Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wifey Wednesday: Hope in Change

I found this sticky note on my desk. I don't know where the idea came from or if it is a quote, but I obviously wrote it down for myself as an encouragement. This is what it says:

If you don't change, nothing will.
This maxim can apply to most every aspect of life. If things are going badly it is very rare that you can change anything but yourself and your participation in the problem. How often are we able to rewrite our job description, makeover our coworkers or our children to make the situation better? Rarely! Almost never, in fact.

Most problems are only solved by a reworking of ourselves. So in any given situation we must ask ourselves:

How can I change?

We can usually change our attitude, our actions, or both. In fact, changing our actions often leads to a change in attitude, so it is often best to focus first on our behavior. In a marriage, this is a vital piece of information to have--especially in those "for worse" moments our vows talk about. You can change your attitude by changing your behavior.

Really? Yeah, really. Just try it some time.

In fact, try it for simply two weeks and see what happens. Pick some little something that your spouse has asked you repeatedly to do that you've not bothered to ever do. It might be to put the toilet paper around on the holder in the other direction. It could be to brush your teeth before coming to breakfast. It might be to actually stop and listen when he's talking instead of simply pretending to listen. For two weeks, do that thing, whatever that thing is.

But don't do it resentfully. Don't begrudge the toilet paper it's new position every time you have to grab it. Do the new deed generously with the intention to please your spouse. That's what I mean. Let yourself feel a bit of a thrill of generosity and good-deediness as you brush your teeth half an hour before your usual time. Pat yourself on the back for being a good spouse while you put down that iPhone and give your full attention to your beloved. Say to yourself, "See? I'm a good listener!" and then listen.

 You'll see in that span of two short weeks that you can power your way through the behavior change. You can feel, rather quickly, that your heart will be softened a bit toward your spouse. But, in two weeks, you won't see any real changes or any real healing in any given area.

That sort of work takes time, effort, and much prayer. But this sort of change in so short a span of time should be enough simply to give you hope that in more time and with more effort things can really change. Knowing that you are the instrument and the object of the change that has to occur is truly empowering. Old habits have massive inertia and marriages can get ground up beneath them, but if two weeks can make even a small dent, just think what you and God can manage with a little more time and effort.

There's a lot of hope in the fact that if you don't change, nothing will.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes:The Devil and the Details

--1-- The Podcast Is Up

I swear I'm going to have to stop talking about the occult. Blogtalk Radio and Facebook are starting to SPAM me with how-tos for Satanism. Next week will be about putting your gifts from the Holy Spirit to good use among other things. I rebuke thee, SPAM! Get thee behind me computer cookies!
Listen To Religion Internet Radio Stations with Deeper Truth on BlogTalkRadio

--2-- The Devil in the Ordinary

As promised on the show, here's the website for Father Dwight Longenecker's piece about possession. He asks us to ponder if demon possession is rare or if it is more common than we know. It's a very interesting piece.
Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate

 --3-- Happy Valentine's Day

This is the anniversary of our regularizing our marriage in the Church so it is a special day for us. We went out for breakfast this morning with all the kids and my parents. It was Mr. Baby's premier appearance at a real sit down restaurant. All was well, the waitress was charmed (and well tipped) and the day adequately feted. To top it all off the owners hired a troupe of singers to serenade their customers. They sang "Love Potion Number Nine"! It was so hard not to sing along!  


--4-- I've Been Under the Weather

 I've been unable to shake the last cold/flu bug and have been running on half speed for the last several weeks. Last week it really caught up with me, so I took yet another unannounced break from blogging, and sought out medical assistance. I'm on anti-vitals, totally off of sugar, and am on the mend. Finally! My coffee is unsweetened for the duration. Well, now I guess I'll have to give something else up for Lent.  

--5-- I'll Be Speaking at an ACTS Retreat!

In April I will be giving my personal testimony at an ACTS retreat. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an ACTS retreat, take it! This particular retreat will be for anyone who has been on a previous ACTS retreat and needs to recharge.

ACTS is an acronym that stands for Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service. Here is more information regarding ACTS retreatsGo here to find an ACTS retreat near you. Retreats are amazing. If you can go, you should go. You really do deserve to spend some time with God.  

--6-- Speaking of Speaking

  I can come to your event and speak on marriage, family life, my conversion story, and the life of a foster parent. To reach me, contact me at via email at andychrism at

--7-- Speaking of Foster Parenting

(Yes, I did! Right up there in #6, see?) Here is my favorite prayer asking for Saint Joseph's intercession. He's the patron of foster parents, being one himself.
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your devine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.

 - See more at:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

7 Quick Takes


The podcast is back! It's now scheduled for Friday mornings, 7 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Central, and that-had-better-not-be-the-radio a.m. Pacific.

This Friday's show was on evil, marriage, and other tangents.

New Religion Internet Radio with Deeper Truth on BlogTalkRadio

Do We See Ourselves?

Because of The Wardrobe Project, I spend a lot of time talking to other women about their various shapes. It amazes me how hard it is for us to look objectively at our own bodies. I feel a blog post coming on, but in the meantime, why do you think that is? Why can't we look and just see?


This is designed for larger women but it works for any woman. It'll give you a rough idea of your shape  without using a tape measure and some advice for dressing that shape.

For more advice on dressing your body shape, click through to The Wardrobe Project.

What's Next?

  • I will be researching each of the body shapes in the plus sizes. Many of you have contacted me via Facebook and email with questions specific to applying body shape information to larger sizes.
  • I will going to the store with models for the various body types. We will try on clothing appropriate for their sizes and body shapes. Then we will try on clothing that does not fit their sizes and body shapes and noting what happens. This will (I hope) help those of us who have trouble in the fitting room figure out how to fix the problems or make more flattering choices.  


Creation Debate

My main problem with this whole argument between Christians and Evolutionists is that it is too narrow. Yes, Genesis is the creation story, but it is so much more than that. It is the first promise of Christ the Redeemer and more. It is an explanation of all that is broken in the relationship between men and women and more. It describes the consequences of sin and still more. There is an eternity's worth of depth to the entire book of Genesis. Yet, because some people want to tease us, mock us, and use Science as the tool to do so, Christians want to fight this one battle to the bitter end. Why? The secular world always hates and makes fun of us. They will always get us and God wrong. Ultimately, science can't disprove a correct understanding of God and His universe. We will always struggle to understand God, science will always struggle to understand creation, and there will always be a tension between the two.


Have we gone from "Children should be seen and not heard" to "Children should not be seen"? Click here for the article "Oh Stewardess? There's a Baby in My Plane!" 

The Devil in Ordinary 

Read this one to the end so that you don't miss the story Lenny Kravitz shares about his father. In the movie The Conjuring, the image of something dark clinging to the back of the girls scared me more than the Big Boo moments of demons jumping out at people. Why? Because that's the real deal.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2 Quick Cures for Your Moody Marriage

Marriage has its moods over the years just
like you and your spouse do from day to day. So how you feel about your marriage at any given moment is not necessarily how you will feel about your marriage down the road.

That sounds like very good news if you are in the doldrums or the argue-about-everything season, and yet it sounds a bit ridiculous when you are in the warmth and satisfaction of the honeymoon season. With a marriage so new and fresh you can't imagine ever feeling anything but a happy love for your beloved. (Yes, newlyweds, we oldlyweds remember!)

The takeaway here is that your feelings about your marriage will change, so don't rely on them to judge the health of it. It is perfectly normal for every marriage to have its ups and downs, even the healthy ones. A happy marriage is one that is generally happy, not specifically happy in this particular instant in time. So, newlyweds, as you transition from a newlywed to an oldlywed, don't forget this!
In your own brokenness you give and receive love.
Your marriage is no different.

Always remember that your feelings are not the arbiter of the health of your marriage. Don't panic if you feel less enthusiastic about things from one day to the next. Marriage is one of those lifelong tasks. In fact, marriage is a vocation. As such, God is using your marriage to transform you into the person He created you to be. That takes time. That takes effort. That effort creates discomfort. Discomfort breeds discontent. Therefore if you are feeling unhappiness or worse about your marriage, it is very likely that some heavy duty work is being done in your soul. In that case, here's a couple of quick cures for what ails you:

1. Stop complaining!
Don't complain about your feelings to your spouse, your friends, or even to yourself. Complaining is a bad habit that we fall into and it does more harm than good. When you are complaining you are not looking to solve any problems but are instead merely trying to blow off some emotional steam. Complaining won't relieve your feelings. Instead complaining reinforces and underscores negative feelings and so increases and breeds them rather than relieving them. Complaining will only bear bad fruit.

To break the complaining habit, substitute it with prayer. When you feel the urge to complain tell God you are being tempted to complain. Ask Him to help you through the moment and to transform your outlook so you can stop feeling so frustrated about things.

2. Start rephrasing!
If you are tempted to complain to or about your spouse, it may be a sign that there is a problem. The root of the problem may not ultimately be a communication issue, but working at communication will certainly help the problem. So the next time you are discussing that particular issue you are tempted to complain about focus on what you need to hear from your spouse on this issue rather than what you need to say about it. Rephrase what you think they are saying and ask, "Is this what you mean? Help me understand what you are saying."

Both of these "Quick Cures" will help you to get outside of your own head and out into the fresher air of reality. We get so caught up with our own interpretation of facts and events that we sometimes need to step back in order to gain perspective. By transforming complaining into praying you are inviting in the heavenly perspective. You are welcoming God back into the covenant you made in His name. By focusing on your spouse's attempts to communicate you are gaining perspective into your spouse's take on any given problem. You will be surprised at how much different the situation will look like from those vantage points.

If anything, God and your spouse will remind you of the love you feel underneath all those other emotions. That always helps.


This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even wifier Wednesday click on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SB, the Dolly, once was lost and now is found!

SB in her prime. Though one hand is bandaged even then.
SB, the dolly, was lost at Wal-Mart when I took my youngest daughter with me into town two weeks ago.

When Sylvia asked if she could bring her in to the store I thought, "That dolly's so banged up nobody will think she's being shoplifted, so sure!" I never considered losing her, but once we did I worried she might be mistaken for a rag and thrown out.

You see, this dolly has been with my daughter since...forever. A friend gave the doll to my 4 month old baby girl to help her through her mommy aches when I had to be hospitalized for two weeks. Fast forward five years and SB's hands are now completely worn away. She's faded to a beigey pink and she can no longer hold her head up. All the same she is beautiful to my girl.

All parent's know that sinking feeling that hit hard when we searched through the store until we had to leave without her. I never thought we'd see Sylvia's oldest friend ever again.

Over the next several days we checked in at the Customer Service desk frequently with no luck. That doll was a goner. We'd all but given up. Then the other day my husband and I stopped in just to check. There she was, sitting in the lost and found, waiting!

 My daughter was thrilled.

So was I.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wardrobe Project: The Banana Shape

Go Bananas! 
There may be more of us non-Bananas, but there is no larger grouping of any particular shape.

A study of more than 6,000 women conducted at North Carolina State University in 2005 revealed that 46% of women were banana-shaped; just over 20% were pear-shaped; just under 14% were apple-shaped; and only 8% were hourglass-shaped.--Source: Body Type Calculator

Your shape is defined by a waist that is less than 9 inches smaller than either the bust or the hips. You have a smaller bust and slender hips. Your arms and legs are also slender and there is not much definition in the torso. You tend to be considered long and lean.

You will be looking for clothing that will emphasize your understated curves. Your job is to create the curves that your body hints at.

Use pattern and color to make the shape you want!

Waist Not? Want Not!

Select waist lines below your natural waist as this will tend to make your actual waist line look much smaller than it actually is. The dropped waist flapper look, though, might emphasize matters too much. You'll need to try everything on. (See, non-Bananas? Every body has to dress her body!)

Belts are your friend. Belted outfits will create a visual waist for you.

A belted dress with breast pockets
make even this monochromatic number
(usually a Banana no-no) worth a try on!

The Bottom Line

Skinny jeans are a go. Cuffed jeans are fairly safe, but steer clear of cropped pants if they over-exaggerate the long, lean line of your body. In skirts and dresses a knee length and an A-line is flattering. Remember that the character of an outfit changes with the details. Even in the "wrong" category, you may be able to carry it off because of your ability to wear pockets and pleats. Be sure to check the rear view with every choice. You don't want a saggy bottom. Ever.

Skinny jeans will show every curve you've got!


A high neck line makes a smaller bust look fuller, as will going sleeveless. High halters, high scoops and even turtlenecks will flatter your shape. A plunging V or a sweetheart neckline will tend to make you look thinner and smaller than you are. Again, strategically placed ruffles, pockets, and color blocking will help you create volume where you want it.

A turtleneck on a Banana shaped gal is a show stopper!


You can go long, sleeveless, puffy, flowing, short, or capped. It will all depend on how you feel about your arms. Some bananas feel more self conscious about her thin arms. Some want to show them off! It is up to you, really!


Generally, your shape can get away with any shoe. Specifically, it depends on you. Some Bananas have thicker ankles and will want a solid looking heel to balance that. Some can't pull off a kitten heel, some can. Large and clunky might work in a boot for you, but not in a sandal. Don't be shy about trying anything on. Look and see!

The Take Away

Put visual volume where you want volume. Shallow Vs and higher necklines will help! Put your waist below your natural waist and tend to belt. Knee lengths are great. Skinny jeans are your friend. When in doubt, think pleats, pockets, and ruffles!

Gathered fabric and the bold patterning build volume strategically.
The waist is drawn in. The neckline is higher.
This is an awesome choice for a Banana!

For more ideas and tips follow my Banana Shape Fashion board on Pinterest!

Not Your Shape?

Exorcisms, Valentine's Day, and Renovations: 7 Quick Takes

Site of recent exorcism.

This story about an exorcism got quite a bit of traction in the blogosphere this week.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker blogger at Standing on my Head

Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote about it and the lessons to be learned…I was especially interested in his comments on the need for Catholic intervention when dealing with evil.

This was the first exorcism
ever permitted by Bishop Dale Melczek.

Sue Brinkmann at Women of Grace discussed the exorcism, too.


Here's my take over at Deeper Truth Blog.

On a completely different note, if you need Valentine's Day Ideas, check out Sheila's blog. I highly recommend the Dice Game. Highly.

Did I say highly? Highly.


In all our remodeling we have found School House Electric. We're fantasizing about buying everything, but especially this chandelier. What do you think?

There are two types of posts that I struggle with my inner critic when I am writing. I am always tempted at some point in the composition or the editing to simply move the entire post to the trash icon. Both of those posts are seemingly unrelated. One type is the ones on evil and its influence on the world. I always hesitate to discuss my background and how it has made me sensitive to such things. It is embarrassing, frankly. The other? It's my marriage advice posts. I struggle with writing those, too. I have the same embarrassed desire to just forget the whole thing. What can you make of that?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blogging about the Grammys

I'm blogging at my friends' blog again today. Before you ask, no I'm not obsessed with evil. It's just that John Benko, the founder of Deeper Truth is toying around with writing a book on the topic, so of course we've been discussing it a lot. You tend to write about what you're discussing, so there you go. Another evil blog post. This time he asked me to check out the Grammy Awards and give my opinion on Katy Perry's performance.

Go check it out!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Marriage Doesn't Fulfill You, It Transforms You

When I was only 14 my great grandmother gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever received about marriage. She said, "You don't start being married until you threaten to go home and he threatens to let you. Then you settle in." From that I learned that it's tough, but that it's also doable. I also learned that a sense of humor about it all never hurt either.

Nowadays, we have many silly ideas about marriage. We think that it is going to fulfill us, complete us, make us happy, and if it doesn't we're free to go. It may surprise you to learn marriage isn't designed for fulfillment. Marriage is a vocation, not a hobby or a real life version of a feel good summer movie.

Marriage is designed to tear down all your imperfections and build you into a new being: a married person. Marriage was meant to completely transform your heart from its self centered, self serving existence into a heart who loves and serves Christ first and Christ completely via service to a spouse and then via service to the children that come of the union.

We modern thinkers have forgotten that heart surgery always hurts. Always.

The good news is that you can and will find all that fulfillment and happiness you are looking for. The bad news is that you won't find that person who meets your every need and completes you in your spouse. You'll find that in the Eucharist Lord and in prayer and nowhere else.

What you will find in your spouse is a flawed human person. If this person is willing to hold your hand when you get that 3 a.m. phone call (those are never good) or who will scrape the ice off your windshield each and every winter, you've got something pretty good. So what if the trash never makes it to the curb on time on trash day?

If you take your marriage as the gift that it is rather than the ideal that you want, you just might discover you have something everyone else is longing for: a person committed to a life with you. You are loved and you love. That in itself is a miracle. The vows you took ensure that two flawed people can manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat day after day. That's really the magic of a life long marriage: the ancient art of never ever stopping being married.

My advice might not be as good as my great grandmother's, but it's this: don't expect so much from your marriage. Expect the best from God and make room for all the rest. You're a flawed person married to another flawed person. This is a person you can love and honor and serve all the days of your life because you love God so much that you'll keep your promise to Him through him.


This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even wifier Wednesday click on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Posting at Deeper Truth today

I'm posting over at Deeper Truth today about evil, exorcism, and messing with the occult. How salacious!*

Messing with Evil: Lessons from an Exorcism

Cue the creepy music!

*Just kidding. The post is more scintillating than salacious, really.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Because it is Monday

West Virginia pops up in the 1860s due to the Civil War, but what's going on in Oklahoma in the 1890s?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birth Control Article

Pretty clear article. Here's the teaser to get you to click through…

Today's injunctions against birth control were re-affirmed in a 1968 document by Pope Paul VI called Humanae Vitae.  He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
  • General lowering of moral standards
  • A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
  • The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men. 
  • Government coercion in reproductive matters. 
Sound familiar?

Read more:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Making a Good White Gravy in 3 Easy Steps

Texas is known for it's white gravy, so it's imperative that a transplant like me get it right. I've made gravy using drippings. I've made it using olive oil. I've made gravy since I was a little girl, and I've never made gravy like this. The buttery flavor can not be matched in my book.

The trick to making good gravy, it turns out, is to preheat the milk and don't let your roux scorch. Julia Child taught me that. Here's her recipe from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

This is a restaurant quality white gravy for topping mashed potatoes or a chicken fried steak. For true Texas style, add cooked ground hamburger to the gravy and serve it over drop biscuits.

White Gravy

2 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
2 cups of milk with 1/4 tsp salt heated to boiling
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat 2 cups of milk with 1/4 tsp salt in the microwave or in a saucepan until just boiling. Keep at that temperature without reaching an active boil.
  2. Make the roux: in a saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Blend in the flour and cook slowly, stirring until the butter and flour froth together for 2 minutes without coloring. Remove from heat. 
  3. When the roux stops boiling, pour in all the hot salted milk at once. Beat vigorously with wire whisk to blend, gathering all bits of roux from the edges of the pan. Set saucepan over moderately high heat and stir with the wire whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Ways to Help Foster Children in Your Area

My husband and I have been foster parents (and adoptive and birth parents) since 2002. This past week we attended training to become teachers of future foster parents. We are so excited to pass on everything we have learned through the years and are looking forward to learning so much more. We all know that it is a Christian duty and privilege to help the neediest among us with our talents and abilities. With this post, I would like to present some ideas for you to consider helping the needy foster children in our communities.

What does a foster family look like?
Just like any other family,
It looks like love!

#1 Become a foster parent!

Of course the very best way you could help foster children would be to become a well trained, compassionate, and enthusiastic foster parent but not everyone has that option. There are numerous reasons why you might not be able to become a foster parent, but there is no reason why everyone in our communities can't help out foster children in some way.

There are other ways to help foster children 
even if you can't be a foster parent:

#2 Become a respite care giver

If your circumstances don't allow you to be a full time foster parent, is it possible that you could become a part-time foster parent? Is your life structured so that you could take in a child for a few days on occasion? There is a tremendous need for qualified people able to care for foster children temporarily while their regular foster families are unable to. They are suddenly faced with an unexpected business trip or a hospital stay, for example. You'd think it'd be easy for any family to find child care in such a situation, via a relative or a family friend, but it really isn't. Due to the licensing and background check requirements for anyone who cares for foster children, many foster families are unable to come up with temporary alternative care. 

That is why there is a pool of qualified, part time people who are pre-certified and willing to step in. They go through all the necessary training and background checks to become a foster parent, and then they simply wait for a phone call from foster families in their area who need them. Contact your local child protection agency and find out more about the requirements needed to become a respite care provider.

#3 Become involved in annual holiday gift drives.

The holidays are especially hard on foster children in care.

Each year, local child protection agencies take down information about their foster children and present it to Toys for Tots or other organizations to ensure that needy children in foster care are provided with necessities and gifts during the Holidays. People just like you get involved by donating money, going shopping, wrapping presents, or delivering them to the agency or child. Call your local department of child welfare and see when these activities begin in your area and what you can do as a volunteer. 

#4 Donate, Donate, Donate

When kids come into care, they often only come with the clothes on their backs (and sometimes not even that). Not only do they need clothing, all the little daily necessities of life need to be provided: toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, underclothes, jackets, shoes, combs and brushes, hair ties and clips, diapers and wipes. Each child protection agency usually has a resource room for social workers to provide a change of clothing for a child newly entering the foster care system, so call your local office about the types of items that are needed and the procedure for making a donation.

Our local agency in Amarillo takes gently used items. Yours may, too. If you don't have a favorite charity that you donate your old children's items to already, seriously consider donating to your local foster care agency.

#5 Scrapbooking!

Making a scrapbook helps foster children maintain continuity.

"Scrapbooking?" Yes, scrapbooking. Children in care need to have connections with their family of origin. They need that tangible reminder of who they are and where they came from. Even if circumstances were bad enough for them to be placed into care, kids love their mommies. They miss their home, their friends, their old class at school. Those of us involved in foster care try to keep up a scrap book with pictures, letters, and reminders of their history. Is scrapbooking your thing? Could you help a child with updating her Lifebook or could you organize a scrapbooking workshop for several children? Some children who come in and out of care need to have their books recreated and others need to get started on one. If you love to scrapbook, we in the foster care world would love to have your help! Call your local agency and offer your talents!

#6 Spread the word!

In our communities, there are people who would make great foster parents but they've never even considered the option. They've never knowingly met a foster child or a foster parent, so it has simply never crossed their mind to get involved. We need your help reaching them! Become a foster advocate. Post information on upcoming trainings on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Post this article! Talk about foster care at your church!

#7 Be a great parent!
Work on your marriage and keep those intergenerational ties strong!

Finally, the best way to help children is to be the best parent you can be to your own children. Be a loving parent and raise up a new generation of loving parents. Help ensure that the circumstances that generate children in need of foster care don't exist in your little corner of the world.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Household Bill Binder Filing System: I gave up files and it worked

My filing systems prior to 2013 involved file folders, filing cabinets, and boxes. Despite all my resolutions, my foreknowledge of the consequences, my various talents, and my best intentions, my system inevitably resulted in nearly empty files and overwhelmingly overflowing piles. Every March my neat inbox tray from January had morphed into a monster pile of paid bills, unpaid bills, incoming mail, warranty information, articles my husband brought home from work, receipts, bank statements, cute kid drawings, and the like.
A photographic interpretation of my desk in midsummer.

This mess would be swept into a large cardboard box at random intervals throughout the year whenever my husband despaired of seeing my desktop ever again or when out of town company was expected. Every year it was the same blasted story: after a spate of filing in January and on a good year even into February, I wouldn't file regularly and I would simply sort through and file a bunch of papers around April when the tax bug hit and around September when the desire to start the school year with a clean slate would also hit.

An abstract art representation of my old filing system.

September 2012, after nearly 13 years of failing at filing, I looked up from my pile of sorting on the floor in my kitchen and finally admitted to myself that filing was not something I would ever do. Though I could file I tended not to file. That was simply that. I needed a new system. I needed something I would actually do. After an entire day digging myself out of my paperwork mess one last time (I vowed), I did a quick Pinterest search for something that would help me with the tendency to do this...

Still not my desk from that era, but an actual pile in progress here.(Do you seriously think I would photograph that old mess?)

I found something promising but I didn't want to make much fanfare over the new system until I actually tried it out for a year. Well, yesterday I cleared out my binder from 2013 and I am all set to begin working on totaling the exemptions for my 2013 taxes whenever I wish. This is the first time in…um…ever that I have been able to put my hands on an entire year's worth of tax exempt receipts without digging through a box first.

The only variation on the system is that though I filed my medical invoices in the binder, the little medical and prescription receipts were filed away in a Ziplock baggie tacked up on the inside of a closet door. They are all there, ready to be taken out and totaled! It's January and I am not staring at a pile or a box or a mess.

Let me say further that the system worked despite the fact that by August I got a bit lazy with it. Any system that doesn't spiral into disaster but continues to function relatively well even when the user doesn't follow it religiously is a system indeed.

So, after a year of using it, I'm ready to share the system and a photo of my desk.

My desk and inbox this very day!
(I moved the inbox so you could see it.)
Remember as you gaze upon my mess…
  • I haven't really filed since August.
  • I haven't paid my bills yet.
  • I need to enter last month's receipts into the register.
  • This is as messy as it ever gets!

I would never share a photograph my desk from a year ago--in fact I never even took a picture of it--but here is my proof that the system works. Interested in looking into it? Well, here is a teaser of the page and system. Click the title to visit the blog, Echoes of Laughter to learn more.

The Absolute Easiest Way To Track, Pay & Organize Your Household Bills...No Filing Involved!

For years, I kept our household bills filed in file folders in a file box..... just like hundreds of other people.
Let me also confess that I have gone through periods in my life where bills were 'filed' in a grocery bag hanging on the back of the bedroom door. 
Yep. Sad but true.
I have seen many examples of how to organize & 'file' bills around blogland lately.
But I want to share with you a different way.
 Two years ago I switched to this method...and I like it much better.
And here's another dirty little secret about me....although I love to organize... I HATE, with a capital 'H',  filing!
I like not having to go through different files to find things or put them away.
This system helps me avoid that!
Let me introduce the Household Bill Binder.
It's a simple method..... it's fast and it works.
I just get out the binder when I am ready to sit at the computer to make on-line payments with our bank.
And then I put the binder away. No filing!