Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Little Organization Goes A Long Way...

When my house was built, someone thought it would be brilliant to put 9 feet of counter top space just inside the main entrance to the house. This counter top space is not directly in the kitchen or at standard counter top height.  It really has no purpose. 
Except one:
Junk collecting. 
Clutter catching.
Or simply trash, whatever you would like to call it. 
Whatever it is, it piles up in mounds on this 9 foot piece of counter top.
(this design is a terrible idea in my opinion, please do not put 9 feet of counter as your 'drop zone' in any house you may design)

I will give you a few pictorial examples of the chaos and clutter:

Everyone dumps everything here. Even though the trash can is 2 feet away, where do you think my wonderful kids put there trash from the car? Here.
Where do people 'hang' their coats, even thought there are hooks just inside that door you see on the right? Here.
Where does all the mail, magazines and papers from church go?
Yep, you guessed it; here.

The clutter was quite literally, choking me. I always get a little nutty once deep winter hits, and this area of my house was not helping. So, this week, I decided to take back the kitchen! 

First of all, I just needed to wipe the slate clean, so I transferred everything off of this counter, and piled it up on my kitchen island. This may not make sense to some of you, but it's all part of my process.

That's a lot of junk people! 
But when you turn around look what you can see now!

Wait a second, he doesn't belong here! (Two of my children were compelled to lay on the clean counter, what is it about wide open spaces?)

Aaahhhh, sweet relief!  I really wish I could leave it like this, but this counter does have to serve 2 purposes:
1. Our toaster station is located here
2. Our incoming mail, and important papers waiting to be filed upstairs go here.
I had a helper that was a great help in sorting through all the junk. She kept me motivated to keep going and not quit in the middle. Which I would do. Especially when you get to the point where you have put away all the easy stuff and are left with the stuff that you just can't get rid of but don't know where to put it... You know what I mean. Did I tell you that the 9 feet of counter top actually rests on top of 6 drawers and 4 cabinets?  That are all full of junk? 
Who has 6 junk drawers????
I do.

Even my dog is disgusted.

I know, I have a problem. 
Anyway, we muddled through - except the cupboards, and got the job done.

Are you ready to see the final results?

Yay!  So much better.  When we were done, I could actually breathe a little easier.

Oh, and look! I emptied out one whole drawer!  Although, do you know what happens to empty drawers?
They fill up.  I don't even know where it comes from!!

I got rid of about 148 pens and I still have all these.  
But now I can find my favorites.

And here is my neat and tidy toasting station.  
Did you know Hunky Hubby has toast almost every morning.  If he doesn't eat immediately upon waking his stomach will actually attack his own body and he will start eating himself, he is that hungry.

And here is my adorable plate that I bought at TJ Maxx shortly after Wyat was born because it was so adorable.  It says 'All my happy" and it has three cute bear faces on it.  

I am so pleased with how the counter looks now.  I still am not happy to have 9 feet of counter sitting there waiting for junk.  But now it is much more manageable.  
In a perfect world, I have a plan to split all that space up nicely and make it look more attractive and organized.  But unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. 
So for now, I have a great example of how a little organization goes a long way to keeping the house looking and feeling clean.

Now I just have to keep it that way.
Oh, and not turn around and look at what's lurking in the rest of the kitchen! 

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Why I Stand Behind the Duck Commander

I know the big flurry over the comments made in a quote by the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family to a writer for GQ magazine is nearly a thing of the past (you can read the full article here). At least nothing has popped up on my Face Book feed for the last 2 or 3 weeks which means that most people have moved on.

After reading a few blog posts by authors I have enjoyed (you can read this one here and this one here if you would like) and reading a few news articles, I feel like chipping in some of my own thoughts.
You are free to skip this post if you don't want to hear it. 

I would first like to establish for those of you who do not know me, that I am not a Biblical scholar, theologian or even sometimes a good human being.  In fact I rank right there in the middle of the average category in just about every aspect of my life.  
Except for one thing,
I am a daughter of the King.
And that makes me exceptional to at least one person. 

This fuss over Phil Robertson, or the Duck Dynasty Debacle, as I have heard it called,  caught my attention because I have been a fan of the show. 
In fact, Phil happens to be my favorite member of the Robertson family. 
(At least what I know of him from the skewed perspective that the TV producers feed through the show.) 
I also know that Phil professes to be a son of the King. 
Which is one of the reasons that our family has been drawn to the show. 
But that's beside the point.

Papa Phil  took a lot of heat from a few statements he made to this particular GQ interviewer. 
I don't think he was ignorant of the fact that what he had to say would light a fire in parts of the world.  He knows that the Bible is contradictory to popular world view in most things. 
But I feel like Phil hasn't really been supported by some of the people in the Christian community either.
I'm not feeling the love, so to speak, from some Christians.
I have even heard some people say "I don't care". 
This makes me sad.

I agree that Phil made some crude and even inappropriate comments.  
Regardless, I am still going to stand behind Phil and this is why:

What if, in all of his redneck glory, Phil Robertson was in that moment speaking the truth of God's love with all the eloquence, grace and love that he could muster?  What if he was giving that GQ interviewer his very best attempt at sharing the Gospel? 
What if the words that Phil used were his best?
Can I stand behind Phil and support his imperfect effort at spreading God's love if I believe that he did it with the best of motives? 
Yes I can.
The way I see it, Phil did what he could. It is similar to Mary who broke open the alabaster bottle of  pricey pure nard over Jesus' feet in Mark 14:3-9.
She simply loved Jesus in the best way she could at the time.  
She too received criticism for her actions from her friends. 

When I think of myself and my own attempts to go out  into the world and blunder my way through sharing God's love with someone who doesn't know Him, I would sure hope and pray my brothers and sisters in Christ would support me in my efforts.

Here is something else I can commend Phil for; he didn't back down. When an opportunity arose to share his faith - he did it.  
Knowing it could be written down and put out there on the World Wide Web, he didn't hem and haw and try to say things in a way that wouldn't upset anyone.  He just spoke the truth as he knows it.
And, his truth is grounded in the word of God, the Bible.

Thinking of myself again, how many times have I had an opportunity to share my faith in public, yet I have been too afraid to speak up?

Am I cool with everything that Phil said?  No.

But, I believe that  God is big enough to cover and work with Phil's crude words. And mine.

Do we as Christians, doubt that God can and will use an imperfect man like Phil to reach souls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 
We shouldn't. 

Do we think that sharing God's love has to be perfectly done with no words that will offend, or else the sinner will not see their need for the Savior?
It doesn't.

Do we so easily forget that the Gospel is offensive?
We can't.

Remember, Jesus, the only perfect man to walk the earth, the Messiah,  the son of God, lived out his Gospel message in such perfection that it offended the masses so much that they nailed an innocent man to a cross.

The perfect, Holy, Grace filled and loving Gospel of Jesus -

Who am I to judge one man who willingly stood up for his Jesus?
So he used imperfect words.
So he used an imperfect platform.
So he was imperfect.

It wasn't the best attempt, but I know that the God whom I serve is able to use that offering and bring something good that will glorify Him out of it.

And I am so thankful.

Let's not forget this: God does not need us to complete His work.  
He chooses to use us. 
He uses imperfect, backward, scared, wrong-word-using people to spread his message of love and hope and grace.

He uses me.
The queen of average. 
If I am willing.

It's all about Jesus.  

Do we need to love better?
Do we need to use better words?
Do we need to utilize better judgement?
Do we need to give more grace?

But when we screw up, as I know I will, 
                    God doesn't. 
God does not make mistakes.  
Not even in his choice of using a backwoods redneck as His ambassador.
Or maybe even an ordinary, average, stay at home mom. 

Please remember, I am no scholar or theologian. 
I'm just a simple woman, who tries to love her God and love others.
And I fail miserably in my attempts.  

I know that some of you, who read this, whom I love, will have a problem with my words. 
My words might offend you. 
For that I am sorry. 

Can you see my love through the offense?  More importantly, can you see God's love through the offense? 
I would urge you, don't look at me and my messy attempts.  
Look at my Father.  

Before I end this stream of thoughts, I would also like to bring up a few other quotes from that specific article. Quotes that didn't get as much press time as the famous ones that started this whole debacle.  Which, might I add, were published by a magazine that has no problem with their writers sprinkling four letter profanities throughout their articles.  Classy literature it isn't. 

Anyway, in case you don't read the whole article for yourself, I found these quotes interesting as well:

Phil says, “We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

Or what about this:
"It’s the direction he would like to point everyone: back to the woods. Back to the pioneer spirit. Back to God. “Why don’t we go back to the old days?” he asked me at one point. But now, I’m afraid, I must get out of the ATV and go back to where I belong, back to the godless part of America that Phil is determined to save."
One of the things I like best about Phil?  He doesn't try to be anything other than who he is.  Scraggly, wiry beard and all.

So there you have it, for what it's worth. 
Those are the reasons that I'll stand behind the Duck Commander.
After all, he is my brother, one of God's sons. 

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Why I Love Thrifting & 7 Thrifting tips For the Beginning Thrifter

Okay, I am going to divulge a little secret to all of you who will take the time to read this post:

I almost never buy an item of clothing at full price.
I really mean almost never! I can't remember the last time it happened! I usually hit the clearance rack, the sale rack or the thrift store!
Most of my wardrobe (and in fact, most things in my home) have come off of the clearance rack or from the thrift store/rummage sale/hand-me-down.
I would estimate that I have come by over half of my wardrobe secondhand.

I love thrifting and I will give you a very clear visual as to why:

Exhibit #1 
           14 items purchased on 1 trip to the thrift store.
             total: $18.27

 Exhibit #2
          4 items purchased on sale at a retailer
                       total: $20.25

Could there be any better reason than that?
Also, I am not afraid to admit it, but when I shop second hand, I am a brand snob.  I look for the best quality items that I can score at the best price.
I admit to passing over a perfectly good item if it is from a store where I could have gotten it brand new on the clearance rack for as cheap as (and sometimes cheaper) than the thrift store is selling it for. 

Here is the breakdown of the items I found on my trip to the Goodwill Retail Outlet:

At least 6-7 of these items would have cost more alone, than what I paid for the total cost, if I had bought them brand new at the store.

I might be a brand snob, but I am also careful about what I buy.  
I have learned a few lessons the hard way.
So I have pulled together 7 thrifting tips for you:

7 Thrifting Tips For Beginners:
*1-Look over each garment carefully, you want to look for holes, stains and tears. Two problem areas are pits and seams.
*2-Give it a sniff test - you don't have to get too close,  anything that smells really funky might not come clean in the wash.
*3-Check zippers and buttons to be sure they work.
*4-Try things on. Sizes are often 'off' because they have shrunk. 
*5-If it looks worn - pass it up.
*6-Take your time. You really have to search through those racks and piles.
*7-Know your brands.  You don't want to spend $5.00 on a 2nd hand shirt from Wal-mart but that wouldn't be a bad price on something from Anne Taylor, Lands End or J Crew. 

I find the best deals at rummage sales and small town thrift stores.  The chain thrift stores tend to be over priced.  I can often find an item cheaper on the clearance rack at the original store than the price the chain thrift store is selling it for, depending on the brand.

I get some of my best deals on shoes when I am willing to buy used.  Real leather shoes are expensive! But they are better made and more comfortable.  I have never contracted a fungus from buying used shoes.  Be careful though, if the interior sole has a significant imprint, leave it on the shelf no matter how cute it is, it will only cause you pain in the long run. 

But don't worry, I don't always buy used.  Besides, there are some items that you don't want to buy used. 
If I can get a great price, I am not going to pass up something new just to buy something used.  So, when I am shopping at the retail stores, I  love the end of season clearance sales.  Some stores send out coupons and others mark their clearance an additional percent off at that time of year because they are looking to get rid of it all. Out with the old, in with the new you know. 
Good months to look for these sales are January and July. 

I admit that thrifting can take more time than going to a retail store and buying new off of the rack.  You have to be willing to really search through those crowded racks. However, I often say that I have more time than money so it often pays off for me to spend time searching the thrift stores and clearance racks. 
Thrifting is also a great way to recycle and keep items out of landfills.

My absolute favorite way to get new clothes? Hand-me-downs from friends or family of course! 

I know some of you are thinking that I must wear some pretty homely and outdated clothes.  I can't really convincingly testify for myself but you can ask my friends and family what they think.  I get a good amount of compliments from my girlfriends and most of the items they compliment me on are my 2nd hand items.  When someone asks me where I got my cute shirt/shoes/pants/or whole outfit I love being able to tell them "Oh this? I picked it up at the thrift store."  I know, there is a lot of junk out there, and there are many hideous things that no one should wear. But, there are a lot of people that get rid of some really nice things! I've even bought many items with the tags still on them. 

Thrifting gives me the opportunity to have a more expansive wardrobe with better quality items.  I am able to purchase things I wouldn't be able to afford if I had to pay full price. 

So there you have it.  My big secret is out.  
Now you know why I love thrifting. 

If you've never tried thrifting, give me a call, I'd be happy to go with you and give you some pointers.  
I think you'll like what you find!  Pin It