Everything in Its Place

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

This is key for organization. It’s not the cute boxes and nifty shelves. It’s that things are assigned to places. When they are needed, they can be found and used; when they are not needed, they return to base.

Unfortunately, jazzy systems can only go so far. Putting everything in place, no matter how wonderful that place is, requires discipline. Ugh!

Now, we’re not talking boot camp discipline here. Perfectionism is not required, even though it would keep those shelves absolutely perfectly organized. But that (fortunately) is not the ultimate goal. Keeping things orderly has several purposes, but none that should be overtaken. Reflecting God’s character is lovely, but obsessive organization shouldn’t become a god. Making the best use of our resources is ideal, but shouldn’t be the ultimate driver. Saving time is great, but we don’t need more time just for the sake of having free time.

Keeping things in place is a way to serve God, your family, and everyone around you. If you make a habit of using things and then returning them to a reasonable location, you will have fewer hindrances as you fulfill your purpose. The frustration you feel when your home is a disaster area can be minimized. The time wasted searching for necessary books and papers before school can be converted to a calm departure and good conversation on the way to school. You don’t have to tear the house apart for a bandaid when the skinned knee comes limping in from outside. Guests are welcomed to a home that is lived in but not hazardous. Bills can be paid on time rather than lost in scattered stashes of mail.

Basically, it’s not rocket science or out-of-reach creativity. You can do the simple, basic steps needed to bring order to your household and life. Not perfect order, but purposeful order.

Looking to Jesus

So how do we “look unto Jesus” in our daily lives?

I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.   — Psalm 119:147

The most obvious example that comes to mind is: to whom do I look first thing every morning? Whether it is first before anything or the first activity requiring thought, am I looking to the Word for sustenance? It is tempting to look to our family members and their needs, or even to social media to check on what happened in the world, but then we are distracting ourselves from the “one thing.” When we look to the Word, we will let Him set the tone for our minds, our hearts and our days.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.   — Psalm 5:3

Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.   — Psalm 119:97

Building on that, as we move through the day, are we basing our actions on a desire for Christ-likeness? Are we feeding our own selfish pride or seeking to reflect the humility of Christ?

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  — Philippians 2:1-7

Scripture is also full of wisdom for life, which guides us through countless small daily decisions and also tough decisions. When we come to a crossroad and don’t know which way to go, we do have a Guide and can trust Him to provide what we need to make good choices. When we need to respond to a situation, having already saturated ourselves with who Christ is and the truth in His word as discussed above, we will be able to respond well.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding — Proverbs 2:6

As we feel weak, where do we look for help? Do we make everything work ourselves? Or do we acknowledge our weakness and His strength, deepening our trust in Him?

The Lordis my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.  — Psalm 28:7

What do we do when fear takes hold on occasion? Our sovereign God is our Rock, and trusting in Him is the best answer to our fear.

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?  — Psalm 56:3-4

These are just a few examples, and I’d love to see others share encouragement. Please comment below with how you have turned your eyes to Christ in your life.

Eyes on the Prize

One morning this summer we thoroughly enjoyed heading out to the country and shooting clays. It is one of my hobbies, and this particular morning was a real winner. The sun was shining. There was a nice breeze. Clays were shattering. It was beautiful!

As I have been learning and improving, some expert advice was given that was helpful in the process: Keep your eye on the clay. Get your stance correct and solid. If you are in the right position, your body will naturally follow your eye.

It is true. When I was focused where I should be, I was successful. The shots I missed were most often because I wasn’t paying attention or got distracted by a bug or didn’t move past a comment from the peanut gallery.

As we left the field after shooting that morning, I thought about how the principle works for more than just shotguns.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Our lives tend to follow our focus. When our eyes are on Christ, we can follow Him much more easily. Our lives will naturally follow our attention. (Speaking for myself, I NEED that aid.) We will not be drawn off the racetrack by distractions. Sin will have a harder time trapping us. We will not be confused about where we are heading. We will be motivated by the glory we view ahead. We will see our Savior and know the path to joy.

Committed Love

 

But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,

Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

These words are a beautiful expression of the committed love Ruth showed Naomi, a reflective flicker of the incredible covenantal love of God for His people.

In our premarital counseling, our pastor reminded us that sometimes marriage will require love that will stay in the car and ride even into the ditch. You can see the danger ahead and calmly share your concern, but sometimes the decision is still to continue. You then buckle up and ride out the crash (and pay the repair bill and allow the bruises to heal) together. Note: this is not referring to life-or-death or sin situations.

Yes, commitment is that committed. Committed love goes all the way to the end. The idea is beautiful and we love being loved that way, but how often are we committed?

How often will we go out to eat IF we like the restaurant? If it’s not a menu we like, it doesn’t matter with whom we are eating (never mind Proverbs 15:17).

How much have we been willing to be friends AS LONG as we share interests and think alike? It’s more efficient and comfortable. No need to stretch (Proverbs 27:17).

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, I’ll love AS LONG as they love me? Fair is fair, and I have my rights.

I have fallen in all these traps. That’s not love; it’s an even exchange of goods.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” — John 15:12-14

We often think of the Ruth passage related to weddings. I find it interesting that neither of these Scriptures are referring to marriage. Ruth loved her mother-in-law. Christ commanded His disciples, and by extension the church.

Who are we loving today?

sanddunes-2

 

A Simple Meal

As promised, I’ve pulled together an explanation of what I would prepare for a meal on a day where I need something super simple but good. It requires a few minutes 2 hours before dinner and 1 hour before dinner, and maybe 10 minutes at dinner to serve, but it works well when I’m around the house (even in-and-out) but busy with other things. I generally keep everything needed on hand except the sweet potatoes.

Entree

This is a family favorite from when I was a teenager and now a favorite in our home. You need chicken or pork chops, oil and seasoned breadcrumbs.

  • Take chicken pieces (boned or boneless) or pork chops, as many as you need and a baking dish as large as you need to fit (or multiple, if that works better).
  • Coat the bottom of the dish with oil — not deep, but covered completely.
  • Lightly sprinkle seasoned breadcrumbs on top of the oil
  • Place meat in pan.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of meat to coat.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Place in oven at 325 for 1.5-2 hours (depending on how much meat you are baking). When the bread crumbs on the edges of the pan are crispy brown, your meat is done.

Sides

Baked sweet potatoes & steamed vegetables

Coat the sweet potatoes with oil — pour a teaspoon on your hand and rub it in to the potato. Place on a cookie sheet and into the oven 45 minutes to an hour before dinner (longer if your oven is full, less if just 3 potatoes). Serve with butter and brown sugar and/or cinnamon.

Pull a steamer bag of vegetables out of the freezer before dinner and prepare in the microwave according to directions. Season and serve.

Enjoy!

My hope is that you enjoy this as is or adjust as needed to your preferences. Either way, remember to keep your eye on your priorities and take advantage of simple meals when you need to.