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Archives for January 2013

Swap It Out

Deb had some great inspiration last week on boxing up all the chaos left in the wake of Christmas. If you missed that post, you can find it HERE. No matter how big or small our home sweet home, I think we can all relate! There just never seems to be room enough! Sometimes all that is needed is a little organization – a place for everything and everything has its place.

However, if your home is like ours, the problem may be a little more severe.  Our home is 1,200 square feet. When Baby #2 came along, we quickly discovered the problem. My husband’s parents are divorced and remarried, so our kids have 3 sets of grandparents. 3 sets of extremely generous grandparents! So as far as kids’ toys, books, and clothes go, our closets spilleth over…and over…and over!

We feel abundantly blessed by grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and friends, and all those who like to provide for our children at Christmas! However, if I’m being honest, that blessing easily becomes a burden if not handled efficiently, and it also becomes a liability if we allow our children to soak up an “entitlement” mentality.

In other words…

How do we enjoy the gifts when there is no place to put them?

How do we teach our children to value and appreciate the gifts when nearly everything on their wish lists land under the tree?

These 2 questions are not easily answered for Kevin and I. We’ve wrestled with them for years now! But we’ve discovered that within the struggle, lies a great opportunity for biblical training – not only for our kids’ hearts, but for our own hearts, as well!

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

The Bible makes clear the dangers of amassing treasures on earth. But the truth is, we don’t have to own fortunes to struggle in this way. We can make idols of the “little” treasure we have just as much as we idolize the “much”. Our hearts so easily stray to worship the gifts rather than the Giver!

God’s Word says the more we’ve been given, the more accountable we are to use our blessings to God’s glory.

 “…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required…”
(Luke 12:48 ESV)

So when our first-born was about three, we started using the “Swap it Out” principle. At first, it was out of necessity, but we soon discovered that it helped us created an environment in which we could appreciate the generosity of the giver, enjoy the blessing of the gift, multiply the blessing out to others, and most of all, hold loosely to the material gifts we are given. It’s pretty simple:

For every new item that comes into the house, a similarly-sized/valued item has to be removed and given to someone else.

Good Bye, Snow White! Hello, Barbie!

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This rules applies to Mom and Dad as well!

In addition to charitable organizations, the church nursery, and the preschool class, here are a couple of the recipients of the Garibaldi “Swap It Out” rule:

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So when I look at the pile of gifts in the garage that we unloaded from our Christmas celebrations this year (and I’m not kidding you, this is only about ½ of it!), I take a breath, say a prayer, and remind myself that these are not our treasures.

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I’ll admit there have been times when we’ve had to coerce a toy into the “Give it Away” pile, but more often than not, the kids take great joy in selecting their items to trade – and in carefully choosing who they would like to bless with their hand-me-downs! The benefits of the “Swap it Out” rule go far beyond keeping us from drowning in a sea of stuff! By far, the best result has been the way we are encouraged to view the material possessions that come into our home.

Nothing is permanent.

Nothing is ours alone.

Nothing is ours to keep.

When we look at it this way, it’s not just our used, outgrown, discarded items we are ready to part with. Ideally, we hold our possessions loosely with anticipation of opportunities to use them to bless others.

We’ve still got a LONG way to go in letting these principles sink in and learning to apply them in every area of life. Fighting the “entitlement” mentality is pretty much a daily battle in the OC! In fact, this post was supposed to be finished and go out earlier today, but my work was interrupted by one of the younger Garibaldis having a fit over a pricey toy that was not quite working the way it was intended to work. My mental plan for the day had included a stop for an ice cream cone after school (something we only do once in a blue moon!) and then an extremely rare (like, maybe never!) weekday movie night. It’s our first week back at school and we are all running a bit ragged after 4 days already! Needless to say, in the aftermath of the tantrum, I didn’t feel justified in rewarding the bad behavior with a ice cream and movie. I was initially quite annoyed that, by default, I had to miss out on those treats, as well! But I was quickly convicted by the irony of this post I was in the middle of writing. I had to face the fact that I’m not entitled either! 🙂

What are you doing to train the hearts in your home to follow biblical principles in this area? How do you balance enjoying the material blessings of life without allowing them to consume you? Let us know your thoughts!

By His Grace and for His Glory.molly

Prayer & Praise Monday – January 7, 2013

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
(Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV)

 

Who do you know that needs these verses prayed over them today? Let’s resolve to be prayer warriors in 2013 – interceding before the Throne of Grace on behalf of the hurting hearts in our lives. Here are the prayers and praises for this week…

• Jacob, our friend battling Hodgkin’s Disease had another PET scan this past Friday. Hopefully he will hear the results on that in the next few days and will know whether more chemo is needed or whether they can move on to radiation treatments. Jacob’s mom, Lori, reports that Jacob is very weak and tired but that his spirits remain good. Bless his heart! He is also falling behind in his school work, which is rough at the high school level! Please pray that God would give him energy and motivation to keep up with the work and retain the knowledge as he learns. The chemo drugs make it very difficult to concentrate!

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• Praise the Lord with me for the birth of this beautiful baby girl! Introducing my niece, Kate Ellyn, born December 19, 2012 to my sister-in-law Shelley. Kate is baby girl #3! Please pray for Shelley as she heals from her third C-section and for a smooth transition this week as her husband goes back to work. My brother-in-law is a fire fighter so when he is at work he is gone for 3 days! Shelley would also love prayer for her middle daughter, Aubree, as she adjust to not being the baby. She has had some difficulty sleeping and is teething, so Aubree is not at her best! 🙂

• Another praise is that after deliberation, the cancer board at our local hospital has decided that my dad’s melanoma appears to be totally removed! He will have a follow-up with the dermatologist soon and then a re-check in about 6 months to make sure everything is looking good. We are thankful for the Lord’s graciousness!

• Pray for some opportunities to share your personal stories of how God has worked in your life this week with a friend who needs to hear God’s Truth. Those opportunities abound, but I think sometimes it is only when we are asking the Lord to bring us those moments that our eyes are opened to see them when they come!

Have a great week! Leave us a comment to let us know how we can be praying for YOU!

Blessings in Christ,molly

Box It Up

Happy New Year!  Now that the holidays are officially over (although we get to enjoy a couple more days off of school!), it’s time to get back to “normal”.  If you are like me, the holiday season brings with it many blessings…and lots of toys!  Okay, so I would like to blame all the mess on my son Cole’s toys, but really it seems like everything gets a bit out of control during the holidays and I spend January trying to put everything away.  Here’s the path of destruction our tree left (yikes… and yes, we did water it!):

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I am guessing that I am not the only one who is feeling like it’s time to purge my stuff and get organized.  Almost every blog I read this week is posting organization tips, my Pinterest board is full of pins picturing beautiful closets and pantries, and magazine covers boast that they have the perfect strategy for organizing your life.  Actually, there’s also a lot about getting fit and exercising, but I skip over those!

As soon as all the gifts are unwrapped Christmas morning, I begin to feel stressed.  Isn’t that crazy?  What should be a time of thankfulness at the great gifts we have been given, turns me into a panic of “where am I going to put all this stuff?”  Here is the aftermath…keeping it real!

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I have found a bit of a solution for Cole’s toys.  These boxes:

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Originally I purchased them to use for homeschool… but they didn’t work as planned.  They are supposed to hold 12 x 12 paper and you can buy them at your local craft store in the scrapbook section (wait until they are on sale…I usually pay $4 for one).   They are perfect for corralling toys.  They are clear so you can see what’s inside, they are shallow so my son can easily find what he is looking for, they stack easily, and they open flat which becomes a play spot (Cole gets frustrated when his animal figurines won’t stand up on carpeting—the lids work great).  They also transport really well.  Cole got Bey Blades (mothers with boys should know what these are…if not, you will!) and he grabbed his box on the way to church Sunday morning and played with his friends after the service.

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I won’t make any false promises…the toys do eventually get mixed up and all over. They are not magic boxes!  My son does do a good job cleaning up when asked, but he is extremely creative, so he usually ends up using toys differently than what they were intended (which means Legos end up with zoo animals and horses end up with dinosaurs).

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I am always trying to find balance in life.  Of course I want to be organized and have everything in its place, but not at the cost of being a grumpy mom or wife.  I want my family to enjoy our home and have good memories of me spending time with them…not memories of me ranting about toys everywhere or constantly trying to keep up the house.  I want to focus on what is truly beneficial for my family instead of being discontent when my closet doesn’t look Pin-worthy (is that a word?).  I also know the days of raising my son are short and someday I will miss finding Nerf bullets in my shoes…and under the couch…and in the kitchen sink.

So, what organizational project are you working on?  Any ideas you are willing to share?  I may have (kind of) solved one problem, but I still have plenty to work on (please don’t look in my fridge!).

Happy Organizing!deb