Archive for the ‘Intentional Living’ Category

A (REAL) Peek at our Daily Routines

As Ellie cried hungrily in the swing, lunch boiled over on the stove, and Jeshuah smashed his broccoli all over his tray exclaiming that “No! No!” he did not want broccoli, I looked around my house and had to smile.

Earlier I posted A Peek at our Daily Routines.

Let me again stress…those are my goals.

However, here is how they actually play out on most days:-)

Morning Routine

5:30am–Ellie is fussing and needing attention, so I pull her into bed with us for extra snuggles and sleep in.
6:30am–Ellie is asleep–I scramble out of bed, hurriedly pour myself coffee, sit down with my Bible and attempt to pump amidst various children’s needs arising.
8:00am–Jump in the shower for a speedy scrub down. As soon as I do, Stephen pops his head in and says Eliana is awake and hungry.
8:30am–Breakfast. I feed Jeshuah while nursing Ellie and forget to eat breakfast myself. Oops. We also forgot to pray…and Daddy has already left for work before we could read our Bible Story!
9:00am–Ellie down for a nap and try to distract Jeshuah with his toys while I do dishes and start laundry, etc.  He ends up finding the permanent markers and drawing all over himself. We never get to our learning activity this morning. I guess we’ll save it for tomorrow!
11:30am–Lunch. I leave a disaster of dishes on in the kitchen while I put the kids down for nap.

Afternoon Routine
12:00am–Jeshuah goes to the bathroom and reads stories while I sit on the side of the tub and nurse Eliana. I then put both kids to bed and look around my messy house in exhaustion. Time for that Midday Pause before I whirl into action to get this mess cleaned up!

Dirty laundry that has not made it down the steps yet


Mounds of trash that need to be taken out


Laundry Piles

And that is what real life looks like in our household.  Sometimes I get discouraged reading other people’s blogs about household routines and schedules and assume they hold to them perfectly and that their household runs smoothly all the time.  But if this blog post is any indication of reality, I think most of us aim for routine and structure, but that doesn’t mean it always happens.

And praise God, there is grace for that! Don’t try to live up to anyone else’s expectations or standards or compare yourself to other wives and mothers.  Simply follow what God has for you each day and enjoy it!


A Peek at our Daily Routines

As we have been preparing to go on a low-key version of the GAPS diet, it has become extremely important for me to get organized and stay that way. While I have daily routines posted on my fridge, I find that I do not do well at consistently following them. I tend to decide in the moment whether or not I feel like doing the laundry or baking bread, instead of seeing that it needs to be done, gritting my teeth and just doing it!
But with our desire to live more healthfully, I am finding there are simply not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. One way I am finding I can combat this is by making goals, prioritizing them, designtaing a specific time to accompish them, and being disciplined about following through.

This has created so much more peace in our home, I always wonder why I allow myself to beome lazy and slack off. I find myself much less anxious throughout the week because I know what needs to be done and when and how to do it. However, it is also important to not allow my schedule to rule our home. When kiddos are having a rough day and need extra loving, I may not get the laundry put away; and that is okay. If someone calls and needs a hand with their errands, I may not get the toys picked up; and that is okay. The goal is to facilitate rest and peace–to have structure and order, to strive to maintain it, and to ultimately desire God’s plan for each day.

Now that we are back into our routines, Jeshuah is old enough to have his own little routine, and I find it adorable! Each day goes something like this:

Morning Routine

5:30am–I either shower or make juice
6:00am–Personal devotions and nurse Eliana, put her directly to sleep and pump extra for Jeshuah or to freeze.
6:30am–Jeshuah is usually awake. Daddy takes him to the bathroom and dresses him, then sets him up with some favorite toys and an audio drama/music for independent playtime while we have our devotions. When his music is over, we help him pick up his toys and put them away, then we move that chore from “do” to “done” on the fridge.
7:30am–Breakfast. I set out two otions for Jeshuah of each so that he can choose: cow bib or choo choo bib? snow man bowl or green bowl? Kefir or yogurt? We then sit down to eat our breakfast together. Jeshuah picks a stick from our prayer mug, and we pray for whomever is on the stick.
7:45am–Daddy reads a story from the Big Picture Story Bible
8:00am–Jeshuah plays by himself while I clean up breakfast. Jeshuah clears his own dishes and moves that chore from “do” to “done” for the morning.
8:30am–Nurse and dress Ellie, then she goes down for nap around 9:15.
9:00am–Each day we have a morning activity–either going to a park or to a friend’s to play, or a learning activity from Slow and Steady Get me Ready. We use Eliana’s naptime to spend focused learning time together.
11:30am–Lunch. Jeshuah picks a stick to pray for again. Nurse Ellie.

Afternoon Routine
12:00am–Naptime routine for both kids. For Jeshuah, read books on the potty, then read a couple books and sing songs in his bedroom before nap. Then put Ellie down for her nap. I use the kids’ nap time to first take a daily pause, then prepare dinner and complete my afternoon routines (email, paperwork, budget, laundry, cleaning, etc.)
3:00pm–Nurse Ellie, then down for a nap around 4. Afternoon activity with Jeshuah. Again, this is either errands, playing outside, or a learning activity

Evening Routine

5:00pm–Nurse Ellie
5:15pm–Dinner with daddy! We draw another stick to pray. After dinner, Jeshuah and Daddy play while I feed Eliana and get her ready for bed then clean up dinner.
6:30pm–Bedtime routine. Daddy takes Jeshuah to the bathroom, lets him pick out some jammies, then reads him stories and sings him songs before laying him down for bed.
Each day looks a little different, and the times are a rough estimate of when each activity takes place. But I find it is better to have a goal and aim for it, than to have no goal at all.

For more inspiration on daily routines and a good balance between schedule and flexibility, I love these posts:

Developing a Simple Schedule and Routine

Simplifying the Schedule

Pitfalls of To-Do Lists

Taking a Weekly Planning and Prayer Retreat

Preparing for Childbirth

With the birth of our second little one only a few weeks away, I am beginning all of my final preparations for bringing another baby into our home.  Some of the most important preparations this time around have been actually preparing for labor itself.  While I had a vague idea of the importance of preparation for labor the first time around, I had no idea the magnitude of its significance.  Now that I have been through it once, I am excited to do all I can to ease the way for the second time around.

One of the most profound truths I learned the first time around is that giving birth can be so much more than just something our bodies do after we have been pregnant for nine months.  We can either view labor and childbirth passively as something that simply happens to us, or we can see it as something intensely spiritual and even miraculous, with the God-given ability to sanctify us and make us more like Christ through the process.

In light of that fact, here are some of the practical ways in which I am preparing body, soul and spirit to give birth.

1.  Prepare Physically

Physical Exercises.  Giving birth is a massive physical effort.  Our bodies need to be toned and ready for this incredible feat.  But preparing physically does not have to be a task of insurmountable proportion!  Simply taking a daily walk is extremely beneficial.  Most childbirth books will recommend at least a few stretches and toning exercises to prepare for labor.  What to Expect When You are Expecting has some helpful exercises.  Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor, wall-squats tone leg muscles for giving birth while squatting, the dromedary droop aids in relieving back pain and pressure, just to name a few.  I have also done German Stabilization core strengthening (similar to Pilates) throughout my whole pregnancies and felt the positive effects daily.  Find a routine that is helpful to you and build these exercises into your morning routine just as you do with washing your face and brushing your teeth. You will find yourself feeling better during pregnancy, throughout labor and following birth if you do! You will not regret it!

Use Herbal Teas and Supplements.  Herbs have been used for thousands of years in the physical and emotional preparation for childbirth.  Some of the most widely used herbs are red raspberry leaf and nettles.  Red raspberry leaf is believed to relieve leg cramps, diarrhea, and morning sickness in pregnant women, as well as tone the uterus, reduce the risk of hemorrhage, ease pain in labor and post-partum recovery and increase breast milk. Nettle leaf is excellent to add to a tea around four weeks before delivery to aid in postpartum milk production. I enjoy Traditional Medicinals pregnancy teas.  My two favorite for preparing for labor are their Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and their Organic Pregnancy Tea.    Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wonderful variety of organic herbs to brew your own tea at a fraction of the cost.  Be sure to check with your midwife before drinking these teas, though, as red raspberry leaf in particular (depending on how strongly it is brewed) can cause contractions and even induce labor.  I have been drinking Traditional Medicinals throughout my entire pregnancy with no increased contractions, but as I am at risk for pre-term labor, I am holding off on brewing my own raspberry leaf tea until closer to my due date.’

Visit a Chiropractor.  Since our experience with upper cervical chiropractic care dramatically altered our son’s life, we are new “believers” in the amazing benefits of chiropractic care.  As there are many different forms of chiropractic–many of them not beneficial–I recommend finding a certified upper cervical chiropractor in your area.  Our wonderful chiropractor is Dr. Newhouse of Newhouse Health Solutions, and if you live in our area, we cannot recommend him highly enough!  Chiropractic care has been proven to decrease pain and duration of childbirth, can help align the baby for a safe and quick exit (using the Webster Technique), and can help keep your whole body aligned as your ligaments loosen up during pregnancy. For further information on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy, visit here.

2.  Prepare Emotionally

Studying the process of childbirth as God designed it has been one of the most amazing, rewarding, awe-inspiring things I have ever done! Preparing my mind for what to expect during labor and delivery, how the body works and functions, what problems can arise, and how to work through them, has been eye-opening and empowering.  I cannot recommend enough that each woman study this amazing process before they go through it! With my first, as excited as I was to experience giving birth, I didn’t feel the need to learn much about the process myself.  I expected the doctors to handle that department.  And I figured my body would just kick itself into gear and do what it was supposed to do whether I informed myself on the process or not.  After all, women have been giving birth for thousands of years, right? What’s to know? I actually found that informing myself on the process has helped immensely in relieving fear and anxiety, as well as giving me tools to cope with labor.

Two Excellent Natural Childbirth Resources:

The Christian Childbirth Handbook. I have been so     blessed by reading this book! Obviously coming from a Christian perspective, this book details not only the body’s physical process of giving birth, but weaves in Scripture and God’s good design to offer comfort for anxiety and fear during labor.  I also love the balanced approach to a desire for natural childbirth and the reality of complications or medical emergency making that impossible.  The wealth of information on how God designed our bodies to work in giving birth caused me to stand in awe of our Creator and fall in love with His design.  The knowledge it afforded me has increased my excitement and given me tools to cope with the fear and pain involved.  It also addresses issues at the heart level and encourages belief in God’s goodness and sovereignty no matter how labor and delivery may differ from what you had planned.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth is an excellent tool for informing yourself about the process of birth, as well as what to expect in a normal birth, variations, possible complications, the risks and benefits involved in each medical intervention, etc.  A wonderful resource for understanding all that is happening and could be suggested to aid the labor process.

Take a Childbirth Class

Most hospitals offer childbirth or Lamaaze classes for their patients before they give birth.  These can be a one day class or a multiple week course, depending on where you go.  You can also take more advanced courses on natural childbirth like Bradley offers.  These can be pricey, but they are well worth the investment!

3.  Prepare Spiritually

Labor is, for most people, intense, painful, and exhausting.  No matter how prepared you are for childbirth, the experience can throw curves you did not expect and test even the most educated laborer.  Childbirth brings with it not only physical pain, but emotional fear of the process itself.  Labor can try your patience, perseverance, and pain tolerance!  All of these things can either cause a person to spiral out of control into panic, or you can ask the Lord to give you the presence of mind to allow all of these things to sanctify you and draw you into deeper relationship with Him.  Childbirth can be a miraculously spiritual experience of crying out to the Lord and finding his grace and strength is sufficient when you are at the end of your own.

Ushering a new life into the world and then nurturing that life is one of the most amazing tasks the Lord has given to us.  It is one of the sweetest and most rewarding blessings.  It is also one of the most intensely challenging roles we can possibly have.  I had no idea the truth of this statement until our firstborn arrived, and I found myself sorely lacking in spiritual preparation for all that motherhood demanded of me. I have prayed ever since Jeshuah’s birth that the Lord would use the lives of our children to mold and sanctify my heart through the sacrifices required of me.  In my pursuit of holiness in the calling of motherhood, I have found a couple of books I particularly refreshing.

Calm My Anxious Heart.  Linda Dillow addresses the issue of contentment in all circumstances and its relation to anxiety.  She challenges our hearts to rest in God’s sovereignty in all things and not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  As post-partum fear and anxiety was a huge struggle for me after my last birth, I am clinging to the truths of Scripture and words of wisdom found in this book.

In The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson outlines the importance of the calling of motherhood with Scriptural encouragement to not grow weary of doing good, even when we do not see the result of our labors some days! A great resource to remind us of the eternal value of our roles as mothers.

Comforts from the Cross. Elyse Fitzpatrick has a profound gift for weaving the truth of the gospel into the circumstances of everyday life. With short, almost devotional-length chapters, she addresses multiple issues that we each face daily and confronts them with the gospel.  A delightful, easy read full of long-lasting, heart penetrating truths.

Finally, as you do all you can to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for childbirth and motherhood, come before the Lord with hands open in surrender to His will in all of it.  Preparation is important and it is a wise task, but it can cause us to claim too much ownership in an area we are meant to continually surrender to God’s providence.  We can be tempted to insist that, because we have “done our part,” God owes us a labor, delivery, and baby just the way we prepared for.  But I am reminded of Psalm 84:11, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  However labor, delivery, and recovery progress, God is good in the midst of it all.

Ask the Lord to enable you to let go of your desire for control in the area of both childbirth and motherhood.  Entrust the process of birth and the life of your little one into his care, knowing that He knows what is best for us so much more than we do!

Further Childbirth Reading:

Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of Fear in Childbirth

Scriptural Encouragement for Preparing and Giving Birth

Preparatory Resources for a Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth

Paying off Debt: A Simple Guide

My brother, if I may brag a little, is a bit of a genius. Actually, both of my engineering brothers are brilliant, and I have no doubt both of their names will be be well-known some day.  (They already have a development company called JTK Solutions that has created a program that is getting rave reviews on CNET.  If you are in school/college, check out Get Organized!)

However, my younger brother, has created a program to help pay down debt in the most efficient, economical way. In the post below, he explains his easy-to-use program and how a little re-organizing and forethought can literally save you thousands of dollars. I am only too eager to get our car loan and mortgage payment entered in to find out more ways we can save money and reduce our debt as quickly as possible!


Paying off Your Loans







Intentional Living: Daily Routines

One of the most important ways for me to stay on track with my household jobs is making daily routines.  I find having tasks divided up over the week and assigned to specific dates not only helps make certain they are accomplished, but it also keeps me from stressing all day every day about “what else do I need to do?! A million things!!”  I also find it very helpful when I am fighting the fury of feelings and every little thing is overwhelming me to help me get off the couch and know what needs to be done. And then, when (some days if!) I accomplish it all, I can actually relax in the evening with my husband instead of wanting to collapse into a ball of tears because I can’t even begin to finish everything in the whole world that needs to be done! (that was a bit of drama, usually trying to slip its way through my rationale multiple times a day. I struggle to keep it at bay!)

It takes some trial and error to figure out what works for you, but I encourage you to try it–it is well worth it! Sometimes I balk at having too much structure and feeling like if I make routines it will enslave me to them.  But it is important to remember that a schedule is there to serve you, not for you to serve it!  Making daily routines is not law, and it should not bind you to them, but it must be held loosely, recognizing that some days that baby will be sick or cranky and need extra attention that may have gone to putting all the laundry away. It will get done another day!

Here are some helpful hints to get started:

1.  Make a list of the large/important tasks you need to accomplish on a regular basis.  For me, this includes making bread, making yogurt, taking lunch to Grandma, care group, laundry, etc.   Some people like to include every single detail (e.g. brushing teeth, making bed, taking vitamins, etc.) but I find this overwhelming to look at on a list! I do those things out of habit. I don’t want to see them written down! But do whatever serves your personality

2.  Ascertain how often these things need to be done.  I do laundry twice a week, Monday and Friday.  I make yogurt once a week.  I get milk from the farm twice a month, etc.  I have both a weekly and a monthly calendar since some things are only done once a month, like grocery shopping and bread making. Some things need to be done only once or twice a week, other things, like packing the hubby’s lunch, need to be done daily.

3.  Assign a day for each task.  This is the hardest thing for me and requires flexibility and trial and error.  If you try one day and it isn’t working, find which day you seem to naturally do it and re-assign.  For instance, I used to try to clean my house, make yogurt, bread and do laundry on Monday. I like to start my week of right! But, oh my!! Way too much in one day, especially since Monday is “recover from the weekend” day in my home since I don’t do housework or dishes on Sunday–things pile up! I have found by Tuesday and Wednesday I have the energy to tackle things like bread and yogurt, so I re-assigned.

4.  Divide each day into three sections, morning, afternoon, and evening routines.  Grouping the day into chunks of time helps keep me on task, and also mentally helps me turn the page from one thing to the next and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Divide your day into whatever serves your family best. I find having all three is very convenient since Jeshuah naps in the morning, afternoon, and goes to sleep at 7!  There are some things that remain constant every morning, afternoon and evening. Devotions, dinner prep, and making Stephen’s lunches, for example.  However, Monday mornings I start a load of laundry and Tuesday mornings I start a batch of yogurt.  Each day will have some of the same and some different.

5. Write routines onto pretty paper/print them off computer and post in a prominent place. I printed mine onto cardstock with pictures of nature at the top of each day, placed magnets on the back, and stuck them on the fridge near my monthly menu plan and shopping list.  I actually rarely look at it now, but if I feel stuck or confused about what comes next, there it is for reference.  And sometimes I even sigh in relief that there isn’t anything left for that block of the day, and I can head outside and enjoy reading a book or something else leisurely:-)

5. Wake up, look at your daily routine, and stick to it as best you can!  before long, you have it memorized and become comfortable enough to rearrange when life happens. Which brings us to the final and probably the most important tip!

6. Pray over each day and be open to the leading and intervention of the Spirit! Each morning, over my coffee and quiet time, I ask the Lord to bless and guide my day and make me open to his intervention. Again, routines are a tool to help serve your family and help you best serve those around you.  It can be tempting to enslave yourself to it and not be flexible when someone is sick and needs a meal, or a ride, or you get sick that day, etc.  But if you keep Christ at the center, praying for his guidance along each step, this can be a very effective tool to increase your efficiency as you serve in the kingdom!

I am a very practical, hands-on, visual type of person, and it is always helpful to see examples of other people’s schedules. Below is an example of my routines. Hopefully you can zoom in on it and get a better idea of what it says…Unfortunately, because I am not very technologically adept, I cannot figure out how to attach these files so you can download and personalize them, but I hope you can manufacture your own without too much difficulty. Enjoy!

Daily Routines on my fridge

Why Trying Harder Simply Won’t Work

After an unintentional blogging sabbatical due to lack of internet, I am back.  I have been in the process of writing some very practical tips and worksheets for intentional living, but I feel as though I must break from that for just a bit and just share some encouragement for the journey.

It is so hard to find the balance between doing what God has called us to do and yet not doing it in our own strength or for our own self-righteousness. I find myself constantly pulled back into the trap of lies that my home has to be perfect at all times–not only for anyone who might step through the door, but for my family and especially for myself–I cannot think straight if the house is not spotless and all my household “wheels” are oiled and running smoothly without so much as a squeak!  This is a slippery slope in which I have allowed myself to become entrenched this last couple of weeks.  My eyes have strayed from the purpose of why I desire to keep an orderly home and I have become enslaved to the process and ultimate goal of perfection and order. This results in being constantly overwhelmed, discontent, and ultimately feeling like a total failure in every aspect. Ugh, what an icky place to be!

I wanted to share this in particular for two reasons. One, because I know I am not alone in this! Every wife and mom I ever talk to feels like this! Two, because I want to preach truth to myself as well as my other mama friends who are feeling bogged down with despair over the magnitude of their responsibility.

Three particular messages have refreshed my heart in this area over the last week.  Unfortunately, I have not been meditating on them enough to penetrate my heart, so I write them out in hopes that I can get it through my head and into my heart and into my actions!

My cousin sent me a quote by Mark Chanski that has been playing in the back of my head all week. It has been such an encouragement in moments where I am simply so weary of serving and feeling like at the end of the day, there is still a mountain of things to do.

“She needs to gain and maintain the deep conviction of the glory, honor, and notability of selfless service. This she finds at the foot of the cross, looking up to the One who earned for Himself ‘the name which is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9), by ’emptying Himself, taking the form of a bondservant’ (2:7), humbling ‘Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’ (2:8). There she beholds her Savior who mopped up the damning vomit of her own sin with the precious sponge of His perfect life and atoning death. The love of Christ constrains and compels her to press on (2 Cor. 5:14). The Spirit of Christ empowers her.” – Mark Chanski

I am such a task-oriented person. I love lists and checking things off my list.  I grow very, very discouraged when I cannot do this, and I also find I struggle with being faithful in the things I cannot check off a list.  My sanctification, becoming more like Christ, is one of those things I cannot check and say “done!”  This doesn’t mean I won’t still try, though.  Our human nature craves the satisfaction of accomplishment, and so we try to create for ourselves lists to become more sanctified.  We know, for instance, that our obedience ought to be motivated out of love for Christ, but the way we think we accomplish that is by working harder at it.

In her book, Comforts from the Cross, Elyse Fitzpatrick writes “Okay, I’ve got the ‘love God’ part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient to prove it.  It’s right there I fail to get the emphasis right.  I gloss over the motivating role that love plays and focus in on what I need to do instead.  But…the key to a godly life is not more and more self-generated effort.  How then do I cultivate the sincerity of love that motivates obedience? by focusing more intently on his love for me then on my love for him, more on his obedience than mine, more on his faitfulness than mine, more on his strengths than mine.”

If left to ourselves, we will fail every time. We will strive harder and only fail harder.  But Christ, our advocate and savior, did all things well.  Instead of focusing on ourselves and our efforts, we are to look to him and what he accomplished in our stead. This and only this will motivate towards sanctifying obedience and victory over our flesh.

We were not saved from our sin to be further enslaved to our flesh and our emotions.  Yet that is how I have felt the last couple of weeks.  All of my emotions have been mixed up, confused, and full of lies and discouragement.  They have pulled my eyes off the cross and onto my own accomplishments.  I have found myself failing time and time again in loving my husband, caring for my son, and running my household.  The temptation is to make a list of all the ways in which I need to sanctify myself! Elyse Fitzpatrick again, “What I think I need are more rules to live by.  Give me a pen and a sticky pad, and I can get my life together.” Oh, how tempting this is when I am feeling defeated in my pursuit of keeping my home and raising my son! I want to make lists, stick to them, and then feel really good about myself as I look about at others.

“Just a smidgeon of works-righteousness, just a drop of minor law keeping (so that we’re sure we’re covering all our bases), will poison our entire soul. Works-righteousness will enslave us…it comes cloaked in something akin to genuine goodness. I know that I don’t have to get straight As, or have people over every night, or wash my car every weekend, bu I think it shows that I’m really serious about pleasing God and not like other people who take their salvation for granted. We smile conceitedly when we think that we’re just a bit better than others.” (Comforts from the Cross)

Keeping an orderly home is an honorable pursuit.  Disciplining and loving our children is pleasing to God.  Opening our home to strangers is obedient to God’s commands.  However each of these good things can be motivated by wrong desires.  I find my temptation is to do these things for my own gratification, or to impress others, or to puff my own pride up so I can look on others with a sense of superiority.  These are all awful traps to fall into.  I must guard my heart with the truth of the gospel when I am tempted with these sins.  I preach to myself what Christ accomplished at the cross and how he is our example of selfless service when I am weary of the drudgery.  When my heart is tempted with pride, I remind myself that I am nothing without Christ. When I want to live in light of my changing emotions, I remind myself that Christ died to set me free from the enslavement of living on a whim. It never satisfies anyway.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Gospel Motivation for Intentional Living

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5

“One of the main reasons to manage our home is for the sake of hospitality.  We should also consider managing our home for the sake of hospitality to our family.  Cleaning and organizing is a part of the practical outworking of Titus 2:3-5.  Keeping an orderly home communicates our love in a tangible manner.  Our family benefits from our management on a daily basis, just as guests enjoy our efforts when they visit.” –Practicing Hospitality

At our care group we recently got into a discussion about the purpose of keeping a tidy home.  One of the husbands said, “It’s the making the bed that gets me–why do it?! It’s just going to get unmade again!”

I know this man’s feelings well, since I have thought them so many times myself! It seems like that’s true of everything we do in home management.  Why fold the clothes and put them away? We are just going to get them out again? Why pick up the toys, they will just get played with again.  If we want to be efficient, wouldn’t we just leave this stuff and save time of picking up and putting away only to have to do it again thirty minutes later? Here are a few reasons why it is beneficial to maintain order in your home:

1.  It actually saves time in the end.  How much time have you spent looking for that bill that needs to be paid? Or your keys? Or your shoes? Or that one tupperware? I have always found that disorder leads to wasted time in searching and much, much frustration!

2.  Living in a chaotic home creates a frenzied heart.  When we live from one moment to the next, our hearts are not able to rest or relax because we are never sure what is expected of us.  Creating order allows for us to know what’s on our plate and establish a plan to execute it.

3.  It allows you to show hospitality.  When we have stock of our pantry, when we have a menu plan, and when our home is generally in order, this gives us the freedom to invite people in at the spur-of-the-moment.  This does not mean our homes have to be perfectly clean all the time. This is an ideal of which we need to let go if we are going to truly minister effectively for the kingdom.  The goal is not perfection so that guests will be impressed with how we have it all together, the goal is to create an inviting, peaceful environment where guests feel welcomed and relaxed.

4.  It creates at atmosphere of rest and welcome for your family.  When we ask the question, “Why would we make the bed when we are just going to mess it up again tonight?” It is a legitimate question.  But the better question to ask is, when I walked into a room with clothes on the floor and a messy bed, how does it make my spirit feel? “Considerable rumpled,” as Anne Shirley would say!  I have noticed that, without fail, when I bite the bullet and make the bed, put all the clothes away, wipe down the bathroom sink, etc.  As soon as I walk into that room, I literally breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of beauty and order that surrounds me.  This lifts my spirit, and gives strength to do other tasks, and I Have noticed the same for my husband!  So I am motivated not by the goal for impressing or achieving perfection, but with the goal to bless and refresh our spirits and the spirits of those who walk through our doors. It really does make a difference, even if you don’t recognize it on a cognitive level!

It is important to remember also that our ultimate priority is never maintaining our home.  When we have little ones, it is especially important that caring for and nurturing them is our priority.  The maintaining of an orderly home should not replace this, it should merely facilitate it.  This is something I struggle with, as I am a very task-oriented personality that likes to get things done and check it off the list. Nurturing Jeshuah isn’t something I can check off a list and can fall by the wayside of my housework if I don’t watch out for it.

5.  It is an outworking of the gospel.  “The testimony of a wife and mom who loves and serves her family is a powerful witness to a watching world; it is also something that separates a believing woman from the world.  The manner in which we serve and love our family should reflect the transforming power of the gospel in our own life.” (Practicing Hospitality again!).  Many times I catch myself being motivated to keep an orderly home to impress others.  I feel like I fail in so many ways that I somehow want to justify myself in their eyes by keeping a clean house.  This is a false and destructive mentality.  The gospel tells us that we are justified through Christ’s blood.  Trying to do it in our own strength and through actions negates the power of the cross in our lives.

We do not have to impress others with our abilities.  We need to be humble and transparent and allow others to see our faults and failures.  While we want our homes to be a welcoming atmosphere, we do not want to be putting on a show. We want people to know that it is by God’s grace and for his glory that we seek to maintain our homes, and that we fail as much as the next person. But that should give hope, not despair.  I find that so much discouragement comes from the appearance of perfection.  When I see someone with an orderly home and a seemingly-perfect life, my heart sinks with despair. I am aware of my weakness and instantly feel that I could never attain a household like theirs, because I am not perfect.  News flash: none of us are! I hope that when people come into my home, they feel welcomed and refreshed, but that they also see that I do not do it without fault.  I strive for these things, but I fail.  But because I strive for them and place priority on them, I will succeed more than I would if I wasn’t trying at all!

May the gospel refresh you as you seek to minister through your home today!