Posts from 2014

Confessions From a Tired Housewife

 

Solomon offers a powerful approach for us to use as we think about change. How we think determines who we become and how we act. 

"For as [one] thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

The power of this idea is captured in the following popular maxim:Sow a thought, reap an act;Sow an act, reap a habit;Sow a habit, reap a character;Sow a character, reap destiny.

When I see my clients backsliding onto old patterns of disorganization, which is very common in the beginning, I gently remind them that change will come when new thoughts and attitudes change. The desired behavior will follow. It is my hope that I can challenge them to think in constructive ways that lead to order. After the plan, new structures are placed into their life, and then, they must repeat untill newly formed skills become habits.

Confessions from a tired housewife:“I woke one morning last week with gauze over my head. I sensed a real shift in my vision and thinking. You might say I had mental fog. I’m sure there have been days that you too have waddled through, not knowing if you’re tired, getting sick, or just emotionally spent. For whatever reason, the gauze stayed with me for several days. Unable to focus or function in my daily routines, the TV became a close friend, only next to the computer.

Flipping the channels was my exercise de jour 'Oh Look- Home Shopping Channel! WOW- Never saw that before – Wow- I could really use that- Yawn – I really need that! '‘Hello, Yes, I'd like to order- Why? Well, I just know that it’s going to make my life easier and I can’t wait for it to get here – ship it fast!’Three hours later I awake on the couch, still feeling tired and hungry, but no motivation to move. I must feed the cat; the kids can make PB&J sandwiches for dinner. Oh, I haven’t checked my e-mails today. I wonder if Susan has responded to my letter. Yawn- Why can’t I seem to focus? Two hours later and $300.00 spent on books, pots, and linens, I turn off the computer.Feelings of guilt begin to mount.Tempers begin to shorten. As I turn from the desk, I notice that every square inch of ground is littered with something... clothes, books, laundry, papers, food wrappers, and cans – you get the picture.I’ll deal with this tomorrow.'What a pity,' you are sure to be thinking. 'This poor soul is in real need of help.' Help is right! But the shame and fear of not living up to others’ standards keep me from seeking the help I desperately need. So the cycle continues.”How much time and energy do we spend trying to attain something, whether emotionally or physically, which we believe we need in order to be happier, more fulfilled, or make life easier?

Common examples of where our consuming society gets caught up in the “chase” include: Believing we need someone's approval.Believing the next "planner" will organize our lives (instead of organizing it ourselves.)Believing that some better-than-botox cream will make us beautiful.Believing that our child needs a specific brand item or toy to be happy.Believing that we are responsible for someone else's happiness.Believing that we are responsible for "fixing" problems beyond our control.If I change what I Believe, I will change my Thinking.If I change my Thinking, I will change my Feelings.If I change my Feelings, I will change my Actions.If I change my Actions, I will change my Life."I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly."Psalm 85:8 (NIV)"Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you."Job 22:21 (NIV)"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints."1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)God desires and gives peace to His people. When we BELIEVE what He says and begin to trust that He desires to pour His blessings on us, His people, then our thoughts and actions will follow. I have heard my clients equate the organizing process to war. I agree. We are at war with our old thoughts and actions. We are at war with what we believed will make us happy and fulfilled. We are at war with our materialistic world. It takes courage and patience to win this war, but the good news is that we can win it! It may take someone trained in professional organizing to equip us with the right weapons to win, and it may take those who are willing to pray for us during the struggle.

 

When victory is secure, we like warring nations, might compose a “Peace Treaty.” I suggest the following as a guideline from a very insightful woman.Peace Treaty"I will decorate and make peace with all the battle scars that you come with. I will not complain about the past and how you came into my possession. I will rejoice that you have gone up in value and that you are a good investment. I will make a joyful noise within your walls because you have nurtured many good memories within the years I have lived here. You have witnessed restoration within the family, healing and health for_______. You have felt hands climb your stairs; you have heard cries for food and delightful laughter.I have had the joy of many family meals, starting new traditions within your walls. You have seen me deal with sorrow, disappointments, tears, joy, and laughter and when it all subsided there was a spirit of intense gratitude and peace. The joy of the Lord dwells within these hallowed walls and within my heart.Today, I declare that I will begin to nest and settle within your partitions. I will give of myself to whoever walks within your doors...whether to give a listening ear or feed a hungry body or soul. I will love and nurture, weep and laugh, and imprint the love of Jesus on each person who crosses the threshold of your entrance. I will give special attention to angels who visit un-aware. I will sing of His praises to the rising of the sun and the going down of the same. I will pray and read to strengthen myself and know who I am in Christ Jesus. I will rely on His Holy Spirit to direct and order my footsteps. I will give thanks for the gifts He has given: family, friends, and the furry creations that rumble throughout this house in play. I will share and give of the abundance that He has brought into my life.I ask that He will give me the willingness to release what needs to be released with wisdom and great pleasure. I will grow old with satisfaction; yet remain young in heart and spirit. I will move aside as I possess your bulwark and bring change. Much of your decayed history will be cast aside as we endeavor to restore you to a former time of newness. Your hearth has given warmth and pleasure as we have started and finished our day in your inviting glow. My discontent has given way to contentment. My disgruntled spirit has surrendered to willingness and blessing. My inner child has grown curious as to where the future days will lead us. And you have become the central point of it all."~Eileen Koff, CPO

Not Long Ago I Had the Privilege Of Conducting Church In My Local Meat Store

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. 
The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; 
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:9-10 (NIV)

Not long ago I had the privilege conducting church in my local meat store. Missing were songs, sermons and offerings. What transpired was a renewed meaning of life. After all, isn’t that what church is all about?  Have you ever witnessed the perplexed look on a face that says ”Wow…I never looked or comprehended that particular issue, this gives me something to really think about. ” 

My meat store sermon: (true story) 

Vinney: “Hey Eileen…(he knows that I am a Christian) …what is your value?”

Eileen:  “Not sure what you mean Vinney.”

Vinney: “Well, when you are on a job, what do you charge? I mean, don’t you charge what you think you are worth?”

Eileen: “Absolutely, Vinney, I have a set price that I always charge my clients.”

Vinney: “Well, don’t most people charge what they think they can get? Isn’t that what we all do?”

Eileen: “Actually no, Vinney. If I go into a home that is obviously more upscale than the home across town, I still charge the same rate. Regardless if the pockets are deeper.”

Vinney: “I’m not sure most people would conduct their business that way.”

Eileen:  “Well Vinney when you charge me a price of meat per pound, do you charge me a set price or do you change your prices according to how a person is dressed”?

Vinney: “Well no, but most people would if they got the chance.”

Eileen: “I guess it all comes down to who you are serving. Every job that I am led to I know is because God has led me there. I’m not working for myself any longer, but for my Lord. I’m not charging to get ahead in my business, I’m charging because I have a service to give, not only to my client, but to my Lord, first and foremost”.

 Now, by this time I had two other people standing on either side of me, trying not to listen…

 Vinney: “YOU have just pierced my heart.”

Eileen: “Vinney, I don’t say these things because I am better than anyone, and I certainly didn’t say these things because I want you to feel bad or that I’m more spiritually superior to you, heaven forbid no…there is no judgment here. You asked me what I am worth!

According to my Jesus, His word is more precious than silver or gold. God says that because I am His daughter, I am more precious than all the gold and silver on earth. I am His princess because he is the King of the universe. No monetary wage can compare my worth”.

 At the end of this conversation, the bill was paid and I left 6 inches off the ground.

 

Ever try cleaning a crystal glass with a dirty cloth?

 

Ever try cleaning a crystal glass with a dirty cloth?

Ever try using the vacuum when the bag was full?

Ever try understanding why you just can’t seem to clear out the clutter?

“The Levites, too, purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them”.

Numbers 8:21

 In the book of Numbers, God gives specific instructions to Moses regarding the ceremonially cleaning process.

 

 The Lord said to Moses:  “Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean.  To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves... ... You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them.  Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord. ... After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting".

Numbers 5-15

Prior to cleansing the temple, the Levites had to go though a purification process, then, God’s tabernacle was cleansed with water, oil and blood. In this cleaning process, the tabernacle became sanctified.  This sanctification was not a one-time event; this was a process. This process ended with the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross.

In other words, one cannot clean or purify something with something that is defiled or dirty. But how does this relate to our homes and our attempts to get organized? Simply stated, relying on our own ideas, devices or logical thinking as an effort to restore the area is like cleaning the crystal with a soiled rag. To truly make a difference, we must become sanctified and cleansed from the inside out, and this process is not by our own attempts, but a deep cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing ever really changes unless our thoughts change. Oh sure, your space may look organized for a season, or a week or two, but somehow clutter always seems to creep back.  We cannot put new wine into old wineskins. We must discard the old and start with the new. True transformation of a space is not found IN the space, but in YOU! The space is a reflector mind and heart attitudes.  This transformation process isthe work of the Holy Spirit in your life and is reflected by your Christ-like nature.  When you allow the Holy Sprit to work through you, you become the sanctified instrument.

 This autumn season is a wonderful time of year to begin fresh. Restoring order now before the Christmas season is upon us, may bring new meaning and purpose. My prayer is that before you begin your organizing process, that the Holy Sprit will work His sanctification and cleansing process IN you before you begin to cleans your home.

Hope for This Year’s Christmas Season

 

In the not to distant future or thoughts will turn toward the Christmas season and all the trappings, some good, but most are nerve-racking. My friends complain each year that the joy of the holidays seem to be overshadowed by the rush- rush and have-to out of tradition and guilt.

This year, I have hope. The Santa Claus image of material goodies tied to those who have been nice seem to be eroding from our fabric. In its place, meaning and deepening experiences are replacing the tinsel laden trappings of surface expressions. The problem is that big question expression on many faces. My friends seem to know what they want to do; they just don’t seem to know how to do it. Here are six tips to get you moving toward a more meaningful Christmas season.

Tip #1.

Plan ahead.

This is the perfect time of year to sit down with your family before the leaves begin to fall and discuss what you loved about last years holiday and what you did not. Not everyone will express his or her delight in visiting Aunt Martha, and, there may be a need for compromise. Get everyone’s in-put and make this year one that everyone feels excited about.

Tip#2

Research the meaning behind your holidays.

Why do we have Christmas trees? Give your family a task as to why you celebrate the way you do. Instead of doing things out of habit, learn the reason for the season.

Tip #3

Avoid Debt

Make sure you have a budget before giving into the mindless consumerism onslaught at the mall. Make sure everyone understands the reason behind the budget and get creative. The best gifts I have received over the years didn’t cost a thing, only the time and talent of the giver.

Tip #4

Avoid stress.

Add into your schedule time for the unexpected. The days will become shorter, both in terms of daylight and it seems in terms of minutes. Don’t sweat the small stuff, go with the flow and laugh more at the interruptions of the day.  KISS (Keep It Super Simple)

Tip#5

The gifts.

Make a new tradition. Instead of many meaningless gifts under the tree, consider one gift that the person has wanted all year.  From my perspective people don’t know what they want until they see a commercial or someone else’s toy. Start now and do some diligent research on each member of your family. Making the season memorable both in time and gifts is what makes our memories special.

Tip#6

Our family began a new tradition a couple of years ago.

During the year, we sought out one charity that we felt we would like to contribute to. At Christmas each member gave to that charity and wrote a letter and put it on the tree inside an ornament explaining why that charity was important. Giving to those less fortunate is a great way to bring a new focus to the season.

There are as many ways to celebrate the holidays, as there are people. I hope this list will begin to inspire you to take your holidays to the next level. I’d love to hear how you celebrated simply and with meaning.

Eileen Koff CPO

The Necessary Thing

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about a great many things.  Mary has chosen the better (the necessary thing) and it will never be taken away from her.”  ~Luke 10:41

THE NECESSARY THING"...but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her." (LUKE 10:42). The good part, which Mary had chosen, was to listen to the Lord's teaching. In the final scheme of things, the things Jesus said that day were of much more importance than what He ate. Today, if we are too busy to commune with the Lord; to pray and study His word; to meditate on life's purpose and to enjoy a peaceful, private time with Him, then there is something horribly wrong with our practice. If our walk of faith consists mainly of going to church and then on with life's busy day then we are not receiving of the goodness that the Lord has planned for us. And if we are so hassled by the routines of daily existence that we find ourselves lashing out at those we love as Martha did on that occasion, then isn't that a good indication that something needs fixed?  —http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-luke-10-38-42.htm.

This interpretation much like the countless sermons I have sat through speaks regarding Martha’s misguided priorities. However, I never quite bought into this explanation as the only prevailing commentary. As a professional organizer, I relate to Martha. I emulate her quest for excellence in whatever I do.

 When we examine Martha in the gospels there is much to be said for this excellent woman. In fact, in all of the four gospels it is written that Jesus loves four people: John, Lazarus, Mary and Martha. So right at the start, we know Martha and Jesus have a very special relationship, one that is filled with love and intimacy. But even more importantly, Martha understands what few do not— that Jesus is Messiah.

This story states that Jesus and His disciples arrive at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I don’t know about you, but if my pastor decided to drop by for a meal, I wouldn’t serve tuna on toast. I’d be in the kitchen preparing something rather extraordinary and making sure everything was perfect. But this isn’t a pastor…this is Jesus… this is Messiah!

The pivotal point of this message seems to hinge on Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet. The term sitting at one’s feet means to be taught, listening intently to a lesson. Do you remember the movie Yentl? It’s a 60’s classic that tells the story of a Jewish girl so desperate to be taught Judaic law that she disguises herself as a boy. Even today, Jewish women are not given the same opportunities as men in Jewish orthodoxy. Men and women can’t even sit in the same room in the synagogue!  Personally, this hits home because my mother didn’t insist that I become Bat Mitzvah; unlike my brother who was assumed at birth he would have a Bar Mitzvah at thirteen.

So how did this happen that Mary is there? Mary would have had to been invited by Jesus. Like Yentl, Mary was so desperate to be taught that she accepts His invitation. That’s what Jesus does over and over again, boldly elevating women by placing men and women as equals. Jesus challenges the status quo frequently throughout the gospels and in doing so, Jesus breaks social and Judaic law.  But don’t miss this…Mary is also breaking Judaic and social law. Mary decides that she’d rather be the talk of the town than to miss out on His teachings. But Mary had to get out of her comfort zone to hear!

 Can you imagine the thoughts stirring in the disciples’ heads?  This is unthinkable; this is not right…what about tradition?

 Martha must have been thinking, “All this is happening in my home…. what will people think”?  This certainly is not kosher! Martha’s anxious reaction was not wrong. Her thinking was the accumulation of generational reasoning. Martha believed her role was to serve, and boy could she ever! This was her expertise! However, Mary chose something radically new, because she wanted more of Jesus. 

 In order for change to take place, we must get out of our comfort zone, and sometimes that decision must be made in a split second. Jesus knows Martha’s heart. She feels comfortable in her serving role. Dropping her intended duties or even the plan for the day makes her uncomfortable. I know many, myself included, who struggle with embracing the unfamiliar. I pray that as I begin to draw closer to Jesus, His words become clearer and my desire to obey His leading becomes a priority in my life.

 How willing are we to let go of the familiar? Are we desperate enough for God, or are we too comfortable in our ways? As we move into unknown territories and allow God to use us in ways we presently cannot imagine, then our daily priorities shift. If we are willing, then we will have chosen the better, and that will never be taken away from us.

 Identifying Your Priorities

When seeking the Lord becomes your priority, all other things will be added unto you. But just like learning a new skill, it takes wisdom and consistency to build the priority muscle. The good news is that identifying your priorities is a skill you can learn. It involves dismissing the unimportant (at the moment) and narrowing your focus to what is the most critical. Planning your goals and/or days based on your priorities rather than urgency will give you a greater sense of peace and purpose. Resistance to plans often comes with the mindset that disruptions happen, so why plan? Planning the day will give you a framework from which to work, rather than winging it.

 This decision-making process can be guided by the following questions:

1. What is your most urgent and important need? Is there anything that is time sensitive?

2. How much energy will it take, either physically or mentally? Should you do it first thing in the morning or wait until later?

3. Is there anyone that you need to help make decisions with regards to this task?

4. Is there anyone to whom you can delegate this task?

If you don’t plan your week, your week will plan itself for you. When you fill up your calendar with everything that doesn’t reflect your values and priorities, you’ll find yourself frustrated by the end of the week. When you begin your day in God’s presence, you’ll have clearer and more purposeful thinking. Take time to rest in the Lord’s presence. 

It is good to praise the LORD 
 and make music to your name, O Most High

 

“It is good to praise the LORD 
 and make music to your name, O Most High,

to proclaim your love in the morning

and your faithfulness at night,

to the music of the ten-stringed lyre

       and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;

       I sing for joy at the works of your hands”.

Psalm 92

Giving thanks is at the heart of scripture.  The Old Testament is filled with verses referencing the call to give thanks:

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done”.       1 Chronicles 16:8

The New Testament strengthens the Old Testament terminology…

…”always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.        Ephesians 5:20

Giving thanks described life in the Holy Spirit; as a song of praise that is ever bubbling over in the heart- more than a positive outlook, more than a rote prayer, this true thanks giving is a supernatural, Holy Spirit activity continually giving praise in our hearts to the Father. Our western mindset teaches that thanks is what we exclaim when something has been done for us such as a gift or favor. Our response is to say thank you.  In biblical culture, when it speaks of thanks, the giving of thanks and praise is always addressed to the person of God himself. It gives honor and is an expression of who God is! AWESOME, WONDER and WOW!!!!

Because God is so glorious and fantastic, thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart, a delight like the little child clapping and jumping with abandonment to the necessary response of who God is.  Scripture says that this attitude, this applause to God is expressed…

"O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy."

Psalm 47:1

Thanksgiving is intentional and deliberate. We are revealing the glory of God. We are declaring it to each other and to the world of darkness by speaking it into the atmosphere. Simply put, thanksgiving is a leap into the arms of God.

I’m sure you are asking yourself right about now “what on earth does this have to do with organizing?”  Let me explain.

…”For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him. Instead, their thoughts turned to worthless things, and their senseless hearts were darkened”. 

 Romans 1:21 New International Version

This chapter speaks of the degeneration of mankind when Adam and Eve begin to believe the lie.  This Chapter in Romans says that although they knew God, they neither glorified him nor gave thanks to him. When Adam and Eve stopped being thankful, when there was no more leaping into the arms of God love, it says they became futile in their thoughts. Giving of thanks is not a footnote, giving of thanks is not a P.S. Futility means pointless, meaningless, going around in circles. When a person is not giving thanks, their thoughts become actions that results in absolute futility.  I see a direct correlation between the need to consume material goods, and the absolute futility many of my clients feel after their purchases.  Buying becomes a sport and/or an addiction with out any regard to being thankful for each possession. This direct lack of respect (un-thankfulness) is a beginning of clutter build-up. Have you ever been unable to comprehend on how to get your organizing process started because of the sheer magnitude of the clutter?  “And their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The absence of thanksgiving is a heart of self-will or self-effort; everything that goes with the lie. 

Giving of thanks joins us to divine wisdom and purpose. Giving thanks is the very oxygen of indwelling with God.  Giving thanks is a valuable treasure.

…to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…

Psalm 92:2

92:1-6 “It is a privilege that we are admitted to praise the Lord, and hope to be accepted in the morning, and every night; not only on Sabbath days, but every day; not only in public, but in private, and in our families. Let us give thanks every morning for the mercies of the night, and every night for the mercies of the day; going out, and coming in”

I have a client who called me for time management skills. As a Christian client, I asked her if she spent anytime in prayer before the day began. This happened to be on her wish list. Her current days are filled with meaningless activities, but ones she fills obligated todo for her family’s sake. I asked her to do an experiment before getting out of bed. I asked her to write down 3 things she was thankful for yesterday and three things she was thankful for today. As she took authority over her hours; her attitude reflected the naming of the day. It was no longer just another day and as the weeks progressed her heart began to change, and new directions began to take shape in her life. Her hours were filled with purpose, meaning and a renewed thankfulness.

Thankfulness will sharpen honor and respect for what we own. This new perspective on our possessions will allow you to see not only how well you take care of your environment, but a new awareness will begin to become internalize on how well you take care of you!

Eileen Koff CPO

An organized life is a life that flows freely

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”.

Romans 8:28

An organized life is a life that flows freely. My calling as a certified professional organizer is to introduce or re-introduce that freedom into my client’s life. Creating an orderly environment does more than allow them to move and think unencumbered; it opens them to a greater understanding of priority and purpose.

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My recent client couldn't wait for me to witness her closet

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

Matthew 23:1-7

My recent client couldn’t wait for me to witness her closet. Her wardrobe was the main focus of our organizing session for the day; you could tell she was delighted that this was where she would be spending our time together. Upon entering her closet, I couldn’t help but noticing many designer shoes (some never worn) and many designer labels on her dresses and accessories. She seemed almost intoxicated by the fact that the closet reflected an aura of status few could rival. 

Jesus was very clear in his admonishment to the Pharisees in Matthew 23. Their status was reflective in their garments to indicate their spiritual superiority, and they sought to increase that superiority by the design and placement of the phylacteries and tassels. It was of upmost importance that they projected a superior ‘Rabbi” attitude insuring that they would gain respect and obtain all the very best places of honor. Their aim was to be noticed and revered. 

Jimmy Choo shoes say much the same; at least they spoke to my client that way. Her hunger for significance is an inherent drive that desires recognition and relational significance. Her attempt to find that significance through material possessions is common within our industry. We not only see it played out in material goods, but in careers, vacation destinations and friendships. As organizers we see the twisted intent, of a world searching for significance without the Lord. We can at times feel a heavy burden for our clients and shoulder an unhealthy emotional weight. We can counter this weight by becoming burden lifters by offering our prayers for our clients.  I have learned to never underestimate the power of prayer as the first line of defense against this search for significance. I have seen the direct outcome my prayers have on my client’s mindsets as we organize this most intimate room in the home, and I am constantly amazed that God would use me in such a way. Professional Organizers are reflectors into the lives and conditions of our client’s lives. Like a mirror, we reflect back to our clients (in an unbiased but respectful way) the conditions of their space. This allows our clients to see the truth, not what they imagined their space to be. My prayer is as you begin to spring clean your home and life, your significance will be revealed, not by the world’s standard, but by our Lord Jesus.

Tyranny of the Urgent

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world”John 15:19, NIV

Peace…ahh peace. Sitting on a beach, watching the waves crash in hypnotic rhythm on the shore. Listening to a Whippoorwill call to its mate in early spring. Finally, time to finish that compelling book that takes you back in time. It’s time to unwind, time to drift…..time…

Okay maybe for about 20 minutes and then it’s time to pickup the kids from school, give them a snack, take them to their after-school activities, come home, fix dinner, pickup the kids again, serve dinner, take care of the dog, set the table, eat, decide who finished their homework, who gets to play downstairs for an hour, discuss the bills with your husband, figure out what’s important tomorrow and…then (if you’re lucky) get to bed before 11 p.m. Just a day in the life of today’s woman! It’s the tyranny of the urgent, right?

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is one of my favorite quotes because it covers a multitude of issues. Just because you’ve been saving this, doesn’t mean you should, just because you can pile on more activities in the day, doesn’t mean you should. What I’m really saying is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean God intends for you to do it.”

Ouch!

It seems like most people I know struggle with this lifestlye – too much on their plates and not enough time to do it all. Sadly, we have become a nation of workaholics. That’s why vacations are so necessary. It helps just to get out of our day-to-day routines and into different surroundings so we can get recharged.

Remember the story of Lot and Abraham? In Genesis chapter 13, Lot decides to leave his Uncle Abe in search of greener pastures. Due to arguments, Lot and Abe separate. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives’” (vs. 8). “Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt” (vs. 10). But what Lot didn’t see was that Sodom and Gomorrah were smack dab in the middle of those greener pastures. How he positioned his tent gave rise to inward desires. In deciding to separate from Abraham, Lot and his family went to live close to the people in Sodom. “Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom” (vs. 12). “Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD” (vs. 13). Eventually, Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot had settled, was plundered, whereupon Lot was taken into captivity with all his goods. Later in the story, Lot and a few of his family members are able to escape God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let’s examine what led Lot to desire to live there in the first place. Some would say that its human nature to desire greener pastures and it’s always easier to fit in than to stand out. Our lesson … we have been called to be in the world, not of it. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19, NIV). In other words, if we eye those greener pastures we will become like the world around us. (The world’s urgencies become our urgencies.)

Today’s society is so into microwaving that we have forgotten that God is into marinating. He wants to get inside of us, not just get us cooking. By expecting life to be instant (digital clocks, quickie dinners, sound bites) then we move and think at breakneck speed, forgetting to stop.

One of my dear friends has a wonderful way of stopping. When she’s driving and comes to a stop sign, she actually stops (really… I know... it’s hard to believe). She counts to three, takes a deep breath, and thanks God. She continues to ask for His protection over wherever she goes. She’s then able to concentrate on the here and now. She has also learned the art of prioritizing. (I know why she is a great friend of mine!)

How do we know the difference between what we need to do and what God has called us to do? It starts with listening. As we spend time getting quiet, listening to our hearts, and listening/reading His Word, we will know what He wants us to do. I just love it when I get thought that I have absolutely no idea where it came from – that need to call a certain someone I haven’t seen in 20 years or the need to pray for my neighbor. I chuckle knowing that it wasn’t my idea. I know I didn’t have them on my to-do list, but it was on God’s to-do list for me.

My number one priority is to listen to the still small voice.

What if today’s action really counts for your tomorrows? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Throw the urgent out the door and settle down with a great cup of your favorite four-minute brewed tea, some freshly made muffins, and listen to the stories your family has to tell – and don’t forget to listen for that still small voice!

Is clutter really a faith issue? Does it really matter if I let the endless to-do lists go undone?

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Luke 16:10-12

In sessions with my clients, as well as while presenting at speaking engagements, I am always asked these questions: Is clutter really a faith issue? Does it really matter if I let the endless to-do lists go undone? It’s hard to believe that God really cares if I hang up my coat!

I can assure you, God is concerned! Even when it comes to the smallest of details, because He needs to see you can handle the small things before He entrusts you with greater responsibility. (My paraphrase for Luke 16:10-12).

It’s the same story time and again – clients tell me they want to have it all, but they hesitate in taking the responsibility. So many times I’ve seen my clients’ homes piled high with stuff – but the family is oblivious to the negative effects the clutter has on communication, cooperation, etc.

In every meeting I have with a client, I strive to act as God’s hands and feet, shedding His love and influence into each situation. I teach my clients that when we are responsible for the way we take care of our items, then those around us begin to follow in kind. Case in point, I was recently working with a woman whose son repeatedly neglected to straighten his own room; but when he saw how his mother and I were working together to organize the home at large, his personal habits changed as well. He had simply been waiting to see the “right thing” done, so that he could incorporate the same changes. Never ever underestimate the smallest of actions.

 “Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity”– Edwin Hubbell Chapin

We must always strive to do what is honorable and just – not only with our actions, but also with the items that God has provided in each of our lives. Where we spend our time, with whom we associate and even the purchases we make will profoundly affect our eternal rewards. In our struggle to loosen ourselves from the entangling net of clutter, we may lose sight of an important factor: it's not about us. Above all, Jesus demands we love Him more than anyone or anything; following Him, trusting Him and satisfied in Him. Only then will we able to receive and manage the true riches He desires to give us. Become faithful with the small things and the greater WILL be added unto you.