Category Archives: Life Lessons

Mind Your Mind….

Friends!  I just ran across this post from a couple of Octobers ago, remembering I’d forgotten (huh?) its’ message…May we all remember to guard what goes into our minds.  Enjoy!…

Filled to the brim with excitement, Hubster and I were crossing the pond for our first-ever trip to France. Flying thru’ the night from Detroit to Amsterdam, most everyone but me slept.

Watching a little virtual map of our plane flying over different countries, logging hundreds of miles in minutes, kept me wide-eyed. Just as we touched down in Amsterdam, a big, beautiful orange sun was rising over the airport! While it was midnight back in the States, it was six o’clock in the morning in Amsterdam. Wow.

amsterdam

Clueless as to how to find our next gate, some sweet soul showed us how to enter different checkpoints en route to our plane to Marseilles. Suddenly, we came upon a very familiar landmark: Starbucks! And what before my wondering eyes did appear, directly across from Starbucks, a very large chocolatier!!! What a welcoming sight!

eliz in front of chocolate store

We had plenty of time before our next flight departed, so we plunked ourselves and our carry-ons down for a big ole’ comforting cup of coffee. Like little children on Christmas morning, our adventure was already unfolding.

Amsterdam’s airport is a melting pot of passengers from all over the world. John and I sat back and took it all in. The clothes, the accents, everything was fascinating.

Even the moving sidewalk…this lovely female voice, in a sing-song manner, repeated over and over, “Mind your step…..Mind your step…..Mind your step.” We Americans would’ve just hollered, “Watch where you’re goin’, already!!!”

One of many favorite books by Max Lucado, Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now brings up another way of thinking from “Mind Your Step”, to “Mind Your Mind”….

Glory Days

One favorite chapter is called The God-Drenched Mind. Don’t you want your mind to be God-drenched??? This chapter centers around Joshua 14:6-15.

The good news? Max helps us readers with ways to equip our faith and our minds.

The bad news? He opens with, “You’ll never have a problem-free life.” That’s okay, tho’, because surely by now every single one of us has discovered this!

Max points out that “The Lord” is referenced nine times in this passage alone. We know that any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.

Max asks, “Who was on Caleb’s mind? Who was in Caleb’s heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord.”

Watch this…Max gets personal: “What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem? The economy? The jerk?”

In another recent post we talked about the importance of putting on the helmet of salvation. We addressed running everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Philippians 4 8

Max offers a show-stopping visual:

“Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The second contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half.

Place one half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and then pull out the two halves.

Which one will you want to eat?”

Two different apples, fresh and withered. Rotten apple.

“Your mind is the apple.

God is good water.

Problems are battery acid.

If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode and corrupt your thoughts.

But thoughts of God will preserve and refresh your attitudes.

Caleb was different because he SOAKED HIS MIND IN GOD.”

This caused me to pause and ask myself, “What am I marinating my mind in right now?” I busted myself (there’s a thought!) because I was stewing over a petite problem which my forever optimistic husband has told me, and told me again (remember???) to simply, “Let it go…” Alrighty then.

Finally, we’re blessed with one more prescription from Max for remembering to soak our minds in our Big God: “Stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more.” Amen.

LET’S MIND OUR MIND!

‘Til next time!

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How About JOMO vs. FOMO?

Friends!  Anyone besides me stricken with FOMO?  (Fear of Missing Out…)

Growing up a “lonely only”, being invited and being included were paramount to me.  Many times, especially in college, even if I was invited to do something I didn’t really want to do, I’d still say, “yes…”

Fast forward a few years as we grow up and have children. Suddenly we realize our busyness has filtered down to them and they are doing the same thing!?!  Huh?  FOMO is a by-product of our culture, I’m sorry to say. Fill, fill, fill that calendar.

However, many of you are brave naysayers. You’re strong enough to say “No, thank you very much, maybe next time.” I applaud you.

Potential solution?  Our sweet daughter-in-love, LT, just taught me a new term.  It’s become my new goal.  Call me crazy.

The term?  JOMO….Ready?  It stands for the Joy of Missing Out.  Being joyful when you answer, “no thanks” and relishing your time at home.

Lately John and I’ve been staying home more.  Some nights we enjoy being wedding crashers from our front porch when there’s a wedding nearby at Locust Grove.  We listen to the music and sometimes dance in our driveway.  (Shhh, don’t tell the neighbors.)

Sometimes turning down an invitation blesses your marriage, your rest, and replenishes you with joy…

I recently read where the words “joy”, “rejoice”, and “joyful” are in the ESV Bible four hundred and thirty times.  What does that tell you?  Being joyful is pretty important to our Lord! Being joyful = JOMO!

Let’s savor my TOP FIVE VERSES ON JOY:  Then YOU choose which are your favorites. (Extra bonus:  If you go to:  www.openbible.com , you’ll find “100 Verses About Joy” you can skim and choose some more. Problem is, they’re all good—and that, my friend, is a most excellent problem!)

Simply read thru’ the below verses. Allow them to soothe your soul:

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

May we all strive to find JOMO.  It’s a heck of a sight superior to FOMO.  Trust me on this one.

 

‘Til next time!

 

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Find Relief and Inspiration from Maria Goff…

Friends!  Suffering from the disease to please? Anyone needing freedom from multi-tasking? Fret no more, thanks to author Maria Goff.  Grab her book for some HUGE kind of relief from this wild world in which we’re living.

The book?  Love Lives Here—Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want.

Yes, Maria’s the wife of Bob Goff. (Do not miss how they met and ultimately got married.  Killer funny.) Many of you have probably been blessed by hearing Bob speak.  John and I’ve seen him at Southeast, and some of our kids saw him at Northeast.

We all chime in with, “Could he possibly get any crazier?” Bob’s a man with an entertaining-but-sincere message (the Gospel) and a heart the size of Texas times two or ten.

Reading Maria’s book, which includes a Foreword by Bob as well as many tales on their family, is a complete blast. I say it brings relief because Maria is brutally honest about various life scenarios giving us freedom on many levels. She shows us her very genuine responses.  Priorities weigh in revealing valuable lessons, especially with their strong faith propelling them forward.

Any of you Moms out there, parenting ideas are also plentiful in the book. You will laugh out loud more than once!

Early into the book in her chapter entitled “Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper”, Maria tells of a classmate who she wanted to be just like.  Needless to say, that didn’t go so well. She gifts us with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

Maria strongly suggests, “Spot comparison coming our way, call it a liar, and simply refuse to make eye contact with it…We weren’t created to fit in; we were made to stand apart.”

We readers also get to watch what good neighbors look like in the chapter called “A Neighbor’s Love”. It includes easy ideas to get to know our neighbors and to simply be the hands and feet of Jesus. She states the obvious, “We can’t love our neighbors if we don’t know them.”

Two years ago, some new neighbors moved in down the street from us.  I toyed with getting the other neighbors together so we could all meet the new ones.  I toyed a little too long apparently. Before I knew it, there was an invitation to come to dinner at our new neighbor’s home.  Huh?  They are hosting us?  How unusually lovely.

When we lived in Lake Forest a few years ago, my across-the-street neighbor, Kay, and I frequently met in the middle of the street with a cup of sugar to borrow, an egg or two, one time even a new puppy to meet. Maria says, “I think God wanted us to love our neighbor so we could learn how to bookend our lives from them.”

I knew Kay was special before we ever moved in.  One night John and I were at the house planning for the move.  As we were leaving, Kay and Dick walked across the street to introduce themselves.  The first thing out of her mouth was, “Are you our new neighbors?  We’ve been praying for you.”  I’ll never forget it.

The Goff Family also cherishes time at the table together, making it one of their priorities.

My two favorite ideas from the chapter called, “Let Love Set the Table” are:

1 – Have a “Good Manners” night around the table and conversely have a “Bad Manners” night around the table. Fun and more fun. I missed the boat on this with our boys, but you can bet we will give this a “go” with our grandchildren!

2 – When you have company, after dinner, have them crawl under your table and sign it.  How fun is that?  Then over the years you can see who all has put their feet under your table, dining with you and your family. (My friend Judy has had countless people pull up around her table over the years including missionaries, preachers, authors, athletes, coaches, celebrities, friends and family.  She says one of her regrets is she’s not kept a record of all of them.  Start now with those signatures!)

Maria says, “The table is not only a place to eat, it’s a place to learn about life and each other.”  She adds, “Don’t overcomplicate it. When gathering together is rooted in love, free of unnecessary stress or self-serving motivations, bonds are formed, hearts are mended, and lives are changed forever.

One time the Goff family was going to entertain a unique family in that the father was the ambassador to a small country. (Can you imagine?) They had no idea how the evening would go. Maria confessed she stewed and stewed over various meal ideas. They ultimately ordered pizza!  Everyone therefore relaxed, and the couples’ seven-year old son enjoyed being decorated with balloons by the Goff’s children.

Finally, don’t miss the chapter, “Board of Directors.”  It’s one more of many fabulous ideas from Maria. We’re not meant to be marooned on our own little island.  Seek advice,  forming your own version of a Board of Directors…Watch how Maria did this.

May you be inspired and experience some relief found in this book in your next endeavor.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Grab These Nuggets for Your Marriage…They’re GOLD!

Friends!  Have I ever got some great material for you for your marriage!  Even if you think, “Thanks, but I don’t need that.”, I’m here to convince you that yes, you do indeed.

A couple of weeks ago, John and I were blessed to attend the Love and Marriage Project Conference at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church.  Some of you may recall we attended the first annual one last year. (“When You Renew Your Wedding Vows, You May Learn a Thing or Two.”)

Because of going last year, neither of us thought we’d be going again this year.  Until…we discovered our friends, Elizabeth Jeffries Tweed and her husband, Stephen were going to be the speakers.

Elizabeth and Stephen were just inducted as “Legends of the Speaking Profession” at the Veteran Speakers Retreat in Front Royal, VA.

Elizabeth and Stephen are not only professional speakers who speak all over the world, they also happen to be marriage mentors at Southeast Christian Church.  I knew this was an event not to be missed.  John and I began recruiting our friends.

Clearly orchestrated by the Lord, I’m grateful for His prompting to my good buddy, Sherry, who suggested Elizabeth and Stephen.  I immediately emailed Jady Koch, St. Francis’ Rector. He reached out to them, and a miraculous opening in their calendar made them available.

Nearly seventy attendees were blessed by the Tweeds’ presentation.  Take-home value was at a premium, and you, my friend, are about to be the benefactor of their amazing handout. (It’s at the end of this post.)

I’ll share just a few of their nuggets. These are entitled, “The Seven F’s of a Balanced Life and Adventurous Marriage!”  Grab your spouse and work through these at your leisure.  They are GOLD for the health and maintenance of your marriage.

Also noteworthy, we were blessed to meet a couple who’d been married fifty-nine years as well as some newlyweds, who’d almost been married two months.  I thought both spoke volumes for attending as one could argue neither should need advice at those early and late stages!

Elizabeth and Stephen had all of us evaluate where our marriage is currently, plus what our five-year vision is by ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10 in these seven different areas.  I confess John and I differed a little on the scoring which was a wee bit eye opening!!!

Early into their marriage, especially since they’d both been married before, Elizabeth and Stephen consulted friends who are also mentors to them, Jim and Naomi Rhode.  The Rhodes  gave them three do-or-die suggestions they’ve held onto throughout their marriage:

Elizabeth was very candid about this.  She remarked on the importance of who you hang out with.  She warned, “Divorce is contagious. I believe I got divorced in my first marriage  largely due to the people I was hanging out with at the time.”  This goes along with, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” (Go back and read #3 above!)

Elizabeth and Stephen initiated each of the “F’s” with Scripture as a foundation for the following categories: (I’ll elaborate on some, not all…that’s where your homework comes in on the worksheet.)

Faith – The Scripture they cited for us in this category is a favorite:

Family and Friends (Best Friend – your spouse, Both sides of your families, and Friends)

Key word in this category is CHERISH.   Do you have a “cherish mindset” towards your spouse?

Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish:  The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage came highly recommended.

We discussed what makes us feel cherished.  Elizabeth reminded us, “Language creates feelings, feelings create behavior, and behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.”  Let that soak in for a minute.

The other golden nugget they shared was a prayer to pray when you’re feeling your spouse is “less than.”  Elizabeth and Stephen suggested we pray this for our spouses continuously:

“Lord, help me to love him/her as you do.”

Here John and I are with some of our couple friends who attended.  Left to Right:  Randy and Susan Bugh, Yours Truly and John, Bev and Steve Fleece

 

And now fun with some of our girlfriends…Left to right:  Mary, Elizabeth, Mary’s daughter, Lacy (She and her husband, Dale, were our very brave newlyweds at the conference), and Yours Truly.

Fun – Oh wow, did we ever have fun with the “fun” category!  Our table mates discussed:

“What does FUN mean to you? 

How does FUN play out in your life and marriage?”

After ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10, we unanimously decided what it would take for us to rate a “10”:

Tortola in February. (Hey, nothing wrong with goals??!!! Dreams??!!)

Here are our wonderful speakers, Elizabeth and Stephen, having FUN on the dance floor…

Fitness (Mental and Physical) – Being a book lover, it was my great joy to hear Elizabeth and Stephen ask us regarding the mental part of fitness, “What are you reading right now?”  They reminded us growth and learning are paramount to us individually as well as together.

Focus on Career

Finances

Free Gifts – Matthew 10:8 was the verse on this section reminding us, “…freely you have received, freely give.”

Additional excellent nuggets we were blessed with were two questions to ask each other at the close of every day:

Finally, Elizabeth and Stephen showed us a framed prayer they pray together every night before they go to sleep.  It sits on their bedside table:

At the close of the morning session, attendees were dismissed until 4:30 in the afternoon when a lovely service on marriage was performed by Jady.  We all then reconvened for dinner and dancing  which was the icing on the cake (Yes, we had a wedding cake of course!) for all of us.

Sherry affirmed all of our sentiments with this quote: “The day, from start to finish, was so special as we focused in on our marriage.  It’s been thirty years for Bill and me, and we both appreciated being able to reflect, learn and celebrate.”

Thanks again to Mary Young who birthed this idea a year ago, Jady Koch and the folks at St. Francis, and our outstanding teachers/speakers, Elizabeth and Stephen Tweed.

Please enjoy a couple more photos from the evening portion plus you’ll find the invaluable handout with contact information at the end.

Left to Right:  Bill and Sherry Leavell with Mary and Michael Young

Left to right:  John, Stephen, Elizabeth and Yours Truly

Do try these Seven “F’s” with your spouse (click the link to be taken to a printable version).

‘Til next time!

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More on Gathering Around a Table with Help from Shauna Niequist’s book: BREAD AND WINE

Friends!  The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.

This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.

Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).

Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner.  Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.

All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient:  dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”.  I know…  She dubs it “cheater mousse”.  LOL.

Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas.  It’s the best!  Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.

You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.

Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek.  (www.willowcreek.org )

Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family.  Getting a peek into their family is so sweet.  Their devotion to one another is beautiful.

I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.

Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table.  She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.

This is how she puts her foot down:  “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!

Here, Shauna’s readying to prepare a meal…

My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist.  When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.”  We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.

One petite example:  Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready.  To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve.  (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes!  You can do this!”)

Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread.  I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)

Shauna explains her title beautifully:  “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.

Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.

Something extraordinary happens when we…

Slow down,

Open our homes,

Look into one another’s faces, and

Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”

We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp.  I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.

One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves.  I see it in three parts:

What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to

(1) Rest and

(2) Connect and

(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)

Dash  to your local bookstore.  Find this book and flip thru’ it.  My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better!  Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.

‘Til next time!

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Now We’re Movin’ to the Front Yard with help from Kristin Schell and THE TURQUOISE TABLE…

Friends!  I pray today finds you well…I’m livin’ in the Land of Denial re:  “Summer’s Half Over”…Somehow the 4th of July left us rather rudely in the dust…

Here’s a book for your summer reading whether this finds you poolside, or perched by a picture window…

A recent discovery of this book has snowballed to near avalanche proportions.  Thanks to a favorite, informative resource, www.styleblueprint.com , the gals offered a fascinating interview with author Kristin Schell as a “Face of the South”.

I was so mesmerized by the article, I promptly forwarded it to my friend, Judy, who’s creating her own book with similar offerings.  Judy up and ordered two copies, one for her and one for me.  We’ve simultaneously become enraptured by the book.

The book?  The Turquoise Table—Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristen Schell.

Note the beauty of the cover.  I’d have bought it solely from the cover.  Its’ spine is a lovely, sheeny gold and it includes a rich, brown, satin book marker.  Such things tickle me. (You go, Thomas Nelson.)

Each page is thick, easy to turn. Each chapter has beautiful photographs, ideas, recipes (all of which look easy and delicious), and testimonies of others acquiring a turquoise table.  Why the turquoise table you ask?

One weekend, Kristin and her family were going to be entertaining in their back yard and she realized they needed furniture.  A picnic table fit their budget.

Delivery guys plunked the table in her front yard.  This gave Kristin an idea:  What if she left it there, inviting friends and neighbors to visit on a whim?

Oh, but it couldn’t stay in its’ plain ole’ natural wood color.  Flipping thru’ many paint samples, with the help of Kristin’s Mom, Mia, they landed on “Nifty Turquoise”.

Check this out from Bourn Creative:  “The color turquoise is associated with meanings of refreshing, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, etc.”

Kristin’s writing style is expressive, funny, and honest.  You’ll relate with her from the first page.  This comes as great relief to the reader as we learn the simplicity of offering hospitality to others.

One of many appealing aspects of the turquoise table is its’ location:  it’s outside.  Thus, no one knows if the inside of your house is a wreck or not.  (Just pray they don’t have to use the bathroom, right?)

Kristen says, “If you’re busy and overwhelmed, the last thing you need is one more project, one more thing to do. Well, you’ll see the Turquoise Table offers simplicity. It’s more than a table; it’s a symbol of reaching out and making room without all the fuss and frenzy.”

In my last post, we talked about our mission fields being in our own back yards. Here we see Kristen showing us:  “We are called to love others in our everyday, ordinary lives…right where we live: in our own front yards.”

Kristen shares how this whole idea of the table evolved.  Many days she begins by sitting at the table alone and soon, others show up. Sometimes she plans get-togethers. Sometimes she’s there with her children.  She adds, “If people come, great, but if not, then you have time to stay unconnected and have room to breathe.”

One on-purpose gathering simply came from a text she sent out saying, “9:00 tomorrow. Yoga pants.”  Love that! (You can hear more from Kristen in a fun interview she did with Eric Metaxas on his radio show.  It aired 6/13/17.  Visit www.metaxastalk.com)

Kristen’s kids began setting out a bowl of water for dogs who walk by, and a bowl of candy to treat their neighbors, just for starters.  She includes other numerous ideas.  To see how this whole idea has evolved and literally spread across the country is astonishing.

After having her fourth child, Kristen began dubbing herself the “Queen of Crazy”.  She prayed a fabulous prayer:  “Lord, edit my life!”  (Note to self…)

Romans 12:13 became her mantra:

You’ll love what you’ll learn about hospitality. It has many different faces according to Kristen.  If she can do this with four young children, surely we can too…

Equally fascinating is a pattern she discovers.  Don’t miss this!  (I’m not about to spoil the discovery for you, you must read the book!)

Countless people have written to Kristen sharing their stories, including some challenges their HOA has presented and their very clever solutions. One of many favorite ideas from Kristen’s time at the table is she’s begun setting out an “iBasket”…which you can guess collects cell phones.  Kristen said in the Style Blueprint interview, “There’s no ‘i’ device that will ever replace ‘eye’ contact.”  Whoa.

Combine quiet, unplugged time with the  “Ministry of Presence”, thanks to inspiration from an eighty-four-year-old widow in Prague…

Her name is Ludmilla.  She has a plaque on the outside of her apartment that says, “Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven.” She opens her door and her heart to friends and strangers. Kristen said Ludmilla encouraged her to “want to have a simple table spread with abundant love. To offer an atmosphere of joy and peace.” 

Any argument you could have about beginning this endeavor, Kristen answers.  It almost becomes comical because you feel as if she’s reading your mind.

One of many favorite activities in the book is to “Start a Front Yard People Journal.”  This helps you remember neighbors’ names, their family, prayer requests, etc.—Almost a guest book of sorts.

I’ll go so far as to recommend you start your own version of a guest book whether you’re considering a turquoise table or not.  My same friend Judy who gave me Kristen’s book says her one major regret over the years from having hosted countless missionaries, pastors, authors, friends, and family is not recording who all has gathered and placed their feet under her table.  That would make for a fascinating book!  (We’re anxiously awaiting yours, Judy!!! You can do it!)

Friend, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab The Turquoise Table.  You’ll love it.  It’s also an excellent gift idea.  My daughters-in-love are getting a copy ASAP.  It would also be a beautiful coffee table book, guaranteeing lively conversation.

‘Til next time!

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Clearing Clutter Clears Your Mind…and then some… (With help from author Ruth Soukup)

Friends!  I pray this finds you well and rested, having had fun family time over Memorial Day Weekend.

Wait ’til you hear what nearly happened:  My sweet husband, John, and I recently came within hours of buying another house.  As in Sunday night, before we were to answer the contract Monday morning, we were leaving the potential purchase and I said, “Ya know, I’m just not 100%.”  To which he replied, “Me neither.”

KUNG…..Are you kidding me?  I’d already mentally placed furniture in each room thanks to sleepless nights among other distractions. We’d be gaining a neat, “lock and leave” concept-of-a-home with a four foot by eight foot patch of grass verses our current two acres, a first floor master, etc.

John stopped the car mid-hill and we said in unison, “Let’s not do it.”  That was that.

While some of our friends considered us in dire need of a psychological evaluation (!!!), others “got it”.  Several of our friends are downsizing, simplifying, and purging their homes of stuff so their poor children don’t have to years later. Having gone thru’ that with my own parents, that experience was no picnic.  At  all. At  all.

One huge “aha” moment occurred during this lapse of sanity.  I declared while in a major panic mode:  “Wow, if we have to show this house for sale, the first and second floors are good.  But  the closets?  And  the basements?  Major deal-breakers. Buyers would run for the hills.”

You may have noticed “basements” is plural.  Yes, we have two basements.  Both small, but both very full of stuff.  Largely thanks to my parents’ home we emptied.

Thus we’ve begun the purging process.  We’ve made good dents in all the closets.  But, we’ve not ventured down to the basements yet.  Soon tho’, very soon.  It’s a very good feeling to finally begin this long, overdue process.

There are a gazillion books available to aid those of us in the pack rat category.  One which many of us have read and continually quote is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

One of Marie’s suggestions is to hold up the item in question (whether to keep or toss), and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” My friends and I’ve had a boatload of fun discussing this.

The other good news is there are numerous organizations more than happy to take your stuff, friends in need, maybe even consignment opportunities. Our “trash” is morphing into someone else’s “treasure”.  Hallelujah!!!

Another book I read years ago is by a guy whose fame largely came from Oprah. His name is Peter Walsh. He’s written many more books since the one I read.  I confess I totally bought this book on a whim because the title made me howl right there in the bookstore: Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?  For  real?  Yet it seems there is a correlation to people with stuff also carrying around extra pounds…Hmmm…

Even better news, I’ve discovered a lovely Christian author named Ruth Soukup.  She’s authored several books on decluttering and comes highly recommended.  Her most recent book is called Unstuffed:  Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul.

Check out her amazing blog, too:  www.lvingwellspendingless.com

On Ruth’s blog, she says her mission is to “eliminate overwhelm and make your life just a little bit easier.”  Amen. She even offers many amazing recipes!

Lysa TerKeurst says, “As women, we have the tendency to overstuff our lives, our schedules, and our homes with things that really aren’t beneficial.  And our souls suffer because of our unwillingness to let go.  Ruth Soukup tackles this issue head-on and gives practical steps to be purposeful with the stuff we let into our sacred spaces.”

Ruth’s book is divided into three parts:  Home, Mind, and Soul.  It’s not just about decluttering stuff, she helps you seriously look at your schedule, your paperwork, and other people’s stuff…as in letting go of guilt.  i.e. “My Mother would never forgive me if I got rid of _______________.”

She also talks about when you’re “drowning in magazines” as an example of the paperwork part.  (Please, no one venture onto our porch right now as there’s a pile of magazines and catalogs awaiting my review.  Hello? Busted.)

Regarding your soul, Ruth addresses friends, wellness and your spirit, “Letting go of the need to do it yourself.”  She tells us, “Each chapter will offer sidebars of concrete ideas you can implement right away to clear the chaos and create calm, clutter-free zones within your home…”

While we may have missed the spring cleaning season (it’s not quite summer yet, is it?), it’s never too late to begin purging.  Your home and your family will thank you, trust me.

Before we close, let’s look at some other books by Ruth:

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life:  One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind and Schedule

Living Well Spending Less:  12 Secrets of the Good Life

31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero:  Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life.

Before I return to editing my book, I’m tackling two horrendous looking piles surrounding me on my desk.  Got a place in mind you need to tackle?  Go for it! Just start, little by little.

Clear the clutter, clear your mind.  You’ll be honoring the Lord with your efforts and He will be well pleased.

Proverbs 16:3 reminds us to include God in our efforts: 

‘Til next time!

 

 

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