Saturday, December 4, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed? - Part 2

Sometimes life can leave you feeling overwhelmed. In my own life there are currently three areas that I know I need to work on in order not to feel this way. I am being very intentional about simplifying and de-cluttering in my own home and daily schedule. While there are some things I cannot control, there are some areas that I can certainly make drastic improvements in.

Last year when I started doing the extreme couponing, which I prefer to call being frugal and getting great deals, our cupboards quickly began filling up. Lack of food is certainly not a problem at our house and giving it away helps me to be generous to those in need.

While this is certainly a blessing and not a problem, there are two areas in need of my attention: 1) Coming up with healthy, cost-effective, time-efficient recipes that incorporate what I have purchased and 2) shopping on the reduced budget while adding more healthy foods to our diet.

We have cut our food, toiletries, medicines, paper products budget in half which is fantastic. But I learned last week just how important it is to pay attention to your health and what you put in your body.

When I first wrote about being overwhelmed and becoming a frumpy-lumpy toad, I was gaining over one pound per day. It wasn't from Thanksgiving gluttony, because I tried to watch how much I ate. It wasn't from anything hormonal that I knew of. But by Thursday night, I was becoming really concerned.

Earlier that week I had a serious sinus headache that I couldn't seem to get rid of and so I kept taking over-the-counter medication for it. The medicine wasn't doing a thing for me. Then it hit me, my husband had read that one of the possible side-effects of the medicine was unexplainable weight gain! I stopped taking it and within two days all the added pounds were gone and so was my headache.

All of this to say that it made me very aware that I need to be intentional about what I am putting in my body, what kind of exercise I am getting and thinking about how I want to live out my days on this earth. What I do or don't do today to take care of myself will have an impact in the years to come.

God calls us to be good stewards of our resources and our bodies and it is my desire to honor Him with both. How we feel physically and how we take of ourselves can have a huge impact on whether on not we feel overwhelmed in life

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Happened to Christmas

Feeling Overwhelmed - Part 2 is going to have to wait until tomorrow. And since I didn't include Christmas on the list of things that overwhelm me, this will just have to be a stand alone post.

For several weeks I have been mulling over and discussing with my immediate family the desire and need to do things differently for Christmas. Somewhere over time and generations of traditions passed down, Jesus didn't seem to be invited on Christmas day.

I followed along with what I knew and then by the time I realized it really needed to change, I felt too guilty and too intimidated to make the bold announcement that we were no longer going to follow the handed down traditions of way too many gifts and no Jesus.

As I type this, I keep thinking that I am probably the only one going through this. But that's a lie from satan. I can be sure somebody else is right there with me even if might look a bit different.

Tonight was the final moment for me as I talked to someone about Christmas and shopping, etc. and half-way through I started thinking "I cannot believe I am having this conversation". There wasn't a chance that there was any room for Jesus by the time all the details of gifts and errands and money was discussed. I think I may have tuned the person out with my own thoughts, so I hope they didn't say anything I will need to remember later.

The secular world has made Christmas into a 'Happy Holiday' and a consumer extravaganza. The "Happy Holiday" has become all about us.

I want to give something to Jesus for Christmas this year. What would please Him? Something beyond a gift to the poor, something beyond extra food to the food bank. How does Christmas truly get turned back around to be about Jesus when the flying wrapping paper on Christmas morning would be enough to lose a baby in?

As I continue to think about what it might look like to take a stand against all the commercialism in heightened form, I can't help but think about the kings in the Old Testament who knew that to stand up for what was right would cost them something materially, but the eternal gain would be so much greater.

Sometimes we just need to do things differently and recapture the true meaning of Christmas in our homes and in our lives.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed?

In the last few weeks, I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed. You would think that I would then rattle off a long list of all the responsibilities and activities going on in my life or health or financial concerns. But that's not the case. My feelings of overwhelmedness (my own word) stem from three areas in my life that I can clearly name:

1. Too much stuff in my life and an increasing need and desire to simplify like never before.
2. A sedentary life in my mid-40's which is making me feel like I am going to turn into a frumpy looking toad if I don't do something.
3. A plateau in my spiritual life that needs to be recharged.

In the last three years we have moved twice and hauled off bags of stuff to charities and to the trash. Our kids have moved out taking most of their stuff with them. So you would think we would have less stuff. Not so. I think it multiplies like the dust under the couch.

As I walk into my closet, the clothes are spilling off the shelf and the shoes are falling off the shoe rack. Yet every single morning I find myself wondering "what will I wear to work?" Well, let's see - there are the pairs of jeans that are not going to ever fit again and by the time they do they will be so out of style they could pass for something vintage. There are the shoes on the floor that were probably in style in the 90's or are so worn out they are not worthy of being worn any longer. Not too mention the umpteen other pieces that I'm never going to wear again. Stuff!

I am a pile-prone woman by nature. So if left to myself, I will die in the middle of random piles of stuff in my house. I don't like it. I like a clean, well-kept house. But when you have too much stuff - you get piles. And as the piles continue to steal the space in my house, it also steals my contentment and I feel overwhelmed.

So I am currently a woman on a mission. A mission to get rid of stuff and to do it with intentionality. As I cleaned house tonight, I made sure to take the extra 10 minutes or so and actually go through two piles of stuff in our bedroom and either throw it out or find a new place for it. I opened a drawer to put some cds away only to discover a brand-new 2009 calendar. The calendar and most everything else in the stack went into the trash.

My goal over the next 30 days (yes, right in the middle of the Christmas season) is to go through every drawer and cupboard in my house and get rid of anything that needs to go. If it isn't being used, isn't necessary or will never be used - it needs to go somewhere else.

You know those bottles of lotion under the bathroom sink - the ones that have just enough in them to keep, but not enough to really make you use it? Yep - I have a little collection right there beside the face cream. So I am going to start using it up before I open a new bottle. I may smell like a mixed-fruit basket by Christmas, but at least there will be less clutter.

Tonight I lit all the candles in the house. No - they do not all have different strong scents. Some are just pretty. I like candles. I like the smells. I like the way they make my home feel, especially in the winter. Sadly, I have spent most winters not using them like I want to. Instead, I put them out, pack them up for a season, get them back out and move them around the other candles in the boxes that I never burn either. Life is too short not to burn the candles. If I burn them, there is less stuff to store and more enjoyment in the use.

Life is full of stuff. It can either overwhelm us or give us pleasure. My desire is to truly simplify in every area of my life. By simplifying I will be able to focus more on my family, other people and my own relationship with God and the ministry that he has called me to.

Tomorrow I will write about #2 and the sedentary life of a wife in mid-life and the changes that need to be made to honor God in all that I do.