Cluttered Home: Cluttered Mind: Cluttered Soul

Cluttered Home: Cluttered Mind: Cluttered Soul

Picture this… a mom, who is trying her best to keep her kids fed and thriving and learning and not fighting and the house clean and the dishes clean and the toys put away and the kids entertained and the clothes put away and the dog fed and the bathrooms wiped down and the kitchen sanitized and the carpet looking as best it can and her husband de-stressed at home and the car vacuumed and the flowers alive

Tired yet?

Yeah, me too.  Sometimes in my day I can’t seem to keep my head above water, or above the clutter.  Some days I have to literally walk around with my head looking up so as not to be burdened by all the stuff collecting in my home.  Please say you can relate!

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my closet, before

I truly believe whether you are a stay a home mom, a working mom, a single mom, or not a mom at all, we all have the struggle with STUFF.  And I believe that the society that we live in has made us obsessed with having more.  Doing more. Being more.  So when my days get heavy with the hard stuff and my house can’t even be a calming, peaceful retreat, I cannot seem to get a grasp on any one thing. 

I am so excited to share this book with you! The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing a.k.a The KonMari Method.

It was recommended by a friend, so I read it as quickly as I could.  Along the way, I shared some ideas with my husband.  He was so quickly on board that he wanted to get started even before I finished reading the book! Ha!

So what did we do?  Called up my parents and asked if they could watch our kids so that we could…CLEAN!  I know.  We are some wild and crazy kids! 

I was drowning so deep in my things that

Once we began, the KonMari rules started to make sense.  For example, the book recommends starting with categories of items instead of rooms. The author suggests touching each piece to truly part with it. We asked ourselves if different items sparked joy in our life, among other rules outlined in the book.  Initially, we mocked the rules, but as we worked through the process, we began to praise them. 

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my closet, mostly done!

 

To be honest, it has been a spiritual experience for me.  The Lord asks the rich ruler to give all of his posessions away — could I do that?  The Lord calls me to be a good steward of what I have been given, and honestly, if I can’t even be joyful in my home, am I being a good steward in it?  Can I serve my kids, husband, friends, and family well?  My problem was that I was drowning so deep in my things that I couldn’t be a good mom or wife or daughter of the King.  I wasn’t a good version of myself. 

I am learning through my imperfections that the Lord wants me as I am.  But I have to make room in my life to hear Him.   I must make room in my life and in my home to learn and worship Him in all areas. This means willingly giving up things that are currently taking up space to make room for more of God.  

Over the next several weeks, maybe even months — because truly this is a process — Creating a Great Day will:

  • Weekly have a “KonMari Spiritual Adventures” thread on Facebook as a way to encourage each other on this journey.  Post what you feel comfortable with.  This is not about embarrassing anyone but truly freeing ourselves from physical stuff so that spiritually we can be ready for any adventure God takes us on.  
  • Every few weeks encourage you to tackle a new area of your house with a Blog post.  Of course, we will be following the KonMari method so we will go in her order but detail it out for you, just in case you don’t know it, sharing our funny stories and our spiritual lessons.
Will you join us on the KonMari Adventure with a Spiritual Twist of freeing ourselves up physically and spiritually to do God’s will?  

Don’t have a copy of the book?  No problem!  Enter to win a copy.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” Book Giveway

This is not a sponsored post.  Creating a Great Day is providing the book for this giveaway because we have found this to be helpful to us.

Although the book itself isn’t spiritual in nature, it does provide a lot of springboard applications that can be used to tidy up our hearts as well as our homes.

Attacking the Closet! {KonMari Spiritual Adventures}

KonMari home, mind, and soul

Praying Secret Agent Prayers

Praying Secret Agent Prayers

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

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Playing Hide and Seek is one of the funnest games for kids. But what if we added a twist and created a game with prayers? A game where others get blessed, but don’t know by whom?  This is the Secret Agent Prayer Game!

Praying Like Secret Agents

To explain how to be a prayer secret agent, grab this month’s free Family Time Training Activity called Secret Agent Prayers.

It’s perfectly explains how there is a time and a place for everything and that includes prayer.

Sometimes, we pray publicly where others can hear and sometimes we pray secret agent style!

The Blessing of a Secret Agent Prayer

Knowing that someone has taken the time to pray specifically for you is one of the biggest blessings in life. But keeping that prayer anonymous can be difficult and a LOT of FUN!

First we start with praying about for whom we should pray?

God knows who needs extra blessings and prayers today. So let’s ask Him.

God, you know you needs extra prayers today. Who can I send a prayer to today?

Whomever comes to mind, write a prayer for them.

You can also write a prayer for someone you might see that day or someone who has blessed you!

Here are some ideas:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Other Family Members (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc)
  • Teachers
  • Neighbors
  • Workers from businesses you frequent
  • The person who is on the street corner
  • Missionaries

I had each of our four older kids whisper into my ear who they chose to pray for so that the others wouldn’t know.

Now, write out the secret agent prayers!

Writing out prayers is a wonderful gift both for the writer and the recipient.

Sometimes, asking a child to write out a prayer might make them freeze. If you need, prompt them with your own words or let them copy these words onto their own paper.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

It’s fantastic if your kids will write it in their own handwriting. It shows an extra level of care that one took the time to personally write the note. But if they can’t write yet, let them color and add their own flair to the written prayer.

This should be something fun and enjoyable, so if writing is a sore spot for kids, then find a way to allow them to personalize it. Maybe, clip out letters out of a magazine and allow them to glue the letters onto a page.

One of our kids, jumped up and down excitedly asking if s/he could include a picture drawing with the prayer. Whatever gets them excited to pray for someone else is great!  Let is be as simple or intricate as they are willing to create.

Most importantly, include who it is for BUT do not sign the prayer with your name!

Remember, it’s a secret agent prayer, so they will be blessed without knowing who did it.

Time to Deliver our Secret Agent Prayers

Now, it’s time to put on your secret agent hats and deliver the prayers. This might take some extra thought.

You want to deliver the prayer without the recipient knowing who it’s from. It’s ok if they find out but then it’s not a real secret agent prayer.

How to deliver your secret agent prayers?
  • Tape a secret agent prayer to a neighbors door or car window.
  • Send the prayer in the mail.
  • Slide it inside your friend’s locker at school.
  • Place it on your teacher’s desk.
  • Slip it into a book that the person is reading.
  • Write a prayer on the mirror so others will see it with the shower steam.
  • Hide it in a lunch box or a cereal box.

What other ways can they think of?

Interestingly enough, a couple of our kids chose to pray for people who we cannot deliver a letter to at the moment. For example, one wanted to pray for a homeless lady s/he gifted something to a couple of years ago. Another wanted to pray for their great-grandmother who has already passed. We talked about how even though we can’t deliver a physical prayer to them, we can still pray to God who will use that prayer for his glory.

Teaching our kids to pray anytime about anything is the most important lesson to gift them!

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18

Become a Total Access Member Now from August 23 – 28, 2018!

Family Time Training activities help us teach our kids and grandkids how to live out what the Bible teaches. Get access to all their activities that can be done in 20 minutes or less by becoming a Family Time Total Access member. 

The opportunity to become a Total Access member only happens a few times a year and now through August 28 is one of those moments. Since you are a Creating a Great Day reader, you can get an extra 10% off the annual membership just by using this discount code – CGDFAM818

Don’t miss the opportunity to unlimited access of 100s of fun Bible activities for your family! Check out the details here: members.famtime.com.

I love to use these activities when my kids have a question and I’m not quit sure how to explain it in a way that will stick. These activities help biblical concepts stick in their minds for years!

Be encouraged by these Family Time Training Activities as well!

Delayed Gratification Knocking Sin Out of Our Lives Kindness Cookies Prayer Wall

The Years at Home Filling Our Time-Capsule Well

The Years at Home Filling Our Time-Capsule Well

Follow Me

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
Follow Me

I look on, my gaze resting on her smiling face. She reaches her hand for the stem before her and gently plucks it, her smiling eyes turning around to meet mine. I have watched her harvest the dandelions of the field on many occasions, but this time was different. Like iron lead, so was the lump that I found resting in my throat.  I worked to etch the soft tendrils framing her face full of wonder and glee, this moment, I wanted to freeze in my mind. I listened even closer to the sound of her giggle, burning its melody into my memory. The escalator of time that she was standing on was weighing heavy on me. I watched her blow the seeds into the wind. I drop another memory into my motherhood time-capsule. The words are swishing around in my heart, “The days are long, but the years are short”. The sunlight dances on her hair; and I ask for not a moment to be wasted.

Before the bloom

These are the years where the soft buds of our children are forming. We only have so long, or rather so little time, before the blossom appears. If we are not careful, the blossom will have taken place and left us missing out on the joy and wonder of the bloom. A blossom never returns to the bud, time does not allow for such wishes.

The days of growth are crucial – they are the slow days of tending. If we are so focused on the task, we miss the joy of who it is we are caring. Sometimes we look so forward to seeing the blossom, that we forget about the wonder of the bud in-waiting.  Tending the tender buds, guarding for the day of its blossom – it is a task of patience, resilience, and attentiveness. But then the bloom… and the years of attending the bud are but a memory. While the blossom will be beautiful and we will love its new season of growth, I imagine there will be an ache in the remembrance of caring for the bud.

So, as the laughter flows, let us give thanks for the years before the bloom. In the stormy seasons, let us ask for wisdom where we have to guard and tend buds carefully. When joy falls like rain, let us tuck away those memories and store them for when seasons of drought come along.

The years before the bloom are hard, but they are also glorious.

Capturing moments

As we sit here, let us remember the gift of time-present. Laundry will eventually lessen, the messes will gradually stop showing up in various spaces of our home, and sleep will find its way back to us again. But what we have right now…we will never be able to recapture. It happens and it is over, just like that. The winds of change blowing through can not be sucked back in and held.

We cannot pretend that everyday will be perfect. But we can pray for every day to be captured for God’s glory and our good. We can begin by asking for a shift in our mindset and attitude. Let us be the ones who take the little time we have with our children and cultivate it well. The time-capsule of motherhood is before us, may we fill it well.

Ideas to nourish time with your children

  • Spending time in God’s Word together.
    • This is about enjoying God with your children. We can easily turn this into a lesson for them or we may approach this dryly…Enter into this time with reverence and awe. Point to the holiness of God and His goodness. Be in wonder of Him ALONG with your children. Make this time about worshiping Him.
  • Explore nature together
    • Here is a book that can help you along with this.
  • Unplug.
    • A time set aside that is device-free. No phones, tablets, or screens of any kind. Be present with each other. Laugh together. Enjoy conversation with each other.
  • Read books together
  • Start a new hobby together
    • Learn how to – knit, draw, cook, bake, build, etc. Let this be a group effort
  • Visit a local farm to pick fresh fruit.
  • Play board/card games

 

Starting some of these things (or all of them) might be difficult, but it will be worth it. Don’t waste away the years. Hold on to them and may your time spent in them be rich and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

Hanging on to Dollar Bills: a Mini Guide to Big Saving and Less Spending

I’m a natural saver. I blame it on my dad. From the age of thirteen (and my first official job), my dad taught me to save. His method for my paycheck savings involved putting 50% in a bank account to be “saved” and the rest I could spend however I wanted.  I later figured out the purpose to my “saving” was so he could “borrow” (and not necessarily return) the money for family expenses that he and my mom couldn’t afford (or didn’t budget for).  Sometimes that meant 50% of my paycheck went toward groceries, school supplies, or gas for the car.  While this is not an example I would encourage parents to follow, it did get me into a habit of saving.

With Dollar Bills Come Great Responsibility

Over the years, I’ve read books and blogs, watched videos, and taught courses on how to save and spend wisely.  That by no means makes me an expert, but I have learned a thing or two about making the money that comes in last as long as possible. (I attribute this newfound interest in learning to my husband, who is an excellent teacher of good methods of handling money and all things finance-related.)
Every dollar is important (of great worth), and we have a God-inherent responsibility to be a great steward of each dollar we get.

(Insert song: She works hard for the money!)  We work hard for our money, don’t we, friends? Since we work hard to earn it, we need to learn to work hard to save it and spend it.

Today’s post is about spending!  It’s a little bit about saving too–frugal ways that allow us to hold onto those dollars so they last a little longer.

Couponing Done Easier

Ok, I’ve tried the whole Extreme Couponing thing. It doesn’t work for me!  To those of you who do it well, I commend you!  I’m not going to teach you anything extreme.  Instead, I’ll show you slow, diligent moderation.  If you want extreme, check out some of the Queen C’s (C for Coupons!) online like: Krazy Koupon Lady.

Frugal Couponing:  Guidelines I use when couponing

1.  Only coupon what you normally buy anyway.

I used to get caught up in all the coupons: “Buy 2, get 1 free.” “Buy 2, save 50 cents.” “Save $ on over-priced items that wouldn’t normally end up in the shopping cart and are a more expensive alternative even with the coupon.”

Don’t fall for these marketing techniques unless it’s:

a) something you need,
b) something you’re buying anyway,
c) something you need that quantity of, or
d) the best alternative, price-quality wise–if there’s a cheaper alternative you and your family can live with “this time,” then save and go for the cheaper alternative.

Side Note about “This Time”:  Part of being frugal (and a good steward of resources) is to keep a “this time” attitude.  It puts into perspective the short life of each purchase. When comparing brands and prices, think about the life of the product.  How long will it last? One week? A month?  Will my family survive with (cheaper toilet paper or generic ketchup) for just this month?  What about every other month?  Can they handle a cheaper, generic brand just this one time?  You might argue that the difference in price is only a dollar, or even only few cents.  

Remember our goal: to hang onto each dollar a little bit longer. That includes those few cents of savings on each item in the cart. It’s the small things. In order to be more frugal, we have to learn to make small changes now. Small changes now will turn into big changes later.  Every penny counts.  Don’t spend it “just because you have a coupon.”

2.  Use coupon apps.

There are so many money-saving apps out there. Depending on your city, some work better than others.  It might take some trial and error to find the apps that work best for you and your region, but if you want to save money, it’s worth the time to figure out.

Personally, I only use apps that give me real cash savings or cash back, not the ones that work on a points system.  There are some good points systems, but right now, I focus on real, immediate cash.

My favorite apps are:

  • Walmart Savings Catcher – download your receipt after each purchase and watch the real cash grow.  Transfer to PayPal or a Walmart gift card.  They also have an online version: https://savingscatcher.walmart.com/.
  • Kroger and Whole Foods coupon apps–because I don’t have to print anything.
  • I check the Krazy Coupon Lady app just for things I’m going to be buying anyway, so I don’t get caught up in the hype of spending gas, printer ink, and time running all over town to get free things or ‘money-maker’ things that I don’t need.  Time is worth spending frugally too!
  • Ibotta has become another favorite app.  I look for items I plan to buy, and then scan the item and receipt for cash back via PayPal or gift cards.
  • This app doesn’t usually have many items that I normally buy, but for the little time it takes to scroll through and upload receipts, I still consider Checkout 51 worthwhile.

Even if you average 25-50 cents per shopping trip (like me), that small change quickly adds up.  I’m currently at $5, but hey, that’s a free coffee!  Who doesn’t like free coffee? With Checkout 51, I can cash out when it reaches $20, in which case, who doesn’t like a free movie?  Or one hour of free babysitting? Compliments of a grocery app–yay!

3. Stay on Budget and Just Say No.

Have you noticed we live in an extremely high-consumption society?  The rest of the world calls us consumerists and gluttons.  Why do we let ourselves get caught up in the hype?

Part of frugal living is just saying no.  No to things we don’t need.  Delaying ‘wants’ until we’ve saved up to pay cash for them, which means saying ‘no’ for right now.  There is a time to spend.  Our culture is REALLY good at it.  Admit it, so are you!  I definitely am!

First, though, we need to learn to save.  Save for future needs, for emergencies, for wants.  Save just to save.  If you’re wondering why we learn to be frugal, it’s for those reasons just listed.

A Side Note on Saving:

Saving is the foundation to Big Giving.  Do you ever wish you had enough money to support a missionary for an entire year or build a hospital in a small village? Do you ever think about what it would be like to fund an entire non-profit event?  Or sponsor your kids’ sports team or band trip?

People who give big first had to learn to save big. I recently read that somewhere.  They learned to say no to things they didn’t need so that later, they could enjoy (and appreciate) the things they wanted.  To learn to save big, start small. Start with small, frugal decisions.  Talk it through with your spouse, kids, and friends.  Get them on board and excited.  They’ll hold you accountable and learn along the way!  Who knows? Maybe they’ll do this with you!  It’s so much more fun together!

Being frugal doesn’t have to mean turning into a skimpy cheapskate, but if we learn how to be thoughtful and conscientious about our spending–and saving–we will be on a good path to better things in the future.

Have any other easy couponing tips or apps to share?

hanging on to dollar bills_by tina
Introducing Quiet Time And Sticking To It!

Introducing Quiet Time And Sticking To It!

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

Have you ever felt completely tapped out?  Do you find yourself at 3:00 pulling your hair out and searching for a chocolate bar (or ice cream, or coke, or wine)? I know I have, and let me begin by saying that I don’t think this is something that we have to accept as a “normal” part of motherhood.  Let me tell you what saved me from this post-lunch, pre-dinner, still-have-2.5-hours-until-Dad-gets-home-disaster. The miracle answer?

Quiet Time

What is this magical cure called quiet time you might ask?  I’m so glad you did!  I discovered quiet time several years ago.  I cannot remember what particular atrocity brought me to my wits’ end that fateful day, however if I had to wager a guess, it was probably some combination of too many requests to entertain one child while another screamed and clung to my legs for dear life.  You see, I never planned on playing Suzy Homemaker.  Oh, no, no!  My grand plan included slacks, business casual lunches, and a fulfilling career.

As humorous as it is for me to look back at those so-called dreams now, it’s necessary to see where I’m coming from.  Some moms just totally get it.  They were born to be moms.  They wear their hair just so and it’s always nice.  They don’t ever appear to lose their cool.  They plan fun outings and educational activities on a weekly basis.  They always have neat snacks packed in an uber-organized bag and they never run out of tissues.  All right so I may be stretching things a little here, but seriously, there are some moms who are just awesome. They just totally were made for this mom thing.

The Possibilities of Quiet Time

Let me tell you a secret–you can be too!  Oh believe me, friend, it is possible!  I too was doubtful.  I too was buried beneath the doubt and guilt that is parenting in the 21st century.  But fear not!  The answer for me was easy.  Enter: Quiet Time.  The magical one hour of each day that you can tell your children to go away and just be.  And then you know what?  You too can just be.  Think about it…the possibilities are ENDLESS!  You could shower!  Eat something!  Watch some TV!  Or simply stare blankly at the wall and just be one with yourself and your own thoughts.

This is the time I use to make those important phone calls, eat a snack without sharing, and open my bible.  We are constantly being encouraged as moms to rise before the children, open up our bibles and have some alone time with God to start the day off right.  Let me tell you that I’ve tried this and I have one thing to say about it, HAHAHA!  Seriously, my second child will rise when I rise.  If I’m up at 7:30, she’s up and asking for breakfast.  If I’m up at 6:00, she’s lumbering out of bed and asking what I’m doing and why is it still dark out?!

Psalm 32-6-8New International Version (NIV)6

No, rising before the children doesn’t work for me, so I use this time to catch up on my time with the Lord.  I’m not always successful in this endeavor.  I really struggle sometimes in having enough discipline to apply myself to His Word each day.  I feel like this can be a big battle for exhausted moms.  Hopefully starting a daily Quiet Time for yourself and your children can help make that battle a little easier, if that’s something you’re struggling with.

My best tips to get started with Quiet Time

1 – First, let me tell you that I’m not encouraging you to put your one-year-old in a room alone and shut the door.  

Independent play is something that does have an age factor to it.  For my kids, Quiet Time begins when they stop napping regularly.  For my son, that was sometime in his 4th year.  My daughter started at three.  If you have a two-year-old who has given up napping, you could try implementing a modified Quiet Time where the door stays open and the time is shortened to whatever is appropriate for that particular child.

2 – Regardless of when you begin, you’ll need to be prepared to work at it a bit.

When I began Quiet Time with my son, he was already fairly good at independent play.  He has always enjoyed creating things, so for him it was just another opportunity to make something awesome.  My daughter, on the other hand, was quite a bit younger, and being the second child, was used to always having someone else around.  She took some work, but through perseverance, we made it through.

I suggest beginning with a short amount of time when you first implement Quiet Time.  

3 – Remember to lay the ground rules and reiterate it a few times. 

Children learn through repetition, so it won’t hurt to have them recite the rules back to you after you’ve told them what you expect.  For us the expectations are:

  • You will be quiet while you are in Quiet Time.  You may listen to music or a book on CD, you may talk or sing, however your noise level should not reach me in the living room.
  • You are expected to enter Quiet Time with whatever you think is necessary to get you through the hour.  If you need a cup of water, snack, special toy, coloring book, etc., please gather your things on your way to your room.
  • If you need to come out, make sure it is for a legitimate reason.  You may come out to use the restroom, ask me an urgent question, or tell me something very important.  However, if you continue to come out of Quiet Time before time is up, you’ll receive extra time in your room.
  • When Quiet Time is over, Mom WILL come and get you.  I will not just leave you in there.
  • You are expected to do a quick pick-up in your room at the end of Quiet Time.
Now, please know that I am not some crazy rule Nazi.  

My children frequently come out to tell me that they made something super awesome or to ask if Quiet Time is over; however, I try to limit their chances before they get a warning.  I always remind them that Quiet Time is for everyone and that includes me.  If they come out, they are interrupting my Quiet Time as well as possibly disrupting their siblings.  These are the rules that work well for our family.  You’ll have to think about what works best for your family.

I did get pretty lax with Quiet Time over the summer, and let me tell you that after a few months I was getting pretty cranky and so were the kids!

Luckily, I recognized that I had been neglecting Quiet Time, which essentially leaves no time for myself.  So I would say that once you get it going, you should really think hard about taking a long break.  My kids don’t do Quiet Time 365 days a year.  Some days we have play dates, other days we’re out and about, and of course weekends are family time, so they have plenty of non-Quiet Time days.  However, taking a long break over summer had everybody gnashing teeth and lashing out at one another.

4 – Independent play is so beneficial for children that it really is something we should encourage.

In a culture that places an emphasis on scheduled activities and so many group get-togethers for children, it’s very important for kids to not only know how to entertain themselves, but to really be able to open their minds and explore their abilities.  I encourage everyone to do some more research if you’re unsure about the benefits of independent play.  A great place to start is here.

When are you able to get in your alone time with the Lord?

Do you implement some type of Quiet Time in your home?  What does it look like for your family?  

 

Crumbs in the Butter, Butter in the Jam

Crumbs in the Butter, Butter in the Jam

How many of us grew up with the kitchen etiquette:  No dirty butter knives in the jam jar! Use a spoon!

Maybe you are laughing at the absurdity of trying to convince four kids and a husband to follow such etiquette, as you survey a breakfast table laden with glaciers of peanut butter, jelly and Cheerios, lakes of milk, juice, and coffee, and in the distance, slopes of dishes the size of Kilimanjaro threatening eruption… You are grateful to not have one more spoon to wash!

It’s not that it’s a bad rule.  The jelly thinks it’s a great rule.  But how many of these rules do we hold so tightly to, to the extent of interfering with our joy?

The enemy, often successfully, uses too many things to rob our joy. 

It’s time we make a couple of new pacts for Grace’s sake:

NOTHING Blocks Out the Joy of the Lord.

“Neither death nor life, angels nor demons, fears for today nor worries about tomorrow…can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38, NLT)  Since nothing can separate us from God’s love, that in itself should be enough to keep us filled up with His joy!

GRACE Flows Freely Through Me.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has freely poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” (Ephesians 1:6)  Extending that grace we’ve accepted from God to those around us will in turn add another drop of joy in our heart.

The list of replaceable things:

  • Those fancy dishes from that one fancy store that you secretly use when no one else is home because naturally, no one else can be trusted.
  • That cute vase knocked over by a house guest (wasn’t it a garage sale find anyway?)
  • The DIY project it took 6 months to complete between sick kids, school projects, birthday cakes, broken things requiring immediate attention and priority repair…

The list of forgivable things:

  • An excited voice waking the baby
  • Trash day forgotten, again
  • Oh, those dishes–is there no one who will automatically rescue the mound without solicitation?!
  • Toast crumbs in the butter dish
  • Gloppy remnants of butter in the jar of jam

We can choose to focus on “all the things” that irritate us and allow dissension or we can swing our thoughts in the direction of the graceful, compassionate peacemaker and emanate His character.

We can choose to focus on -all the things” that irritate us and allow agitation or we can swing our thoughts in the direction of The Graceful Compassionate Peacemaker and emanate His character. (2)

 

— BEFORE WE CAN SWING, WE NEED TO CLEAN!  —

How can we change the focus of our thoughts?

Space Savers:

heart vaultemotion vaultmemory vaultStress, worries, annoyances: these all gluttonously consume much-needed valuable space in our precious heart, emotion & memory vaults.  Think about how a vault locks it’s valuables tightly inside, so that without a key, code, or thief, there’s no way in or out. Praise God, there’s a key (to the Kingdom, Christ Jesus), and a code (the Word of God), to protect us and to help us stand strong against Satan the thief!  Satan wants nothing more than to break into your heart vault, steal your precious joy, deceive you into forgetting you have God’s Grace, and fill your mind with frustration, bitterness, loneliness, and misery.  We have to clean out our vaults and seal them with the things of God.

The list of things that can be removed:
  • Fretting over mud on the floor
  • Nagging to lower the toilet seat
  • Harsh disciplining for an accidental spill
  • All the other things going through your mind right now

What if we choose to do a clean sweep of the unessential annoyances & worries from within our precious selves, and decide to be un-offend-able (unable to be offended).

Think of the space in our hearts and brains that would be suddenly empty, free, and clear!  Like a freshly cleaned out pantry, ready to be restocked.  I don’t know about you, but I could use all the extra shelf space I can get–in the pantry and the brain!

Once we get all that sticky stress, anxiety,  nagging, fretting, micro-managing, control-freaking, OCD-ing, perfecting and pet-peeving thrown out, we’ve got SO MUCH EMPTY space to fill!

I guarantee by switching our focus to things of real & lasting importance, it will:

1) put us in a better mood–which leads to people who actually want to be around us! (So they weren’t avoiding me because I forgot to wear deodorant?!)

2) gives us energy–no workout session or green grass drink necessary this time (though I am an advocate of all things healthy!) and

3) makes room in our “pantry-vault” to think about lots of other cool stuff.

The list of things to keep safe:

So, think instead on these things. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is …

Truth – God IS good, His mercies are everlasting (Psalm 100:5, KJV)

Honor – God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7); He looks past the person to the position (child of God).

Right – God will always do what is right. Not opinion vs opinion, His justice triumphs over that which is morally wrong (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 32:4)

Lovely – How lovely is your dwelling place! (Psalm 84); How lovely are the works of His hands – flowers, butterflies, a hug between siblings, a smile.

Commendable – All that Jesus went through for our sake; It is commendable if someone endures the pain of unjust suffering because they are mindful of God (1 Peter 2:19)

Virtuous – He gives wisdom to all who ask; Be strong and courageous; Display modesty and self-control; She who has clean hands and a pure heart will stand in the Lord’s Holy Place (Psalm 24:3)

Praiseworthy – Why am I discouraged? I will put my hope in God…Yet I will praise Him (Psalm 43:5); Though the house is a wreck…yet I will praise Him.  Though there’s yet another toddler mess to clean up, I will praise God for this creative child, and praise the creation made with those tiny hands!

The list of things that summarize:

Clean out all the things from within you that are robbing joy and keeping you from receiving and extending grace.  Swing your thoughts to the things of real and lasting importance.  May God’s grace and the joy of the Lord fill you.  May you share the never-ending bounty of grace with all the people in your life.

 

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