Thursday, November 25, 2010

Intentional.Me

I've moved!

Come visit me at the new url: Intentional.Me   (http://intentional.me)

A special Thanksgiving post should be up right now.

Have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!


Shell

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Only One More Week....


The new blog site is coming soon!  ONLY one more week.  

The blog will be officially up at the new site on THANKSGIVING DAY.  

Check back here for the new address... Just a few more kinks to workout first. :)



Have a blessed weekend!
~Shell

Friday, November 12, 2010

And the Announcement Is......

I told you the other day that I had a big announcement in store, so here it is:

On Thanksgiving Day,  Percolating Practice will be getting a makeover!  New address, new name, a more focused purpose....the works!  The Goodbye Junk challenge will also be moving to the new site and continuing there as well.  However, the new site isn't quite ready to launch, so hang in there and be patient while the finishing touches are put in place.  Check back here for more details, and of course, THE NEW ADDRESS!

Thanks for being patient while everything is in transition.  I promise it will be done soon, and worth the wait!
~Shell

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How #Relevant10 Met #GoodbyeJunk & #HelloMornings Today...

So, I FINALLY got to talk to my sweet friend about her experiences at the Relevant Conference this morning.  We met for coffee and talked for hours, it was so wonderful.  She knew that I had wanted to attend with her, and was sweet enough to bring back her goodies and share them with me!  Isn't she the sweetest friend? 

Look at all the cute, fabulous stuff I got from Relevant, through her:
I promise, I left some for her too! :)

I am so glad that she is NOT a  reader.  A blogger who hates to read.  Funny, huh?  But, lucky for me!  I got some really cool books that are going to be perfect for HelloMornings.  Just a short, easy to read page a day.  I can't wait to start tomorrow.  AND, a version I can share with the boys....Even better!  I've been wanting to find something like that, but haven't gone looking, and here it just 'falls' in my lap.  I love how that works!  Plus, an e-book copy of Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, which I've also been dying to read, and a cute little journal to write...something tiny in!

Plus, a super cute paperweight for my office (maybe it will encourage me to keep my desk neater).  That little cute 'PEACE' necklace has something on the back..... "BE STILL".  Now, tell me that wasn't meant for me?

So, I've mentioned how this all connects with the #HelloMornings group that I love, but how does bringing all this STUFF into my house fit with #GoodbyeJunk?  Well, for the first time, probably ever, I was INTENTIONAL about what I was choosing to bring into my home.  There were some other really cute things to choose from.  Things that I wanted, but I put them back, because I knew deep down that they were just future GoodbyeJunk.   I only chose things that I knew I had a purpose for, and would really, truly use.  Progress!

Oh, and FYI, more GoodbyeJunk stuff coming soon, so bear with me!  I'm working on a big, new announcement.... More good stuff to come!  Look for details closer to Thanksgiving. 

In the meantime, 
may you be blessed with friends as wonderful as mine, 
and may you remember that as fun as it is to receive, 
it is even better to GIVE.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I learned from #Relevant10



I've made Family my priority lately (over online stuff...)

So, I didn't even get to attend the Relevant Conference last weekend, but that didn't stop me from learning from it!  There were so many great people there, all tweeting little pearls of wisdom.  It totally rocked my weekend.  It was such a wonderful, powerful, positive thing to keep reading their tweets all weekend.

So, what did I learn?  I learned that I'm doing alright.  Not that I can't improve, I'm still far from perfect (and I'm not seeking perfection anyway), but I'm on the right path.  There has been a twinge of guilt that I've not blogged once this month...For a long list of reasons, all of which lead back to the fact that I set FAMILY as a higher priority, and just had to let go of online stuff until things are less overwhelming again.  So, what did I read coming out of Relevant tweets this weekend?  Tweet after tweet after tweet reinforcing that my priorities were on the right track, for once.   I love it when God sends you those overwhelming messages sometimes!

From my IRL favorite blogger  SomeGirlsTweets:
~Make your home a place of peace. My life isn't about what people think I am, or what they think about me. #Relevant10
~We don't want to harm our real life relationships with our blogs.  ~Rest in the gift God has given you. #Relevant10 - Angie Smith  ~We are held accountable to God for how we treat our family. #Relevant10 (@WeareTHATfamily)   ~What times are special for your family? Make that time sacred and be offline. Your family is of high importance. #Relevant10 ~"It's the living of life, not the writing of life that is going to change the world!" #Relevant10 - Sally Clarkson 
~Take a computer sabbatical regularly! #mediafreeSundays #Relevant10  ~"I'd much rather neglect my [online life] than neglect my husband and children." #Relevant10 
~"Blogging can be a powerful tool... But if blogging is taking you away from being a wife and a mother it's not worth it." #Relevant10 

And a favorite, that fits my life perfectly right now, by michellebygrace:
   
~If your blog conflicts with real life, choose real life. -Kimba (@KimbaASPTL) Relevant10
      

 I can't wait until I DO have a little more time and can go in and read all the great posts coming from the lucky ladies who did get to attend Relevant.   I'm going to have great stuff to read for months to come!  What a blessing.  

There is a linkup on the official Relevant Conference site:  http://therelevantconference.com/ or Click here for one of the other linkups, or search the hashtag #Relevant10 on twitter for more.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Truly Amazed

I'm sure you've heard, because it's all I'm talking about lately, that I'm leading a team for my local Relay for Life.  You can read more about it here, where I guest posted about it over at SomeGirl's place.  I felt very called to do this.  My heart was leading me to it.  But I never imagined that we could have possibly been so successful.  I know it's not me, it's that I listened to the whispers of God telling me I coud do this.  Really.  Because my introverted self wouldn't have/ couldn't have ever done this without that push.

Now, tonight, my team is ranked number 4 on the top teams list.  And I'm not telling you this to brag, because it's not something that I did.  It's something amazing happening.  It's a miracle, in my book, that it's all coming together in such happy way.  That I could recruit enough friends to fill out our team.  That together we could fundraise over $1,100, before the event has even begun!  That is a pure and wonderful miracle. 

What's that verse about God having a bigger plan for me than I had for myself?  Is it even a verse?  I googled it and came up with a movie quote, but whatever it may be, that's definitely what it feels like to me.  I had hoped to struggle along and maybe raise $500.  I wasn't sure if there would even be more than 3 of us on the team.  But is' all working out bigger and so much better than I ever dreamed.  The verses below were the best I could come up with.  If you know one that fits better, I'd love for you to share it.

If you have joined my team, and are helping to make this happen, or if you have donated to our Relay for Life team, THANK YOU.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping our team to help others.  I am so truly blessed.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.  
Proverbs 16:3

A person may plan his own journey,
   but the Lord directs his steps. 
Proverbs 16:9

Friday, September 24, 2010

If You Could Do Anything...

It's Friday.  I thought a little fun might be in order, so I'm asking this quick question.  I hope you'll leave an answer in the comments and let me know what your answer would be!  I can't wait to hear from you.

If you could do anything.... What would it be?  No strings attached, no cost limitations, no 'oh-but-who-would-watch-my-kids', no restrictions.  Something that would make you just full of joy and happy inside.  Something just for you.  If you could do anything, for yourself, what would you do?

For me?  I'd wander around and take pictures.  I truly love photography.  Someday I plan to go take a few classes, but in the meantime, I'm happy anytime I can pull out my pocket camera and take some fun, interesting photos.  It makes me happy, deep down inside.  I'm especially happy taking pics out in nature.  Puts a smile in my heart that looks kind of like this ---->



So, If you could do anything, for yourself, what would you do?

What's stopping you?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#GoodByeJunk Helpful Tip #3.... Keep Going!

 Keep Going!  That's it for the tip today.  Just keep going.  You know how Dorie in Finding Nemo sings, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...", well just keep tossing, donating, selling, filing, whatever it is you've been doing.  Don't give up now that you've gotten such a good start getting rid of junk.  Keep doing what you're doing.  One thing a day.  Several things on the weekend.  Whatever is working for you, just don't give up!

Don't forget to chime in and let us know how you're doing from time to time!

I promise to have a better tip next week.... It's been kinda crazy around here, and Thursday just really snuck up on me this week!  Keep saying Goodbye Junk in the meantime...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Make This Mistake...


The biggest mistake you can make 
is to do nothing because you can only do a little.

Don’t second-guess yourself.  Even the littlest gifts add up over time to make a big difference.  Do the thing that you've been wanting to, but haven't because you don't think you can do enough.  The biggest mistake you can make is to do nothing because you can only do a little.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Are you still saying #GoodByeJunk ?

The Goodbye Junk Challenge:
*Get rid of one item each day. 
*Find one item that needs a home, and give it a home.  Easy!
  For more details, click here.

Are you still working on our #GoodbyeJunk challenge? I know I am.  This week I didn't have too much to donate, but I pulled out what seemed like tons of trash and got rid of it.  Old phone books, piles of expired coupons,  old bills and other junk mail that never got tossed when it should have.  I've also got a bag going with unopened happy meal toys that I've found all over.  We're donating them to the school carnival for game prizes.

I was also good about finding a home for some of my paper clutter, namely my littlest one's preschool stuff from last year.  I spent Friday night with some friends starting his scrapbook, and I got about 12 pages done.  I'm hoping to have that one finished in a couple of weeks, so that I can move on to finding a home for his older brother's school papers.  I've got 1st and 2nd grade to catch up on...Yikes!

My friend who came and scrapbooked with me had a great idea about not letting the school stuff pile up.  Her plan is to scrap things as they come home, if they are worth saving.  So, Friday night she spent her time scrapping this year's first day of school and her son's first-ever spelling test.  And now she's caught up.  Isn't that great?  I just might have to steal her idea!

How is it going for  you?  Are you doing well or struggling?  Link up or leave a comment below so we can encourage you!  Don't forget to find us on Twitter with the hashtag #GoodByeJunk too.  I'd love to see some TwitPics of your success!

What have you been working on for saying Goodbye to Junk?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Revelation...


I realized something tonight, driving down the road to my yoga class of all places...

I am HAPPY.

That sounds a little silly, doesn't it?  But this was a major revelation.  I'm not talking, 'Hey, it was a good day today Happy'.  I'm talking, 'Wow, this-is-incredible, can't-stop-smiling, deep-in-my-soul HAPPY'  Just generally happy.  Not because of a particular thing or event, but.....just because.

Do you want to know the kicker?  I should be freaking out right now.  I am sooooo far backlogged on paperwork,  my office is a perpetual disaster zone, my good friend and I have taken on the role of putting together and leading a team for the Relay for Life, my pastor just asked me to take over the job of leading the handbell choir (which I feel woefully underqualified for...),  I'm trying to declutter our house and organize our family of four,  I'm hosting a GoodbyeJunk Challenge on this blog & on twitter.... I'm getting started training to walk a half marathon, with asthma... See? 

I.Should.Be.Freaking.Out.Right.Now.

But, I'm not.  I am HAPPY!  Go figure.

Maybe it's the Yoga.  Maybe it's Goodbye Junk.  Maybe it's HelloMornings.  Maybe it's Prayer.  Maybe it's taking real care of myself for a change, and looking at things with gratitude.  Maybe it's just the simple fact that I'm not trying to be perfect anymore, and I'm just trying to do my best little by little to make progress.  Maybe it's a combination of all of those things.   Whatever it is, I'm going to keep doing it, because it's working! 

Be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead....
 - I Peter 1:6

May you find joy and happiness as well. 


This post is dedicated to my dear friends K & M.  I'm convinced that conversations with the two of you are a real part of where I've found this happiness. Thank you for the blessing of your friendship and support!


#GoodbyeJunk Helpful Tip #2


Goodbye Junk Helpful Tip # 2:
Get rid of the junk in your pantry.  It may not be in sight for company, but YOU see it everyday.  Wouldn't it feel wonderful to look into a clean, not junky pantry when it's time to fix dinner?

Go through and toss expired foods in your pantry.  Try one shelf at a time.  One shelf a week.  Whatever works for you.  While you're at it, set aside everything that will expire in the next few months, so that you can use them up, or donate them to a local shelter.  Thanks Nemo,  for inspiring this tip by tweeting about cleaning out your cupboards!

I went through mine about a month or two back, one at a time.  Over the course of a couple of weeks I threw out a disgraceful amount of expired food, most from when I was doing the coupon game which seemed like it was saving me tons of money.  In truth, it just encouraged me to overstock or stock up on things we didn't need and therefore wouldn't use, because it was 'such a good deal'.

I put foods about to expire in a basket on my kitchen counter.  Everything that would expire by the end of 2010 went in my basket.  I'm trying to use them up, and hope that having them out in plain sight will help me to remember that.  So far it's working pretty well, and we've probably used up about a third of them already.  You could also donate foods to a food pantry, if you don't want to use them and they're not too close to expiring. 

Throwing away expired foods feels extremely wasteful.  And it is.  But the reality is, if it's already expired, there isn't anything you can do about that.  Feeling guilty won't change that.  What you can change is how you buy, store, and use the food you restock with.  Don't go out and go hog wild replacing every thing you just tossed, because chances are you'll have the same expired foods later on down the road.  Rethink what you need and how you buy it.  Make it work for you, with the goal of not letting food expire. 

My pantry looked bare at first, but now I've gotten used to it this way, and I love it.  There are only things that we eat regularly in it now.  Special things I can go out and buy when needed, but if they are in my pantry, chances are I won't use them before they expire.  The bonus?  I can easily see everything we have, and I don't end up buying it again at the store just because I couldn't see or find it.   I plan to go through the pantry roughly every six months to look for items that might be expiring soon, or within the next several months.  Then I can put them in my 'I need to use these up' basket again, or donate them to a food pantry.

Are you 'holding onto stuff because you feel it would be a waste of good money if you got rid of it...'?   Read this article and free yourself of the burden of feeling wasteful.

Also, Gwen wrote this wonderful post about the impact of our Goodwill donations.  Stop by and check it out.  She talks about the impact of donations for both the people Goodwill Industries helps and for the people who shop there for great deals!  Thanks, Gwen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

#GoodbyeJunk Updates...

 Hey all...
How did you do this week at saying #GoodByeJunk?  Did you get rid of something daily?  Did you do enough for the week all at once?  How about finding a home for random things?  Were you successful at that too?

I had a great week.  I got rid of 43 pounds of stuff, added it to the pile from the week before, and drove it all to Goodwill.  What a wonderful feeling.  So far, I've donated at least 67 pounds of junk.  It feels terrific! There are lots more things to work on, so I'm not going to be done anytime soon, but I love the feeling that just doing one thing a day makes me feel successful.  And it's so easy I don't even try to avoid it!

By the way, there is a great calculator at GOODWILL online where you can calculate the impact of your donation.  I put in the things I rounded up my first week, and it came out to roughly an hour of training per pound.  An hour a pound of help for someone else...What a fabulous incentive to declutter!

As far as finding a home for things, I've been doing pretty well at that too. Mostly in my office, where there were a lot of leftover VBS or summer craft things that needed to be put away.  I also worked out in the garage a bit, organizing and tossing things in there.

Don't forget to check back on Thursday, when I have another helpful tip scheduled to keep you motivated!  If you have anything that's working really well for you, or a tip you'd like to share, please email me at goodbyejunkchallenge@gmail.com so I can include it in a future post for everyone.  Thanks!

If you're doing the challenge with us, how did YOU do? 
Link up to a post you've written about #GoodbyeJunk, or just leave a comment for us so we can encourage you!   Don't forget to tell us your Twitter handle so we can encourage you there too.  Be sure to tweet me @2BeStill if you haven't already so I can support you!  After you link or comment, be sure to stop by and visit some of your fellow GoodbyeJunkers to give them a little support.  I'm so proud of how well everyone is doing.  Keep up the great work!

Here's this week's GoodbyeJunk Linkup:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#Goodbye Junk Helpful Tip #1

As my son would say, "Helllloooooo, ladies!!"

How are you doing with your #GoodbyeJunk challenge this week?  Don't forget there will be a new linkup coming on Monday, so snap a picture, or jot down something that you can post or leave in the comments so we can support you!

Here's our first Goodbye Junk Helpful Tip:  Figure out a way to deal with your horizontal surfaces.  You know- those flat spots on a table, counter, or wherever that just collect junk in piles?  Yeah.  Those surfaces.

For myself, I've done two things.  First, once I get one of these cleared off, I make it a priority to keep it cleared off or at least get it completely cleared off before the end of the day.  The biggest help here is not letting something that doesn't have a home sit there for later.  I try to find a home for it right away.  Somedays that works better than others.  The other way I've decided to deal with these junk hotspots is to make them pretty.  Yes, you heard me!  If it's pretty, I'm much more likely to not want to cover it up with some pile of clutter.  Try it.  Let me know if it works for you.

Here's an example before and after of one of my previously awful horizontal surfaces. This is in my office, which is by far the very worst room in the house.  I think even the garage might be better.  So, before:


I wanted to hide these drawers (they look so messy, even though their contents are organized). But I still wanted to have easy access, so I took some particle board and covered it with pretty scrapbook paper. 
Particle board, recycled from somewhere else in the house.

This is so much prettier in person!
I even added a lovely quote that makes me happy.
 And finally, the result:
Saying Goodbye Junk to the piles on either side next!

Now, it's a lovely table top, and I don't want to put anything on it that will take away from the prettiness of it. In fact, I'm planning a few more finishing touches to make it even nicer.  The bonus is all the drawer storage for different projects that's now hidden underneath, but still easy to access.   Just finished it, so I'll let you know how that works out, but I'm pretty hopeful that it will be a success.

If you're still looking for inspiration, read here for more helpful ideas from Organizing Junkie (and she's got a little challenge too...)

How are you dealing with your horizontal surfaces?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#GoodbyeJunk Challenge Linkup

 Hello Goodbye Junkers!  So glad to have you along for the ride.  Doesn't it feel great to get rid of the junk and not have to deal with it anymore? Aren't you looking forward to cabinets that don't look like this anymore?  Don't you love how easy it is?  Just two things a day- one to donate/trash/sell and one to find a home.  Simple.  We can all do that.  For more about the details of the #GoodbyeJunk Challenge, click here.

I want to say thank you for all the support that I've gotten for this challenge, and for all the support I see all of you giving each other.  Way to go, everyone!  Wouldn't the world be so much nicer if everyone were so encouraging?  In that spirit of encouragement, let's link up and continue to support each other.  Please link up either a post on your blog (with a #GoodbyeJunk theme, perhaps?) or your twitter handle. Or both!

I plan to have two #GoodbyeJunk posts each week.  On Mondays, we'll have a linkup where we can show our successes (do a post with a picture of your cleaner space, or just tell us how it's going.  Or just tweet about it.  Anything #GoodbyeJunk related, really!).   On Thursdays, I'll share a short and sweet tip that might help you with your #GoodbyeJunk challenge. 

So, it's a day late due to the Labor Day holiday yesterday, but here's our first linkup!  Please take a moment to stop by the other blogs and leave a comment,  or leave your fellow #GoodbyeJunkers a tweet of support.  Oh, and feel free to grab a Goodbye Junk Button for your self/blog.  The code is over on the sidebar.  Thanks, and happy #GoodbyeJunking!

Link up here for #GoodbyeJunk Challenge support:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Don't Give Up!


Success does not mean never giving up.  It means always finding a  reason to start a new beginning. 

All of us, at some point or other give up.  In our head (or maybe out loud) ,  there is a sad defeated *Sigh* and the thought 'I give up'  drops in.  It might be for a day a week, a minute or even just a fleeting second.  But at some point, we all experience that "I give up" feeling.  And it's okay.  I think it's normal.  It's good to vent your frustrations, to let them out and not bury them inside.  But it's even more important to keep finding a reason for a new beginning. 

I gave up.  I did or didn't do ________.  But this is Labor Day weekend.  Which means Tuesday is a new beginning.  How many things start 'The day after Labor Day'?  It's a new beginning.  Or maybe October 1st.  It's the first day of a new month.  Maybe every Sunday is a new beginning.  Maybe Monday.  Maybe Friday because it's the beginning of the weekend.  Maybe...it's the middle of an unremarkable day and your new beginning is just a random point in the day.  The point is to seize those new beginnings.  Enjoy them.  Pat yourself on the back for finding them, for starting anew, and for not letting the 'I give up' feeling to linger and defeat you.

New beginnings are fun.  They are exciting.  They are motivating.  Why wait for January 1st or some other far away time to start over?  Find a reason to start a new beginning today and do it!

Note: I had this post written, and stumbled upon the quote below posted by @monicaricci on Twitter.  I love when perfectly timed things like that happen!

 "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, 
for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
~Mary Pickford
1893-1979, 
Actress and Producer

What are you waiting for?  Start now!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finding Gratitude Even Through Utter Frustration

 hard workYou know what they say, 'When life gives you lemons....'

I am in the middle of a MAJOR life lesson right now.  I'm learning a lot about how little control we really often have. Although we like to think we're the ones running things, that control is so often just an illusion.  We cannot control rude or dangerous drivers, although we might yell or honk in an attempt to do so.  We cannot control other people, situations, the world or a loved one making a poor choice. We might think we can somehow control these things, and even spend large amounts of time and energy worrying about them, playing out scenario after scenario in our heads in an attempt to gain control.  But ultimately, the only things we really control are ourselves, and our reactions to things.

This life lesson is teaching me to accept what I cannot control, and to instead focus my energy on myself and how I react.  I want to react to things with kindness and compassion; with gratitude and patience; with thanksgiving and with love. We cannot control the world, but we can seek to have a grateful heart.  Gratitude is not an illusion.  We can look for gratitude, even in the midst of the most utterly frustrating experiences. 

I am grateful 
For everyday, taken-for-granted kinds of things:
~for health -for this body of mine, with it's aches & pains, issues, and extra pounds
~for family- a nearby loving and supportive network
~for freedoms and liberties in this country I love
~for friends without whom life would be boring and dull

For overflowing abundances:
~of God's love
~of blessings too numerous to count
~of simple joys, like sweet bedtime kisses or 'just because' hugs

For constant, unshakeable blessings:
~my wonderful, handsome husband and sons
~my brothers and sisters, by both blood and marriage, living near or far.
~my beautiful, imperfect home and gardens

For first world conveniences that would be third world wonders:
~freshly brewed morning coffee where others thirst simply for clean water
~a home with running water where others go homeless and unwashed
~a refrigerator stocked full of food where others go hungry

Most of all, I am grateful that I have been given so much, because with this abundance comes the opportunity to share it with others, and share the blessings.

I am grateful.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I want that shirt


You know those really witty T shirts that you see here and there?
I want one that says:

Jesus is my guru. 

Now wait!!  Stick with me here.  I'm serious about this.  I'm not making fun of new age-y yoga types.   I get a lot of 'you're wacky/nutty/slightly crazy' for my love of yoga,  but hang with me, at least for this post.

I've been studying the 'stuff' behind yoga, to learn more and how it meshes with my personal religious beliefs.  What I've found has been both very encouraging and inspiring, and all that I have learned follows along the same lines as how the bible teaches us to behave.  It's very interesting.  Especially since yoga is very ancient wisdom, older than the bible.

One of the things in this book I'm reading started talking about "how to choose a guru".  Not in those words, but that was the idea.  Uh-oh, I thought.  Here's where it gets a little wonky and I'm going to have issues.  To me, "guru" is some wacky person followed blindly by another even wackier nut-ball.  But I kept reading, and this is what I found:

~A guru is a spiritual teacher...a teacher of truth.
~Guru has two parts- 'Gu' means 'stuff which hides our true light' and 'ru' which means 'the thing(person) that removes the stuff hiding our true light'.  
~A spiritual guru must live what he teaches, because power comes from that truth
~It is not always necessary for the guru/teacher to be physically present, or even in physical form to teach us.

Hmmm...something to think about.  A guru is a teacher who lives by example.  Who was the ultimate teacher?  Jesus.  Did he live by example?  To his very last breath, literally.  Can he remove our "stuff" (a.k.a. sin) and let our light shine?  Isn't that why he came? 

JESUS is my guru.

Jesus says: "I am the way and the truth and the life." ~ John 14:6

The bible says, "Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16  I like the way the Message puts it even better: "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept."   Isn't that a wonderful image?  'Bringing out the God-colors in the world.'  Love that.

Finally, Jesus said to the disciples: "I want you to open their eyes, so that they will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God."   If that doesn't fit the definition of a guru, then I don't know what does.

Jesus was always telling people to think differently.  I don't know if making a witty t-shirt was what he had in mind, but he knows where my heart is.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Focus for the Week:




God's law is in their hearts.              

      Their feet do not slip.              
 Psalm 37:31

Friday, August 27, 2010

Goodbye Junk Challenge

So, I've been trying to embrace life, and have more time for my family by getting rid of the junk that has found it's way into our house since moving in three years ago.   The clutter is taking up time I don't want to devote to it.  Time to find things.  Where did I see that ___again?  Time to clean.  It takes more time to clean if there is more stuff  sitting around. Time  being frustrated with how much stuff there is everywhere.  This is big for me, because it robs me of enjoying my day even when I'm not cleaning.

Another thing I'm trying to do, besides get rid of junk, is to make sure that everything that stays has a real home.  Not just some pile on the counter, but a real place to be put away.  I've found that I'm much more successful and consistent about keeping things neat if there is a home for things.  The kids are better at cleaning this way too.  Things that don't have a home inevitably end up in a pile on some horizontal surface in my house.   And stay there.  Not good.


After surfing around and reading some articles about clutter, I decided to host a Goodbye Junk Challenge.  Do you have junk like this that you want to deal with once and for all?  Do the Goodbye Junk Challenge with me!

In reading online somewhere, maybe unclutterer.com, I came across this idea to get rid of one piece of junk a day for a whole year.  What a great idea, I thought!  Being the beginning of a new school year, it seems like the perfect time to start a new challenge like this, so here's what I'm thinking:

*Get rid of one item each day.  It must leave your house for good...donate it, trash it, recycle it, give it to someone, sell it on ebay, whatever, just so that you don't ever have to deal with it again.   More than one is fine too, but if you just get rid of one thing a day, that counts!
*Find one item that needs a home, and give it a home!  Maybe something that  you've never known where to put...figure out a place.  Or maybe just put something back in it's rightful home.  Easy!
*Leave a comment or link a post about how you're doing.  Let's encourage each other!!

That's it... quick and simple, right?   Want to join me?  Let's see how much junk we can get rid of together! 
Here are a few other details:
*Feel free to make this challenge fit your life.  Want to do a week worth all on Saturday? Fine!  Want to fill up a box before taking it to Goodwill?  Great!  Just make sure that the stuff you pile up to leave your house actually leaves your house, otherwise, you'll just be going through it all again in the future, and who wants that?
*If you miss a day here and there, or even a whole week, don't give up!  There are no Junk Police to knock on your door, and ask what you've donated today.  You don't have to do the whole year.  There is no right or wrong.  Just clean until you're happy!
*Remember there are lots of sites out there with helpful ideas.  Unclutterer.com and http://orgjunkie.com are two of my favorites.
*Just for kicks, meaning, 'because there is a math-y nerdness in my blood', I'm going to weigh the stuff I get rid of.  For example, when I started Monday, I filled up a basket of stuff.  19.2 pounds.  Tuesday, it was lighter weight stuff...about a pound.  Today, I pulled out 5 pounds of stuff from my china cabinet.  You don't need to do this, unless you want to.  I just thought it might be fun to see how much I've donated once I'm done with the year!  I'm sure it will be staggering...I'm shocked that the little pile I've got for Goodwill is already over 25 pounds in 3 days!  You could also make a pile, take a picture of it when you donate, whatever.  Or just be happy it's gone.  Like I said, do what works for you.

It's a win-win challenge.  I/we get a nicer, cleaner, more organized house, and Goodwill (or the charity of your choice) gets to benefit from our donations!

Are you ready to take the 
Goodbye Junk Challenge? 
I hope so!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goodbye Junk



Goodbye Junk Challenge


Coming Soon!

When Life Kicks You in the Teeth...

I'm having a month that feels like life just keeps kicking me/us in the teeth.  Ever have one of those? Where thing after thing after thing happens to drag you down?  Well, that's me.   And I'm usually a pretty look-at-the-bright-side kind of person.  I look for the good, because there is already too much bad in the world.   If you see the good, if you practice looking for the good, then it becomes easier and easier to see it. 

But I'm having a hard time of it this month.  I keep getting dragged back down.  I know that there are much worse things happening to other people in this world.

People who are gravely sick.  

People whose children have cancer.  

People who've lost their jobs.  

People in serious pain.  

People who are fighting addictions.  

People who don't even have food to eat
or clean water to drink.

There are a lot of people who are dealing with way worse problems than we are.  I mean a lot of people!  But I'm still feeling kicked in the teeth,  I think mostly because I completely lack any control over our situation(s).

Last week, on a particularly bad day, I found this post (thank you @traceepersiko!) which I loved.  It started with, "Sometimes talking to Him is all you can do."  And that sentence in particular changed my whole attitude that day.  So, while I'm still having a hard time seeing the good, at least I can remember that advice. 

Sometimes talking to Him is all you can do...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Helping the Family (the chores post...)

Since it's back to school time, we're getting back into our regular school routines, and that means more formal chore duties again.  Not that my guys didn't do any chores during summer, just that it was a more relaxed, 'Hey, please go do ____' type of thing. Now, we're back to our chore chart.  I think chores do three major things: *Teach responsibility and life skills
*Help the family
*Show how you are an important part of the family


Someone asked me what kinds of things I have my kids do.  Cleaning up their own toys is one.  That's pretty basic, and they have a sort of organized toy/play room, and then in their bedroom they are only allowed what can fit in what we call the "toy pockets"--stuffed animals not included.


The "Toy Pockets"... just a shoe organizer.
Sometimes those pockets start overflowing, so they have to dump them out, sort out the stuff that really needs to be put away somewhere else, throw away junk/broken things, donate toys they don't want anymore, and so on.  This was them cleaning out the pockets at the beginning of summer:


Purging Toys
They have to make their beds, which used to mean getting everything back up off the floor...
(Even the 4 year old who regularly slept in between the beds on the floor...)
The result usually looked like this:
Not what I'd expected...but mostly neat & off the floor.
Sometimes they'd make the other bed:
This is why it takes an hour to make the bed...
This kid of mine is making a stack of animals as tall as he is...
He's 4 foot 6 inches tall...Can you see my little one in the pic?
General room cleaning would result in something like this:
8 Year Old Interior Design...Dino Style
 However, now that their room has been completely made-over, making their beds is much easier.  Just straightening out the blankets/covers, mostly.  We are strictly enforcing the 'everything must be off the floor and put away' rule each night, which means there really isn't much room cleaning to be done other than making the beds.  That's pretty huge considering they've been in that room nearly 24/7 since the makeover!

Other chores include:
Left side:8 year old / Right side: 4 year old(with pics)
We use a pocket chart.  I found it in the dollar section at Target last year around this time I think.  It works wonders.  I can add or remove chores as needed, and as they finish one, they take the card out and put it back in the tray.  We also have a card for HOMEWORK,  [put away]BACKPACK & LUNCHBOX,  and one for SHOES, so that I don't have to nag those everyday-must-do things either.  Now that I think about it...what happened to the BRUSH TEETH card? Seems to have mysteriously disappeared.  Time for a new one!

I don't make them do all of these things everyday.  It's more of an as needed type thing.  And they tag team some chores.  Like laundry.  The little one has to bring it to the laundry room, and the older one has to sort it.  New this year, he's also going to learn how to do a full load himself (with my help, of course).  It was his original idea to add the chore of doing ALL the laundry.  I so wanted to take him up on that, but just couldn't do it to him!  After I explained how much work that was, he was happy to edit it back down to one full load.  And that will probably just be once a week.

Also new this year: 
*Taking out the garbage.
*Little one is going to put away silverware (after I remove the sharp knives)
*Older one is unloading all the rest of the dishwasher, moving up from just silverware...
***The NO NAG Clause: If I have to nag you or remind you to do your chores, then I get to add another chore to your list.  And, it might just be one of my harder/longer chores, so beware!
***The FAMILY HELPER Clause: If you see a chore that needs to be done, and do it without being asked, you get to remove one chore from your next chore list!


And, speaking of chores... I'm still trying to purge and organize myself.  I signed up to some challenge to post a pic, but can't find the post to save my life.  I still did the challenge though...
Here's one of my kitchen cabinets before:
I hated this cabinet!!

And here's the after:
Sorry it's blurry...not enough light for my iphone camera.


So, what chores do your kids do?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Focus for the Week

Real quick:  How many loved ones are in your life?  Mom, dad, kids, sisters, BFFs, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunt & uncles?  Got your number?  Mine is around 30.  Probably more, but that's just a quick count.  Now, take your number and divide by 3.  For me, that makes 10.  That's how many people I love that might be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes.  One in Three.  Staggering, isn't it?

That's my focus for the week:  
Care more about others. 
Right now, I'm focused on doing that through raising money to help fight cancer.  I feel strongly pulled to do this, and I'm not sure why.  I just can't help but picture one of my loved ones being one of the people who will be diagnosed with cancer.  One in three of us will be diagnosed in our lifetimes.  But we have the power to change that, and to help people already fighting right now.   Will you help?  You can click on that little purple A Proud Supporter of Relay for Life button up on the right to donate. Even as little as $10 could make a big difference.   Or you can go here and buy some cool scrapbooking supplies (there are easy albums great for Christmas gifts!) and all profits (that's 30%) of your order placed through my page will go to the American Cancer Society too. 



Care about them as much as you care about yourselves
Philippians 2:4 (Contemporary English Version)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#HelloMornings

I love a pretty pink sunrise.  

Every once in awhile, I get really motivated, get up really early.  I usually make this rather long list of things to accomplish, but because I'm basically alone while everyone else is asleep (and no one else is up on FB or Twitter to distract me),  I usually get almost all of my list checked off before the house comes alive.  It's a wonderful feeling.  I feel great all day.

My point in telling you all of this random information about me is a challenge I found through an online friend (one whom I really wish I were going to get to see IRL in October, but that's another story...).  My friend Michelle is hosting a Maximize Your Mornings challenge through her blog.  The idea is to get up a little earlier, get in some quiet time for meditation or prayer, get in a little exercise, and start your day off in a better way then just rolling out of bed at the last minute and scrambling to get started.  This is a super easy challenge.  Not wake up at 4:30 or anything crazy.  Just: Step #1: Get out of bed.  That's it for the first step.  Five minutes earlier.  That's all.  Baby steps, easy goals, no burnout.  I thought: "Piece of cake...I won't have any trouble with this.  After all, I do it occassionally anyway."

Boy, was I wrong!  I have seriously struggled these last two weeks to just get out of bed.  I'm not sure if it's a mental thing, knowing that in 10 more days school starts and I'll have to be up EVERY day early, or if I've just never accepted how lazy I am.  Either way, I really need this challenge!  I don't do well at all if I get up when my boys do.  I end up grumpy and irritated that I didn't get any 'me' time.  I'm not glad to see them because I'm not glad to be out of bed yet.  When I do manage to get in that 'me' time at the beginning of the day, it changes my whole attitude and outlook.  I'm glad to see the boys when they wake up.  I'm happy to have gotten some easy chores already out of my way.  I'm looking forward to the rest of my day, because it's started out so peacefully.

Best/worst day of the challenge so far?  The other morning, I had my plans laid out for morning time, had my yoga mat laid out, my journal open, my alarm set.  I was 100% prepared to wake up and have a great morning.  But, when that alarm went off, I was tired, grumpy, my asthma was bad, and my head hurt.  "Forget it," I said to myself and rolled over.  But that alarm also had a reminder note: "sign up for swim lessons".  And I just couldn't let it go in my brain.  There are only 4 spots!  What if we don't get in?  So, I dragged my aching head into the office and signed up for fall lessons.  And then I tweeted something like "#HelloMornings: I'm up but going back to bed.  #Cheating, I know."  My brother replied back later that day: "I don't know what game you're playing, but if going back to bed is cheating, it has stupid rules."    I laughed so hard at that!  He was right, of course.  Nothing wrong with going back to bed once in awhile, especially when you're not feeling well. 

Now, thinking back to that reminder that dug it's way into my brain and wouldn't let go, I'm thinking maybe that's the answer.  I'm going to try putting a little message to myself along with the alarm.  "Go on, get up...you'll feel better when you do."   Or maybe, "Don't miss the chance to start your day with a little peace and quiet."

If you're doing the challenge along with me, I hope you're enjoying it too.  If you're not a morning person (I am definitely NOT), I highly suggest you give it a try.  It's a amazing how good you can feel once you're up and going.

May you be blessed by quiet
and peaceful mornings!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Want to Help Me Pay it Forward?

Did you know that ONE in THREE of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime?

Ever thought you might be able to fight cancer by scrapbooking?  Well, now's your chance.  My Relay for Life team has set up an online fundraiser to raise money to fight against cancer.  This online event is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. All profits, that's 30% of retail, from online sales (using the link below) through August 30th will be donated to the American Cancer Society through our Relay for Life team.   If you decide to order, please put Relay for the host name where it says "Credit Order to my Host". The double host credits will be used to purchase items for the silent auction, also to benefit the American Cancer Society. 

Please pass this along to anyone you think might be interested.  
We appreciate any help you might feel led to give!

 Shop here to help fight cancer: www.mycmsite.com/michelleacker 

DATE:     Through August 30th, 2010
TIME:     
Anytime!
HOST:     
RELAY FOR_LIFE
PLACE:  A WORLD WITH MORE BIRTHDAYS
Shop Here To Fight Cancer:  www.mycmsite.com/michelleacker
Now through August 30th

Stock up to scrapbook your summer vacations, work on existing albums, or start something new.  Christmas is just around the corner...Check out the picfolio line for easy photo album gifts!

Thanks,
Shell

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Summer Done List

Summer Fun- Living Room CampOut
I don't know about where you are, but here in Texas, we're down to the last two weeks before school starts.  This time of summer always makes me a little sad, not that I'm not counting the days, because I AM! I'm sad because it's the end of our free schedule, let's-just-have-fun-together time. I'll miss my boys when they're gone at school.

When May rolls around and school is about done, we're always excited about the huge time in front of us, and all the stuff on our "Let's do THIS" summer list.   Last year, our list was oh-so-long, but by the end of summer, we'd seemingly not done very many of the things on it.  We had a great summer.  But I felt disappointed in not doing all the fun things we'd thought of to do.  Mostly because we had forgotten what we had done.

This year, I decided to look at it differently.  I decided to keep track of all the things we'd done, instead of what we 'could have' done.  I'm calling it our "Summer Done" List.  It's growing pretty long.  It's packed with fun memories, and all the fun things we've done together.  We're savoring these last two weeks, trying to pack as many more things onto our list as we can before we have to officially close it when school starts.   And that little shift in perspective has made all the difference.  Honestly? This summer wasn't better than last year's summer.  But the fact that we have a list of memories to go back and reflect on, that makes it seem like a more of a jam-packed-fun-filled summer.  It's a list of positives instead of a list of a list of what we didn't get to do.  And I'm not nearly as sad this time around, because I know we thoroughly enjoyed our whole summer!

How about you? What would be on your Summer Done List? 
Or do you have another creative way of counting your blessings?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Focus for the Week

Do you ever wish there was just someone to tell you,  "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for"?

There is.  And He also says, "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

My focus for this week?  God's plans...not my own.

I took the above verses from The Message.  You might have heard it or be more familiar with it like this:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. 
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 
13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 
~Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New Living Translation)


May you have a blessed week!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Well, Golly & Gosh, Maybe it's True...



"If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t do it, you are right.”
– Henry Ford


I stumbled across this quote yesterday, and it made me realize that deep down, I've had the thought that this little blog couldn't or wouldn't really make any difference for anyone but me.  My purpose for writing was to help myself embrace life and find balance, and if it helps someone else along the way, then wonderful, I thought.  But deep, deep down, my heart was also thinking, "BUT IT WON'T.  It's just not gonna touch anyone else. You're not important enough, or....[insert whatever negative thing comes to mind here]". 

But now I've been loved ambushed.  And my heart has changed from thinking "This won't matter to anyone" into... "Maybe something I post here will be just exactly what someone else needs to hear."

So, here's to hoping praying that this practice of mine will bless others in any small number of ways.  I'll be putting "feet to my faith" and trying to be a blessing more often.  I hope you'll come back and visit soon!

Have a very BLESSED weekend.

-Shell

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Day I Got Ambushed

Wow.  I am both at a loss for words, and have so many thoughts racing through my mind that I'm not sure where to start.  So, I guess I'll start at the beginning.

Yesterday, I got ambushed, and it was truly one of the best days of my life.  Seriously.  Right up there with getting married and having my boys.  

I got up, had coffee, checked email, got the boys ready, typical morning stuff.  We headed out to drop my youngest off at his summer camp, and then headed home to do a few chores.  One of my chores being some work paperwork, which means getting on the computer, and being my gmail-facebook-twitter-addicted self,  I had to check my email again first.  I opened it up, and there were FOUR comments on my blog.  From three people I don't know.  It was like Christmas in August!  Completely unexpected, completely out of left field.  Beautiful comments.  Seriously, I cried.  I'm crying right now too, btw! ;)

'Wow, that's so wonderful!  Someone must have sent them my way, I've got figure out who to thank!'

I went on with the morning chores, ended up at my neighbor, SomeGirl's house, (our boys are buddies) and asked if she'd sent these kind comment makers my way?  No.  Not her.  Hmmm....  Strange, but still wonderful.  My whole entire day had been brightened, and now it was obvious that it wasn't someone I knew in 'real' life.  Even more amazing and AWE-inspring.   I was starting to feel a little of that 'God's got His hand in this' feeling...

Went on with my morning, taking my oldest out for our shopping date.  My addiction to gmail made me stop on the way into the mall and check to see if my other friend had replied back yet about our plans that night.  Yep!  But right below her email was another.... "Your post has a comment" email.  Actually, a couple of them.  What?  MORE comment love?  Is it 2012? Is the world ending, because this little ole blog of mine usually gets comments from my 3 IRL friends/family followers.  Six comments in a few hours?  I felt like I was being punk'd...but in the really best, nicest way possible.  And yes, I cried again.  WHERE are these coming from?  I've got to find out who to thank.

Well, it just kept happening.   I'd check email and there would be a new comment.  Or two new comments.  I was truly blown away by the love and kindness that was pouring out of the internet to me, from people I'd never met.  I don't think I can recall any other time when I just felt surrounded by so much love and positive energy all day long.  The first comments were enough to make my whole day.  The fact that I kept getting comments throughout the day, and even into this morning, just makes me speechless.  There is definitely a BLESSING happening to me here.  And it's beyond words.  It's as if God is telling me, through these wonderful people, 'Okay...you've headed in the right direction.  Keep it up!' 

There have been two other times in my life when I have completely felt the presence of God.  Not like, "Yeah, He is with me" but like I was surrounded by Him, and by His love. He might not have been visible, but He was THERE.   They were incredible experiences.  And now, this LOVE AMBUSH is another.  I felt so loved all day long.  And every time I would think that was wonderful enough, and not expect more, there was more love.  It was like being surrounded by love all day, no matter which way I turned.  Truly incredible.  And I will never, ever forget it.

To each of you who left me a love ambush comment, and to my 'regular' comment makers too:
THANK YOU.  
You have blessed me beyond words.  
From the very deepest part of my heart, Thank You!

To the ladies at Gather Inspirit who set up this little love ambush: 
Thank you.  
You have no idea how blessed I am by you.  
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My hope for all of you sweet readers:

May you embrace life,
Find yourself surrounded by blessings,
And look for ways          
               to be a blessing to others.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Focus For the Week


 
If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.                                Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT