Archives for May 2014

From Hoarder to Minimalist: Finding Happiness in Between

hoarderI confess.  I hoard things.  Things that don’t make sense to hoard.  Like t-shirts with arm holes ripped or shorts I can’t stand to wear.  My desk several weeks ago was a pathetic mess. Deadlines and summer break was creating a time crunch in my life. Everything that didn’t have a “place” in the house was pretty much getting dumped on my desk. I wasn’t keeping up with the piles of mail. I just couldn’t throw away ANY catalogues and so I had two and a half topsy-turvy piles on the brink of dumping over onto the floor.
This pretty much symbolized my emotional state at the time. There’s a stack of unopened mail, a box of thank-you notes to be written for a birthday party from 2 months back, a wedding picture to be framed, receipts to be filed, a gift to be wrapped, a stack of books to be read, a dress to be repaired, a mother’s day gift to be mailed (picture taken in July) and stacks of cool little gadgets that I got on sale from the web.

No wonder I was feeling such anxiety. To sit and work with this mess looming behind me was like a ball and chain strapped to my back. My office really was a reflection of the inner turmoil I was feeling as I chased after “things” and hung on to (or hoarded) possessions instead of pursing the things in life of lasting value.

I hoarded catalogues. When I finally went through the stack, there were catalogues from last Christmas! Now why was I hanging on to them?

Another addiction that you don’t even see pictured here was my daily trek through the “daily deals” websites. I was spending my valuable time perusing through groupons and living social deals, plus the other dozen or so sites that promoted cheap little gadgets. Okay…some I have really used…like the adapters to convert vcr tapes to digital format. But I haven’t used the dvd disk cleaner or electrical pulse neck massager. I do wear the jewelry….
And what did all the little possessions do for me? It kept me longing for the next possession that might bring me happiness or joy. And they all piled up around me, threatening to suffocate the life out of me.

Then I was blessed with a book called Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness.

<IMG_0879Here’s what my desk looks like today:

Still needs some improvement, but what a difference! I still have a long ways to go, but I’ve made such huge strides. Now this book didn’t teach me how to organize my office, or how to clean.

After I finished reading the book, I threw away every catalogue. I unsubscribed from most of the online daily deal sites. The interesting thing about this transformation is that the author Josh Becker did not dictate that I should stop shopping. He doesn’t promote strict minimalism, where we need to get rid of everything and live with the bare essentials.

What Josh does encourage is the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of anything that distracts us from it, which involves the unnecessary physical possessions from our lives that are preventing us from fulfilling our greatest purpose.

My closet was the same. I was holding on to t-shirts that were stained and hole-filled. Now why was I hanging on to some of these things?

I feel so much freer, like I’ve just lost 100 pounds! Where I’ve reduced the clutter, I’ve found it’s easier to find things. It’s much easier to clean. My time is not spent looking for that missing thing.

Living With LessThis book is a quick read, but packed full of life changing counsel. It’s geared to the high school/college age group, but is a must read for any adult seeking a more fulfilling life. Even though my parents who lived through the depression, stressed all these concepts to me my entire life, I wasn’t able to grasp the model and carry it on into my lifestyle. I wish I had read this book when I was in college.

I’m excited to go through my house to find things to give away so that I can stop hoarding treasures on earth and pursue something greater.

Before I was wasting so much time and energy plotting, planning, and longing for a bigger house, a better car, the latest style clothing, or the latest technology and thus becoming jealous when others had more… Not a pretty picture.

Today I’m pursuing “greater” rather than “more.” You can too… Don’t miss Joshua Becker’s Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness.

Define Your Vision: 6 steps to Ignite Your Life

IgniteGo ahead…close your eyes. Picture yourself 10 years from now. What do you look like? Are you smiling? What are you doing? Are you doing something you enjoy? Are you a success at what you are doing?

I went to a Christian Business Women’s Luncheon about three months ago. They gave us a similar exercise about dreaming big. They made us close our eyes and picture your dream, only go bigger. And then go bigger, and then go bigger…. They had us picture what we looked like, how we felt, and a few other things I can’t remember at the moment.

What was interesting is I didn’t picture myself overweight and out of shape. I didn’t picture myself sitting in front of the television with a bowl of popcorn-heavy-on-the-butter. I didn’t picture myself sitting at a bar downing margaritas. I didn’t picture myself laying in bed. And I wasn’t sad or depressed.

I pictured myself comfortable in my non-plus-sized clothes, I was happy, I was energetic, and my hair looked pretty. My house was clean, my office was tidy. My dishes were done and my bed was made.

And I then felt like I saw the vision God had for me. It was to help other women not get in the same trap of chasing the wrong things. I saw myself sharing my failures and misfires on a path riddled with slip-ups and blunders, but also sharing how God can and will use all the mess-ups in our lives to bring Glory to Him and a deeper more satisfying life….the result is an abundant life filled with joy.

After the luncheon, I went home and deleted most of my shows on the dvr. I know…strange first step! Sitting in front of the t.v. suddenly seemed like a waste of time. The next day I went to my first CrossFit workout at CrossFit 925. (Ready about my experience.) I started my blog. I started working on several speech topics in the hopes of future invitations. Again, I know that may be sort of a “build it and they will come” mentality. But it’s really closer to what Noah might have felt when God told him to build an ark in the middle of a desert.

Since that day three months ago, I’ve been exercising 5 days per week. I’ve read more books than I have in the last 5 years. I’ve connected with some awesome women. I’ve made my bed every morning. I’ve lost several pants sizes…. I’m trying to keep my kitchen clean and the laundry at bay. (Baby steps!)

So you are probably wondering why the clean house stuff is stuck in there. Well, when I picture myself speaking to large groups of women, I don’t see wrinkled or soured clothes. I don’t see a frazzled woman who left a pile of bills hidden under a pile of magazines. I don’t see a woman who has mismatched socks. I see a woman who could invite any person into her home and not feel like hiding the piles of laundry or mail. In another blog I’ll show you my before and after pictures of my office. My office looked like it could be featured on the television show Hoarders.

I really feel I’m headed in the direction of the vision that God gave me. says: If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

All the steps I’ve taken to pursue my dream and set good habits have been so easy for me. Three months ago I was lazy, fat, and always tired. Today I’m full of energy and excited about tomorrow. Here are some steps to take to help you move into a new direction:

Think, act, talk, and conduct yourself like the person you want to become.
Every day is a preparation for your dream come true (aka God’s vision for your life.) You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
Choose and display the right attitude daily. It is your responsibility and no one else’s. Make adjustments to your attitude early in the day. Start by being grateful to God and expressing it. Then express your gratefulness to your spouse and your children.
Determine and act on important priorities. See blog on priorities
Seek and experience improvements daily. Journal about it. Blog about it. You’ll be amazed how many people feel the way you do.
I’m currently reading an awesome book that is helping me in my quest. It’s called Make Today Count: The secret of Your Success is Determined by Your Daily Agenda by John C. Maxwell. The above points were inspired by his first chapter.

What else? I’d love to hear what helps you.

Top 10 Lies We Believe About Ourselves

sad_happy_1So things are pretty good?  Bills are paid.  Kids are behaving.  You and the hubby are getting along great.  House is pretty clean.  You’ve been pretty consistent in managing your time. You’ve even found the time to exercise!  You’re feeling pretty much on top on top of the world and then something pretty small and insignificant hits you.  And it feels like a ton of bricks.  It knocks you down.  When you try to stand back up, it feels like brick after brick is slinging towards you and you just feel like it would just be safer to find some cave to crawl into, than dodge all these bricks!

Well, it happens to me.  This week it wasn’t necessarily a ton of bricks.  It felt like a truckload of manure.  Ton of bricks hit back in 1985.  In 1990 it was huge hole filled with water and I could hardly breathe.  2004 it was a basket of snakes.  All debilitating events, same lie.

Yes, a lie.  A lie that I first started to believe, probably somewhere in my childhood.  Probably at the playground I would imagine.  Yes, the playground.  I came out of the classroom a little later than the rest of the girls.  By the time I got to foursquare game, every square was filled.  I stood there watching the girls hit the ball back and forth between them.  I was patiently waiting my turn.  Waiting for one of the girls to miss the ball, and then I’d get in the game.  But not one girl missed.  That was strange.  Usually they worked pretty hard to get into the number one square.  But not today.  They were gently hitting the rubber ball back and forth to each other, careful to not get anyone out.  I was the only girl in line to play.  And they were trying hard to not let me in the game.

They didn’t want me playing with them?

No.  They didn’t want me there.  And so began the lie.  The lie that I started to believe that I was an outsider.  We don’t want you here. 

Being adopted probably didn’t help, although my parents were awesome at making me feel loved and wanted.

In the 1980s, after high school, I left the security of a group of friends who always made me feel included and wanted.  Trying to find a new group to do things with became a challenge.  Fourth of July came around and I couldn’t find anyone to hang out with. Everyone had plans, including my brother, that didn’t include me.  Yes, I even tried to invite myself….

Sitting on the front porch of my house with my young daughter, we watched my husband and his two sons drive off, pulling his boat, headed to the lake.  There was not room for us.  Well, there was, if they didn’t have to bring along 3 tackle boxes.  My little daughter said, “Why doesn’t Daddy like girls?”  Fighting back emotion I replied, “He loves girls, there’s just no room for us.”  My mind said…he loves fishing more….he loves his boys more….he really doesn’t want us along.

My divorce solidified the lie.  Nobody wants you.  We don’t want to invite you to our family gathering.  We don’t want you apart of our family any more. 

This week I sent a friend request on facebook to my ex-mother-in-law.  Yes, I know…I probably set myself up for this one.  As I watched her accept everyone else via facebook, I was never accepted.  And it has derailed me, once again.

There is good news.  Because of this last derailment, (once I picked myself up and wiped away the tears) I started learning to recognize the lie that’s being fed to me.

Joyce Meyer says it best in her book Battlefield of the Mind,

Our enemy, Satan, attempts to defeat us with strategy and deceit, through well-laid plans and deliberate deception…He begins by bombarding our mind with a cleverly devised pattern of little nagging thoughts, suspicions, doubts, fears, wonderings, reasonings, and theories…He knows what we like and what we don’t like. He knows our insecurities, our weaknesses, and our fears. He knows what bothers us most. He is willing to invest any amount of time it takes to defeat us.

Wow!  I stepped into the trap!  The trap that was cleverly laid out for me.  Luckily I was wearing iron boots…

Strongholds are lies that the devil attempts to feed you, to make you believe. Just because we’ve believed the lie for such a long time, doesn’t make it true.  Just because we’re in the habit of believing the lie, doesn’t make it true.  Simply because the lie is second nature to us, doesn’t make it true!!

If we live our life in a “hit or miss” fashion, just ducking and dodging things, living our life on “auto-pilot” we’re going to get derailed by lies.

So how do we combat the lies?

  1. Prayer.  One of the best aids to freedom is asking God for a lot of help—and asking often.
  2. Determination.  You do need to be determined, but determined in the Holy Spirit, not in the effort of your own flesh. The Holy Spirit is your Helper—seek His help.
  3. Avoid new lies.  The enemy will try to make you think you can do it on your own.  Another lie.  God wants you to seek Him.  We weren’t designed to do it on our own.
  4. Failure is not bad.  Just get back up, dust yourself off, and start again. When a baby is learning to walk, he falls many, many times before he enjoys confidence in walking. However, one thing in a baby’s favor is the fact that, even though he may cry awhile after he has fallen, he always gets right back up and tries again.
  5. Believe.  I believe God. I believe He is working in me no matter what I may feel or how the situation may look. The Lord has begun a good work in me, and He will bring it to full completion” (see ; ).
  6. Be in God’s Word.  If you want to be a success and to prosper in all your dealings, the Bible says you must meditate on the Word of God day and night.

Top 10 Lies

  1. You’re not good enough
  2. No one loves you
  3. You’ll never get better
  4. God doesn’t love you enough to heal you
  5. You’re ordinary
  6. You’ll make the same mistakes again
  7. Something bad will happen
  8. God has more important things to do
  9. Your mistakes are just not worth forgiving
  10. You don’t matter

Being positive in a positive situation is easy. Anyone can do that. But, when we are positive in a negative situation it shows a genuine trust in God and a spiritual maturity that pleases and glorifies God.

“I refuse to be discouraged. I refuse to be condemned. Father, the Bible says that You don’t condemn me. You sent Jesus to die for me. I’ll be fine—today will be a great day. You help me choose right thoughts today.”

Five Ways to Find Happiness

Finding HappinessNever Ending Chase to Find Contentment…

I moved into my dream house in August 2004.  It was lovely. The entire house surrounded a courtyard with a pool.  It was above and beyond anything I ever imagined I’d own. It was a perfect “empty nester” home.  It was truly a blessing from God.  Our house sat at the back of a very nice subdivision.  Our group of homes were smaller lots and smaller footage than the houses toward the front.  Every day I’d pass the million dollar homes as I exited the neighborhood.  At first I was just thrilled to be living in a “million dollar neighborhood” but day after day, after looking at the magnificant homes, I started feel like I wanted more.  Suddenly, the house that was above and beyond my imagination, became ordinary.  Seeing the bigger and better homes, coaxed me into a dissatisfaction with my own home.

I discovered that my contentment at the time was fragile.  I became bored very easily.

After two years of living in my dream home, we decided to sell the house. Our newest addition to our family was two and starting to reach the door handles.  Since every room in the house practically had a door to the courtyard, we became a little nervous.  By the grace of God, we sold our house in a weekend, and made a decent amount on the sale.  We moved into a rental house that was supposed to be temporary until we could build a home that was suitable for raising a little girl.

Then the economy crashed and the real estate market tumbled.  Again, by the grace of God, we are still in a very nice rental house, but nothing compared to my beautiful dream house on the hill.

I realized that my attempt to fill my contentment with a beautiful home was like filling a bottomless pit with water. My chase for contentment via a beautiful home, or possesions was useless, and was only creating more discontent in my life.  “Stuff” and my chase for the better things was distracting me from the most important things in my life:  faith, family and friends.

When I chase after God’s best for my life, I’m finding so much more freedom and energy to enjoy those things that are most important to me.  And I truly believe that honors God.

Here are five ways to start chasing after God’s best and finding contentment:

  1. Create a list of what’s most important to you.  (My list at the top)
  2. Assess what gets in the way of each item.  (For me I needed remove a few things from my life, like certain television shows and time wasters.)
  3. Create a list of what you’re thankful in your life.  (I listed my husband, my daughters, my home, my church, my lifegroup, my friends Jacque, Sharla, Rhonda, Dee Dee, & Diana, my neighbors Shawna, Amy, Monica, Annie, & Donna, and my poker friends Matt, Tom, Bob, Ronnie, Pat, Jesse, John…)
  4. Create a list of goals. (Mine:  to get fit, to de-clutter my life, to organize and declutter my home, to encourage others)
  5. Identify what hinders those goals and remove or change it.

On May 10th, I joined CrossFit (next blog to tell my story.)  I eliminated off the DVR most of my shows that didn’t fit in with my list above. (I removed Dallas, soap operas, housewives of…, etc.)  The only shows I watch on tv is news or something with my husband and daughter.  (Except I will watch Greys Anatomy in the fall.  Sorry…can’t give that up yet.)  I’m limiting my time of reading through facebook to evenings ony.  The first thing I do in the morning is grab my coffee and bible and head out to my porch.

My contentment has never felt so solid (aside from being heavily medicated after surgery) nor happy in my entire life.  I’m hungry for God….and what He has for me.