Farewell

By Steph

I have some bad news to share.

Yesterday Matt and I experienced a significant crisis, and we could use your prayer.  But what this means for our brand new baby blog is that it’s on an indefinite pause.

For those of you who encouraged us along the way, thank you.

For those of you who subscribed to our blog, we are truly honored.  I mean that.

And for those of you with whom we chatted and had the potential of becoming blogger pals, I am disappointed to disappear so suddenly.

This was fun for us, and it made me think about things in more depth than I might have otherwise.  Maybe we will pick it back up one day.  But for now, farewell.

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Living in the Light

By Steph

Can I be real with you for a minute?

This is going to be an odd Works For Me Wednesday.  It’s not about cleaning, or organizing, or any sort of “how to” that will make your life more simple.  Actually, if you take what I say to heart, it will make your life more difficult, initially at least.

Let me back up and share some background information first, though.

Recently (and I use that word somewhat loosely) Matt’s and my families have said some pretty hurtful things to us.  All of these comments were said during conflict, and only a couple of them have been resolved.  Most of these wounds are still open. 

Here are the messages that have been spoken into our lives by the people we love:

Quit trying to act so perfect and like you have done no wrong.

I don’t want a sister like you.

It’s bullshit that [Steph] should want a response [to her email].

You use high and mighty words.

You may think that you have righteous reasons for doing that, but…

You little shit.

I don’t EVER want to be part of your family.

For awhile, I handled the verbal/written attacks well enough.  These comments were made by several different people, none of whom spout verbal abuse non-stop.  It’s just that they lose control during conflict and think that it’s acceptable to say how they feel no matter the cost.

Well, the cost turned into this:
I have become paranoid about what people think about me. 

As our families have continued to hurt us with their words, it’s made me start to wonder what other people I love might think about me.  Out of the blue I will wonder if a friend is thinking that I’m bragging about something or that I was being rude, and the list goes on and on.

I’m not one to avoid hard conversations, so I decided to take these feelings head-on. 

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord.  So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
Ephesians 5:8-9

I decided to bring my feelings to the light.  I started sharing my paranoia with my friends, my family in Christ.  I opened myself up, repeatedly, and shared that I was worried they might be thinking something bad about me.

The result?  Most of the time, they say, “No, I wasn’t thinking that at all!”  And that opens a door for them to speak truth into my life rather than hatred.  One conversation at a time, they are defeating the lies that have been planted in my heart.  Lies that say I’m a crappy family member, a crappy friend, and a crappy Christian.

And occasionally, it provides an opportunity for a friend to say, “Actually, I meant to talk to you about this but I didn’t know how to bring it up.”  Those conversations are hard but worth it.  Because with those people, they aren’t verbally abusing me.  They have my best interest at heart and they want to keep a healthy friendship.  At the end of those conversations, conflict is resolved and the relationship is stronger.

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Ephesians 5:13

Healthy relationships allow you to express yourself, even if what needs to be expressed is paranoia about what the other person might be thinking about you.  I encourage you to strive to have healthy relationships even when it’s hard to bring your feelings to the light.

It’s not easy.  In fact it’s pretty hard sometimes.  But It Works For Me.

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Can You Have Too Many Books? I CAN!

By Matt

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I no longer want to be a library.  I know.  This concept is counter-cultural.  Americans LOVE having their very own personal library in their office, with overflow sections in the living room, the bedrooms, and the dining room (and even some in the garage!).  But I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t want to be a library.  And why not?

They have libraries for that sort of thing!

I want to be up front with you.  In this post, I am going to try to convince you to SERIOUSLY downsize your books.  Why?  Because I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve come through on the other side.

Let’s start from the top.  I am a recovering book collector.  I spent 8 years in school amassing text books, theological masterpieces, devotional literature, novels within the geek genre, and the occasional piece of classic American Literature.  This does not include my collection of cookbooks or all of the books that I inherited.  However, one of the adverse effects of being a student is the lack of spacious living.  Despite living in apartments under 900 square feet, I just kept getting more and MORE and MORE and  M O R E  books until they were coming out of my nose!  (not really, but it felt that way)

I remember our first apartment after graduating.  I was able to take hundreds of books to my office at work and we STILL filled up ALL of our bookshelves at home.  When I no longer had that job, I brought ALL of the books home.  We just didn’t have space in our 750 square foot apartment to hold all of them.  There I was sitting amidst of sea of books in my kitchen without a clue of what to do!

Here’s the problem: I wasn’t reading them.  I wasn’t using them.  I wasn’t even enjoying all of them.  They were just … there.  Collecting dust, getting musty, and generally acting like a pain in the butt during moving time (I HATE MOVING BOOKS!).

You might say, “I love to read!”  But how many books can one person read?  Let’s say a person averages one book every 2 weeks.  That’s 26 books per year.  260 books in 10 years and so on.

So at that pace, how many YEARS would it take for you to read all of your books without purchasing a single additional book?

It would take us roughly seven and a half years to get through all 199 of our books in our home.  SEVEN AND A HALF!  YIKES!  Now, granted, some of those we’ve read and LOVED while others are reference books.  But this number does NOT include our e-books.

The fact is we acquire books faster than we are able to read them.

Well, after sitting in my kitchen drowning in extra books, I was done.  Enough was enough.  No more overcrowded bookshelves!  I decided to purge.  I decided to turn something like this:

Into this:

Books can be a beautiful addition to your home.  Too many books, however, are nothing but clutter, chaos, and guilt for not getting to that page-turner you spent $25 on 6 months ago.  So take a moment now and count EVERY book in your home.  I’m not joking.  Go count before you forget.  Then count how many are unread.  My hunch is that even though you love to read, that’s a LOT of reading!  Furthermore, if the average price of a new book is $10, how much money is sitting just on your shelves?

Thankfully, you can do something about it!  You can take back your home and rid yourself of those endless stacks of books!  But like I said, this week was my attempt at convincing you to do something.  Next week, I’ll show you how to organize your collection, downsize your extraneous books and make money doing it!

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Savoring the Baby Moments

By Steph

Sometimes I think I could rock my baby forever.  I sit and stare at her beautiful peaceful face and realize that I’m still completely under her spell.  Then I remember that she won’t be a baby forever, and I sit and rock her even longer.

Matt and I have a friend whose mother calls him her “baby boy.”  He’s 28 and married.  He is soooooooo not her baby boy.  I’m not sure exactly when that mommy needed to let go, but I’m pretty sure that moment was a long time ago.

I savor each and every moment I have with my sweet baby.  I never want to forget her perfect giggle, her lovely smell, the way she snuggles in closer when a stranger gives her attention, and the adorable sense of humor that I see in her already.

But each and ever day, my sweet baby is growing up into the person God made her to be, and I want to cherish the girl she is becoming as much as I savor the baby that she is and was.  So this one is for her, so that I can start to accept that she isn’t going to be a baby forever.  She’ll always be my amazing daughter who I love more than anything in the world, but she won’t always be a baby.

Warning Signs that My Baby is Becoming a Toddler

  • Today she climbed an entire flight of stairs by herself (with parent supervision huddling all around her, of course)
  • She is starting to sleep in totally weird ways, no longer exclusively on her back.
  • She wants to eat whatever food we’re eating – and only what we’re eating.
  • She will initiate playing her favorite games with us, like peek-a-boo.
  • She understands almost everything we’re saying.
  • She has not only taken her first steps this month but has also intentionally taken steps towards me.  Words can’t describe how amazing that felt. <3

 

Yep, she’s growing up fast.  And I’m pretty determined not to call her my baby when she is 28 and married.  It’s the least I can do for her. ;)

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Goodbye Paper Towels

By Steph

Recently I wrote about our goal to “Ditch the Disposables,” so for today’s Works For Me Wednesday, I thought I’d get into the details of how Matt and I have managed without paper towels for over a year.

The first step is determining when you might use paper towels.  Not all messes are equally dirty, so in our home, I choose to use a different cloth towel for different sorts of messes.  Specifically, I don’t want to use a cloth towel to clean my kitchen table that was previously used to clean the toilet.  Even though I wash them in the laundry machines and feel confident that they are clean, it still makes me feel better not to use them interchangeably.  So we have dirty rags and kitchen towels.

Dirty Rags

The dirty rags themselves aren’t really dirty; I wash these in the laundry machines too.  But I call them dirty rags because they are used for dirty jobs.  They are stored with the mop head underneath the bathroom sink.  In their former life, my dirty rags were wash cloths, hand towels, and bath towels.  When we bought new towels a couple of years ago, these old towels got demoted to cleaning rags.

I am able to use one dirty rag (wash cloth size) to clean the whole bathroom by starting with the mirror, then cleaning the counter and sink, and cleaning the toilet last.  When I clean both bathrooms in one day, I use two different rags.  The tubs get cleaned with an old sponge that got demoted from the kitchen.  The sponge gets thrown away when a newer sponge gets demoted from the kitchen.

I also use dirty rags on floors quite frequently.  I have a baby, after all. ;)

The large rags that were once bath towels are used during rainy icky weather.  I lay one out by the front door for us to put our shoes on.  Our entry way is small, and it helps keep mud off the carpet.

When it comes to laundry, I wash these dirty things separate from everything else.  It makes me feel like the ickiest germs aren’t getting on all of my other things, even if it’s all in my head.  Also, I include the mop head in this load of laundry, though I let it air dry.

Kitchen Towels

I want to call these rags too, but someone made fun of me once for referring to a kitchen towel as a “rag.”  Whatever you want to call them, I like to keep them separate from dirty jobs.  I keep them in the kitchen in a tote full of various towels.  I technically have two different types of kitchen towels used for cleaning (aside from the larger ones that are used for non-dirty kitchen jobs like drying dishes, etc), but I’m not picky enough to grouch at my husband when he grabs the wrong kitchen towel.  As long as he doesn’t grab a toilet rag to clean something in the kitchen (or our baby), then we can get along just fine.

But if I am the one to clean up a mess, I distinguish between our newer towels and our older ones.  If I’m using chemicals to clean up a mess, I go for the older ones.  If no chemicals are needed, then it doesn’t matter which ones are used.  However, if red sauce is involved, then I reach for the newer towels which are red.

It’s a pretty easy system and easy to adopt or adapt depending on your needs.  It Works For Me!

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