Saturday, September 17, 2011

Twitter-Infused Envy?

I don’t tweet much, except for a few friends and my Dad.  But I do like to read stuff on twitter.  There are a lot of inspirational people to follow and it’s an easy way to read articles from authors I like in one place.

One of my favorite people that I follow is Beth Moore.  There is no doubt that she is a gifted Bible teacher.  Her Bible studies have been life changing for me.  But her tweets are so cute.  Often times they are encouraging. Many of them focus on silly things at the ministry or her grandchildren.  None of them are self-focused at all. 

She’s been tweeting about a new church her daughter and son-in-law are planting.  She and her husband are attending there.  My first reaction when I read that was an ugly feeling of…was it envy? 

I mean, my husband and I planted a church 13 years ago.  We love it here and are so thankful for what God has done in our church.  For sure, it isn’t because of us in anyway.  We were 22 years old when we started, we had no idea what we were doing.  But, truth be told,

It’s been a hard road.  We grow, then shrink and repeat.  People leave.  It hurts.  We can’t compete with the bigger churches around us as far as programs and services.  We are limited by not having a building and tight finances.

As I was reading the tweets about this new church I thought,

“Wow, it must be nice to have a mom and attender that has thousands of followers to tweet to.” 

“I’m sure they’ll have no problem growing and thriving.” 

“They’ll probably build a huge building in 6 months.”

All the while, we struggle to put enough money together to buy a used sound system.  It doesn’t seem fair.  It seems so easy for some people.

Just as soon as those thoughts entered my heart, God graciously got a hold of me.  He brought a lot of truth to my wandering heart.  I have learned and know that there is no room for those kind of thoughts in ministry or Christian life.  We’re all in this together, working for the same prize. 

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

2 Corinthians 4:5

By feeling that way, I am not trusting Jesus.  Or that He is in control of all things.  This is HIS church, not mine.  It’s His plan to grow or shrink a church.  Our job is to be faithful to what He has called us to do.

As we’ve grown close to others in ministry around us, it’s shown me that we all have the same hurts and pressures.  It’s never easy.  You can’t please everyone.  But we’re all on the same team. 

It’s possible that supporting others in ministry might be one of our biggest callings.  If we can comfort each other and encourage one another to persevere, then the work of God can march on.  If we are envious and competing against one another, then Satan wins.

There was a day in church a few years ago that was pure torture for me.  Mike didn’t happen to be there.  But another Pastor and his wife was.  And having them there, just there to be with me and understand made a huge difference in my life and ultimately the outcome of our ministry.  I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic about that.

Honestly, I think God was so good to us by making our church planting experience a hard road.  I can’t imagine the issues of pride I would have had we grown super fast or had things “easier”.  And I’ve got enough issues as it is.

So, I’m praying for this new fellowship in Texas.  For God to be with them and do what He wills through them.  The same thing I’m praying for our little fellowship. 

This passage from Psalm 115:1 is a great reminder to me when I am tempted to feel “christian” envy:

Not to us, LORD, not to us 
  but to your name be the glory,
   because of your love and faithfulness.

I think we all have to check our hearts on envy.  Whether it involved envy of people’s jobs, kids, houses or so called “easy” life.  It’s all in God’s hands and plans.  We just need to be faithful. 

And once I own the fact that it’s not about me or what I want, it’s a privilege to pray for and support those around me.  Whether I know them in real life, or just through a few little tweets.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recycle and Rediscovery

I’m discovering some hidden benefits of cleaning.  Recycle and Rediscovery. 


I am giving away two Easy Bake Ovens.  Really.


Although they are adorable and a staple girl Christmas gift, I've found they are stupid.  I mean we did have a little fun.  But why buy a mix to make a crumby little cake cooked by a light bulb?  I’d rather put my big girl apron on and make real cookies together that taste good.  So away they go.


I seriously forgot we had a Light Bright in the back of the girls’ closet.  It was a tough toy when we had little babies and toddlers putting things in their mouths and maybe that’s why it got tucked away.  But boy did Maren have fun playing with it.


We did patterns and shapes.  We talked about colors.  That’s definitely staying.


See the exercise ball in the background?  Since I rarely use it for exercise I sent it to school with my daughter.  Her forward thinking teacher lets the kids sit on them during class.  It helps with the wiggles.

I’ll probably get another one though.  I think it would help with my jiggles.


I bought these little candle holders on a trip with my sister-in-law before they moved away from Duluth.  That was…seven or eight YEARS ago.  They’ve been lost in my closet since then. 


I hung them in the bathroom in place of the horribly tacky berry wreath I had in there.  It was probably tacky when I bought it at Wal-Mart for $7.  But six years later?  Yeah that was destined for the dump. 

Recycle and rediscover. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

As if my house isn’t enough of a zoo with five kids and two dogs, we have another animal problem. 

When I tried to get into the closet in the girls room I was met with some resistance from the jungle animals.  The girls love stuffed animals.  Where do they all come from?  It seems like they appear out of thin air, but I guess they mainly come as birthday and Christmas presents.  We went through the Care Bare, Build-a Bear and Webkinz phase.  Now we have over 60 stuffed animals that all usually end up in a pile like this.


I had put them all in a rubbermaid in the closet last time I tried to organize and that didn’t work.  They kept escaping.  So I took all the stuffed animals I could find and lined them up on the bed, execution style neatly.  I was tempted to just toss them when the kids were gone, but I didn’t.

The girls and I worked together on deciding which ones should go.  


We filled up a garbage bag bound for Saver’s.  It was hard but they handled it pretty well.


Then I did the unthinkable.  I ordered something dreadful to help with animal control.


I don’t know why I have such distaste for Pet Nets.  I just think they are tacky.  I don’t know why I care, since I am obviously not the queen of class when it comes to decorating. 

I knew it was the only way so I ordered not one, but two of those dreadful things.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.



Isn’t it tacky?  I don’t like it but I do like being able to vacuum and walk into the walk-in closet without being attacked by a mob of animals. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

F*ll Cl**n*ng

I love fall.  But it becomes a dirty word when you pair it with cleaning.  Why would I want to waste the beautiful fall weather cleaning out closets?

Over the last ten years, the amount of infants and toddlers in the house has been a really good excuse not to clean.  There were several years that I was busy and overtired with little kids.  I hosted several bible studies a week and would “clean” the main living area in the house by dumping the rest of the mess in my room or storage room. 

It’s hard to put things away when there isn’t a place for them.  It’s hard to clean when there is stuff piled up in the corners.  It’s hard to concentrate when my house feels out of control. It catches up with you when you realize you can’t shut the door to a closet or get into the storage room.

This summer it hit me.  We were staying at my cousin’s farmhouse.  It’s furnished but he doesn’t live there.  Thanks to my aunt’s decorating skills, it’s kind of like a bed and breakfast.


It was so nice and peaceful that I started thinking maybe he would want to rent it to us.  It wasn’t just because it is so picturesque with the barn.


And the lake.  And the sunsets over the lake.


It was wonderful because there was no junk in there.  No clutter.  No toys.  No wrappers and crumbs under the couches or bed.  And I realized that my house could be much more peaceful if we didn’t have so much junk. 

And since then I have been on a cleaning frenzy.  You know when you get to the point that you are so sick of stuff that you just want to get rid of everything?  I am taking advantage of that.

I’m no organizational or cleaning expert.  Just a girl with a lot of kids and a medium sized house.  It doesn’t take a lot of talent or pricey organizational gadgets.  I just have a list of all the areas that need to be worked on.  It’s long.  I’m working on one room at a time.  One of the keys is to accept that it’s going to take a while.  It took several years to get to this point and it will take more than a few days to fix it. 

I started in ours and the bigger girls’ bedroom.  I made three piles:  throw away, give away and put away.

I went through the closets and dressers and corners of the room and was ruthless.  If we hadn’t seen it or used it in a while, it had to go. 

I took two big bags to Saver’s and two big bags to the dump.  I vacuumed all the crevices and reorganized the closets.  And even washed the windows.  It’s pretty sad how rarely I’ve done that job.

When we finished, we rearranged the furniture in the girls’ room.  They were thrilled.  We had enough room to unbunk their beds, so they can both have a dog to sleep with.

Do you have ugly closets lurking?  Why not make a list of those yucky jobs that need to be done.  When I’m done, I still won’t have a farmhouse on the lake but I’ll be able to breathe easier.  Less mess, less to put away, less to dust and less to vacuum around.  Peace.

I’ve been taking pictures of the ugly process.  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my battle with the stuffed animal monster.