Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!

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One Year Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Saturday I marked the 1 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m a year old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband lead our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed. I have had more views this year than I had in the total run of my previous blog. I have made some good online friends, connected with other Confessional blogs, and I may have made a few enemies. That was terrifying interesting.

Let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 160
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Claudiajswain, Cindy V, and Lizzigroves.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Canada, the Untied Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia.
  • Top Posts: My Church is a Failure with 1,376 views. It is followed by Happy Mother’s Day! with 291, and Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 221. Look at the difference. That’s quite a jump from 291 to 1,376. One of my friends said the My Church is a Failure went viral. I don’t know that it went viral as a whole, but maybe amongst Reformed Baptist.
  • August 2014 was my highest traffic month with 2,384 views followed by Feb with 1,564 when a guest post I wrote for Strokemanswoman was shared by Tim Challis. This guest article has gotten as many or more views as My Church is a Failure.

This year I also submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration.

God is good. God is trustworthy.

You might think that’s easy to say with the limited success I’ve had with my blog. Of course, I think He’s good when things are going better than I could have ever imagined. God is good, not because this change in my life has rewarded me with better blog success. God is good because He has saved me and made me His child, then He slowly and gently worked in my life to bring me to the point where I could lay aside what I wanted for Him. Seeming material or no material reward, I would still praise Him for He is mighty. He owes me nothing for the sacrifices I have made for they are just a happy following after of my elder brother, my heavenly husband, my Standing Lamb. If the blog had flopped, I would have experienced His sanctification in that and by grace would praise Him still. The success of my blog or lack thereof doesn’t change the joy I have at the great mercy He showed me. I trust that He would still use the gifts He gave me even if it’s not how I expect. He has given me everything and owes me nothing. These aren’t rewards. These are graces. These are a kind gift from the hand of a kind Father, not a debt He owed me for my great sacrifices.

I’m very thankful He gave me some tangible gifts when I switched my writing course. He didn’t just give me some, He richly gifted me. Its humbling and all I can say is use me more Lord. Pour me out for your sake.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my stories, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this first year!

Lessons from the Boutique 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

Prada Fashion Fall 2011

Prada Fashion Fall 2011

This article took an unexpected turn. It was supposed to go up two weeks ago, before the Red Heels article. But, providentially, it has gone from expounding my husband and I’s view of fashion as Christians to a re-examination of that viewpoint, lengthy discussions over meals, and articles written by both of us. So this is not so much a lesson, as it is a story of growth and change. This is a transition article from where I was to where I am. Hence, it’s the last Lesson from the Boutique.

Over the years, I’ve traveled from self-righteous frump, self-focused goth, respectable yet loud fashionista, to a woman who desires Christ’s commands. He stripped away the world’s varnish one layer at a time until I’m more concerned with Christ’s kingdom and my Church family than this fading ball of dust. Christ is thorough. He doesn’t leave any part of our heart and mind uncaptivated by Himself. Nor does He dictatorially force us. He leads us like lambs, sanctifying us.

After a year out of the boutique, I’m still sorting all this fashion stuff out. What liberty do I have in Christ? What influence should my church family play? How much can I pull from my culture? I hope you can be understanding  as I think through fashion via my keyboard and seek to apply what I’m learning.

From the boutique, I learned valuable lessons, which helped me see how selfishly I dressed most of my life. They showed me that I had gone from a holier-than-thou wardrobe to a shock-value wardrobe. (“You can tell I’m holy by how little thought I put into my outfit. See how holy and modest I am. I’m way frumpier than you!” to “If I can get one more home school mom’s mouth to drop open, I’ll have twenty points just this morning.”)

Lesson 1: Image is important because what you wear says something about you. Are you saying what you want to say?

Lesson 2: Image is important because what you wear communicates respect. Are you respecting those around you with your clothing?

Lesson 3: Image is important because it is a form of honesty. Are you sharing yourself honestly, or hiding behind your clothing?

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I lived and breathed these three principles for over 10 years. They were my guiding stars every morning when I got dressed, when I shopped, and when I critiqued wardrobes. But, I’ve come to believe I missed important Biblical principles. Who is my standard for respectability? Did I go to the Bible first, before my culture? Unfortunately not. I moved fashion entirely into Christian Liberty, and then looked to the world for what it considered respectable. God has some very real and important things to say about fashion. I never did the hard work of paying attention to His Word except in the widest application.

We’ve all been told that we should dress up on Sunday morning because we’re going before the King. This is true. But, this King doesn’t want all the pomp and show that our worldly kings desire. He wants a humble and pure heart. This is what He values. We, as Reformed Baptist, preach and believe that you can’t worship God how you want to, but that you must worship Him according to the commands in His Word. Why do we think coming into His Church as His bride is any different? God tells us how we are to dress in a way that honors Him the most. This must be what informs us. What a humble King we have. Look how He commands us, His faithful daughters, to come before Him. He doesn’t set an impossible standard of beauty and wealth that none of us can reach. He doesn’t pit us against one another in a constant game of cutting-edge style. He is far more merciful than we are on ourselves. And yet, at the same time, He is far harder. He is far more concerned with our hearts than with what we’re wearing.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise also the women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”

 

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

 

So, transitioning out of the boutique and into a housewife, I’m trying to relearn some lessons. Here is where my husband and I are so far.

1. Respectable apparel: The clothing you wear as a daughter of the Lord, first off on Sunday, but influencing your wardrobe as a whole, should be respectable. It should be clean, in good order, and put together, a bit dressy, but with self-control. Sunday is not a fashion show. Our society does help us define what is respectable in our day and age. It would be inappropriate for a woman to arrive in a respectable Victorian-era gown to church. Nor would it be appropriate to come to church in “denim underwear”. That may be stylish for young women today and the Victorian gown may be modest, but one isn’t self-controlled and the other is distracting. You have to live when and where you live, not defining respectability by a different ages standards. We are called to dress with self-control, not flaunting ourselves, or our clothing.

2. Good Works: God is more concerned with our good-works than our wonderful fashion sense. We spend a fair amount of time thinking about what we’re going to wear when we’re going on a date, or out with girlfriends, or even on Sunday morning. God wants us to spend more time thinking about good works than about wardrobe. The context of these good works in Timothy is the managing of the Church. Men are to put on prayer and women are to put on good works. Does what you wear on Sunday Morning communicate this concept? Are you ready with a helping hand to those in need? Are your children behaved and your husband respected by you? These are far more beautiful to God than what you’re wearing to cover your skin.

3. Submissive: You’re clothing should communicate a submissive heart, a meekness of spirit. Have you ever shopped asking yourself if what you’re wearing communicates submissiveness? It messes with your mind, believe me! The context of the 2 Peter passage is abuse by authority. God tells women that if your husband is abusing you, look to your wardrobe. What? Don’t nag your husband. Don’t belittle him. He should see you not as all the other women in the world who fret and worry over what they will wear and this wrinkle and that wrinkle. He should see you  worried about spiritual matters. He should see you without a fearful heart. Submission is honestly very scary. (I’ve written about that before.) It requires a complete giving up of yourself to the authority of another. Your husband should see that while you submit to him, it’s to Christ that you ultimately submit. Think how our marriages would be transformed, Ladies, if instead of spending so much time in front of the mirror, we spent more time working to lovingly submit to our husbands.

4. Hope: I’m getting older. Every day my skin seems more dry, my hair more gray, my energy sapped. I swore I would age well. I would not hide from my wrinkles or gray hair. But, there are days I’m so tempted to test out the latest serum to see if it will magically remove the aging of my body. Look to the Bible ladies! “Imperishable beauty” is what Peter calls a gentle and quiet spirit. Look at this great hope given us. If we seek first the Kingdom of God, God Himself promises us Imperishable Beauty. This doesn’t mean that we won’t age. It does mean we’ll become more beautiful to Christ, our Husband, as we grow in good works, a gentleness of spirit towards our earthly husband, and poverty of spirit. The world will see old women, but Christ will see great beauty.

This is where I’m at right now. How has it affected me practically? I’m testing out several new systems to cut down on my dressing time. I need to make sure I’m wearing respectable things that are encouraging to others, which takes planning and time. But, good works are to be my main adornment, so I don’t want to spend as much time fretting over my wardrobe.

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As I’ve thought about this, I’ve been convicted about what I wear on Sundays. I tend to be a very loud dresser. I love big jewelry. I love mixing things up that don’t exactly go together. None of those things are sinful in and of themselves, but Christ has said how I’m to come to Him on Sunday. I need to listen and make sure I’m on the same page. I’m going to try to wear more simple outfits on Sunday. Respectable? Yes. Stylish? Yes. Simple? Yes.

I’ve also been convicted about how I view other women who don’t dress “stylishly”. Could it be that after all these years of groaning about horrible home-school-mom-fashion, that I was wrong, at least on a certain level? That what I saw as frumpy might in fact be a woman seeking submission, self-control, and good works instead of fashion as the world sees it? I think so. You won’t catch me in a jean skirt and sneakers anytime soon, but you will catch me—I hope and pray—trying to submit my wild heart to the dictates of my most beloved Husband, and my loved earthly husband.

Now, done with Boutiques and on to Housewife!

Thoughts???

The Housewife and her Man!

The Housewife and her Man!

If you would like to read some very well done articles on Modesty, please check out my fellow 1689’er Queen of Scotch and this Matt Walsh article. Also, I hope to share some of my husbands thoughts soon. Here’s the first one from his blog: Rod of Iron!

Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 3: Have a System

Lesson 4: Dealing with People

Lesson 5: Red Heels

Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels

red heels red bag 2I have one more lesson after this that will transition us from boutique to housewife. Today’s lesson is about attitude. I call it my Red Heels Philosophy. It isn’t about strutting, but about how to help bad attitudes by not indulging in them.

We all have bad days. We have days were circumstances outside our control seem to pile in on top of us. We have days where we wake up with a bad case of the grumpies, and sometimes we wake up depressed or just plain angry. When this happens, we have two options. One, we can indulge this bad attitude. Or, two, we can combat it. Hopefully many of us had Moms that enforced attitude adjustment, so we have some practice in self-control. But, even practice doesn’t mean we don’t need a little help now and again.

When I managed the boutiques, I didn’t just work on own my attitude, but also the attitude of my employees, and sometimes the attitude of my customers. Dressing up was one of the pieces of advice that I practiced and preached to combat depression, anger, and general grouchiness. When we feel bad, we often dress bad. Have you ever noticed this? We get our ugliest and most comfortable jeans—if we even go for jeans, sometimes we just go straight for sweat pants—our oldest t-shirt, and our slippers and slouch through the day. No wonder our attitudes don’t improve. We didn’t tell that bad attitude to take a hike, we laid out the welcome mat. Now, we don’t only feel grumpy, we also feel ugly and gross.Alexander

“Ladies, put on those red heels!”

You may not have a pair of red heels that refuse to be worn with grungy jeans. It may be a pair of special earrings, a unique handbag, a funky cardigan, or a treasured scarf. It’s not the item that’s important, but the items ability to refuse to indulge in a bad attitude. Trust me, it’s hard to maintain a frown in an awesome pair of shoes.

I don’t wear my heels as often as I used to. Running after nieces and nephews, shopping, cleaning, cooking, teaching, visiting, and serving seems to be better done in TOMS or boots, not stilettos. Now, when I wake up wanting to just go back to bed, not face the day, not deal with my To Do list, not want to do anything but watch TV or read, I usually wear a dress or a skirt. It adds a touch of graceful femininity to my day that my attitude lacked. Again, it’s not so much about the shoes as it is finding something that forces you to get over the hurdle of waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

All the above is the very human, day-in and day-out side, but is there a deeper spiritual way we can do this? Is there something beyond the Red Heels to help us with our attitudes?

04b5a3fb6615746008f5baa38737dc5aOf course! Christ did not leave us without a Comforter. There are many reasons for our emotions. Sometimes we’re mad at our authorities for asking us to do what we don’t want to do—that’s a nice way to say we’re upset with our husbands and God. Sometimes it’s chemical, meaning hormonal, and sometimes it’s sadness and fear. Many different things affect our emotional stability. Where do we turn to stay stable? Where do we go when our sins overcome us? When the world doesn’t just lack any common sense but is out-and-out indulging in sinful and destructive practices while calling them good? When those we love are caving to temptation, or drowning in providence?

Adoption, my dear fellow believer, we turn to Adoption. Our hope is not in our ability to be perfect. Our hope isn’t in the world, or in each other. (Thank the good Lord, or we’d all be in a world of hurt.) Our hope is in the FINISHED work of Christ and our adoption into the eternal family of God. It would have been enough just to be saved. It would have been far more than we deserved to be slaves working in the house of God, but to be adopted? To be made children, brothers and sisters of Christ? What rich mercy is this? Wretched sinners who wake up angry at God for a house that needs to be cleaned again, taxes that need to be filed, children and a husband that need to be fed, clothes that need to be washed, and a body fading, are welcomed into the family of God as joint heirs with Christ. This is hope. This is true help for days when the world is slipping through your fingers one gray hair at a time or possibly much much faster and harder than that.

While the Red Heels philosophy is cute, and honestly helpful, it is nothing compared to meditating on our adoption in Christ as believers. Red Heels are a band-aid. They are a momentary fix, a pick-me-up, a small thing in light of our Adoption in Christ. We are welcomed into the throne room, not as condemned convicts—which we are—nor as slaves to clean and kowtow to an arrogant king, but as beloved children, welcome at the table, bearing the name and rank of our Lord and Father, following our great Captain and King, Jesus Christ.

This is hope.

This is meat and drink.

Red high-heels are just ash helping ash.

So put on your heels, adjust that attitude, and focus your thoughts on Christ and His Finished Work!

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

(If I haven’t covered something that you’re curious about, comment below, and I’ll try to do a blog post about it!)

Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 3: Have a System

Lesson 4: Dealing with People

Lesson 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

Lessons from the Boutique 4: Dealing with People

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I have a personal belief that every human being should at one time or another do at least one of these jobs: secretary, retail, waiting tables, janitorial, and catering.  If we all had to experience how difficult these jobs are, we would be nicer.  We would understand that the person on the other end of the phone has no power and yelling at them isn’t going to get you anything.  We would understand that the person helping you with your clothes feels subhuman when you leave them a messy dressing room.  We would tip our waiters and waitresses more.  We would be much more careful in public restrooms and we would RSVP.  If you have worked one or more of these jobs, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  These are servant jobs.  These are jobs which require you to give parts of yourself you generally reserve for only close friends and blood relations.  They require you to clean up other peoples’ messes, literally.  You must handle verbal abuse with grace.  You must deal with the constant unexpected.  Then you go home, have a good cry, eat chocolate, and do it again tomorrow.  They demand the pouring out of yourself if you want to do anything close to a good job.

When we owned our boutiques, we focused on customer service.  My employees will tell you that I never once told them the customer is always right.  I firmly believe that this philosophy is INCORRECT.  In fact, the customer is often wrong, in my experience.  Usually, the customer is upset because you didn’t set their expectations properly.  Sometimes they have a legitimate complaint, but most often the customer is thinking only of themselves and nothing else.  We didn’t have a ‘customer is always right policy’.  We had a service policy.  Part of the issue for us was trying to find a middle ground between customers and consignors.  You can’t bite either hand that feeds you and you can’t choose one over the other.  This made customer service very interesting.

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The hardest part, we found, with customer service was our thought life.  After you’ve been chewed out, belittle, picked on, walked on, and yelled at, it’s very hard to be gracious.  In fact, it is almost impossible.  All you want to do is break that person down.  We spent hours and hours complaining and whining about our customers after they left.  We discussed how annoying they were, how mean, how useless.  It doesn’t surprise me that some people get spit in their food.  I’ve seen how they treat teens just trying to do what their bosses asked them to do.  I’ve had my teens and other staff members yelled at by grown women who should be more behaved.

But guess what we found?  The more we indulged in this kind of verbal and emotional abuse of our customers, the angrier and more bitter we became.  We hated them, our job, and everyone else.

This was when we made a policy against complaining about customers.  We taught and encouraged our teams to stop the cycle.  Instead of verbally abusing a customer after they left, we tried to imagine what could have happened in their life to make them the way that they are.  We asked ourselves if they were really being that annoying or if we were just being thin-skinned.  We tried to turn the other cheek and put ourselves in their shoes.  We encouraged one another and held each other accountable.

If someone complained about what clothes I would and would not accept, I tried to imagine what her day might have been like instead of getting upset.  Maybe she had a fight with her husband.  Maybe she lost a job.  Maybe she’s getting rid of all these clothes because she gained weight and she can’t get it off.  Maybe her kids are sick.  Maybe her dog died.  Maybe she got some really bad news.  Maybe this is just one of those days were everything went wrong.

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When we started showing our customers pity even if they didn’t see it, our attitudes changed.  We willingly put up with a lot more from them.  We found that people we always thought we didn’t like, just needed a smile and a hug.  We found out that angry women hadn’t been told they looked great in a really long time.  We found out that bitter women just needed someone to listen to them.  We found out that messy women had three seconds before their kids, husbands, or parents needed them.  They couldn’t hang everything up because someone else needed them and they needed us to hang the clothes up for them.  We found out that almost all the customers we thought were annoying were just women struggling through their days and lives.

Do you know how much more rewarding it is to bring a smile to someone’s face even when they’re pushing you away instead of complaining about them after they leave?  Do you know people can sense this?  The atmosphere in our boutique was very open, loving, and happy.  Why?  We didn’t tolerate ourselves, our customers, or our consignors complaining about one another.  Yes, we stopped even our customers from complaining for us.  This showed them they could trust us not to complain about them when they left.  It encouraged women to lift one another up instead of knocking one another down.

This lesson is one I have to revisit all the time.  This is one I have to remember even more now that I’m working with mostly just my family and church family.  Just because I love you doesn’t mean that we never hurt one another or even get on each others’ nerves.  We do and we will.  What we need to do is remember that we don’t know what’s going on in each others’ lives.  We should handle one another with grace and pity…and maybe get to know each other better.

footwash_thumb2-264x300Next time another mom in the nursery bothers you, remember that you don’t know everything about her week.  This could be her very last straw.  She could be struggling just to make sure everyone gets something to eat.  Next time someone in lunch line annoys you, remember they could have health problems they’ve never mentioned.  They could be in a difficult relationship.  They may be struggling with some sin, just like you.  Pray for them.  Pity them.  Don’t deride them.  If there are some people in your church you don’t quite get along with, that’s okay.  You can still love them.  Look for positive things about them instead of picking at the frustrations over and over.  Maybe you’re asking them to do something they can’t or don’t know how.  Maybe their strengths are different from yours.  Maybe they’re in the middle of great suffering.  It might be a suffering so deep they don’t even know how to talk about it.

Be long-suffering with your church members.  If you don’t like your church maybe you need to stop looking at yourself and start looking at the soldiers beside you.  Are they wounded?  Are they broken?  Are they haunted by the carnage they’ve seen?  Are you helping them or just complaining?  Are you lifting them up or just being one more person who doesn’t like them?

If this principle was important in our boutiques, how much more do you think we need to practice it with our fellow believers?

These men and women love Christ just like we do.  They are our brothers and sisters.  Are you seriously not treating them with more love than complete strangers?  Are you giving them the least that you have?  They are other adopted children of the Father.  He loves them, and so should you.

Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 3: Have a System

Lesson 5: Red Heels

Lesson 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

Lessons from the Boutique, Part 3: Have a System

Been there, done that.

Been there, done that.

Once upon a time, this country girl – who can still milk a goat – helped her husband co-found and manage a set of Designer Consignment Boutiques.  By designer, I mean our boutiques carried $10,000 fur coats and gowns with the price tags still on them, $3000 handbags, $700 shoes, and other beautiful, exotic, and limited edition things, which we sold on consignment.  I learned many lessons from managing the boutiques for 14 years, ten of which we owned them.  In the first lesson, I talked about managing your time and worry with the philosophy of ‘first things first and second things not at all’.  In the second lesson, I talked about having an opening and closing to your day to help you prepare for all the little providences God brings your way.  In this lesson, I’m going to talk about systems.

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One of our boutique philosophies was Always Organizing.  We had a system for literally everything.  We did everything the same way, every time.  That way no matter who did it, it was always done neatly, efficiently, and was traceable.  We never let anyone do things their own way.  That would have cause chaos.

But, the systems weren’t set in stone.  We constantly looked for ways to improve.  If an employee or even customer had an idea, my husband and I evaluated it in the grand scheme of the boutiques.  If it looked good, we gave it a test run.  We encouraged everyone to improve the running of the store.  Smooth running gave us more time for our customers and happier employees.

Always Organizing.

This concept applies easily in the management of your home.  You need to have systems.  If you want to keep your home clean, presentable, and open while having time to run to the library with your nephew, take a walk with your sister, and hurry to help a church member, systems are required.  The things you do everyday like dishes, laundry, tidyings, showering, budgets, making the bed, getting dressed, etc., all need a system.  Sounds dull and boring, right?  Who wants to do the same thing every day, all the time…groan.  True, but it’s worth it.  The dull, rut, duty type things have to be done.  They won’t go away.  They won’t complete themselves.  But you don’t want to spend your whole life scrubbing pots and pans, right?

Have a system.

The opening and closing I spoke of last lesson is an excellent example of a system.  Systems can be huge: cleaning the house from stem to stern.  Or small: making the bed.

Always Organizing.

Systems always need evaluation.  Always examine your systems for waste: wasted time, wasted motion, and wasted effort. Always organizing starts with your mind and your systems, not with the order of your canned goods.  Study the way you clean, do laundry, use social media, garden, read, cook, plan out your week, and serve others.  You may think you don’t have a system but you do.  You have a way you do things, but is it the most effective way?

Embrace the freedom to change the system if it’s not working for you.  Believe me, this first year home – yes!  A whole year home! – has been a lot of trial and error.  My most recent change came when I realized I spent a lot of time being grossed out by my own bathroom cause I shed a lot.  By the end of the week, it was just soooo nasty.  Instead of living in my own filth, I started spending all of 30 seconds sweeping the bathroom floor each morning.  Now the bathroom feels cleaner and I’m not embarrassed every time someone comes over and needs to use our bathroom.  I took a system I already had in place and modified it to work better.

My mom and my husband are both very systematic and organized.  I try to apply the things I learn from them in my own home management.  I’m not so much that way.  I tend to be a little more head in the clouds.  But, I have benefited from their examples and their lessons.  I have more time to live in the clouds when my feet have a system for walking the earth.  Don’t kid yourself the earth must be walked.

from Google, by allison712

from Google, by allison712

If you have kids, caretaker responsibilities, or just a busy life and busy husband, you need systems.  If you’re a single women you need systems.  If you’re a college student or high schooler, you need systems.  Systems help us deal with the daily grind and free us up to do the things we love.

Are you good at systematizing your duties?  What are your biggest system struggles?  Not your forte?  Do you get help?  Let’s share our ideas in the comments below!

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Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 4: Dealing with People

Lesson 5: Red Heels

Lesson 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife