My new home is in Tulsa, but you can still follow my adventures at kdsullivan.com…
While browsing through Netflix one day, I saw one the most feminine and dainty young women that I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her name is Marie Kondo and she is taking the nation by storm with her Netflix show, Tidying Up.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, my house will be officially on the market next week. So tidying my home right now, is a no-brainer. However, there were a few unexpected benefits to Ms. Kondo’s method of sorting through things. I thought I’d share them with you…
Clearing Your Physical Space Clears Your Head Space
- Less is more – I’ve always been a believer in less is more. However, because I have often found myself a hair shy of impoverished, I tend to hoard in preparation for a rainy day. Honestly, it’s been fear that has kept me from donating clothes too big/small for me, thinking, “What if I lose/gain a bunch of weight and don’t have the money to buy the required clothing? What if I get rid of that shirt box I received for Christmas and I need one later?” Forget about the fact that styles may change or that boxes are literally less than a dollar at Dollar Tree, I’m afraid that as soon as I let go, that I will need that item…and I often do. However, I forgot how clearly I am able to think when the clutter is gone. And that’s worth something don’t you think? Finding the perfect balance between being prepared and being a hoarder is difficult, but our decision should definitely not be out of fear. After all, we are encouraged in I Tim. 1:7, that we have not been given the spirit of fear, but of love, power and of a sound mind.
- Gratitude “Sparks Joy” – As I sorted through my belongings, my level of gratitude began to soar. Marie Kondo asks her clients to hold each item and ask, “Does this spark joy?” As I did this, I was often reminded of the origin of the item. I remembered where I was when I purchased it, or who gave it to me. There were cards and letters others had written. I was becoming not only grateful for the items, but for the people and experiences in my life. At one point, I even found myself placing my hands on the ceiling beams of my attic bedroom and weeping praise and thanksgiving for the privilege of having lived in a house I’ve loved so much. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, said, “Thanksgiving always proceeds the miracle.” But maybe the miracle is how thanksgiving heals the heart. I have so many changes coming my way right now, and I need to know that I am following God in all that I am doing. I believe that God is able to do much more when we keep a grateful heart, full of appreciation for the blessings He’s already given. We are told that we can enter His gates with thanksgiving.(Psalm 100:4) We are also told that in His presence is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11) So wouldn’t it suffice to say that thanksgiving brings joy because it puts us in the most joyful place of all which is His presence?
- Purging Material Items Brings Healing – I had no idea that a few of my possessions actually brought bad memories and pain to my heart. Holding each item and asking if that item sparked joy, I realized that a few things that I had kept for decades, brought fear, pain and a deep sadness and regret. Donating those items actually brought healing and freedom. Although they were lovely, not having them in my home feels a little like I have cleared away the cobwebs from my mind. I had no idea the negativity they were bringing into my environment.
Overall, the greatest blessing I received from the Konmarie Method is in letting go. We are told to forget those things that are behind and press forward toward the mark.(Phil 3:13) I had things hanging in my closet, trinkets and jewelry, and even books that were unbeknownst to me weighing me down like a beast of burden under too much strain. It was painfully glorious to let go of these things.
One of my key Scriptures as of late, is found in Isaiah and speaks of God doing a new thing, in unexpected places…and I feel Him stirring. But I had no idea He was stirring in my closet, my bookcase and even my junk drawer. But I’m glad He is, because now I am liberated to run faster, farther and freer than ever before without the cumbersome burden of too many things.
I recently quit my dream job. A job so perfectly suited for me that it fit like a glove. A job where I had the privilege of affecting thousands of people by providing services to local churches and reaching out to neighbors in need. But alas, the small non-profit ran out of funds and could no longer support my salary as director. So, in the best interest of the organization, I resigned.
I’m moving out of my dream house. A house so perfectly crafted for me, it was like someone built it to my specifications. A house that I thoroughly believe that God provided. But alas, without steady work from my dream job, it is wise to sell. Perhaps more importantly, I feel the Good Shepherd leading me on.
On Monday, I had a few friends over to help me make a “work list” of things to be done before I put my home on the market. We ate lunch, talked about staging the house, our kids, our dreams and what Bible reading program we were using for the year. We talked about what books we are currently reading and how things are going on in our church families.
As I stood talking to the last guest, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “This was one of your greatest accomplishments.”
“What part of this?” my mind whispered back as my friend continued to tell me how work was going.
The answer was unexpected, because it wasn’t anything grand, or difficult. In fact, it was something that had come quite naturally to me without much effort. You see, my three friends are from different churches, backgrounds and have very different personalities. But we do have one thing in common. We all love Jesus. I hadn’t thought I was doing anything special or unique by inviting the three of them over, but our Father did. I believe that God, just like any parent, loves to see His kids getting along and loving Him together, side by side.
What pleases God most about us isn’t necessarily the most complicated or difficult things, or acts of great sacrifice and heroic deeds. Instead, they are the everyday, common things that come naturally to the unique personality He has give to each of us.
I didn’t hear God’s voice commend me for sacrificing my career for the good of the organization. (Although I know that it was the right thing to do.) I didn’t feel God pat me on the back for being willing to sell my house and move in order to follow His leading. (Although it’s been through tears that I have done so.) No, it was something much simpler than that. It was having three friends over for lunch that brought me the warmth of His pleasure.
God warns us not to call common what He calls cleansed and holy. (Acts 10:15) And maybe the key is in this: Where two or more of you are gathered in My Name, there I’ll be…
After all, what could be more uncommon that that? What could be more uncommon and holy than God sharing lunch with three ladies? How can where He is be a common place?
I may have felt really good about myself as an executive director of a small nonprofit. Finally, I was doing “big” things for God. Giving up my house might feel like a mini-Gethsemene, the best gift I could offer to God. But it wasn’t these hard things that God was whispering about. It was something far simpler.
I want to encourage you today, what you think is commonplace, God wants to make a holy altar. What you think is insignificant, God wants to make a sacred sanctuary. It’s not only in the grandiose, obvious acts that much is accomplished in the Kingdom. But it’s also in the everyday breathing, eating, drinking, sharing, laughing and living that His heart is warmed.
Join me Friday for more on this subject.
One of the heroes of my faith is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He refused to silently watch as evil was at work where he lived. He risked all to follow Christ and serve mankind and in the end paid the ultimate sacrifice in a concentration camp. Even with all the wealth and education his family could afford, in the end it was no protection against the Nazi fury.
It was almost like Dietrich was two different men: the scholar and theologian; and the activist surrounded by controversy. To Bonhoeffer, being a Christian reconciled the two prominent parts of his persona. He could not be a disciple of Christ without being an activist against things that he was convinced that God hated. Imprisoned for being suspect of a plot to kill Hitler, he was hung just before the end of the war.
In today’s world, there are many who need champions, and perhaps unlike Dietrich, I will remain silent about which causes you should choose. Instead, I will trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you through Scripture to the mission He has personally called you to. Whatever the cause, allow these ten Bonhoeffer quotes to inspire you to fight without thought for your own safety and reputation.
Ten Bonhoeffer Quotes Sure to Inspire
- “Silence in the face of evil, is in itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
- “If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”
- “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.”
- “Salvation is free but discipleship will cost you your life.”
- “Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into tranquil joy.”
- “The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.”
- “Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Christ.”
- “There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveller.”
- “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”
- “A righteous person is one who lives for the next generation.”
My hope is that these words have inspired you to bid your calling. If you’d like to know more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, here are a few suggestions: The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
I’m the kind of person who is loyal to the end, often to the end of myself. I’m not the typical “Cruiseamatic.” I’ve gone to the same non-denom church for 30 years, lived in the same area almost my entire life, and would have been happy to work at my job as an Executive Director of a small Christian non-profit to the end of my days. But God had other plans…and that makes my dig-in-your-heels-until-the-end-of-time personality VERY uncomfortable.
So, here I am, picking up my proverbial pen again. Something that I had convinced myself that I had no time to do while immersed in the nonprofit world. I’ve let my writing persona crumble and, like Nehemiah, I’m looking around at the ruins of my blog, my novel and a few other projects of unfinished business with no idea where to start. Where does one even begin to repair broken dreams and things left to the destructive forces of life’s storms?
Oddly enough, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the upheaval in my life. Last year, without even asking, the Lord gave me the word “transition.” I can’t think of a more terrifying word to receive when one is pretty happy with every part of her life. As I sought the meaning of this command, I left no stone unturned. I continue to allow Him to change things that, at one time, I thought were non-negotiable. As each of these dark corners in my life reveal a change by His direction, I will gladly share with you. For now, I can only say that, like Bilbo when questioned where he was off to, “I’m going on an adventure!” The kind of adventure where I am trusting God to take me to a safe and prosperous place that I know not of. I understand that such a place is unavailable without setbacks, surprises and battles. I also know that the character, growth and relationships built along the way will make the whole process more than worth any struggle seen along the way.
Remembering this a year ago…
When the enemy comes in like a flood….
And it’s during your non profit organization’s biggest annual fundraiser
Which is planned for outdoors
And you have no plan “b”.
When a deluge of doubt drowns all that was sprouting green
And hope is as damp as the basement floor
That threatens to pool over like the tears in your eyes.
When carefully laid plans seem to lay in waste
And a crew of almost 100 looks to you to make a decision
Whether to admit defeat or somehow trudge on.
When even after clouds empty the air is thick with Mosquitos and humidity
And parking lots are lakes
And dreams threaten to turn to nightmares.
God raises a standard.
And it almost always includes His army
Of mighty workers and trusters
Who look in the face of doubters and dare to defy disaster.
God raises a standard of men and…
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Love is a lifetime of do-overs and a discipline to be practiced…will you join me in the endeavor to practice love?
practice makes perfect
or so I’ve heard it said.
and so it is true when
playing the piano
making pie crusts
and if at first you don’t succeed,
try, try again.
No one expects you to get it right the first time.
there is respect in the pursuit.
it requires discipline and commitment,
and can not trust in talent alone,
the quest to perfection.
why is it then, that we expect to get love right
the first time?
love requires practice too.
piano practice has scales
pie crusts, repetition
Love practices in action.
it won’t be suppressed.
Love defies inaction.
for that is what makes it passionate.
Compulsion to act.
to do something of value.
How does love act?
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It is not jealous or envious.
It is not full of pride, or rudeness.
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Do you want to soar like a spider with me?
Today my son and I went downtown. He edits video promotions for our church and he needed some good footage for an upcoming conference. So, he asked me to come along. Actually, he asked someone else, but they couldn’t go. It’s interesting how moms are always last on the list…
So we found ourselves romping around the city for a few hours. One of the places at which he decided to do some shooting was at the Hancock building. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going to the ninety-third floor on the fastest elevator in North America. (It takes only 40 seconds!) The things we will do for our children. But, once we arrived the view was spectacular! It was a beautiful, clear day and visibility was particularly great.
While sitting in a chair waiting for my son, I noticed a spider in the corner of the window…on the OUTSIDE of…
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I sat in an auditorium chair; nervous but expectant. This was the first writer’s conference that afforded me appointments with publishers, agents and published authors. Fifteen minutes. How could I possibly communicate my ideas in a mere fifteen minutes? I sat in a chair next to Suzie Eller. This was different than the other meetings, because we belonged to the same community. The blogging community.
So I told her my dilemma. How I’ve been blogging, and writing a novel and now God throws in this twist…Executive Director of a non-profit organization…me? How does a retired home school mama find herself here? And what if I have to quit blogging? What if I never finish the book I’ve spent three years on?
She smiled, and calmly asked in her charming southern drawl, “What is your blog about, Kimberly?”
“I don’t really know, I guess it’s about finding out more about me and how I can influence my world for Him.”
“Do you realize that you’ve used the word ‘influence’ three times in this conversation?” She paused for effect. “What if I told you that it may not be important whether you ever get a book published or not? Whether you continue blogging or not? Clearly the thing that motivates you is to influence the world around you for Christ. However the Lord has you doing that is His business, wouldn’t you agree?”
I felt dizzy. How did this sweet lady figure me out better than I had figured myself out in less than ten minutes? I was struck dumb.
It’s amazing how epiphany bolts through like a bullet train, changing perspective and destiny. I can’t say that there has ever been a conversation that I can look back to that has caused such instant clarity before or since. And after meditating on Suzie’s wise words I realize that there was also wisdom in what I said that this place was all about…”finding out more about me and how I can influence my world for Him.” I guess I just didn’t expect what I found out about myself, or the way that the Lord would have me to influence others.
Epiphany changes the filter on the camera lens you are peering through. Even though the objects haven’t changed, the light in which you view them alters everything. I am called to influence, but how I influence may not be the same filter I saw myself using…and I am learning to leave all preconceptions at the door, because they are rarely what He has planned. What He has planned is usually much bigger.