Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scotland the Brave

My husband found a YouTube video of "Scotland the Brave"* with lyrics.

Now he's obsessed.

This is a very, er, hawkish song.

*If you aren't familiar with that title, you must not be into bagpipe music. But I'll bet you've heard the tune.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The spiritual side of decluttering

This post will be more about questions than answers. Thinking "out loud"... maybe starting a conversation? Because I sure don't have this all sorted.

I have plenty of my own trash that needs to go out.

I've read a couple of the latest books on decluttering. They come from very different standpoints, but I'm intrigued by what they have in common... which is something I haven't really seen addressed before. They both bring in the spiritual.

The books:
Amazon link 
Amazon link

Who hasn't heard of Marie Kondo's book? Her prose and her method are simple, and the book is short. I'm seeing Instagram photos of people's closets and drawers hashtagged #konmari. I've even heard it discussed on podcasts. However, the discussions always get to the exceptions people are making for themselves from Kondo's method; for instance, "I don't greet my house when I come home." More about that later.

The coauthors of Breathing Room are a "spiritual intuitive" and a psychiatrist. It's a much denser, more complicated book than Kondo's. I had to force myself to keep reading, to the point where I wasn't finished when it came due at the library, and I turned it in with a sense of relief. This isn't a review of the book; I just want to point out that their method has far more to do with the emotional and spiritual causes of clutter than any physical method of clearing it. A reviewer on Amazon says the spiritual principles in it are Buddhist.

And, the spiritual principles in Kondo's book are Shinto. I've heard people try to dismiss her approach to objects as merely cultural, but they must be ignoring Kondo's statement that she starts each decluttering project in her business by kneeling in the center of the house and praying to it.

Now, I'm not about to go off on a rant. I'm just establishing that these authors have found, in practical experience with their clients, that decluttering success involves spirituality.

Could there be a lesson here for me, as a Christian, in my struggle with clutter?

I think so.

If there's a spiritual component to clutter and decluttering, we ought to be able to come at it from a Christian point of view. Maybe that would help?

Basic tenet from Jesus: "...one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15, ESV)

Forgetting that is one cause of clutter. Forgetting it can also make it hard to declutter, if part of the problem is a difficulty in letting go of things. These aren't the only issues, for sure. I have a complicated mix of motivations and hangups that go into my clutter problem, and I'm sure it'll be different mixes for different people.

Here's ALL of Luke 12:15:
15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Being covetous can be a root of clutter. It's a sad fact that I often buy yarn faster than I can knit it up, books faster than I can read them. Just yesterday I almost bought a new journal even though I'm only four pages into the current one.

Does covetousness also make it hard to let go?

Let's brainstorm: spiritual issues that make it hard to declutter.

  • Fear (of needing something after it's discarded, etc.)
  • People-pleasing (I can't get rid of that--Mom/Grandma/Aunt Betty gave it to me)
  • Clinging to the dream or fantasy that caused you to acquire the item in the first place

Let's see more ideas in the comments.

Of course there are non-spiritual roadblocks too. Time, energy, all that. Getting around to it.

Here's an idea though: I'm thinking it might be good to start a decluttering project by kneeling in the middle of the house and praying not to the house, but to our Lord, for His aid in overcoming whatever it is we need to overcome within ourselves to succeed at decluttering.

I'd love to see comments... what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

20 things I learned in 2014

I'm participating in a blog linkup with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky--What We Learned in 2014.

1) I learned about African refugees from Congo and elsewhere, right here in Illinois, who fled persecution for being Christians.
     Among others, I got acquainted with two sisters who came here with their aunt--their parents were murdered.

2) Don't leave hand-knits within reach of a puppy.
     (Really I knew that, but it only takes a lapse of a few minutes...)

3) That Jeremiah 17:9 does NOT apply to the Christian regenerated under the New Covenant.
     It gets quoted a lot: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" That's the King James and I still have it memorized. But that's an Old Testament verse about the carnal heart! I learned this from John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead.

4) To accept my childlessness.
     Thanks to the Beth Moore study Breaking Free.

5) That I have insulin resistance and the ketogenic diet is the one for me.
     ... in other words: "Butter makes your pants fall off!!"

6) I really really need to journal.

7) Also, I'm supposed to be blogging.

8) However: Writing is not an end in itself.

9) I learned disturbing things about the founder of the cult I grew up in.
     More about that some other time... maybe.

10) Why my husband felt sick more often than not for almost a year.
     He had a hidden pocket of infection. When it was finally drained, he felt better immediately. In a friend's words: "No wonder he felt bad--he was full of toxic goo!"

11) That I can buy yarn faster than I can knit it up.

12) It's all very well donating to a cause; the challenge is trying to help a real, live, flawed and neurotic human being whose problems have no easy solution.
     There's someone who just exhausts me. Mostly I just drive her to church, because she doesn't have a car, but just listening to her talk wears me out. I'm not sure if I just need to let her chatter just roll off my back, or what. Do I just need to learn patience?

13) Even mild sleep apnea takes a lot out of you.
     I wrote a whole blog post about it.

14) The power of the Holy Spirit in my life means I don't have to succumb to my fears and weaknesses.
     um... duh?

15) I may have made an agreement many years ago to the effect that I should never reveal my heart.
16) Listening to an audio Bible while knitting rocks!

17) I learned about hybrid cameras, and got one.
     Many settings available--aperture, shutter speed, plus digital effects--but the size of a point-and-shoot. Perfect for me!

18) Lots more about introversion.
     I read Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, and Quiet by Susan Cain.

19) That I'm a direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower.
     My aunt did the legwork to prove it to the satisfaction of the Mayflower Society, which she has now joined. I could join too by just appending proof of my descent from her parents.

20) How to survive a polar vortex.
     Wear all the wool!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Change happens

Sometimes unforeseen changes come with blinding rapidity, one after another, just when you were settling into a routine.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow. I wasn't looking for a new job; this one came looking for me, by way of a former coworker letting me know about an opening where he's working now.

At first procrastinated following up, assumed it wasn't for me, told my husband I wasn't really considering it. In fact, I tried to push it away. I wrote a high desired salary on the application form; I told the interviewer my limitations quite frankly. "I don't want you to think I...."

But when the interviewer told me what the job actually entails, I realized it would be a good career move for me. If nothing else, it'll look better on my resume than what I've been doing the last 18 months. They didn't offer what I had asked, but I negotiated them up to about halfway between what I'd written down and what they'd initially offered. (First time I ever negotiated; I guess it's true what they say about being prepared to walk away!)

Meanwhile, our 15-year-old dog died. Butch wasn't sick long; he had some sort of crisis at 3 a.m. and went rapidly downhill from there. By the time I got home from work, it was obvious his time had come. My husband and I took him to the vet and had him put to sleep.

I would have been fine with just our cats for a while, but Brian missed having a dog. So long story short, we brought home Sassy from a local shelter on the day before Thanksgiving. Going from an arthritic 15-year-old dog to a 7-month-old chewing machine is quite an adjustment! But walking the dog is back to being good exercise for me.

By the way—this all happened in November!

So I am trying to cut myself a break. My attempts at writing a blog post during this past month have been abject failures; but I was trying to write something Penetrating and Profound, and I just didn't have the bandwidth. So here you go: Prosaic and Paltry.

Even the good changes require that we give ourselves time to adjust.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Been feeling a lot of overwhelm lately. At work, at home. It often leads to collapsing with Facebook... which is counterproductive, of course.

I was thinking about writing about overwhelm earlier this week, jotted down a few thoughts, but Saturday came and I had no rough draft. And I helped with a fundraiser this morning, and vacuumed this afternoon, and I'm pretty tired...

But guess what—Ann Voskamp wrote about overwhelm in her little daily Facebook post (today? Yesterday?) and I ran across it today.

Can I quote her? And here's the rest of it. (scroll way down to the bottom... there's a photo too)

Hey Soul? See that little index finger you have right there?
Here’s the deal: Whenever you feel overwhelmed today? You just point that little index finger out like an arrow. Like an arrow pointing you to that One Rock who is higher than you:
“When my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Ps. 61:2....
No matter what comes at you today: 
Your heart has a rock higher than *any waves.* 

This comes from Ann Voskamp's blog A Holy Experience, which is on my blogroll. I love the way she writes. I had never heard of her when she spoke at a women's conference I attended. Her talk rocked my world. So of course I purchased and read her book One Thousand Gifts. Heartily recommended.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Failure to breathe

Sleep apnea. a•pnea = not breathing

When we sleep, we can fail to breathe.

Something happens inside, and air can't get in; carbon dioxide can't get out, and builds up in the blood.

My husband wakes me from a dream. "You're going to be late for work..." I grab my device and stare at it in disbelief. Did I shut off the alarm in my sleep?

I stumble out of the bedroom... and land in the recliner, trying to pray, trying to clear my muzzy head.

I'm told I have mild sleep apnea. It barely clears the official definition—I only stop breathing seven times an hour. Only every eight minutes or so.

How many times can you stop breathing in an hour before you never start again?

The brain and the body are trying to repair and rebuild in sleep. It doesn't go so well with inadequate oxygen. So they keep trying to snatch more sleep, while I'm at my desk, while I'm at a stop light.

Pneuma = breath; Spirit

It's so easy to fall asleep spiritually, and let the flesh block the Spirit. To neglect the word of Life, and let our own negativity build up inside.

How many of us are sleepwalking through life, going through the motions without energy, without zeal? Without the refreshing of the Spirit?

Let's breathe.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stepping out on the water

Did you ever feel the Lord nudging you to do something, and you sort of said, "Oh, OK," but actually did little or nothing?

I've had the Spirit nudging me repeatedly about something. Sometimes I've self-analyzed: "Really? Maybe that's just coming from me..."

I have felt like I don't have time, don't have energy, can't commit to doing something like that regularly. And at other times: I will, I will—real soon now.

More recently, I actually started to try to start—yes, I mean that as convoluted as it sounds. Two days of trying to set a habit, and then... I don't even know what happened. I simply forgot.

I went to my local church's annual women's retreat last weekend. 24 hours away from the grind, at a beautiful Wisconsin resort overlooking a lake and surrounded by fall colors. The theme of the retreat was Sow - Cultivate - Reap. Two things that got to me were:
  • Daily Discipline
  • Walk on the Water
I know our speaker talked about Peter walking on the water, but the only note I jotted down was the question: "Is He calling you to walk out on the water?"

It might not have stuck, except our little three-girl worship band led us in a song called, "If You Say Go"—twice.
If You say go we will go
If You say wait we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come....
Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You.
During the first time through I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. The thing I'd been getting nudged about. Blogging.

Yes, just blogging. And not even starting a whole other blog—just reviving this one.

For me, it feels like stepping out on the water... because it's NOT coming from me. I don't know where it's leading.

In the "Reap" session, our speaker pointed out that we often don't know what kind of harvest God is bringing. I don't have to have it all figured out before I even start.

The other day, a Christian friend took a step of deeper obedience to the Lord. It surprised me at first only because I would have thought she had long since obeyed in that area. She had, sort of... but held a bit back. She wanted to erase that tiny trace of disobedience.

My dragging my feet on blogging has been disobedience. I realized I couldn't let that day end without writing at least a first draft of a post, even if it took me the rest of the week to click "publish."

So here it is. First step.

Next, Daily Discipline...
...to be continued