THE SIMPLE LIFE

Recently, I have talked to several people who are frustrated because they are so busy and their house is a disaster area. They know they need to organize but that takes time that they do not seem to have. Years ago I read The Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund. The theme of the book was organizing our lives so that we had time to serve God and others.

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and to serve others. But, we cannot do that well if our lives and our homes are a wreck and we waste precious time looking for things that are in the wrong place.  Quite frankly, we have become a society that moves so fast and takes on so many activities that we often aren’t home long enough to clean, organize and enjoy it!  The Bible tells us that everything should be done decently and in order and that we are to glorify God in whatever we do.  As Christians we may be decent; but, can we honestly say that our home is orderly and it glorifies our Heavenly Father in the peace and beauty that it projects?  In a world that seems to be spinning out of control our homes should be a sanctuary for anyone who enters the door.  How can we accomplish this and still fulfill our commitments outside of the home?

SCHEDULE YOUR TIME:

First we must recognize that we cannot fix in one day what has accumulated over years.  I have often put off a cleaning or organizing job simply because “I didn’t have time.”  We must quit making excuses and make a plan.  Grab a pad of paper and walk through the house.  Make a list of every area that needs to be organized.  Such as, Master Bedroom, office area, family room.  Now subdivide the bigger areas.  Under Master Bedroom you might put: 1.  his closet, 2. my closet, 3. dressers, 4. nightstand.  What you are trying to do is break the tasks down to where you can accomplish them in 30 mins, 15 mins., or less.

Put this list in a notebook, on a bulletin board or somewhere that you can access it easily and not lose it.  Now create a plan for tackling these projects.  This depends on your activities and family.  Once you have a plan enlist the troops.  Unless you live alone, this should not be done only by you.  It is a fact that people will support what they had a hand in creating.  So find a time to talk with the family and share your vision for a house that is organized well enough that things do not get lost and leaving the house every morning is not a battle.

Now schedule at least 1 day a week that you will work on this plan.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Some people might do it every Saturday morning.  Others might choose to spend 30 minutes after supper 3 nights a week to tackle these projects.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you are able to do this on a regular basis until the entire house is organized.  In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Doing a little bit at a time will reap results in just a few sessions.  Start with something like cleaning out a junk drawer.  You can probably accomplish this in 15 minutes or less.  The end result of an organized drawer will encourage you to move on to other projects.

It may help to make columns for jobs that will take different lengths of time.  15 mins., 30 mins., and 1 hr.  Some projects like cleaning out and organizing a walk in closet may take at least an hour but a night stand could be cleaned out in less than 15 mins.  If you have these jobs listed in columns and posted in a public place, anyone in the family with a few minutes could pick a job that fits their schedule and mark it off the list.  This way cleaning and organizing can be done whenever someone has a few minutes free or while you are waiting for something to cook or someone to come.

TOOLS:

As you are cleaning areas out you should have 3 boxes, buckets or baskets.  Label 1 “Keep”, 2 “Throw, 3 “Donate”.  As you pull things out of closets, drawers and nooks ask yourself these questions:  Do I LOVE this?  Have I used or worn this in the last year?  Is it a special family memory?  Be honest with yourself.  Quit saving things that you could wear if only you lost 10 pounds!  By the time that happens it will be out of style. 🙂  You can reward yourself with a new outfit if you do lose those 10 pounds. 🙂

I read a good tip for saving memories.  Take pictures of things like your children’s special papers and pictures and save them on a disk then you can look at them for the memories and not have all the paper clutter that will accumulate for the first 18 -22 years of your children’s lives.

MAINTAIN:

Once you and your family have the house in order,  find a way to maintain this level of organization.  Do you and your family need a place to put things when you come home?  Install hooks to hang coats, backpacks, and totes on.  Have a basket and a trash can by the family entry.  Use the basket for mail and important papers that need to be read or filed.  Throw the junk mail away immediately.  Go through this basket at least once a week to file, pay bills etc. You  might even want to keep a jar or cup with pens, pencils, and highlighters near this station so that you can highlight important info as you read it and sign papers to go out immediately.

Make sure that your children have baskets, drawers, cubby holes or shelves where they can put their clothes, toys and books.  If necessary label each area or glue pictures on for those that cannot read yet.  Once this is done make sure that you inspect what you expect.  Insist that they put things away before bed until it becomes a habit.  Just a note here, you must set the example.  Do NOT expect your children to keep their rooms clean if yours is a wreck!  Train yourself to hang your clothes up, throw the dirty things in the hamper, put your jewelry and shoes away and make your bed.  Often the hardest part of training your children is training yourself. 🙂

ENJOY!

Organizing your entire house may sound like an impossible dream; but, it can be done.  It simply takes setting goals and working at it one small step at a time.  Remember, you are doing this to glorify the Lord.  God tells us in His word that we are to do ALL things decently and in order.  I promise you life will be much simpler and your family time more enjoyable when you are not constantly frustrated because you or another family member cannot find something like the keys to the car. 🙂

Now that you have gained the extra time that you used to spend looking for things, ask the Lord how you can use that time to serve Him and others.  Enjoy your peaceful home and the blessings that God will bring when you are serving Him.

HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR

I have been reading through the posts on facebook wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  There is nothing wrong with hoping that our friends will have happy times in the new year.  We all want to have peace, joy and good times.  Yet, if we claim to know Christ as our Savior and are desiring to serve him, we must understand that the ultimate goal is NOT MERE HAPPINESS.  Our goal should be that we would desire to know Christ in such a way that we would be willing to share His suffering as the apostle Paul states in Philippians 3:10-14.

This thought process is so foreign to most Americans.  We tend to focus on the “pursuit of happiness” and ignore the fact that true happiness comes from serving God , enduring trials with a trust in God’s perfect plan, and emerging victorious. 

Most of us do not pray for God to bring us trials.  Instead we beg Him to solve the problem and do it quickly!  If we were allowed to go through life with God solving all our problems immediately, we would be no better than a 3 year old who pitches a fit every time he doesn’t get his way!  A spoiled brat is not appreciated when they are small and NO ONE wants to associate with an adult that thinks the world revolves around him!  Yet we set goals for the new year hoping that somehow God will put His stamp of approval on them and make it easy to reach the end result saving us all that bother of working and maturing to be like Him.

May I make a suggestion?  Take the time to look over the past year.  Ask God to show you where you failed, what you could have done differently.  Evaluate what happened over the year.  Where did your plans get changed by your Heavenly Father?  How did God’s divine plan work better than what you thought should happen?  How did God provide for the details?  What did you learn in both the good and the bad times?  Most of the time we don’t learn much in good times.  Yes, we need those fun relaxing times to take our minds off of the stress and give us the good memories to cling to.  Even Jesus took times of rest when He walked the earth.  Yet, it is the trying times that truly shape us and draw us closer to God molding us into a mature Christian that is able to encourage other saints and draw the world to Him.

My prayer for this year is that God will help me to reach the goals He has for me.  That I will learn to trust Him when my schedule changes, when roadblocks are thrown in my path, when life is not a sunny day at the beach.  May I desire to be continually growing to become a mature individual, pleasing God and encouraging others instead of selfishly begging God for a life of ease.