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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Friday, February 9, 2007

CHANGE IS GONNA COME

Death and taxes aren't the only two certainties of life. There's at least one more, and it's a big one--change. A former lover of the comfort zone, I've since learned a lot about change, especially this past year. My life is completely different than it was this time last year.

At first I fought the changes. I questioned them. I even got angry. Why is this happening? It's not fair. I enjoyed my life the way it was, and I planned to spend my future in that comfort zone.

Like the character, Hem, in the book, Who Moved My Cheese, I didn't want my life to change. Hem liked his familiar, safe surroundings. They brought him comfort. But when his cheese supply suddenly disappeared, he became paralyzed and depressed. Instead of going out and looking for new cheese, he waited for his situation to improve. He sat around and hoped his old cheese supply would somehow return.

By now you figured out that cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life. And when the things you want are suddenly taken from you, it can be a difficult adjustment. This was the problem I faced last year when both my health and my job took an unexpected turn. Looking back, I see that questioning the change didn't help. Feeling frustrated didn't help. Complaining didn't help. The only thing that did help was accepting my new situation and looking for ways to adjust.

When I changed my attitude and moved in a new direction, new opportunities came my way. When I stopped wishing for the way things were, I saw the way things could be and what I saw was quite hopeful, maybe even better than the life I had. My eyes opened to the reality that this change I was so angry about could turn out to be a blessing if it led me to something better.

Are you having trouble dealing with change? Are you depressed, angry, confused? I understand. I've been there. So who better to point you in the right direction? First, stop wishing that the change in your life wouldn't have happened. It's done. Focusing on the past keeps you stuck in the past and you miss chances for a better future. Second, get moving toward something new. Don't let fear stop you. You are so much stronger than your fears.

Just go out and explore your options. You don't have to grab the first thing you find. Pray for discernment. God will open a door, but only if you start knocking.  And once you've settled into this new life of yours, and once you realize how much better off you are now compared to before the change, then you can look in the mirror and say, "I'm not afraid of change."

And one last thing, don't get too comfortable with the way things are now. Be on the lookout for signs of change. The comfort zone is not a destination, it's only a rest stop. And you must keep traveling, because there is so much more to see.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I'VE NEVER MET A HAPPY, SLOPPY PERSON

The worst part about being unorganized is the way it makes us feel. When I was a teenager, my bedroom was a mess and I felt like a mess. Since I couldn't organize the place where I spent most of my quiet time, I was a mess in every area of my life. In high school I sometimes went to the wrong classroom because I kept losing my class schedule. It was embarrassing to hear my name over the intercom after a teacher reported me missing. I felt like an airhead.

"When we are disorganized, we don't like ourselves, our jobs, or much else about our worlds," says Gordon McDonald in his book, Ordering Your Private World. That is so true. When I don't organize my time, I feel unproductive and wasteful. When my home and car are a mess, I feel sloppy and lazy. Being undisciplined just makes me feel like a mess. Living that way is depressing, and it affects every part of my life, including my relationships with people and with God. I can't focus on what's important when I'm surrounded by clutter.

I've gotten better at being organized since my high school days. But I still haven't mastered it completely. I can let a sink full of dishes set overnight without it bothering me. I don't want to become obsessed. Then I would have other problems. No one could live with me!

If you've been wanting to bring a sense of order to your life, here are a few tips for getting started. Some of these things might take a lot of work, but I promise it will be worth it. The sense of peace you feel when you come home to an uncluttered refuge is something you need in today's chaotic world. Some of these ideas came from yesterday's Oprah Winfrey show and some came from my own experience.

Organize your clothes If your house is cluttered with clothes, throw every piece of clothing on a pile and separate what you want to keep and what needs to go. Go through one room at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed. Then put the clothes you plan to keep in an organized closet or storage area. This alone will make you feel lighter and more orderly.

Buy a file cabinet I keep files on each family member that contains personal information such as health records, photos, certificates, social security cards, etc. I also have an alphabetical file. My "A" file contains receipts for antiques I've purchased and my "P" file contains product information such as warranty cards and instruction booklets for cameras, alarm clocks, appliances and other purchases.

Write reminders on a calendar Those little appointment cards you get at the dentist don't do any good stuck in your wallet. Post a calendar with plenty of room for daily notes. If your child needs a disposable lunch for a field trip, write it down. If you volunteered to send a snack to school, write it down. Keep school activity and lunch calendars posted so you don't miss picture day and pizza day. When you receive an invitation, write it on the calendar along with the deadline to RSVP.

Carry a notebook or keep one in your car How many times do you receive information away from home that you know you should write down? Phone numbers, addresses, directions, all kinds of information comes at you when you're out in the world. Have a place to record these things and carry several pencils or pens. If you have a cell phone, record the numbers you call most. Voice recorders are great ideas too. Carry a phone and address book. When you record a new entry, transfer it to your address book at home.

Have a special place for things Put your keys in the same place every time you come home. Return the scissors to its special place. Know where to find the glue, tape, a flashlight, everything you need. Organize your refrigerator the same way. Don't waste time searching for things. Know exactly where things are because you return them to their special place each time.

I could give you a much longer list, but once you start organizing your life, it penetrates every area of your home and workplace. You see how much easier life is and how much better you feel, and it makes you want more. Being organized. Try it. You'll like it.