When you have neighbors, there might be a time when it can be stressful living next to them. It isn’t easy when we try to understand how to manage these unfavorable circumstances. So, next time you feel stress knocking on your door, take a look around you and IN you. Yep! We’re going to talk about cleaning out the clutter so we can live in harmony with our neighbors.
My wake-up call
From March 13th to September 1st, 2020 (that’s when school went back in session) we have been living in close proximity to our neighbors, especially these particular neighbors. The distance between our homes didn’t change, but our closeness has. I love all my neighbors and I enjoy helping them out. Most of us know our boundaries and respect each other’s space, but lately, these guys have gotten too close. Come on, I know you understand me.
Neighbors have their place. They aren’t your sister, they aren’t your best friend, and they aren’t your therapist. They are people that live by you, who will help you when you’re in a jam. The one thing we must remember is that neighbors have boundaries beyond the property line. And as much as I tried to set boundaries with these neighbors, they barged through them, not necessarily on our lot but in my mental well-being.
Understanding what’s happening
What am I leading up to? Stress! Not just stress from the neighbors and their messes, but stress in my own mess that is affecting my situation. Thank goodness for our camper. This was an amazing escape for us during the summer. And what an eye-opener it was being away from our neighbors. I didn’t realize how toxic this issue was until we got away from it.
What happened with the neighbors?
Usually, before we make a major change in our life, there is a trigger. These triggers generally ignite one of our personal values. And when our personal values get punched, “stress” punches back so hard you know you need to make a change.
My trigger was when I found out my neighbor was living a lie. In a way, I felt like I was scammed. I know that sounds minuscule, and I could say it’s none of my business, but it is my business when it affects my life. Some of you will understand this, others will not. But more noticeably, after this long quarantine and uncertainty in the world, it became clear of who was intruding on our lives. On the outside, everything was fine and dandy, but in the unseen realm, there was disorder. And it wasn’t necessarily my neighbor, it was who they allowed to “play with” and how naive I was to think it didn’t matter much. Let me tell you straight up, it matters more than you think, and it affects you a heck of a lot more than you think!
The ironic thing about this neighbor’s mess is that God showed me who I had been entertaining for a long time. It was time to claim my life back. Goodness, this seems more like a journal entry for me than a blog post. But listen up, I learned some super important game-changers that I want to pass along to you to help you in this area.
Who are they allowing to play with them?
I’m not talking about kids here and who they’re playing with. These are adults. And it’s who they are allowing to control their lives. So, after this trigger went off, I felt the need to seek and find. I craved the truth. I mean after you have been deceived for so long, wouldn’t you crave truth? To the Bible, I went. There were specific scriptures I wanted to understand. Particularly those verses about how the Enemy attacks and how we are to fight back. And no, I’m not a crazy person. Spiritual warfare exists and it happens to each of us. And yes I’m talking about Satan. This isn’t to scare you, this is to help you be strong.
I’m not writing this post to teach you everything I learned, there is a lot of information, so much so I don’t even know how to explain it in words! This post is to give you quick tips and a taste of what you can do to clean up stress messes within yourself; so when disarray occurs in your neighborhood you’ll know who you’re fighting…and it’s not necessarily your neighbor.
Seven steps to peace
The first step to cleaning up my stress mess was to physically clean out my home of any objects that may have been subjected to evil doing. I know this sounds silly, but if objects can be blessed like a prayer shawl, objects certainly can be cursed too. Yikes! Be careful about the things you collect, including books. And be watchful of gifts you receive or have already received. Most things are probably fine, but if you question anything that may have been cursed or made with the hands of witchcraft or a religion that goes against Jesus, get rid of it. I know this sounds voodoo, but remember who you’re dealing with…don’t entertain the enemy or test him.
The next step I took went beyond knickknacks. I went deep…into my old journals. Digging out my journals from high school, college, and my twenties was an eye-opener for me. First off, journaling is super healthy. It’s great to journal lessons you have learned, to write down prayers, to journal about great things and dreams, and to write about positive memories.
It’s also great to vent on paper, it’s better to beat up a pencil and notebook than to take-it-out on a person. Write it out. Don’t hang on to it. Vent. But then pitch it. Physically throw the journal entry away or burn it. When we keep our old journals, the ones filled with darkness and distress, in some way or form your mind is still hanging on to it. Do you know what I mean? Destroy those entries full of complaining, anger, bitterness, and foul language. Who are you saving those journals for? Why would you ever want to reread those things, ever? Get rid of that darkness. It’s done. All over. It’s behind you. Why relive it?
What motivated me to destroy these entries was that I personally didn’t want my family to ever read them or for me to read them again. Toxic. In fact, I have no idea why I hung on to them for so long! So…I ripped out the bad stuff and burned them. There were even some journals in which I just burned the whole thing. Yep! I literally took gasoline, stepped back, and torched them in our portable fire pit; kind of like breaking up with a boyfriend and burning his things. I broke up with my old self. It was so liberating! I didn’t want to remember that junk, so again, why was I hanging on to it?
The third step was to repent my sins. I wanted all negative ties broken. Asking for forgiveness of all my wrongs was humbling. You may think it’s no big deal, but to have a fresh start this needs to happen. In the past, I had asked God for forgiveness, but this time I was more thorough and I continue to this day to ask the Lord if there is something I missed to bring it to my attention. I don’t want any sin holding me back from what God wants to do in my life. This is a daily practice for me, I sin all the time without even knowing it! In Psalm 139:23-24, David asks, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The fourth step was to forgive anyone who had wronged me, including me! I didn’t say forget. I am not a Bible scholar, nor am I trying to be one, but I do know that you must forgive those who hurt you…yes, this includes your neighbor. Most of our offenders didn’t know what they were doing because the Enemy had such a big hold of them they had no way of telling what was right from wrong. Yet, there are some people that DID know what they were doing… The verse that comes to my mind is Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
The fifth step was to renounce, refuse, reject any lies, or fear that was/is holding me back. The Enemy is sneaky, and he only wants to hurt you. When you hear a lie like, “You’ll never succeed at this.” Get on top it immediately and say, “That’s a lie Satan. I am complete in Christ!” It’s also a super good idea to slam him with scripture you’ve memorized. In Ephesians 6 we are given the armor of God, and one vital piece of that battle gear is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Memorizing has been a powerful experience for me. Granted I only know a handful right now, but when I use them, I can feel it. Fighting off the Enemy is a daily thing for me along with repenting my sins, and forgiving others. Just remember that in John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Here is a site that is full of scriptures to memorize and use to fight with: hopefaithprayer.com
The sixth step was to look at what I’m putting into my mind daily. Am I listening to gossip? Depressing music? Lies on the news? Am I watching trashy TV? What are my conversations full of? What am I watching on YouTube or what video games are I playing? How are these shows helping me? I’m not perfect, I have temptations, but I do have a mind. And if I want to live a life of joy and peace, I am going to try my best to control the things I put in my mind. Did you hear that? “What we put in our minds is in our control.” We have a choice here. No one is forcing you to watch Silence of the Lambs. The Bible teaches us what to put in our minds Philippians 4:8 gives us an idea, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, what is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”(NIV)
The seventh step was to pray. I’m not just talking about prayers of “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food.” Prayers for protection, love, and to do His will have power behind them. The Lord wants to hear from you, He wants to talk with you, and He wants to bless you. But the first step is to pray. In Matthew 6:5-15 Jesus teaches us how to pray. He uses the Lord’s Prayer as a guide in what you should include in your prayers. Some pastors follow an acronym for prayer: ACTS.
Don’t make praying complicated; you can pray however you like, however, if you’re looking for help, you can use the above acronym as a guide. If you’re vibing in your prayer life, stick with that!
To Round It Up
Whether you are dealing with neighbors, family relationships, or friendships my hope is that if it gets messy, take a step back and see what and WHO is really at fault here. I recommend going through these seven steps so you can get clarity in your relationships and in your everyday life.
Along with reading the Bible (Ephesians 6:10-18 is a good start), I also recommend these books.
You can also head to my freebies and download the Stress & Anxiety Protocol, it’s a free download. My hope is that you’ll understand more about this spiritual warfare so you know how to recognize it and fight if off! Blessings to you.
Oh my goodness, I am hooked on this warm kale salad recipe! Seriously, this is my new favorite lunch. I also feature this recipe in a post. If you missed it it’s here for you: Warm Kale Salad Plus 4 Tips to Change Up Weight Loss you’ll want to check’r out. I actually call this recipe Autumn Awesomeness, but I’ve been eating it all year round. There is something about all the flavors blending so well, crispy curly kale, roasted butternut squash cubes, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, and olive oil…and salt. And my mouth is watering once again. This is a super easy recipe with quick clean-up and packed with nutrition.
More about kale and butternut squash
Curly kale is nutrient-dense. I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just mention the big guys. Per Healthline, curly kale is a huge source of antioxidants, antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting. Kale is a source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium! And get this, it even helps us lose weight.
I’m not a big fan of it raw, but I LOVE it crisped up in a pan, especially with a little…do I even say it?…bacon. Be sure to buy organic. The non-organic is has pesticides on it and is one of the Dirty Dozen foods. You can read more about it here. Spend the extra bucks on organic.
Butternut Squash is my favorite squash. It’s easy on the digestion and has great flavor. This squash is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamin A, E, folate, B-6. It helps lower blood pressure, cancer risk, and asthma. Butternut squash is also great for your hair, skin, and immune system.
Roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil and salt is my favorite way to cook it. I’ve also had it mashed, which is delightful especially with a little butter or non-dairy butter. Yum!
Tools needed for this dish
The number one tool for this dish is the trusty cast-iron pan. It gives the food an extra layer of flavor. Believe me, I’ve done a lot of research on what pan is the healthiest to cook with. One that won’t leach chemicals, aluminum, or Teflon into my food and the cast iron wins every time! It may be heavy, but it’s extremely low maintenance. In fact, if you’re anemic (iron deficient) it helps put a little iron in your system.
One more thing about the cast iron pan, it’s SUPER easy to clean, no soap required. Seriously, no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan. I highly recommend getting a cast iron pan, even if it’s the small one. You can find them on Amazon.
Other ingredients and variations
As for other ingredients, I recommend grilled chicken breast. You can opt for already cooked or make it yourself. When I’m in a hurry I’ll buy the already grilled chicken strips. Or if I’m in a BIG hurry I’ll just microwave gluten-free chicken nuggets.
The piece that brings it all together for me is the olive oil. I use a little bit in the pan for the kale, and then at the end to finish the dish. I absolutely love the flavor it brings to each ingredient. My favorite, hands-down olive oil is California Ranch Olive Oil. It’s 100% olive oil. With that said, be sure you get an olive oil you trust is 100%. We don’t need no stinkin’ canola or vegetable oil fillers.
Variations to the recipe. This is such a versatile recipe that any protein would work: brats, strips of steak, shrimp, or bacon. Adding a thinly sliced red onion also adds more depth. Enjoy!
This is an amazingly healthy yet tasty dish for lunch or dinner. The chard kale and roasted butternut squash complement each other, while the dried cranberries make it pop. This is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
4Strips of grilled chicken or 4 GF Chicken nuggets
2TBSPDried Cranberries or Cherries
3 TBSPOlive Oil1TBSP for frying kale, 2 TBSP for topping at the end
Heat cast iron pan on low.
Wash thoroughly, pat dry, remove stalks, and chop. Put chopped kale into the pan. Then add 1 TBSP olive oil. It might get messy and splatter if kale is not dried off. Be careful.
I pre-roast an entire cubed squash. 350 for 40 minutes. Just toss a little olive oil and salt in before baking. Tip: Costco usually has raw cubed squash. Do not use frozen squash! You can also peel and cube your own squash.
After kale is charred and well cooked, wrap a dish towel around the cast iron panhandle and put kale on a plate.
Take leftover chicken, pre-cooked grilled chicken (Costco), or Gluten-free chicken nuggets. Microwave for the allotted time, or cook in your cast iron pan to warm. When done, put on top of kale.
Add squash to kale and chicken. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Delish!
For added flavor, add thinly sliced red onion, roasted pecans, or crispy bacon!
Calories may vary on chicken type and the amount you use.
The world is dominated by chaos especially now; pandemic, racial injustice, a shaky economy, broken homes, and anxiety-filled minds. If you look at what’s on TV, YouTube, and in theaters, you wouldn’t be surprised by the health of our world. Right now is a great time to pull out your secret weapon to fight chaos and kick it to the curb. Learn how to access your boxing gloves and how to use them effectively every day. You’ll be surprised how much simpler life gets and enjoyable.
The start of the school year
Starting school during a pandemic is stressful. No one knows what to expect or how to react. In fact, there is no right way. At least they have some type of school. As the kids head off to school or start their online education, we moms, whisper to ourselves about the tranquility we’re about to experience. Let’s face it, it’s been 6-months of constant contact with our precious babies. We love our children, but to help them survive on their own, they need to leave the nest. With an extra cup of coffee, a wide stretch of our arms, and a sigh of relief, we can finally relax and have the house (or room) to ourselves. Or is that false?
Yes, it’s true that the kids or gone or quiet, but it’s false that tranquility is immediate, it’s going to take some work to get there. When ‘me time’ comes we have this grand plan what we’ll do with ourselves, but we soon find our left brain playing ping pong with our right. Before we know it, mental chaos settles in. “I’m home alone, I only have X amount of time to get everything done! I’m not going to get it done! Can I get anything done? Oh my gosh! I just wasted an hour doing nothing!” This is what I call ‘Silent Chaos’.
Who is Mr. Silent Chaos?
Last month, I was feeling Silent Chaos put his welcome mat on my doorstep. My health was a mess, my kid’s EOE flared up, our kitchen was being remodeled, we were living in our basement out of boxes, work was overwhelming, and we had this pandemic going on. Mr. Silent Chaos paralyzed me. I was pissed. Who and what is going on? As I peeled back the layer of this mess I clearly saw that the Enemy is going on. Satan is having a heyday with this pandemic mess we’re in and I’m actually more upset at myself for letting him set-up camp in my life. Do you hear me?
My go-to for cleaning my head out
When there is too much going on in my head I usually grab a piece of copy paper and write down ALL the things on my mind and categorize them in different departments. This way I can visually see what I have going on in there and I can come up with a game plan on how to tackle it. This technique usually does the trick, but this time I was still unsettled. Grr.
My enlightenment, who knew?
As I was listening to my daily devotional, the pastor talked about something that helped explain why I was feeling so overwhelmed. It was something I didn’t think of and that’s what I want to share with you.
Personal values do what?
Did you ever think personal values had a role in our serenity? I used to think personal values were like jewels in a black velvet bag; you learn them when you’re young and then carry them around with you. BUT don’t you dare get them out and use them because they’re valuable. Did I sure have that backward.
It had been a while since I opened my bag of personal values. Let’s face it, I’m an adult, and values are taught when we are children, right? Not so, those are morals. Morals are beliefs that are taught to us. Think of morals as “acceptable” acts. Parents usually teach morals to help a child determine what is right and wrong. Personal values come from within; they define what is important to us and help us make the right decisions that align with our heart. When personal values are used correctly we ultimately experience happiness with our decisions.
Ahem. There is no better time than now to review your personal values. For me and Mr. Silent Chaos, my personal values had to intervene to save the day, along with some Bible verses of course. When our values align with our decisions, life is SO much easier and happier.
How could something so simple have such a big impact?
The first week of school is a GREAT time to revisit our values. And that’s what I did, I took a minute and grabbed my values exercise and reviewed what I wrote down as my core values. During the exercise, I realized some values had changed and that was probably one of the causes of my chaotic feeling. When we understand WHY we’re making certain decisions, we understand ourselves better and can move forward by making the right decision for our sanity.
After my values exercise, my mind felt clearer and cleaner. It felt like getting new running shoes, I was ready to run hours on end. At this point, I could now go back and look at my paper where I wrote everything down and organize it according to my values.
If you’re at a point where ‘simplifying your life’ sounds like heaven, then sharpen your pencil. Chaos isn’t welcome in my home anymore. In fact, if I can keep myself in-line with my values and speak God’s word, then the enemy doesn’t have a foothold on me. Fight back with what the Lord put in you, use your personal values.
“If you watch your life, you’ll be amazed at how many times a week Satan launches an attack against you for the sole purpose of stealing your peace. When I finally saw that, God said to me in my spirit, “Joyce, if the devil wants your peace that badly, then there must be something pretty powerful about being peaceful.”
This post isn’t about a movie review; it’s about the message God put in my heart while watching this particular story. I had an epiphany and want to share it with you. With that said, may you find motivation and inspiration from the word “can’t”.
In 2018 the movie I Can Only Imagine debuted and has made over $85 million. The song I Can Only Imagine hit radio stations 19 years earlier. The movie is based on the true story of the songwriter, Bart Millard. When the movie came out, I personally thought it would be a boring movie. Two years later, I finally watched it and my emotional response shocked me.
Why did the movie grab me so much?
This past Sunday I was in a funk. We had just come off a 3-week vacation camping at a nearby campground…kudos to my husband who stayed there the entire duration, but for me? My busy brain came home now and then to get things done around the house, tend to appointments, and feel productive. It wasn’t until the last week I could finally sink into the vacation. Have you ever experienced something like that? I was actually mad I couldn’t submit to vacation. Anyway, I was grateful our trip was 3 weeks long, otherwise, I would have missed ‘vacation mode’.
Since I did most of my chores while on vacation when we got back I didn’t have any motivation to do anything! In times like these I usually think about my blog, my creative projects, or simply go for a walk. But instead, I revisited my career path and asked myself hard questions; and frankly, I felt more lost than ever. It was a moment of dead space where you think about where you’ve been and where you want to go and feel you missed something. Ugh. Needless to say, I needed to escape and watch a movie.
As I was flipping through Hulu, my finger stopped at “I Can Only Imagine”. I vaguely remembered my family telling me it was a good movie and thought, what the heck; it’s Sunday, why not watch a Christian movie.
From the beginning, I was into it. Multiple times through the movie I found myself getting emotional. My emotions were scattered and jumping from one character to another. One minute I was sad for Bart, and next I was upset about his mom in many ways. I was sad his dad was so confused and abusive. Then my heart ached for his dad when he was trying to figure out the Bible on his own. And then back to Bart of how he heard from God and pursued. But what was I really crying about?
The truth comes out
Deep emotions surfaced from my own past, and as I peered closer to the anchor which has kept me down, I saw a four-letter word written on it. Through my blurred teary eyes the word “can’t” became clear.
Throughout my life, I have heard “you can’t” from people I love and respect, from people I have trusted, and mostly myself. With ideas and dreams I’ve shared, I was hopeful for encouragement and instead got, “that’s silly”, “you know how hard you’d have to work?”, “you don’t want to do that”, “do you even qualify to do that?”… “you can’t”… these words not only were verbally spoken, but the Enemy whispered them in my ear too. They pretty much say, “don’t even try”.
Not only did I hear it from my family and friends, but I heard it on the media. “You can’t do that without this.” “You can’t lose weight without this system and support team.” And the list goes on.
To add more shine to the word “can’t”, my body was telling me I can’t! My digestive system got so messed up I’m unable to eat a “normal” diet. I actually have to think about what to order at a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for me to eat. Other aliments loitered and set up camp for months and then years crippling my ability to sit for long periods and walk without pain.
I was really starting to believe I couldn’t do the things I had ideas about. It felt like no one took me seriously or believed in me…even me. Do you know what that’s like?
As I reflected on the movie and looked closer at the word “can’t” I realized something. You know how some people get motivated when other people tell them they can’t do something? Then you turn around and the next thing you know they’ve achieved that very dream someone told them they couldn’t do! From a Christian perspective take a look at the configuration of the word “can’t”. What do you see?
This movie showed me something I’ve missed for so many years. When you physically see how the letters of “can’t” are configured anything is possible with Jesus.
Simply by looking at the word “can’t” with merciful eyes helps us see life in a new light. Right now in my life, I am learning how to take the “can’ts” and give them to Jesus. This isn’t always easy, but it gives me the extra power to overcome and move forward. When I ask Him, He’ll give me the strength to sort through, persevere, and push on.
Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.
There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:
1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!
2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, yet alone one you can trust.
3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.
Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.
Why cleaning the house matters
First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!
Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned!
5 factors to determine how often I clean
I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.
If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often.
The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help.
If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!
Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.
And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you ‘Laidback Jack’ or ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.
All in all
When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!