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Our upstairs is our private world, unseen by friends and well anyone who isn’t escorted up there.  The escort is necessary so we can excuse the mess.  It isn’t because it is extra special, it’s because it’s extra messy and embarrassing and humbling and well…humiliating really.  Whenever something is left downstairs on the main living level Bill kindly takes it upstairs and puts it in the hallway where there is a bench and a little table which turned into several laundry baskets and other bags over time.  The idea is that if it is taken up there we are each supposed to take our stuff and put it away but that is not what happened.

Instead this hallway began to resemble somewhat of a hoarding space.  One morning at about 7 o’clock I heard a loud crash and a hissed, “Darn it!” from one of our daughters, undoubtedly looking for something she needed that day for school only to find she was hit with an avalanche.  It turned out she was looking for a pair of shoes that she did not find.

I have been on a journey since January that has had a winding and treachorous path leading me to Jesus.  It began with a challenge by the Holy Spirit to read through the Bible to be changed by the Word of God!  I decided I was so desperate to be changed that I wanted to do it in 90 days.  I didn’t want to take a whole year! Then near the end of that time (which turned out to be 82 days because once you hit the New Testament you see the end and you can’t wait to read it all) I started a 30 day cleanse.  I am not sure that I cleansed anything but I tried…“my way” keeping my comforts (coffee mainly).  Then I decided I needed to follow the rules, which I am sure are there for a reason, so I cut out coffee and continued another 30 days…of which I am on day 16.

I expected to cleanse my body, and ended up in the dreaded hoarder’s hallway (a nightmare for me!)  I headed upstairs determined to persevere no matter the dangers that awaited me 🙂  This is my own Pilgrim’s Progress.  As I was digging through it hit me…THIS IS A REFLECTION OF MY PERSONAL HIDDEN AND PRIVATE WORLD.  As long as others don’t see it I can get to it later.  I found so many parallels to my own heart and how I deal (or don’t deal with stuff). It’s as if we think things will fix themselves or they will magically disappear.  In my heart I knew I had to take ACTION for there to be change or it only gets worse and it’s my home and MY RESPONSIBILITY.  Someone has to deal with it, who will it be?   The Hallway for Hoarder’s Fairy?  I don’t think there is one.  I also experience this on repeat for laundry…BTW, there isn’t a Laundry Fairy either.  (Although I have had a few kind souls help me work through the mountain a few times.)

Here’s the “after photo” Sorry no “Before"

Here’s the “after photo” Sorry no “Before”

I am exercising discipline throughout my life inside and out taking care of my stuff.  I want to be able to allow people into every place without excuse or fear.  It’s not easy.  It’s often painful.  It’s also freeing.  It isn’t just my hallway that was cleared, my heart was cleaned first and now it’s working its way through the rest of my world!

Do you have a “Hoarder’s Hallway” of your own?  It’s time for you to take responsibility and let go of some stuff.  Start by reading the Word of God and asking God to change you.  Then see where He takes you on YOUR journey.  His GRACE is sufficient for you! 2 Corinthians 12:9  Do it because you want what God wants. Nothing can be done in your own strength, you have already proven that, right?

Philippians 2:13
Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

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We drove our oldest off to college and got our other two started in school.  Then our Senior in high school came down with a severe case of mono September 5th.  She has been so sick and in so much pain for more than three weeks.  She is finally showing signs of recovery with energy and taking care of herself enough to go up and down the stairs.  She improves so much with visitors!

I had made my blog private because I was going to update the whole theme and everything and wanted to be able to keep up with blogging regularly.  Well, I think it is time to begin blogging again!  🙂  I am excited to share stories again.  Wait for it…

“You must be Lisa Shuler. (Big hug, looking into my eyes) I am so glad we are family, friends forever.  When is your birthday?  My name is Tom.  We are friends forever.”  This was our first introduction to a relative we had never met before that first moment of pure love on Sunday morning the moment we walked into the door at church.  Tom was dressed sharp in designer jeans, a fine pressed button up shirt and a classy blazer with a cherished Nikon camera hanging around his neck (which we found later to be with him at all times, ever ready to capture memorable moments and his favorite subject…elevator doors).

Me, Taylor, Tom, Bill, Sydney, Aubrie

Bill’s cousin Bob wrote a beautiful book called “Fighting Bob Shuler of Los Angeles” full of rich Shuler history.  Bob and his wife Jane and son Tom invited us to join them on a wonderful adventure to Grayson County Virginia, Comers Rock, to explore the Shuler roots.  We stopped at our house to pick up the girls where Tom was so excited to meet them he ran with his arms open and hugged Taylor first and with a depth of love you’ve never heard before said, “Oh hello!  You are sooo nice!”  He spotted Aubrie, broke embrace and ran as fast as a 6 foot something man can go in a span of 5 feet of floor space and embraced her to say, “Hi you are sooo nice.  We are family.  We are going to be friends.”  He had already won Sydney and Bill and me over earlier.

We had the most incredible time the following 24 hours.  We drove several hours through a misty Sunday evening through the beautiful Fall Blue Ridge Mountains.  We stopped to rest at a fast food restaurant where I overheard Bob ask Tom how he was doing.  Tom answered with such kindness and sincerity, “I’m doing just fine.  How are you doing?”  Bob said, “I’m doing well too.”  Tom responded with, “That’s nice.  I love you Bob.”  A tough looking man in front of me in line obviously heard this exchange and had to see what he was hearing and turned around to sneak a peak to find Tom with his arm around Bob and love in his eyes and countenance.

As a family we could not wait to get alone to share every single word that Tom had said and the way that he would say it.  It was love like you had honestly never heard before.  Every time we would repeat his words our faces would melt and our hands would always end up on our hearts as if that were the only way to communicate the fullness of your heart by this dear sweet expression of God’s love found in a grown man 32 years of age.  He looks handsome and is smarter than most anyone you would find in a university and yet he has this simple childlikeness that sets him apart as very special and unique.  His mother said they thought that at the age of 5 he may never speak a word.  Well, he speaks, that’s for sure and he is very articulate.  He is a “Presidential Global Messenger” for Special Olympics and very proud of his role as he should be!  He has no understanding of hate or jealousy or anger as his mother explained that it’s just not in him.

We spent the day driving through Comers Rock and discovered mail boxes with the name “Shuler” on them and a “Shuler Cemetery” and another cemetery with many family members head stones.  It was as if the land actually taught us lessons about the Shuler ancestors confirming the stories in the book Bob has so perfectly described in his book.  It was clear that the Shulers had and still have great influence in that community but what struck us more is the world wide impact the Shulers have had coming out of the farm land in Comers Rock, VA deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is a dream land full of Christmas tree farms on rolling hills and  farms dotted with orange pumpkins among the colorful maple trees lining the Blue Ridge Mountains.  From those hills rose one of first of the “Great Radio Preachers, Fighting Bob Shuler” who pastored one of the largest churches in Los Angeles and his son (Bill’s Dad) Jack Shuler who was an evangelist who was said to be “at least as popular as Billy Graham” by Billy Graham’s biographer.  Fighting Bob’s father and Grandfather ministered as well and passed on a heritage that I believe we are still reaping today in the Shuler family!  Bill’s cousin Bob and Bob’s father Robert Shuler were both ministers and Bill is in his 27th year of ministry.

Bill and cousin Bob Shuler

Back to Tom and the way that God expressed himself through his pure heart of love…He valued people and history and dates and reasons to celebrate and have fun.  He was so full of love and expressed it every time he would see you smile, it was as if a smile was an invitation for him to come and share his love for you.  He would say, “We are friends forever!”  and you got the feeling that he really meant it and he would draw out the word f-o-r-e-v-e-r.   He would hug you and say, “Feel the love.”  I hope one day everyone gets the privilege of knowing a “friend forever” like Tom!

Tom captured every valuable headstone with his Nikon!

*This is twice as long as a normal blog but I think it’s worth it! 🙂  I hope it blesses you in the same way our lives were touched by this dear sweet gift from the Lord!!! An expression of his pure love!

Imagine lemon yellow metal cabinets, a metal and vinyl 1950s dining set with yellow and white linoleum floors.  That was Grandma’s kitchen.  Grandpa made her a wooden hutch to hold her dishes and the window was always open to let in the beautiful Santa Barbara sunshine and gave a picture perfect view of the canyon behind the house.  This little kitchen was small with an old electric stove with 1970s golden appliances to match the lemon yellow.  Whenever we visited, the first place we would all congregate was in this tiny little lemon yellow kitchen.  There was always a sour dough bread starter in the refrigerator and ice cream in the freezer.  The lemon tree in the back yard, past the outdoor clothes line that Grandpa designed, was on the edge of the canyon heavy with fruit.

Photo of Grandma and Grandpa on Grandma’s 96th birthday a few years ago. My mom said she can’t find any photos from the kitchen since it was always being used and not photo ready.   Grandpa went to heaven just before his 99th bday and Grandma lived to be 101.5!

Grandma’s kitchen was the place where life’s problems were solved, family disfunction was uncovered and mended.  We would wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread and coffee and head straight to the kitchen in our PJs.  One conversation blended into the next until it was lunch time.  We would sneak out one by one to change our clothes into more comfy clothes (but not PJs) hoping not to miss anything funny or interesting. Then we would head back into the kitchen to start on lunch.  After more hours of conversation and laughter we would take a walk around the “circle” and back for dinner.

Grandma and Grandpa lived a simple and routine life with love and stability.  They met in kindergarten at a school house in the country in Kansas farm land like Little House on the Prairie.  On the day they met my Grandpa (Carl) told his best friend he was going to marry “that red head one day.”  He was always in love with Grandma (Nellie).  He DID marry her and they were married “til death did they part,”  for 80 years!  They had 5 children and over 50 grand and great grandchildren.

Right now my kitchen is full of teenage girls (and ONE boy) making my Grandma’s Chicken Soup.  Conversations of twitter, school, Fall favorites, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, family pets, the latest TV shows, a little crazy dancing and so much more. I am so thankful for family and Grandma’s kitchen.  Grandpa and Grandma opened their home to any of their grandchildren who needed them.  Three of my siblings actually lived with them!  I remember standing in that special little kitchen a few years ago knowing it would be my last as my eyes filled with tears I ran my hand over the plastic lemon yellow mats I gave her for Christmas in 1980.  I love that she kept everything we gave her and cherished life’s little treasures but she valued people and family over any material possession.

There aren’t too many things that can get under your skin like whining.  When our girls were little they were not allowed to whine.  This does not mean they didn’t try it on many occasions!  It’s no secret in our family that when Taylor was little she tried whining on for size often.  There are several things that we did that brought her to a place of communicating what she wanted or needed without whining or using that “panicky, do it or else” voice.

1. I would use her same voice in return and say, “What if we all talked like that?  That doesn’t sound nice does it?”  Not mocking her but showing her what it sounded like.  Of course it made her laugh because it sounds so ridiculous.

2. I would say, “I can’t hear you when you’re whining.  Change your tone or I will not respond.”  Sometimes this would bring on a full on fit and other times it would cause her to stop and control the whine and speak in a normal tone.

3. When it finally got to a point when she would not respond to the two approaches mentioned above I would say, “Sit on the floor right where you are.” This was the most memorable and most extreme way we dealt with the whining.

Sit on the floor where you are.

It didn’t matter where we were she would have to sit until she would say she was sorry and use her proper speaking voice.  The idea here was that if she was willing to whine anywhere, then she should be willing to sit right there too.  It helped her to understand how serious it was to me that she NOT whine but that she use proper means of communicating that was acceptable to others. (She remembers having to “sit where she was” in lots of interesting places for a while).

4. I have found that when children are very whiny there are a few reasons why they might do this…

a. The child is under-challenged and bored.

b. The child is in need of quality time with their parents.  I used to take Tay to Starbucks for 30 minutes after dropping Aubrie off at school before taking Tay to preschool.  We would read and color and talk.  I started noticing a dramatic change in her communication for the positive.  She was so much happier and confident. I found the secret…quality time.  It didn’t take tons of time but it worked like a charm and we both enjoyed it!

c. The child has gotten away with getting their way too many times and find it as a way to communicate and this will take all of the above actions to train them in          the proper way of communicating.

Be strong parents! Change the world one child at a time, no whining.  Train your children to communicate in a way that is respectful of others and helps others desire to listen to your children and draws people to your children as examples.  I do not pretend that you can raise perfect children nor is it simple but it is definitely worth the hard work when they are little rather than dealing with a mouthy teenager.  You can do it!

*This blog was written with Taylor’s approval and support so you too can stop your kids from whining and change our world to be a better place. 🙂

When our girls were little Bill and I cuddled with them every night.  It started with our first born, Aubrie. Then when the second one, Taylor was old enough to sleep in a big bed we cuddled with her too. Then the third child, Sydney came and you guessed it we cuddled with her every night too.  When I say WE cuddled with THEM, I mean that Bill cuddled with each child and I cuddled with each child EVERY night.  When they got a little older and wanted to stay up to watch a movie or television show we would give them the option…cuddle or show…they would choose CUDDLE EVERY TIME!

Open communication comes from spending quality and quantity time with your kids!

I loved those times.  We would sing, make up stories, read or just lay there.  One child (to remain nameless) would throw her arm straight above her head and INSIST EVERY NIGHT WITH FORCE, “TICKLE MY TIPS!”  She of course meant, “Tickle my pits,” but got it a little mixed up. 🙂  I loved that mistake so I didn’t correct her for a very long time.  It was too cute.

As they got older the cuddling was more challenging because it was so time consuming.  We cut it down to taking turns, Bill one night, me the next and so on.  Then over time as they were all in school and started having homework and life got busier the bed time “cuddling” stopped.  After a while I started noticing behavior changes in the two older children.  One tended to act out in frustration while the other tended to whine more often.

One day I just went in the bedroom where they were playing and SAT ON THE FLOOR.  Both girls started telling me all about their friends and what was happening in school and with the neighbor girls, etc.  These were things I had no clue about!  I was in their territory on their time and they liked it!  So did I.  It dawned on me, I remember my dad coming into my room one time when I was younger and sitting on the floor.  I don’t remember anything we said that day but I remember I felt like the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD!  He came in MY ROOM!  Wow!

It’s not really something I plan or do in a manipulative way.  It’s actually quite natural because we broke the “door” down so to speak.  We are all allowed into each other’s rooms.  No “stay out” signs at the Shulers!  Taylor found out what my blog was about and she said, “Oh sitting on the floor…yea that works every time.”

SIT ON THE FLOOR…THEN LISTEN!!! They want to talk.  Don’t miss it!  No lectures though…I learned the hard way, that defeats the purpose! LISTEN ON THE FLOOR!

(My kids are finding out my secrets with these blogs) 🙂 I think they will still like it when I sit on the floor in their rooms or climb in their beds!

Funny story…we have had a very challenging week at the Shuler’s house with lots of “stuff” including dumb stuff like the dog barking all hours of the night and then just for fun our cat, Jingles peed on one of our chairs which I happened to sit in! (She hasn’t ever done that before!)  I had been talking with my best friend Michelle  throughout the week and she was encouraging me to read Nehemiah 4 about not ever taking your (spiritual) armor off, not even to get a drink of water.  Sounds super spiritual, I know.  Well, I quickly texted her the “over the top story” about the cat and here was her response…

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