Ready To Love Home Again!

   Your laundry room is where cleaning happens so why on earth is it always such a mess?! There is just something about when you walk into someone’s home and their laundry room is clean and smells wonderful that just makes you want to slap them and tell them they suck.  Well, that would be terribly rude of us, so instead we must decide… Do we make a million excuses why we long for that, yet never seem to care as much when it is time to clean it, or do we take it on and protect it like a our lives depend on it?!  How was that for a dramatic beginning?  I know, nice, right?

   Okay, but here is the real me.  I love my home being clean and when I have time, I love cleaning it, but there is something really weird that has happened to me over the years.  When my youngest daughter had leukemia, our home was insanely clean.  I was so freaked out about her coming into contact with germs that we maintained a hospital like sanitized environment for  a very long time.  When she hit remission, the doctor made a joke knowing how I had become, about not sterilizing the door knobs every day anymore.  Some weird switch in me said… Relaxed housework symbolizes everything is okay.  It sounds ridiculous and I have really struggled with the way my own mind glitched on me, but it is the honest truth.  That’s what we do here, remember? 🙂

   So, I allowed that mentality to grab hold and within a couple years, I was in big trouble. I had let my house go, I was taking on tons of projects and jobs that consumed my every moment, and I had decided to keep, EVERYTHING! Moving into town was the final straw. I was completely out of my element and depression was sinking in.  I didn’t even know it. One friend after another expressed concern about my changes and how they felt it was affecting me.  At first, I was totally pissed.  I was so mad that they knew all the things I had gone through and thought that I didn’t have control over my own life.  Really, what they were saying is that I was trying to be in control of my whole life!  Even in the areas I needed to surrender, and even in the areas that I needed to say “No”, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t even interested in hearing what they had to say.

  The seed was planted though and God began to work through my heart. Slowly but surely, I began to actually feel burdened by all that was happening and all that should have been happening, that wasn’t.  I came home from a large event for the organization I run here and I thought I had been robbed!  It sounds so funny but it was almost like I was seeing the disaster for the first time.  It was nuts!  That week, I spent the most time connecting with the friends who had expressed their concerns and let them know, YES!, I finally saw it.

   To make a long story just a little less long, I got rid of crap.  Every time I went to town, I took things to donation.  I made sure that no matter how much garbage we had, the trash can was always full.  It took a while, let me tell you! That year, we had more deaths and tragedies in our family than we had sustained in our lives entirely.  It was a very rough year. Just when I was finally getting a grip on surrendering, we got a notice that the owners of our home needed to sell. While it seemed like such a catastrophe considering that my husband and son were working three states away, one child had moved out and it was just me and the younger two girls left to do the packing and the moving.  I got rid of more stuff and finally said, “Enough! I can’t focus on this anymore.” I was so irritated with God that here I was… ‘getting IT’ and now this is thrown into the mix!  I was determined to do it on my own.  My husband didn’t like that idea.  He called our church.  I was sure no one would want to come move our family of 6, plus an organization, plus a home school, plus put up with my exhausted butt!

   They came… they loved on us, they moved our crap, they brought us lunch and went through a couple very difficult situations with me.  They came… God was there… I got ‘IT’ again.  I was doing good until I tried to be in control of my own surrender. I know… what a dork, right?  Yeah, I agree. 🙂

   Anyway, the point of this is that now, we are back in the country, (God made sure of that) and what was already in progress has continued in shorter spurts.  I donated 10+ more boxes of stuff while unpacking in our new home and I continue to get rid of things on a regular basis.  I have 2 boxes in my car right now and another box I am in the process of filling.  I wish I had thought to blog the process of going through our office area and bookshelf… it was invigorating!

   Now… I’m here… with you.  I have officially gotten rid of enough stuff that finally, I can start living again and organizing with pleasure and joy in my heart!  I, my dear… AM READY TO LOVE HOME AGAIN! 

So!  here goes!…

Image

Here is my laundry room BEFORE.

Image

Sorry the pictures are terrible from my phone… This is my bookshelf made into shoe rack and ‘organizer’ for quick grabs from outside.  This is the first thing people see when they walk in this door.

Image

 

This is our pantry in the same room.  The space is good but the organization is not.  Behind all those plastic bags are cloth grocery bags that I always forget to take to town on shopping day! 😦

Image

 

We eat mostly fresh or frozen foods unless I can it myself, which hasn’t happened for 3 years! I need to make room for that because we are building a garden this Spring, you and me. 🙂

Image

 

There were OVER 100 plastic bags in my pantry!  These puppies have GOT to go!  Right to the food pantry!  (Anytime you get overloaded on plastic or paper bags, donate them to your local food pantries.  They love them because they store well and hold a lot of food.)

THE TRANSFORMATION…

The reason it is so important to take everything out of the room is because it allows you to really understand how much stuff is in the room, it is SO much easier to clean the room thoroughly and it gives you a clean slate to work with.

Image

 

I have this insanely high shelf in the top of my pantry that goes up to the ceiling and allows for a lot of storage.  This is the perfect place to store these tall boxes of dessert mix!  We bake goodies to go with dessert that our Small Group serves at our local homeless shelter once a month. (If you really want to help your homeless community, serve often at a homeless shelter and really get to know them.  You might be surprised who learns more.)  See that space to the right?  That is going to have 20 boxes of brownie mix (The guys’ favorite) after Saturday.

Image

 

To save a lot of space in your pantry, after cereal gets down to 1/4 of a bag, roll it up and write the kind of cereal on it.  

Image

 

Drop them in, writing side facing the wall of the container, side by side.  You can identify the cereal without pulling them all out.  Keeps the cereal fresher too!

Image

Hot cereals stay fresher longer in plastic ware as well.  Cut the directions off the box and slide it down the side.  Refill and toss the box upon every purchase!

Image

 

Only 20 bags in that laundry bag converted grocery bag holder!  When it gets bulky, we will make another donation!  No more bags on the floor!

Image

 

I labeled the shelves because my family is great about unloading groceries… Now, they can actually put them where they belong because they have a well marked location!

Image

 

These recyclable grocery bags are going into my car! I shoved all the smalls into the big.

Image

Portable insulated bags, coolers and lunch packs now fit on the floor in the pantry!

Image

I actually had extra space even! And look! Nothing on the dryer!

Image

Image

Shoe rack now is able to hold our dog grooming bucket and has a place for everyone to put there gloves after working outside!  On top is ready for coffee mugs to be set on while boots are going on!  This is the country, yes, we really require this.  I even put a yummy smelling candle on there that I lit and now has made that whole part of the house smell wonderful!

  My laundry room is small, but it is still part of my home. There were muddy boots coming off in that very room just an hour after I took these pictures.  But now, it is just a wipe and sweep away from being clean all over again and I can do it in about 2 minutes!  

   It’s about making your house work for your lifestyle, not adjusting your lifestyle to fit your house.  I had so much fun doing this and I loved knowing that I could share this with you guys to encourage you to start even if it’s small and learn how to make a small space work for you!  Hope you had fun reading!

Image

See you soon!

Angie

 

 

Advertisements

That’s just perfect!

Every time I think of a specific friend, (We’ll call her Kara) I think of her story of longing.   I remember her telling me that her life had ‘gotten away’ from her and that she was so sad, depressed even, that her dreams of being a passionate, energetic wife and mother were over.  Instead, she had married a headstrong, opinionated, and quite honestly, obnoxious husband who didn’t have time or the desire for ‘running off into the sunset’ or ‘living happily ever after’.  “I just can’t believe I threw my life away.” she shared with me, her hands over her face, the tears streaming down her cheeks.  I felt so helpless.  Not just because I couldn’t fix her problem but because, secretly, I was struggling with the same thing!

At that point in my life, I was a child raising children.  My blessings were constantly clouded with what ‘should have been’ and what ‘could have been’.  I always wanted to be a mom, but my idea of motherhood was first words, stumbling steps, library trips, baking little cookies and playing catch in our big beautiful yard! Instead, I was married to a meth addict, living in a trailer park, borrowing money for cigarettes and trying to convince the power company to leave the power on just one more day.  Wow! you may say?  Yep, wow.  What an extreme right?  It’s true.

Believe it or not… it’s not how I started out.  I started out powerful and in charge of my life as a parent.  Having barely escaped an abusive relationship, I knew exactly where I needed to go and Who I needed to follow.  I was determined my children would know God, not only by the words I spoke but through the choices I would make, and my actions as a follower of Christ.  I just had one problem… I wasn’t in control.  When things were going good, I thought it was because I was doing everything right, and therefore the world was right around me. Did I mention that I was young in every sense of the word?

Well, I married the ‘right’ guy… with the ‘right’ job… from the ‘right’ family… right Right RIGHT???  wrong Wrong WRONG!!! There is no right anything when it comes to the big picture of choosing a family. There is no perfect man/woman, perfect occupation, perfect family!  No matter what you say whether it is in pride or in denial, there is no human PERFECTION… NONE.  That doesn’t mean that it can’t be good, or even amazing… but never perfect.  There can, however, be a perfect plan. 

Humor me for a moment and read this…

PERFECT means being entirely without fault or defect.

Do me a favor… read that again and again.  Now, you tell me, honestly… does that describe you?  Are you perfect? Does that describe your spouse, your parent, your child, your friend?  While I’m sure you have several cute and adorable little quotes and sayings from your wonder years popping the veins in your head right now, the truth is, when you really look at the definition of that word, we are NOT it!  So much for ‘practice makes perfect!’! It’s okay if you are a little pissed off right now.  Truly, it is. We’ve all been deceived into thinking that there is a perfect mate or perfect friend or perfect parent, but the truth is that there is no such thing. Sometimes we even say, “Nobody’s perfect!”  but inside we are really saying, “But I’m pretty dang close!”

There is only One that is Perfect.  As a matter of fact, He is the only One that can honestly be called The Perfect One. He has no faults… He has no defects… He is always right… He is Perfection.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This passage does not say, My grace is sufficient in your perfection.  It doesn’t even say that He is expecting perfection.  Instead, He is boldly stating that His grace is sufficient for us and that through our weakness… did you catch that? In our weakness, His strength is made perfect.  Take just a moment to let that sink in.

Wait!  Here is something that will help you understand this concept further.  GRACE = favor.  It’s a gift, something not earned, but freely given. Perfect, isn’t it?

He is perfect… we are not.  He is good at it… we never will be.  He is accountable to it… we don’t have to be.  He is not expecting it from us… we meet His expectations.  See, how much easier it is to understand when you take the pressure of it away?

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

God is not so difficult to understand as the world would have us believe.  The reason it all seems so difficult to understand is because it IS simple.  It’s not God that is confusing.  It is the conception of a loving God in a fallen world full of bad ideals, unrealistic expectations and man-made goodies that tear us away from personal relationships. It’s the idea that God only wants us unsoiled and perfect so He can stand to be in our presence. But the truth is… that is such a LIE! God wants us to be with Him in our shiniest moments AND our darkest.  He doesn’t expect us to come to Him fixed and perfect.  He knows we come to Him broken.  That is EXACTLY why He gave us our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We come to Him wanting, searching, grasping, clinging and He opens His arms wide and scoops us up into His warm comforting embrace.  He loves us. We are His and He loves us, flaws and defects and all. It really is THAT simple.  Perfect, actually.

The enemy uses our own minds to deceive us into believing we are a constant failure.  That carries over into deceiving us into believing that those in our lives are also a constant failure when they don’t measure up to our expectations.  It is only when we see ourselves as the imperfect men and women that we are in need of a Savior that we can see our loved ones as no more or less than us.  We all sin.  We all disappoint.  We all make mistakes.  We all miss the mark.

What does this have to do with our friend, Kara, you might ask?  What about my life closely resembling a Hollywood movie?… and not the good kind!  Well, here goes…

Kara, went on to be miserable and then prideful to the point of her own destruction.  She buried herself in romance novels and duties to hide her disappointments.  She became determined to raise ‘perfect’ children and from the outside have the ‘perfect’ life. She tried to fill her emptiness with all these impressive facades that made it even more difficult to reach out to those around her for help and understanding.  This same woman who grieved the ‘loss’ of her life, related to other wives but refused to admit it, even to herself. She sunk lower and lower into depression until she found herself drowning in her darkness.  She made an attempt to get out once. She reached out for help and we came in the middle of the night to rescue her from her increasingly abusive husband.  Yes, that’s right.  Me, my meth stricken husband, a terrified woman who didn’t even have enough freedom to get her driving license, and her four confused and equally terrified children planned an escape in the middle of the night while her husband was on a ride along with the local police department.

Our hearts were racing as the icy air from the clear winter night swirled around us, biting at our skin.  We jumped back into the vehicles and fled the place that this spiritually beaten woman called home.  When I asked her if she was scared, she said, “Yes, but only that this feeling will go away and I will give in when he comes to get me.”  My heart stopped. Oh no… Here I am again. I knew exactly what feeling she was talking about. It was that feeling that said, one more breath in this life and your breathing will cease.  Seeing your life flash before your eyes, unfinished.  Needing to get out, but not knowing how, and it still being worth it to try. Fear, nausea, panic, loneliness, pain, adrenaline, determination, weakness and foreign strength all at once.  ALL…  AT… ONCE.  I remember thinking, “Oh my God.”  and for the first time, I was really meaning, “OH MY GOD!  Dear God please save me.”

The next morning, Kara went back to her husband who spent hours convincing her on my couch that he loved her and he would not hurt her again.  He lied.

I knew he would lie.  Just like I knew my husband would lie.  It is what we do when we don’t want to face our problems.  We convince ourselves ‘we can fix this’. I also knew I had been lying to my husband and to myself.  I didn’t love him anymore.  I didn’t love me anymore. I didn’t love anything anymore.  I didn’t even love God anymore.  I was a liar. I lied when I said I could handle it.  I lied when I said I was giving God control over my life.  I lied when I said I was providing a safe place for my children.  I lied when I said I would be okay.  I lied.

It didn’t take long for me to see my life for what it was.  Mine.  My own. Mine! Dammit!  When did I claim my life as my own?  When did I allow my heart to deceive me? When did I long for all that was wrong for me?  When did I get trapped in seeking perfection, deceived that there even is such thing? When did I think that my husband would surface in his addiction if I was good enough?  When did I stop expecting the enemy to attack?  When did I make the decision to be his victim over and over and over again?  I still don’t know when because it was obviously a slow burn.  Through porthole of greed and pride, the enemy sunk his slimy teeth into my self-image and expectations.  He dripped his venom in my heart slowly, creating anger and self-righteousness to the extreme.  I had become my own perfect enemy.

Within days of realizing of the truth of my situation, God went to work…  Previously that year (before the incident above), in my longing for perfect acceptance, I had turned to another man, via an internet relationship.  It wasn’t sexual, actually.  We talked of things that didn’t matter.  Movies, places to travel to, dream jobs and all those happy topics.  Only a couple of times did we approach the subject on why I was planning on leaving my husband and just as often did we touch on why he left his wife.  We were both still married, both seeking comfort outside of our marriages and neither of us involving God in any of it.  I talked to his mom and sought advice from a woman who just wanted to see her son happy. Yes, really.  I was ignorant. I thought happiness could be a result of a plan I could create. I would make all the right decisions and all the right moves this time.  It would be perfect!

Yeah, well, not exactly…

God started to make it clear that I had faults and that although my sin was not going to create physical memories that haunted me, I would be haunted by my actions all the same.  When I told my husband of my plan to leave his unworthy self and make a new life for my worthy self, he called his mom in despair.  She called me and cried.  It was the first time I had ever heard her cry.  It broke me…  She begged me to not take her babies away and swore she would support my decision to leave her son, but please just don’t take the kids so far away.  Guilt in the fact that I had not even considered what this action would do to the rest of my family including my kids contact with their grandparents, was a huge flag for me.  I never wanted pain for my kids. I knew I was making the wrong decision but how could I go back now?  It was out and everyone knew my secret! I promised it anyway.  I promised not to leave.

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The reason I couldn’t seek God for help openly, was because I really felt that for Him to help me, He had to change those around me.  As Kara left my house that day, she mouthed the words through her car window, “I’m so sorry.”  I couldn’t understand.  Why was she going back?  Why was she allowing this life to continue? Yes, those were questions in my mind but my confusion was not over those.  I knew the answers for those questions.  What I couldn’t understand was why was she apologizing to me? Why on earth was she sorry for me?  She was the one in agony and agreeing to go back to a life of misery and loneliness. I turned and walked into my house and it seemed so filthy.  The walls were dirty, and there were dishes in the sink.  There were stacks of papers on my desk and the carpet needed vacuumed. There was laundry overflowing over huge laundry baskets and the cushions were pulled out our recliner.  I realized in that moment that my house was a perfect picture of how numb I had become to my own sin.  I had made a habit out of looking at my sin as out of my hands.  Victimization. Kara wasn’t the only one agreeing to go back to a life of misery and loneliness.  I too was making that decision.

My husband forgave my infidelity and I felt God was telling me that through infidelity, my marriage would be healed.  Seriously, don’t laugh or send me hate mail.  I’m not saying God wished for it, but that I was to wait until infidelity was evident before I was permitted to leave my marriage.  I knew I wasn’t going back there (infidelity) but I knew I wanted out still.  Brace yourself… this is where it gets human.  I prayed.  I prayed for my husband to commit adultery, not realizing he already had at this point, so that I could be free of my marriage.  I’m just being honest here… if this is too much, please feel free to judge me. You won’t be the first or the last. 🙂  …

… As time went by and he was staying gone for more days at a time, I knew it was getting close.  I had relief due to the lack of arguing but fear because of the people showing up to look for my husband.  I was finding more and more time to read my bible and oddly was for the first time without people telling me, understanding it.  There was a peace that had begun to fill my previously tortured sleeping hours.  I was sleeping over half of the time that my kids were sleeping and I found time to play with them again.  Schooling was a sought after structure rather than a resented one and I physically felt God healing me.

I was pulling into our park when my husband’s friend, excited to be a part of the drama, stopped me and handed me his phone.  The woman on the other line, claimed to have shared my husbands affections and poured out the apologies as if her life depended on it.  Apparently it had happened while I was watching her children for several weeks so she wouldn’t lose them to the state. Apparently, my response was not as expected, and I saw the disappointment on the drama seekers face when I said thank you and went home. What was supposed to be devastating was like a breath of fresh air.  Discovering the time that it happened was surprising for me as it was just before my online relationship became personal but it was just more of a confirmation for me that I was free of my marriage.  I called my husband and he denied it.  Predictable. I got another call from another woman. Not so predictable. I started to feel deception instead of confirmation… I prayed against it.  I put all of my husbands belongings on the porch, shut the door and opened a window into my new life.

To make a super long story short… I had NO CLUE that my new life would include my husband!!! That’s right, during our separation, God flooded me with His love from every direction. Unbeknownst to me, God was also flooding my husband with His love from every direction as well.  My husband will have to tell you about his journey  on another day, but as for me and my journey, I was asked to stop lying to myself, stop expecting people to be superhuman, stop trying to have all the answers and trust God.  When I first realized God was asking me to welcome my husband back into my heart, I literally threw my bible across the room!  Needless to say, I was not excited at first.

God healed me… God healed my husband… God healed our marriage.  God, made his strength perfect in our weakness.  It’s been years since He first healed us, knowing what we couldn’t.  I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’m on my honeymoon… trust me, it’s not perfect. I still wake up with last nights laundry on the floor, bills on the table and older at every glance in the mirror, but I wake up every morning knowing that God is perfect and through Him, I will always be loved.  I don’t need to look for it elsewhere, but I am so grateful that God has given it to me anyway. My husband is my hero. He loves God and is a wonderful husband and father. Thanks to God, I have both love from my husband and my King. I may not live the perfect life, but I am perfectly loved.

Sweetly Broken

%d bloggers like this: