Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

Every homeowner has a "to do" list. We also have a "tried to do" list. At the top of the list is the door to our main bathroom. My husband is great at fixing things, but no matter what he does, this door will not stay open. As soon as you go in the door, it starts swinging shut.
To compound the problem, the door doesn't stay latched when it's closed. That means if a determined dog (we'll call her "Daisy" since that is her name) wants to get into the bathroom, she can. All she has to do is push the door hard enough, and she's in.


Now you may be thinking, "Why would she want to be in the bathroom?" If you have the answer, please let me know, because I have no idea. (The lid is always down so there's no drinking water available. That would be too obvious.)

All I know is the two factors, Daisy's ability to push the door open and the door's tendency to swing shut, work together to trap her in the bathroom. Now, she has NEVER burst into the bathroom when someone is home; it always happens when we're out. She doesn't make a mess while she's in there, but spending a long period of time in a small room gives me a bathroom that smells like dog.



Initially, I checked to make sure the door was latched so that she wouldn't trap herself. That's when we learned she could force the door open. Now I try to remember to prop the door open when we leave so that when she inevitably goes in there, she can also get out. Unfortunately, with all the things to remember when trying to leave the house, propping the bathroom door open doesn't always make the short list.

Such was the case one weekend when my husband and I were headed out to the boardwalk in Grand Haven. We were maybe a half mile from home when Bob realized he forgot his sunglasses, so we turned around and went back home to get them. I went into the house to make sure the bathroom door was propped open, and she was already trapped in there! We hadn't even been gone for five minutes! Daisy would've had one long, boring evening in a very small room if we hadn't come back home for those sunglasses.

One would think that a dog who has moments of intelligence would learn after one or two (or twenty or fifty) times being trapped, that busting into the bathroom is not a good idea. Not Daisy. It happens over and over again.

God often uses Daisy as an illustration applicable to my life, and her tendency to get trapped in the bathroom was no exception. As I was thinking, "Daisy, will you ever learn?", I realized God could say the same thing to me: "Lisa, will you ever learn?"
How often do we ask God to "prop the door open" so we can do what we want without any consequences? How often to we ignore His teachings because we think we know better, only to find ourselves falling into a trap we've been in before?

Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

Jesus wants what's best for us, but we have to choose to learn from Him rather than continuing to do things our own way and ending up in the same old trap.

"Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up." James 4:10

Jesus, I want to find that place of rest that You have promised. Help me to slow down and learn to do things Your way so that I can experience the freedom that comes only from You.

Lisa
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

When my children were young, they were each expected to keep their own bedroom neat.  I specifically remember one day when my daughter was supposed to be cleaning her room.  I went to check on her progress but she was nowhere to be found.  Hearing something coming from the closet, I opened the door to find her crouched down and weeping.  When I asked her what was the matter she replied, between sobs, “It’s just too messy!  I can’t clean it all.”

Have you ever wanted to hide in your closet and cry?  At times it is tempting, but in the long run it isn’t going to make the mess go away.  We’ve been talking about bringing order to our homes, and have already hit on a couple of points.

  1. Start anywhere; the important thing is to start.
  2. Start now; the time we spend procrastinating could be spent accomplishing something. 
Today’s tip?
 
  1. Start small.
My daughter was overwhelmed by the amount of work that needed to be done, and it’s easy to use that as an excuse to do nothing.  That day when I found her in her closet, I led her out and began to break down the job for her.  First, we picked up all her books and placed them on the bookshelf.  Next, we gathered up all the Barbies, and so on.     

Whether the job is overwhelming, unpleasant, or you simply don’t have the time, the key is to break the task into smaller segments and accomplish what you can when you can. 

Perhaps you need to prepare your yard for winter.  Focus on just one task, such as raking, or one area at a time.  Need to clean your closet or your dresser?  Start with just one shelf or drawer.  Pressed for time?  Work for five or ten minutes, or whatever you have available.

As Aristotle and Mary Poppins would say (now there’s an interesting combination!), a job “well begun is half done!”

Lisa
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments



If asked why I live in Michigan, my usual reply is that I was born here and don’t know any better.  I’m not a big fan of winter but if given the option, I don’t know if I’d choose to live anywhere else - although Maui is tempting…

I enjoy the different seasons Michigan offers, which in a way is surprising since I’m not a big fan of change in general. I don’t think there would be much new in my life it were up to me, which is probably why God doesn’t leave it up to me.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,” Ecclesiastes 3:1

I find planting to be invigorating and exciting whereas uprooting generally disturbs me. Without fail, if God is introducing new things into my life some of the existing things will be removed.  At least, that’s what happens if I’m paying attention.  If I’m not, I keep adding without subtracting which equals overload.

Early this summer, God gave me the go-ahead to pursue something He placed on my heart many years ago, complete with step-by-step instructions!  He also called me to step down from my position as the Director of Women’s Ministries at the church I attend.  This wasn’t too hard for me to let go of since I will remain on the board overseeing spiritual growth and teaching.  

With one set of responsibilities coming into my life and another set leaving I thought I was finished with transitions, but that wasn’t the case.  While on a mission trip in Alaska late this summer I felt God calling me to make more adjustments, which was puzzling to me since I thought I had made an even exchange. 

This time I struggled because it involved Journey, the women’s Bible study where I am co-teaching leader.  I tried holding on to this piece and then that, but I finally realized that God was calling me to step back from it all, at least for a season. . . 

This was not an easy step for me.  A great amount of my time and energy has been invested in Journey, and I have been there since its inception.  It didn’t make sense to me either.  I love teaching.  This is how God has gifted me and this is what He has called me to do.  I was all prepared and eager to start Journey’s fall session.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

Even though I wasn’t sure why - except that God said so - I stepped down from Journey the day after I returned home from Alaska so I could give those taking over for me as much notice as possible. 

I’m so thankful that I chose to be obedient.  Within days of returning home, my husband and I received word that OpeN Christian Center, Inc, the school in Kenya we have been involved with since its inception, was granted tax-exempt status.  Now the work of assembling dossiers on each of the orphans and finding sponsors for them begins.

Just days after receiving that news, my daughter was hired to a full-time teaching position.  Since my son-in-law goes to school two days a week, I have the privilege of caring for my three-month-old grandson on those days.  

Sometimes I never learn why God called me to do what He did, but this time the pieces all fell into place.  And one of those days I’m spending with my grandson Adam?  Journey day. In fact, Adam is sitting on my lap as I finish this.  

Father, thank you for teaching me to hear your still, small voice.  Help me to be obedient regardless of whether or not I understand your purposes.  Guide me as I minister to this child here with me and those children half-way around the world, all equally precious in your sight.   


Lisa



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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Thanks for joining me on my journey back to order!  I'm calling this week "JUST DO IT!"  Just do what?  Just do that little thing that you keep walking by saying "I need to get to that one of these days..."

You know you have them, those projects that take six months and five minutes to complete - six months of looking at it and five minutes to actually do it.  Let's make today the day to do it and get it taken care of!

I don't think my project even took me five minutes to complete, and I very well may have been looking at it for over six months.  The little red and blue strip that indicated the water temperature in the shower started to peel off, but rather than gluing it back down I procrastinated until one day it disappeared. 

I was fortunate to find the tiny piece, which I then sat on the shelf in the shower.  Every time I'd get in, I'd see that strip and tell myself I need to fix it before my next shower.  Then I'd get busy and forget about it.

Today was the day.  Finally, I got out the super glue and stuck the label back in place.  It wasn't even a five minute project because I knew where the super glue was.  (How to find things when you need them is another topic for another day.)

I want to encourage you to make today the day!  Slow down, pick one small task and JUST DO IT! 

Good luck!



Lisa


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Have you ever walked by something and done a double take?  I recently had that experience while walking around the Minneapolis Airport waiting for my flight to Alaska.  Sitting for long periods of time is difficult for me, so I like to walk whenever I have the chance.  Since I had a long layover before my even longer flight, I spent the time before boarding walking laps around the terminal.


Basically, if you’ve seen one large airport you’ve seen them all, but suddenly something caught my eye – a rainbow of color along the bulkhead of the ceiling.  It stood out so much that I wondered how I could have possibly missed it before.  I turned around and walked through the passage from the other direction, only to see a hallway like any other hallway. 

I didn’t see the multi-colored lights because they were only visible from the other direction.  What looked ordinary to me became extraordinary when I viewed it from a different perspective.  

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12



Corrie Ten Boom quoted this anonymous poem in her book, “Tramp for the Lord.”  

My life is but a weaving, between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily,
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He see the upper, and I the underside.
Until the loom is silent, and shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unfold the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

I think it’s easy for us to forget that what we see here in this world is not all there is.  At times life may seem dark and mangled, but it’s important to remember that we are only looking at it from our own perspective.  What we see as a tangled mess is actually a beautiful work in progress viewed from the underside.  

Lord, I thank you for the difficulties you’ve placed in my life, for without them I would have never found you.  When I get frustrated or discouraged, remind me that if I turn around and look from your perspective, I’ll see something beautiful.


Lisa

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


ORGANIZING
Tips for Tuesday



One of the ways God has gifted me is in the area of organization.  But allow me to let you in on a little secret – even an organized woman’s house can get out of control, it’s just that we can still find things (most of the time!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m behind in everything.  While I would like nothing better than to stop time for a week and get caught up, obviously that’s not going to happen.  Some of my friends have asked me for tips, so I thought I would share my journey back to order here with you.

I have some ladies coming over tonight so we’re going to start where I am - in a crunch.  This isn’t my normal cleaning and organizing.  This is how can I get this place looking presentable quickly.


1. START.  Where?  Anywhere, just start somewhere.  When?  Now!

Sometimes the task seems overwhelming, and we can waste a lot of our time just figuring out where to start.  Here are a few questions to point you to the starting line.

  • What is urgent? Maybe you have bills coming due or papers that need to be filled out for your child at school.  That means it’s time to hit that mountain of paper on the counter and sort it.  At the very least, sort it into three categories: 1. Urgent  2. Important.  3. Other.  If time allows, tackle the urgent now, and work on the rest when you have more time.  If you’re planning on shoving it all out of sight, keep the urgent on top so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. 
  • What’s visible? With guests coming over tonight I need to focus on what they will see, even if it means leaving other things undone.  For instance, I washed the big picture window in the living room for the first time this summer, but I’m skipping the dusting because that’s something they won’t notice anyway (unless they’re reading this!)   

  • What’s driving you crazy? For me, it’s the windows, which is why I started there.  Taking care of what’s bothering you the most will help you to feel better about the rest of it. 

2. STOP


  • Doing it alone.  Recruit, recruit, recruit!  I caught my 23-year-old son passing through yesterday and recruited him to sweep the floors for me.  My children had responsibilities in the home from an early age.  When they’re young, their work might not be up to your standards, but patience and perseverance pay off in the long run. 

  • Doing it all.  If you have time to clean, it makes sense to take the logical next step, but if you’re in a pinch, let it go.  Normally, I wash my floors after they’re swept, but thanks to Ryan my floors are looking pretty good.  I skipped washing everything but the bathroom floors, freeing me up to take care of some of the other important things like sinks and toilets. 

  • Stressing out.  Unless your house is for sale, it’s you they’re coming to see. 

3. KEEP

  • Your focus on what's truly important.  There are 3 things that are eternal: God, God’s Word, and people. (See In the Scheme of all Eternity)  Make sure those things come first.  Don’t skip spending time with God to do something no one else may notice anyway. 

  • Your priorities straight. In the scheme of all eternity, a perfect house is not even a blip on the radar.  (Besides, there is no such thing as the perfect house.) See  Digging Out or Digging In

Good luck!

I’d love to hear from you on this new feature.  Let me know if you have any questions you’d like answered or any tips you’d like to share with others.

Blessings,


Lisa


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


My name is Lisa and I’m a recovering perfectionist. It may not look bad to you, but all this clutter piling up is driving me crazy!

I have a friend that came for a visit at another time when I was feeling my house was in complete disarray. Obviously she’s a really good friend, or I would’ve shoved all the stuff out of sight so that everything would look “presentable.” (You know you do it too!)

I was surprised to learn that her reaction to my mess was a positive one. My friend, who would be the first one to say that she is as disorganized as I am organized, said that she actually felt more comfortable knowing that my house isn’t always perfect.

All I can say is that she’d really be feeling comfortable today! Now, I could give you a list of excuses as to why my house is such a disaster, but the bottom line is that I love Jesus more than I love order – and I love order a lot!

What does loving Jesus have to do with my house being a mess? Everything!

I’ve come to realize that I can’t do it all, and I especially can’t do it all with perfection. I can have things looking good on the inside (my heart), or I can look good on the outside (appearance), but rarely, if ever, can I have both.  So I have to ask myself, “Who am I trying to please, God or people?”

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

I could have a perfect-looking house; I’d just have to stop spending so much time with Jesus.
Back in my perfectionist days, the house came first. I knew who Jesus was, but I didn’t spend much time with Him apart from an hour on Sunday. Now, the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I want to spend time with Him and be like Him.

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ~ Mark 8:34

It’s easy to read this verse “spiritually” and say, “Of course I would deny myself to follow Jesus!” but what does it mean practically speaking? 
 
What, specifically, are you willing to give up so you can spend more time with Jesus?

Watching TV?

Time on the computer?

Reading a novel or the newspaper?

Talking on the phone?

A little sleep? 

A perfect ______________________? (fill in the blank)

Having just returned home from a mission trip and being in bed sick for two weeks afterwards, time has been short and the to-do list long and growing. I had to make a choice. Am I going to spend time with Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible each morning or tackle the mountain of papers piling up on my counter?

I chose to spend time with Jesus and trust His promise in Matthew 6:33 - “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I decided that cleaning my house falls under the category of “all these things.” I’ve learned that if I put Jesus first, He will allow me to accomplish the things He wants me to get done. Most of the time this is far less than what I want to get done, but I’m learning to get over it.

Now that I’m feeling better, I can choose to deny myself some of the things I listed above, dig into God’s word AND start digging out of the mounting clutter!

Jesus, thank you for loving me and causing me to fall in love with you. Thank you for changing my priorities and for forgiving me those times when I don’t put you at the top of the list.

Lisa 
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