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One Question to Ask When Decluttering Your Home

Change: It's A Good ThingDecluttering is in full-swing at the Baker’s house. Maybe it’s the excitement of the move, or the adrenaline of the unknown, or the simple fact that I can’t find squat that makes this particular decluttering effort seem more successful.

As I began sorting through clothes, paperwork, and yes, even books, I began asking myself one question:

“How will I FEEL the moment I see this item when unpacking it at the new house?”

Talk about changing one’s perspective! This one question Is freeing me both emotionally and physically. If I knew a particular item wouldn’t spark joy the moment I spotted it when unpacking in our new home, it was placed in one of three places: Goodwill, consignment, or trash. It was an immediate score. Woot Woot!

In the past, we’ve hauled the entire contents of one house to another, assuming we’d one day go through all the boxes. Not this time. We’re now going through everything before it’s packed away. Last week, I took two totes to consignment, five totes to Goodwill, and tossed 8 bags of trash. Oh, the freedom!

Yes, the process of ridding ourselves of clothes that have worn out their welcome and tossing papers with scribbles from long ago is freeing, but it still boggles the mind as to how we got here.

At one point during last week’s mission it occurred to me that much of the clutter was due to procrastination on our part. It always seemed easier to find a spot for something, say, next week. Until then, any flat surface would do. Especially if it’s a book. Or a notebook. Or fountain pens. Okay, I digress. But you get the point.

During this frenzied season of decluttering and preparing for a move, I find that the one question I ask myself while deciding what to pack, or what to toss or share, brings rest to this old soul and a renewed determination to do things differently this time around.

So how do you go about the process of decluttering? Do you have a particular question or mantra that helps you stay focused?

 

3 Photography Blogs Guaranteed To Change Your Focus

Change: It's A Good Thingby Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” ―Marc Riboud

Photography isn’t something I’ve always appreciated. The lack of photos I’ve snapped (and posed for) proves my point. But something changed when I found a Sony a6000 camera under my tree in December.

Since then, I’ve spent many hours perusing sites to help in my efforts to take better family pictures, as well as blog photos. Many bloggers share how quality photography increased their readership by ridiculous numbers. We’re a visual bunch, aren’t we? It’s for this reason I’d like to share three of my favorite go-to sites when it comes to photography. {These are in no particular order.}

 

Photography-blog-time-saving-tips

PinkPot

PinkPot – Chaitra has yet to fail when it comes to delivering eye-popping photographs on her blog — but it gets better! She shares tips on props, lighting, and how to snap high quality photos, whether it’s on your phone or your DSLR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Take Black and White Photographs

Mary Denman

Looking at Life Through the Lens of a Camera…Capturing One Moment at a Time – Mary Denman shares weekly tips on practical ways to take quality photographs of all sorts. Her site is ideal for beginners but her expertise behind a camera can’t help but offer even the most experienced photographers a takeaway.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Photography Workshop

Emma Davies

A Year With My Camera – Emma Davies offers a free photography workshop that’s well worth your time. She also hosts a Facebook group where we share a different photo every month, based on criteria she emails to members. It’s a hands-on approach to learning that easily enriches the way you approach the art of photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning how to take quality photos, whether through our phones, point and shoot cameras, or DSLR, enables us to capture irretrievable moments. The three sites mentioned above have been my go-to resources in recent months and I hope you’ll find them just as helpful. {Let me know!}

Is there a photography blog or other resource that’s helped to guarantee success with your photographs? If so, please share in the comment section below.

Does God Care Where I Live?

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

 

Years ago I heard a pastor say he doesn’t believe God cares where we live — what area, what house, etc.

I respect his opinion but I tend to disagree.

I see God’s specificity throughout His Word, as well as our own home situations over the years.

Over twenty years ago, we built a home in our new little town. As relatively new believers, we knew nothing about the beauty of tithing, but it didn’t take long to realize our budget couldn’t handle that kind of mortgage if we were going to tithe fully.

So we sold the new house and moved into a 50 year-old two bedroom, one bath house. People thought we were crazy moving into such a small home with two little boys in tow but some of our happiest memories were made in that home. As a matter of fact, our oldest son and his wife bought the home years after we’d left because he had such good memories there.

Our 50 year-old home. Image Courtesy of Google.

Our 50 year-old home. Image Courtesy of Google.

After eight years of living in our “tiny” home, we felt the boys needed more space as teenagers so we went in search of a little larger home. We put a full price offer on a home across town but they denied it. {Whaaat?} We scratched our heads at the time but remained confident God closed the door for a reason bigger than we could understand. A few weeks later we landed in a home/area where our boys made life-long friends, and had room to play music.

When we decided to move a few years later, with the boys were entering their college years, God sent a buyer from NY who had one weekend to find a home. He gave us a full price offer because he didn’t want to squabble over price. We look back now at our own full price offer that was denied and thank God for it.

That closed door opened many others that would’ve never been opened otherwise.

The examples could continue but suffice it to say I’m convinced God does care about the details of our lives. He cares about the community where we’ll live, the people we will meet, the friends our children will make, the church we’ll belong to, the money we will spend. Why? Because He cares about you, me, our families, and those around us.

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I believe our heavenly Father delights in leading us to places where we can flourish emotionally, physically, and spiritually — all for His glory! And because He cares, why wouldn’t we pray for His direction?

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

So, what do you think? Do you believe God cares where you live? Please share below!

{You may be asking what this subject has to do with change. I’m asking myself the same thing but this is what the Lord laid on my heart to share.}

 

Susan Stilwell: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

Welcome to the first Saturday of the month when we join a fellow follower on the bench of life to learn from their experience.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce Susan Stilwell to you.

Susan and I actually “met” via Vonda Skelton’s site in the comment section. {Who says leaving comments isn’t beneficial?} In our case, we became eternal friends and I thank God for her often. Since our initial meeting on Vonda’s site, we’ve had the opportunity to meet at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It feels like a family reunion every time I see her sweet smile! And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a Hokie friend. 🙂

Susan is a prayer warrior to the very core of her being and much wisdom flows from her as a result.

Please
remember, these glimpses of quiet times are shared to simply show that our quiet times can look very different. My heart is to invite
you into the freedom that awaits when we meet with our heavenly Father
{Thank You, Jesus!} in a variety of ways.

So, welcome, Susan.

If we were to join you during your time with God, what might we observe? 
 

I’ve always been an early riser, so I look forward to my
one-on-one times with the Lord around 5:45 A.M. I love those quiet dark moments
when I have the fewest distractions. I have a cozy stuffed chair in my office
and snuggle in with a creamy cup of hot coffee.

I start by praying the Lord’s Prayer, and then I read from a
devotional guide. I also try to review any text I’m teaching, and I journal
thoughts from those two sources. I keep a list of prayer requests, and I close
by praying a collection of scripture verses I’ve memorized over the years. 

Other than the Bible, what is your one go-to “tool” you
use during your time with the Lord?
I can’t pick a single go-to resource, so let’s call it a
tie: my journal, which is actually a day planner, and a good devotional book.

 

Andrew Murray’s, Humility

I lean toward classic writers like Spurgeon, Chambers, and
Andrew Murray. A.W. Tozer is a favorite contemporary writer, although he’s not
so contemporary compared to the others! A short devotional that slays me every
time I read it is Murray’s Humility.
I try to read it at least once a year. 

Is there a particular experience you’ve had during your one-on-one time with God that you would like to share?

I consider every day to be a unique experience with the
Lord! For Yahweh—the all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise
Creator and Sustainer of the universe—to condescend to me—an all-needy, all-dopey, all-failing spec of nothingness? I’m
awestruck by that every single day of my life. (Can you tell I’m reading Humility this month?) 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your
one-on-one time with the Lord?
I do my best to be consistent, but I also allow myself to
bathe in grace on the days I get sidetracked. I strive for authenticity and
fluidness with my devotional times. I don’t ever want it to be a checklist
item, which is an easy trap for Type-A personalities like me. God forbid I
become a Pharisee who honors Him with my lips but my heart is far from Him. 

Two closing thoughts:

 

  • Don’t do what I do! Not only are we are fearfully and wonderfully
    made, but we’re also unique. Sit in His presence, bask in His word and let Him
    direct your intimate times.

 

  • A devotional time is an excellent discipline, but it’s
    not what sustains me throughout the day. I’ve developed a habit of spending “simple
    seconds” with Him as often as possible. I turn my attention away from my
    activities and acknowledge that the God of the universe is present with me. I
    thank Him for the privilege of living for Him and ask Him to empower me for
    whatever is ahead. I hope it blesses Him because it certainly blesses me. 

Thank you, Susan. The one truth that stood out to me the most? How, every time we sit in the presence of a holy God we are having a unique experience. Amen! As we approach Easter, it’s yet another reminder of the costly sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, ushering in the very possibility of having a relationship with our heavenly Father. 

Is there a particular thing that Susan shared today that stands out to you? Please share in the comment section. 


 Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a
variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention
to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical
“how-tos” are Susan’s favorite articles. You can find her working as a blog
designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media.

Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain
associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She’s a conference speaker
and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and she’s active on TwitterFacebook,
and SusanStilwell.com.

What It Means to Know and Be Known

Why Change is a Good Thing

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that
you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know
that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something
that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have
something better.”
– C. Joybell C.
The subject of change has been on my mind a lot lately, mainly due to the fact that we’re praying about leaving the town we’ve loved for the last 20+ years for a place out in the country. We wouldn’t be too far away, just far enough that I wouldn’t be able to meet nearby friends at the local Mom and Pop restaurant for grits at 7:45 am. Okay, maybe it is too far. 
A lot of people ask how we can know when God is up to something in our lives. For me, one indicator is when God takes me out of my comfort zone and I don’t even realize it until I look back on the situation.
You see, I’ve never considered leaving this town I love. It’s a place where eternal friendships were forged. It’s where we raised our boys. It’s where I know people and they know me.
Is there any greater gift than to know…and be known?
When I consider moving to a place where familiar faces and places won’t surround me on a daily basis, there is an inkling of doubt, especially for this introverted soul of mine. And then God dots reminders of bigger pictures and plans at every turn, and doubt is swallowed whole because I know⎯and am known⎯by a God who is much more concerned about how I live rather than where I live.
To step out into unfamiliar places is an act of faith, especially for those of us who aren’t the most adventurous of the bunch, preferring to settle in with the known rather than wrestle with the unknown.
I plan to share more about our changes, this unknown journey, throughout the month of March, in addition to some practical ways we can all find change to be a good thing. A very good thing. 
So, are you ready to venture out of the known pond into the unknown oceans that await, confident that with the sovereign One by our side nothing in life is really unknown?  Maybe for you it’s not about changing a location. Maybe you’re venturing out into a new ministry? Entering a new role in life? Switching careers? The unknown will be different for us all but one question remains the same:
Will we step out in faith?
 
I’d love to hear from you! What is one recent change that has been a good thing in your life? Or is there a way I can pray for you as consider venturing out from your own little known pond into the unknown? 

 

And the winner of the February Giveaway is…
Ellen Andersen
Congratulations!

 

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