Friday, September 28, 2012

Cleaning Up After the 5000

by Beth Beutler

Today I had my Bible open to Matthew 14, where Jesus feeds 5000 people, and a verse stuck out to me that applies to home management and organization.

Matthew 14:20 (NKJV) So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.

After Jesus did this miracle, the disciples (and perhaps other people) gathered up the leftovers after everyone had enough to eat.

They cleaned up after themselves.

I don't know what they did with the fragments, but it sure looks like that mountain wasn't left looking like 5000+ people had been there eating.

How about us? Sometimes it's easy to put our energy toward the beginning of a project of a meal or event, but clean up is less exciting. Yet it is an important part of stewardship.

I used to camp frequently and the "Good Sam" motto is to leave a campsite better than you found it. What if we did that wherever we find ourselves? What if each of us picked up one piece of litter at the park? What if we consolidated our dirty dishes for the wait staff at the restaurant? What if we taught our kids (as I saw one lady to) to take a paper towel and wipe around the sink in the church restroom after they wash their hands?

How much nicer would God's world look if we cleaned up after ourselves, and took an extra step to even help clean up after others sometimes too?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cooking in Advance

By Karina Whisnant

One of the ways I am able to provide well for my family during the week is to prepare dinner entrees for about 6 weeks at one given time.  I do this not just on my own but with a friend.  I have done it with several different, wonderful friends through the years.  I probably couldn’t stick to it if I didn’t have a friend taking the plunge with me!  We cook around 24 meals per family in an average of 8 hours.  We incorporate a lot of different meats and casseroles and really only repeat a few recipes.  Most of the 24 meals are different.  Probably a better way to think about it would be food prep instead of cooking.  A recipe could even consist of some raw meat in marinade, especially in the summer when grilling is a treat.  We are doing the hardest part, thinking about “What's for dinner?” ahead of time.

It is difficult sometimes to make the time for it, but it is absolutely worth it.  I have been doing this now for about 11 years and know that I would now have a hard time doing dinner any other way.  Here are some pictures that share some of the process.  I know it sounds hard and crazy, but you would be surprised how even on your own you could cook several meals for the week and have them ready in the freezer.  It would change how you see dinner!

There is no doubt that when you put groceries in the fridge for cook day not a lot else fits in there!  I love looking at that food, knowing that in several hours it will be turned into close to 50 meals!

The dining room table becomes the pallet for the non-perishable food to go into the recipes.  We love it when the table starts looking empty.

We buy most of our meat at Sam’s.  Here is an example of the 10 lb. “loaf” of ground beef that is a VERY reasonable price for around  90% lean beef.  I believe for this cooking night, we had two of these to put in recipes!

If you can ignore my cooking look,  you will see that we do use the Food Saver bags to store the meals.  You wouldn’t have to do it that way, but we find it preserves the food well.

You can see some examples of the food we were preparing that day.  The Japanese Teriyaki Steak is delicious!!

This is a beef stroganoff sauce.  We freeze just the sauce which means you only have to warm the sauce and cook the noodles the night you pull this out of the freezer.  Dinner is served!

Here I am just browning some of the almonds that were going into a chicken recipe.

There is my sweet friend Holly mixing us some mini-cheddar meatloaves!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Keeping Money Organized

By Beth Beutler

Is your purse full of receipts, coins, cash and cards? Simplify your life with these ideas.

Consider using separate change purses or sections of a wallet as an "envelope system."

Keep your most used cards in a handy part of the wallet and consolidate lesser used cards into another section or change purse. That way you don't have to sort through a pile of membership/debit/credit/health/library cards to get to the ones you use most.

Have a set place to put your receipts, either in the wallet or in the same section of your purse.

Empty your wallet when you get home. Well, not all of it. Just take out the day's receipts and coins and store accordingly. For example, I put receipts in my monthly receipt box and take loose change and put it in a container for myself or the household, depending on how the original cash was spent. (I keep the cash in separate pouches.)

Refill your wallet as necessary. I try to live guided by a budget so I have a certain amount of cash for spending each month. I choose not to carry the entire month's cash at once, so I replenish as necessary when cleaning out my wallet.

If you get in the habit of cleaning out your wallet/purse regularly, before long it will be second nature.

Getting Organized Helps Us Serve God and Others More Effectively

This blog post corresponds with chapter 2 of our book.

I Peter 4:9 NIV Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

True confession time. How do you feel when someone is coming over for a visit?

Do you panic, thinking of all the cleaning and organizing that has to be done before your house is "company ready?"

Are you excited that you can serve people because of your home?

Are you worried about what people will think when they see your house?

Do you look for opportunities to reach out to others and sharing your home with them?

Do you and your family get stressed out in the process of preparing for company, nearly exhausting yourselves, grumbling and complaining and then put on the "We're so glad you're here face?"

Peter reminds us about the kind of attitude we should have regarding being welcoming, kind and hospitable to others. While he doesn't specifically reference a home, I think his admonition can be applied to that. It's so easy to fall into complaining and grumbling about all we have to do to prepare for company instead of being joyful about the opportunity to use our home for fellowship and ministry.
Right now, partly due to an aged pet,* and other choices and changes in this season of life, I confess that our home is often not "company ready." However, sometimes, people end up dropping by anyway. I remember a recent situation where I had spaghetti ready for the family, and was able to offer our young adult visitor a plate on the spur of the moment. As a young man, he seemed eager to take me up on it, not having had dinner yet.

My house was not pristine, but food was available, and hopefully a non-complaining, kind spirit was in the home. That's what hospitality is about. Yes, we are working through getting our home in better order. I'm not dismissing the value of taking better care of our place.  But offering a warm welcome even if the home is not in great order is something I think God is more interested in than whether someone could eat off our floors (they can't.)

*This post was written before my aged cat was laid to rest. I am entering a new season, slowly but steadily organizing the home and seeing improvements. It's a journey, not a destination.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Testimonial!

We appreciate one of the participants in our recent online study sending us the following testimonial about the

The book's strengths are keeping our focus on God (our motive pure) and its emphasis on the need to be
respectful of family members during our efforts to improve our home environment. There are many practical
suggestions and the scripture meditations were helpful to relate God's Word to our home life.
Doing the homework made me stop and think about how to tackle problem areas; and I've seen real
progress. The statement in the introduction and in the final chapter that we can't ever get everything done is
obvious, yet a needed reminder to be realistic.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting Organized is an Act of Worship

Note: on Mondays, we are rotating posts related to our book/online Bible study, Organizing from the Heart: Change Your Mindset, Conquer Your Challenges. Although e-mail groups are closed for this session you can join in the private Facebook group anytime if you own a copy of the book, which can be purchased here and read along in your own copy.

Getting Organized is an Act of Worship - Chapter 1

Colossians  2:5 NIV For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are, and how firm your faith in Christ is.

How would you like to have someone say the above about you?

It's interesting to me that Paul delights in how orderly the Colossians are, and how firm their faith us. I don't know whether Paul specifically meant the order of their homes, but there was something about the way they lived that was orderly. He seemed to also connect it to having a firm faith.

I'm not suggesting that an orderly life and home guarantees a firm faith in Christ. However, an orderly life might be a by-product of a firm walk with God. How so?

When we live in the priority of walking with Jesus and following God's Word and the Holy Spirit, values and choices can more easily fall into a God-honoring place. Our organizing in essence becomes another act of worship and gratitude toward God. I don't believe God wants us to live in a constant state of stress, so when we are in tune with Him, we live in more peace, joy and contentment, which can translate into how we organize our home. With His help and guidance, we can set up the home and lives in a way that honors Him and isn't about impressing others or keeping up with what someone else thinks is the way things should be done.

Orderliness also helps us to continue to build our faith. When we are less burdened by stress, clutter, and daily routines that have fallen behind, we can keep our eyes open for the Lord's work in our life and our spirit open to what He wants to say.

So, orderly life and firm faith walk can be a continual cycle, each benefiting the other, helping our worship become even more meaningful.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Online Study through the Book: Deadline Sunday!

Enjoy a journey through Organizing from the Heart with other individuals through an email small group. Sign up here! 

Deadline Sunday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Food Containers

Many people collect plastic dishes to use for leftovers and packed lunches. Often these end up filling a cabinet with clutter and mismatched lids. Here are suggestions for getting it under control.

1)    Figure out what sizes you need most and limit yourself to only buying or keeping a consistent size/brand.
2)    Make sure you have a lid for every container
3)    Put mismatched containers into recycling or save them in a separate place to use for other organizing projects (i.e. desk and dresser drawers, hardware, etc.)

For example, I chose to get freezer style containers for leftovers that are a bit heavier duty and freeze well (since I sometimes freeze leftovers.) You see how they all stack with lids available underneath. I also kept a few other sizes for smaller items, making sure I had lids for each. I kept just enough to reasonably fill the cabinet. These sizes all fit into lunch boxes.

I kept a few larger containers for temporary storage of larger amounts of leftovers, but only if I had a matching lid. If I really wanted to consolidate, I could limit myself to no more than three sizes and put everything into those. It just depends on how you do things.

The main point is EVERY container must have a matching lid, and all containers should match enough for easy and neat stacking.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekend Worship through Housework

It's time to look through a shelf of books. This weekend pick ONE shelf and go through the books on it. Does every book either bring you joy or prove to be a serious possibility for future reference? Keep it. If you have other books you've been "meaning to read" but haven't gotten to in more than six months, seriously consider giving it away.

Now, you may be one who enjoys having a wall of books, and that's okay IF the bookshelves are neat and uncluttered (unlike mine, see photo.) At the very least, if you have overcrowding, pull out SOME books to give away and make your bookshelves look more visually appealing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Portable Office Bag

I write regularly at coffee shops, so I use the bag shown above to hold my items.
Soft outer bag helps protect technical items. It is large enough to hold iPad, portable keyboard, and a separate pouch of items as well as paperwork, Bible, etc. It zips shut.

Inner pouch: I love this pouch because it represents the types of things I do at coffee shops. Inside I keep my charging cord, batteries, extra batteries for the keyboard, planning pad (I like to jot things while I work), pen/stylus, paperclips and any other little officy-type item I might need.

I try to keep this stuff together at home too, because I might use the iPad in the bedroom, the living room, or home office. By disciplining myself, I can keep track of the charging cord and other items.