I Don’t Have Thyme For This: Organizing the Kitchen Without Overwhelm

I Don’t Have Thyme For This: Organizing the Kitchen Without Overwhelm

It’s a new day, ripe with promise and potential … until I walk into the kitchen. Dishes in the sink, counters dotted with dirty dishes and crumbs, and a cluttered table converge to sing a taunting chorus, “You can’t even keep the kitchen clean, how can you accomplish anything today!”

The strains of their tune causes my motivation to plunge to the depths where my only response is to use the messy kitchen as my excuse for another unproductive day.

Organizing the kitchen without being overwhelmed

The overwhelm knocks me off of my game and renders my to-do list unattainable.

I can’t prep dinner until I unload and load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and find the recipe. Do I even have thyme in the spice cupboard for the soup? I go to the narrow pull-out cupboard of spices and decide then and there that it is time to win a battle.

I remove unalphabetized spices from the cupboard, meanwhile telling the voices in my head to be quiet; I know I don’t have time for this! But I need a win! The thought strikes me that squelching the noisy refrain from the clutter does not require a weekend of organizing and cleaning. I can win this battle one decision at a time, in just 15 minute increments at a time.

And so I record a victory over the spice cupboard! Now I open the spice drawer and I smile. I smile that I can find what I want. I smile at the homemade spice labels that I commissioned my daughter to make. Such a simple accomplishment but it’s huge for my mindset!

organizing the kitchen

I just needed a win. The next day I silence the noise in the cupboard that houses the varying bottles of olive oil. Another win. I will continue to build on this and soon the kitchen will motivate me instead of overwhelm me.

As I bask in my two wins I realize that once the kitchen is a motivator instead of a killjoy I can apply this to other areas of my home and life. Some momentum in the kitchen will spill over to the rest of my responsibilities and perhaps soon I will feel able to tackle the things that I want to do instead of being overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.

One Small Win: For me, the way out from under overwhelmed is to claim one win and allow that to carry me forward. Who knew that one of the kindest things I’ve ever done for myself was to clean out the spice cupboard?

organizing the kitchenYou can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.

Got a Messy Relationship? Here’s How to Fix It in Three Simple Steps

Got a Messy Relationship? Here’s How to Fix It in Three Simple Steps

by Shaunti Feldhahn

You know that colleague or family member who drives you nuts? The one who second-guesses everything you do, is super-sensitive, and doesn’t return urgent emails for help?

No, wait, that would be my colleague! You probably have a different relationship that drives you nuts. Your grumpy step-father or passive-aggressive sister. A daughter with an Olympic level skill in eye-rolling. Or perhaps it is your spouse, as your marriage has slid from happy to hurting.

Or maybe it isn’t a bad relationship, but a good one … and you want it to be great.

Well, I’ve got great news. I’m a social researcher; and after years of study on what we call the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, we found three actions anyone can do to transform any relationship. Because targeted kindness is a superpower that will soften any heart.

Including our own!

Here’s what you do. Pick the person with whom you want a better relationship. For 30 days, you will:

  1. Say nothing negative about your person—either to them or about them to someone else. If you must provide negative feedback (for example, to discipline a child or correct a subordinate’s mistake), be constructive and encouraging without a negative tone.
  1. Every day, find one thing you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.
  1. Every day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.

That’s it! So simple. And yet in our research for The Kindness Challenge, 89% of relationships improved!

What does this look like in practice? Well, suppose you and your husband have been irritated with one another for months. Now every parenting decision is a battle, and your feelings are regularly hurt.

During the 30-Day Kindness Challenge, you resist the urge to ask “Why did you let the kids stay up so late!?” And you completely stop yourself from venting about it with your girlfriends at work. (This is just for thirty days, remember!) Instead, you’re looking for things to praise. So you notice it was really nice of him to come home early to get the boys to football practice. You thank him for it – and then you tell your girlfriends at work about that nice thing he did.

You’re also looking for that little act of generosity to do each day. So when he’s super tired after work, instead of getting annoyed that he’s not helping with dinner preparation you sincerely say, “I’ve got this. You go watch the game for a few minutes.”

Trust me: Starting this process will show us a whole lot about what needs to change. Not just in the other person: but in us. You will see just how negative you have been, in ways you never realized before. (In The Kindness Challenge, I outline the seven distinct types of negativity we found in the research, ranging from exasperation to overt criticism to suspicion. I strongly recommend you find out your negativity patterns, so you can watch for them!)

One Small Win: But as you go, you will also see something amazing: you will see your feelings changing. You’ll start appreciating the other person more. You’ll see their defenses lowering. And you may see enjoyment and positivity in the relationship you haven’t seen in years. An effort toward kindness won’t solve every problem – especially the big ones like addiction – but it will make them easier to solve.

I hope you will sign up for the 30-Day Kindness Challenge! Get a group of friends to do it together. Be a part of a movement of kindness in our culture – and in yourself!

Shaunti Feldhahn
messy relationship is a social researcher, speaker and best-selling author of books such as For Women Only. She thinks Kathi Lipp – and anyone who loves Kathi – rocks the world. She hopes all of you will go rock the world with kindness.

A Way Out of the Homework Quicksand

A Way Out of the Homework Quicksand

Homework often feels like swimming in quicksand; it takes a lot of effort to make a small, microscopic bit of progress. I think my son often feels the same. His face, his voice, his delay of the inevitable all lead to a night of overwhelm, and there isn’t one of us who welcomes the arrival of it. Instead, we have had to reframe homework time in order to do more than simply survive the wade through quicksand.

Changing the homework atmosphere

In a moment of desperation, when overwhelm was about to suck every bit of joy from the house, I opted to change the atmosphere. It was time to think outside the box.

Atmosphere: Scent

Who knew that lavender essential oil was just as important as a No. 2 pencil? It was news to me but now I keep it on hand. Diffuse it or wear it on your wrists to erase overwhelm – yours and your child’s! I bet fresh baked cookies, freshly cut rosemary or flowers would work to invigorate and motivate as well.

Atmosphere: View

A clear space to work makes a big difference. It drives us all nuts to have to clear a spot or work around the syrup on the counter. Have a clear spot ready to go. Also, there’s something about a flickering candle that ushers in peace and shows overwhelm the door. The candlelight serves as a reminder of what home is – a place of peace, it serves to remind me not set a place at the table for overwhelm.

Atmosphere: Sound

Music is powerful and completely customizable! What type of music focuses and calms your child? Instrumental music, soft rock, a movie soundtrack, or white noise? One night I put on John Coltrane just as I was about to pull my hair out and the strains of the talented saxophonist melted the frustration so that we could all stay focused on what is important – our relationships with each other!

Atmosphere: Release

Sometimes everyone needs a break. “Finish that worksheet and we can go shoot some hoops.” “Let’s practice your math facts and then we can have a snack.” “Go ahead and finish that sentence and we can go dance it out.” Homework will feel less like a prison sentence when there are opportunities to blow off some steam.

Atmosphere matters in homework. I can’t do my son’s homework for him (I already passed 4th grade), but I can set the tone in our home. Homework is not always going to be fun but there can be more smiles in the midst of math, more patience in the writing of the report. It is possible to end the night tired yet satisfied, that together, we navigated homework well.

One Small Win: With a simple step outside of the box, homework becomes more than just school work – it becomes a lesson in being patient and kind while mitigating overwhelm.

homeworkYou can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.


My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s Resolution

New Year's resolution

Oh, I am no stranger to the New Year’s Resolution, my friend. I know that I made them as a teenager, but the first clear memory I have of making a list was in 1998, in my fourth-floor walk-up in Uji, Japan, where I was serving as a short-term missionary. I was full of energy, passion, and drive. I sat down, made a list of ten goals, and free of a boyfriend, American TV, and other distractions, I lost weight, had daily Bible study time, cooked at home, and generally crushed it.

And then I got back to my real life, and over the course of less than a month, all those resolutions slowly unraveled. Not only did I break each and every resolution, I was actually worse off than when I started.

For years after that, I would make resolutions, only to find myself in February again, feeling guilty about the resolutions I didn’t keep. I think to myself, “Why is it that everyone else can keep their New Year’s resolutions except me?”

It’s taken me dozens of years to realize, maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the resolutions.

Resolutions are All or Nothing

You don’t get credit unless you’ve done the whole thing. You said you wanted to lose twenty pounds, and only lost seven? In resolution-world, that’s a big old failure. You said you would exercise five times a week, and you only are getting to the gym twice a week. Well, why go at all?

When your goals are all or nothing, 99.9% of the time, they will be nothing.

As humans, we need to see our progress and we need encouragement along the way.

When it Comes to Resolutions, Turns Out That SMART Goals for Life Change Aren’t That SMART

We’ve all heard about SMART goals. That our goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed-upon
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

I use SMART goals all the time in my business, and for short term projects. But for lasting life goals? SMART may not be the way to go.

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, argues “When we set goals, we’re taught to make them specific and measurable and time-bound. But it turns out that those characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire. A specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that’s narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia. Yes, we often reach the goal, but at what cost?”

So If Resolutions are Not the Answer, What Is?

Bergman says that instead of goals, we should be focused on areas of change. “An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation. It offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competition. All this while moving forward on the things you and your organization value most.”

For over a year, my resolution has been not to make a list of resolutions, but instead, to create a personal manifesto.

A personal manifesto is a statement of your core values and beliefs, what is important to you, and how you plan to live your life. It is written in the present tense, even if not everything you state is one hundred percent true about you today, it is a declaration of what you are working to become.

So instead of a resolution that says, “I will lose twenty pounds this year,” my manifesto states, “I cannot buy good health. I must earn it. Daily.” Instead of short-term goals, I’m looking for lifetime growth.

Personal Manifesto

I sat down and wrote my manifesto in about an hour. (As an author and speaker, I spend a lot of time mulling such things over in my day-to-day life already. So when it came time to put it down on paper, it was pretty easy for me.) But others can get stuck in the creation of such a personal document. That’s why our team has designed this download “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you.

I can think of dozens of reasons to create your own personal manifesto, but let me give you my top three:

  1. There is no “Breaking” a Personal Manifesto

Yes – there are going to be days when you don’t live up to your own hope of the manifesto. That doesn’t mean that you throw the whole thing out. The personal manifesto has built-in grace. There is a recognition intrinsically within your PM that this is who you are becoming. Slow growth is still growth.

  1. Your Get to Dream (and Pray) Bigger With a Personal Manifesto

Resolutions are all about temporary changes. Lose weight, eat healthy, quit a bad habit. But a Personal Manifesto enables you to not just focus on the behavior, but on the person you are becoming, and who God wants you to be. Plus, you get to include others in your dreams, plans, and prayers.

In resolutions, you only get to set goals for yourself. In my Personal Manifesto, one line says, “I help others be world-changers.” To me, that’s a powerful reason to get out of bed and do life every day.

  1. Your To-Dos are Born Out of Your Personal Manifesto

Don’t think that with the Personal Manifesto you will walk aimlessly through life with no goals. Oh no. your goals, daily to-dos, and even your routines are all born out of your Personal Manifesto. In fact, you will be more focused with a Personal Manifesto than with resolutions, but the focus will not be born out of your self-will, it will spring from your heart.


Are you feeling Overwhelmed?Do you want to leave behind out of my mind and move to in control“? Me too my friends! Introducing my new book, with my co-author Cheri Gregory, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.

Do not go another year living under overwhelmed. 

Last Day for Overwhelmed December Bonuses

Last Day for Overwhelmed December Bonuses

24 hours.

That’s how long the marketing experts told us to offer the special pre-order bonuses for Overwhelmed, our new book that officially releases on January 1.

“You have to create a sense of urgency! Otherwise, nobody will buy.”

We almost did what the experts said. We almost ran a high-pressure, TODAY ONLY, Cyber-Monday special.

But at the last minute, we changed our minds.


Well, for one thing, we knew that the last thing our readers needed was us pushing a our “sense of urgency” on them. (If there’s anything overwhelmed women already live with 24/7, it’s a sense of urgency!)

But more than anything, we had a feeling that our readers are just the kind of women to prove the experts wrong.

So, we said “no” to 24 hours of pressure tactics and “yes” to two full weeks of sharing the love, instead.

Your response?

You proved the experts wrong!

We’ve been totally blown away, in the best possible way.

A Gentle Reminder

In just over 24 hours, the December pre-order bonuses will expire. For each and every copy of Overwhelmed you pre-order, you get:

  • The “Get Out from Overwhelmed Planner: Do Great Things, Be Less Cranky” + 7 short coaching videos by Kathi
  •  FIVE of our most popular book titles in ebook format from Book Shout

Getting your freebies is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1 — Order Overwhelmed from your favorite retailer. (Out of stock right now with your favorite retailer? You can still order now and enjoy your free bonuses while you wait for your book to arrive.)

2 — Fill out this form to receive your bonuses.

3 — Check your email for your bonuses. (Be sure to check those promo or spam folders in case it gets misdirected.)

About Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

The Overwhelmed Book is Here with Goodies Galore

The Overwhelmed Book is Here with Goodies Galore

Overwhelmed book

HURRY! For this moment ONLY, you can get in on this DEAL OF THE DECADE!! But you must act QUICKLY! No time to think about it! This offer will GO AWAY any nanosecond! Just click, swipe, share and re-tweet RIGHT NOW with 500 of your closest friends! NO ONE WANTS TO MISS OUT!!! If you buy one product you get only one product, but if you buy 27 products you get 2 baby unicorns! ABSOLUTELY FREE! And if you buy 127 products we will give you something so amazing that legally we are not allowed to divulge, but it’s pretty darn fabulous and you WON’T BELIEVE IT’S AWSOMENESS! But only if you act NOW! If you take your next breath it may be TOO LATE!!!! Supplies are LIMITED!!! YOU MUST ACT NOW!!!

Does this seem Overwhelming to you? It does to us as well. So we’re not going to go that route. You have enough people screaming at you. But we do have something to share with you that we are pretty excited about it! There’s no big hurry though. In fact, why don’t you get a cup of your favorite beverage, put your feet up, and we’ll tell you all about it. Go ahead. Don’t worry you won’t miss anything. We will be here when you return.

Got that cup? Good! Take a sip. Relax…

We know how this time of year can be crazy, busy and overwhelming. Though feeling overwhelmed is not strictly reserved for the holidays, that’s for sure! So that makes us very excited about the birth our newest book, Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore your Sanity by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory coming in January.

But we want to help you ease into the season with a little more balance and organization, so we’ve bundled some gifts for you early birds! And we chose these intentionally to help you implement your less overwhelmed life now. With your order of Overwhelmed we want to give you:

Overwhelmed book– A downloadable Overwhelmed calendar/planner (Can we just tell you how awesome this planner is? We have tested many of them and this could be very well be the last planner we will ever need! It’s customizable to fit your personal needs, you print out the pages as you need them, and it incorporates the systems you will learn in Overwhelmed. This planner will get you where you need to go faster! Also included are 5 FREE teaching videos tailored to get your planner up and running and perfect for you!)

– FIVE FREE ebooks geared to refocus your priorities to live the life you crave. People, this is $80 worth of books for F-R-E-E (and some of Kathi’s favorites handpicked for you!)
– Get Yourself Organized for Christmas
-The What’s for Dinner Solution
-The Cure for the Perfect Life
-The Get Yourself Organized Project
-The Me Project

With these tools, you will feel more on top of this season than ever before. With more peace and joy too! We bet right now you are thinking of a few friends who would love to receive these free gifts, and we want them to as well! We hate for people to miss out because an offer was for one day only, so we want to give you ample time to share with your friends and decide for yourself.

For these next two weeks, December 15-31, we will keep this offer open to you and your friends. Wow! Christmas presents after Christmas even! That’s fun! No pressure. No gimmicks. No limitations. Just a heartfelt thank you for journeying with us on the road to simplifying and savoring life!

Order your copy of Overwhelmed here. Then jump over to http://overwhelmed.website/freebies to submit your receipt and get your bonuses!
Share with your friends here.

The Radical Dance of Celebration and the Sacred

I was a guest at Girlfriends in God and wanted to share it with you today!

For years, I’ve heard the same message in sermons, Bible studies, magazine articles, and on social media: Christmas is not about the gifts, decorating, how the Christmas ham is prepared, parties or even Christmas cookies. We are all supposed to stop doing All. The. Things. and simply reflect in the glow of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree and spend the entire month rereading the story of Christ’s birth from Luke.

And for all those years, I’ve felt guilty about being madly in love with the “stuff” of Christmas. I love having friends and family over to eat, drink (hot chocolate) and be merry. I enjoy filling our grown kids’ stockings with care. I adore planning for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. I even get a thrill from sending out (and receiving) Christmas cards.

While the world may go overboard when it comes to “celebrating” the season (just watch any video of a Wal-Mart opening on Black Friday to see what I’m talking about . . .), in many ways, I’ve felt guilty for finding happiness in any other way than attending church and singing Christmas carols. I know we are to have joy at Christmastime, but does God also care about our happiness?

Read more at Girlfriends in God!

Enlarging Your Faith: Never Say Never

Enlarging Your Faith: Never Say Never

enlarging your faith

Shortly after getting married, in fact it was on our honeymoon, when I slipped into my flirty pajamas, jumped into bed next to my husband and exclaimed, “OK, I’m ready!” and he asked, “For what?”

I replied with the obvious response, “To pray together … you know, a couple that prays together, stays together? That is what my mom always says.” To which he replied, “I will NEVER pray with you, that just isn’t something I do. It’s personal and between me and God.”

To be fair, maybe my timing was a little off. But I absolutely deflated. My spirit was crushed. Not only did I feel deprived of the coveted marriage ideal that couples are supposed to pray together, it was worse than that. I felt totally duped by my new husband. After all, we prayed together during our courtship.

I was devastated. Something so clearly beneficial to our marriage was rejected. My parents prayed together! And I was certain I fell in love with someone who was going to pray with me. It didn’t seem right!  I knew God and I knew He loved me. I knew this was the man He meant for me to marry. He moved mountains to bring us together.

I come from a long line of prayer warriors. I like to think my sweet grandma lived to 103 because she had prayers God still wanted her to be praying. Growing up, when situations arose, my parents always told me to “just pray about it.”

The fact my husband and I didn’t pray together other than to bless our meals unsettled me and rocked my faith. I didn’t want anyone to know because I was certain every other Christian couple prayed together. It was like a cardinal rule for a good Christian marriage.

I loved my husband and I wanted to stay together. But I didn’t like the situation. Honestly, the only thing I could do was “just pray about it.” Instead of “Run Forrest, Run!” It became, “Pray Julie, Pray!” Originally, my prayers were that my husband would pray with me because I knew better and you NEVER say never, especially to God.

I truly believed Matthew 21:22.

You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

What I received by praying was far different than what I thought I wanted.

Through the process of praying without ceasing, God changed my heart and He changed my prayers. My heart turned from criticizing my husband, to seeking to understand my husband. My prideful prayers of me telling God how my husband needed to change eventually evolved into prayers of loving my husband for who he has been created to be.

Through the years, my prayers became more powerful. My husband witnessed first-hand how God faithfully answers even my smallest requests.

A few seasons back, I went through some personal challenges. I was really struggling, and I needed help. I asked my husband to pray for me and he did, without hesitation. He also prayed for me without my asking, just because he sensed I needed him to pray.

I cherish those moments when he pulled me close and prayed over me the most beautiful, loving prayers. Those times assured me how much God loves me and how my faithfulness and prayers honored Him and the man He gave me.

In the past, my husband and I have had this running joke that the first thing out of my husband’s mouth is “no.” This may have been what plagued him on our honeymoon, but I always say, “never say never” because he is definitely not the same man I am married to now.

He has since challenged himself to say “yes” more often. In fact, he took his “yes” a step further and ordered “promise cards” printed with the words: “because I said I would.” He hands these out at random times to people. This year for my birthday my husband gave me a promise card. It was the best gift a wife like me could ever receive. The words on the card said “I will pray with my wife. Because I said I would.”

enlarging your faith

Over twelve years ago my prayers stemmed from my own selfish motivation to change my husband, but God used them to change me. My consistent and persistent prayers changed the trajectory of our marriage for the better. I never know how or when God will answer my prayers.

But as my faith has grown, so has my trust in God and “knowing” no longer matters. I only do what I am called, which is to obediently seek Him. Today I teach other women how to pray for their husbands as this has simply become an act of obedience in response to an ever-loving God.

enlarging your faithJulie Landreth has a passion for healthy and thriving relationships–especially in marriage and friendship. She is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage.  She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her curriculum: Consistency and Persistency: The Art of Praying for your Husband. Having been married 12 years, she and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love, effective communication, sustainable fun, and a date night every Friday night for the last 9 years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her 9-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents. In addition, she is a freelance photographer and designer. 

If you would like to hear more from Julie and receive 5 Days of Prayers to get you started praying for your husband, please visit her and sign up at

Now available! 

In this six-week Bible Study you will, possibly for the first time, truly understand how God wants you to be free. Free from clutter so you can be free to change your world. We have an online version as well as a traditional workbook with DVD option.

Find out more: http://www.kathilipp.com/clutter-free-bible-study/


5 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

5 Tips for Becoming a Morning Person

becoming a morning person

I would have never in a million years have thought I would be writing a post about becoming a morning person. Because I never would have thought I would actually be a morning person.

Friends, I like to sleep. I just do, I love my warm bed, and I love my husband who sleeps in it with me. As I struggle with chronic pain and fatigue, sleep is important for my health. I never dreamed it possible for ME to become an early riser.

However, by God’s grace for the last month or so, I’ve officially become a “morning person.” I wake up at 5am every morning (except weekends) to have time for prayer, Bible study and reading. And it grants me little extra time for work before the kids get up.


How did I become a morning person?


Honestly, I’m not naturally a morning person. At least I wouldn’t describe myself as one. BUT, I am definitely NOT a night owl.

I’ve tried putting off projects with the excuse that I’ll work on them later, after the kids go to sleep, but the reality is that come 9pm I’m tired and my brain is not functioning productively. All I want to do is lie on the couch and watch a show. While I can do some work in the evenings, I have found my most productive hours are the morning hours.

Even though I might feel tired in the morning, once I get going, those early hours are when I come up with my best ideas and when I’m most focused.

So, when I found myself struggling with more projects than I had time for and frustrated that my “quiet time” for prayer and Bible study always felt rushed. I felt like the Lord wanted me to change some things around.

I desperately wanted to be a good steward of my time and my responsibilities, so I started to pray for “extra time” somewhere. As a wife and mom of four, I desperately needed quiet time before heading into my busy daily schedule.

Then a friend shared with me how she had started waking up early. It was such a blessing for her and asked if I would be interested in trying it?

Um, OK, God, thanks I get it. (Sometimes He’s so direct in answering prayers, right?)

It took me a few days to get on board, but I knew early mornings were the answer to my prayer. I was apprehensive at first as I had tried waking up early before but couldn’t do it consistently. Initially I started with a five-day time commitment. I would wake up at 5am for five days and if I didn’t want to continue I’d go back to my usual wake-up time.

I was sold after day two. My time with the Lord was so sweet.

There was no going back.


5 tips to becoming a morning person


A few tips that helped me develop a consistent early morning routine:

#1 Pray about it: If you’re feeling like your “quiet time” lacks, or you feel rushed during the day and want to rethink your morning routine, bring it to the Lord. There is nothing in my own strength to make me think I was capable of being an early riser. I needed Jesus to make this happen.

Consider the season you’re in. I had tried to be a morning person before, but it wasn’t the right time. In this life season, I don’t have little ones. My youngest kiddo is six. They all sleep through the night and don’t wake until 7am. My days are not as physically exhausting as they were when I had babies and toddlers.

Becoming a morning person may not be feasible during certain seasons of life. Pray about it. If you feel God speak to your heart that early mornings should be a time to spend together then He will be your strength, but if not, feel free to put it off for another season.

#2 Accountability: Find a friend or group of friends to wake up with you (ideally in the same time zone you are in). Accountability is literally what wakes me up in the morning. I’m part of a group of women who checks in by text every morning.

I know I’m accountable to this group, so I want make sure I get up and send my text to encourage my friends. It helps to know I’m not alone in spending early morning time with the Lord. We share our plans and just have a simple check in every morning.

#3 Set yourself up for success: Waking up early can be hard, but there are things you can do to prepare and make your morning routine go a little more smoothly.

  • Make sure you set your alarm (use a tune to wake you up rather than lull you back to sleep).
  • Set the timer on your coffee pot so the coffee is ready and waiting when you wake up.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Take care of your health. I personally feel more sluggish and struggle waking up when I’m overdoing it with sugar. Consider what your body needs to feel energized.

#4 Focus on what you get not what you’re giving up: Waking up early is hard. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. But I’ve found it’s more helpful to focus on what I’m saying yes to. Waking up early for me means saying yes to my time with the Lord, and it’s totally worth it.

#5 Save a seat for Jesus: A friend of mine once shared with me how she asked her mom how she maintained such a consistent quiet time. Her mom confessed she saved a seat for Jesus, where she imagined meeting Him every day. She never wanted to keep Jesus waiting.

I love that and totally borrowed it, now Jesus has a seat at my table where I know He’ll meet me every morning at 5am.

If you are considering becoming an early riser trust that the Lord will honor your sacrifice. Like the loaves and fishes I have watched the Lord take my small offering of the first fruits of my time and multiply it. My days feel more meaningful, and I accomplish so much more by offering Him my time before anyone else. I firmly believe God will honor your sacrifice as well.

Are you considering becoming a morning person? Or are you one already? We’d love to hear any tips you have below in the comments.

becoming a morning person Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. Zohary is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to have clearly defined “most importants” and live out their values and priorities. Connect with Zohary at http://zoharyross.com/.


Who Owns Who? The Battle With Possession Obsession

Who Owns Who? The Battle With Possession Obsession

possession obsession

When my students and I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, one line—spoken by the murderous creature to Victor Frankenstein—always gives me a cold chill:

“Slave … You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!”

Each year, I tell my class, “This is such an apt personification of addiction. What starts as a small habit, seemingly under our control, quickly morphs into a monster that takes complete control of our lives.”

I speak from very painful, very personal experience.

Decades ago, when my clutter collecting craze was in full swing, I exhibited many classic signs of addiction.
  1. Inability to Stop. I made up elaborate budgeting spreadsheets. I put cash in envelopes. But every single time I promised myself, “I’m done buying so much stuff!” I’d see something else and make an exception, “Just this once.”
  1. Withdrawal Symptoms. I cut up and canceled credit cards. Then, as my anxiety level would rise and I couldn’t calm myself by running out for a quick shopping spree, I’d open new accounts.
  1. Social Sacrifices. The more stuff took over our home, the less space there was for people. We quit inviting friends and family over because there was no room for them to stay. Or, eventually, even sit.
  1. Solitude. I never shopped with friends. Going on a buying binge had one purpose: to give me my fix, for which I wanted no witnesses.
  1. Secrecy. I hid my purchases from my husband, and he had no idea how many credit cards “we” had. He was clueless to the extent of my possession obsession.
  1. Supply Maintenance. I stockpiled food, toiletries, gifts for upcoming holidays. I started numerous businesses and ordered tons of inventory. Buying these things gave me a thrill. So did storing and counting it all.
  1. Increasingly High Doses. Just as a drug addict needs larger and larger amounts to experience the “high,” I needed to spend more and more, purchasing bigger and better things, to feel the buying buzz.
  1. Risky Behavior. I “stole from Peter to pay Paul” regularly, paying bills just in the nick of time to avoid being charged late fees, having utilities shut off, defaulting on loans.
  1. Financial Difficulties. Our checking account balance was typically so low, I had to call the bank each day to find out how much (if anything) was available for groceries. We ultimately ended up in bankruptcy court.
  1. Relational Difficulties. When my husband discovered how bad things had gotten, he felt completely betrayed. The bankruptcy process was deeply humiliating for him.
If some of these sound scarily familiar, here are four things I want anyone wrestling with possession obsession to know:

 1 — It’s not your fault. 

Slinging blame and wallowing in guilt serve no constructive purpose. Facing the facts and taking personal responsibility do. And the most responsible thing you can do is ask for help. Starting now.

2 — You’re not alone. 

Shame depends on secrecy; addiction thrives in isolation. When you reach out to those who can help and support you, shame’s power breaks and addiction’s grip loosens. You need accountability, both for individual recovery and for financial recovery.

3 — It’s not too late. 

The enemy of your soul says, “You’re beyond all hope!” It’s a lie.

In Romans 7:19-25, the apostle Paul chronicles this vivid description of addiction: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

And reminds you of the hope that is always available to you:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

4 — Yes, you can. 

You can address the core issues that trigger your spending sprees and clutter collections. For me, it came down to a combination of “buying to become” and “never enough” syndrome. Over time, I retrained my brain to disconnect my identity from my possessions, and to revel in gratitude for what I already have.

You can find healthy ways to settle the everyday ordinary problems that a possession obsession promises—but utterly fails—to solve. I’d turned pretty much any “negative” emotion into an excuse to spend: sadness, anger, loneliness, and boredom all lifted (albeit temporarily) with a bit of “retail therapy.”

It took time to develop new self-soothing strategies. Over several months, I built a list of my Favorite Free Ways to Feel Better Fast (which you can download at the end of this article!)

You can develop safe systems for making necessary purchases. I always take a list when heading to Safeway or Target. My husband and I pre-plan major purchases. Whenever something catches my eye, I have a pre-decided wait time (yes, even if it’s on sale.)

I write it on my wish list and set a calendar reminder for a week away. Nine times out of ten, when the alert pops up, I think to myself, “I was going to spend how much for that?!?”

If you feel trapped in possession obsession right now, please know that I understand.

And please hear the truth: Your stuff doesn’t have to morph into a monster that enslaves you.

You can do the brave work to break free. You can learn to master your spending and storing habits so that your stuff serves you, not the other way around.

Sign up to receive updates from Cheri, and receive her FREE “15 Favorite Free Ways to Feel Better Fast” PDF.

possession obsessionCheri Gregory is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the Perfect Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed. Her goal is to equip women to relate and create with less drama, more delight. Connect with Cheri on Facebook and at www.CheriGregory.com.