How to Have a Happier Husband on Focus on the Family Today!

How to Have a Happier Husband on Focus on the Family Today!

Friends, I hope you are staying cool somehow in this crazy heat (at least in California we are having an epic heat wave).

I am excited to share with you that Focus on the Family is running an episode in which I share tips on “How to Have a Happier Husband”. I love helping marriages become everything you wished it would be before you were married. If you need a re-direct on focusing on you marriage or want some new ideas on how to make your husband feel loved, respected, care-for and important, this episode is fun and helpful. I hope you enjoy and share with your friends.

Check out the episode by clicking here.

 

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Hello, my fellow FLINGERS!

I’m so excited to fling 1,000 things with you between now and July 14. Are you ready to suit up and show up over the next five weeks or are you still on the fence? If you haven’t committed to the Five-Week Fling, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Shame? Or are you too overwhelmed to know where to begin?

Well, let me tell you, friends. I have been there and back, and here’s what I have to say about all of that: Take my hand and let me lead you out of despair.

Ground rules for the five-week fling

I know. 1,000 things in five weeks sounds daunting, but we’re going to tackle it in bite-size chunks. More importantly, we’re going to do it together. But before we begin, let’s set some ground rules:

  1. Progress beats perfection. Whether you fling 10 things or 1,000 things, you’re one step closer to winning back your home – and your life – than you were before you began.
  2. No blame, no shame. We are all at different stages of our Clutter Free journey, and that’s OK. We’re going to jump in where we’re at with a focus on moving ourselves forward.
  3. Weekends off (if you want). The program is built around the idea of taking weekends for rest, but be flexible. You can use all or part of your weekends to catch up or, if you prefer, average out your flings so you’re tossing 30 a day every day instead of 40 a day five days a week.
  4. Pick your pain point. Every single one of us has a part of our home that makes us cringe. The place that allows Clutter to scold you. Start thinking of that place now so you confront it first when we begin.
  5. Join us on Facebook. The No. 1 perk of this program is the 24/7 support you receive from our private Facebook group designed for you by people just like you. This is where you see how Clutter Free changes lives, and where your life changes as well.

Now that you know the ground rules, you can jump into the Five-Week Fling with the confidence of knowing you’ll succeed. Make sure you subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on program updates and other resources related to Clutter Free. Are you ready to fling 1,000 things? Join us today.

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

eliminate 1,000 things

We’ve been flinging clutter left and right this year. Between our Clutter Free Bible Study during Lent and the Spring Fling we just wrapped up in May, I’ve noticed a few things.

First, you are all a bunch of rock stars. Fling 200 things in 10 days? Piece of cake. Our Facebook group is overflowing with the most astonishing before-and-after photos of your successes. I’m thrilled to see not just what you’ve done in your homes, but also the freedom you gained from flinging the stuff that no longer brings you joy.

Here’s what else I’ve noticed. Life doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to gain control over this area of your life. Stuff keeps coming in the house – sometimes faster than you can release it – and it doesn’t always belong to you. If other people live in your home, their stuff can pose an even bigger challenge than your own.

How to eliminate 1,000 things in 5-weeks!

So here’s the deal. We are Clutter Free because we love a good challenge, and we work best when we’re under the gun. Starting June 12 and ending July 14, we’re hosting a Five-Week Fling to help you eliminate 1,000 things from your home. Gone for good.

Here’s how it works:

1. Over five weeks (weekends off to rest or catch up), we’re going to work together to eliminate 40 things a day from various parts of your home.

2. In our private Facebook group, you’ll share your victories and progress photos, and get accountability, encouragement and support every step of the way.

3. To participate, just make sure you are signed up to receive our blog, and then join our Facebook group.

So let’s see, only five weeks and 1,000 things out of your house? What a great way to launch your summer.

Won’t you join our Five-Week Fling? Your house will thank you.

Join the Spring Fling Now!
Whispers of Rest: Giveaway and Book Club with Bonnie Gray

Whispers of Rest: Giveaway and Book Club with Bonnie Gray

whispers of rest

Do you need to find whispers of rest and love from God?

Life gets overwhelming fast, doesn’t it? Our hearts and bodies and mind and souls are designed by God to rest at times. We all need to take a break at times. But more than just a day off, we need time to restore our souls and to rest in the presence of our God who loves us more than we can ever know. That is why I am excited to share with you my friend Bonnie Gray’s new book and book club – Whispers of Rest.

If your heart needs to find a place of rest and wonder at God’s love, join a Whispers of Rest book club this summer. Check out Bonnie’s invitation to you here. And visit whispersofrest.com to learn more about joining the book club and to get free bonuses!

Win a free copy of Whispers of Rest

Would you like to own your own copy of Bonnie’s new book? Comment below with how you hope to find rest in God this summer for your chance to win one of three copies of Bonnie’s new book.

whispers of rest

How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

clutter-free garage sale

Many of us who struggle with clutter are reluctant to part with certain items because of the money we spent on them. The problem is, we won’t recoup even a fraction of what we paid for those items.

And that’s OK.

There is no better deterrent from bringing new items into your home than seeing that candle you bought for $24.95 re-sell for only $2.50. This is the Clutter Tax we all pay for excess stuff.  If you’re ready to face the music and rid yourself of the surplus items in your home, a garage sale is a great de-cluttering option.

Hold a clutter-free garage sale

Here’s a no-fail, step-by-step strategy to make it work.

  1. Strategize. First, sit down with your family and talk about the possibility of a yard sale. Are they willing to participate? Do they have old clothes, toys, or books to donate to the sale? I’ve found it’s easier to get buy-in from the whole family if you have a common goal in mind. Perhaps you’re looking to save for a family vacation or a play set for the backyard. Get your kids excited about contributing to the family goal.
  1. Plan. Next, put a “Garage Sale” date on the calendar. Make sure it’s at least a month out. This gives you and your family time to go through closets, drawers, basements, and garages and come up with the items you’ll sell. (What a great goal in decluttering!)
  1. Organize. Start off with some empty boxes in an out-of-the-way place in your home (the garage, the laundry room.) Then as you come across items you no longer need, add them to the boxes.

Plan a day to work with your kids in their rooms. If they waffle about whether to sell an item, encourage them to put it in the garage sale box. If they want to retrieve it and play with it, great. If they never think about it again, then it’s probably safe to sell. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a change of heart on the day of the sale, but often the excitement of selling something makes letting it go much easier.

As you start to gather more and more items, sort them by type (kids’ clothes, kids’ shoes, toys, books, household gadgets, DVDs). Items will be easier to price and display if similar objects are grouped together.

I encourage you to start pricing items a few weeks before the sale. It’s easy to print price stickers on your computer’s printer. Younger kids will have a great time putting stickers on things.

If your kids part with some toys that have a lot of little parts, gather up everything in a resealable plastic bag to keep things together.

Start collecting paper bags for shoppers to use to take home their treasures.

  1. Advertise. There are several ways to get the word out for successful clutter-free garage sales.

On the web. The best way to know where to advertise is to google “garage sales” or “yard sales” (whichever is the common terminology in your area) and the name of your city. You’ll see where most people look for the information and then announce your sale there. But don’t spend a lot of money doing this. Most of your traffic will likely be of the drive-by variety. Be sure to highlight the kinds of things you’re selling (tools, kids’ clothes, furniture, etc.) so you attract the right buyers.

On the street. Signs most likely are your best means of getting people to your sale. While it’s tempting to let your kids create the signs, you should manage this project. Cute is not your objective—readability is.

My favorite kind of sign is made of neon poster board (think hot pink or neon green) cut in the shape of an arrow. Clearly label your cross streets. Kids can definitely be part of the sign-hanging process the night before. Make sure you bring copious amounts of clear packing tape, scissors, string, and even some balloons to attach to each sign.

Your friends. Tell your friends about your sale and even the goal you have in mind. Your kids will have a lot more fun if they know some of the people who stop by. Be sure to let your Facebook friends know as well.

Newspaper. Running a cheap ad in your local newspaper or an online classified service will bring you more shoppers.

  1. Merchandise. Before I was an author I worked as a sales rep in the gift industry, and now as a speaker, I have a book table wherever I go. One thing I’ve learned in both these roles is the power of merchandising—staging items for sale.

Clothes. You are going to sell a lot more clothes for much better prices if you have a garment rack to hang them on. Even a shower rod hung from your roof or garage door is a big help. The next best option is to fold clothes neatly on a table (this is a great option especially for kids’ clothes). Unless you have a stash of wire hangers you’re dying to get rid of, be sure to put up a sign that says “Hangers Not Included.”

Books, CDs, DVDs. Drag a bookshelf out of your house as a temporary display. If you have enough shelf space, place the front covers face out. To keep the shelves looking full, put one of your kids in charge of moving items from the bottom rows to the top as books begin to sell.

Put the wows up front. You want items up front that literally stop traffic. Furniture, tools, and electronics are your best bet for getting hubby to pull the car to the curb.

Group items. It’s helpful to have similarly priced items on one table. You can have a dollar table, a fifty-cent table, and so on.

  1. Capitalize. When the kids were little I would help them set up a lemonade stand to serve those thirsty shoppers in the summer heat (and for my kids to make a little extra cash). This was great for the kids when they were young. They could still be a part of the action, but they didn’t have to negotiate with hagglers. Who is going to dicker over a fifty-cent lemonade?

The only problem was that running a lemonade stand is as much work as the actual garage sale. Finally, I wised up. For our next garage sale, I went to Costco early in the week and bought sodas and bottled waters. All we had to do was ice the drinks and replenish the supply throughout the day, both of which my kids could do without my help.

The kids were thrilled to see their bank grow, and many of the adults were just as excited to get a cheap soda in the middle of a July day.

  1. Improvise. Garage sales aren’t rigid. You aren’t working for Sam Walton, so things don’t have to go a certain way. So if something isn’t working, improvise!
  • Tired of sorting through piles of trinkets that are really worth nothing? Give them away for free with a purchase. Or set out a free box for people to sort through. Better them than you, right?
  • Play music to encourage people to stay a while.
  • Put out a plate of cookies or some lemonade.
  1. Have a plan for the end of the day. The objective is to get rid of everything–do not, under any circumstances, let it back into the house.

At the end of the day, figure out what you are going to do with the leftovers.

Last Call: In the last hour or two, let people know that you will be selling everything for a dollar. Your objective is not to make money, it’s to get rid of stuff. Bringing it back in defeats the purpose of having a clutter free garage sale.

Make Arrangements: At the end of the day, have a plan to make everything go away. Load up the van and take everything to the donation center. Don’t let it come back into the home!

Don’t be fooled. Having a garage sale is a lot of work. But if you are looking for a way to recoup some of your Clutter Tax, this is a great way to spend a day. Pad your bank account and clean out your house at the same time.

Now it’s your turn–tell us your best tips for clutter-free garage sales!

Get Out from Overwhelmed – Join Us for the Least Overwhelming Study Ever

Get Out from Overwhelmed – Join Us for the Least Overwhelming Study Ever

It could be just one more thing to pack into an already overwhelming summer.
“A Bible study? Whose got time for that?”

Welcome to the least overwhelming Bible study you will ever do.

No travel required – you are part of this study from the comfort of your own home (or on the beach, or locked in a car for eight hours going to grandma’s…)

No child care – you can do this study while the kids are asleep (or while they are hanging off you on the couch…)

No extra study guide to purchase – you just need the book.

No snacks to bring – you can just have a stash of your own favorite snacks at home to bust out when the kids are actually in bed.

Sound good? Here are the details:

Women’s Bible Cafe has chosen Overwhelmed as their summer Bible study! We’ll start the study the week of June 19th and finish the week of August 21, 2017. r

My very favorite partner in crime, Cheri Gregory, and I will be working together to bring you fresh insights and great tools to get you to a place of peach this summer. I can’t wait.

What do you need to do? Just two steps:

  1. Order Overwhelmed
  2. Sign up to join the Women’s Bible Cafe

It’s that easy.

Really.

Didn’t I say “least Overwhelming Bible study ever?”

Who is Setting Your Priorities?

Who is Setting Your Priorities?

Have you ever been frozen in indecision, wondering what to do next?

Me too. There are so many demand on us, it becomes harder and harder to stay true to our priorities. Sometimes it’s even hard to identify our priorities.

Maybe you ask yourself, what does God really want me to do? Especially when there are so many important needs out there.

If you can relate to that question, you’re not alone. There’s been a shift in society that’s silently affecting our ability to identify what’s most important. As I’ve traced this issue back a few years, the confusion seems to have started with email and accelerated with our cell phones.

Let me back up, and try to explain.

The growing competition on our priorities

Growing up, my family had a house phone. Just one. And it was connected to the wall with a cord. There was no call-waiting beep or answering machine. And of course, no email or texting. So if you wanted to reach me, you kept calling until you got through. Or maybe head to my house and actually knock on my door. Quite frustrating when “someone” spent hours talking to a friend!

Basically, the burden to communicate was on the person with the message to share.

Today the responsibility to communicate has shifted. No longer is it your burden to reach me; all you do is type-type-type a message, hit send and all the responsibility floats through cyberspace and lands firmly on me.

Multiply this by every which way people can reach me, and before I even wake up, I’m behind.

Starting out behind

This shift has silently affected all of us. A typical day starts with checking some sort of communication device to see who might have emailed, posted or texted. Then, before we begin to handle what’s most important to us, our day begins by responding to what’s most important to others.

Without a concerted effort to stop this pull, we are drawn into the day’s rushing current like a tiny raft on a whitewater river. And rather than being proactive, our days are spent in reactive mode.

Sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the too-long to-do list that comes with it. After we’ve given the best of our time and energy to others, there’s little left to address God’s priorities for us. Consequently we put-off, delay and procrastinate our priorities.

After years of shortchanging myself and my family, and often dishonoring God, I realized I had things upside down! Things that mattered least replaced things that mattered most in my schedule. And work that would make the greatest impact on my life often fell to the bottom of my lists, then transferred to the next list until I either completed it with a fraction of my ability or abandoned it entirely.

Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to figure out our best work. It sounds so easy to say, “Identify your priorities, and do those first.” However, when we face multiple demands we can often feel helpless. And helplessness can lead us to escape, avoid or try and numb.

Pressing pause and reevaluating priorities

When those feelings start to overtake me and I don’t know what to do, rather than make a self-defeating choice, it’s time to press pause. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing … except seek direction and wisdom from the One who knows what our best is.

Given the chance, others will set our priorities for us. Yet God specifically has a calling for each of us that will only come from Him. To discern this, we need wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we make decisions on facts and feelings. And the fact that I have 100 emails to answer and feel overwhelmed does not mean it’s wise to do so now.

To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.

God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom. In fact, it’s a gift from God.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

As my life becomes more interconnected with others, my priorities are harder to identify. There will always be new demands rising to the tops of my to-do list, giving me reasons to delay tackling my own priorities.

There is hope. When we take our tiny raft out of the raging river, and sit on the banks with our Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for what to do next. Sometimes it’s answering an email, but it might be something else He has planned for today.


Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, is available through Proverbs 31 Ministries or wherever books are sold. Her next book releases July 4, 2017, and is called Doing Busy Better. Pre-order here. You can connect with Glynnis on her website: GlynnisWhitwer.com.

Cultivating Peace: Enjoy the Milestone Events and Don’t Let Stress Rob the Joy

Cultivating Peace: Enjoy the Milestone Events and Don’t Let Stress Rob the Joy

My first child’s high school graduation brought up a whole new set of fears and stress in me. Have I done enough to prepare her for adulthood? Will she make wise choices as she steps out from under our roof and into a world full of options?  Will she be able to hold onto her faith in college—at a time when many young people discard theirs?

Her graduation felt like a defining moment in my parenting. I knew I’d done all I could to train her well, to prepare her for success. But now, facing what felt like a Parenting 101 Final Exam, the stakes were high. I didn’t want to fail. I certainly didn’t want my precious daughter to fail.

This tension bubbled up in the days leading to her graduation. Of course, she was dealing with her own emotions surrounding this milestone event and pulling away from me, busy preparing for adventures to come. I was grieving the upcoming loss of her daily presence, knowing before long she would move from our house and pursue her education.

The entire month before graduation was crammed with activity. Prom, sports banquets, end-of-the-year awards, ceremony rehearsals, all mixed into a swirling vortex of angst. So many events, so many decisions.

As graduation neared, our relationship, normally characterized by mutual love, respect, and lots of laughter, became contentious. This culminated in an angry verbal exchange as we walked through the campus parking lot on our way into her Baccalaureate ceremony. I can’t remember what precipitated the argument, but I remember how I felt. Off-balance. Overwhelmed. Defeated.

I had let stress and fear steal my joy.

Have you ever experienced relational stress leading up to a milestone event? Have you allowed that stress to ruin the event for you? For your child?

Heightened emotions come with any life-changing event, but we don’t have to let them rob us of the joy of the occasion, whether it’s a move, graduation, wedding, or some other major event. We can have fun and create precious memories without regret.

When approaching a big event in your child’s life, you don’t have to get caught up in the swirling emotional vortex. You can cultivate peace through journaling or talking with a trusted friend. Speak with a life coach, counselor, pastor or mentor. Talking through fears and concerns with a mom who’s walked the path before you might mean the difference between white-knuckling it through the milestone and really enjoying it.

One of the most important things we can do to maintain our equilibrium during these emotional times is to get alone with God and pour out our hearts to Him.

Jesus demonstrated the importance of getting alone with the Father before ministry. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). As we prepare to minister to our children during their “big day” we can follow Jesus’ example.

Last year my son graduated and this year my youngest daughter will graduate. I’ve learned a lot going through this letting-go process. I’ve learned to be intentional about processing my emotions. I’ve learned to carve out time in the busyness to be alone in the healing presence of my Father.

Are you facing a milestone event?

If so, how will you cultivate peace and plan for fun as you prepare for the event?

 


Elizabeth M. Thompson is a writer and speaker who loves helping women develop meaningful spiritual lives. She and her husband have three children and will soon be empty-nesters. They live, bike, kayak, and hike along the American River near Sacramento, CA. Prayer is her passion. For a free download of “Jumpstart Your Stalled Prayer Life” go to her website: www.ElizabethMThompson.com.

Spring Fling #10: It’s Time to Get the Garage in Order

Spring Fling #10: It’s Time to Get the Garage in Order

garage

Day 10 and it’s time to get out of the house … and declutter the garage.

For years, my garage has been the dumping ground for everything. My business, my kids’ stuff, tools, craft projects, out of season clothes, out of season decorations, mid-project projects, suitcases, gardening supplies, games, puzzles, and the bike that never, ever gets ridden.

It Gets Better in your Garage

I’ll be honest with you: my garage is still a huge work in progress. The good news? There IS progress. When I went to go work on my 20 items today, I knew the corner I had to tackle: the “Camping Corner.”

garage

Roger and I love to go day camping, so we keep a lot of supplies. But this corner has been overrun by one too many “dump and runs.” There were out of season clothes, decorations (apparently, I’m obsessed with giant fall pumpkins), wrapping paper, books, and the results of too many Costco runs. We’re good on toilet paper for the rest of our lives.

So, I gave myself an afternoon to go through the corner, get my 20 items, and make sense of all of the stuff.

I was done in 30 minutes.

Why did it take so little time? Because after all my flings in the past, there really wasn’t that much to declutter—it just needed to be put away properly.

I know that as a clutterer, I tend to be overwhelmed by projects and think they’re going to take more time than they actually do. Starting off with only 15 minutes is going to help you break things down and get them into doable chunks. You can do this!

Instructions

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. One shelf. One corner. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start sorting and revel in the space that you are reclaiming!
– Set a timer and go for it. 15 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 15 minutes on the timer, go for it.

Bonus

Some bonus things you can do in the basement or garage:

  1. Label storage areas. Make a big sign so everyone in the family knows where things go.
  2. Boy, can my garage get dusty. If there are items you care about, dust them or store them in a storage box.
  3. Speaking of storage boxes, can you get rid of a few now that you’ve flung so much stuff?

garage

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.

Spring Fling Day #9: Tackle the Extra Room That’s Driving You Crazy

Spring Fling Day #9: Tackle the Extra Room That’s Driving You Crazy

extra room

Day 9 and it’s time to earn some bonus points … by dealing with that extra room.

Got a kids’ room, linen closet, or a space under the stairs filled with clutter? If so, today is the day to tackle the room that’s making you crazy and get 20 things out of there, stat!

It Gets Better in the Extra Room

Oh, this can be so overwhelming. Even those tiny spaces, like the coat closet, can have you slamming the door and praying all the things will magically go away.

And if you are decluttering a child’s room? Well, may God have mercy on your soul.

But I promise you, peace is possible, and the only way you are going to get there is by digging in.

Instructions

– Set up your three boxes/totes and two bags.
– Pick one area to work on. One shelf. One corner. Don’t get overwhelmed.
– Start sorting and revel in the space you’re reclaiming!

Set a timer and go for it. 10 minutes usually can do it, but if you need to put another 10 minutes on the timer to fling your 20 things, by all means.

Bonus

Some bonus things you can do in that extra space:

  1. Label storage areas. Make it look like the aisles of Target where everyone knows where everything goes.
  2. Do an inventory. Do you need new Band-Aids in the linen closet? Or vacuum cleaner bags? A fresh supply of allergy meds in the medicine cabinet? Make a list so you can get it next time you’re at the store.
  3. Would bins be helpful in this space? The Dollar Store has some great bins and baskets for only $1, but make sure they work for your space. (Otherwise, those too become clutter.)

extra room

Share Your Fling

After you fling, either tell us about it or share a picture in the comments. Remember, each day (at the end of the Fling) there will be one winner, randomly drawn from the comments, who will receive a copy of The Cure for the Perfect Life from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. So share below and tell us about your fling.