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    Get Organized—For Good

    Lots of folks are talking about tidying up these days. And January seems to be the month when doing so is especially on our minds. While we’re at it, why not dispose of items in a way that benefits some ministries or minimizes the effect of used goods on landfills? Here are a few options to get us started:  ·      Used Bibles and Christian literature. "Love Packages" recycles Bibles, Sunday school materials, VBS literature, and tracts. Ship yours to Love Packages, 220 Union Street, Butler, IL 62015.   ·      Technology. Take used books and DVDs to your church library or resale shop. Some electronics stores pay for phones—giving more cash for items with…

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    The Simple Life

    Our American culture makes it quite difficult to live a simple life. Simplifying our lives doesn’t automatically come from living without money. It’s more about living with focus and without so much busyness. We can live on a farm or in poverty and have cluttered lives. What is at the heart of a simple life? Why are we so frazzled and exhausted? Jesus calls us to simplify our lives by seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness (Mt. 6:33). We prioritize living out the character and actions of Christ that bring his kingdom light to our world. That focus puts all else into perspective so that we make wise decisions.…

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    Slowing Down

    The summer I was 16, we went to Yosemite National Park for our family vacation. My parents invited my sister and me to give input on what we would like to do and see while on vacation. Being an avid researcher, I scoured travel guides, read Yosemite tourist blogs and requested tourism literature from numerous California cities. I dreamed of whale-watching cruises, waterfalls, and Hearst Castle. I looked at breath-taking photos of Half Dome and Monterey Bay, and decided that we would just have to do it all. I didn’t want to miss a thing! I submitted a 12-page itinerary down to the hour, detailing everything from lunch breaks to…

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    Untangled

    New Year's resolution #1: simplify my life. This year my goal is to cut back, say no more, and slow down. Last year felt so crowded and confusing. So this year my objective is to create space and catch my breath. Yet as I consider my soul’s craving for rest, I'm shocked by the compulsion that arises from within. I long to be wanted and needed. I find busyness thrilling. I fear I might miss out on something monumental if I take a break. So I make lists. I work late into the evenings. I seldom sit still. And as I toil, I let the really gratifying parts of life…

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    God of Small Things

    We equate smallness with insignificance. So we celebrate birthdays but not ordinary days. We introduce ourselves to the CEO instead of our new officemate. We applaud graduation speeches and poetic sermons yet hush the little girl sitting next to us. In so doing we make a value statement about what matters in life: bigness, brilliance, and uniqueness. But what if the moments that mattered most were the quiet ones? What if the people of greatest significance were those without nameplates or titles? What if the most impactful words we ever heard were uttered in whispers and high pitches? Flip through the pages of scripture and you’ll find simplicity celebrated and…

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    Nightmares of Martha Stewart

    I have nightmares of Martha Stewart—not nightmares that come in the dark but those that chase me in broad daylight when I prepare for guests. Do you also feel intimidated by Martha, chefs on the Food Network, and decorators on HGTV? I don’t have their gifts, creativity, or training. Clearly, God didn’t design me to be a chef or a decorator. So, can I just wait for others to invite me to their homes? I don’t think so. God calls us to hospitality (Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9). In fact, it is a requirement for elders (1 Tim. 3:2). Although the scriptures were written in another culture, opening our homes…