#382: How to Hold Onto Hope – For My Friends Who Are Suffering

#382: How to Hold Onto Hope – For My Friends Who Are Suffering

When you hear the word “relentless,” does it have a positive or negative connotation for you? Some of us hear it and think of persevering, continuing no matter what is in our way. Others of us think of wave after wave of challenges in our lives.

In this week’s episode, Kathi sits down with Michele Cushatt, one of her besties and author of Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, to discuss how to hold onto hope when life feels relentless in its difficulties.

Kathi and Michele give real-life examples of ways life can feel relentless and how we try to cope with that chaos. In this episode, you’ll also hear:

  • Two unhelpful extremes that we try to “fix” chaos in our lives and two helpful ways to cope.
  • How we can find an anchor outside ourselves and our circumstances to keep us from being tossed about.
  • How relentless challenges and God’s relentless presence can coexist.

If you want to go deeper in learning about how to hold on to hope, check out Michele Cushatt’s book Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, available on Amazon.

Giveaway

As a special treat we are giving away a copy of Michele’s book, Relentless, to two lucky listeners. If you’d like to enter to win a copy, comment below and let us know:

What situation are you going through where you need to be reminded of God’s unshakeable presence?

 

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Transcript of Clutter Free Academy Podcast #382

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #382

Holding On to Hope

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our heart is to help you become clutter free in every area of your life. Today I have one of my best friends, and the author of the new book, Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. Michele, welcome back to Clutter Free Academy.

Michele – Thank you! I love that I get to be with your Clutter Free peeps! I also love, and I’m going to sound like a junior high girl, that I’m one of your best friends.

Kathi – You are! I’m sorry if I’ve never said that.

Michele – I know! A girl likes to hear that.

Kathi – You know what? it is nice to be confirmed. You’re like, “I like them. Do they like me?” 

Michele – Maybe it’s because I have a twelve and thirteen year old girl right now, so I get to hear stories like, “She’s my best friend. Well, she’s not my best friend anymore. She used to be my best friend, but she’s not now.” 

Kathi – There’s not a million dollars you could give me to go back to that nonsense.

Michele – Oh my Gosh! This is my everyday reality, and I’m like, “Oh, for the love!” So, when you said best friend, I’m like, “Hah! I can go to my girls tonight and say, ‘I have a best friend!’”

Kathi – I love it. It makes me super-happy. I know! We’ll get BFF bracelets. 

Michele – Maybe a necklace, you know? ‘Cause that’s not cheesy at all. 

Kathi – No. Not cheesy at all.

Michele – You have half of it and I have the other half.

Kathi – There we go. There will be interlocking hearts. There we go.

Michele – Maybe we can put our photo on the back, just to take it up a notch.

Kathi – There we go. And we’ll sign each other’s yearbooks first. I’ll give you a whole page.

Michele – A whole page? I’ll use permanent ink.

Kathi – Permanent puffy ink. Okay, so I want to talk to you about your title, Relentless. I think, for a lot of people, Relentless has a great connotation. If you’re a runner, you’re that kind of person, Relentless. You’re persistent. Constant. Continual. Those are some great words. Can I tell you what Relentless means to me?  It’s like the relentless tide of stuff coming into my house. The relentless whine of my children. The relentless pounding of noise in my life. So, I think it’s really interesting. This is one of those words, depending on who’s saying it and what their intention is, can be such a compliment or a curse.

Michele – Exactly, and that was intentional. It was intentional to be a play on words. The whole heart behind it is, many times, it feels like our circumstances are relentless. It’s just one thing after another. You wake up optimistic, and before nine AM rolls around, fifty things have gone wrong, and you’re like, “Oh my Gosh!” It’s like the buzzing mosquito in your ear that’s relentless. You can just never seem to get ahead of the vehicle.

Kathi – You and I were taking of-air, ‘cause we haven’t talked in a while, which is crazy for best friends.

Michele – Good thing I have the necklace.

Kathi – That’s right. And the puffy paint! The thing is, I was telling you, I’ve had a really good year, but there has been one thing after another. Nothing has been catastrophic, but it gets to a point, and it’s too much. 

Michele – It’s too much.

Kathi – Just recently, I’ve really come to this place of understanding. Overwhelm is a couple of things. It’s loneliness. It’s feeling like you’re alone in this situation. Clutter, often times, we don’t feel like we can rely on other people, so it’s all up to us. It’s that feeling of loneliness. This relentlessness of it comes every day. There’s no place to take a breath. So, when you talk about a relentless God, I know what you mean by that, but I want to talk more about when you feel like life is relentless. How do you get through the day? I happen to know for a fact that clutter is not your thing. It’s not your issue. But God’s given you enough other issues.

Michele – I was going to say: I have plenty of other issues. Clutter just happens to not be one of them. 

Kathi – Which is okay, ‘cause we can still like her, friends, because she has a lot of compassion and mercy for those of us who struggle. 

Michele – I have kids that are hoarders, so I do have that aspect of constantly fighting it in my kids’ bedrooms. 

Kathi – You guys think she’s being cute when she says that her kids are hoarders.

Michele – No, they really are.

Kathi – They’re little magpies. They like little versions of me. There’s something shiny and they have to own it, even if it’s a gum wrapper.

Michele – A gum wrapper, restaurant menus, napkins with a picture on it. That comes from their history of early childhood trauma and abuse. When I say they’re hoarders, they really are. We have to go in and clean things out, because it’s bad.

Kathi – I feel like when life is relentless, humans tend to go to one of two extremes. They either give up, because they just feel like the chaos is so out of control, why even bother? Or, they go to the other extreme, where they try to control everything and get frustrated when life doesn’t go according to plan. So, which one are you?

Michele – Oh, hands down, the control. I would love to say that I’m one that concedes, gives up and lets the chaos take over my life, but I try to convince myself that if I just exert a little bit more control, everything will come under my dominion.

Kathi – How’s that working for you?

Michele – It’s not working so well. I’m pretty exhausted.

Kathi – So, I’m more of the “Hey, I’m just going to let go and let God.” I’ll say ridiculous things like that.

Michele – Is that how it’s done?

Kathi – I’ll say ridiculousness like that. But even in my abdication, I still want to have control. I still want to know that things are going to go according to plan. So, when we’re in that space, where life is just coming at us, and I’m not just talking about clutter, I’m talking about all the things. Those family dynamics. You talk a lot about that in Relentless, where you don’t get to have a lot of control over how the other people in your home, in your life, behave. So, what do you do in those situations, Michele?

Michele – Are you asking me on a good day, or a bad day?

Kathi – I want to hear both. Let’s talk about the bad day first. 

Michele – Yeah, the bad day, because it’s so spiritual and mature. On the bad day, when this happens, I just lose it. When I’m just trying so hard to keep all the balls spinning, and keep everything in order, and then the people in my life, it feels like, they’re working to oppose it. They’re doing the exact opposite. For example, I follow behind my son, and have him pick up his stuff, and all he does is pick it up and drop it at another place in the house, right? You do this a hundred times before you eventually lose your cool and yell, “Oh my Gosh! Just put it away!” So, that’s on the bad days. I just keep upping my game, right? I just get louder, and more controlling, and more obnoxious and more of a bull in a china shop, trying to exert that control. On the good days, I realize that I have to find an anchor within the chaos. In terms of a boat on a lake in a storm. It’s going to be rocked everywhere. You can try with all your might to row your way through it, but you really have no control over the waves. The key to a boat in the storm is, you have to have an anchor. You have to have a dock to tie yourself to. It has to be external to yourself. 

Kathi – Okay, so talk about that. It has to be external to yourself. So, it’s not just grit your teeth and bear it.

Michele – That doesn’t work. It works for a time, I should say. I’m a very determined, persistent, persevering person, so gritting your teeth does work for a time, but sooner or later, and this is what I talk about in Relentless, your circumstance, your reality, is going to be beyond your ability to bootstrap through.

Kathi – When you’re dealing with pain, which you’ve dealt with a lot of physical pain over the past several years, when you’re dealing with relational pain, the gritting your teeth and bearing it, just trying to ride it out. You can do that for a time. It doesn’t matter what the pain is. The pain of a house in chaos. The pain of a relationship. You can do it for a certain amount of time and then you’re going to have to find something outside of yourself. So, if we’re the people who are used to bootstrapping it, what is our first step? Whether it’s clutter, ‘cause I know so many of you, as we’ve always talked about, is a physical manifestation for what’s going on inside of your heart. Some people work on the heart first. Some people work on the clutter first. There’s no right way. Both of them need to happen. But for that person who’s like, “I’m just overwhelmed and I just can’t do it anymore.” What is that first step in finding that outside anchor?

Michele – The first step is to simply acknowledge the emotion. What is going on? Too many times we act very reactively to what’s happening, but we never really stop to check in ourselves and say, “What is it, exactly, that I’m feeling right now?” Whether I’m buying a bunch of stuff, or controlling my environment, both of those are ways to numb the emotion that’s happening. So, what we need to do is check in with ourselves and say, “Why did I just go buy fifty Rubbermaid tubs? What’s the reason for that?” Or, for me, “Why did you just spend hours cleaning and picking up, and doing these obsessive compulsive kinds of activities?” I’m trying to distract myself from something. I’m trying to numb, so that first step is simply to stop and check in with yourself and say, “What’s the dominant emotion here? What am I feeling that’s causing me to do this desperate kind of behavior?”

Kathi – I love it. So, I love the acknowledging part. I think, for so many of us, we feel like, “This is just my reality. I can’t change it.” What I love in your book, is you talk about believing that God is present, even when there’s pain. I don’t want to minimalize the pain that so many of our listeners are going through. The pain of feeling out of control and disorganized. But you went through such tremendous physical pain, how did you anchor yourself to believe that God was there?

Michele – Well, it’s been a long journey. That’s part of the book. I really doubted it. I really doubted God’s nearness. When you feel pain, when you’re living in chaos, whether it’s clutter of physical suffering, whatever it may be, we equate the reality of our pain and chaos with the absence of God. “Since I’m experiencing pain and difficulties and trials, God must have abandoned me.” Or worse, “He’s not real at all.” They can’t co-exist. That’s a pretty natural human response to any kind of challenge or difficulty. So, you have to acknowledge it, but then you have to remind yourself of truth. This again, truth has to be external to our emotions. When everything’s chaos, it’s pretty loud. Chaos is a very loud thing, whether it’s physical chaos, or emotional chaos, or spiritual chaos, it screams pretty loud. So, somehow we have to come up with truth that can pierce that noise. So, for me, eventually, I had to sit down, and write some clarity of what God says is true about His presence. So, I could butt that truth up against the lies I was believing, that God must have abandoned me. So, it’s as simple, for me, as writing some of those verses down on a notecard, and carrying them around with me. Some of those notecards, I’ve been carrying for about seven years. 

Kathi – Wow. Guys, first of all, I want you to get this book. I really do. I don’t normally say that just so directly. Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. I’m going to have it in the notes. There’s probably a friend, too, that needs to go through this with you, with a gentle guide. We’re going to be giving a couple of copies away. I would love for my listeners to get vulnerable and put in the comments, just what is the situation you’re going through. You can just say, “It’s personal.” That’s fine. Maybe it’s the overwhelm of stuff in your house. Maybe it’s overwhelming circumstances.  Maybe it’s overwhelming relationships. If you are looking for a way to be reminded that there is a God who doesn’t leave; who doesn’t abandon, even when you feel alone. I’m going to really encourage you to pick up Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. Michele, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Michele – Thank you, my friend. I love your peeps, so thanks for having me here.

Kathi – My peeps are pretty awesome. They really are. And friends, you awesome people, thanks for listening. You’ve been here at Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

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

 

Meet Our Guest

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

As an experienced communicator, Michele Cushatt speaks internationally to a wide variety of audiences including Women of Faith, Life Today TV, Compassion International, Ziglar Family, Family Life Blended, and Focus on the Family.

A three-time head and neck cancer survivor and parent of “children from hard places,” Michele is a (reluctant) expert of trauma, pain and the deep human need for authentic connection. She and her husband, Troy, share a blended family of six children, including biological children, stepchildren, and foster-adopt children. They live in Denver, Colorado.

Learn more at michelecushatt.com/

#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.

Giveaway

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

Three Sneaky Ways Our Misconceptions Land Us in Piles of Clutter

Three Sneaky Ways Our Misconceptions Land Us in Piles of Clutter

What you believe directly correlates with what you do. Sometimes our false beliefs hold us back from living the clutter-free life and being the person God created us to be.

Today we talk about a few of those misconceptions and how we can replace them with the truth.

Clutter Misconception #1

So-and-so gave it to me.

As a twenty-something, I visited my family in my home state. It took two days to drive with two little girls in the back seat. We had a wonderful visit, but as I was packing my car, an aunt insisted that I take two giant stuffed toys — a bunny and crow dressed as a scarecrow.

I said no. She ignored my request, instead buckling them into the seatbelts as if they were passengers. My twenty-something self simply shrugged and drove away. (My forty-something self would…respond differently.) I got quite a few second looks as I drove home two days through three states with a bunny and a crow riding shotgun.

A year later, after the girls were tired of keeping the oversized toys, we put them into our garage sale and sold them to good homes.

Again I made the trip back home to see family. When the topic of the bunny and crow came up with my aunt, I told her I’d sold them. She then had the audacity to scold me for getting rid of them.

And then…I died.

Kidding!

I didn’t die. I survived the awkwardness and (mostly) enjoyed my visit with family.

We’re afraid of other people’s reactions sometimes and that’s why we keep stuff we don’t love or use. But my experience with my aunt’s reaction only took a few minutes as opposed to looking at stuff we neither want nor need indefinitely.

Clutter Misconception #2

We might need it again someday.

I’ll never forget the day I pulled my beautiful rose-shaped candles out of storage. Instead of delicate pink petals and perfect, unburned wicks, I found a melted glob of cloying pink wax all over photo frames and other keepsakes. I’d never had a specific purpose for them, but I thought surely I’d use them someday.

This is the worst reason to keep an item you’re not using right now. If you don’t know for sure whether it will come in handy, wouldn’t it be best for your space (and the item) if it were being used by someone who does need it now?

To be clear, I’m not talking about a treasured, irreplaceable heirloom you have to put in storage because you don’t have room in your living space in this season of life. If you can say yes to “Do I love it?” then keep it. But if you don’t use it, love it, and wouldn’t buy it again, give someone else the pleasure of using it now.

Clutter Misconception #3

I spent money on it, so now I need to keep it even though I don’t use it.

We visited our friends in Oregon City, OR a couple of years ago. Their adult son, his wife, and four children were home on furlough from their mission in Indonesia. They gave us a special gift: nutmeg still in its shell, grown on the island where they were serving. (They looked almost like pecans.)

I kept them in a special bowl on my dresser, where they served as a pretty fall decoration. I came across the perfect kitchen tool one day in the store — a spice grater. How perfect! I would save it all for Christmas and then make my family wonderful holiday drinks with freshly grated nutmeg on top. It would make Christmas even more magical!

Well, Christmas came and went in a flurry of present buying and wrapping, post office trips, grocery store runs and aaaalllll the cooking. We had a great time but I never got around to making special hot drinks or grating my own nutmeg. The little grater sat in a drawer for months and my cat scattered the nutmeg seeds all over the house. (She thinks my dresser is her personal toy store.)

I knew where those paws had been, so there’s no way I was going to consume anything she’d batted around the floor. Every time I looked into the kitchen drawer, I saw the grater taking up space. You might say it grated on me, but that might be getting a little cheesy.

Still, I couldn’t get rid of it. I’d spent good money on it but never used it.

The next Christmas, my brother smoked some ribs for us all to have for Christmas dinner. In the process of making iced tea, I flooded my counter and all the water drained into that drawer. As I was emptying the drawer to dry everything out, my brother made fun of all my obscure kitchen tools, especially the grater, in the way only siblings can do. (Don’t you love siblings? They’re ruthless and some of your favorite people ever all rolled into one.)

That Christmas, I chose to put the grater (and some other tools) into the giveaway bin. Guess what? I haven’t felt guilty for spending money on it since then, because I don’t have anything around to remind me. By giving it to someone who would use it, I got out of the guilt cycle and blessed someone else. (Who knows? I may have enabled the next winner of Top Chef by providing the one tool needed to get to the next level!)

Clutter-Free Truths

Before you get rid of the clutter, you have to get rid of the misconceptions that make you believe you need to keep it.

Kathi’s three questions help us base every decision on the truth:

Do I love it?

Do I use it?

Would I buy it again?

 

Giveaway Time!*

Speaking of misconceptions, clutter isn’t the only thing we get confused about. That’s why Amanda Haley wrote Mary Magdalene Never Wore Blue Eyeshadow — to help us sort out our misconceptions about the Bible.

Thanks to the generosity of Harvest House Publishers, we have a few of these to give away to our readers!

One Grand Prize Winner will receive one copy of the book, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment below to be entered to win.

What clutter misconceptions are holding you back from a clutter-free life?

*Giveaway for US residents only.

The Secret to a Good Morning Is an Evening Routine

The Secret to a Good Morning Is an Evening Routine

Alarm clock on a night stand

The early bird gets the worm, so they say. But who wants a worm, anyway? A slimy ground dweller is the last thing you want to deal with first thing, especially if the baby kept you up half the night and you have an important interview this afternoon.

You know what I want in the morning? Fifteen minutes of silence with a big, steamy mug of coffee. My favorite mug with the big-looped handle that fits just right in my hand, filled with just the right amount of cream and piping-hot coffee brewed from fresh-ground coffee beans. No interruptions, no messes, no requests. Just a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Yes, I’ve been that person who arrived late to work with spit-up on my blouse and a can of Coke instead of coffee because I didn’t have time to brew it or stop through the Starbucks drive-thru. On a regular basis.

I’ve been that mom chasing the school bus because we couldn’t find any matching shoes.

I’ve been that person caught in traffic, hungry for breakfast and late for an important meeting because I couldn’t get out the door on time.

But what if I told you that chaotic mornings could be the rare exception?

Last month, we talked about how important it is to have a morning routine. Today, I’m going to share with you another secret to having a good morning: planning and prepping the night before. Fifteen to thirty minutes in the evening of being kind to your tomorrow-morning self can save you a whole morning of chaos.

How are you doing with your morning routine habits?

I hope you’ve refined them and made them work for you. Now it’s time to write down your evening routine. It may take some tweaking, but in no time at all, you’ll be handling your mornings like a boss. (Or at least not crying over spilled coffee.)

Here are some items I suggest you include on your list:

Laundry

If you’ve started the habit of starting a load of laundry every morning, you’ll want to pull the clothes out of the dryer and fold them in the evening so you can have empty machines in the morning. (And clean clothes to wear!)

Clothes for tomorrow

Speaking of having clothes to wear, think ahead about what you want to wear the next day and lay it out. If you exercise in the mornings, it’s a good idea to lay those out too. It’s a lot easier to get motivated to go to the gym if you know where your tennis shoes are.

Dishwasher

Load the dishwasher and start it. That way, you’ll have lots of clean dishes for the morning. (And a dishwasher to unload, if you have that on your morning routine.)

Lunches

While you’re cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, figure out what everyone is having for lunch the next day and pack it. Leftovers make great lunches! If your kids are old enough, supervise them packing their own lunches; they’re more likely to eat them if they have a vested interest. That way, all you have to do is grab them and go in the morning.

Breakfast

Whether you like to grab a cup of coffee and a granola bar or you’re a bacon and eggs kind of family, have a plan in mind and make sure you have the ingredients on hand. And for that fickle toddler who loved bananas yesterday but loathes them like creamed spinach today—maybe even have a backup plan.

Your one-stop drop

Locate everything you need to take in the morning—bags, backpacks, homework, car keys, sports equipment, piano books—whatever you want to walk out the door with, and stash it in one handy place near the door. There’s nothing worse than looking for that one item while everyone else is busy losing everything else and getting their clean clothes dirty. Save yourself some sanity and gather it all up the night before.

Time for you

An ideal evening routine entails more than just teeth brushing and face washing. Think of something restorative and add it to your evening routine. It can be anything from a facial or a bubble bath to finally having some time to sink into that novel you’ve been wanting to read.

Giveaway Time!*

Once you have your morning and evening routines perfected, a new planner is a great place to write them down. Ruth Chou Simons has created a beautiful planner for 2020. It’s called Gracelaced 2020 12-Month Planner, and we have a few of these to give away to our readers!

One Grand Prize Winner will receive three books by talented author and artist Ruth Chou Simons.

Gracelaced 2020 12-Month Planner

GraceLaced Seasons

Gracelaced Journal

Leave a comment below to be entered to win. What are you putting on your evening routine list to make the school year easier?

*Giveaway for US residents only.


 

How to Say “Good Morning!” (And Actually Mean It)

How to Say “Good Morning!” (And Actually Mean It)

Wouldn’t it be great if every morning could be like Saturday? We’d spend our mornings on the couch in fuzzy slippers with a steaming mug of coffee, reading something we enjoy. No alarm clocks or schedules—just an easy, breezy start to the day with no stress.

But, alas, other days of the week require us to suit up and use our God-given gifts and talents, so there’s no time for cozying up. Those are the days we face the race against the clock to get out the door. Or in my case, get behind my desk and fire up my laptop.

And can I just tell you that I’ve had my share of crazy mornings? Like the time we really needed to be somewhere on time, and after a long, panicked search for my keys, they were found in the pantry. (I mean, what in the actual world?)

Mornings are not always good.

But there is a way to make them better. When we establish a morning routine, we set ourselves up to have a smooth morning. We can be at our best for our people for the rest of the day. Having a daily plan can make the difference between frantic, mad dashes out the door and a calm, semi-peaceful morning.

Sorry, I can’t promise 100% peace. For example, I can’t help you keep your teenage daughters from fighting over the bathroom or toddler boys from launching toys over the back of the couch. But knowing where your purse and keys are as you leave the house? That’s sanity, right there.

There are 3 elements of a good morning routine:

It’s written and posted.
You want to write all of the steps down and post them somewhere you’ll see them in the morning. If it takes a cup of coffee (or three) to get your brain functioning in the morning, you’ll be able to refer to it without having to remember which step is next.

It’s realistic.
To develop a morning routine, you’ll want to perform each of the steps to see how long they actually take. For us optimists, this is the hardest part. We want to believe we can apply our makeup and dry our hair in 15 minutes, but for most of us, this is unrealistic. When you’ve determined how long your routine takes, you’ll know what time to set your alarm clock.

It’s flexible.
You want to leave some margin time, for when the unexpected happens. We all hope the 3-yr-old doesn’t dump cereal on the floor, but that’s like hoping it won’t get hot and humid in the South in July. (Parenting hack: never pour more than you’re willing to clean up.)

 

What do you put on your morning routine list?

Short answer: everything you do in the morning. Also, everything you need to do in the morning, but you don’t have time because you haven’t planned for it.

Start a load of laundry.
Maybe “laundry day” is the highlight of your week (if you’re really, really weird), but if you’re like most people, having piles of clothes to wash, dry, fold and put away can suck the life out of you. Not to mention the panicked feeling if there’s nothing to wear when laundry day is preempted by an urgent interruption. You’ll want to make sure your evening routine includes finishing the load, so you don’t have to re-wash it 4 times. (More on the evening routine next month.)

Unload the Dishwasher.
The key to making an unpleasant task palatable is to make a game of doing it as quickly as possible. Can you beat yesterday’s time? When you invest a few minutes in the morning, it makes your whole day (and evening routine) much easier. It enables you to load dirty dishes immediately throughout the day, rather than piling them in the sink. Not only does it save time doing the dishes later, but a clean kitchen gives you a psychological boost. An empty sink just feels better.

Groom and dress yourself.
We’ve all had that dream where we showed up to work or school in our pajamas, but there’s a pretty good chance you won’t skip this step. Nevertheless, include it in your written plan for two reasons: 1) You’ll factor in the time with the rest of the list and 2) It will be an easy item to check off.

Water the garden.
For those who have a garden, this step is likely seasonal. Watering in the morning before the soil gets too hot will help conserve water and keep your plants healthy. I like to pull the weeds out each day too, before it becomes a big job. It’s easier to pull them when the soil is wet too.

Connect with God.
This is the one we’re so tempted to skip if we are rushing around. But it’s the step we also need the most if we’re rushing around. Even a few minutes of prayer can focus our thoughts and attitudes on what’s truly important for the day.

If you’re a parent or grandparent, sometimes it’s hard to know how to pray for your kids. Sally Burke and Cyndie Claypool De Neve have written a book called Raise Them Up: Praying God’s Word Over Your Kids. Sally and Cyndie understand the spiritual benefits of praying scripture over your kids. They say, “You may not realize this, but every atom is held together by an invisible force that scientists call gluon. If you split an atom, you get atomic power. And yet God’s Word is much more explosive and powerful than that.”


Giveaway Time!


Thanks to our fabulous friends over at Harvest House, we are able to give a few of you a free copy of Raise Them Up!

And one Grand Prize Winner will receive:

  • Copy of Raise Them Right
  • Felt Letter Board
  • Ladder Toss Game

Leave a comment below to be entered to win. What are you putting on your morning routine list for summer?

*Giveaway for US residents only.

How to Tackle That Summer Decluttering Job

How to Tackle That Summer Decluttering Job

Pool Toys and Sunglasses

Every year when that big yellow bus pulls away for the last time, school children everywhere fly home with that exhilarated feeling of freedom. It’s time to toss away the backpacks and drag out the pool floaties and other hot-weather essentials.

Summer stuff, as I call it. Outdoor grilling, beach trips, and epic water gun wars make for a huge pile in the garage (on top of last year’s cornhole game, sports equipment, and the treadmill you plan to sell).

Or the looming family reunion that sends you up into the attic, digging through boxes to find photos for the slide show you’re in charge of.

And what about all the bins of clothing you stored last year, in hopes that your growing kids (or their younger siblings) could get some wear out of shorts sets and swimsuits.

Any of these projects can make you forget just how far you’ve come, even if your living room is 90% clutter free and you’re tackling that kitchen counter daily as part of your evening routine. But before you get discouraged, we’ve got five tips to help you keep your momentum going on your decluttering journey.

Be okay where you are.

There are a lot of shame-inducing circumstances we find ourselves in surrounding our clutter. Even if we’ve been decluttering for a long time, we can discover an area that’s overrun by stuff we no longer need, or stuff that goes someplace else, like all those boxes in the attic we stuffed there “for now” (years ago).

Or, perhaps during a busy season, we let our routines go and now we’re faced with having to re-conquer areas we had worked so hard to declutter. That one dresser that you let pile up, or the bin of toys in the playroom.

Whatever the reason for your dismay, the worst thing you can do is to allow shame to pile up like clutter. Be gentle with yourself as you assess your situation and accept it. Wasting time and energy beating yourself up takes away from your ability to remedy the situation.

Remember, all you have to do is set a timer for 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in that short time. Set a timer on your phone, and then rinse and repeat the next day, and the next.

Before you know it, that area will be decluttered and feeling like new again.

Set small goals.

Instead of dreading that big job in the garage, tackle one shelf or one corner.  If we wait for a whole day to magically open up on our calendar for garage cleaning, we might see a couple different presidential administrations before it happens.

You want to choose an area that’s small enough to complete in 15 minutes. In some cases, that may be only one box, one drawer, or half of a shelf. If you have more than 15 minutes to work on it, great! Keep setting the timer until you’ve either finished that area or run out of time.

Accomplishing small goals adds up to big goals achieved. Task by task, decluttering a bit at a time will eventually lead to an entire closet or garage completely decluttered.

Remember your “why.”

Why did you want to declutter in the first place? Often there’s an event that makes a cluttery person finally decide to get rid of all their unnecessary stuff. It could be the death of a parent (and the clean-out process of that parent’s house), or it might be an embarrassing visit when someone appraised the dresser with raised eyebrows. (Ahem…Not that any of us here at Clutter Free Academy have experienced any of those things personally, mind you.)

We may have had a unique catalyst for our clutter-free journey, but one big reason for us all to keep at it is this: God created each of us for a unique purpose and getting rid of the clutter frees you up to do what He made you to do.

Celebrate your wins.

Who doesn’t love a good celebration? Looking forward to a fun moment (or three) when you accomplish a decluttering project will help you across the finish line.

If you’ve finished clearing off the game shelf and gotten rid of those Hi-Ho Cherrio and Chutes and Ladders (and your kids are in middle school), play a game your family still enjoys, maybe one you rediscover after reclaiming that space.

Or reward the kids with a trip to the pool for helping you bag up winter clothes that are too small. It doesn’t have to be a big deal—just something to mark the accomplishment.

Keep your 15-minute decluttering routines.

In the summertime, it’s easy to lose our school year routines. But the future you—the one packing next year’s school lunches and buying backpacks filled with #2 pencils will thank you for the 15 minutes you spend each day decluttering.

It may not seem like much, but your efforts add up to a big payoff.

Like Jen Babakhan says in her new book, Detoured, “All the little things you do over and over every day are seen by God. If you could watch your life like a movie on fast-forward, you would see that the dishes, laundry, books, snuggles, tantrums (by you or the children), and even the socks you pull out of the corners of the couch on a much-too-regular basis add up to a life of authenticity and love.”

Giveaway Time!

Thanks to our fabulous friends over at Harvest House, we are able to give a few of you a free copy of Detoured! 5 people will win a copy of Detoured!

And one Grand Prize winner will receive:

      • Detoured
      • Lunch Tote Bag
      • Reusable Ice Packs
      • Outdoor Blanket

Leave a comment below to be entered to win. What is the summer decluttering job on your list?

* Giveaway for US residents only.

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