Tag Archives: live out your purpose

No Longer Silenced

As you can see, this blog has laid dormant for a long time. I apologize for that! Almost 5 years ago, I walked away from all of my financial securities and everything I had known to follow God’s calling on my life. During that journey, as I searched fervently for God’s direction and would excitedly share those things that I knew God was saying to me with others, people I knew and people that I only had a brief interaction with would tell me that my story was inspirational. Having heard this over and over again, I knew this was God’s way of telling me that He wanted to use my story (His story really) to impact other people’s lives and hearts.

As I explained this to a coach I was working with 5 years ago, right after walking away from everything I knew, she said I needed to purchase the website and start a blog. So I did, even though I didn’t have clarity in my mind about how exactly I would use the blog since I hadn’t even written the actual Modern Day Noah book yet. I wasn’t sure if I should write the book out on the blog and then turn it into the book. I wasn’t sure if I should just start telling my story from day one of leaving my financial security, etc. The only thing that I knew for sure is that I wanted the blog to be REAL. I didn’t want people to feel like I was preaching at them. I wanted to be sure that people knew that just because you’re following God’s will for your life doesn’t mean you have it all together and you never have a problem. I wanted the readers to know that people who know and follow God don’t live in an alternate reality from the rest of the world. And I wanted people to really, really get that we are all put here for a very specific purpose – and when you live out that calling on your life, it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever do!

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Because I didn’t feel like my story had that big ending that people would be looking for, other than walking away from all of my financial security and walking head on into my insecurities, I became somewhat paralyzed about where to begin writing. And although I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to tell my story, I began battling with my own fears and insecurities. Who cares about my life? Who am I to think my story is so darn important? Why would I think I could make such a big impact? And so on and so forth. Yet, I knew that telling my story and writing this book, was God’s direction for my life.

Early in my relationship with God and church, I learned that Satan battles hard against those that walk around making a big statement for God. Granted, he makes everybody’s lives miserable, but especially those that are trying to point people to the hope of Jesus Christ. Why? Because he wants to silence them before they share the hope and love of Christ with too many people. I remember so clearly watching people at the first church I attended succumb to this battle. They were always the ones everyone noticed, the high profile people. The ones that were making the biggest impact. They were the preachers and the parishioners that were making a dramatic positive impact on the church and those that were exuberant about serving God and the church.

I remember one couple that took over running the youth ministry. They had great ideas for growing the group and connecting the youth within the group – and they were making a huge impact on all of the kid’s lives and relationships with Christ. Little by little, I watched as their lives began to slowly unravel. She began struggling with depression. I remember watching her trying this medication or that medication. The drugs had an obvious impact on her and she slowly became less and less involved in the church. Within no time, this couple that had been married for at least 15-20 years were getting a divorce. The youth ministry fell apart as their lives fell apart. Satan’s attack on these 2 wonderful people had successfully silenced them and killed any hope of them continuing to impact other’s lives for God. I could tell you many, many stories like this where Satan attacks those who are making the most noise for God with a vengeance. And that is what he has done with me for the past 5 years.

As I mentioned, when it was officially time to start writing the book (when I quit my other “real” full time job), I immediately began struggling with confusion about where and how to start writing and so I just didn’t. Slowly but surely, every insecurity I had became bigger and bigger. I began struggling with social anxiety and little by little I withdrew from everyone and everything I was involved with. Within a year, I spent most of my days alone with no interaction at all with anyone but my clients. Social anxiety caused me to be paralyzed at the thought of interacting with others. My weight went through the roof and unfortunately still is. That furthered my desire to hide away from others. All the while, I knew exactly what was happening. I knew Satan was trying to silence me from sharing the amazing story of how knowing and following God has impacted my life. I hated that Satan was successfully silencing me. But yet, I just couldn’t shake it.

My organizing business, Simplified Living Solutions, has been so successful that I am constantly busy with that. Although it’s a good problem to have, I know that it has been one of the biggest things that has kept me from writing this book and sharing my story. In August, I ended up flat on my back for about 3 weeks with a broken rib and strained back. I had to cancel every single client session I had for about 2 months. Although I hated letting down all of my clients, I secretly was thrilled to have everything come to a screeching halt. I also knew that while others might have seen this situation as a negative thing – money lost, letting clients down, etc – I saw this as a blessing and as God shaking the heck out of me and saying DO IT! I was thrilled that through this injury, He helped me take back control of my life in this way. I needed rest and I needed an opportunity to get myself refocused on Him. Thankfully, 2-1/2 months later, I am clearer on what matters most and have begun battling my social anxiety harder and moving back into relationships with people. So, today begins the official start of me making this book and blog my main priority. I hope you’ll follow along with me and that you’ll be inspired. And I hope that you’ll pray for me when you have a chance. I know my story is a strong, inspirational message of hope that many people need to hear. I just pray that enough people cover me in prayer so that Satan doesn’t succeed in silencing me again. Buckle your seat belt. Tray tables up. We’re taking off and I can’t wait!

comeback-story

Tears of Joy!

Last week I traveled 4 hours away to help a client of mine that had moved out of the area a few years ago. Although she tried to find a professional organizer in her area to help her, the one she found was new and was just as overwhelmed with the situation as she was. So much so that she has since gone out of business. Unfortunately, there are no other professional organizers in her area, so she reached out to me for help. Her initial email to me said “I know it would be a lot to ask you to come and help me, but I’m fairly desperate and have lost all pride”. How do you say no to helping someone when they say something like that, no matter how far away they are?

Since she had only unpacked the essentials, and left everything else out in the garage when she moved in 3 years earlier, I knew we had to start in the garage. As with any organizing job, finding the place that “clogs” up the rest of the home and unclogging it is crucial. The garage took the longest amount of time to complete, but it was also one of the most rewarding spaces because of that. Now all of the stuff that was in her house that really should be in the garage was able to be filtered out into the garage zones once we had them established.

Garage-Before-After

Garage – Before & After

Next we moved on to the kitchen space, then the closets, the living room, the master bedroom/bath, the laundry room, the guest room and the home office. We worked for 6 straight days, all day long and got through the larger part of her home. Letting go of things you love or thought you might use someday is always difficult and that was no different for this client. But with each passing day, she gave up more and more. She even went back and let go of things she had decided to keep only the day before. I was so proud of her and all of the hard work she invested in this process.

Kitchen-Before-After

Kitchen – Before & After

Home-Office-Before-After

Home Office – Before & After

Home-Office-Before-After

Home Office – Before & After

She had shared with me before I came that her master bedroom and bathroom were the areas that were bothering her the most. She couldn’t find peace anywhere in her home. She felt overwhelmed, stressed out and beat down – something I commonly hear from our clients. I knew the sense of relief she would feel when her master bedroom and bathroom were clutter-free and organized and so I didn’t let her see things changing as I was working. I wanted her to see it ONLY when those spaces were completed.

Once I had the areas organized, I let her look. Her mouth immediately fell open as she blurted out the words “I think I could cry”. With that, she threw the entire upper part of her body down onto her outstretched arms on the bathroom counter and began crying uncontrollably. I began crying. I knew how much relief I had brought to her life. I knew how long she had wanted that space back in control and peaceful. But her reaction was priceless and beautiful!

Bedroom-Before-After

Bedroom – Before & After

Once my client stopped crying, she stepped back and stared at me in disbelief and exclaimed “this is definitely your ministry, a life-changing ministry at that!”. I know it seems funny to most (and even to myself sometimes) to leave all of your financial security behind to follow what you believe God created you to do. But knowing you have the ability to use what you love doing to change people’s lives in such a dramatically positive way and choosing not to go for it makes absolutely less sense! 

Glad I Used My Heart Not My Head

It’s no secret that I often struggle with wanting to help people for free. My desire to help people is stronger than my desire to make money for myself. Unfortunately after a few years of helping so many people for free, I began to realize that what I was doing was FREE for them, but it came at a cost to me. Once I quit my full-time job, helping people was my only source of income, so I tried to buckle down and do a better job of requiring payment for my help (services).

Back in December, I blogged about how difficult it was for me to charge a young Mom who called for help because she had just found out her 2 1/2 year old daughter had cancer. (You can read more about that here.) She could only afford to have us come help her for a few hours one day and that broke my heart. She still needed our help and I knew it. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I could make her life so much simpler, at least in that respect. However, I continued to fight my urge to run over there and help her because I was working on letting my head lead rather than my heart as far as my business dealings go.

Rebekah-Annika

(www.AnnikasEpicJourney.com)

Through a very odd set of circumstances after we worked with her initially, I found out that she wanted more help. Without hesitation and with sheer excitement at the thought of it, I made the decision to get a team of professional organizers together and go back to help her family for free for several days and I felt good about it! We got through decluttering and organizing the large majority of their home. I knew that I couldn’t take away the pain they were experiencing from fighting for their daughter’s life, but I knew that by helping them get organized, that would reduce a small portion of their stress.

That was back in March of this year. Sadly, their daughter, Annika lost the battle and was laid to rest October 3rd – exactly one year after the diagnosis. This news shattered my heart into so many pieces. I cannot begin to imagine how Annika’s Mom and Dad are doing. I was always so impressed with how calm and positive her parents were able to be in such a difficult situation.

Although my work with clients is normally confidential, in this particular situation I got permission from her parents to share their story. Annika’s Mom had started a blog when she was first diagnosed and I wanted to be able to share her blog with others. The main reason I wanted to share her blog was because there are opportunities for people to help them financially there. Like all of us, it’s not easy for them to ask for help. However, they need it. We can’t bring Annika back but we can help them with the other day to day hassles and expenses of having a terminally ill child while still trying to be a parent to their other children.

Please keep this family in your prayers and hug the ones you love. We’re never guaranteed a tomorrow. R.I.P. Annika.

Annika

(www.AnnikasEpicJourney.com)

Are You Consumed by Your Problems?

Do you spend your days focused on and consumed by your problems? Do you wonder why bad things only happen to you? If you do, I can teach you a little trick that will help you start to forget your problems. It will help you begin to notice how lucky and blessed you really are instead. Ready to hear what the secret is?

Take your eyes off yourself and focus instead on helping someone else.

Help Others

Did you know that whatever we focus our attention on consumes us and gets bigger? If you’re always thinking about your problems, they take full reign of your attention – front and center all day long. The bigger your focus on them, the more they make you feel slighted, mistreated and eventually you are consumed with self-pity.

When you begin to focus instead on what you have in relation to others less fortunate than you, it puts everything in perspective. I remember back in the really, really lean times when as a single mother, even though I worked full time, I was struggling to put food on my own table. I worked in downtown St Louis, which is somewhere I would never choose to hang out by choice. Every week when I got paid I would literally have just a few dollars left over after paying the bills that had to be paid that week. Without fail, I would walk out the doors on payday and come across someone on the street begging for money. Invariably, I would give them 2 of the 3 dollars I had to my name.

Homeless

Why on earth would I do that? If you are spending your days walking up and down the street begging for money, you are clearly less fortunate than me. If you are sleeping on downtown sidewalks, you are clearly less fortunate than me. When you look like you haven’t seen a hot shower in weeks, I can only assume it’s been equally as long since you’ve had the pleasure of sleeping in a warm bed. Clearly you are less fortunate than me. Many years later my coworkers would tease me for doing that because they claimed those people that I gave 2 of my 3 dollars to would take that money and buy alcohol with it. I can’t deny I was saddened to think they would waste my money on alcohol. But I have no regrets because I still believe they were less fortunate than me.

Not only have I been the giver, I have found myself on the receiving end of a good deed and it feels amazing! During those same lean years that I was “foolishly” giving 2 of my 3 dollars to homeless people, I was reaching out to churches and other places trying to get help paying my own bills so my power wouldn’t be shut off, or so that I could feed my kids. I’ll never forget that a young couple with a small child “adopted” my kids and I for Christmas. They brought presents for my girls and a bottle of perfume called HOPE for me. They told me the perfume was not intended for me to wear so much as it was to serve as a reminder that there is always hope. They also brought each of my daughters Happy Meals from McDonald’s which was a big treat because we seldom had the opportunity to eat out during those days.

The fact that these people chose to think of others rather than themselves during the holidays was such a complete blessing to me and left a profound impact on my life. But the thing that stands out to me the most in their act of generosity was that they were trying to teach their 6 or 7 year-old daughter to always think of others. What makes this even more amazing was that their daughter did not have a hand. She only had a prosthetic hook for her hand. Talk about someone not focusing on their own problems!

We’re Not Promised A Tomorrow

One of the biggest battles I had when it came to quitting my job was that I had already invested 26 year there and only had 3 1/2 years to go until I could retire with a great pension check coming in every month for the rest of my life. It seemed so foolish not to wait it out after sticking it out there as long as I already had. Nobody does that!

On top of that, I’ve always been a very responsible person that does what I need to do and what I am supposed to do without any regard to how I feel about it. I had two children that I had to support solely on my own and so there was no room for questioning whether to continue working there or not regardless of how miserable it made me. I considered myself a “lifer”, like a prison sentence.

But once I realized about 15 years ago that we were all put here for a reason, for a purpose that is much bigger than ourselves, I’ve had a different perception of life and what it is supposed to look like. And it’s made just doing life status quo much harder for me. For the first 25-30 years of my life I focused all of my energy on just merely surviving this thing they called life. I was so consumed by the hurt, pain and confusion from all of the injustices bestowed upon me in my early life that I couldn’t see or feel anything past that. I was doing life from a reactive place not a proactive place, from a victim mentality. I didn’t realize that we could create our own lives!

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As soon as I understood that we have the power to create the life we want to live, it was much harder to sit in a job that I detested. From the minute I opened the doors to my organizing business, Simplified Living Solutions, and the phone started ringing off the hook, I’ve battled with staying where I was. Every time I would remind myself how lucky I was to have such a great job with wonderful benefits and I only had 3 1/2 more years to go, those thoughts were quickly met with thoughts of how I want to live my life now, not later. What if I didn’t live long enough to do it after I retired? We’re not promised a tomorrow. I knew with such a strong gut feeling that I didn’t want to leave this life without feeling like I had lived it to its fullest. I didn’t want to take a chance that tomorrow may never come.

I don’t mind working at all, I actually like it. So I knew that if I had to, I could always go back to working a “real job”. But I knew I had to take this leap of faith because I loved the feelings that helping others get organized gave me (in addition to what it gave them). I loved the satisfaction of knowing that I had made a positive difference in someone’s life and I loved encouraging people and reminding them of their greatness. I loved knowing that I was making a positive difference in the world in which I live, rather than merely surviving it. Life wasn’t meant to just survive, we are meant to thrive in it! That’s what I’d like to help more people understand earlier in life than I did so they can get to work living their life to the fullest!

Make Someone Happy