Maybe it is the new year, but I’ve plugged along with decluttering my cupboards. Then one day, while at a friend’s house, she asked me to grab something from under her kitchen sink. Upon opening the two doors I found literally five items (if that) inside a bare white cupboard. It was beautiful. My jaw dropped.
I immediately envisioned opening the doors underneath my own kitchen sink. Cue the shower scene music from the movie Psycho. Eek, eek, eek… I have a billion items under there. I own every cleaner under the sun and then some. My heart was deflated. I left her house feeling completely terrible about my own organizing capabilities. Wondering, what is wrong with me?
The next morning I was ramping up to work on a design project but my organizing ability was spilling over into my work and making me feel insecure. I read my daily devotional. It talked about how God uses us best when we are operating in our “sweet spot.” In fact, the devotional quoted my go-to verse.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
This verse always reminds me Christ gives me the strength I need, especially whenever I approach a challenge and in spite of all my weaknesses.
But this time when I read it, in light of the words in the devotional, it occurred to me: Christ accomplishes much when we need his strength, He can accomplish so much more when we are leaning into our strengths and operating out of our sweet spot. The place where we are supposed to operate as opposed to operating out of this place that isn’t unique to us, it isn’t where we are gifted.
I sat down to start the design project I felt to inadequate to accomplish. I ended up painting a picture inspired by flowers found on my morning walk. I must admit, I have not painted a true watercolor in years, and I was scared. What if it didn’t turn out as I envisioned? I am guilty of not even doing something if I don’t think the end result will turn out perfectly.
But this time, recognizing only Jesus is perfect, I mustered up my courage and his strength. I sat down to actually do the work I was called to do. God sparked in me my passion, my very own “sweet spot.” When I witnessed his creation through me I knew without a doubt I was doing what he called me to do.
I cried, tears of joy that resonated in my heart. “I am an artist.” I had been so defeated about not being organized and I hadn’t embraced my true calling in a really long time. I am an artist. I work great in organized chaos. I may not have a completely bare cabinet, but I am truly gifted in art. Now that I found my sweet spot, I will be brave with my God-given talents and no longer wish I was someone I am not. Someone I was never created to be.
One Small Win: Christ accomplishes much when we need his strength, He can accomplish so much more when we are leaning into our strengths and operating out of our sweet spot.
Julie 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 nine years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her nine-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents. Follow her on Instagram: @julielandreth.
This post was previously posted two days before Mother’s Day last year. Here it is again to give you an early start!
How to Have a Great Mother’s Day
I’ve seen a huge number of articles on surviving Mother’s Day. All well-intentioned, but they just all came too late- the Friday before Mother’s Day is not enough time to put healthy thinking and guidelines into place.
But a month? A month I can work with.
So I’m putting a note on my calendar for April 10th to remind myself to read this article, and put a plan into place to make sure I’m well-taken care of for Mother’s day. It all some down to having a plan in place. Here are my three steps:
1. Plan Something
If you do not belong to a “planning family” (in other words, your kids are too young, or too unaware to plan anything, and this isn’t your husband’s strong suit,) make sure you plan something
yourself – whether it’s for yourself or your own mom, mother-in-law, or stepmom. There is nothing worse than sitting around on Mother’s Day, scrolling through your Facebook wall, looking at all the posts of well wishes from adoring husbands and cute kids.
Plan something and get off of Facebook. On Mother’s Day, Facebook is not your friend.
Get out of the house. go to the movies. Go on a hike (far enough away that you are out of cell range.) Go out with a friend, go out with your husband.
We celebrated on Friday night – which was great. We had most of our kids there, we had kabobs, it was lovely. But Sunday? Let’s just say I should have planned a hike. Next year – I’ll know better.
2. Order something.
Whether it’s flowers or a great book from Amazon, have a package ready to be ripped into for Mother’s Day, even if it’s for yourself. We ordered Shari’s Berries this year and boy – everyone was glad we did. We had more fun with strawberry pic with everyone (and they were so delish. I may have eaten more than my fair share. But it’s Mother’s Day.) I’m placing an order for next year. These turned our time together into a celebration.
3. Ask Something
Not every gift needs to be a surprise. Ask your kids to do something they are talented at to contribute to your celebration. My boys bought gifts (Jer can always be relied on to bring flowers, and Justen always shows up with a book he knows I’ll love,) but the girls contributed talents – Kimber made the cake, and Amanda did henna tattoos for each of us. Utterly unique, utterly special. Make your special request far in advance. Your child will be flattered you asked, and you’ll get to brag on your kiddos.
Be intentional. No one wants a martyr mom on Mother’s Day. Be sure to celebrate you.
Today is shipping day! Grab your packages, grab yourself a Starbucks, and brave the post office (the lines won’t be nearly as long this early in the game).
To make this day painless, take some time earlier in the week to familiarize yourself with USPS.com, print out labels, and pack everything up so it is ready to go for pick up (you can still enjoy a Starbucks if you like)! If you have never used USPS.com before, this may just be the most magical part of your Christmas this year.
Assignment: Ship Your Boxes.
- Learn how to ship using USPS.com
- Use Priority Mail Boxes
Priority mail can be picked up at your house the next day.
Check out Kathi’s Quick Tips in the book for ideas for packaging and sending.
If you realize after the fact you missed someone, check out the gifts over at Evite. They can be ordered and shipped directly to someone.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 96
Supplies: 1) Gifts 2) Priority Mail boxes 3) Mailing labels
Share Your Thoughts:
Did you have any gifts to send? Did you mail them or order online? Do you have any quick tips to share pertaining to packing and mailing gifts?
Speaking of gifts, here’s a question I get asked quite a bit every year and Evite has the proper etiquette down. “Should I bring a hostess gift to that party?”
Today is another freebie day and we are more than half way there! Use this day to catch up on any projects you have been meaning to finish and cross them off of the list! Nothing feels better than to put a checkmark on your list.
If you are already all caught up on all of your projects use today to bless someone. Maybe you could pay it forward to someone at the restaurant. Maybe you could bless the gas attendant with a Random Act of Kindness card with $10.00 inside. You could also go visit a local nursing home with your children and have them sing a few of their favorite Christmas carols.
Don’t forget to share with us what you did today! Did you catch up on that lingering project or did you have the opportunity to BLESS someone? How did it go? How did you feel afterward?
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For most of America, the day after Thanksgiving will be spent trying to get the most for the least amount of money. The winner will be the person who can grab the most toys, clothes, gadgets and doo-dads for the people on their list. Whether they need them or not.
Now, hear me well: there is nothing wrong with being a wise shopper and looking for the best deal on something that you know you want or something that someone you love wants, and you want to give it to them.
But what if you want to start building different values into your family taking back Black Friday is a great way – and day – to start.
As someone who has been in the position of being an unemployed single mom, I remember all too well having to rely on other people to make the holidays happen for my kids. I remember desperately wanting to get my kids certain toys, or a shirt that I knew my daughter would love, and not being able to because of my lack of funds.
The highlight of my Christmas that year (besides seeing how other people stepped in to love on my kids, and myself) was the absolute thrill of finding some gently used items for my kiddos at Goodwill. I was able to get a little creative with a couple of finds at the local thrift store; there was the like-new art kit for my daughter, and an un-opened pack of Yu-gi-oh cards for my son (at the time, that was the score of all scores.) I found a couple of books from the series they were reading, and even a really cute top that I was able to wear to some Christmas parties.
As much as I want to make Jesus the center of everything I do during the holidays, I long in my mommy heart to bless my kids in a way that will demonstrate that I care about the unique, wonderful people they are. And sometimes, that means Legos or a tube of lip gloss.
Sadly, a lot of the time, donation centers are used instead of a recycling can – they receive so much unusable clothing (which, I do understand, that some centers can sell by the pound to recover some of the money for processing those items. Check with your donation center to see if they welcome this type of donation before making it.) Some of us wait until an item is unusable, undesirable, unfashionable and just plain unworthy until we are willing to get rid of it.
But what about donating those new red kitten heels that you wore once and never wore again because they pinched your feet. Instead of holding onto them for years, (because they cost so much money!) how about donating them and letting a mom with a limited budget feel pretty in those shoes.
Or how about the Barbie that your daughter had-to-have, but then lost interest in about twelve days after her birthday. If she no longer loves it, ask her to donate it so that some other little girl will have the chance to love it.
Or that second (or third) garlic press? Give another woman the chance to create Christmas dinner she wants by making her mom’s homemade marinara sauce (complete with freshly crushed garlic.)
What if we spent the day clearing out our homes in preparation of the abundance that’s about to hit in the next month instead of fighting crowds to get the best barging to fill up our home.
What if we taught our kids that there is even more joy in passing on things that others will love than owning everything and enjoying nothing?
What if winning was giving everything away until everything in your home was something you use, love, or would buy again.
What if the highlight of your Black Friday was donating clothes, tools, toys and books that others could love (and even wrap up for their own kids and families to put under the tree?)
What if Black Friday was marked, not by how much we buy, but how much we give?
Black Friday is November 27th this year. Would you consider joining me in figuring out how you can bless other families that will struggle to get something under the tree this year?
I can’t tell you how much this idea excites me: the thought of some of you, leading your families in the charge not only to declutter, but to give instead of focusing on all you can get? It just gives me shivers.
Here’s what you can do:
- Grab some extra boxes (or for clothes and toys, garbage bags). If you don’t have extra boxes piled up, just waiting for disposal, find a friend who shops with Amazon Pantry. I promise, they will have all the boxes you need.
- With the others you live with, come up with a goal. Let me be so bold as to challenge you: could you come up with 100 items to donate? 100 is doable, but will still challenge you and your loved ones to stretch. Set your goal and then work towards it together.
- Come up with a plan of action. When decluttering, it’s always great to pair a kid with an adult. When the adult is decluttering their area, the child can be the runner – putting things away, putting items into the donation box, etc. When decluttering the child’s area, the parent can be there to encourage the child to get rid of things they no longer love and use, but also can help with some wise decisions when a child is becoming a little too good at decluttering (like wanting to give away Aunt Edna’s antique quilt…)
Some things to consider giving away. No longer loved:
- Camping equipment
- Christmas decorations
So, are you in? Tell me what you think about the challenge and invite others to join in. Remember to let let me know what you did and how it blessed you and your family at firstname.lastname@example.org or at my Facebook page.