Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Fer

It's so easy to get bogged down. I pray that today we'll be able to break free of the burdens that so easily entangle us and turn our faces to God. In doing so, I pray that we'll so reflect His glory that the world will whisper amongst themselves and clamor to know what makes us different.

Thanks again, Verse of the Day Calendar:

"When we are chained to fear by worry, Jesus, help us break free. Erase from our minds scary or obsessive thoughts that rob us of the freedom You have given us. Help us to keep our minds free so Your Word can fill them. Give us strength and patience so we won't give in to worry, fear, or bad habits. Amen."

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." ~Galatians 5:1

"It is often just as sacred to laugh as it is to pray." ~Charles Swindoll

"I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High." ~Psalm 9:1-2

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 17: The Rose House Perspective

Today I am looking back at this past week and grimacing. The excuses have abounded. I have wanted to give up. I kind of did give up. I pretended I was on summer vacation. You know, from everything. My health wasn't the best, and I wallowed, in a bad way. You know, in worry and self pity. And everything went to pot. I decided to show you an example of the problems I have to deal with this morning:

Now pretend the rest of my house looks like that. I know. It's sad. 'Cause it's not pretend. My mom and sister even did the dishes for me the other night. And yet, here I am again.

When I plugged in the camera to transfer this messy picture to my computer, I noticed another picture I'd taken a couple of weeks ago. It was a picture of what I call The Rose House. The Rose House is on a street in our city that has seen better days. The city is trying to revive it, but it's gonna take some time. Most of the houses are run-down rentals and the people I see hanging out in front of them are less than desirable. Well, to me. I'm sure they're full of potential beauty to God. The Rose House is one of these rentals. Underneath the roses, it's yucky. But somehow, during the blooming months, it transforms into a sight that takes my breath away.

Isn't that how it is with Jesus? He pours his sinless red blood over our yucky, rotten, sinful selves and we are somehow transformed into a sight that takes the Father's breath away.

In light of this precious work of love, today I'm going to focus on the One who has transformed me. I'm going to keep in mind a quote that brings me immeasurable comfort:

"Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise physician prescribes because we need them; and He proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires. Let us thank Him for His prescription." ~Isaac Newton

**Side note: To make sure I knew how to spell "wallow" correctly, I looked it up. There I found one definition I was expecting, and one I was not.

expected definition of wallow: to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed, or ungainly manner "hogs wallowing in the mud"

unexpected definition of wallow: to devote oneself entirely; to take unrestrained pleasure

Today, I will try to wallow correctly--in the Lord who loves me even when I throw down my bundle and drag my feet. I'm going to pick it all up again, but with light, lilting steps, not heavy, stomping ones.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 11: WOE IS ME!!!

All right. I'm going to be whining today. That's right. I'm getting really real, for realsies.

Week Two has been very hard. I have been, despite my cheery encouragement from the other day, very unmotivated to keep up with the schedule exactly as it's spelled out. I've let a few things slide. I've caught back up, then fallen behind again. Have I mentioned I'm not great at discipline?

The hardest thing has been the bedroom pickups that she recommends. Because in my house, it's very easy to clean the main spaces because all of the toys are just relocated to the kids' bedrooms. But cleaning the kids' bedrooms? Not so fun. You have to sit, sort, put away. And then what happens? Yes, you all know. It looks exactly the same as it did by the end of the day. And you know what? Yes, you all know. IT'S A LITTLE FRUSTRATING!! I can make the kids "clean their rooms" but it's not really effective, because they mostly clear the floor and then I have to go sit, sort, and put away all the toys that are at the edges of the floor.

I'm tired this morning. I fell asleep on the couch last night. Sometime in the night, I evidently decided it was a good idea to move to the recliner (instead of my bed?? I have trouble reclining that chair when I'm awake) and so I slept there, fully clothed, all night. I woke up, stunned to find myself in the chair, feeling creasy from clothes-wearing and crinked from sleeping in a semi-reclined position. (Can you believe my spell-check doesn't believe in the words "creasy" or "crinked"?)

And I might as well admit my other problem. There's really no point in hiding it anymore. I ran out of paper plates on Tuesday. Try to understand, I use paper plates for almost every meal. Maybe one day I'll behave like a "real" grownup and only use paper plates for cookouts and birthday parties, but for right now, I don't have a dishwasher or very much counter space or children who are old enough to do the dishes without breaking them. And let me tell you, the real dishes pile up real quick-like when no paper products are being used. It's defeating.

I know the whole point of this type of cleaning is to see the eternal value of our work as home makers, but I'm having trouble breaking through now that the newness has worn off. I'm going to do something I haven't done before now, because I'm being careful to preserve Sarah Mae's privacy policy, but I think sharing just one day as a sample would be okay. Here's what I'm supposed to do today:

Day 11: Kitchen, Mains Spaces, Bedroom Pick-up, Load of Laundry, Bathrooms

What the what??! See what I mean? Now, if I would've been actually working on the bedrooms one day at a time, like I was supposed to this week, then maybe this wouldn't seem like such a crazy-hard request. But I feel like I'm getting ready to show my house to potential buyers or something. I mean, that list up there? That's pretty much my WHOLE HOUSE. And I still have no paper plates! And I have other things I want to do today!

Have I mentioned that doing jobs partially just doesn't give you the same sense of satisfaction as doing them fully? Like doing the dishes, but not clearing off your other counters doesn't make the kitchen actually clean? Yeah, if this was my paid job, I probably would've been fired long ago for failure to complete projects on time.

All right. I'm done whining. I'm going to go play camping with my son. Then I'm going to start cleaning, hopefully with an eye set on the eternal value, so I don't get caught up in the repetitive mundane-ness of the chores. My encouragement for today comes from my calendar and memory verse #12:

"Sometimes, God, the path before us is difficult. But help us to do our best in walking it. When we are tired, give us energy. When we want to turn around, put up roadblocks. When we feel like we can't finish, encourage us. Steady us when we stumble, carry us when we're weak. Through You we have the strength to keep walking. Amen."

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher (emphasis mine) of our faith." ~Hebrews 12:1-2

Memory Verse 12:

Proverbs 31:27 (NLT)
“She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 9: The Intimidation of Week Two

Font disclaimer: My font won't behave. It's in a time-out. I don't know what else to do about it. It makes me look like a bad font-parent. That is all.

It was really hard to get started again this Monday. I admit, I got a teensy bit behind.

I attribute it to being out of town this weekend. So I didn't get to clean on Saturday, then I was directed by Sarah Mae to take Sunday off. Which I mostly did, except for some laundry that absolutely had to get through the washer.

But then Monday came, I looked around my domain, and thought "Ugh. I don't want to sift through this mess. Maybe I pooped out at one week. Maybe I can't keep up the self discipline. Maybe I should give up."

But then a friend called and said "Can we come over and play today?" and suddenly my motivation received the kick in the butt it needed. (Thank you, God for knowing what I need and when.)

"Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~Diana Scharf Hunt"

Yes! That's it! Deadlines. All of the things that this book ("31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" if you're just joining me or you've forgotten) tells me to do are things I am already doing. The key for me is that I have to do them every day. She encourages me to confront my laziness now and take it to God, because:

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.” ~Martin Luther

So may I encourage you likewise.

Put off this: (or whatever your guilty pleasure is...)

And get crackin'!

We can DO it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 5: What I Learned From Yesterday

If you didn't know it, most of the blogs posts I've done so far have to do with what I've noticed from the day before. Such is the case today.

So here's what I learned from yesterday:

1) If I don't do it in the morning, it just might not get done.

2) That doesn't matter, unless you're trying to be consistent.

3) That doesn't even really matter, unless you're part of a focus group that's recording their efforts on trying to be consistent.

4) If I don't have company coming, I have a hard time being motivated in the afternoon. (Wait, is this the same as #1?)

5) I don't have to drop out of the focus group just because I didn't clean a bedroom yesterday. I can clean a bathroom and a bedroom today.

6) I should go clean a bathroom and a bedroom while it's still Today.

Moral of the story: I'm not perfect. It's okay. I shouldn't use that as an excuse to stop trying. Huzzah!

"No one is perfect... that's why pencils have erasers." ~Author Unknown

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." ~Harriet Braiker

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 4: Overcoming My Tendency to Observe (for my cousin Emma, who says that makes me lame)

After just a few days, the house is looking much better overall. I think it's the result of being more chore-minded in general. And I love having a list to follow. A list that someone else wrote. A list that feels authoritative. A list I don't have to think about, just follow. It leaves room to think about all those heart issues.

Yesterday I was charged to bring life to my domain. This can be interpreted in many ways, depending on how your domain is defined. I began mulling over how to do this. I already have fresh flowers from my yard placed in my kitchen...I have four children and two cats (that's a lotta life)...I try to do little decorative things...I invite guests over regularly...??? How else should I be bringing life to my domain?

Then I thought about my tendency to observe my surroundings. I have been like this for a long time. I'm not often a participator, unless it involves talking or music. Or reading. But reading isn't often participatory. And it is the same in my home. I try to keep life a little bit at an arm's length so it doesn't have such a harsh impact (face it, four kids whining for breakfast can be harsh). Unfortunately, this isn't the best approach--or even possible--when you have children. So I began to think of ways to put myself in their place and also to benefit them and further enhance their home.

Step One was bringing a water cooler full of ice water and some paper cups out to the backyard. Usually when the kids are playing out in the hot, they come in when they're thirsty, usually interrupting me from something I feel is important. Step Two was to go sit on my swing and be with them in the backyard, something I don't often make time for. Have I mentioned I don't like to be hot? It's hard to make time for things you really don't like, like sweating.

But I noticed right away that the children didn't go in and out of the house at all while I was outside. I think they were so thrilled I was out there, that the 90+ temperature suddenly didn't bother them. Because interestingly, they didn't get that many drinks, either. I would get little visitors at my swing who would then dart back out to the sandbox. Having me within eyeshot was enough. It was my presence they were thirsty for.

I've also noticed that I'm interacting more with my surroundings, not just the children. Being focused on what chores are getting done has made me more aware of the house itself. Normally if I see folded laundry sitting on the dining room table, I walk by thinking, "I really need to put that away." (Observing, but not participating.) Now when I see folded laundry sitting on the table, I think "don't get trapped in the vicious cycle!" and go put it away. When I see dirty dishes, I don't groan and think about how unpleasant it would be to do them. I wash them and smile at my empty counter and shining sink. (See Emma? Interactive! ...I wonder if Emma even reads these...)

My husband is home and I think he'd like me to talk to him instead of typing. See? Life-bringing. Onward!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 2

So here I am...on the journey to a consistently clean home.

I have wandered down this path many times before. Every time, I have retreated in fear of...what? Success? Cleanliness? Order? Discipline?

Ah, discipline. That's probably it. But perhaps it wasn't fear of discipline so much as plain old lack of self-control.

I am usually way too easy on myself. Very sympathetic with my struggles. Very understanding and forgiving if I don't feel "up to" doing any given task. After all, I tell myself kindly, you have a lot of children and you don't get enough sleep. And sometimes, your head hurts. Or you feel kind of dizzy. Or you're really stressed out.

See? I'm full of excuses for myself.

However, after doing some investigation, I've decided that this is not what God wants for me. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a keeper of our home. High orders that call for discipline, endurance, and energy. Whatever else God has planned for my life, these things are not to be neglected. Which is why I'm so glad to be on this journey with someone (thank you again, Sarah Mae) who will tell me what to do for a month. I really need that accountability...that direction...that bossiness. I'm hoping that after 31 Days of following directions I will be able to continue on, fueled by consistency and good results. And hopefully my heart will have received the boost of motivation that comes from the "Mary Challenges" the book offers.

I'm still kinda nervous though, because I've already cheated by cleaning my kitchen the day before the challenge began, so I knew it would get done. I'm much more a "clean it in a whirlwind before company comes" kind of gal. Everyday maintenance has always been my failing point. Even in school, I was a "write the whole paper the night before it's due" kind of gal. Just ask my mom. So I find myself wondering--Am I doomed??

*calming breaths*

Just taking it one day at a time. I'm even trying to not read ahead in the book so I don't try to do in a week what is supposed to take a month. I'm committing to not fizzle. Start strong, stay strong. Slow and steady, people. Slow and steady.
(Photo attributed to ahannon1)

One final issue I'm tackling today is my extreme dislike of putting away folded laundry. And my extreme extreme dislike of hanging clean clothes. Sarah Mae addresses this as well. In fact, based on what she's written, I'm pretty sure she has hidden cameras in my home. She encourages us to not go onto another load of laundry until we've fold AND PUT AWAY the one we've just done. I've tried to do this before, but it never lasts because I'm not disciplined. Because I'm lazy. (THERE, I SAID IT!!) But I tried something new yesterday: I kept a pile of hangers next to my clean laundry basket and stuck the hang-up clothes right on them as I found them. When I was done, they were all ready to be hung. I loved sliding them effortlessly into the closet. If you struggle as I do, you should give it a try.

Well, as fascinating as my house-cleaning sagas are, I think I'll bring this post to a close.

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes." ~Agatha Christie

"We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house." ~Robert Brault

Thursday, June 2, 2011

31 Days

I'm getting ready to take part in a focus group for the book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. I'm excited. And a little nervous. But the author (the lovely Sarah Mae) promised it would be doable, even with small children.

So I'm working on my motivation. (like the actors do?)

I want my house to be beautiful and organized. I want my family (including me!) to enjoy our home's environment, surroundings, whatnot...every day because it's regularly maintained. I want to keep up with the laundry. Rather...I don't want to see piles of folded laundry sitting around because I don't like putting it away. I want to be more disciplined so I can feel like a real grownup. I want my relationship with God to thrive because I'm pursuing Him and my calling as Mother and Keeper of the Home with dedication. I want the order in my home to reflect the peace and purpose I feel in my relationship with God.

Let's talk about some quotes, shall we?

"I think housework is the reason most women go to the office." ~Heloise Cruse

"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on." ~Roseanne Barr

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966

Even way back in 1966 (and before, surely) women were trying to escape work. Do you know what society labels a man who doesn't want to go to work and provide for his family's security? Lazy. Bum. But it's acceptable for women to shirk their duties and complain that they have to do all the housework...when that's their job? We wives, we mothers...we provide for the emotional security of our families when we do our job well. So what I'm hoping for is a dramatic shift in my attitude towards housework. I'd like to focus on the eternal effect of what I do. I'd like to be able to focus on "bringing life to the mundane in order to love well." (Sarah Mae)

Let's replace those quotes with some life-bringing ones, shall we?

"Peace - that was the other name for home." ~Kathleen Norris

"The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there." ~Ellie Rodriguez

"I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.... I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby." ~Nancie J. Carmody

I start Monday with my 31 days of challenges. Hold on to yer bonnets!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring Fever

I'm not really deeply enamored with St. Patrick's Day (Sorry, Sasha) but at the moment, I just have to keep reminding myself that the world will turn green again. After several blissful days of weather in the 50s, I'm just not ready to go back to the real February. So I shan't. I'll keep believing that Winter is merely taking its last, gasping breaths before Spring descends upon us.

And hopefully, it won't snow into April this year.

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~Hal Borland

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

See? There's plenty of hope for us all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My New Friend


If you like eating ice cream for breakfast...if you love honey...if you love anything thick, creamy, sweet, and amazingly delicious...do yourself a favor and go buy a cup (or if you're feeling bold, a bucket) of this yogurt.

I felt like I was getting away with something when I tried it at breakfast this morning. I kept peeking over my shoulder to see if the children would try to steal it from me. But lucky for me, it appeared I was eating my regular bowl of yogurt and there were no takers. Bliss!


I just finished watching Julie and Julia. It reminded me why I love to write. How could it not? An entire movie based on a woman who gives herself a year-long blog challenge and cooks (and blogs) through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Many of the blog entries are narrated, which I love. And I got to see Julie typing them as she narrated, which I loved even more. Reading the written word aloud is delicious to me.

I'm not an amazing cook. I don't love it with all of my being. I am not inspired to follow in Julie's footsteps and blog about a cooking adventure. But I have been nudged to pick up where I left off.

It's the middle of the night. Our family has been battling a variety of illnesses over the past three weeks and I have spent a lot of time inside my house. I am currently unable to chew very much, due to some sort of tooth/sinus infection...so I'm a little hungrier than usual. None of these issues lend themselves to eloquence, but my creativity has definitely been stirred.

Perhaps in the morning I'll have something more interesting to say. And just maybe I'll plop myself down on my tomato red stool and type it out for you.

Until then, my friends.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Name Is Not Madeline

And my husband's name is not Jacob. But I want this necklace. Just with different names, savvy?

If you too desire beautiful jewelry procured through dreamy Lisa Leonard Giveaways, please pop over to my farmgirl's blog and leave her a comment. (And for those of you who go to HPC with me, isn't it a little wild that this isn't our Lisa Leonard? The first time I heard about Lisa the Jewelry Designer, I thought she was one and the same as the HPC Lisa and thought she'd been holding out on us.)

For those of you readers who are men and might not have your heart captured by cute clustered necklaces, let me remind you that Valentines Day is right around the corner and that this is jewelry I believe any woman would love. Lots of different styles. Just a thought.