Monday, November 21, 2005

The first bit... continued

Here is the rest of it which I published on my yahoo 360 blog:

WELCOME! I've been writing an organization/homemaking journal on my computer for about a year now and I have decided that the day has come to post it to the internet!
For the past year I have been trying to get myself organized, especially in the area of my homemaking. Dishes pile up, laundry is neglected, exercise, quiet times everything is catch as catch can and I hate it! So, to help me in this process I have been journaling my journey.
If you are encouraged, inspired, or helped by what you read here I hope you'll take the time to email me! I might just post your reply here! I would especially welcome your stories, comments, ideas & suggestions!
Thank you for joining me in my journey! I look forward to hearing from you!

September 20,
I just finished a week’s worth of dishes – yuck. I wonder why I let it go so long! But isn’t that just the question of the year?!
I started exercising on Friday. My plan is to exercise every other day, mostly crunches and leg lifts etc. having given birth to three children now my body is, let’s just say, less than toned. I have a definite goal – get back into my skirts and blue jeans. I’ve got some size 12 that are comfortable and a pair of stretchy size 10 that I can squeeze into. Size 8 is my biological line that I cannot cross, so I’m happy to be not too far from there. With hip-bones like mine size 4 is a physical impossibility, a size 6 an unhealthy expectation, a size 8 is normal & healthy. Thankfully I am still young enough that the weight comes off pretty quickly. At my 4 week post-partum I’d already lost about 20 pounds that doesn’t keep me from feeling like a mushy blob, but anyway all of this to say that I’ve been exercising and and that helps me want to keep the house cleaner.
I had a really helpful, convicting thought the other day – that this homemaking thing is my “ministry”. That totally puts the laundry and dishes etc. etc. in a completely different category. When I’m putting laundry in the washing machine I am serving my family (duh! But I’m slow like that.) This is my ministry, just like a Pastor has a church, or just like Elisabeth George or Beth Moore have their ministries. This is mine. Man! That makes my failure feel huge!!
I am coming up from a season of falling behind. What it boils down too is honestly, I stopped trying. So today I’m playing make-up. It’s lunch time and I’m exhausted. But I wanted to share (again) what I’ve learned.
1. Procrastination begets procrastination. But discipline begets discipline!! When I finished washing the dishes I cleaned the stove, started the tea and wrote a thank you note. It wasn’t too bad.
2. A little effort now goes a long way. If I’d just taken the time to sweep up the raisins off of the kitchen floor when they fell then there wouldn’t be a disgusting mess on my kitchen floor today. If I would just pick up every night then I wouldn’t have a massive disaster in the living room. If I would just wash up a couple dishes after dinner then I wouldn’t have to take all morning to do them now. If I would just fold the laundry as I wash it then I wouldn’t have to take five hours to do it now.
3. A clean house is a matter of the heart. If my heart desires to honor God with the home he’s given me, if I truly desire to give my life away in service to my family then this wouldn’t be such a struggle. The war for a clean home takes place in the battleground of my heart and mind – my thoughts and my desires.
4. The sense of satisfaction & peace are totally worth the effort! The sense of guilt and defeat are not something I want to live with.
So goodbye guilt! Goodbye procrastination. There is the door, let me kick your lazy butt out.

September 23,
Wahoo!!!! I have kept my kitchen spotless(ish) for two whole days!!! I feel very proud of myself. I know it is the tiniest of baby-steps, one must not despise the day of small things!
I told you “discipline begets discipline” and yesterday was a case in point! Not only did I wash the dishes after lunch and after dinner, I cleaned the Living Room, I even used the crevice attachment to get the cereal crumbs out of the corners by the walls & entertainment center. I also dusted, cleaned the glass door & glass table top on our lamp table and most remarkably I got dinner ready ahead of time! I also read a section in one of the books I’m reading (more on that later), sat out on the front porch so that the girls could play outside twice today (which is a sentence of boredom – you have to watch the girls so closely and remind them to stay in the grass or to stop aggravating each other so often that you might as well forget reading a book!) I even played with them on the floor and read a story to Beth. I felt completely self-satisfied. It is a most wonderful feeling to feel at the end of the day that it was a day well-spent.
Doing the dishes often, when there’s just a couple has helped out immensely! We had friends over a couple Sundays ago and she washed up my dishes (Thank you, Amber!) and amazed me by putting the clean dishes in the dish drainer which I’d set temporarily in the sink. One of my other friends, Sharman, also puts her clean dishes in the sink. My mom never did dishes that way. For my entire childhood there was only one way to do dishes – after dinner, with one sink full of hot soapy water the other clear for rinsing progressing from cleanest to dirtiest, with someone to help dry & put away. So this has been an adventure in discovery! Here is what I have discovered about successfully washing dishes with the drainer in the rinse-sink: first of all, ideally you have to rinse the dishes as you put them in the sink, then only put a little bit of water to begin washing in, then rinse sparingly and stack them in the drainer in the other sink. This only works if you have very few dishes to wash, and in order for the dishes to stack right you absolutely must begin with the plates. It works superbly! And I like having to only spend maybe ten minutes washing up a few things even if I have to do it twice in a day – it’s just so much less of a burden that way and I don’t have as much time to get bored out of my mind!!
Well, I promised to write about the section I read in one of the books I’m reading! It’s called “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver and it is a wonderful book, which I highly recommend! When I started reading this book I told Daniel “It’s like someone mailed her my journal and she wrote it just for me!” One of the many gems in this book is a sidebar called The Practical Power of “One Thing” 1
Invite Jesus to rule and reign. Each morning before you get out of bed invite the Lord to come take the throne of your life, to be your “one thing.” Present your day to him and ask him for wisdom and guidance.
Ask God to reveal the next step. As you go through your day, keep asking the Lord, “What is the one thing I need to do next?” Don’t let the big picture overwhelm you. Just take the next step as he reveals it – wash one dish, make one phone call. Put on your jogging clothes. Then take the next step…and the next.
Have faith that what needs to get done will get done. Since you have dedicated your day to the Lord, trust that he’ll show you that one thing or many things that must be done. Do what you can do in the time allotted. Then trust what wasn’t accomplished was wither unnecessary or is being taken care of by God.
Be open to the Spirit’s leading. You may find your day interrupted by diving appointments. Instead of resisting the interruptions, flow with the one thing as God brings it across your path. You’ll be amazed at the joy and freedom that comes from surrendering your agenda and cooperating with his.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3
What an amazingly simple plan! But what joy we would each experience if we would just commit our plans to the Lord!
Just a note: Elizabeth George also says that as you go through your day you should ask yourself “Is there something more important I should be doing” then, if necessary, leave what you’re doing and go do that more important thing! So I’m going to leave now, and go do my more important things today!!
1Joanna Weaver Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (Colorado Springs, Colorado: WaterBrook Press, 2005) p. 58

September 26,
I had this wonderful plan for today! I was going to have my quiet time, do maybe an hour of school with Beth & Emma, wash up dishes and squeeze in a story time before lunch and a nap. However I woke up feeling tired, achy and grouchy, then I got distracted and before you could say “Mary had a little lamb” it was ten o’clock!
We put a sticker on the calendar to commemorate the day we started school, and then sat down on the couch to memorize a Bible verse, review catechism questions 1-3 and learn #4. Then we reviewed alphabet cards, which only proved that Beth has forgotten a lot since we did alphabet cards last. Emma enjoyed helping out with that! I think she’ll probably learn almost as much as Beth with these flashcards.
Finally I sat Beth down to draw alphabet lines. I saw in a penmanship book that it is good to start with the basics, lines and arcs and such, so I told her to do a row of lines top to bottom. She did wonderfully! But then I asked her to do a second line of “slant-y lines” she pouted and whined and would lollygag until I was terribly exasperated. We finally got through them and then ate lunch!
What is it that makes it so difficult for us to cooperate? We have exactly opposite learning styles – I am “abstract random” and she is “concrete sequential” the same as Daniel. She is very project- & goal-oriented I can only barely conceive of how she is thinking & feeling because Daniel explains it to me from his perspective. But even Daniel can not get her to do well with her writing. Is she just to young? She is really interested in writing and I’m sure she’ll love it when she can write legibly but in the meantime…?
We had a similar situation on Friday while we were folding laundry. I am so glad that she will fold laundry with me! She now folds all of her own laundry and if I need her too she will also fold Emma’s laundry for which I am very grateful! But here is the scenario: I start to give her laundry from my basket and she gets working on a little pile, when she is finished with that pile she thinks she is finished folding laundry and if I add to her pile, say while she’s doing the last one or two items she freaks out! She cries or says “I’m too tired, I have a headick” Why? Daniel said “Try giving her a second pile and present it to her as a new project.” Strike two. Why?
Anyway at the end of this only slightly profitable morning I am feeling exhausted and in dire need of a nap but the dishes are still there from all weekend! I am also feeling an enormous sense of wonder, appreciation and awe for other home-school moms. I grew up in a home schooling family and it was the “norm” for me and many of my friends growing up, but I only now appreciate the amazing dedication and organization it requires and I’ve not even truly begun!

September 27,
My dear friend, Sharman, came over today and after lunch asked if she could wash dishes for me, I said “Yes!” and watched her do dishes the way she learned while living in Argentina.
She didn’t fill up the sink with water at all, she just put a lot of soap on the dishrag, washed and then rinsed! This answers my question from the 20th about how you go about washing dishes in only one sink! Thank you Sharman!!
Laundry is my next hurdle of self-discipline to overcome in my home-making. We talked about it and she said that her goal was for one load washed, dried & put away, a day. My mom had a laundry day every Monday in which her goal was to get everything washed, dried, folded, hung up, put away and whatnot. The system worked wonderfully for her and she did a super job of keeping on top of it, even as a homeschooling mom! But it just ain’t workin’ for me. Well, if Sharman’s way of doing dishes worked for me, maybe her way of doing laundry will work too. I’ll just have to try it and see…

September 28,
I’ve been thinking about my quiet times for the last two days or so. I sat down one morning to snatch a few moments with the Lord and I thought “This isn’t a duty, this is a necessity!!” I cannot fathom how I could survive if God decided that we could only meet with him as a body and not as an individual I think I would just keel over on the spot! I could not live out my walk with my Father only Sunday to Sunday!
Here are some more quotes from “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” on the topic of our time with the Father, she quotes Robert Boyd Munger “I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me… He said ‘The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in you own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to Me also.’ What an amazing thought – that Christ wants to spend quality time with me. That he looks forward to our time together and misses me when I don’t show up. Once that message started sinking into my heart, I started looking at my devotional time in a while new way – not as a ritual, but as a relationship. And a relationship doesn’t just happen. It has to be nurtured, protected, and loved.
The place Mary found at Jesus’ feet is the same place available to you and me…It’s a place of transparency and vulnerability; a place where we are completely known and yet completely loved. It’s truly a place to call home.” p 73
“All our ‘do and do’ and ‘rules on rules’ (Is 28:13) will never accomplish what Jesus can when we let him have his way in our life. But in order for that to happen we must be connected to him. It’s not enough simply to be associated. To be acquainted. We have to be spiritually grafted on – to draw our life from him, to be so closely attached that we would wither and die if we were cut off.” p 76
She had a sidebar with hints from other authors on how they make their quiet times successful, one had a quiet time basket, and another lit a candle, still another got up in the middle of the night to have her quiet time with the Lord!! I thought – I get up in the middle of the night anyway, why not try to make that a time with the Lord? Well, wouldn’t you know, Katie-Abigail started sleeping through the night a little better and now she’s only up for just long enough to nurse her before she’s snoozing peacefully in her bassinette!
When I first began this journal I came up with the four Ps of organization: Priority, Plan, Preparedness & Procrastination (the enemy of organization: but I couldn’t think of an antonym that began with a P). I want to apply these four Ps to my quiet time, to make sure it happens!!

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