#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?

 

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 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/

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.


 

#372: Declutter Your To-Do List (Part One)

#372: Declutter Your To-Do List (Part One)

This week, Kathi is joined by Tonya Kubo, fearless leader of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, to discuss strategies for dealing with an overwhelming to-do list. They share their own proven tips for making an overwhelming to-do list manageable and resetting when things feel out-of-hand.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to declutter an overwhelming to-do list through:

  • Developing realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in the time you have
  • Prioritizing the most important tasks
  • Breaking larger items down into doable steps

Make sure you listen in next week to hear Part Two of “Declutter Your To-Do List”, where Kathi shares how to use your calendar as your to-do list and find some sanity in your schedule. Better yet, subscribe below and have each Clutter Free Academy episode delivered to you!

Check out Kathi’s book with Cheri Gregory, Overwhelmed, to learn more about how to quiet the chaos and restore your sanity.

To stay connected with others like Kathi and Tonya do, check out the Voxer app.

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

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 and www.GreatMoms.org

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 21: Your Personalized Special Project

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 21: Your Personalized Special Project

If you can’t think of something, there are some great ideas in the book to give you a jump start. Because these projects have gotten you organized and totally prepared this Christmas, consider this a gift to yourself for all of your hard work. Enjoy!

Assignment: Do that one extra special thing

Think of your own special task that you have wanted to do for years but have never had time for. Today is your day to do that thing.

Doesn’t it feel great to have everything done, ready and finished so you can really enjoy those last few days of the holiday season with your family?

Avoiding Overwhelm:

When you see others’ decorations and trees and well-behaved children (ahem!), or when you read those family Christmas letters, remember that you can either envy or enjoy, but you can’t do both. Let’s abolish overwhelm by choosing to enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 110

Join Us

And join us over on the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group where we encourage one another and stay accountable as we become Clutter Free!

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 20: Get Your Christmas Table Stuff Ready

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 20: Get Your Christmas Table Stuff Ready

For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page  106

Well, my friend, today we are not going to let that happen to you, no sir-y we are simply finding all of our table decorations and linens and getting them ready all in one spot.

Assignment and Supplies:

Find your napkins (the ones you intend to use), tablecloth (wash it if there are spots), runners, napkin rings, plates, silverware and stemware or glasses.

**Note** if you are striving for simplicity this year and are going the shabby-chic method of paper or plastic, make a list of the things you need to purchase and where. (There is some cute stuff out there these days that make a table look great. Don’t feel bad about it, remember your goal of simplicity). Embrace it!

Share Your Thoughts

Share with us! When did you have your party all set only to discover the teeny tiny thing of having no ______?  What did you do?? This year, join us in our vow to be prepared! Plan today what you will need for tomorrow.

Avoiding Overwhelm:

Have you ever noticed that, “How does the table look?” and “Doesn’t the table look pretty?” are two entirely different questions? One encourages critique while the other invites celebration. Avoid the overwhelm in your household by asking for the feedback you want.

And join us over on the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group where we encourage one another and stay accountable as we become Clutter Free!

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 19: Meal Planning At Christmas Time

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas Project 19: Meal Planning At Christmas Time

meal planning at Christmas

Meal Planning at Christmas

Meal planning at Christmas can make the whole season so much easier! Take some time today to meal plan every day up until Christmas as well as Christmas dinner. (I promise, you will thank me later.) Spend time in the kitchen today taking stock of what you have, what you need, and what meals you will make your family each night for dinner.

Be sure to look at your calendar for any nights you have plans. If you need to take a dish to an event, mark that on the meal plan, so you know how to prep and shop.

If you have dinner at another home or event, revel in a night off! Either way, it goes on the meal plan. Make life easier by utilizing LOOP (Leftovers On Purpose) meals and frozen meals whether they are yours or store bought. Once you are all planned out, make a list of ingredients you need to buy as well as perishable items you need to buy at the last minute.

Make Your Life Easier, Dinner Prep Ideas

Another great dinner prep idea to make your life even easier is to have a frozen meal swap with friends. You can implement this one of two ways. The first way, invite friends to your home. Everyone brings ingredients to make a meal of their choice that is freezer friendly (enough to share with however many friends are joining in on the fun). Then you all help with the cooking, family portions are placed into gallon zip-lock bags ready to freeze, and everyone goes home with a variety of meals to freeze and enjoy throughout the month.

Another way is for everyone to make something at home (enough to share family portions with anyone participating), freeze them, and swap them with friends. This way, you might have made a huge batch of soup, but you might end up with soup, enchiladas, lasagna, and a chicken casserole.

Assignment: Spend some time in the kitchen

  1. Create your meal plan for the rest of the month.
  2. Plan your baking list so you know what you need to bake and when you’re going to do it.
  3. Plan out your Christmas dinner.
  4. Make a shopping list of all necessary ingredients. Divide list into non-perishables and perishables.
  5. Shop for non-perishables and the next few days’ meals.
  6. Make a list of things you will need to buy at the last minute.

Plan on making at least two LOOP meals a week.

For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 102

Supplies:

1) Calendar
2) Meal plan
3) Paper for lists

Share Your Thoughts:

How did you feel about planning out all the meals? Did this make shopping easier? Any great LOOP recipes to share?

Avoiding Overwhelm:

Be brave and realize that most people need help. Try trading chores – you pick up my stuff at Costco and I’ll look for a scarf for your Aunt Trudy when I go to the mall.

And join us over on the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group where we encourage one another and stay accountable as we become Clutter Free!