Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DeCluttering: Day 1 of 5

I took a decluttering challenge with fellow blogger, Jill Foley over at her "Daily Bread" blog. She challenged herself and others to release 5 things from our homes each day this week. I know I have enough hiding spaces like closets and drawers to do this challenge but I also want to look at my motives and build convictions. One of the reason we are over consumers is a lack of contentment. I must grow in being more content! So I will share a few verses as I go along. I think these scriptures will help me when I want to 'bring new things' into the house but I think they also help with decluttering, or as Jill so perfectly put it, releasing!

Hebrews 13:5
Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,"

Luke 12:15  And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."





Items I am donating, recycling, or selling:

Progress! :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Peripheral Dump

Eco-Friendly Pink Dump Truck by Green Toys
This pink dump truck for girls made me smile and fit this post well. *grin* Over the weekend I reflected on getting rid of the peripheral in my life after reading an article by Sarah Peck. In it she made this statement that's stuck with me: "It’s about finding out what matters to you, and getting rid of the peripheral."

Looking at the definition, peripheral is: concerned with relatively minor, irrelevant, or superficial aspects of the subject in question; near the surface or outside of; external.

We all have peripheral things that either sneak in or that we casually bring into our lives. The Spirit often calls us to give things up so we can follow Christ more wholeheartedly...sometimes you may even be called to give up everything. I took the opportunity to look around to see what peripheral things I could get rid of...anything that could be complicating my life in serving Christ or disrupting our peace together. I also looked for things that were unfruitful and pruned them away so it was a weekend peripheral dump and prioritizing.

1. Facebook dump - I went through and removed some folks that I was connected to on facebook. If we don't use it to communicate, or if their posts tend to not set well with me or bring me stress then I know we don't need to be connected.

2. Blog retreat - There is a blog I read sometimes that has gone through a dramatic change. The writer has cast aside the pressure she felt to perform on her blog. Likewise, I did some praying about any pressure I was putting on myself about getting posts published. If my weeks ahead are tough and demanding, I give myself permission to not post. :)

3. Closet & Kitchen dump - Packed a bag full of clothes to donate and gave some canned food to a local food bank

4. Bedroom dump- In the spirit of creating surroundings that support me, I looked at my bedroom and took things out that weren't essential. My bedside table now only has a lamp on it. I put the candles up that I don't use each night and took the books back to my living room library instead of having a stack in my room.

5. Mental dump - I'm a thinker so I practiced some breath prayers where I only focused on one or two words and my breathing. Also, when I catch myself having mostly negative or critical thoughts about interactions that have taken place, I balance that with making myself reflect on positive interactions. In fact, now that I write about it, I found a poem last week that supports this:

As Linda Breen Pierce once said, "Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” A high quality life for me is one close to Jesus so doing a peripheral dump is perfect. This hasn't been the first and I'm certain it won't be the last but each time...it's so freeing. In the bible, there are verses where people are called or motivated not just to give up a few things...but all! You may start small...but it's worth praying about that God might be calling you further than a simple dump. If that tugs your heart, then my encouragement is to open up and pray about stepping out on faith even more.

Practical: Spend sometime in prayer and bible study looking for anything peripheral or unfruitful that you have either brought into your life or has somehow snuck in. Then, take courage and dump it!

Feeling tugged toward a more radical dump? A mission team? Downsizing? Then consider these verses and do some deeper study:

Mark 10:21, "Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” and in Luke 12:33, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Or in Luke 5:11, "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Unacceptable Answer = The Road to Hope!

The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.  ~Plato

Pic from - http://geeknomad.tv/2012/04/13/the-adventure-begins/
I had a doctor's appointment as a last follow up to my sleep testing and the PA said, "You've hit the end of the road for what American medicine can do." They wanted to continue testing my hypersomnia but the only end result he said would be to put me on stimulants from here on out. They've basically diagnosed me with idiopathic hypersomnia which are fancy words for I sleep a lot but they can't find the cause.

This is an unacceptable answer to me.

It's easy to lose heart when you are sick. So that's why I've been looking for quotes to encourage me but it's been even hard to find quotes that are deep. Mostly they have been greeting card level with a little bit of "if you get sick, then it's because you didn't believe hard enough not to." I was getting to the point of chunking the laptop to the side walk when I read the quote above by Plato. Finally, depth! What a truth he spoke. Since I was blogging, reading and praying today during my coffee and cozy with God...I feel the Spirit confirming a recent direction I've been taking in my health.

About two weeks ago I visited a wellness center because I had read about homeopathic medicine. It became more well know in 1828 but it's philosophy has been around since Hippocrates about 400 BC. The center has a mixture of specialists from acupuncturists to Chinese herbalists, those trained in Thai yoga & rolfing and muscle testing using kinesiology. So even though I'm a huge skeptic by nature, I know sometimes things can work, even if they don't make sense to us...plus I figure I've spent well over 1 1/2 years in testing with Western medicine and 'ruled' out the 'serious' causes so why not give Eastern medicine a try?

The visit was great! The woman I met with was previously a Pharmacist...coming from a long line of Pharmacists. She is now also an acupuncturist and won me over with her knowledge of Western Science and practice of Eastern Medicine in hopes to diagnose and treat me as holistically and comprehensively as possible. After spending about 30 minutes writing and asking me questions about my health, she did some kinesiology testing, I had an acupuncture session and was recommended some homeopathic medicines. I'm not sure what the acupuncture did, maybe it helped? I know I'd always prefer a massage instead! LOL. Honestly, I was getting discouraged at seeing no difference until about a week after my visit. Do you know what? Slowly, I've been feeling better. I've seen my day time sleepiness start to go away. I've had a couple of nights where I've only slept about 8 hrs instead of my normal 10-14hrs. I'm not a 100% but I'm feeling good enough to get up and exercise in the mornings again.

I am gaining some hope! And it helped to visit a wellness center who believes in the 'whole' person. So today, won't you praise God with me? His presence has been continually with me through all this and in His amazing wisdom, He had someone give me an unacceptable answer as a way to direct my feet on the road to hope again.

But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.Psalm 9:18

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener...

Recently, instead of the traditional saying of "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" I saw a garden sign that read, "The grass is always greener where you water it."

On a practical level, that's so true. My next door neighbor does not water at all and so their yard is brown. And that makes sense. I do water my lawn twice a week and my yard looks green and healthy. Yet, my neighbor across the street water their lawn every morning and their yard looks amazingly lush and green! 

You may wonder then why am I okay with green and healthy instead of watering to look amazingly lush and green. Because it's not about how things look, my friend! My lawn is stronger even if it's not lush and greener. My yard is stronger because when I water...I water deep. A website called gardenview.com, states this well known fact in an article when it mentions that when you water everyday the roots don't go deep for water because they have what they need without the effort of growing downward. Furthermore, the article states, "...When it gets hot out the surface is the first place to dry out. Even though there is water deeper in the ground the grass or plants dry out because their roots are only on the surface and not tapping the deeper water...Again, shallow roots create this problem."

Kind of like when Jesus said that seeds that fall along shallow soil suffer, "when the sun came up, it scorched the plants; and they dried up because they had no roots." ~Mark 4:6

So relating to the spiritual aspects of times with God, fellowship, study, worship..., yes you must water, but key is going deep! You could do the right things each day but if you don't go deep and they don't have substance it will not sustain you. Being strong and healthy enough to finish your race is important...not just looking good the first few miles.

When I leave town and my yard is fine. When my neighbors leave town, their lawn suffers tremendously. Likewise, when times get hard, if you've dug deep...you'll be fine but if you've kept things shallow...my friend, you will suffer. So to be green, you must water, that's obvious but I would like to change the saying and state, "The grass is always green and healthy where you water it...deep."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Never Tap Out

Not everyone knows the background of the phrase "never tap out" but it's a sentiment that comes out of the Ultimate Fighting Competitions (UFC) for mixed-martial arts. Of course a fighter can be knocked out but also, and more strategically, an opponent can use a submission move (putting a joint or limb under serious stress or pinning someone to where they can't move or fight back). When this happens the fighter in the losing position taps the ground or his opponent to show he gives up and quits.

So the phrase, "never tap out" is a clever way to say never give up!

I don't watch UFC anymore but I have not forgotten this simple lesson. I even had a black t-shirt made and with hot pink letters that says,

I can't tell you how many have read my shirt with a puzzled look and asked, "tap dance?" LOL. But no, it is saying that Jesus didn't quit. He didn't give up. He's the ultimate example, the ultimate champion! Any reminders of that and of not giving up...well, that just flat inspires me!

One day I watch an interview of a UFC fighter that has a reputation as being one of the best in the industry. The ref had stopped a recent fight due to this fighter becoming injured. His opponent had actually been able to place him in a traditional submisson move that is called an 'arm bar.' It puts stress on the elbow in an attempt to make the other person tap. As I watched the footage, amazingly (or stupidly - ha) this fighter didn't give up. All of a sudden *SNAP* he let his arm be broken! And then...he kept fighting!!!!! But the ref had stopped the fight.

The interviewer asked him why didn't he just tap out and the fighter replied something like, "Because you don't quit in a fight. Every day people are fighting. You fight to get up and provide for your kids and family. You fight just to make it in life. Life is a fight...and you don't quit even when you get injured. Besides, I knew I could beat him even with only one arm."

Ha, I never said those guys weren't cocky. :) But in many ways, he's right. Life is a fight....and some of the most amazing fighters I've seen or read about are from the Christian faith. And I don't have to tell you, if you're a Christian, all the opponents or battles you fight daily.

So my friend, never tap out. Next time you feel you are getting all beat up or beat down by this world, just imagine Jesus standing at ring side with a sign above his head that reads:

"I believe in you! Never tap out."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Peacocks in Early Christian Art

Recently, my bedroom has slowly started changing themes. It began with an idea of placing simple peacock feathers inside a glass hurricane. I did this because not only was it pretty but it brought back great memories for me of my childlike nature because in kindergarten I always picked the peacock feather to play with during class free time.

I've not been drawn to peacocks since that time yet these past few months peacocks are popping up all around me. I even bought a bed spread that reminds me of the peacock and my colors have shifted from a mostly green bedroom to one full of greens and blues.
Here's Manna playing on the new comforter:  

When I started doing a little research, I found it interesting that early Christian artists often used some version of the peafowl. Now when I see a peacock picture or come across a feather my thoughts instantly go to God. (which I find very comforting) So as just a tidbit for you today, below are a couple of other pictures I found online that might be interesting for you to do some continued reading.   


"In Early Christian art, the peacock symbolized immortality and was therefore an appropriate element in the decoration of a church. The accompanying flower probably alludes to God’s bountiful creation..." ~ Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Saint Cecilia was an aristocrat and an early Christian who was martyred in her home in AD 230

Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome
Episcopal basilica in Stobi (another link here)
The Episcopal basilica in the ancient city of Stobi has a big four leaf shaped baptismal room next to it. It was built in the 4th century and is decorated with beautiful floor mosaics, presenting peacocks and deers drinking water from fountains. The water and the fountains represent Christ and his teaching, the deers represent the suffering soul of the Christian and the peacocks represent eternal life. In the center of the room there is a baptismal pool decorated with white and black marbles, over which a dome used to stand.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Essential: Time with God

As I reflect on how important my relationship with God is, I am reminded of a few verses that have brought me to the conviction that I must have time with God each and every day. It's not always easy but without having daily time with God I am tempted to rely on myself only and turn to my old way of life or my old 'fixes'. Below are some verses that encourage me to keep fighting for my relationship with God, to open my heart to him and to let him refresh me. I hope these verses inspire you too!  

Mark [Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (My Lord, as Jesus relied on you, I want to have this intimate of a relationship. No matter where we spend time together, you are my solitary place, my hiding place, my home.) 

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (God, you have my devotion – I will be watchful of the things you want to show me, watchful for your return and grateful.)

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (So challenging, Lord! When I am feeling anxious going to you daily can be a struggle because I try to do things myself but I know I need it so I’ll hold to this verse and turn to you.)

Matt. 21:21-22 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (I know that you will not let anything get in the way of our relationship and that totally builds my faith! I will pray, pray, pray.)

Eph. 6: 17-18 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (You prepare me for the day! I will keep the promise of your salvation on my mind, spend time in your word, and pray to you because you are My God!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God Is Just

Definition of “Just”:
1. guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness:
2. done or made according to principle; equitable; proper: a just reply. 
3. based on right; rightful; lawful: a just claim. 
4. in keeping with truth or fact; true; correct: a just analysis. 
5. given or awarded rightly; deserved, as a sentence, punishment, or reward: a just penalty. 
6. in accordance with standards or requirements; proper or right: just proportions. 
7. (esp. in Biblical use) righteous.
8. actual, real, or genuine

What are your thoughts about God being just and showing justice? Below are some verses to consider :)

God’s righteous judgment:

2 Thessalonians 1: 1-12
Romans 2:6-11

Ecclesiastes 3:17
I thought in my heart, "God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed."

Ecclesiastes 11:9
Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Who will be judged? What saves people during judgment? Spend some time finding those scriptures.
How does this motivate you?
Our God is trustworthy!

Psalm 111:7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.

2 Samuel 7:28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

Psalm 9:7-9  The LORD reigns forever;  he has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 98:8-9 Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

On a level of 1-10 (1=low, 10=high), where is your level of trust in God?
When do you struggle most with trusting that God is just?
Extra reading; Psalm 73

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Project Staycation

I took advantage of the July 4th holiday because it provided me with a random day off in the middle of last week. By taking Thursday and Friday as vacation days also, I had a staycation where I simply worked on projects that I've been wanting to do. Some were projects like painting and cleaning out the garage but below are some other projects I accomplished that were crafty in nature. :)

Project #1: the "Holistic Me" binder - Take all the articles I've clipped and recipes I've tried from online or in magazines and put them all together in one nice binder. The articles are full of health tips, stress busting ideas, and I've added scriptures and poems throughout too so it's like my own perfect magazine!

Project #2: Antique rake jewelry holder (saw idea on Pinterest). Because it's antique, I didn't paint it perfectly so some of the charm could come through...the flower is a simple hair accessory

Project #3: Yarn wreath - made it for Halloween. Again the flowers and orange thing are just hair accessories, the leaves are from a dollar store wreath and simply loop through the yarn that I wrapped around a foam ring. I cut out the bat from cardboard, made it black with a marker and added yellow button eyes. 

Project #4: Napkin rings - Cut up a toilet paper roll into 4 circles, wrapped with fabric, and hot glued on a button. They are so simple and very fashionable for my table.

Project #5: Button craft - added buttons to a doodle drawing I had done a few years ago :)

All in all the staycation was a great success because not only did I get a lot of stuff done but I was able to get my mind off the stressfulness that is going along with my health right now. There is something about being creative that causes me to 'be still' for a time and makes me reflect on how creative our God is...He is the ultimate at making things beautiful. My "Project Staycation" reminded me of that and connected me to Him as I worked on my little projects.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Prayer Flowers

This is a cute idea for prayers or prayer reminders. You tape the 'prayer flower' to a wall by your bed, your prayer corner, or work desk...anywhere! Then on the remaining yellow petals you write the prayer requests you want to pray for often. Since tape sticks easily to laminate, tape the prayer request 'petals' over the laminated flower to match. You can change out at will or remove when the prayer is answered. These are some I just made recently to encourage two close friends. :)

Supplies for making two prayer flowers
  • 2 sheets yellow paper (or flower petal color of choice)
  • 1/2 sheet green paper
  • 1/2 sheet orange paper (or center of flower paper color of choice)
  • 4 sheets of self laminate
  • Using the 1/2 sheet or orange paper, cut out 2 circles for center of flowers
  • Using yellow paper, cut 20 'petals'
  • Using one of the circles cut for the center of the flowers, cut two circles from the yellow paper
  • Cut stems from 1/2 sheet of green paper
  • On one side of each orange center circle, tape 5 petals
  • Tape a stem on each flower also where petals meet
  • Tape the yellow circles to the back of flower to cover where petals & stem meet in back
  • Write a favorite scripture on prayer on the front circle in center of flower
  • Laminate flower between two pieces of laminate then cut around the flower
Jude: 1:20-21 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Quick Craft for Patriotic Holidays

My neighbors decorate for all the holidays. I've been wanting a unique patriotic wreath for my front door to use during July 4th, Memorial Day, or Veteran's Day. This wreath cost me only $9 to make and took about 2 hours to finish. (Of course I was watching tv as I worked too - ha)

  • 2 red bandanas
  • 2 white bandanas
  • 1 blue bandana
  • 1 foam wreath (12")
  • grab a pair of scissors

  • Cut the hems off the bandanas
  • Take the blue bandana and cut about 3/4" from the edge then rip it until you have a single strip. (repeat)
  • Take a blue strip, wrap it in half around the foam wreath and tie a bow. (or you can tie a double knot and cut the ends later - I rather liked the bows look

  • After you are satisfied with your blue section, continue with the red and white

  • I 'reused' 3 of the hems I cut off by braiding them into a loop hook to hang the wreath

  • Finally, I tied 3 white bows in the blue section to represent stars

How cute is that? I'm very satisfied.