Declutter your home and heart for the new year

Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti
Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti

My husband Ray has been to Haiti on mission trips about 5 times, to help our pastor friends Jay and Linda Threadgill of Fishers of Men Ministries International, including after the 7.0m earthquake in 2010 when he set up a medical clinic treating 200 to 300 injured and ill patients a day.

On his third trip there, I went with him. My heart hurt for the poor people of Haiti, and I learned many things there. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the trash problem. The trash is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. On seemingly every corner, I saw garbage several feet high and wide and was horrified.

Pigs in Haiti trash Image source: http://www.bryankrahn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/haiti-pigs-1024x768.jpg
Pigs in Haiti trash
Image source: http://www.bryankrahn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/haiti-pigs-1024×768.jpg

I couldn’t stop talking about it to the point where Ray’s friend Shawn made a running bet with Ray that Ray had to pay him $1.00 for every time I talked about the trash. I was unaware of the bet, but began noticing after awhile that Ray would groan every time I mentioned it and Shawn would start laughing. After awhile, Ray owed him so much money that he had to stop the bet! They finally told me about it, and I told Shawn to give Ray his money back or give it to pastor Jay for the people of Haiti.

Once dubbed “The Pearl of the Antilles” in the 1950’s, Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there’s nowhere to dispose of the garbage. Many people have to climb over it or wade through it to get anywhere!

The trash problem results in:

  • Mice, rats, roaches, and mosquitoes to  increase, and disease to spread.
  • The horrible smell and awful appearance are destroying the economy and are leading to a severe decrease in tourism, which could help lift the poor country out of aid dependency.
  • A toxic environment. Decaying waste produces methane gas, which when inhaled can lead to serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.
palm tree
palm tree
Image source: http://www.commercialsilk.com/toolkit/photos/ancient-palm1.jpg

One night as Shawn, Ray and I sat on a patio, surrounded by luscious emerald-green palm trees and it began to gently rain as we drank small bottles of cold Coke®, I sighed with contentment, thinking, “We are in Haiti! HAITI!” It was surreal and like an exciting adventure. Then suddenly, I saw a big mouse running across a nearby power line and wanted to go home!

The trash and the rodents mar the idyllic tropical beauty of the land. It’s the same in our lives.  At the end of each year, I intentionally “take out the trash” to declutter my home and my heart.

Here’s a few of the things I do to “declutter” physically and spiritually, which might help you, too. 

My office clutter
My office clutter

Last night I pulled everything out of my office closet to organize, declutter, and throw things away. When I posted this above picture on Facebook, some of the amusing responses from my friends were:

  • “Oh my, is that all you have? My paper tiger is huge!”
  • “I’m doing the samething. Paper mountain for me.”
  • “Me, too!”
  • “My husband and I cleaned out several boxes in the basement. I found an old journal from the 1980’s.”
  • “I have so much paper stuff it’s not even funny!”
  • “I’m doing the same. I love organizing and purging!”
  • “I just had a white peppermint mocha. Yummo!” (I had mentioned drinking a cappuccino while doing my pile!”

It seems I’m in good company here. What about you?

shredder
shredder

This time of year, one of my best friends is the shredder. The one I bought  (pictured above) is from Walmart, and I think it cost me about $30. I use it all the time. One reason I shred personal papers is for protection against identity theft. (Nineteen people become victims of identity theft every minute, with $15 billion stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015.)

shredder
shredder

Last night I went through the folders in my black file cabinet, pictured above. (I have a small one; that helps tame the paper tiger!). If there are any papers that I believe I will not need, I toss and shred them.

This is the part where it gets sticky. So many people are afraid to throw away papers (or other belongings) because “I might need this one day.” Do you really need it? That is the question. You will not need 3 copies of the same medical bill!  You don’t need papers from every place you’ve ever worked in your life. If you’re an author or speaker, you don’t need to keep copies of every single speaking presentation or old manuscripts. Purge!

folders
folders

Next, I organize the papers into various, colored folders. Write a short label for the contents of the folder, such as:

  • Present bills
  • Past due bills
  • Personal joint checking account
  • Business checking account
  • Paid off bills
  • Student loans

Your folders may have different labels. Since I am a published author and do research for my books, I also have a few folders for topics that I’m studying and writing about, such as:

papers
Woman under mountain of papers

The key is to not let the paper tiger get out of control. Remember, your goal here is to get your office, desk, closet, or whatever space you’re working in organized, neat, and clean to prepare for the coming year. A study by Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

You decide on what to keep and what to throw away and shred. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and lightness when you are finished! You can breathe easier.

Another good idea is to buy a fireproof, waterproof safe to keep all your important family documents in, such as:

  • Copies of each family member’s birth certificates;
  • Copies of each family member’s driver’s license;
  • Family members’ passports;
  • Rent agreement or mortgage papers;
  • Copies of your car insurance papers;
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance papers;
  • Retirement papers;
  • Bank information papers;
  • Spare keys to house, cars, safes, etc.
  • Any other papers that would be irreplaceable if lost or destroyed.

You can also get a safe at your local community bank to store these for you at a cost. I advise making copies of everything first.

A few other things I do at the end of the year to declutter and prepare for the new year:

  • Go through my closets and drawers. A good rule of thumb for giving away, selling, or throwing away an item is if you haven’t used it for a whole year (some say 6 months). Just think of how you’re making room for cute new clothes! 😀 The leggings from 3 years ago won’t make you this winter’s fashionista! Then again, I don’t care about that personally; I wear what I like and is comfortable. Just make sure that your clothes still fit, are still in good shape (not torn, buttons missing, badly faded, etc.), you feel attractive in them, and they’re suitable for the current season.
  • Deep clean my house and decorate it prettily. This includes those once a year jobs like dusting ceiling fans (or dusting in general! Just kidding!), cleaning out your fridge, freezer, oven, and/or dishwasher. You can run vinegar and water through your dishwasher while it’s empty to clean it. Go through each room of your home. Does it look clean, organized, warm and inviting? Is the decor a reflection of your personal style and taste? If not, it may be time to toss some things and decorate to reflect you more.  A woman’s home is her nest, and I think we should love where we live!
  • Knock down spider webs in the corners of every room, and in each closet and cabinet. This is a job I often leave to my husband Ray as I’m afraid of spiders! Spiders love to come inside your house during the colder months. They are not my furry little friends!
  • Check and replace light bulbs in each light or lamp and batteries in the smoke alarms. I usually do the light bulbs, and I ask Ray to check the smoke alarms since he used to be a fire chief and fireman. Smoke alarms save lives, and reduce fire deaths and injuries. The batteries should be checked once a month and the smoke alarm every 10 years. 
  • Check your car’s oil, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, tires, headlights and brake lights, and overall well-being (again, this is where I need Ray’s help!) You also might need a tune-up. Make sure your trunk has jumping cables, a spare tire, a flashlight, a blanket (this might be kept in the back seat in the event of breaking down during cold weather, plus snacks and water.)
  • Create an emergency kit for disasters for your home. (This is on my goals list!)
  • Clean out the garage.  Sweep, knock down spider webs, and organize it. Make sure your car(s) fit in there! Throw away any empty cans of charcoal fluid, car oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, Windex or other cleaners, etc. 

colored heart-lightstock.com

Last and definitely not least, I declutter my heart to prepare for the new year.  Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.”–Proverbs 4:23, NIV

I ask God to search my heart for any unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger, rage, malice, jealousy, envy, worry, fear, stress, or anything that displeases Him. I don’t want to carry those things with me into the new year.  I want a clean and pure heart, and to run unencumbered into 2017!

Take out the trash! Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any sin, anyone you need to forgive (including God or yourself), any unnecessary weight (such as stress, fear or anxiety) that will keep you from fulfilling your purpose walking in authority and in peace this year.

couple holding hands
couple holding hands

Examine your relationships with people this year: your marriage, your children, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your friends, your business peers or co-workers, your boss, your neighbors. Is the relationship good and close? Is there tension or unforgiveness between you, and if so, why?  

Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a  different result. If you do what you always did in this relationship–hold a grudge, blame, act snarky, criticize, withhold affection, ignore, take him or her for granted–you’ll get the same tired strife or distance!

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 (Berean Study Bible): “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” You might not be able to reconcile with everybody, but do your part and let God deal with the rest. When you prioritize a relationship and let the person know you sincerely care and humbly approach him or her (including apologies when necessary), it can work miracles.

Love is the greatest miracle of all. I’m asking God to give me more of a heart of unconditional, agape love for Him and others this coming year.

At other times, for the sake of your own emotional and mental health, you may need to set firm boundaries in relationships to protect yourself or those you love. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean allowing others to abuse or mistreat you.

studying the Bible
studying the Bible

The most important relationship of all for the coming year is between you and God. Is there any “trash” between you and Him—known sin? Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you anything hindering your intimacy with Him. Walk in obedience this coming year and you will experience His many blessings that He longs to bestow on you.

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.”–2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message

Are you ready to get rid of the trash, and declutter your home and heart? Don’t put it off. We have 3 more days before the end of this year! Let’s prepare for 2017 and make it your and my best year ever!

Image source: https://happynewyear2017.tips/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/new-year-2017-twitter-cover.jpg
Happy New Year 2017
Image source: https://happynewyear2017.tips/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/new-year-2017-twitter-cover.jpg

***Do you want to draw closer to God in the coming year? Check out my eBook on prayer at Amazon, Walking With God.

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5 Tips To Save Time in Your Work Day

5 Tips To Save Time in Your Work Day

time
time
Since we moved, I’ve discovered time-saving techniques to make the most productive use of my work day.

Here are 5 tips to help you save time and energy:

 

1. Paper plates. I can’t tell you what this simple, new tip has done for me and our family! Dirty dishes were a big problem every day in our home. How could 3 people dirty so many dishes (and so much laundry)?

When I was packing to move to our new home, I bought paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils since our plates were in boxes. Lo and behold, the counters and the sink stayed clear most of the time!

I now use paper plates most of the time other than supper when we make a determined effort to eat together as a family when Ray is off work. This has saved me hours of loading the dishwasher or washing dishes. I have more time now to devote to prayer, family and friends, and business.

waffle

Using paper plates and plastic utensils for snacks and most meals has greatly decreased stress for me (and my family wanting a clean fork or plate!). If you are green-conscious, you can use eco friendly, biodegradable, compostable plates.

 

2. Organize everything in your house. Our move kicked my administrative, organizational gift into high gear. Lately has been a major purging time, and it’s been wonderful!

I’ve gotten rid of so many things ~ taking 6 carloads of my stuff to a church in town who accepts donations, shredding papers, organizing homeschool records and putting over 1000 family pics in new photo albums, a goal I’ve had for literally years but never had time to do because I was homeschooling.

I still have to get a bookshelf (or bookshelves) for my office and go through a few boxes downstairs, but I’ve organized everything I own and it feels incredible. I can breathe a little now. I’ll have to discipline myself to stay on top of this.

You don’t have to wait to move to get organized. You can start now, today. Begin with a baby step, like Dave Ramsey’s financial Baby Step One. Choose one room, one closet, one drawer.

Relentlessly PURGE. Have no mercy on your stuff.  This is the key.

Create 3 piles:

a) Keep and organize;

b) Give away to Good Will or other donation place (or consign, sell on Ebay, Craigslist, or have a garage sale. I made $150 at the garage sale I had just before we moved here).

c) Throw away.

The give away and throw away piles should be the biggest. Getting rid of stuff will set you free! It is truly liberating and time-saving!clutter-woman surrounded with papers Clutter makes you feel stagnant and stuck. You’ll be unproductive because you are always looking for things or are feeling stressed out from the mess.

When you clean and organize your home, you’ll feel lighter, more energetic, and happier.

As I’ve shared with my husband Ray, an empty space doesn’t always need to be filled. You need wide, open spaces in your life to have breathing room.

It’s also said that when you get rid of things, it opens up your life to new and better things. I believe this!

Invest in plastic tubs, storage bins, folders, and other organizational items.

When you get rid of things and organize your home and work space, it will save you time looking for something (and save money, so you don’t go out and buy unnecessary, duplicate items and  you’ll be working making money, instead of shopping).

It will also save you stress trying to find whatever you need in a  hurry.

 

 3. Online banking/Financial Organization. When we moved into our new home, we had extra costs such as the deposit, the rent, the U-Haul rental, etc. I needed to know how much we had in the bank every day prior to our move.

“Be fully aware of the condition of your flock, and pay close attention to your herds.” ~ Proverbs 27: 23, God’s Word Translation

To stay on top of finances and to save time running to the bank to make a deposit or transferring funds from another account, check your bank balance online daily. Know how much you have in there at all times.

There are many online programs you can use to help you with finances and/or budgeting. One is YNAB.

I also use Tax Bot for tax time purposes.

My favorite finance guru is Dave Ramsey. He’s filled with God’s wisdom, practical, and very funny. (I just need to apply what he says! :O)

In my business, I use Paypal as a finance tool and receive an email notification every time I make a sale with my coaching services or a customer buys one of my books or info products. I also use Paypal for paying whoever I’ve hired to outsource work such as websiste tweaks or VA work.

To begin using Paypal in your business, just click on the graphic below. (This is an affiliate* link.)

PayPal Logo

4. Small, frequent meals. I’ve been dipping my little toe in the water with Take Shape For Life health program. I will let you know how it goes. One powerful tip I’ve learned from this program is eating, small frequent meals. As a busy entrepreneur, sometimes I’m working hard, long hours and I forget to eat! Then by the time I remember, I’m ravenous and eat too much! Which leads to weight gain – or not losing any. Eating small, frequent meals keeps blood sugar levels from plunging and speeds up your metabolism, which helps you to burn calories more efficiently and lose weight.

Small meals means less time cooking over a hot stove in the kitchen, which for me translates into doing more of what I love -spending time with God, family and friends and on my business.

5. Prayer. At our new home, we have a sunroom ~ something I’ve been praying for since I saw them in sunny Florida when I was a flight attendant.

Sunroom
Sunroom
I LOVE my sunroom! It is my coffee with God room/prayer sanctuary. I often go in there after I wake up to pray, watch the birds and 2 white rabbits which hop around the neighborhood, and journal.

This week I’ve been including a Proverbs a day in my quiet time. The Proverbs are filled with practical wisdom.

By praying and hearing God’s wisdom and direction for the day, you save time from wasted activities. Your steps are ordered. Your path is sure. Your purpose is being fulfilled.

These 5 tips are helping me in practical ways in my daily life to save time, money, energy, and stress, and I hope they are helpful to you. Which one can you implement today to make your life easier, happier and more intentional? Leave your comments below.

*This is an affiliate link. I only recommend products I’ve used or believe in.

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We’re moving: make room for the new

We’re moving: make room for the new

 

Moving boxes
Moving boxes

A friend asked me this morning in an email if I  had “recovered yet” from the RELEASED! Women’s Conference. She’s heard it was great, but knew it was a lot of hard work, stress, and expense for me. Well, I am still recovering. The conference was SO good and we had very positive feedback from attendees, but yes, it was exhausting. I don’t get to rest yet. This week I start packing!

We’ve been looking for awhile for a new rental home and while we desperately want to get out of this rural, tiny town of Butler (I call it “the hicks” or “the boonies”), we weren’t able to find a place outside Butler – but I did find one here that I really like (an older home that is newly remodeled, Spanish arch doorways in the den and dining room, a big recreation room downstairs, my own office space -pics soon after we move)! I’m very excited about moving and can’t wait! Our move-in date is May 15.

This week I’ve been purging, blessing a local church that accepts our old junk donations – things like gently used clothes, an imcomplete set of green plates, our fake Christmas tree, books.

It’s not always easy to let go. Things like:

  • Envy/jealousy;
  • Anger;
  • Unforgiveness;
  • Pride;
  • Discouragement;
  • Worry/anxiety/stress;
  • Self-doubt;
  • Limiting beliefs.

It’s not always easy to let go of physical things, either. This is especially true for my husband Ray, who won’t throw away anything and if it wasn’t for me, he could qualify for the show Hoarders.

But letting go of things physically, emotionally, and spiritually sets you free. I have felt so good getting rid of more stuff and donating it!

freedom

God, help me get rid of anything unnecessary that I don’t need emotionally and spiritually,  which hinders my intimacy with You.

Today think about what you may need to let go of to embrace what God has ahead for you. You can’t store the new wine in old wineskins or they will burst. Make room for the new.

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” – Mark 2:22, NIV

 

 

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