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!…

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Here is my laundry room BEFORE.

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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.

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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! 😦

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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

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

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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!

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See you soon!

Angie

 

 

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Just say my name… please…

How many times a day do you see your name written? On a note… on a document… on an email… on a list of sponsors…  How many times a day do you hear your name?  From your spouse… co-workers… friends… family… How many times?  What do you feel when you see and hear your name?  Do you feel acknowledged, recognized, familiar, loved?  What do you feel when your spouse whispers your name in a chuckle?  What about when a friend calls for you by name?  How about when your name is in bold letters on that certificate you worked so hard for… do you feel accomplished?

I would like to take a minute of your time to tell you about someone I met today. A man that has gone through troubles in his life like many of his friends.  Some time ago, this man looked in the mirror and saw something… A stranger.  He didn’t know who he was anymore.  He had lost his family in almost every sense.

I have to be honest. I was surprised to hear him say he had spent the whole first half of his life, knowing who he was.  He had dreams and enjoyed doing things for other people.  He loved watching his kids grow and admired his wife. People knew who he was.  He was the neighbor people appreciated, the dad of the hitter on the baseball team, husband, father, friend. He was part of the same community for years and had many friends.

What seemed overnight, he no longer saw himself. He lost touch. He lost his dreams. Slowly, one by one, people forgot his name… People… forgot him. He became the part time employee, the single guy next door, the drunk, the tweak.  He became ‘that’, instead of ‘who’.  You would think this would be a tragedy, but his life being in such distress… it didn’t really matter. Until one day… something was different.  He looked all around him and realized no one knew his name and he was all alone.  Habits continued… depression set in… confusion took over… helplessness prevailed.

Then, about 7 months ago, he knew… something… had to change.  Placing his hand on his own reflection, hiding his face from himself, just wasn’t working anymore. He needed to be human again.  He needed people to know he was alive, to remind HIM he was alive.  He needed it… now.  Somehow, he visited a soup kitchen that offered a program to help him get on his feet. A program that allowed him to, not only fill his belly, but to fill the void in his heart.

Like most homeless men and women, who have been robbed of their identity in some shape or form, there is no one around to remind them WHO they are.  There is no one to say their name because no one even knows it. The truth is, people avoid even making eye contact with them, for fear of being begged for money or that gnawing feeling that tells us we don’t live in a perfect world. Knowing this, I usually like to say hello and ask people how they are doing, even when I can’t help them.  You would be amazed at how many people in terrible times of their lives are still able to have a ‘good’ day, and they are more than happy to share that fact if just asked.

If they smile, they are a fraud… if they are forlorn, they are guilty… if they are passive, they are ungrateful…  If this is your mentality, YOU may be one step away from not knowing YOUR name.  Scary, isn’t it?

Anyway, tonight, I met a man.  David.  Just say that name. David… He had a story in his eyes that was hard and cold and painful… softened by the lines around his eyes that said he was no longer that man that didn’t know who he was.  He is now the man that wants people to know him again. His heartache is wrapped in the love of the Lord.  He knows where he wants to go, and will never forget where he came from.  He is David… the man who wants to succeed.  David… the man who is mending his relationships with his children.  David.

The most captivating moment of the evening for me was when they were trying to find people who wanted the last cups of lemonade and apple juice and somebody saw David raise his hand and shouted, “David will take it!”  It immediately took hold of his whole posture.  He stood taller, and he had a smile of familiarity, of acknowledgement, of friendship… of LOVE.  It made my heart soar to see his lines around his eyes crease even more as he broke into a huge grin. It dawned on me right then.  This man isn’t a day older than my dad. Funny how he seemed so much older when our conversation had begun.

I was reminded of something, meeting David tonight.  I was reminded that no matter how many people I know, and how many people know my name, there is only One who really knows me, and it is solely through His grace that anyone knows me at all.  I was one step away from this man once and I was saved.

So, the next time you see your name on a document, note or letter.  The next time you hear your name leave the lips of a loved one… say a sweet prayer of praise that someone knows your name and know that it is not because of how great you are, but how great God is.  And the next time you pass someone who looks as if they have no name… introduce yourself.  Ask them how they are doing. Who knows… Maybe all they need to be reminded of who they are is to hear their very own name spoken back to them. Maybe they will be YOUR reminder!

Loving is not easy, though one thinks it easy enough.
Because love is not weak, but very tough.
You must first acknowledge you are loved to the core,
And that your life, is your life no more.
Before you can tell who you are, and play the game,
You must first ask the Creator,

“Lord… what is my name?
May you all find who you are while you still know your names…

And love openly, those who don’t.

~~~ Angie ~~~

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