The Great Purge of 2014

It was a bitterly cold winter the weekend that I set out to rid my house of unwanted clutter, trash, and all traces of un-organization. Matt left me for the great state of Colorado in order to perform a wedding. And there was never better timing as we had just come off a great Christmas break toting home a few wonderful new treasures with no place to put them. We live in a modest 1 bedroom apartment with two closets. It goes without saying that we don’t exactly have the luxury of keeping what we “might use later down the road”…although I’ve tried. We’ve stuffed things in all sorts of nooks and crannies of our little home and it has been driving me nuts for a while.

Well, inspiration came and it could not be tamed. I was home with my mom for a whole week and once again noticed her efficiency of keeping just what they need, everything having a place, and living an overall simplified and de-cluttered life. I truly want to imitate that. It’s hard being the sentimental person that I am. Things possess memories and meaning and that makes it difficult to throw them away even when they are no longer useful. But it’s not always the sentimental things that get me. Clutter piles up. I really don’t need 14 bottles of lotion with just a drop left. I don’t need to keep all those bags that I never use. And we don’t need to hold on to clothes that don’t fit anymore. It was time for me to live in the present and I wanted to ride the waves of motivation and inspiration as long as I could.

I developed phases of the house that I would tackle. Phase one: kitchen. Phase two: bedroom and bathroom. Phase 3: living room/laundry closet. Phase 4: front closet. Phase 5: desk area. It was one of the most exhilarating things to complete a phase. (I’m easily entertained.) I think my favorite was the kitchen. I seriously kept going back into the kitchen to stare at my beautifully organized cabinets and see how everything had the perfect place to live. I kept piling things into the living room as I tossed them. I was amazed (and horrified) at how it kept growing. Who knew how much you could collect in less than 800 square feet?

I was telling a friend about my eventful weekend and she asked me an interesting question, “is this one of those ‘get rid of everything and regret it later’ moments?” I stopped and it only took me two seconds to reply. “NO!” I have been needing to do this for a while and then was convicted that we really don’t need all the stuff that we keep acquiring and we really do need to live more organized. And honestly, if I did get rid of something that I really regret…I can always go out and buy it later. I’m not worried. I am, however, thankful every time I come home now. I breathe a sigh of contentment knowing that I have just what I need where I need it. It’s freeing really.

So here are some pictures that might just inspire you to do the same! Take it from me; you won’t regret this… if you are serious about it. Did I mention that I made it through the entire Anne of Green Gables three part dvd series while cleaning? Yeah, it was a good weekend.

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It started out looking like this.

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And this.

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And ended up looking like this.

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And this.

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Our fridge filled with friendly faces.

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It’s beautiful.

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organized on the man side too.

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Yes.

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Room to spare.

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This was a very cluttered space before. And so tiny!

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This was the phase I was least looking forward to. Craft supplies are a beast to go through!

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To give away.

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To throw away.

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Found this gem while cleaning out some of Matt’s things.

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Sentimental things.

The Pursuit

“We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit….The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.” A. W.Tozer

candle2Tozer calls this Prevenient grace– “that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man”. As I lay in bed reading this last night, my heart was warmed. I guess I sometimes think that the desire to meet with God has to be conjured from within myself, by myself. And when I fail to feel that, I end up feeling guilty and have even less of a desire to meet with God because of my guilt. But when I read that quote last night, my heart soared!

God is the one to produce desire within myself. I heard a pastor put it this way, “if there is even a little spark of desire, take it and do something with it. Fan the flame.” God puts that little spark within me because He actually WANTS communion with me. He isn’t sitting there saying, “I wonder when Emily will want to meet with me next. It sure has been a long time. I hope it’s soon.” NO! He comes hard after me. He brings me to the end of myself over and over and over. And in those hard moments of feeling helplessness and despair and all I can do is cry out to Him, He is drawing me to himself…because He wants to meet with me.

This beautiful truth causes me to rejoice in my Savior. This is not a truth that should cause me to swell up with pride- that I am someone worth meeting with. In fact, it should cause me to fall on my face in humility that my Lord would even want to converse with me, a wretched sinner. But the beauty of it that I am clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. This is the only way God could meet with me.

But what’s the outcome? Peace, truth, joy, confidence, Christ-likeness. All of this, when put into effect in everyday life, affects the Kingdom for my good and His glory. I am reminded of John Piper’s most famous quote: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God pursues us for His glory and our good. He knows this is the best thing for us- to be filled with Him. But, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit drawing us to Himself, we would not seek after Him. “Bind my wandering heart to Thee”, I sing!

I dare not ignore the fact that I also have a calling to follow after Him upon His quickening impulse in my heart. Priscilla Shirer said that God often holds his gifts of goodness within hands reach, meaning- I still have to reach. But even that reaching is a gift of grace. So last night I rested in the fact that God desires to meet with me. He quickens my heart. He knows what’s best for me and that’s Him. And once he quickens my heart I must act in obedience. And all of this is by His grace!

Prepare Well

Prepare well.

That’s what those faithful missionaries told us before we left East Asia after six months of intense growth and labor.

Here I am at this seminary, this job, this church, with these people. And what am I doing with my time now?

Playing emotional ping-pong- bouncing from crazy busy to boring routine and getting caught up in all the in-between.

Too busy lamenting the fact that I’m bored with the 8-5 or that I don’t have enough time to keep up with my little nest.

I don’t think Elisabeth Elliot would join me in my game of ping-pong.

I think she would tell me when I’m overwhelmed to just, “do the next thing”.

And Paul would tell me in my dull routine to “be content in all circumstances.”

Susannah Wesley would say I had no excuse not to spend time with my Lord as she hid under apron just to have a few minutes to pray.

When the circumstances threaten or even overcome my resolve to be thankful or joyful, I have to cling to truth.

Even when I don’t know what to pray He is identifying with my struggles, praying on my behalf- interceding for me.

But I have a calling here. I can’t let that be lost or drowned out. So what is it?

Prepare well- surround myself with godly Titus 2 women who will teach me to love my husband, my home and my future children. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Sharpen my mind through classes and books and writing. Solidify my understanding and pratice of biblical womanhood. Be a faithful servant of God in my job and in my home. Love my husband well. Love those around me. Live and breathe the gospel in my city.

That’s a big task. I can’t do it alone. He doesn’t want me to. But I must look above the circumstances to the upward call of the Lord.

I don’t have time to waste.

A Year in Review

A few things I have learned in the past year…….

  1. I need to be on my knees. There is no way I can be a godly wife apart from utter, desperate, humility before the Lord. In the last year, weaknesses I didn’t really think were an issue have become very blatant. Thanks be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for a husband that tenderly directs me to the truth and grace of God. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have faults but, I have also realized along those same lines that I am the only person that I can change by the grace of God. I once heard it said that true sanctification does not mean that you become a better Christian and sin less but you realize how deeply sinful you are and how in need of Savior you really are.
  2. It takes time. Meal planning and grocery shopping does not come easy to me. I want to start making traditions NOW! I want to have a “Taco Tuesdays” and homemade pizza every Friday night. It takes time to get into a Life Rhythm. Every semester changes for us as far as Matt’s schedule, what ministries we are involved in at Church etc. I have had to learn flexibility. At the same time, we both desire some normalcy to life, things we can count on like: dinner at home, walks at night, cleaning routines, work out times. It’s hard to keep up with it all while trying to develop deep, meaningful relationships with people at church and on campus as well as putting significant time into our marriage. It’s a balance. And who am I kidding. I know it will only get more difficult with kids and full time ministry work. This season was given to us for a reason. We need to learn these lessons now as well as learn how we, the Tyler’s, need balance in our lives. It will only benefit us down the road.
  3. We are poor. I have never been one to worry too much about money…probably to a fault. But, when you get married, your money is not your own. I have found myself upset when I hear that Matt has bought a book without asking me first. However, when it comes to eating out, I’m easily roped in. God has been so good to us, providing at every turn. We are not in want or need. And it does me good to have my affections turned away from material things, away from comparison, away from coveting and toward an all satisfying God.
  4. Contentment. After all the hype of a wedding, a move, a new job, a new church, new friends dies down…then what? Life. That’s what. There have been several instances in my life that I have had to learn contentment but each time is a different circumstance with a different facet of the same lesson. This season of my life is no different. But here’s the deal: if I can’t learn contentment in THIS season, how will I ever be content in any other season? I can’t afford to waste my energy on discontentment when I have all I need or want right in front of me. In the end, it’s all about perspective. And in the digital age where everyone has a blog, twitter, instagram, it’s easy to compare and become dissatisfied with life. Seeking contentment in ALL circumstances tends to be a repeated lesson whether its in the context of our jobs, situation in life, or just our desires (godly or not). What’s the antidote? Gratitude. God and His goodness is all around us all the time. We just have to step outside of ourselves sometimes to be reminded of that.
  5. Isolation is a danger. This is not usually a danger to me since I am such a people person. But I can see the danger of it after you move to an entirely new place with no friends and then trying to being a life with a new spouse. The point of this lesson is that I have had to be intentional with people: asking them to lunch, having couples over for dinner, getting involved with campus life and church life, not just being a student or a pew sitter. To get the roots to go deep, even in this short season, (and I might argue that this season may be the most important time to establish roots) requires vulnerability, discomfort, self consciousness, and maybe even rejection. Now is a time to feel out what/where God is calling you to. This is where you begin to network (which is very important), where you create your circle of influence that will possibley take you all over the world.
  6. Church is a must. I am a church girl…always have been. I didn’t realize how important it was to be a part of a church until we went through the church search here. I eventually got to a place where I was tired of looking and just wanted to belong! We finally were led to Third Ave. Baptist Church. I praise the Lord for this. We tell people how much we love being at Southern but then follow it up quickly with how much we LOVE 3rd and how it’s been one of the best things about moving here and will probably be one of the hardest things to leave. I could probably write a whole blog post about why we love 3rd but I will stop here…keep the intrigue. Just ask me sometime and I will tell you. There is a vast amount of “healthy” churches here and honestly you can’t go wrong. We have been telling every new person we come into contact with how important it is to find a church and find it quickly. Don’t take all semester to find one. Don’t be too picky. Just find one where you can get fed and where you can serve. It is such a sweet blessing.
  7.  Date nights are key. We haven’t really been consistent with this until recently. Sure we spend a lot of time together. We relax on the couch at night, we take walks, we go shopping, we do fun things around the city. But those things aren’t really one-on-one intentional relationship building and going deeper. Matt decided we needed a consistent, weekly date night. Now I know, this may not be possible forever, especially if we have kids one day. Right now though, it is very important to keep the line of communication open between us. We are not pros at this, still just learning. But it has been a good (and easy and fun) lesson for us. I have to admit that at first I kind of complained that I would have to schedule one.more.thing  into my already crowded week. But seriously, if I can’t “schedule” time with my husband and best friend then I am too busy! I am thankful for a husband that wants to date me and really enjoys planning our date nights. I am also thankful for Groupon which helps him plan our date nights.

PS- I’ve been really bad at posting pics. My old computer was just so frustrating to upload and it took forever. So I haven’t. BUT we have a new Mac (which I am in love with and thankful to the Lord for) and I plan on uploading all our summer pics soon…if I can just figure out how…