Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Self: Hope

March brings so many memories to mind, but always top of the list is March 22, 1996.  The day my best friend died.  2014 marks 18 years, it is strange to be heading towards a 20 year anniversary of her death and realizing the years that follow will number greater than the years she lived life on this earth.

March also brings a time of reflection on my own life and the season I endured in 1996 ...the grief, growth, faith and hope I experienced in that season...I am who I am because of that day.

Because I have hope. 

I don't have hope in this world.
I don't have hope in a bank account.
I don't have hope in a person completing me.
I don't have hope in material things.

I have hope in eternity.  I have hope in Jesus. 

It's been almost 30 years since I believed in Jesus in my heart and knew I was a sinner.  I grew up in a generation of "re-commitment" and church camp to youth event challenging me to what feels like now a message of "doing better" and checking off everything I was to do on a daily basis and making sure I didn't do the things I wasn't supposed to.  I challenged my faith at 17 years old, was I really saved, did I really know what that meant, was that really forever??

As I've grown in my understanding of Bible, the will of God and the "plan" for my life I can look back on seasons, like 1996, a season that lasted a long time and see that through each of those seasons I had hope.  I was sad.  I was in disbelief.  I was angry.  I wasn't sure how to "help" a devastated family.  

But, I had hope. 

This life, the Christian life, isn't about me checking the box every day and making sure I did everything right, and feeling like at the end of the day/week/month/year I did __________ every day.  Or, heck, didn't do ______________ at all. 

The Bible tells me "his mercies are new every morning".  He doesn't keep record of right and wrong.  So why should I? 

If I am honest, it doesn't matter where I've come from, nor what I bring to the table, I have hope.  I have a God who loves me despite my poor decisions at times, despite my disobedience at times, and despite my other shortcomings on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. 

I have hope in an eternity with Jesus.  He doesn't ask me to only recommit my life at camp or a conference.  He asks me to recommit my life every day and live it better than the day before because I have learned to be obedient and have been loved through my shortcomings.  He asks me to honestly repent and recognize where I fall short, and He receives that and moves on.  He doesn't keep a score sheet.  I suffer consequences at times, because He loves me and disciplines me with love.

I can confidently say I am content because no matter the season, I have hope.  The seasons of lies, deceit, loss, waiting, and also the seasons of great joy and delight.  He loves me the same.  He pursues me the same.  The hope is the same. 

We're all dealing with "stuff" and endure seasons of life.  My hope for you is that you recognize in Jesus you always have hope and He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He is pursuing you through it all to bring you ultimately closer to him, a loving merciful God. 

This morning on the radio Laura Story's song "Blessings" played and reminded me of the faithfulness through all the seasons and sometimes what it's taken for me to realize the faithfulness of Jesus: 

...What if your blessings come through rain drops...
...What if Your healing comes through tears...
...What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near...
....What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise...

Through all of life's seasons may you "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Space: Closets...a simple solution

I spent the better part of a year with my closet looking like this ... in fact I think this was on the way to 30 days of Houston Rodeo last year which is currently underway for 2014!  I was on the road and my clothes traveled in hangers instead of in suitcases. It made for faster packing and easier settling in when arriving for a show.

I know, closets are a pain to keep organized.  I have been asked a lot about keeping a closet organized.  I could give you a handful of tips, and will in a future post, but keeping your closet in order depends also on how to make your closet functional for your lifestyle.  Before you start sorting short sleeves vs. long sleeves or by color or fabric ... check out your hangers! 

Yes.  Hangers. 
If your clothes are constantly falling off your hangers, hangers are jumbled in your closet, similar items are hung on various types of hangers making them impossible to see at quick glance then chances are you're frustrated with your closet. 
I use a few different types of hangers in my closet....
  1. Lightweight Slim Design velvet-like hangers.  (top left) All shirts with sleeves (button up, t-shirt, tunic, sheer, 3/4 sleeve) go on these hangers.  They are available at any Marshall's or TJMaxx for $12.99 in packs of 25 and every color you can imagine.   I chose gray and black for mine, and will soon be adding cardigans folded and hung on these in my favorite .. chartreuse green! :)
  2. Old fashion plastic hangers with shoulder breaks.  (top right) The kind you can buy in packs of 10 or more for $1 at any Walmart, Target, Dollar Store or heck probably Walgreens carries them by now.  These are for tank tops. Quit fighting the in-arm-clear-plastic-strap to hang up your tank tops and quit fighting those straps when you're wearing the shirt. 
  3. Retail Store/Boutique Style plastic hangers.  (bottom left)  The hangers you usually get with items when buying and they ask "would you like this on a hanger" ... YES.  Your answer is yes.  I've never bought these kinds of hangers, I've just moved whatever I bought to type of hanger I use in my closet and used these for specific items.  All dresses, blazers, jackets and hanging cardigans (not folded, see #1) are on these hangers.  They are sturdy for heavier items like jackets and coats and are little wider at the top which I like for dresses. 
  4. Cleaners pants hangers.  (bottom right)  Again, I don't buy these.  Well, except for I pay for the dry-cleaning.  I'm from the south, so I have jeans I get starched - heavy please and it's hard to find a place in a big city who knows how to starch jeans like they do in a small town.  I digress.  Pants that you wash and dry at home or pants that you pick up from the cleaners.  Put them on these hangers. 
  5. Skirt hangers. (not pictured)  I use either the Retail style with clips or the multi-tiered hanger with clips.  Depends on what it is ... strapless dress - on a single hanger, collection of colored skirts - on a tiered hanger - ultimately taking up less closet space. 
So there you have it.  Easy, simple and relatively inexpensive.  Might take some time to sort your clothes onto the right hangers, but once you do, they will all be hanging and viewable in your closet. 
Here's examples of life in tiny spaces with hangers in place ...
when I lived in an RV ... in the middle of tornado season, but that's another story for another time.

When living with a bestie and only have a small closet ....

When living on the road and a hotel is home for 30+ days ...
No judgement on the starched jeans ... 30+ days at a time of Horse & Rodeo Shows!
So instead of thinking "I need to organize my closet" ... start simply.  Just get your clothes on hangers that function for the type of item you're hanging and maybe you'll start to notice a difference and lose the dreaded "why bother hanging it, it will just fall off the hanger" frustration in your closet!