Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gorgeous Give-Away!

Isn't this bracelet absolutely gorgeous! It was designed and made by Gwendolyn (a bonafide jewelry artist as far as I'm concerned) over at "A Charming Home," and she's giving it away to one lucky reader in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Rush over and check it out

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feelin' Some Fall!


This second weekend in October brought the Houston Bay Area temperatures in the 70s, and for us here, that's FALL YA'LL! Other signs of the season . . .

. . . adorable fall-y votives from Dollar Tree that leaf
me smiling every time I walk past them . . .

. . . a cake plate filled with an assortment of
round fall-ish things (including a few little
pumpkins that aren't visible from this angle) . . .

. . . pumpkin cookie cutters and fall-colored
"berries" mixing it up with the
potpourri-filled jar and roosters perched
on the kitchen window sill . . .

. . . and Baby Daughter sweater-ed up and snuggling
with a University of Texas tee-shirted Tessie!

Enjoying while it lasts,


Monday, October 5, 2009

"Dancin' as fast as I can!"

If you've read any of my blog -- even just my profile on the right -- you know that I am St. Michael's Wife. But what about that TWO-STEPPIN' thing? What the heck is that all about. Well, I've been explainin' some of it bit by bit over the past week, so here's a little more about that . . .

For years I’ve used the phrase “I’m dancing as fast as I can” to explain what my life looks like at any given time. Mine is a life spent, for the most part, running “ninety to nothin’” with my hair on fire, while juggling gasoline cans. (And, yep, that means that, for better or worse, there are times I crash and burn, for sure!) It seems to be the life I’m called to, and yet, I keep suspecting that I could probably slow down to at least sixty miles an hour if I just were a little bit more organized on the home front. And maybe, just maybe, if Casa St. Michael were a bit tidier better organized (okay, a LOT tidier and tons more organized!), I wouldn’t stumble as much and drop as many gas can either. What’s the answer? Why, the TEXAS TWO-STEP, of course!

Y’see, the Texas Two-Step is a dance that calls for one to slow down, take on a partner, snuggle in close, and then follow a specific pattern of steps as the partner leads. Even a brand new Two-Stepper is encouraged to avoid looking down at her own feet but, instead, to trust her partner, moving her own feet in step with his, at his lead. Before she knows it, she is no longer stumbling and struggling, but she is gliding across the floor, no longer inhibited by, but enthralled with, the dance!

I decided that that’s what I wanted my life to look like. I wanted to slow down, partner-up with an incredible lead dancer, and glide in such a graceful way that the

whole thing looks effortless. (I say looks effortless because we all know that even the most fluid of dancers has spent time training, practicing, and, more than likely, healing from a few awkward moves and even some falls.) Thus, yours truly and the TEXAS TWO-STEP.

Tomorrow . . . The "More" that I promised about Step 1: Learning to plan for success!

Until then,



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sunday Sermon: It ain't just about the sink!

Last post, I told you I'd start telling you a little about the TEXAS TWO-STEP part of St. Michael's Wife and the TEXAS TWO-STEP. And I will. Over the next several posts. But since I started going at this kinda backwards -- beginning with that last post on filing -- I figured you wouldn't be shocked if I continue to do things a little outta order. So today, I'm just gonna give ya the most basic idea of what TWO-STEPPIN' is all about, and then I'm just gonna jump right into something we TWO-STEPPERS talked about last week when we met.

First of all, in its simplest form, St. Michael's Wife and the TEXAS TWO-STEP is a Bible study and support system for women who feel overwhelmed by the clutter and chaos at home but who've, up until now, felt helpless to do anything about it. We’re a praying, learning, trying, and doing-it group! Together we’re learnin' to Two-Step our homes, and, as a result, a huge part of our lives, back into order.

STEP 1 in the "dance" is Learning to plan for our success. (I know that sounds simple, but there's more to it than you think, so I'll explain this is more detail later this week.) And STEP 2 is Learning to celebrate our success. (Believe it or not, this is a bigger deal than you might think! So more on that this week, too.)

A huge part of our time together is spent in Bible study -- examining God's word to see how He has spoken into the lives of others and how He might be speaking to us right now in our lives. Right now, our TWO-STEP group is "dancing" through Nehemiah, one of my favorite Old Testament books. We're seeing Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall as a metaphor for rebuilding our homes. Here's a tiny part of last week's look into chapter 6.


[Background: Nehemiah has been leading the men of Israel in rebuilding the walls of the city amidst the criticism and opposition of Israel's surrounding enemies. In chapter 6, verses 1-3, we see Nehemiah's response to those enemies who attempt to pull him away from the task he's been called to complete.]

Nehemiah 6:1-3 (English Standard Version).

1 Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”

Verse 3 is probably my favorite verse in all of Nehemiah, maybe because I am so easily distracted or perhaps because it came to me during a time in my life when I so needed the admonishment to stay focused. Nehemiah’s words spoke mightily to me during a time when I needed to be reminded by Papa-God that the season He had brought me to was truly by His design and, therefore, a time of “great work.” Regardless of what it looked like to anyone else, I was smack-dab-in-the-middle of His will and His work, and I needed to stay the course. I needed to put blinders on to anything that might pull me out of my lane and disqualify me from the race. It meant learning to say no to some of the things to which I was so used to saying yes. But I learned that sometimes I had to say no to good things in order to say yes to the best things.

I also had to learn to value my place in the garden. Wherever I was planted, I had to bloom. In the shade. In the sun. In the front. In the back. To the left. To the right. W H E R E V E R .

I had to learn to play to an audience of One. (I don’t know who originally coined that phrase, but it so resonates with me.) For one who, by nature, loves the applause of all, that’s a tough lesson. But it meant the difference between pleasing man and pleasing Papa. (And I’ve always heard that if you have to pick one, you should pick Papa ‘cause He remembers longer!)

Playing to an audience of One means learning Whose opinion really matters, Who I really want to please, Who I really want to serve . . . and it’s a lesson that I’m ashamed to say I have relearn again and again. But when I get it right . . . what a glorious performance it is!


As I said, that's just a tiny excerpt from our study, but maybe it will give you an idea of what we're doing . . . in between shinin' our sinks and filin' and flingin'!

To be continued . . .



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Steppin' and Filin'!

As some of you know, St Michael's Wife and the TEXAS TWO-STEP group began meeting September 15 here in the Houston Bay Area, and as we enter week three, we are having more fun than most folks would believe is legal! And inside the church-house, would ya believe it! ('Course a lot of the grins and guffaws are also happening outside the church-house, like through some of the most hilarious E-mails you've ever read that weren't actually meant to be jokes but just musings on the daily-ness of life as organizationally challenged women!)

I haven't actually blogged much about it here, but perhaps I will later. (Right now, I'm staying pretty busy just writing the material, showing up to lead it, and actually doing what I'm encouraging everybody else to do at home, too! Plus . . . yeah, I still have that full-time job thing . . . )

At any rate, I AM going to share a little bit today because maybe this particular combination of organizational helps might work for you like I hope it's going to work for me. (Hey, we're all guinea pigs in this Two-Stepping thing -- 'cause we know what hasn't worked for us in the past, and so we're all about experimenting with and exploring what we can do that might actually work for us this time.)

I'm probably doing this all backwards (in fact, I'm sure I am), but I'm going to share my latest organizational epiphany today and then share more about what actual TWO-STEPPIN' is tomorrow.

NOTE: This is a long, kind of "How to . . . " epistle, so read at your leisure . . . or not! (One of our TWO-STEPPIN' biggies is to find what works for YOU!" And if you're one of those Born Organized women that FlyLady talks about, then you' just wonder why in the world I needed so many folders and stuff . . . you can probably skip everything!)

Here's what I sent to my sistas of the dance this morning . . .

I HAVE TO TELL YOU -- Oops! Didn't mean to seem like I was hollerin' at'cha! -- that ever since Lora [my co-leader]talked about that filing system the other night, that's all I've been able to think about! (Well, that and S-mores! XOXO!s to MagB! Of course, now I want to try making them with DARK chocolate -- my fave!) [Sorry, ya had to be there!] I had a meeting at the church-house last night, but as soon as it was over, off I went in search of some kind of file system . . . (There's a pic toward the end of what I ended up with.)

[NOTE: Lora was talking about a daily/monthly type of "tickle" file system written about by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. I haven't read the book, I just listened to my sweet friend explain this one thing that worked for her.]

Well, regarding putting one together for myself, first of all, you know me, it had to be cute. (Cuteness inspires me! I know, I know, it's a character flaw, but I'm trying to let it work FOR me.)

Second, it had to be inexpensive. (Kimberly's right -- we should "test run" something first to make sure this is something that's gonna work for us before we invest too much.)

And third, it had to be user-friendly! (Hey, I learned back when I was dating that cuteness and cheapness ain't EVERYTHING.) If something's not easy to use -- meaning easy to get to, easy to manipulate, keep in order, etc. -- I don't end up using it.

If this works, I may go to something a little more sophisticated later (or not), but what I came up with now looks like a winner for me. I bought my (cute) tabbed "daily" folders and labeled them 1 - 31, so I'd have one for each day of the month. (Yes, I know that February only has 28 or 29 and others only 30, but work with me here, people. I'm trying to be prepared for all possibilities here.)

Then (and this is where I ended up being a little different just 'cause I couldn't find anything else that I thought suited my needs as well), instead of using an expandable folder system-thingie with 12 pockets (one for each month), I bought 12 heavy-duty, pocketed portfolio folders (in three different colors just 'cause, plus I can quickly recognize a month by its color -- for me, green, yellow, or red), and then labeled them, one for each month. (And, yes, I know I have my dates on the daily dated folders all going the wrong direction. Would you believe me if I told you I did it on purpose that way but have no idea why? Yes, you would. What you
wouldn't believe is if I tried to tell you that I did it on purpose just so you wouldn't think I'm perfect . . . Lol!)

My 31 daily folders sit in front of my 12 monthly portfolios (with the current month being at the front of the portfolios and the others, in order, behind it). When each day is over, the daily folder should be empty because I took care of whatever was in it. (Anything that didn't get done or that needs more follow-up will get moved to the next day's folder or to the appropriate dated folder.) I will then move the empty folder to the very back of my daily folders, so that at the beginning of next month, they're in order, ready to go again.

The current monthly portfolio will be empty because anything in it will have been moved to the appropriate daily folder. When things come up that need to be handled in an up-coming month, I will pull that monthly portfolio and drop the item in one of the portfolio pockets, where it will be there waiting for me when that month arrives.

At the beginning of a new month, I'll transfer any documents, notes, to-do items from that month's portfolio into the appropriate dated daily folder, ready to be taken care of at just the right moment! (I'm like DJ in this area -- I jus' loves me some colored folders!)

Now, here's another thought . . .
FlyLady recommends that when we get our Morning Routines and my Evening Routines (and whatever others we need) to the point where they are written on paper, we put them inside of a plastic page protector inside of our control journal. She uses a dry- (or wet-) erase marker to then mark through each item as she completes her routine. Each evening she wipes off the marks, and the page is ready to go again the next day. (Think how many trees are being saved!) Well, what if I put my "Routine" pages in my daily folder systen instead of in the big Control Journal? [If you're not familiar with FlyLady, she tells her followers how to get organized using what she calls a "Control Journal," a binder where all of your routines, menus, to-do lists, emergency contacts, inspirational material, etc. is housed.)

Of course, this is FlyLady's best-known book, Sink Reflections. The thing that is so awesome about flyLady is that she makes everything in the book available to you on her website FREE OF CHARGE! (She just asks that you not post all of her info on your own website without her expressed written consent.) NOTE: TEXAS TWO-STEPPERS use much of FlyLady's wisdom and instruction for inspiration, but we are customizing and adjusting to meet our own individual needs and time frame as we go .

For some reason, I just don't like dragging out a big binder every day, having to snap it open, get out just the right stuff, snap it closed, put the binder away . . . well, you get the idea. (And, yes, I would feel like I had to put it away 'cause, otherwise, it might start my hotspot to smoldering all over again. Maybe keeping your binder/Control Journal out on the counter isn't a biggie for you -- maybe you even have a bookshelf in your kitchen/office area that you keep it on, so that it works for you without a problem. I don't. I keep mine in a drawer in the kitchen, and so, trust me, if it's out, it's gonna start smokin' . . . and we all know what that leads to: S'mores! And before I know it, I WILL be 300 pounds -- not just approaching it!) I think grabbing my daily folder, where any other papers I need that day are also waiting, will work much better for me (and maybe you, too! Let me hasten to say that I WILL use my Control Journal for my master lists of things, my Bible study, Emergency Contact Numbers, etc. -- just not for my every-day to-dos).

Whew! That's a lot of reading, I know, girlfriends, but I think very worthwhile -- at least for me -- 'cause I think this could be a big breakthrough as far as Step 1 -- "Learning to plan for success" -- goes. Yea! [Yeha, that's Step 1 as in TEXAS TWO-STEPPERS.]

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I put my folders and my portfolios in a little antique sewing machine cabinet drawer I found a while back at a garage sale for 50 cents. (I had to clean it up, and I'll probably paint it another color later, although I know how much Donna loves this orangey color. Also in this pic, the little pumpkin/squash thingie sitting inside the white 50-cent-garage-sale pitcher is for you, DJ, who loves all things fall-ish, and that little hen salt shaker is for you, again, Donna, since I know how you love roosters and chicken stuff!) [Donna-Lu HATES chickens and roosters and most all fall colors, as well.]

Eager to hear your feedback!

XO! Pamm

Oh! And, Bloggin' Sistas, my comment thingie is at the TOP of my posts, not at the bottom where I wish it was! ;D