Monday, July 27, 2009

Purge and Simplify

Purge and simplify.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Not for someone like me.

I'm a collector. A sentimental collector. I keep it all.

I might need it someday. I might want to look at it someday. Someday...

Some of you are crawling in your skin right now. I am jealous of people like you, because your house is always neat, tidy, and simple. I always want to move in when I see a house like that. Oh well.

I got a new perspective on my "stuff" this weekend. Doug and I went through our storage shed where the half of our stuff we are not living with resides. We worked a total of 9 hours in some rather hot weather, and managed to throw away a lot and pull out to semi-decent stuff to sell.

This purging is one of the steps in the process of going overseas that I've been looking forward to...sort of.

I've been reading through Isaiah, and I'm astounded how much God repeats himself over and over in different ways to say, "You shall have no other gods before me." It took a lot of repetition to get the attention of the Israelites, and I'm not sure they ever understood.

God is adamant about it! Many of us, including myself, have heard about not worshiping idols ever since we learned about the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. I should know this stuff. But in all reality, I hardly ever live it. Israel never "got it." Will I?

In my mind, I think, "I've never bowed down to a little statue or prayed to a bobble head about my problems."

But, if I love ANYTHING more than God, then it's an idol for me. Yikes!

Isaiah was talking about my storage shed...

I'm holding tight to "stuff" that cannot satisfy any need I have.

I threw away my eighth grade basketball shoes. They still fit me, but really...what do I need those Nikes for? It sounds silly doesn't it? Keep laughing. Enjoy yourself. But it was hard for me.

I threw away most of my teaching materials. Worksheets, tests, binders full of work that represent hours of hard work. I only kept one subject that I know I will need help on when I teach my own children.

I threw away Bible study lessons I have taught and notes from conferences I have attended in the past 17 years since I became a Christian. Still hard for me.

I threw away clothes that no one but me would want, but that I loved at one time.

We got rid of decorations, picture frames, knick knacks, doo dads, Christmas decorations, cookbooks, books, TVs, rocking chair, shelves, etc, and it felt pretty good.

What I realized I'm not ready to let go of (and I won't ever be), not because they are idols, but because they are irreplaceable, are letters from family members and loved ones and photographs.

I've only tackled half the battle because I'm living with the other half of my junk back in Katy.

To Africa, we are taking bunk beds (no mattresses), dishes, cooking supplies, clothes, books, and three and a half years supply of some day-to-day things like vitamins, bug spray, and sun screen, but all in all, I've got some more purging to do.

In August, we will be having a garage sale, but I think my mom will have to keep the kids that weekend, because, you see, I have to purge their stuff, too...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Amazing Goodbye

Well, I guess it wasn't really, "Goodbye," but more like, "See ya later."

Our awesome friends in Katy, Cole and Erin Wilkins, honored our family with a dinner to tell us how much they loved us and would miss us. It was quite an affair, and I felt very honored.

When we walked up to the door, there was a sign saying, "Welcome Taylor Family to your African Dinner." Tears started welling. My heart is not quite ready for all the "goodbyes" that are to come. Thankfully, Doug read the sign to the non-readers. I needed to catch my breath.

We walked in to a beautiful table setting with pictures of Uganda posted on the walls and on the credenza.

At each place setting, there was a printed menu listing the evening's fare and which country it originated from.

We could have stopped at the African Peanut Soup and had it for appetizer, main dish, and dessert. It was incredible! (I was so excited when she later offered us leftovers to take home).

Next, came the main course, Boerewors Treat, which is one of Cole and Erin's favorite dishes. As a side note, Boerewors Treat is the only dish they had had before. The rest were discoveries off the internet. She even printed out all the recipes for me. I will add them to my collection. I'm going through my hand-made cookbook slowly, taking only the recipes that I know I can find the ingredients to in Africa (no Cream of Mushroom Soup, I'm sure). I'm guessing I can find Erin's recipe ingredients over there, but I'm still not sure about the availability of cottage cheese...

On to dessert. These people know how to serve a meal. There were TWO desserts on the menu!

Thankfully, we got to take some fried bananas home, too. Doug pan-fried them and blackened them the next day, and it was joy all over again!

The Wilkins' have such great toys for kids at their house (albeit, my children were fascinated with Douggie's toys - the dog's - not my husband's), that Doug and I were able to sit and enjoy good conversation while drinking refreshing Blueberry Tea. Here's proof.

But it's also proof that one of my children was playing with the camera.

Thank you Erin and Cole for all your hard work and planning, but most of all, for honoring us in such a sweet, unique way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Create in me a clean heart

Hebrews 3:13 "but exhort one another daily, while it is still called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

My kids are constantly asking, "Why are they bad?" especially when referring to a movie or cartoon character. "What made them bad?" Interesting question. Besides just the simple and correct answer, "Sin."

In the past, I've talked of parenting, but I realize it's possible for godly parents to have ungodly children. Sin is the choice of the child. This verse in Hebrews is the verse I need to come back to.

We are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Period. Anyone is capable. O Lord, create in me a clean heart.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Family photo in a flash

Doug was looking for a photo of us to let the church use in a VBS slide show. He came up WAY short of anything decent, so within 30 minutes, we asked a friend if she could take our picture, we rushed to throw clothes on, and headed over to her house right before sundown.

It took about 15 pictures for Caleb to cooperate, and when he did, the girls were fidgeting, but I'll take this over anything that Doug had originally found. They were pretty scary, let me tell you! Thank you Russell and Celeste for your patience with us!