posted in 40 Bags in 40 Days

Mmmmm Strawberries

IMG_20140307_225715After a very long week, the last thing I wanted to do tonight was to clean something. But, I’m committed to this 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge so I had to think outside the box for this one.

My mom and I attended the Florida Strawberry Festival yesterday and of course we had to bring home some strawberries. Sixteen pounds of strawberries to be exact. Beautiful organic, sweet, delicious strawberries. We are going to be enjoying these berries for many months to come. Which leads me to tonight’s decluttering task. Instead of clearing out some pile of trash, I plopped down in front of the TV with the family, the strawberries, and a knife, and proceeded to prepare them for their little play date with a cooler full of dry ice tomorrow.

20140307_230821I’m counting this as a bag because I could have easily filled a grocery bag with the stems and 18 empty containers. Tomorrow we’ll freeze them and into the freezer they will go.

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So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

We read this verse in small group on Wednesday night. It really resonated with me and I’m thinking it’s one I may have to set a reminder to read daily. As much as I want to glorify God in everything I do, I fail more often than I care to admit. However, the wonderful thing is that I know I’m doing more now than I was a year ago. And, I’ll be doing more next year than I’m doing now.

Posted in 40 Bags in 40 Days, Inspired by Music, Uncategorized

First Love and Transformation

I took a vacation day today so I could go spend some time with my first love. Now, don’t go thinking I was stepping out on Gil today. It was nothing like that. The first love I’m referring to is the first BAND I fell in love with – The Oak Ridge Boys. I think they were the first band, or artist, that made me feel what one is supposed to feel when music touches your soul. You know, that feeling deep down, the one where you know a spark has been lit. And then every single time you hear their music or see them live, the spark just grows brighter. Well, I can tell you that today I’m absolutely beaming.

Even though my first concert was not The Oak Ridge Boys, I do think it was my second and third concert (my first was Marty Robbins and I was very young and have almost no memories of that). I have such fond memories of TORB on Hee Haw, or some music awards show. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, we were lucky to catch our favorite artists on one of the three channels maybe 2 or 3 times a year. But when we did, it was a family affair. For me, The Oak Ridge Boys represent a time of innocence. It was before I discovered boys and rock and roll,  and my dad was the only man in my life.  He loved this group of musicians, and because of his and my mom’s love for them, I loved them too.

As I developed into a teenager, my childhood innocence faded. It was replaced by boys, and booze and even a few drugs along the way. The Oak Ridge Boys were replaced by Iron Maiden, Ozzie Osborne, and Judas Priest. Family time was no longer spent watching silly variety shows. Actually, family time became much less important as time with my friends took priority. What was a simple child who loved God, family, and country music, became a teenager who wanted none of that.

I drifted far away from the things that were important to me, not the least of which was God. It seems that overnight, I went from a child with a dream to become a missionary to a young woman who wanted nothing to do with God or His churches. I’m not even sure what happened, or even when it happened. All I know is that for many years, God was nothing more than an afterthought, much like the music of The Oak Ridge Boys during that time.

IMG_8736Now, fast forward 30-35 years. As much as I love TORB’s county and crossover music, their incredible harmonies when singing the Lord’s praises is what melts me now. During the show today, they all came together on stage and sang Life’s Railway to Heaven, a capella. And it was truly Heaven inspired.  As the Boys beautifully sang these lyrics, my heart opened up and was filled with the knowledge that no matter what path leads us to God, the important thing is that it LEADS us to Him.

Life is like a mountain railroad
With an engineer that’s brave
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave

Watch the curves, the fills, and tunnels
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eyes upon the rail

Blessed Savior, Thou will guide us
Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In that great forevermore

As you roll across the trestle,
Spanning Jordon’s swelling tide.
You’ll behold the Union Depot into which your train will glide.
There you’ll meet the superintendent,
God the Father, God the Son.
With a hearty joyous greetings:
“Weary Pilgrims Welcome Home”

The beautiful thing about God is that he extends His grace to the lost and fallen. God loves me as much today as He did when I was a young girl living for Him. What I didn’t know during those dark years was that God was faithfully pursuing me. I was running and turning my back, but He never did. Every sin then and every sin now is forgiven. He is waiting for me with His arms wide open, ready to welcome me home.

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Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Today’s 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge was another small success, but a success nonetheless. Because I took the day off work, I was able to get in several hours of quality computer time this morning. I caught up on several blogs and even cleaned out several hundred emails. These are two items on my declutter list that I hope to work on each day, little by little. Even though these non-stuff items don’t get a bag sticker today, I did check two items off my list.  I headed off the the bathroom with the intent to only clean out my medicine cabinet, as task that should have taken me only a few minutes. Because so few items needed to be tossed, I decided to go ahead and tackle my other cabinet of miscellaneous items and my makeup. The result was another stuffed grocery bag in the trash.

Sadly, though, I failed to start YouVersion at the beginning of my task and missed out on about 15 minutes of more bible time. I wasn’t going to let that discourage me though. I came back to the computer and pulled up an unread email from Joyce Meyer’s 3030 Challenge. I read her devotional and several bible passages.  I love the verse above. It speaks to my blog post today, as well as this project I’m working on. I’m changing my mind, my habits, and my life.  God is transforming me and I’m loving it!

Posted in 40 Bags in 40 Days

Unmentionables

Today’s the day. And boy was it a doozy. I knew starting my 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge on a Wednesday (our busiest day and longest day of the week) would be difficult, but I was determined to start on Ash Wednesday no matter what. The day started with me oversleeping, and of course that set the tone for the rest of the day. I seemed to be a step behind all of my plans and all of the plans others made for me all day long. But, I made it. I got through my work day, a power meeting in the afternoon, my drive home, some more work, a quick dinner prep, and then finished out the marathon day with our church small group.

But, oh wait, that wasn’t the end of my day. I still needed to fill a bag with crap. At 10Pm at night, I’m not really too excited about tackling some big project from my list so I stared at my Declutter list and picked something quick.  20140305_224652

I’m really glad I had the forethought in my planning to include some small projects for days like today, when I’m not up for tackling something that would take hours. For today, I decided to clear out my undies. You know, those undergarments that you hang onto for years because they are comfortable, but would die if you actually got caught wearing them. And I can’t be the only one who hoards single socks in the hopes the missing match will suddenly appear 3 years down the road.

20140305_215130After choosing my project, I grabbed my camera and a grocery bag and headed into my closet to knock this one out.  Now, as you can see from this picture, my closet is NOT a welcoming place. It’s actually quite scary and has even been known to drive my dear (OCD suffering) husband Gil away in tears. It is for this reason I’m only sharing a little tiny photo of a very specific area with you today. Not every project on my list is as daunting as my closet and I don’t want to scar you all with the whole disaster zone on the very first day. Baby steps, people, baby steps.  

The white drawer on top is where I keep my undies. As you can see, it sometimes become a catch all for other clothing because, well, I’m too lazy to grab a hanger from 12 inches away and hang them up. You can also see that when putting my laundry away, I’m guilty of gingerly tossing it from the doorway and what happens is that random unmentionables are left just hang out of the drawer, or on the floor.  The wire basket at the bottom of the photo is my sock drawer. And yes, that’s a small wallet/bag I threw in there when unpacking another bag over the weekend. I have no idea why I chose to put it there instead of one of the wire basket just to the right where I actually keep my small bags. And no, I wasn’t drunk at the time.

I turned on YouVersion, selected the book of Mark, and hit play.  Honestly, the whole process of cleaning out the two drawers and matching up my socks only took about 15 minutes. But, in that 15 minutes I was able to listen to three whole chapters of the bible. That’s three chapters more than I would have read today and how awesome is THAT. (And for the sake of clarification and in an attempt to prevent my husband from calling me out publicly, let me go ahead and say that for me, read = listens, so when I say that I’m “reading” something, I really mean I’m “listening” to someone read something to me. )

AND I was able to fill a bag and actually toss it in the trash.20140305_221107

AND I did this. One item done and one bag filled and removed from my house.20140305_223139

In small group tonight we talked about how we sometimes forget to celebrate the little things. Well, I’m taking that lesson to heart tonight as I grin from ear to ear while I reflect on 15 minutes of decluttering a small section of my closet and filling my spirit with the Word of God. 

The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. – Mark 1:12-13

Posted in 40 Bags in 40 Days

Declutter Body, Mind, and Spirit

Declutter.

That’s my word of 2014. I had never picked a word before, but I decided I would try something different this year.  I spent a lot of time praying and reflecting in December on what my word should be. And in true God fashion, He gave it to me loud and clear.

It all started with a diet. Yep, you read that right. The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy to be exact. This diet is amazing and I’ll spare you the many pages on which I could gush on and on about how great this new way of thinking and eating has been. Suffice it to say that because of the planning and preparation involved in doing this diet, I realized I had to make some changes in many aspects of my life. It was in the planning that I realized God had given me my word and He was showing me how to apply it to every aspect of my life.

To simplify or get rid of mess, disorder, and complications.

This is the definition that sums up why I chose declutter as my word this year. I realized quickly while studying for the diet, we would be making a lot of changes because we would be eating clean and whole and healthful. No more boxes, cans, or fast food. No more convenience. As a result of this, I realized I would be getting rid of the mess and disorder within my body, which has allowed me to declutter my mind a bit along the way.

I’m finding more focus in my day now that I’ve eliminated things like caffeine, sugar and wheat from my diet. I honestly had no idea what impact those items had on me, until I stopped consuming them. I think the clearer mind has a lot to do with the fact that I actually sleep from the time I lay down until my alarm wakes me in the morning. This is new to me. It’s been years since I’ve slept through the night. I guess you could say that I’ve decluttered my subconscious in a way that it quiets down and allows me to get a full night’s sleep, uninterrupted by dreams and restlessness. I still have a long way to go with the decluttering of the mind, but I’m off to a great start.

The last area of my life that I want to concentrate on is my spiritual life. As much as I love God, I really suck at giving Him a special time in my day. I’m too busy, too sleepy, too lazy – just pick one and that the excuse I use daily to not read the Word. Now, don’t misunderstand, I spend a lot of my day listing to contemporary Christian music, or catching up on sermons during my drive to work. It’s not like I ignore Him completely, but I do not set aside specific time for Him each day.

I think I’ve found the solution and it’s crazy how perfectly this fits into my theme of decluttering.  It’s so perfectly crazy that one would think God had it hand delivered by Gabriel himself. I prefer to think God has a Pinterest account and he pinned the following just for me to see only days before Lent.

Of course the 40 Bags in 40 Days immediately caught my attention due to the significance of the number 40 in the bible. Then I started reading the blog post and sure enough, the blogger is intentionally starting this challenge to coincide with Lent.  Ann Marie Heasley of White House Black Shutters, is issuing a challenge to “focus on cleaning one area per day…declutter, simplify, decrapify (don’t you LOVE that word), and get rid of things you don’t need. The goal is one bag a day…” She even provides you with a handy printable to list your 40 areas so you can plan your attack on clutter.

Now, you may be asking, what does this challenge have to do with decluttering my spiritual life. Well, here’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to accept the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge with a twist. I’m going to specifically set aside time each day to declutter an area, and I’m going to listen to God’s word while I do it. I’m going to start with Mark and see where the Lord takes me. YouVersion is going to become my very best friend.  Well, that, and a box Hefty garbage bags.

To organize and prioritize

I guess you could say that’s exactly what the next 40 days will be for me. I’ll be observing Lent by getting rid of some earthly belongings, organizing what’s left, and making time with God a priority in my day.