Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Organizing for the New Year!

Organizing for the New Year
by Lisa Rosendahl

One of the top New Year’s resolutions for many people is to get organized. So many people feel confused and disorganized in every area of their lives and get easily overwhelmed. That’s why the best tip for getting organized is this: do just a little at a time. If you feel disorganized, you didn’t get that way overnight. So don’t expect to get organized overnight, or even in one week.
Here are a few tips for getting organized:

Think about the “why” behind the “what.” Let’s say that one spot in your kitchen gets the brunt of the paperwork and more often than not, you see more piles in that space than counter. Why is that? Is it because it’s easy to access? Is it in a central location in the home?

Write down the areas in your life you want to organize. Be specific: don’t just write “the house,” write “the kids’ craft cabinet,” or “kitchen cupboards”.

Involve other people. Tackling an organizing project with your spouse or kids is more fun, it holds you accountable to finishing it and there’s a better chance the organized space will last longer since they’ll want to take ownership of the project. If you can’t get your family to help, ask a friend about keeping you accountable, while doing the same for her organizing to-do list. Together, set a date for tackling your individual tasks, and when you’re done, celebrate with a coffee date.

Don’t wait for perfection. I love organizing supplies: perfectly matched labels, boxes in colors to match my decor, divider trays for every possible supply. These things are expensive and they can become just more stuff to hold your stuff. You don’t need fancy equipment to get organized. Reuse glass jars to house pantry items. Washed yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese containers are great for craft supplies. Cardboard file boxes work well for clothes out of season. Cover them in scrapbook paper, if you want them to look pretty.

If in doubt, throw it out. Always have a “maybe” box in your home. If you’re not sure whether you need something, put it there (and put the box out of sight). If you haven’t retrieved the item in six months you don’t need it. Get rid of it. There are great charities willing to take your donated items.

Accept the fact that managing a home means organizing it regularly. It gets easier and faster the more you do it, because you’ll keep less stuff and you’ll recall where things are. So don’t be discouraged when you organize. Again.

Once you get areas of your home organized you’ll have more time to spend doing things you enjoy and you’ll feel less stressed--which is the goal of those New Year’s resolutions.

Lisa is a former Professional Organizer and is currently the Manager of the Columbus Art Gallery. She considers spending an afternoon in the container department of Home Depot a good time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew

Now that Christmas is over we can all sit back and relax! On the home front all we have to do is take down the decorations, return the “dud” presents, and pay the extra bills that Christmas generates - and clean out the Thanksgiving leftovers that got squeezed to the back of the fridge. We can just enjoy the memories.

Pastors can relax because the extra and what should be special services are over until we get to Lent and Easter. They can get back into the routine of regular services again. Parishioners can relax, too. Those involved in the kids programs and decorating the church will get a break until next Christmas. It’ll be a relief for those folks who only feel the need to attend church at Christmas and Easter- they won’t have to worry about getting to church again until April 24, 2011.

We’ll notice a lot of empty seats around us when we come to worship on Sunday mornings. On the news this morning they talked about several polls taken showed that 60% to 90% of the people who celebrate Christmas don’t believe in Christ. (That reminded me of some members we had in our church in Michigan whose daughter and son-in-law were Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Our kids don’t believe in celebrating Christmas, but they sure like getting the presents.”)

We’ll notice, too, that the Christmas carols and songs we started hearing in store about the time of Halloween aren’t to be heard anymore until next year’s Christmas shopping begins. One of my pet peeves is that we stop singing them in church, too. And sometimes it seems to me that we can’t wait to get the Christmas decorations down in church.

Which brings me to the point. There is one more thing for Christians that often goes by unnoticed. The people of the world don’t see it and it’s become lost in some churches because of all the effort put into the December 25th Christmas and because most years it occurs on a weekday. And we sure don’t want another extra church service after all the Christmas ones, we might get too much religion!

EPIPHANY-sometimes called The Gentile’s Christmas. Its day is January 6th and the Epiphany season goes from then until Ash Wednesday. Epiphany celebrates the events of Matthew 2:1-12. It’s the first account in the Scriptures of Gentiles (that’s you and me, anybody who isn‘t a Jew) coming to worship the Savior.

It’s the twelfth day of Christmas. (We all know that song! A few years ago I decided to give my wife a Christmas gift and also a little something on each of those twelve days. I’d put it by her pillow when I got up in the morning so she’d find it when she got up. Big mistake unless you‘re prepared to do it every year thereafter! Every year I’m reminded… “Dear, what happened to the twelve days of Christmas?”)

When I was the pastor of a church I always liked to make a big deal of Epiphany. We’d ask people to bring their manger scenes and we’d set up a display of them in the church. One more time we’d sing all those beautiful Christmas hymns and songs. Every other year we’d sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (it was too long to sing every year) and explain some of the religious traditions and legends that went with it. And most years we’d do it on January 6th!

We never had big crowds of people flocking to church for the special celebration, especially if it fell on a weekday, but it always was special. All the “fooferall” that went with December 25th was behind and we could concentrate on what Christmas was all about, the birth of Emmanuel, of God with us. We could come to worship the one named Jesus, who saved us from our sins.

I hope you have a blessed Epiphany.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January Editor's Letter

I love the feeling of starting a new year. Even though it’s just the day after the last day of the previous year, it’s still an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to improve all of those things I want to improve in myself—exercise more, cook healthier meals, keep the house cleaner, save more money—the same things I’ve been trying to improve (with various levels of success) for years.

This year I’m going to do something a little different. I’ll still have my other goals, of course, but I’m going to add something to give me overall guidance in everything I do in 2011. I’m going to have a “Bible Verse of the Year.”

The idea was inspired in part by what I think was my favorite book this year, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin. The author says she was not unhappy, but wanted to focus on the things that really mattered to her.

As part of that quest, she created a theme, with associated goals, for every month. One of my overall themes will be using my time more wisely. (I’m still deciding what my monthly themes will be; I’m writing this December 22 so I have over a week to decide).

I have been praying about how I spend my time, and asking God to help me make the best use of my time. At this point He is not leading me to cut out any activities in my life. Until and unless I get the guidance to do so, I’m going to focus on making the best possible use of the time I have.

Then I received an e-mail devotion which turned out to be one of the front page articles of this issue of the Nebraska Family Times. “Don’t Overthink It” really spoke to me because I’ve always had the tendency to worry about things—which is a way of overthinking them. The Bible verses that author Rachel Olsen refers to in the devotion have always been some of my favorite.

All of these things—thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2012, trying to figure out how to better manage my time, and reading “Don’t Overthink It”--inspired me to decide to have a Bible Verse of the Year, which will help me to accomplish all of these things.

I’ve chosen Philippians 4:6-9, the same verse that Rachel Olsen used in her article. The verse is printed in a box on this page so that if you’d like, you can cut it out and hang it on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror and refer to it daily, too.

The verses will remind me to turn to God rather than worrying. And during the day I will ask myself if I am focusing on the right things, doing the right things, and thinking about the right things—things that are pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, commendable, worthy of praise, true, and right. (These descriptions are given in different versions of the Bible). If not, I should be doing or thinking about something else. Analyzing what I’m doing will help me to cut out activities that are not helping me achieve my goals.

I plan to write or type the verses several times so I can have a copy in my office, kitchen, bathroom, purse, etc., and read them throughout the day. Consider finding a favorite verse and using it for your “verse of the year”!

Remember Christmas last year? We had one of the biggest blizzards in years the week before Christmas, and another on Christmas Eve. Many, many families didn’t get to spend Christmas the way they usually did. We missed Christmas Eve church for the first time in many years. It doesn’t sound like we’ll have to worry about snow this year!

I’m excited to have my family all together again for at least a few days! God and weather willing we will all go to church together this Christmas Eve, and celebrate the birth of Christ with our church family and friends. I hope you will do the same. And I hope all of us will remember not to just celebrate His birth and life on Christmas, but every single day of 2011. With Him, every day can be a new start, no matter what the calendar says.

I hope to hear from readers in 2011! God bless you and your family in 2011!