#377: Tradition vs. Truth: How to Grow in Wisdom Every Single Day with Amanda Hope Haley

#377: Tradition vs. Truth: How to Grow in Wisdom Every Single Day with Amanda Hope Haley

In this week’s episode, Kathi sits down to chat with Amanda Hope Haley, author of Mary Magdalene Never Wore Blue Eye Shadow, about how to grow in wisdom every day. They invite us to take a journey of rediscovering who God is as we strip off mistaken ideas that can clutter our understanding and read the Bible with fresh eyes.

You’ll learn from Amanda’s journey of unlearning some of her preconceived notions about the Bible. You’ll also learn how we can grow in wisdom through:

  • Approaching the Bible boldly, with fresh eyes
  • Pressing into uncomfortable and confusing passages
  • Allowing the Living Word to teach us something new

To start your own journey of rediscovery, get your copy of Mary Magdalene Never Wore Blue Eye Shadow on Amazon today.


Thanks to the generosity of Harvest House Publishers, we have a few copies of Amanda’s book to give away to our readers!

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a copy of Mary Magdalene Never Wore Blue Eye Shadow, along with some lovely things to provide a cozy reading atmosphere. Curl up with some slippers, tea, a journal, and pens to enjoy this book and dig into truths from the Bible.

Enter to win here


We would love to stay connected. To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest

Amanda Hope Haley

Amanda Hope Haley

Amanda Hope Haley has a master of theological studies in Hebrew Scripture and Interpretation from Harvard University. She is a lover of the Bible–its God, its words, and its history. Amanda and David live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with their always-entertaining basset hound, Copper. You can learn more at amandahopehaley.com

#376: Three Decisions to Make Today to Have the Best Christmas Ever

#376: Three Decisions to Make Today to Have the Best Christmas Ever

Ready or not, Christmas is on its way! The holidays come every year and yet we always seem caught off guard by their arrival. What if we could make some important decisions today to make our lives easier in December? What if we could plan ahead and have the best Christmas ever this year?

This week, Kathi and Tonya Kubo, fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, discuss three decisions you can make today to have the best Christmas ever. Their insights will help you move from dreading the holidays to actually enjoying them.

In this episode, you’ll learn how taking care of your future self by making decisions early will help you to have the best Christmas ever. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Get started on your Christmas cards today
  • Arrange your calendar early to include all the things (even Christmas cheer!)
  • Avoid the January sticker shock from your holiday spending

Get a handle on the holidays by ordering your own gorgeous copy of The Christmas Project Planner. Click here to order on Amazon.

If you’re looking for more ideas, support, and awesome .gifs, join the Christmas Project Planner Facebook Group.


We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript for Clutter Free Academy Podcast #376

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast # 376

Three Decisions to Make Today to Have the Best Christmas Ever.

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life.  We are back with the Christmas Countdown. Things are happening, friends. Christmas is coming, like it or not. I hope you like it.

Tonya – Like it or not, December 25th comes every year.

Kathi – It really does. You were talking about how people say, “Did Christmas just sneak up on you this year?” and you’re like, “No. I knew that Christmas was on December 25th.” 

Tonya – I just keep forgetting the days are ticking by. 

Kathi – You have to do something about it. Yeah, that’s a little frustrating. Well, here’s what I want us to do. I want us to make some decisions early, and these decisions can help you manage your Christmas in a better way. So, I am here with Tonya Kubo, who is our fearless leader, over at Clutter Free Academy on Facebook. If you have not joined Clutter Free Academy on Facebook, you didn’t listen to our last episode, because we pretty much shamed you into doing it. Here’s the thing: We love to talk about taking care of your future self. So, Tonya, why don’t you explain to people what taking care of your future self is.

Tonya – Well, it’s understanding that the later version of yourself never has more time, or more energy for anything. So, why not just do something right now that makes later a little bit easier? 

Kathi – That’s all we want you to do. Yes, you’re doing it for your family. Yes, you’re doing it for your friends, but really? It’s okay to do it for yourself, to be a more peaceful version of who you are. So, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to pre-decide a few things, to decide if you’re doing them this year. If you’re not, mark it off and go with God, and don’t worry about it anymore, but, we want you to decide on a few things that are going to make the rest of your season so much easier. So, Number One: Are You Going to Do Christmas Cards? So, Tonya, are you going to do Christmas cards?

Tonya – I’m doing Christmas cards.

Kathi – You are?! 

Tonya – I am!

Kathi – Okay, tell me about it. First of all, I’m so proud of you for making that decision months in advance. 

Tonya – Especially since, the first time we recorded this episode, I was like, “Ah! I don’t know!” Pressure!

Kathi – Okay, so what made you decide that this is the year?

Tonya – Well, part of it is because I have a plan. I have a plan. I understand that it’s not such a big thing. There are just about little ten steps to get me from here to Christmas cards in the mail. And I can do those steps. I’ve realized that I have to buy stamps. I know how to buy stamps. And I can buy stamps at any time. I don’t have to buy stamps three days before Christmas.

Kathi – Right! You can order them online. 

Tonya – Right! I can buy stamps. I’ve decided I want a picture. I don’t have to have a picture. I have a friend who just buys her cards from the Dollar Store and hand writes every card. That’s not who I am. But I can get a picture, and we happen to have a long-time sitter. She’s been with us since Abby was born, and she’s really handy with a camera and a camera phone. So, I’m just going to have her take our picture. I already asked her. I said, “Do you think you could just snap a picture of us?” and she’s like, “Sure! Not a problem!” So, I’ve got that down. I just need to pick a date.

Kathi – Beautiful! I’m so proud of you! The Lipps, who haven’t sent Christmas cards for a few years, have also decided that this is the year. 

Tonya – Do we get to see Moo?

Kathi – Moo will be a part of it. So, if you guys don’t know, we have a new baby puggle. Her name is Moose, but we call her Moo, little Moo, Moo-Moo, Moose-on-the-Loose. She has many, many names. So, we are going to take a picture with her, probably at The Red House, but you know what? If it just happens to be just our two faces and little Moo?  Now, we cannot get Moo and Ashley the Cat in the same photograph, because, right now, everybody loves Moo, except for one. 

Tonya – Yeah, but you never know. Christmas miracles, they can happen at any time.

Kathi – Wouldn’t that be nice? I had little pictures of them snuggling together, and right now, I’m just praying they don’t kill each other. We’re working on it.  We’re working on training Moose, so she’s a little bit chill-er – let’s put it that way – and doesn’t bark quite as much. So, anyway, we look at sending Christmas cards as if it should be easy, and it actually is easy. It does require a lot of steps, though, and so, having the addresses. That’s the part that always kills me. Trying to get all those addresses together. So, that’s my first step. That’s the step that I need to do in advance. Print off those labels. I’m not your calligraphy kind of gal. I just want to print off the labels and be done with it. We can have a mass production. The other thing that I am doing? I am putting on my calendar, a night to invite people over to do their Christmas cards. 

Tonya – How fun!

Kathi – Right? If you lived closer, I’d invite you over. Sadly, you are several hours away.

Tonya – I don’t know. I might come over anyway.

Kathi – You might come over. I love it. 

Tonya – It depends on what we’re eating. Is there cheese? If there’s cheese involved, I might go.

Kathi – There will be cheese. There is always cheese. So, we’ll put on the Christmas music, and we’ll just go for it. It gives me a target for when I need the cards back in order to do all the things. I’m super-excited about it. So, let’s talk to the person who’s not going to do Christmas cards. You just saved yourself twelve hours.

Tonya – I was going to say, we just gave them a day and a half!

Kathi – I don’t send Christmas cards every year. We’ll send them this year, because we have a new, cute little face in the house, and I love to share the Moose-love, but we probably won’t send them next year, and that’s okay.  Nothing inside of me says, “I need to send them every year.”  Especially, when you have kids that are older, they change so slowly at that point. Now, when they’re little, and you have a new baby, yeah, do the cards. Of course, I’m saying that to new moms. You know what? Just put a picture of your kid up on the Interwebs. That’s all you need to do. So, if you’re not going to do Christmas cards, you get a free pass. That’s amazing. Good for you. But, if you’re going to do Christmas cards, start doing those little steps into motion. Get the picture taken, if you’re going to do that. Gather your addresses. Create an Excel spread sheet. Order the stamps. Are you doing it on Shutterfly? Figure all that out, and do it early. Number Two: Decide On Your Calendar. So, in The Christmas Project Planner, we have your December calendar and your November Calendar, and I want you to put in there, on little Post-It Notes, what nights or days you are going to be busy, so that you cannot worry about that. For somebody like me, it’s not that big of a deal, because Roger is going to be busy with church and everything like that, because he’s on the production team, but I don’t have little kids in the house. I’m not going to a million winter carnival/festival/thing-a-majigs. But you have Abby and Lily. You need to get those things on there early. So, tell me what your November and December looks like.

Tonya – Well, you know, they’re crazy. They always are. But I think one thing that I have realized this year that I don’t think I realized last year, is I don’t have to be a slave to other people’s communication schedules. I have the power to contact the school, contact the teachers and say, “Hey, when is the Christmas Program? When is this? When are conferences?” I don’t have to sit here and say, “Oh, well, I know my kids are going to have a Christmas Program, but the teacher hasn’t informed me yet.” No! They have to reserve the auditorium at some point, so I am totally capable of finding out when that reservation is. 

Kathi – Nice. I like that a lot. I really, really do. So, get your calendar together. Decide when you’re going to do things. Then decide when you’re going to put in the Christmas cheer. I said, I’m going to have a night where I’m inviting people over to work on their Christmas cards, or if they’re crafters, they can bring those kinds of things. Whatever they want to do. I’m inviting them over and we can do this all together. I’m also going to have a night when I get to The Red House, of wreath-making. We have thirty two acres of trees that are waiting to be turned into wreaths.  

Tonya – I don’t even know how that happens, but I look forward to hearing your story.

Kathi – I’m super-excited. I’ve got the ring. I’ve already ordered the supplies I need. I cannot wait. So, put in times of intentional joy and rest on your calendar. That’s what I want for you. I want you to have some days where you’re going to go do something fun. Both your family and my family have a tradition, where we load up the car, we drive through Starbucks, we get hot chocolates or the coffees or whatever, and we go look at Christmas lights.

Tonya – I love it, because I don’t actually put up Christmas lights. I can look at other peoples.

Kathi – Roger does. It’s not my thing, but it’s his thing. I love that we both do that. You get to go and appreciate somebody else’s work without having to do any of your own. Then, finally, I want you to Decide on Your Budget. One of the things that was really helpful for me last year was, I just shoved all the receipts into my Christmas book, so I could kind of see what I spent last year. Every family has some unusual expenses. I know you have some unusual expenses because of your husband’s job.

Tonya – Yes. My husband is a special education teacher at a low income school, so he spends a fair amount of money on his students, but also, his co-workers actually like each other and get together. A lot. 

Kathi – That’s amazing. Since we talked about it, it makes me think, we had a couple of teachers at the last Red House Writer’s Retreat. We were talking about what is covered by the school district and what isn’t. What was so interesting was: paper was covered, pencils are not. So, Roger was working in San Jose, and I had him go buy three hundred pencils to just give to them, so they could have them in their classrooms. I think, as parents, could we give the teachers twenty dollars and say, “Hey, I know you’ve got some expenses coming up this Christmas season.” Unless it’s one of those bah-humbug teachers. But Brian’s not one of those.

Tonya – You know what’s beautiful? Going back – and this is not sponsored by Amazon at all – but gift cards. I have the teacher’s email addresses, and Amazon gift cards. 

Kathi – It’s a beautiful thing. People were so gracious to us when we had evacuees at The Red House. People sent us games for the kids. They sent us books for the kids. Then they sent us Amazon gift cards, and it made such a difference in all the things we were doing. Finally, just knowing what your budget is, so you’re not surprised in January. If you’re going to buy all the things in December and complain about it in January, how is that honoring anybody? How is that honoring your family? How is that honoring your spouse? How is that honoring you? How is that honoring God? So, make these decisions early. If this all feels overwhelming to you, I’m going to have Tonya tell you a little bit about The Christmas Project Planner Facebook group, because we would love you to be a part of that. 

Tonya – Yes! First of all, it’s not like The Christmas Project Planner Facebook group lives twelve months out of the year. We’re just here for a short period of time and we’re going to have a lot of fun. Right now, there’s a lot of people in there that cannot get enough of Christmas, but as we get closer to Christmas, there are going to be people in there who are just desperate to survive Christmas. The great thing about The Christmas Project Planner group is, we’re in there and we’re just focused on practicality. Somebody posted in there the other day that they were raised by somebody who did Christmas like a pro, but didn’t really pass on how to do Christmas like a pro, so it’s been a big mystery to them. They are just in there, like, “How do you get through, day by day.” It’s beautiful because The Christmas Project Planner is twenty-one super-simple steps to get you from here to actually loving Christmas.

Kathi – Right. First of all, this book is beautiful. They’ve done such an amazing job. It’s really gorgeous. So, if this is something you want to do with a friend, if you gave them this book as a gift, it would be a gorgeous gift. If you order one, order two, and you can talk other people into doing this. I promise you. We would love for you to join the group. We would love for you to be a part of it. It’s not too late. We can help you simplify the Christmas that you want to have. Tonya, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy. 

Tonya – Thank you for having me.

Kathi – Of course! And friends, thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free Christmas you were always intended to celebrate.


*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items


Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#375: A Christmas Plan For Those Who Are Overwhelmed By Christmas

#375: A Christmas Plan For Those Who Are Overwhelmed By Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner! Do you have a Christmas plan in place or are you overwhelmed thinking about it already? Have no fear! In this episode, Kathi and Tonya Kubo, illustrious leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, will help you create a Christmas plan to have your most joyful, meaningful, merry holiday season yet.

Kathi and Tonya will give you a glimpse into some of their favorite Christmas traditions and others that didn’t work for them. Their experiences will help you discover:

  • Three things that can make Christmas feel overwhelming and how to address them.
  • Important questions to ask when crafting a Christmas plan.
  • How to share the giving season and get others involved in your Christmas plan.

Kathi and Tonya are right. You really can get anything on Amazon! Most importantly, you can pre-order your copy of The Christmas Project Planner and get your Christmas plan rolling today.

Join the Christmas planning fun in the Christmas Project Planner Facebook Group.

If you’re interested in trying raclette, click here to learn more.

We would love to stay connected. To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #375 Transcript


Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live everyday with less clutter and more life. All I want to say right now is, “JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE BELLS! JINGLE ALL THE WAY!!” Am I killing you, Tonya? I’m talking to my guest, Tonya Kubo, who is the fearless leader over at Clutter Free Academy, the Facebook group.  If you’re not a part of that, go join it. If you’re not a part of that, what are we even doing? What are we even doing here?

Tonya – I don’t even know. Where are you? If you’re not there, where are you?

Kathi – Do you not love love? Do you not love support? Do you not love the kindest corner of the internet? I mean, what are we even doing? Well, Tonya, the reason I said I’m killing you, is because you are a self-admitted Grinch. I wouldn’t call you a Grinch. I know you call yourself a Grinch, but can we just say – and, by the way, we’re rerecording this because Kathi may have had a couple of technical difficulties the last time we recorded this – and we didn’t talk about this then, but I want to talk about it now. You maybe didn’t have the easiest growing up. 

Tonya – No, I didn’t have the easiest growing up. I would agree with you. I view Grinches as people who want to ruin Christmas for other people, but I think I’m happy for you to have the most amazing Christmas ever, I just don’t need to be a part of it. 

Kathi – My theory is: If you want to be miserable, you go right ahead. And you’re saying: If you want to be happy, you go right ahead. Here’s the thing: because you have kids, and because I love your kids, I want them to have some semblance of a Christmas that they will look back on fondly, with lots of love. I do feel like I need to get you up to a Christmas level every year, because you help me with The Christmas Challenge. Every year, you get a little more Christmas-y. 

Tonya – That is true. I will say, last year, as we were preparing for The Christmas Project Planner to come out, even Brian commented that I was the most Christmas-y he had ever known me to be. 

Kathi – Here’s the thing. I think you have mental issues when it comes to matching outfits. 

Tonya – I definitely have mental issues when it comes to matching outfits! Oh, my gosh!

Kathi – I think that there is some childhood trauma there. Every time I talk about, “What is your problem with Christmas?” matching outfits comes up. 

Tonya – Okay, so you know that I have a MOPS background, and our annual fundraiser at our local MOPS group is what they call Santa House. One of our members lives in an old mansion. She does it all out for Christmas. We have Santa there. For one price, you can take your Christmas picture, Christmas craft, some hot cocoa, some cookies. You get your picture print that day, and you go out the door. So, for years, I see that parade of families that walk in, and the whole family is done up in these coordinating outfits. I have to tell you, the first year, I was like, “These are thoughts that have never crossed my mind.” The idea that we all might own outfits that coordinate is not a Kubo family tradition. Second, the idea that you would all wear those coordinating outfits on this one day, like you would pre-plan that? Mind-blowing! 

Kathi – Can I just tell you, my husband loves me deeply and would do almost anything for me, but the thought of asking him to get into a coordinating outfit? It never even occurred to me. We did do, because he loves his daughter deeply, and she wanted to go to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Hallowe’en Party, and she wanted to go as Joy from UP!. Not UP! Excuse me. Inside Out. I get the two confused because they almost had an Up themed wedding. So, Roger went as Anger and I went as Disgust. 

Tonya – Yes! And Lily was very impressed with your Disgust. 

Kathi – I loved my Disgust. This has nothing to do with Christmas, but let me just say this: As a mom who raised kids in the ’90s and the aughts, the double zeros, pulling together a costume in 2019 is an order of magnitude easier than it was when my kids were little. You can get anything on Amazon. 

Tonya – Right?! The perfect wig and all the things.

Kathi – Right! I got everything on Amazon. It was amazing. Okay, sorry. The struggle is real. Okay, but we’re talking about Christmas and I believe that so many people are overwhelmed by Christmas for three reasons. Let me just go over them really quickly. Loneliness, and I’ll explain what I mean by that, A Lack of a Plan, and Others’ Expectations. So, let’s go into these. You and I have talked about this and you agree with these three.

Tonya – Oh, totally.

Kathi – Okay, so, Loneliness.  I believe that overwhelm often stems from the feeling “I’m in this all by myself.” Feeling alone in something. So, when I say Loneliness, it’s not that you don’t have friends. That’s not what we’re talking about. It’s feeling like it’s all up to you and you don’t have the help.  I think, I’m switching these around, because I think that stems from Number Three: Others’ Expectations. People feel like, “Well, everybody who’s a good mom has matching outfits”, “Everybody who’s a good mom xyz.” To not process those expectations, and just accept them? Here’s the thing that we need to understand: Expectations don’t affect us until with accept the expectations. There were lots of things people did for Christmas that I couldn’t have cared less about. We never dressed anybody in matching outfits. That was not our thing. We never went caroling. We had a group of friends who did that, and I’m like, “That sounds terrible. I don’t want to do that.” There are some people who love that, though. You have to figure out what works for you, in your situation, and you, in your family. What are some of the things that bring you joy when it comes to Christmas, Tonya?

Tonya – Peppermint Mochas and Gingerbread Lattes. 

Kathi – Yes! Those are good things. Very, very good things. Some people get angry that they only come out seasonally. I love that they only come out seasonally. 

Tonya – Well, you actually can get the Peppermint Mocha all year ’round.

Kathi – This is true, because Roger does it every day. The Gingerbread Lattes and things like that, though? Even the Pumpkin Spiced Latte? That’s a treat. 

Tonya – Right, and I think there is this thing, going back to your point about Amazon. You can get anything, at any time, pretty much, nowadays, right? So, it’s easy to feel like nothing is special, but the one thing I do like about Christmas, and the holiday season, is that it is an opportunity to make things special.

Kathi – That goes into our point of Number Two: Have a Plan. All of these tie in together. The loneliness, feeling like you have to do it all by yourself, others’ expectations. One of the things I feel is very important, whoever the stakeholders are in your Christmas, for you, that would be Brian and your two girls. For me, it is my husband, my adult kids, my adult step-kids, my mom, and to a certain extent, my brother and his family. So, if we want to have the Christmas we want to have, I’m going to put in as much effort, probably more, than most people in my family, but I’m not going to put in all the effort. Here’s what I’ve come to understand: I kill myself to make a great Christmas, but it’s not the Christmas that other people wanted, and then I’m disappointed with people’s reaction. That’s ridiculous. I stopped that around ten years ago. That’s not what’s happening anymore. So, to sit down and say, “What do we want this Christmas to look like?” And really get specific. I remember one time, I made at least fifteen dishes on the table, for Christmas dinner, and people weren’t eating anything. I couldn’t figure it out, and I was really frustrated. I came to find out all my kids care about were the appetizers. They don’t care about the turkey. They don’t care about any of that stuff. So say, “Could we do a Christmas where it’s just appetizers and dessert?” Can I just tell you? That was our favourite Christmas ever. We’ve done other things like that. Last year we did raclette. Everybody had a great time and it was super-easy. If you don’t know, it’s a Swedish fondue. You can look it up, or, we’ll put a link in the show notes. 

Tonya – You need to put a link in the show notes, ’cause I think that’s what my husband wants for Christmas.  I’m just saying.

Kathi – It’s super-super fun. We’ve one pizza fondue, we’ve done raclette. Get the stakeholders into it, so it’s not all up to you, so you’re not alone. You can have a plan. You can have this meeting early on. So, what would your girls say is important to them for Christmas?

Tonya – So, it’s funny that you bring that up. You’re right, going back to the plan. You have to ask. I remember, what was it, three years ago that you introduced me to this idea of asking? I asked Brian, and I thought Brian would talk about, ’cause guys are really about food, right? Dinner. All Brian cares about is for Christmas, which has been transcended to my daughters, candy for breakfast. 

Kathi – So, you do one morning of candy for breakfast on Christmas?

Tonya – Christmas morning. So, I was spending all this time planning the perfect Christmas breakfast, “‘Cause you know, it’s a sugar high, and so I want them to have protein and the overnight casserole and the whatever.” Brian just wants to be able to eat candy for breakfast. He wants to eat nothing but candy until lunchtime. That is Christmas to him.

Kathi – Okay, that sounds horrific, but if it makes them happy.

Tonya – So, then, all I have to worry about is having the Christmas breakfast that I want to have. 

Kathi – Right. So, what do you eat instead of candy? Or do you eat the candy?

Tonya – No, I eat quiche. Quiche makes me happy.

Kathi – Quiche. Okay, you and I, carbs. Yes please. So, I love that. You’ve figured out what everybody else’s expectations or desires are, and you have a plan. 

Tonya – Right. It’s funny, because Abby will ask to eat a lollipop, last Saturday, and I just look at her and say, “Is it Christmas?” and she’ll say, “No.” “When do we eat candy for breakfast?” She knows she gets candy for breakfast on Christmas and on Easter and that’s it.

Kathi – That’s so cute. I love that. It makes it so super-special to them. It’s something they’ll remember. It’s something they’ll probably do with their own kids.  So, what we’re going to do to not be overwhelmed this Christmas? We’re going to understand other people’s expectations, and we’re going to accept or reject what works for us and our family. It doesn’t matter what the other mom at school is doing and what her expectations are. The only expectations that matter are those of your kids, your family, your friends, the ones that are celebrating with you. So, we’re going to do that. Then we’re going to have a plan. We’re going to have a plan on how to execute the Christmas that you want. Here’s what happens. When you are hustling to meet everybody’s expectations, the things that are important to you get shoved out. I’ll never forget the year that I felt I was too busy, getting ready for Christmas, to go to church. How screwed up are my priorities that I’m not going to church to celebrate the baby Jesus, but I’ll make sure that the cheese rolls are on point?

Tonya – But I do that!

Kathi – We all do it!

Tonya – I would be totally happy just wearing plain clothes, going to church and coming home. But it’s like, “Oh no. There’s no time for that.” ’cause I’m decking the halls. 

Kathi – Right! And if you’re going do matching clothes? Make them matching pajamas. Make sure it’s comfy. Then, we’re going to ask other people to participate. There is something, a matriarchal complex, I’m not really sure what it is, where we feel like we want to put on the Christmas feast all by ourselves. Can I tell you? Dinner is better when you assign it to other people. 

Tonya – We were raised by women who didn’t ask for help. That is my belief. We were raised by women who didn’t ask for help. We’re surrounded by friends we don’t see ask for help and therefore we assume asking for help is a bad thing.

Kathi – Asking for help means that other people get to give in the giving celebration and that’s what we want.  Okay guys, if this all sounds like, “Well, that’s all great, but I don’t think I can pull it off.” We have a whole group dedicated to pulling this off. We can make this the best Christmas ever for you. The one where you get to celebrate how you want, in the ways that you want. We want to make that happen for you, so we have a group, and I’m going to put in there, it’s The Christmas Project Planner Group. We want you to be a part of it, because we want this Christmas to be different from any other Christmas. Tonya’s in there leading it. You guys are having so much fun.

Tonya – We are! It’s kind of like Christmas exploded. Even I’m having a blast, because I totally feed off other people’s enthusiasm, and I had no idea that Facebook had such a library of hilarious Christmas .gifs.

Kathi – The .gifs are the best.

Tonya – Come for the gifs, I’m telling you. 

Kathi – Come for the gifs. Not the GIFTS. I love it. I’m going to put links in the show notes to buy the book. This is a book you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. You can photocopy it. You can use Post-It notes, you can put all the lists in there. This will become your, I don’t want to say Christmas Bible, because we have a real Bible about Christmas, so it’s a little blasphemous. This is your Christmas Command Central. 

Tonya – I like that.

Kathi – You’ll be able to use it every year and it will be amazing. Okay, guys. Tonya, thanks so much. Thanks for being so open about your Christmas-y, Grinch-y tendencies.

Tonya – Thanks for loving me through it.

Kathi – I do. I do, friend. I hear ya. And guys, thank you for being here. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter-free Christmas you were always intended to celebrate.


*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo is the fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#374: Creating Beauty with Order – An Interview with Artist Ruth Chou Simons of Gracelaced

#374: Creating Beauty with Order – An Interview with Artist Ruth Chou Simons of Gracelaced

If you long to have a life with more beauty and order in it, today’s podcast will help you on your journey. Kathi sits down with artist and author Ruth Chou Simons this week to discuss ways of creating beauty with order.  

Kathi and Ruth recognize that cluttery people often are the most creative and generous people, yet they are also plagued by perfectionism and self-doubt. Today’s episode offers powerful strategies for moving past those emotions that keep us stuck and towards beautiful order.

This episode will also introduce you to a tool that moves us towards creating beauty with order by providing space to:

  • Think about what matters most in your daily schedule.
  • Make small, doable steps towards your goals (no giant lists of panic-inducing check boxes here!)
  • Keep a record of past victories and/or future hope.
  • Take steps towards growing


And as a special treat we are giving away a trio of Ruth’s books! You could win a copy the GraceLaced 2020 12-Month Planner, Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship, and Beholding and Becoming: A Guided Companion.

Enter the giveaway here.

If you would like to purchase the GraceLaced 2020 12-Month Planner you can order it on AMAZON now.


We would love to stay connected. 

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest

Ruth Chou Simons

Ruth Chou Simons

Ruth Chou Simons is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker. She shares her journey of God’s grace intersecting daily life with word and paintbrush through an online shop at GraceLaced.com and her Instagram community of more than a hundred thousand. Ruth and her husband, Troy, are grateful parents to six boys—their greatest adventure. Her first book, GraceLaced, won a 2018 Christian Book Award.

Find Ruth–her art and heart–at GraceLaced.com and at @gracelaced on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Back to Basics: Clutter Free Book Club Launches June 18

Back to Basics: Clutter Free Book Club Launches June 18

It’s been three years since Clutter Free came out and took the clutter/organizing world by storm with its quick and easy steps to simplifying your space. When the book was written, we had no idea it would change the course of our ministry by changing thousands of lives. Yet here we are.

Today, that book has evolved into an entire community. Clutter Free Academy is a live workshop, ecourse, blog, podcast and Facebook group. In just a year, that Facebook group has grown to more than 5,000 members. Every day, people post pictures of their transformations. We see bedrooms go from junk rooms to sanctuaries, and we hear stories of how Clutter Free living has freed women from anxiety, lifted spirits and improved relationships.

It’s awe-inspiring, and more is yet to come.

This month, we’re launching the Clutter Free Book Club in our Facebook Group. Going from June 18 to July 13, this brief book club takes members through the book that started it all: Clutter Free. We’ll spend about an hour each Monday at 5 p.m. discussing segments of the book in the group on Facebook Live. The first session will be an orientation of sorts with the first reading assignment. After that, our group discussions will involve the assigned readings and how they apply to our daily lives.

This group is perfect for anyone who is new to Clutter Free and wants to learn the foundational principles upon which the Clutter Free Academy is built. It’s also great for the longtime Clutter Free fan who wants a refresher in the company of others to share similar challenges and successes.

To participate, all you need to do is be a member of the group and own a copy of the book. If you need the book, you can order via Amazon or you can purchase a signed copy from the Kathi Lipp store and receive a free bookmark with the three questions we use to determine whether stuff earns its space in our homes: Do I love it? Do I use it? Would I buy it again?  The bookmark comes in handy when you need a reminder. You’ll need to order the book this week if you want to receive it before the book club begins.

Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, we look forward to taking this journey together to become Clutter Free in our homes, our hearts and our minds. Join the Facebook group today and introduce yourself. We can’t wait to meet you.


Trading in Comparison and To-Dos for Meaningful Traditions

Trading in Comparison and To-Dos for Meaningful Traditions

Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard working of mommyhood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:

When I first became a mom over 20 years ago, I had this perfectly reasonable idea that if I could just follow a certain list of things that “good moms” did then surely I would ensure that my kids would turn out OK. The problem was that the hospital must have forgotten to give me a copy of the list because I left with a tiny baby bundle and no clue what I was doing. As a young mom I quickly fell into the comparison trap. I thought that if I could just copy what other successful families were doing then we’d be fine.

So I started looking around, taking notes on all the things “good parents” did. You know the usual: reading to your baby, getting them into the right pre-school, sports teams and activities, sign up to be class parent for every grade, volunteer with the PTO, and so on. But every year that passed the list seemed to get longer and longer. It was becoming hard to keep up.

One area where there seemed to be a never-ending list of to-dos, for example, was birthday celebrations. We have dear friends and family members who have a gift for hospitality. They love throwing parties for every birthday and holiday. And early on I felt pressure to have big parties too, even though it’s not one of my “gifts”. But after having our 4th child we realized that big birthday parties every year for each child was just not in alignment with our values or our budget.

Our focus shifted from checking boxes and trying to do all of the things to considering what we really wanted our kids to remember about their time at home?

After we gave our family permission to trade-in the to-dos for meaningful traditions, our birthday celebrations became small and simple but meaningful. The birthday person gets to choose the meal and dessert of their choice on their special day and they get to use the red “I am special today” plate. Then we go around the table and take turns sharing what we love about the birthday person.

It’s become a sweet, fun and often funny tradition in our home.

As I started to think more about what memories and experiences we wanted to create together as a family I began to look for ways to make our time together special. Little every-day events have become reasons for celebration.

For example, Friday evenings have turned into “Toto’s Fridays” where we head to our favorite pizza place for dinner, usually after our youngest son’s baseball game, and catch up on the week’s events.

Other ideas for family traditions:

  • Family reunions
  • Annual camping trips
  • Donuts or a special treat on the first day of school
  • First day of summer scavenger hunt
  • Family game night Fridays
  • Ice cream sundae Sundays

There are definitely times when we need to check off to-do lists but when it comes to creating family memories each family is wonderfully different. Let’s choose to celebrate our time together by creating meaningful traditions that are in line with our family’s values rather than consume what others are doing and potentially miss out on some special opportunities.

One small win: We have limited time while our kids are at home, creating family traditions can be a great way of celebrating your family’s uniqueness and create memories together. Consider what special or ordinary events you’d like to find ways to celebrate.


Ready for your chance to win a copy of The Mom Project? To be entered into the drawing, just comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win. *Only US readers are eligible to receive the free book.


Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. She is passionate about equipping and encouraging women to let go of the never-ending hustle for perfection and live with alignment instead. Connect with her at zoharyross.com