In my last post, I told you I would share with you more ways you can be a better steward of the environment. So, here I am! I believe that the best thing you, or any of us can do to help Mother Earth is to produce as little waste as possible. There is a huge movement that began in the early 2000’s and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since, it is called the Zero Waste movement.
Wikipedia tells us that Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature. The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:
Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
So, let’s stop here for a bit. Just the term “zero waste” sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I am not going to lie, I don’t know if I will ever truly be a “zero waste” person. But, I can tell you that there is an amazing amount of stuff we CAN do. As Kathryn from GoingZeroWaste shares with us, “The true goal of zero waste is to rewrite the story of our consumption. It’s to put value back into our belongings and to focus on living instead of collecting junk we don’t need. It’s not about perfection; It’s about making better choices.” (By the way, Kathryn’s website is my favorite Zero Waste website. She has a great story and tons of great information on how to live Zero Waste.)
I think the biggest single piece of advice I can give you is to simply be more thoughtful. Be more thoughtful when it comes to your purchases. Can you buy the item you need used or second-hand? Do you really need whatever it is you are buying? Is it something you will like and/or use years from now? Is it well-made? Will it last? If you truly do not need it, refuse to buy it. Start jotting down the cost of everything you *could have* bought for a month and see how much money you are saving.
Be more thoughtful when you go out places. Are you going grocery shopping? Bring your own bags for produce and to take your purchases home in. Are you going out to eat with friends? Bring your own straw, cloth napkin and reusable containers to take home any left overs. (This is a million times better than bringing home a doggie bag made from styrofoam.)
Be more thoughtful in what you get rid of and how you get rid of it. Cleaning up and cleaning out your home and belongings is a good thing. (Remember my post on Less is More?) Is what you are getting rid of still good and useable? If so, then donate it to Goodwill or another charity, or maybe ask if any of your friends could use it. Can the item be used for something else? For instance, that old t-shirt could be cut up and used to make cleaning rags or maybe you could cut the arms off and sew up the bottom to make a shopping tote.
Be more thoughtful about the trash you do produce. Buy items that come with minimal packaging, or better yet, no packaging at all. Is there any possible way to reuse said trash? If so, please do. Can you compost it? If so, please do. Can you recycle it? If so, please do.
If you become more thoughtful and conscious now, the world will be better for it tomorrow. Again, I know this is hard; every time you change your way of thinking, it is a process. (And, admittedly, sometimes it’s a long and hard process.) However, if you start thinking in terms of what small changes you can make, and start making those changes today, over time your efforts will grow. Take one small step and make one small change this week. Take another step and make another change next week. The third week, you will become preoccupied with something else in your life and you will fall of the wagon. That’s ok! We are only human after all. Just get back on the wagon when you remember.
I will leave you with this great quote from Maya Angelou. I think it fits this topic very well;
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
In my never-ending search to find an answer to my health issues, I learned from a book called Tox-Sick by Suzanne Somers, that toxic chemicals bombard us from every angle and that they can and are making us sick. (And, yes, I am talking about Suzanne Somers from Three’s Company!) So, towards the end of last year, I finally decided to make a real effort in changing what was coming into our home and negatively affecting our bodies.
Basically, any product that consisted of ingredients that I could not pronounce got replaced with natural ones. I do NOT like the harmful chemicals that compose most of what we use to clean our homes and bodies with. I stopped buying household cleaners, laundry detergent, soap, hand sanitizer, fabric softener, toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, and shampoo and started making my own. (Or buying it online from people who make it with only natural ingredients.)
When I started doing online research for natural recipes and products to start using in our home, I came across some other information that was deeply disturbing to me—how much trash we produce and throw away.
Have you ever thought about how much waste you produce in a day? A Columbia University study estimates that Americans throw out 7 pounds of materials per person every day. (This number 7 is NOT one I like.) This amount of waste equals 2,555 pounds of materials per American each year. If your eyes have not been opened to how horrible this is, I hope this blog post is your wake-up call.
We now live in what I call a “throw-away” world. We buy things, use them once, and throw them away. Nothing is built to last or for longevity anymore. If we get a hole in our sock, we toss it and go buy new ones. We spend $900 on a new mobile phone, just to replace it two years later. We buy paper towels and paper plates with the intention of using them once and throwing them away. In essence, we are just throwing money away.
Hey, I get it, throwing things away is convenient and easy. But, in reality, we are running out space and resources for all the trash we make. We need to start doing better. We must start doing better. For our planet, for ourselves. There are some simple changes you can make starting today. And, they are easier than you think.
Thanks to modern conveniences, we don’t have to wash clothing or plates and utensils by hand anymore. (Thank you, Lord!) Eat your meals from the dishes you own, rather than on paper plates. Start using dish rags and towels to clean up messes around your house, and use cloth napkins with your meals. (Instead of using paper towels or paper napkins and tossing them in trash, you can use your dish rags and towels and toss them in the laundry.) Buy some handkerchiefs to blow your nose in and toss those in the laundry too. I mean, you are going to be doing laundry this week anyway, right? I know I am. And, trust me, you won’t even notice those extra rags, towels, napkins, and hankies in your dirty laundry basket.
Converting your kitchen to a more sustainable paperless system with “unpaper towels” is a wonderful way to reduce the paper consumption of your household. They are so much better for the earth than cutting down thousands of trees.
(As a side note, these natural birdseye cotton “unpaper towels” I bought from This Joyful Home on Etsy are fab! I use them for everything from wiping up spills, to using as napkins, to blowing my nose. They increase in softness and absorbency with the first few washes.)
Also, I am willing to bet that you have some tote bags floating around your house. Over the years, I have gathered quite a few. Start taking those on your shopping trips. Better yet, keep 2 or 3 in your car. That way you have them when you need them. Brining your own tote bags is a million times better than using the crappy plastic ones they give you at the store.
Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd this year, but every day should be Earth Day! These are just a few ideas to get you started down a more earth-friendly, sustainable path. It will also save you money. (Who doesn’t want that?) Instead of throwing away that sock with the hole in it, how about darning it? Maybe consider using your mobile phone for more than just two years. Use your every day dinner ware, instead of paper plates. Heck, pull out that fine china you have on display in your china cabinet. Use that stuff! It is beautiful and you only live once. Enjoy it now!
Let’s stop living in a “throw-away” world. Let’s start being more thoughtful with the items we already own and everything that purchase in the future. Buy items with the intent on using them again and again and again. I will be sharing more ideas with you in next week’s post. I hope you keep following along and start thinking of your own ways to reduce trash and be a caretaker of our environment. God will bless you for it!
One of the things I love most about life is nature. I love being outdoors, I love grass and trees and plants and animals of all different shapes and sizes. I love fresh air and sunshine and rain and wind. Getting to see the beauty in every living thing that surrounds us often takes my breath away. I think one of the reasons I love nature so much is because it was created by God, just like we were. Plus, when we look at God’s creation, it reminds us of His incredible and exquisite handiwork.
So, having said this, it should come as no surprise to you that I am extremely concerned about the state of our environment. Everywhere I look nowadays, I see trash. And, every time I see it, I go through a range of emotions; anger to frustration to numbness to sadness. (Is numbness an emotion?)
The good Lord created this beautiful earth and I believe it is our job to take care of her properly. It is up to us to lead the charge and show others how important it is to treat the earth well. We need to be her caretaker. Taking care of the world is not just an environmental issue, but a spiritual and moral issue as well.
There is a great American Indian quote out there that states, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” I love this quote. And, even though I don’t have kids, I do know plenty of people with kids—and they deserve a clean earth to enjoy.
If you read your Bible, you know that God asks us to take care of His creation. It is His, not ours, and as such, we should treat it with respect and obey His wishes. Both Jeremiah and Isaiah prophesy about the dire consequences that occur when we disobey God and fail to take care of the earth. The following six Bible verses all relay to us that we should be good stewards of the environment:
1. Genesis 1:26
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'"
2. Leviticus 25:23-24
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land."
3. Ezekiel 34:2-4
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally."
4. Isaiah 24:4-6
"The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore, earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left."
5. Jeremiah 2:7
"I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable."
6. Revelation 11:18
"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
So, what do you think about all of this? Don’t you think it is our obligation to do whatever we can to take care of this world that we inhabit? I do! And, I hope you will join me in taking steps to honor God in the way we care for our environment. Let’s start with the simple step of putting trash in the trash can. Better yet, see if that trash is actually something that can be recycled and recycle it.
When we all work together, we can make a big difference! In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more ways in which we can re-direct our thinking and start making changes that will help our earth; ways in which we can all be good caretakers of our Mother Earth.
Do you know someone who claims to be a Christian, yet acts anything but? They say they believe in God and go to church each Sunday. But, their words and actions tell a completely different story. You witness things they say and do on a weekly basis and wonder if they even know what the word “Christian” means.
Well, I am currently in that situation. (I have been for a while.) And, I have a feeling many of you have been in the same spot. You know that old saying, “Perception is reality.”? Well, it’s an old saying for a reason; because it’s true. It also makes me think of, “Walk the walk and talk the talk.” If you are a Christian, you should not have to tell me that, I should just be able to figure that out by your words and actions. (At least, in an ideal world, I would. Especially if I spend any significant amount of time around you.)
Part of me becomes dubious about anyone who must proclaim things about themselves. If they say something like, “I am a great person. I donate lots of money to deserving nonprofits.” I often wonder where their intentions lie. Are they telling me this to impress me? Do they think it makes them look good? Why would they ever say that out loud? Are they trying to convince themselves that they are a good person? Are they that insecure? I honestly do not get it.
At any rate, I am sharing all of this because it got me to thinking; I am learning a lot about how I want to live my life. Or, in this case, how I do NOT want to live it. The person I have been referring to above has been teaching me that I want to be sincere Christian. I want my words and actions to be clear. I want them to match up and not allow anyone to question or doubt who I am. I want to be kindness and love personified. I want to be a true reflection of Christ. This is called sanctification.
It is all a process in sanctification. I am becoming sanctified. Day by day. I am allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down the old me and renew my mind day by day. This process will continue until the day I die. But, man, am I ever grateful for it.
I am trying to take the lemons in my life and make lemonade out of them. It is my goal to use every possible opportunity I can to learn and grow in my spiritual life, and this is no exception. It is a good reminder to be able to look around at my environment and find places that I can work on. And, this is a huge opportunity for growth. Actually, this particular issue allows for growth on many levels.
What about you? Do you have any “lemon” areas in your life that you can make some lemonade out of? There can be opportunities that are glaringly obvious, and other tiny ones you have to dig for. Either way, it will do us all a world of good if we start to look at these irritants as opportunities for growth. When we start to make positive things happen from seemingly negative situations, that is where our power lies. That is where true growth happens. And, the lemonade you make from these situations will taste so, so good and satisfying.
It is that time of year again. You know—that time when we look back over the past year and start thinking ahead to the new, up-coming, year. Many of us will be making “New Year’s Resolutions” and trying to figure out ways to make said resolutions do-able and achievable.
Now, I am not here today to talk about looking ahead with hope. (Although, that is what you should be doing.) Nope, today I want to talk to you about looking back, about being retrospective.
When I was in high school, our yearbook was called “Retrospect”. I always thought that that was a cool and fitting name for a yearbook. Having a yearbook allows us to “look back” and contemplate and remember the past. And, if you enjoyed high school, this is a nice way to reflect on those happy times. If you didn’t enjoy high school, well, I suspect you would not want to even own a yearbook. Who wants to be reminded of anything painful?
Many people will tell you not to look back. There is a popular saying that goes something like, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” The Bible even tells us in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” And, while I agree that it is better to focus on the future, I do believe there can be significant value in looking back. (Just don’t stay there too long!)
As I grow in my spiritual life, the main reasons I like to look back, are three-fold:
1. When I take time to consider my past, I can see just how much I have changed and grown. This is a good thing. It shows me how far I have come. Plus, it is great encouragement and motivation that will help to keep me moving forward and stretching myself. I long to be a reflection of Christ. And, while I will never fully get there in this life, I have a drive within to get as close as I possibly can.
2. Looking back allows me to see God working in my life. It allows me to see His hand at work. This is a marvelous thing! I can look back on situations that, at the time, I thought were horrible, but in hind-sight I can see the beauty that was created from them. It is a powerful reminder of how God can work everything for our good, if we let Him. (See Romans 8:28)
3. And, finally, mulling over my past grants me the opportunity to simply be grateful. As I shared in a recent post, having an attitude of gratitude is fundamental in our spiritual growth and in our everyday walk with God. Every chance we get to be grateful should be seized upon immediately. What better way to be grateful than by looking back at our past blessings?
So, as the new year fast approaches, I implore you to spend some time in active retrospect. Don’t be afraid to look back, draw out all the positive things over the last year, and use those things to grow into the person you long to be.
The key is to understand that you can’t live in the past. You can’t spend your entire life looking back and dwelling on things that have already happened. You need to move forward. But, by taking the time to consciously look back and use that occasion to grow spiritually, you can develop into the person you truly want to be.
Have you ever noticed that God spelled backwards is dog? I don’t think this is a coincidence. As a matter of fact, I think that God did this on purpose. Being a dog-owner, and lover, and having had multiple dogs in my life, I have realized that dogs are a reflection of God. (Maybe not a perfect reflection, as nothing and no one can be perfect but God—but dogs come pretty darn close!)
Having a dog in your life does more than just teach you about responsibility, as most of our parents told us as kids. Having a dog can teach you so much more than that. Having a dog can teach you about love, friendship, loyalty, and family. Having a dog can also teach you about God. How? Because God and dogs truly share a lot of the same qualities.
Here are all the ways I have found in which dogs and God are alike:
Dogs are loyal and faithful, just like God. Dogs are devoted to you, they are steadfast and trustworthy. That is just how God made them. You go to work in the morning and come home that evening. Who is anxiously awaiting your return? Your dog! Your dog will sit by your front door and wait on you forever, if that is what it takes. God is the same way. God is faithful. God will be with you always.
Dogs accept you just as you are, just like God. Dogs stick by you through thick and thin. They don’t care who you are, what you look like, what you have done, if you are rich or poor, if you are black or white, if you are young or old. They don’t care about any of those things. Neither does God.
Dogs are playful, and so is God. Dogs just love to run around, chase balls, or play tug-of-war. Now, you may not think of God as playful, but I beg to differ. Just think about some of the wonderful creatures God has created, like the otter, penguin, dolphin, and platypus. These all bring us delight and they must bring God delight too. I think that God has a great playful side and a great sense of humor. Also, since I know I enjoy laughing and having a good time, and I was created in God’s image, He MUST be the same way!
Dogs are courageous protectors, and God instills courage and protects us. If you have ever had a dog, you know that they are natural born defenders and would gladly protect you from anyone or anything that threatens you with harm. God is the same way. Once we enter into a relationship with God, He becomes our protector. Not only can God protect us, but He can give us courage as well. (David and Goliath is a great example.) Knowing that God is on our side gives you all the courage you need!
Dogs are joyful and give you joy, and God is joyful and gives you joy. As I mentioned above, dogs will faithfully wait for you forever. And, then when you do show up, they are there to meet you with the most joyful greeting ever. You know exactly what I am talking about, right? Their butts wiggle all around. They excitedly jump up and wag their tails. They display that same kind of joy whether you have been gone five minutes or all day. (This is just one of the many reasons dogs are so great, in my humble opinion.) The joy that dogs have is contagious. Just being around them will give you joy. And, once you have a true relationship with the Lord—well, nothing in this universe can give you more joy than the Lord.
Lastly, and most importantly, dogs love us unconditionally. Just like God. If you have a dog, you know that they love you no matter what you do to them or how you treat them. I have seen story after story of poor pups that have been abused. But, when they are rescued, they are still the most loving creatures. Sometimes it takes them some time, but they always love people again.
God loves us the same way. No matter what we do to Him, He continues to love us. We forget about Him, take His name in vein, scoff at Him, rebuke Him, and deny His existence. Yet, He still loves us. There is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do that will ever make God NOT love you. You are His child. He created you. He loves you and will always love you, no matter what.
So, what do you think? Dogs and God are extremely similar, aren’t they? Did I miss any of their shared attributes? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Before I leave, I must share with you a wonderful article I came across recently called “What a Dog Taught Me about God” by Phyllis Schomaker. Take some time and read it. You will be glad you did.
Also, if you don’t have a dog in your life, I highly recommend adopting one. Who couldn’t use more joy and love in their life? There are thousands of homeless doggies out there that are in need of a good, loving home. Check out Petfinder.com and adopt the newest member of your family today!
I must share something with you today—there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world more freeing than praying about your problems and then handing them over to our Father God to take care of.
I am finally in a place in my life where I can do this—well, 95 percent of the way there! It is the most amazing and peaceful feeling there is. Just being able to put your full trust in God and knowing that He will take care of you no matter what is so liberating. It is a like a heavy weight has been lifted from your chest and you can breathe again. I can’t think of any other way to describe it.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that we can simply pray and then sit by and do nothing. We can’t just pray and then hang out on our couch and watch TV. We must do whatever it is that the Holy Spirit calls us to do. We must continue to spend quality time with God each day in prayer and by reading His Word. We must continue to grow in our spiritual lives and lead a life that is pleasing to God. We must fight the good fight. We must put our trust, hope, and faith in Him.
There is, however, one thing we can stop doing, and that is worrying! There are at least 30 different Bible verses that tell us not to worry or be afraid about anything. I think that God wants us to take all of these to heart. (Otherwise, why mention it so many times?) I find Matthew 6:25-34 is especially reassuring:
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
There is so much peace to be found in the Word of God. And, there is an even greater, more profound peace to be found when you hand your life over to Jesus and have a true relationship with Him. We all tend to make life so much more complicated than it should be or needs to be.
Do yourself a favor and let God handle everything. Let Him take control. Be free.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.