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Monday, January 31, 2011

Decluttering: One 15-Minute Project at a Time / Linen & Bathroom Closets

Winter Declutter Projects #3 and #4:   I set the timer this time and spent 15 minutes on each of these two projects.  The timer actually makes you work faster.  

Click on the numbers to see Projects #1 and #2.

I remembered to take a BEFORE photo of my linen closet.


I went right to work on the bathroom closet and didn't take a BEFORE photo.  Here is the partially completed project.  I sorted all the OTC meds and used plastic shoeboxes to contain them.  Extra sprays, soaps, and toiletry items are together now.   There is a section for beach tanning and sunscreen supplies, one for contacts and solutions, herbal supplements, feminine products, and even candles are in there.  Now I'll actually be able to go right to these items when I need them instead of rummaging around!  :)

The floor of the guest bathroom closet has all of my gift wrapping supplies and is a mess.  That is a 30-minute project which I'll try to do later this week.  

In cleaning out both closets, neither of which is very large, I gave away about 10 items, threw away two small trash bags full of stuff and moved 3 things to other rooms of the house.

A little bit at a time... :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Worship : The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

How can someone NOT worship seeing something like this beautiful sunrise?

I went to our church's ladies retreat Friday and Saturday and this is what we saw while walking to our breakfast on Saturday morning.  I don't often see the sun coming up over a beautiful lake in the mornings so this was a treat.  

Have a wonderful Sunday.  If you're in Orlando, step outside. It's gorgeous today.

Psalm 97:6 
The heavens declare His righteousness, 
And all the peoples have seen His glory. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

25th Anniversary : Space Shuttle Challenger / Where were you?

Has it really been 25 years since this happened?  I remember it so vividly.   When I worked for Barnett Banks, officers of the bank were required to participate in two community service areas each year.  I served on  the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and taught a Project Business class for Junior Achievement one day a week at a local junior high school.  

I was on my way back from teaching and had the radio on.  The announcer was talking about the liftoff and just at that moment I arrived at a beautiful lake at a college campus near my office.  I pulled over, as did many others, to watch it go up.  When it exploded, everyone was stunned.   I jumped in the car and turned on the radio to hear what exactly we had all just witnessed.

When I arrived back at work I went straight to our cafeteria where a large television was turned to the news. The room was packed out and amazingly, VERY quiet.  What a sad day for our country.  Even though we didn't know the astronauts, they were Americans who represented us and by flying in the shuttle, were bravely doing so for our country.  Just like our military.  Technically, most of the were military, except for the high school teacher who was also on board that particular shuttle.

Like the day President Kennedy was assassinated or 9/11, January 28, 1986 was a  day that I, and most other Americans, will not forget.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winn Dixie $5 off $30 Coupon in Newspaper

Skimming through Wednesday's paper tonight and found this in the food section.  Remember, Publix accepts competitor coupons... :)  Good through February 8, 2011.

Animal Kingdom in January / Walt Disney World / Kilimanjaro Safari Ride

Yesterday I was at Disney World with some special friends who about to leave for the mission field in Hungary.  Here are a few photos from the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride at Animal Kingdom.  The day before was terrible weather with heavy rains.  Yesterday was a beautiful winter day in Florida, beautiful blue skies and a bit cool especially as the sun was going down.   Many of the animals were soaking up some rays as you will see.  :)  If you visit this park, remember that it is the earliest of the four parks to close--5:00 p.m. yesterday--due to rounding up the animals for the night, feeding, veterinarian checking them out, etc.  If your ticket is a Park Hopper Pass, you can still park here and catch a bus to any of the other parks, then return for your car.

HERE is a  YouTube video of this  fun ride.  It's about 30-40 minutes long.

Jungle Jeeps take you on a 




African buffalo



Mother and baby elephant


Sleeping lion

As with all the parks, the details are fun to look for. 

On the drive home I couldn't resist taking  these photos of Orlando in the setting sun.  One of my sons gave me a photography book for Christmas that has been teaching me about lighting. The author was right...the afternoon (and morning) sunlight casts beautiful shadows and color.  :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Max Lucado / Guard Your Attitude / Journaling

Another quote from Max Lucado's devotional journal...quoted from one of his books...
Martha's life was cluttered. She needed a break. 

Max (I guess it's OK to call him by his first name) refers to the story of Mary and Martha where Mary chooses to sit at His feet and listen while Martha is scurrying around the house with busy-ness.   I love the part where Jesus confronts Martha and tells her that she is worried and bothered about so many things (even good things), but only one is important (the one thing we don't usually worry about)--listening to what the Lord has to say to us.   That is the type of "break" to which Max is referring.

I hear you, Lord, and for the most part, this month after my husband heads off to work, I have been reading and journaling.  This is a practice that I have not regularly kept up in awhile--the writing part, I mean.  It really does help keep me focused and go back through the passages and ponder, rather than just read.  Blogging about some of it as a sort of online journal helps as well since my handwriting is not as neat as my typing and I can type so much faster than I can write.  I still write at least one paragraph in the journal though.  It's encouraging to look back through old journals and read what I have written, sometimes even years later.  I have kept  those from my youth (20s, 30s).  When I'm with the Lord, it will be a way for my children to see even more deeply into my heart than they might even do now as well as "keep" a part of me.  Letters and journals have historically been a way for generations to "know" one another.

Pondering this Luke passage above came at an opportune time for me since I have been very busy weeding through my mom's paperwork, funeral details, financial affairs and collectibles.  I spend about an hour each day working on all that so it's not becoming overwhelming.  Starting each day reading certainly helps me put everything in the proper order and not get stressed about all the extras that need to be done.  I'm a natural planner so organizing the day to get the most done comes easily but I can still let myself become entangled in all that needs to be done on top of my regular home life and neglect the more important things like time with the family and prayer and/or be short-tempered and irritable due to the extra stress.

I encourage you to spend 30 minutes reading, praying and  journaling, even just a paragraph or two like I do, with a devotional book, a read-through-the-Bible pamphlet or one-year Bible (I use this) or some other method.  A simple spiral notebook is fine.  Different stages of life, young babies, illness, jobs outside the home may limit the time available,   30 minutes is a realistic goal.  Everyone has that amount of unoccupied time, so no excuses.  It is better to think through and apply one or two verses to your life each day than read 3-4 chapters and get nothing out of it due to reading too quickly (to check off that you did it) or not focusing because the amount of reading is so lengthy.  It's a little bit of renewing your mind, 30 minutes each day. Try it.  You'll find that your heart feels more satisfied because it has poured itself out in a deeper way and what you read stays with you simply because you wrote some of your thoughts down on paper.  You may even find that once you start, you spend a lot longer than the 30 minutes.  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Students Preparing for College / Wisdom from Your Peers

Last week I attended a 3-hour parent/student meeting (high school juniors) required my son's school.  I really hate long meetings especially when everything you hear is printed for you or could be emailed.  The most outstanding thing at this particular meeting though was hearing two students, both seniors in high school, read essays that they had thoughtfully prepared.  I'm glad I attended the meeting after all even just to hear them read their essays.  

We, like most families with junior high school students, are in the midst of SAT / ACT testing, intense study, college applications, and all the rest.   It was good to hear from students who realize that these things while important, are not THE most important thing in life.  It also made me more thankful to have homeschooled both our sons and helped give them a solid spiritual foundation before entering the college world.

Here are the two essays in their entirety.  I hope you find them encouraging if you are a student preparing for college or a parent about to send one into that adventurous stage of life.  My personal favorite is the first one.

I am Found  by Sarah Delk
In light of my senior year and the impending transition to college, I've found myself questioning the ideas the world is throwing at me about college. To name a few: college is..."the first time in the big world," "the most defining time in your life," "the most important decision I will ever make."
I've been cautioned to be careful where I choose, because it's going to shape who I am and who I marry and what I do. The culture has warned me not to live at home or have ties at home with relationships because it will inhibit me from "figuring out who I am and finding myself."
I honestly don't think that's biblical. From my understanding, there's not a verse in scripture that instructs us to go out into the world and find ourselves. I sincerely think the gospel instructs us to do the opposite. Isaiah 43 has been on my heart lately and it speaks to this - Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. You are mine.
That's so far from a call to find myself it's ridiculous. It's a call to believe that I've been found. I am His. I already belong. I already fit in. I already know who I am. I am a daughter of the king. No more searching has to happen. No more fretting or worrying that I've "lost my way" or "don't know what I'm doing with my life." Because I've been found by the One who's never going to un-find me. I know that's not grammatically correct, but God holds me in the palm of His hand and so I'm going to be found today, tomorrow, the next day, throughout my 4 years of college...for all eternity.
Phew. That takes such an incredible weight off of my shoulders. I'm not going to college to find myself. I've already been found. The search is over. The price is paid. The battle has been won. Oh praise the One who raised this life up from the dead.
Because of this realization, my mindset about these decisions and this next stage of life has changed. I'm not trying to find myself anymore. Instead, I'm praying God will teach me how to rest in the fact that I am found. Soli Deo Gloria.

Certainty Amidst Uncertainty by Leslie Robinson
As juniors, you probably know that you are at the age when the first thing people say to you is, “Oh, you’re almost a senior, so, where are you going to college, and what do you want to study?” If people haven’t been saying this to you, let me warn you, it is coming. It’s almost as popular as the phrase when you were younger, “Wow, haven’t you grown!” or more recently, “You are driving? You are not old enough to be driving yet?!?”
The reason that I am here to speak to you today is to give you some encouragement that has helped me go through what you all are experiencing right now. Even though I have done many things to help me figure out what majors and careers I might like, from shadowing professional in their jobs, talking about college with my parents and people that know me well, and even doing extensive research on different jobs that I could possibly be good at, I am still unsure where God wants me. I can relate with you; I know it can be a stressful time, especially if you do not yet have answers to those questions about college. I have to share this really hilarious email that I received from a little scholarship website that I had signed up with on the computer, because I think it perfectly describes my situation.
Thank You, Leslie! Based on your responses to our post-secondary planning questionnaire here at Scholarship Matches, I am happy to send you a report showing you the many opportunities available to you after high school, particularly in the field of Undecided/Other.
That is a wide open field, isn’t it?
Still, it is crucial to know that, in the midst of all the preparation for college, it just as important to think about our spiritual future as well as our academic future. Because, if you think about it, our spiritual future has greater consequences than our academic future.
I read that it is roughly estimated that 50 percent of professing Christians in high school will renounce their faith after college. Now, why is this? Do people just go to college and become too smart for God, able to explain the world around them without God, or finally understand that religion is for the uneducated people? Of course not! Our God is the author of all Wisdom and Truth! We will never grow “too smart” for God. The reason for this is that in college, there will be distractions and temptations and so much false thinking to pull you away. Satan is just waiting for the time when you are in college and are vulnerable. Right now is the time to strengthen yourself to resist this temptation. You must, in a sense, put on God’s armor so that you can live in this world, but not of this world.
Finally, something I have found to be extremely helpful to my spiritual growth right now is reading books that explain God’s Word and help us understand who God is and who we are in that light. Plus, Paul the apostle tells us in Scripture that we should be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. So, what are you going to do when you are in college, and someone asks you, “Why are you a Christian?” Or even yet, what will you do when a professor tells you that “Science has disproved God” or that “The Bible is full of errors and false claims.” You can’t just say, “Well, I feel that Christianity is right.” We must study God’s truth so that we can explain why and what we believe. It is very important that we study this now, and not later.
For those of us who are Christians, we need to be excited about living for our Savior in this dark world wherever we go to college. We read in 1st Peter that We are a chosen race, a people for His own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness. How can we lose hope when we know that the God we serve is the Alpha and Omega, and that he knows that beginning from the end? It is so relieving to know that our life is ultimately in the hands of our Father in Heaven, and not in our own hands. So, when our future may seem a bit unclear, we know that our God is an all-knowing God, and that by trusting in Him, He will direct our paths.
I put together a small book list with some books that I found most helpful. I wish you all the best in your college preparations.
Book List
A Heart for God, by Sinclair Furguson 
Every Thought Captive, by Richard Pratt, Jr.
Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper
Know What You Believe, by Paul Little
Know Why You Believe, by Paul Little 
The Reason for God, by Tim Keller
The Enemy Within, by Kris Lundgaard 
Truth for All Time, by John Calvin
Knowing Scripture, by R.C. Sproul
A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller
The God Who Is There, by Francis Schaeffer
God Centered Evangelism, by R.B Kuiper

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Decluttering: One 15-Minute Project at a Time

Since the passing of my mother a couple of weeks ago, it seems there are less hours in the day than usual with all the extra things I need to be taking care of.  That should slow down in about 2 weeks so for now my goal of decluttering one hour a day has been reduced to short 15-minute projects.  I actually did four of these this weekend.  Get out a kitchen timer, set it for 15 minutes  and stop when it goes off.   You can always set it for another 15 if you really get into this.

These small projects may not seem like much but oh, what a difference tidying up a small space, or a drawer, or a shelf can make, both in the way things look  and the way you feel looking at it!  :)

Here are a few photos of some of our 15-minute projects this weekend:

Project #1:    This is my (and my husband's) quiet time spot.  I organized the basket where we keep devotional books, highlighters, pens and paper.  It was a huge jumbled MESS before I started. I forgot to take BEFORE photos but will do that next time.

SO much tidier!

Project #2:  In the same room is my piano and a keyboard for teaching music lessons.  I had not even put away my Christmas music yet!  It is all stored with other books in the cabinet where the green lamp sits above.   After putting the music away, I organized the large black basket where I keep a few teaching supplies:  flash cards, rhythm makers, metronome, headphone adapters, shakers, etc.   I should take a horizontal photo so you can see it better.

It sits tucked away between the keyboard table (an antique architectural drawing table) and my piano.  SO much tidier!  Ready for quiet reading, guests and piano students.

I feel like I can breathe now (especially after dusting things off)!   As a bonus, this weekend my husband got motivated and cleaned up our home office plus his dresser and book cabinet in our bedroom. He didn't set a timer and just kept working.  Wow!

Our office, master bedroom and living room are basically done, keeping in mind that there are drawers and shelves that are perfect 15-minute projects.  So, set your timer and start decluttering!

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