Monday, November 21, 2005

The first bit...

Below is an edited version of my Organization Journal before I started posting it to the the internet enjoy!

Organization & Self-Discipline
for the
Unorganized & Distracted

My Journey in

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:27
February 22,
Today I embark on my journey towards organization, order & self-discipline. I’m so tired of living from catastrophe to catastrophe, always one step behind, a little too late, a little too disorganized.
I bought a planner. I spent probably half an hour looking over every planner, agenda book & organizer at Wal-Mart, fussing at my toddler & preschooler, Sit down! No! Stop! Don’t touch that! I’ll be just one more minute. No! Sit down!
It’s blue (I should have found one in a more attractive color) and says something about Mom on the front. It has separate sections for monthly & weekly planning. I liked one that had everything divided by tabs with the month in front and the weeks behind, that would have been better but you had to fill in the dates L Oh well, you can’t have everything!
This one has little boxes with menu planning, people to call & things to do, because I have so many things “to do” in the general area of a week. It has a bunch of pages in the back that I intend on ripping out, pages marked with things like “Mom’s Taxi Service” and “Children’s Activities”.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to be organized & self-disciplined! I’ve made lists, I’ve bought planners, I’ve even created my own on the computer! The thing of it is that everyone who sets the standards of organization & planning are people like Daniel, my husband.
I tease Daniel sometimes that he would be such a better “home professional”. He keeps schedules, budgets, everything in his head. He keeps the same routine every morning & every night. He hates everything dirty & out of place. I, on the other hand, can live in mass mayhem and find a cuddly corner in which to take a nap. I’m disorganized & distractible. I could blame it in on my pregnancy or personality, I could blame it on my upbringing, but no matter where I lay the blame one thing is clear – something has got to change.
The other night, I was sitting on the floor, talking to my husband and I said something very memorable. We were talking about my lack of organization and I said “Everyone who writes about organization is like you – self-disciplined & sequential, not like me, distracted & random. I either have to become more like you, or I have to find my own way.
Well, I decided a couple of years ago to draw the line on becoming any more like my husband, so I am determined to find my own way. I will live in routine and order. I will give my family the gift of a neat and organized home. I will give myself the gift of peace and joy in my homemaking. I don’t know how, but somehow, someway, I will.

February 23,
I DID IT!!!! Last night I actually cooked dinner from scratch, and then I washed dishes after dinner! It took maybe five minutes! One thing led to the next and not only did I wash dishes I also wiped the counter and stove, as well as taking out the trash! Daniel said “I take it back, that you don’t ever try to keep up with the Kitchen.” He was impressed, I felt WONDERFUL! Of course it’s easy to do it once, but I am determined to keep it up. It was so easy! It helped that Daniel invited the girls to help him pack boxes so that I could clean up dinner. There weren’t diapers to change, runny noses to wipe etc. That helped a lot.
By the way, I don’t think I took the time to introduce myself yesterday, in my flurry to express my determination to find the way to order in my home. My name is Faith, I’m 21, married to Daniel, have two girls Beth: age 3 and Emily/Emma who is 20 months, Josiah/Katie-Abigail has been making his/her presence known inside of me for about 14 weeks now. I feel over a major hump of exhaustion/depression during the first three months. I just couldn’t find the “umph” to do anything. Now I’ve gone maybe two weeks without a nap! That is a major accomplishment for me.
Well, I am encouraged. Last night I adopted the motto “Just Do It Now” because I know if I say “Oh I’ll get to that later” it really won’t get done.

February 24
Last night was the second night that I washed up the dishes after dinner, and last night I even asked Daniel to help me! He did paperwork instead but at least he wasn’t sitting around waiting for me. I know that washing dishes every evening isn’t the sum total of being organized, however it is one of the biggest areas of failure in my housekeeping life to date.
My planner is working well too. I love the little boxes where I can write down the menu for the week, and also the people to call box. Daniel asked me to call a couple of people yesterday and I just wrote down the name and looked up the number right then and wrote it down in my planner so that when it was a better time I could give them a call. I have so much to do with moving and all that I write my big “to do” list on a separate list pad on the fridge, but I’ve sketched the big stuff out in my planner already and that is nice – I’m not stressed out about packing because I’ve scheduled a day for each of the big areas – kitchen, cloths, decorations etc.
My friend, Hannah & I were talking about being organized when she came over to help me pack on Tuesday and she said “I would just say don’t try to jump to level 5 organization, start small & simple.” I agree! I just need to start small and simple. I also heard that discipline begets discipline. I sure hope so!

February 25,
I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to make a habit, Daniel & I agree it would take only two to break it. I didn’t wash dishes last night L we went out right after dinner and didn’t come home until after 9pm, but I am still the conqueror because I did them this morning!
Also, as the countdown to moving time continues I have a lot of peace that I’ve not left too much to last minute. Daniel is totally stressed out, but I don’t think he really has a plan. I guess I should have shared my plan and let him know that I’ve got everything under control. But he’s not gotten used to his new wife yet! J
I’ve had to ask myself this week – what does it mean to be organized, to live my life with true order? I think it has to do with living my life with the important things in their proper place. It means that I do the things that need to be done before I do the things I’d like to do. It means keeping up with my “just do it now” motto, rather than living a life of procrastination. In a nut shell it means living out my priorities.
I started reading Elizabeth George’s book “Life Management for Busy Women” again.
However, as I was reading last night (I’ve begun to read for a few minutes while I wait for Daniel to come to bed – it’s a great use of time!) she says that to live a truly organized life is to live life in God’s order, or to live according to God’s priorities.
So sometime next week or maybe, if I have time, on Sunday, I’ll write out my priorities, and the practical implications, I’d like to write out my ideal and the baby steps that I need to take to reach it. I need to remember, though, that in my ever-changing life that accomplishing the ideal will always be the proverbial carrot before the donkey, but I think it is the universal pursuit of life to seek after ones ideal.
Anyway, here I go – marching into this brand new (beautiful!) day!
February 26,
We are moved into our new home. It feels so good to finally have that done! And although I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been – I’ve spent so much time digging through unmarked black trash bags! Altogether the transition has been smooth and I am really happy with our new space. My new kitchen doesn’t have a dish washer – so we’ll see how I am able to keep up with the kitchen!! It’s a good thing I’ve already started trying to wash dishes after dinner!
Through this move, and conversations with Daniel, I have discovered two more facets of organization. One is planning – Daniel said that one important thing about being organized is having a plan and I agree. That’s one area that I hope my day timer will help me with.
The second is preparedness. Or having what you need when you need it.
Well the day is almost done and Daniel is ready for bed so I better get prepared for bed and try to get ready for a new day!!

February 28,
This evening, as I was reading from the Proverbs to my little girls, these verses seemed to jump off of the page and into my heart:

31Well, you've made your bed--now lie in it;
you wanted your own way--now, how do you like it?
32Don't you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots?
Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.
33First pay attention to me, and then relax.
Now you can take it easy--you're in good hands.

I have so much more to say, but I just wanted to share that.

March 2,
I tell you what – preparing for the next day after the girls have gone to bed has been awesome! It is totally worth the time! I try to have a plan for what I’ll fix for my husband’s lunch in the morning, I try to have the coffee pot ready for the morning and Daniel’s cloths all ironed and hanging up ready for the next day. Sometimes I’ll get out his under-shirt, socks etc. and put them in the bathroom for in the morning.
I have come across my next step in ordering my life: My quiet time. My goal was to start doing that very first thing in the day – but this week’s been just awful in the morning! Monday morning Daniel was home, so I had something first thing. Tuesday I had to take Daniel to work and was up at the crack of dawn! Then last night Emma kept me up all night and slept in bed with me most of the night and I am SO tired. Daniel said that getting up early to be with God is saying to Him “You are more important to me than sleep and I trust you to give me what I need for this day.” But honestly, this morning I was thinking, “There is nothing more important right now that sleep!” I am so exhausted!!

March 6,
God is so faithful! Just when I started to feel completely lost in the area of doing a quiet time in His providence He brought me just the thing I needed!! I realized that the ideal - first thing in the morning – just wasn’t going to happen for me. At least not right now. But a friend of mine, an older-woman in the Lord friend, said “try this” at Bible study on Thursday. It is now Sunday and I have been following her method for the past three days. Here it is: Take a passage of scripture, a verse or a story, and write it out on a card, or I have been printing it out from and taping it to the wall above the sink. Then you take that scripture around with you while you do chores, while you drive etc. and you think about it. Mull it over, ask yourself questions about it. So the time & the point of my sit down with my Bible quiet time is to find a passage for meditation. I’ve chosen John 11 – 12, I wish it was a little more guided. I’ve pretty much just read the passages (short passages within the larger chapters) over and over until one phrase or verse sticks out and then I pray that back to God. I am going to try this method for three weeks, I’ll let you know if it helps.
The other day I washed some laundry and folded it right away, Daniel called me when I was in the middle of it and when I told him what I was doing he said “really? You’re folding laundry? No! Not you.” He was being sarcastic, but I told him I just didn’t want it to pile up like before, and besides, I am trying to be a more organized person. He was really encouraging and asked me which “p” folding the laundry fit under. Hmmm. We decided on preparedness (so Daniel will have clean socks neatly folded in his drawer when he needs them), but it might fit under priorities too.
I’ve been doing better with the whole planning & preparedness thing, I still need to think about priorities. See the thing about priorities is recognizing the shape that they take TODAY, right now, with my unique challenges and struggles and demands. It’s easy to say one day “okay, my priorities are:
My well-being
My projects”
but what does that actually LOOK like? I don’t know!!! Because I see so much of it as intertwined I can’t just say “Today I spent four hours serving God, three hours serving my husband, two hours serving my children, one hour serving my home and a half hour serving at church.” Life just isn’t that black and white!

March 15,
Well, I haven’t put my “priority numbers” into practice, in fact I haven’t been doing much more than what I have to do to get by – will power has just sulked down to the floor and curled up to sleep, like I wish I could!!! Getting up a couple times a night with the girls, even if just for a couple of minutes, has really affected my energy level! Pretty much every night now, I put the girls to bed and then plop down into a chair and sigh. “What’s up?” Daniel says “I’m ready for bed,” I reply “but I’ve got a kitchen full of dirty dishes.” “Dishes first.” Daniel says in a tone of voice that says hop to it young lady! I’m glad he does that, but I wish I didn’t need his reminders so often!
Overall, however, things are going well, and I’m pleased. The house is a lot cleaner. Mostly because I’m not wasting so much time picking up after the girls – all of their toys are in their room and when we put the toys away we just put them all into two big storage containers so it goes really quickly. Too, because I have to wash dishes pretty much every night or you can’t even wash your hands in the sink! Then I’ve only done a little laundry at a time, so that’s not too bad.
This new Quiet Time method is working really well! I sit down to read a passage and my purpose is only to find a passage to meditate on. Sometimes that’s all I can do, other days I have a little bit of time to journal the passage and that’s great! Yesterday morning I sat on the front porch while the girls played and I read my Bible for a good half hour! It was wonderful to be outside in the cool, fresh air and bright sunshine! It was refreshing to have a larger block of time to think about and write out some thoughts on the passage I was studying.
I still haven’t quite figured out when to take my shower and get dressed – but that will come!!

Later in the afternoon – “The Girls Room” the very thought of “neatening” it sends shivers down my spine and an automatic headache. An utter abyss of disorganization and perpetual mess-today I undertook to solicit the assistance of my three year old and (now) twenty month-old daughters in bringing enough order to the mess that I could safely walk across the room!
This is what we did and (for now) I think it worked EXTREEMELY well. I had two big plastic storage containers for toys and a cloths basket (should have brought a trash basket in with me too.) I told Beth “put the toys in the toys basket and the clothes in the clothes basket” with such clear directions Beth managed to tackle the biggest part of the mess single handedly while I set my face to the task of the bookshelf (cue creepy music & screams). Within a week of moving here we bought a cheap, cute little bookshelf, it is in primary colors and looks like it’s made of crayons. So adorable! Or not. It has no back so the books simply fall out the back side or slide off the sides. The girls simply stack the books on top of each other – what a nightmare!!
But we got it clean! Yeah!!!!

March 16,
I started reading a book called “Disciplines of a Godly Woman” by Barbara Hughes and I have, so far uncovered two really helpful principles that have helped me in the way that I think about living an orderly, organized, disciplined life. I’ll use the word discipline for right now, instead of “organization” because that is the author’s theme, but I mean it synonymously.
The first is the idea that discipline involves hard work.
NASV 1 Timothy 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. “In the Greek labor means “strenuous toil” and strive is the word that gives us “agonize” in English. In other words, Paul isn’t promising us a cushy, low-impact workout. Spiritual disciplines call for serious commitment and “no-pain, no-gain.” effort.” (p. 13 emboldened emphasis mine)
I think that this spills over into domestic & life disciplines too. Oh, how I desire the journey to “life-fitness” to be down the path of easy, cushy, low-impact workout, but in reality, to achieve my desired outcome, I have to be more like the serious, career-athletes who do their workouts every day for hours on end. Like an Olympic Gold-medalist, whose pursuit of her sport is her life. Hmm, that’s not at all what I had in mind when I set out to become “organized & self-disciplined”. That doesn’t sound comfortable. But maybe that is just what I really need.
The second idea that had a profound impact on me is this: homemaking is a matter of humility. This came in the context of her chapter on submission in her discussion of the humility of Christ Jesus and I realized that one of the reasons I find my place in life so frustrating is that I’m always doing things that I feel are menial, trivial and just not my “thing.” I like to work on the computer, write and be more artistic, not wash dishes or do the laundry. Maids do that kind of thing. But then I read this:
ESV John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. “His humility on that day and throughout his life was born of this confidence (of his identity) The Gospel gives us this same confidence. As children of God, we also know where we have come and where we are going. Like Christ, we also know what we possess. It is the love of God that motivates us to follow Christ’s example and enables us to loosen our grip on our plans for our lives, placing ourselves squarely under God’s loving rule each day.” (p36)
I think about who Jesus knew He was; the power and authority and dominion that he had; it is incalculable. He is so much higher than me. Yet, knowing this, how far he stooped! “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men..” (Philippians 2 ESV) He performed an act of service reserved for the menial slave. My pride looks so huge in comparison to His humility. I am just an ordinary woman, made in the Image of God (!) but I certainly do not deserve great honor or adoration. And no one asks me to do the work of a slave. My place as a homemaker has honor, if not in the world around me than at least in the Christian sub-culture. I should be willing to go lower than Christ, because it is such a short descent for me. Yet I begrudge the more tiresome tasks of keeping my home and say they are “beneath me.” This attitude is just an expression of greater lies. Lies about the value of homemaking, lies about the value of humility. When I think about what Jesus did that night, I think “I can wash the dishes with a good attitude tonight and not mind that there are other things I would rather be doing (like sleeping!) because Jesus did such a greater thing for me.”

March 17,
Today was Bible Study day for me, and as I talked with the leader about the new Bible Study method she had suggested she mentioned that I should be using the same passage for at least a week, if not more, so that after I’ve thought about it so much I will find my mind more quickly going to the passage when not occupied with other things. She also said that my kitchen sink, where I post my passages for meditation could be my prayer “closet” and another woman in the Bible study mentioned grandmothers and friends grandmothers who used the mundane chores of life as the spring board of prayer and praise to God so that in time they naturally turned to prayer while they scrubbed the floors and washed the dishes, peeled potatoes and all of the other mundane chores of life. I feel drawn to this idea – how I would love to buddy up two disciplines – dishes and meditation and prayer – to help them both be sweet!!! I would love to be so fully devoted to prayer & meditation as I wash the dishes that when I feel distressed and in need of coming to God that I turn to my kitchen sink to pray! And what a heritage to give to my girls!!! I am excited about this.

April 7,
IT’S WORKING!!!! I finally feel like these two months of work & prayer are paying off!! I don’t feel so overwhelmed or like I am living in chaos all of the time. It’s not that my home looks perfect all of the time, but at least we aren’t living in a constant state of mess. It’s so encouraging. I feel like I have finally found balance.
The things that I feel are helping me most – not procrastinating. I find that one thing always leads to another, if I say “oh, I’ll do the laundry tonight” then tonight comes and I’m too tired and then there are dishes to do too, but I’d rather just sit & read or watch a movie. Procrastination leads to more procrastination, but on the flip side, diligence leads to more diligence. If I say “I’ll just do it now” about the dishes then I am more likely to go ahead and fold the laundry too, and clean the bathroom and vacuum the living room. Also it’s helped me to stay home, I’m glad for the times I was able to bop out to McDonalds or Publix to kill some time, but I’m amazed at how I’ve had time to work on my scrapbook and keep the house clean and play with the girls and spend time with Daniel!!! One other thing that has helped is having a long-term vision. I know that I won’t have a prayer-closet experience every time I wash dishes or pray & meditate every time I fold laundry, but my desire is for that to be the general, long term, flavor of my life. That takes a lot of time.
The pivotal thing, for me, is the sense of balance. This journey has not been to become a perfect housekeeper, it is about finding balance and keeping first things first, but I recognize that one of the best ways I can love & nurture my family is by paying attention to and taking care of the environment in which they live.

June 6,
I am all jumbled up again :-( Daniel definitely thinks that my priorities are not being lived out, we talked about it in a wonderfully gentle & open way last night. Yesterday I thought a lot about my home making. The sermon was about the three things that characterized the writer of the book of James, which was a servant heart, humility and a desire for the glory of God. I was especially reminded of my need to have a servant heart in my home. I was also challenged that I need to please God in my home. I am not my own, I can not order my days to please myself.
I am not my own – I am God’s, I am created to live God’s way, I must live my life as a reflection of that. I must VALUE what God values – order, variety, beauty, peace etc. – I must see my world through God’s eyes. I must value my home more than a pay check (or the desire for one), I must value my children over tasks accomplished. I must value the needs and desires of my husband over my own, so that my life will be pleasing to the LORD. My problem isn’t essentially a problem of organization my problem is more basic it is a problem of self- focus and de-valuing what God values.
I am called to be a servant – Jesus Christ modeled this for us, he humbled himself, making himself nothing and taking the form of a servant… he came to serve, rather than to be served, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus Christ stooped infinitely low to become a servant, I am called to imitate him and the stoop is not so low for me. I am called to a place if blessing, a place of honor, a place of servanthood.
I can worship God in the mundane – one of my dearest desires is that I would be able to echo the words of Sarah Edwards, to paraphrase it she said: Washing dishes and doing the laundry has become as much worship for me as having my time of Bible reading & prayer. How I desire for this to become true for me!!! How I desire to live TODAY as an act of worship. How I long to please God and give Him glory while I wash dishes and fold the laundry.
But you know it’s easy to think about it and talk about it on Sunday but here I am with Monday morning staring me in the face, dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor and a whole list of things to do today. May God give me the grace to pursue this day as an act of worship, to see my tasks as the “good works which God has prepared beforehand for you to do.”

June 27,
Today as I was looking at my house which is dirty, yet again, from top to bottom, walking past the basket of shirts that have been waiting to be hung up for over a week, and the “mop kitchen floor” that has graced my “to do” list for weeks without number I wondered “How would God keep house?” which lead to another thought – I am made in the image of God so I will be successful in my homemaking to the degree that I am reflecting the image of God in my home. What would it look like for Got to keep a home? I think there is enough in the Word to make a guess – I think it would be a place of order, variety, beauty, peace, joy, creativity, cheerfulness, justice, mercy, love, and the list could go on and on! The wonderful thing about this thought about reflecting the image of God in my home is that God is too big to be copied identically; we can only reflect a very small portion of who He is. God has made each of us uniquely able to reflect His image but each of us in a unique way. I think that this idea of reflecting the image of God in our home is one that defies a cookie-cutter “my way or the highway” concept of homemaking. We are each created to uniquely reflect an aspect or aspects of God’s image.
But still there is the question looming above me, both welcoming and ominous, welcoming me, luring me down a pathway of delightful, soul-satisfying change and yet ominous because I know I fall so far short of my ideal. The question is – how well do I reflect the image of God in my home?

Oh how good it is to work for God in the daytime,
and at night to lie down under his smiles!
Worldly business, as part of the service of God, is as good as prayer.

Sarah Edwards
July 27,
It’s only two weeks until our third little bundle of joy is due to enter this family, I have traversed the plain between ecstatic expectancy and heart stopping fear. Mostly I wonder, if I haven’t “gotten it” with organized home making yet then how in the world will I be able to keep my head above water when number three pops out? I don’t know, but I digress, having sat down to write about an observation I made at a friend’s house the other day.
Granted, her personality is about as 100% opposite as mine as can be – which is probably why I love her so much! – but I noticed that her counters were completely free of dirty dishes and that as soon as lunch was over she washed up lunch dishes. I thought – hey! I should give that a try!!
Success has been extremely limited since I am still trying to catch up from “the weekend” or so I would like to believe. All that means is that pretty much all of the pots are dirty and stacked on top of the sink. I’d like to pretend that I made that mess on Saturday & Sunday but good grief! It’s already Wednesday night and the pile continues to loom.
My procrastination and lack of determination aside, it seems like a marvelous idea, and one which I intend (but then don’t I always intend on so much!!) to put into practice as much as possible.
On a more serious note I wanted to share something that has been something of a spiritual battle for me this last month. To make a long story short I have been wondering what it is that defines my calling in life. If I would have just begun thinking of it in those terms maybe the light would have come on sooner, maybe not. I have wrestled with wrapping up my identity and my happiness so much in my husband that I couldn’t imagine feeling completed and satisfied while he is still wrestling with the exercise of his spiritual gifts. On Tuesday, on the way home from Bible study I had this thought – well what about my spiritual gifts? Could I feel so incomplete and on-the-way- to-something-more simply because of Daniel?? So I have been thinking and praying and then it clicked. Let me share something from a web site (
Interests? What interests? We're wives and mothers. We don't really have time for interests. But that’s OK. We love what we do. Wait a minute... Someone needs a diaper changed or a meal made. We'll be right back. Ok, where were we? Interests. Let's see. Carolyn honestly can't remember the last time she had the luxury of interests. If she did have hobbies once upon a time, she’s completely forgotten them now.
That has been so inspiring. Growing up my family was always into hobbies, and so have I – there’s always something like scrapbooking, knitting, stuff on the computer & internet, writing. Somehow my home and even the girls manage to get shoved off into the periphery, it feels so awful to write that but it is the horrible truth of the matter, but I see that motherhood and the keeping of my home are my calling and doesn’t that just change everything?!!!! If that is my calling in life – the thing that God created me for then He would have given me all of the right gifts and abilities that I need to do that. And if that is my calling in life then shouldn’t it be somewhere right at the very heart of my life? It’s something to think about anyway/
One last thing I wanted to share… a remarkable experience which I had on Saturday evening. I had been doing a little baking (I attempted scones and they actually turned out pretty good!) and was contemplating heading for bed vs. washing up the bowl & beater that I’d just used when I had a novel, and altogether extraordinary thought… “I don’t want to have to do it later, I’ll just take care of it now.” !!!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing thought! I don’t think I have ever had a thought like that in my entire 21 years of life!!! Gleefully I finished up those few dishes and went to bed remarkably pleased with myself. But then if you are anything like me, wouldn’t you too?

July 28,
Last night, after I wrote the above I read some of the things I’ve written over the past six months and I began to notice the bright mood and the sense of satisfaction in the months when I felt like I was making progress in my home-making as opposed to the low mood of these past months. I remember a few months ago, standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes and thinking “I think I am happier now than I have ever been.” And life was just normal!! But I remember the sense of inner peace and contentment and balance. I think that balance must be just about the most important thing about finding happiness in life, but isn’t it the hardest?
I have also been so encouraged by idea of calling and that this is my life’s work that I am about – the keeping of my home and the raising of my children. It is what my life is all about and God has perfectly equipped me for it!!
But sometimes, in my overly “spiritual” culture I don’t recognize the importance of the dishes and the laundry and the overall well being of my home as affecting much at all my family – so I want to put in a quote here that has been really helpful to me. It’s from “Home Comforts” by Cheryl Mendleson and though she’s not a believer and I don’t think all of her priorities are in line with God’s word still she got this one thing right and so I wanted to share it here. The whole first chapter has been worth the price of the book for me but let me just give you my favorite two parts.
Because housekeeping skills got respect in my world, I looked forward to keeping a house of my own one day. It was what I wanted, and part of me was confident that I could do it well. Another part doubted practically everything I had been taught. That was because my domestic education was a battlefield in a subtle war between my two grandmothers. These ladies, both experts in needlecraft, cookery, canning and all the other arts of the home, each held an absolute conviction that there was a right way to keep house (the one she had been brought up with) and a wrong way (all others.)
My maternal grandmother was a fervent housekeeper in her ancestral Italian style, while my paternal grandmother was an equally fervent housekeeper in a style she inherited from England, Scotland, and Ireland. In one home I hear Puccini, slept on linen sheets with finely crocheted edging rolled up with lavender from the garden, and enjoyed airy, light rooms with flowers sprouting in porcelain pots on windowsills and the foreign scents of garlic and dark, strong coffee. The atmosphere was open and warmly hospitable. The other home felt like a fortress – secure against the intruders and fitted with stores and tools for all emergencies. There were Gay Nineties tunes on the player piano and English hymns, rooms shaded almost to darkness against real and fancied harmful effects of air and light, hand braided rag rugs, brightly colored patchwork quilts and creamed lima beans from the garden. My Anglo-American grandmother taught me to knit American-style, looping the yarn around the needle with a whole-arm motion. My Italian grandmother winced at the sight of this tiring and inefficient method and insisted I do it the way she did, with a barely visible lightning flick of the last joint on her index finger. My Anglo-American grandmother sniffed at the other’s idea of a gored skirt. The Italian thought it unwise to make beds, which she said, be aired. In one home, brows were raised and lips curled at the very idea of redeye gravy; in the other, at the idea of garlic. The Italian scarcely knew hoe to iron and sent out anything that needed it. The Anglo-American thought ironing the queenliest of the household arts, had every ironing aid known to humankind, and beamed at me when I had ironed-in creases in the sleeves of my cotton blouses…
Then one weekend I had a second domestic reawakening when I found myself with weekend guest who needed to be fed. Not only was I amazed to rediscover how gratifying it is to have people enjoy your cooking, but I was precipitated into some serious thought about cleanliness, sheets, the state of my pantry, and kitchen equipment. I was still making do with my half of the graduate student gear from my former life. After this, I began to try to control my hours at the office and get at least a little time at home. Even a few hours, I found, were comforting. I got a good reading lamp to go with the wing chair, and I started on a novel I put up a Christmas tree and incited friends with a child to help decorate it. Before long, I had a home once more, and living in it made me feel like a new person. I thought about housekeeping and how strange my life would appear to my grandmothers, and I began to collect housekeeping manuals, both old and new but mostly old, like the one my great-grandmothers had used, I pored over them at bedtime, looking for my grandmothers, both of them so right and so sure about everything had not always done things by the book…
I love that! I especially love how the way her grandmother’s kept their home gave them (and Cheryl) a sense of identity and what a huge part of them was wrapped up in their home. Who can say that today? Not many, I’m sure. I also love the affect being at and caring for her home made on Cheryl, she felt comforted and “like a new person” what affect must my housekeeping and lack thereof be having on my family? Would they each feel like a new person if I was more “into” my own homemaking?

August 3,
Ooh! I LIKE THIS!!! What in the world am I talking about?!! Remember on July 27th when I wrote that I’d “discovered” a new way of doing dishes at my friend’s house? Well it is working like a charm! There are never more than a few dishes to wash and it only takes a minute to knock it out. It helps to know that it will only be that way so long as I stay on top of it, but it feels so wonderful to have a continually clean kitchen and I feel like I have made some real progress at least in the appearance of housekeeping. It has really helped too to think about how it is worth the energy invested in keeping the house in order. It’s not wasted energy or a pointless use of time. For sure I don’t have 100% of my ducks in a row, there is still laundry to do and a bathroom to clean and with 10 days and counting until my due date I feel exactly opposite of anything resembling a cleaning mood. So I highly encourage you, my dear friend who has bravely traveled this crazy road with me to give this a shot, it might work for you the way it has worked for me!
I started reading “Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God” by Noel Piper and have finished the section on Sarah Edwards, I’d pretty much read that already in the book on Jonathan Edwards but it was a refreshing glimpse into the life of a woman who I respect and admire deeply. She is esteemed and honored simply because she freed her husband to pursue his calling and made her home a haven for a really unique man. Who was uniquely used of God.
Well the girls are screaming – it’s nap time and I need to go!

August 18,
Well, the baby has been born. Surprise! It’s a girl! I’m loving her & the experience of life with a newborn. I am surprised at how easy this transition has been. Katie-Abigail is sleeping a lot, which frees me up to pay attention to her older sisters. I love the slow, quiet pace of life, which is briefly interrupted by the whirlwind of activity required to care for three precious girls.
The first week Daniel was home all but Friday and he took care of everything. Dishes, laundry, meals. It was great to just be able to rest and focus on the girls, but I couldn’t help but notice how unsuited Daniel is to do my job. This is not meant negatively towards Daniel at all, he did as best as he could, but he focused on the “to do” so much he was short with the girls, busy, stressed and practically ignored me! I asked him why he was so stressed out and he said “I don’t like interruptions” I tried to be sympathetic but I wanted to laugh! He definitely couldn’t do my job! It was an encouragement to me that God has perfectly suited me for my job – it really is a tough job, requiring great patience, perseverance & discernment.
I hate to admit it, but I was actually glad for Daniel to go back to work, and to reclaim my position at home. Daniel still helps out a ton when he’s home and I have turned it into a little game in my mind, to try to beat him to it. I’ll wash the dishes in the sink before he gets home so he won’t feel like he has to, and I’ll iron his uniform the night before, even though I know he’d iron it himself in the morning.

August 22,
Real life, or something very close to it, has, as far as I can tell, officially begun. No more of this lounging on the couch gazing into the face of my darling newborn… well that was fun.
Dishes, oh the odious topic of dishes, are, however, going quite well. Daniel or I have washed up dishes pretty much every day and so I feel like that is one discipline down (like, fifty million to go, but let’s celebrate the small victories!) and have a sense of accomplishment.
Quiet times are also going well. I’ve started using “Heart Aflame” a collection of Calvin’s reflections on the Psalms. It’s a bit hit-or-miss but I read the Psalm too and try to let it sink in. The things that have helped me most with my quiet time: 1. Journaling Prayer, it helps me to focus my thoughts. I don’t journal 100% of the time, but it is very helpful, especially when I get interrupted so often. 2. Time: I try to do it in my first available moments of something less than all out chaos. This is usually somewhere in the morning after breakfast. Often I put on a movie so the girls are occupied. I don’t try to do it very first thing and I don’t try to get up before the girls. 3. Place: I usually have my quiet times in a chair in my room with the door closed but not shut, the girls know that I am having my quiet time and I am working on teaching them to wait until mommy comes out to ask questions etc. I think it is really helpful to have that be my Quiet Place, it puts me in a frame of mind to pray. 4. Reading Plan: I am working my way through Deuteronomy looking for blessings to pray for my children. It’s so full of exhortations for parents and blessings for children!! I write the blessing on an index card. It helps me feel a sense of accomplishment in my quiet time. I read a great quote about quite times at – that the goal of the quiet time is to make soul happy in God! What a great reminder!
Now for Laundry. I have been folding laundry all morning, feeling like a big fat failure. I know I need a system. Any system would be better than what’s going on now. I really don’t want to fold laundry every day. My mom would try to get it all done in one day, but that’s just totally impossible right now. So anyway – laundry is my next goal. I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

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