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What is the purpose of the home?

What is the significance of the home? What kind of place did God design it to be like? In this day and age, people invest thousands upon thousands of dollars in a home, and for what? Is it simply to provide temporary comfortable or to look good before our family and friends? Could there be more significance to the way God intends for us to live within our homes? These are questions that have been on my heart and mind lately. Without vision and purpose to our homemaking, we can loose sight of the eternal significance of this role.

As a result of these questions, I purposed to read every reference in the Bible to the words “home” or “house” or “hospitality”, and I was blown away by what I found. My perspective of the use of my home was far too small. God has such amazing potential for your home! You have a glorious opportunity to adopt these holy purposes:

1. The home as a place of rest.

My home, first and foremost, should be a place of rest from labor (1 Kings 8:66, 12:24, 13:7; Psalms 126:6), refuge (Josh. 20:6; 2 Kings 14:12; 2 Sam. 18:17; Zech 10:10), and refreshment for my husband and children. This is most common purpose indicated through the Bible. It was intended to be a place of joy (2 Chron. 7:10; Psalms 126:6), a place to make happy with your spouse (Deut. 24:5). Can my family find rest in my home? Or is there constant tension or turmoil? Is there too much clutter that the body cannot rest?

My home should be a place to welcome home my husband in celebration style. The women of old welcomed back their men in joyful celebration from the battlefield (1 Sam. 18:6). Our husbands face many battles at work throughout their day, conquering challenges, guarding against temptation, and have successfully brought home the bacon! Therefore; he deserves a joyful welcoming. Do I welcome my hubby home with a shout and joyful excitement? Does he eagerly look forward to coming home?

2. The home as a place to cultivate learning.

It should have a continual atmosphere of learning and teaching of both knowledge and Biblical truth. “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up…Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9) Is truth being taught and cultivated daily in my home? Am I seeking to train and teach my children in everything we do? What kind of lessons can I teach while we clean together, prepare meals, and cultivate the home?

3. The home as a holy place.

It should be guarded from all things that might taint the holy dwelling. It is designed to be a place of protection for sinful temptation. A place where nothing abominable might dwell (Deut. 7:26). Are there any destructive influences coming into my home through books, technology, internet, or television?

4. The home as a place where thankfulness dwells.

It should be a place where we testify of the Lord’s goodness to our family, friends, and neighbors (Mark 5:19; Luke 15:6). We see the New Testament believers sharing meals, breaking bread, and celebrating together (Acts 2:46). Great generosity, sincerity, and thankfulness abounded in the home. Does an atmosphere of thankfulness pervade my home? How can I be more purposeful in cultivating a spirit of joy and gratitude in my home? Is the conversation around our dinner table one that encourages and blesses others, that acknowledges God’s work in our lives?

5. The home as a place to welcome strangers, refugees, the homeless, and hungry.

I was struck repeatedly by the numerous references to the home as a place to welcome strangers. The word ‘hospitality’ literally means: ‘welcoming strangers’. We see Lot looking around at the entrances of the city to welcome any stranger into his home (Gen. 24:23,31), and Abraham running up to strangers and welcoming them to his tent for a meal and refreshment (Gen. 19:2-3). If we feed the hungry and provide a home for the homeless, the promise is that ‘salvation will come!’ (Isaiah 58:7). So not only is the home to be a place of rest for family, but also for strangers, foreigners, and refugees.

Feasts of generous proportion should be offered amongst an atmosphere of reflecting on God’s goodness (Prov. 23:6-8; Prov. 9:1-5; Gen 26:30; 1 Tim. 6:18). As soon as Levi becomes a follower of Jesus, we see him practicing hospitality by holding a mighty feast/banquet in his home and welcoming Jesus and all his friends (Luke 5:27-31). This was not natural for him. It took effort, preparation, and generosity.

The Israelites were called to remember that they were once foreigners and aliens, and therefore to love others as they loved themselves (Lev. 19:34). Offering hospitality was a moral imperative. We all were once strangers and refugees who were graciously taken in by God (Deut. 10:19). There ought to be no loneliness in the home, but rather comfort and joy should overflow. How often do I eagerly run like Abraham to welcome others into my home? How often do I extend generous hospitality to someone new, lonely, or homeless?

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2)

6. A place to minister to the church, missionaries and evangelists.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Throughout the New Testament we see people opening their homes to missionaries to find rest and refreshment (Luke 10:38-42; Acts 16:15), as demonstrated by Martha & Mary, and Lydia.

7. The home as a place that reflects our eternal home.

Lastly, our home should always be viewed as a temporary dwelling and an image or reflection of our eternal home (Hebrew 11:14; 2 Cor. 5:1, 8-9). It should not be a place we store much treasure in. The way we offer hospitality should image the glorious celebration that will take place at the end of the age. When people come into my home, they should sense the presence of the Lord. They should sense the joy and celebration that comes from living for Jesus. It should be a taste of heaven.

Wow! The potential you have for the use of your home is incredible. Are you willing to join me in adopting this glorious purpose for cultivating the home?

If our view of our homes is shortsighted, there is no motivation to accomplish the menial tasks of maintaining it. If we don’t cultivate a high and holy design for our homes, it is easy to slip into thoughts of frustration, comparison, or purposelessness.

If we view our homes as a place of hospitality – to welcome our families and the hurting around us – there will be so much more strength and motivation to keep it clean, organized, and prepared.

I’ve heard that Edith Schaeffer, wife of the late Francis Schaeffer, led more students to Christ through her cinnamon rolls than her husband did through all his philosophical discussions.What will be said of you?

Has your vision for your home grown today?

Republished from the archives for our Top 10 Celebration. Originally published April 14, 2010.

Comments { 53 }

Finding Joy in Your Homemaking

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There are many frequent days in my pursuit of passionate homemaking that I have to fight for joy. I get weary from the constant demands of preparing meals, to wiping sweet bottoms, to dealing with cranky attitudes, to reading the same story for the millionth time. From sun up to sun down, a mother’s work is never done.

I know I am not alone. I know that you and I alike must purposefully strive to cultivate joy. You are about an eternal work.

God has assigned you a glorious task, how do we not loose sight of it?

1. Remember, each day is a gift.

“So here it is, another day. I did nothing to deserve it. I just woke up this morning, and there it was. I may have expected it to be there, but I had no right to. Just like Christmas morning, I got up to find a present waiting for me, a brand new day. Yes, today is a gift. And it has my name on the tag. This present from God has been custom-made for me. God has filled it with blessings, some obvious and some in disguise, its difficulties and challenges are tailored to fit my size. It may not be exactly what I asked for, but it is exactly what I need.” Read the full article by Russell Board, World Magazine.

This is a quote that deserves a place over my bed to read every morning. It is a simple reminder that each day is filled with God’s grace to accomplish the tasks assigned to me. Each struggle and challenge is perfectly designed to help grow and strengthen me in my faith, homemaking, and mothering skills. Remember, “this is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Each day, my son or daughter gets a little older. Each moment with them is a gift. Let’s actively pursue joy!

2. Keep an eternal perspective.

I was recently meditating upon this verse: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). I was struck by these thoughts that I recorded in my journal:

In your mothering and homemaking, Lindsay, this is work indeed, and yet it is valuable work through which you can bring glory to God. Do this work – changing diapers, kissing bruises, training hard hearts, guiding souls – do it for Jesus! This work will bring forth eternal reward. Don’t do it complaining. Don’t run from it. Don’t fret or cultivate discontentment. Pursue it passionately for Jesus! Take control of your thoughts. Think about the things of heaven (eternal souls in my hands), and not the temporary things of this earth (lose of sleep, free time, late nights out, etc).

3. Take a walk.

When you are weary or feel like you need a break, take a walk. It is a simple and practical step, but it does wonders to your physical and mental well-being. I strive to get outdoors frequently, if not daily, to enjoy God’s creation, breath deeply the fresh air, and refreshment pours over my body.

4. Have a vision/purpose for your home.

Do you have a mission statement? This is something I have been praying through lately. What is my mission? What is my purpose in the home? I challenge you to compile a mission statement for yourself using the excellent guide provided by Kat at Inspired to Action. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). A mission statement will help focus you on the priorities, guide you in making better decisions, and keep your view above the changing tide of circumstances.

My mission in my home is to cultivate a simple, peaceful haven or rest for my family and anyone that might enter my home. My mission is to make my home a place of blessing (1 Chron. 16:43), joy (2 Chron. 7:10), learning (1 Cor. 14:35), training (Deut. 6:7), and testifying together of the Lord’s goodness (Acts 2:46). Having this vision behind me continually is a great source of refreshment.

For further help in developing a mission statement, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey, and their online guide.

5. Dig deep into the Word of God.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Prov. 31:25). How does the virtuous woman have the ability to laugh? She is confident in the Lord. She daily finds her strength and confidence in spending time with Him. Find a method that works for you (listen to a sermon podcast while you work), but don’t leave it out of your day if you want to pursue joyful homemaking.

Your attitude has a powerful effect on the atmosphere of your home.

It can be a place of warmth and rest in the presence of a joyful women, or it can be a place of discouragement and depression in the place of a joyless women.

It’s your choice today.

How can you cultivate a joyful heart today?

Originally published April 5, 2010. Original comments included below.

Comments { 60 }

Taking A Weekly Planning & Prayer Retreat

Screen shot 2009-10-25 at 2.06.51 PMPhoto by renmeleon

Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3

Are you feeling overwhelmed or discouraged? I cannot express how much adding a simple weekly planning and prayer retreat has assisted me in maintaining a joyful heart in my homemaking! After feeling completely overwhelmed, physically exhausted, and being prone to be quick tempered with my children, I knew the enemy was trying to attack my joy and make me unproductive. I am realizing more and more how he seeks to attack me by discrediting my role and tempting me to compare myself with others.  After much prayer, the Lord led me to begin adding this time away as a regular routine in my life. Thankfully, my husband been graciously willing to watch the children for an hour or two every Sunday morning so I can get away and pray, refocus and plan. I have been doing this consistently for about a month now, and I have found such refreshment, renewed joy, and encouragement in the journey of homemaking and mothering. It has been invaluable!

I want to encourage you ladies to pray about how you might begin to get away for a short time on a regular basis, if not once a week, maybe once a month. Whatever works for your family. Just getting out of the house and sitting in our car with my Bible, notebook, and laptop suffices most of the time! Occasionally, I will go down to the local coffee shop or drive down to the waterfront and just sit in my car and watch the water. Sitting out in nature really helps me focus on the Lord.

Each week in my planning season, I start by thanking the Lord for each and every blessing from the previous week. I thank Him for how He has grown and challenged me in my faith. Then I begin to pray over the new week and for anyone in particular that He lays on my heart. What would the Lord have me do this week?

Then I begin writing in my simple spiral bond notebook. I make a basic to-do list with check boxes for the week and then assign the tasks to one or two per day. I keep my to-do list very basic. There is usually no more than 10 items on my to-do list, and they include various housecleaning tasks, errands that need to be done, etc. I then proceed to evaluate how I can be useful for the Lord this week. How can I practically be productive and fruitful not only in my homemaking but also for the kingdom? How can I serve my husband? How can I reach out to one person this week? I try to find one way to serve or express appreciation to my husband (whether it be a note of encouragement on his desk or in an email), and one way I could minister to someone this week. Is there someone that could use a note of encouragement? Is there a neighbor I could invite over to dinner?

After completing my to-do list, I make a menu plan for the week. I base this off my monthly menu plan, but simply choose meals from it to prepare for the week. I will jot down any notes in relation to the meals and any preparation that needs to be made in advance, so I don’t forget! ;)

I also write out a basic blog post plan for the week. Then I take some time to read the Word, pray again over my to-do list to make sure it lines up with the Word of God, my priorities in this season of my life, and to dedicate my week to the Lord. I also like to take time to pray for my husband and children.

Having this time of peace and solitude allows me to refocus on the Lord, what he has assigned me to do, and to acknowledge my complete dependence upon Him. It has been a huge blessing! My weeks in turn have been so much more peaceful and productive. Ultimately, it is not about the to-do list, but more about renewing my soul in the Lord. I want to run in such a way as to win the prize and please my Lord. I want to do my work heartily as to the Lord. If I am stressed, I need to step back and take time to pray and re-evaluate what has gone astray in my life. This simple weekly retreat has accomplished these things for me right now.

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) The Lord is ultimately in control of all things!

Do you take a retreat on a regular basis? How do you practically plan for the week?

Originally published October 26, 2009

Comments { 59 }

Start Your Day by Getting Dressed

Over the past two days my productivity levels have been miniscule. In fact, it has been nearly 11 o’clock before I even got dressed for the day. The messes around my home have seemed to be unending and the neediness of my children only escalating throughout the day. We didn’t have time for any schooling let alone breather time until naps because I was just in cleanup mode.

I woke up this morning and felt the Lord giving me a gentle prompt: Why don’t you start your day by simply getting dressed? Dress yourself first and foremost with the gospel and then put on your physical clothing for the day.

As Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us of the importance of putting on the truth, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The enemy certainly likes to take advantage of my spirit and enjoys overwhelming me with thoughts of failure and discouragement when I have not first equipped my soul with a reminder of the beauty of God’s grace. My Lord loves me despite my failures…He bore them all. He gives the grace for me to embrace the work He has assigned me.

Seems like two basic concepts. I’m sure you have heard them before (I recall flylady encourages this!), but the depth of the impact wasn’t so amazing contrasting to me till today. I just needed that gentle reminder and encouragement from the Spirit. I woke up, spent a few moments in the Word so I could saturate my heart in the gospel before beginning my day (I’m currently reading one chapter in the Old Testament, followed by 1-2 verses in the NT to meditate on), acknowledge my dependence upon the Lord, and then I got dressed from head to toe. This was 30 minutes before my little ones began waking up. But simply getting myself ready for the day increased my productivity immensely. I felt refreshed and ready to go. My soul was happy in the Lord. On the other hand, waking to my children is challenging. I feel like I have to jump into the roller coaster ride without first preparing myself. If I dress myself, my children get a much more joyful momma.

Now I’ll be honest and say that my hair wasn’t tidied up till later in the day, but I was dressed…and somehow just getting dressed was a huge help! (Laying out my clothes the night before would be another helpful step!) There were certainly still challenges throughout the day, messes of yucky attitudes to deal with and hearts to reunite in love for one another, but I was much more peaceful and self-controlled, thanks to God’s amazing grace. We were able to get so many things accomplished today. Praise the Lord!

This is goal #1 for this year!

What’s one thing that you like to do that helps start your day out right?

Please note: Ultimately, I want to assure you there is complete grace for whatever season you might be in. Rising early is not a requirement for your Christian faith. This has just been a means of grace for me personally. Practicing this habit of getting dressed before starting your day doesn’t require it to be done before the kids get up, even if you can just get dressed before going downstairs or attending to the kids, you will find it very beneficial!

{Photo Credit}

Originally published on January 6, 2012.

 

Comments { 100 }

Homemaking Help 101

Do you feel lost in your homemaking and don’t know where to begin? Did you not receive the training you desire to be a resourceful homemaker? Do you desire a routine but just feel hopeless? Here is a compilation of all the best articles here at Passionate Homemaking and elsewhere on the basics of homemaking, from cleaning to menu planning to your mission. I hope having them all in one place would make it easier for you to take simple steps, one by one, in finding a routine that works best for you. Remember, these are just tools and they certainly are not all encompassing. Feel free to adapt them to your preferences. This is just a resource to help encourage you in making a beautiful and peaceful home that brings delight to the residents and blessing to those who enter through your doors.

Housecleaning

Cleaning Your House in 30 Minutes per day

How to Wash Your Laundry in One Day

Organizing Kitchen Storage with Canning Jars

Fly Lady Routines

Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Fifteen Family Chore Charts

Schedules & Routines

12 Efficiency Tips in the Kitchen

Developing a Simple Schedule & Routine

Get a Maid, a Chef, and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

Establishing a Morning Routine

Tips for Maintaining a Simple Peaceful Home: Routines, To Do Lists, and More

Simplifying the Schedule

Establish Routines for a Simple Home

Start Your Day By Getting Dressed

Menu Planning

Simple Menu Planning  

Dry Erase Menu Plan System

Simplifying By Buying Groceries Online

Monthly Grocery Shopping

Monthly Baking Routine

Home Management

Homemaking Binder

Build a Home Planning Notebook

My Favorite iPhone Apps for Home Management 

Simple Steps to Declutter Your Home

Taking a Weekly Planning Retreat

Simplifying by Planning

Yearly Planning with a File Crate System

Free Printable Homemaking Resources

The Color Coded Family

Home Decorating

Simple Home Decorating on A Budget 

Simple & Frugal Children’s Bedroom Decor

Make a House a Home – Decor

Decorating on A Budget – Part 1 & Part 2

Artwork in the Home

Homemaking How-To’s

How to Properly Iron Your Clothes

How to Wash Your Clothes

Keeping it All In Perspective

Making Your Home Lovely

Tips for Maintaining a Simple Peaceful Home

No Mundane Task

Pitfalls of To-Do Lists

A Home for God

Increasing the Passion In Your Homemaking

Understanding the Heart of Order

Let Your Work Be Your Worship

Homemaking Resource Recommendations

Maximize Your Mornings by Kat @ Inspired to Action (a powerful tool for making the most of your day by starting it out right!)
Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney (Read my full review here)
From Clutter to Clarity: Maximizing Life from the Inside Out by Nancy Twigg (It starts with the heart! Love this book!)
One Bite at A Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider (small weekly goals for organizing a simple home – practical and doable!)
Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider (a room by room guide to getting organized!)
Managers of the Home: A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families by Steve & Teri Maxwell (my mom swears by this book and she managed to homeschool and organize a family of 8 children!)
I’m an Organizing Junkie   (a useful blog for all things organizing!)

What are your favorite homemaking articles? Add your favorite links in the comments below! We’d love to hear what has helped you!

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Comments { 17 }

Simple Menu Planning

In many facets of my homemaking, I am still very old fashioned. When it comes to menu planning, I really like a simple plan. No fancy menu planning software, programs, or applications. Many others might find these systems useful, but I love the simplicity of my dry erase board and  a basic grocery shopping list. I prefer shopping twice a month to consolidate my outings and keep me closer to home, so I prefer to build a two week menu plan. This same system works for all methods, whether you chose to plan weekly, every other week, or monthly. I have found through trial and error that you really can save alot of money by only making a monthly or bi-monthly trip to the grocery store. It’s worth it. In times past I have done a monthly plan and system, but currently, a two week plan is working well.

1. Set a day and time you can do your planning and shopping.

I choose Sunday evening every two weeks to work on menu planning along with my other miscellaneous planning for the week. Sometimes it gets spread out during Saturday morning as well, but my goal is to have it completed before Sunday evening, so I can go shopping twice a month on a Monday morning. Pick a time that works for you.

2. Pick your a printable menu plan chart & shopping list of choice.

It can be a weekly or two week calendar pasted to your fridge or wall, or in your kitchen drawer. Money Saving Mom has some awesome free printables for weekly/two weeks/and monthly plans. Tip Nut has a collection of free printable grocery shopping lists. I love this cute grocery shopping list. Laminate it, place it in a sheet protector, or put it in a glass 8×10 frame for simplicity and resuability. I hang both my two week menu plan and ongoing grocery list (both in hard covered sheet protectors) on the wall in my kitchen, so I can jot down different food staples as we run out of them throughout the week. When it is time to head to the store, I transfer this list to a basic document on my phone which makes it easy to delete items as I pick them up (I like the iPhone Clear app). You could also just print a new grocery list for each shopping excursion, if you love the use of paper.

3. Ask your hubby and kids.

What do they want to eat this week? Any special requests? I want to honor their desires on occasion to show them I love and care for them deeply, and this is a practical way I can show love and appreciation to them. I jot down these ideas and then any new ideas that I have been desiring to try. Inspired from Pinterest? Jot that down.

4. Scan the freezer.

Then I look in my freezer and cupboards and check out what meats I currently have on hand, what needs to be used, what meals have been frozen and forgotten, etc. I make a quick list of these items to reference. Since we purchase our meats annually in bulk buys, I have to keep an eye on what I have and spread them out.

5. Pick nightly themes.

What kind of cuisines does your family prefer? Set a regular pizza night, chicken, soup, main dish salad, mexican, casserole, or italian as a theme in your schedule. Pick 6-7 of your favorite themes and assign a night for each of them. You may want to have a leftover night or eat out night as desired. We like to keep Sunday evenings for the occasional family dinner out, date night, hospitality, or leftovers. Friday evenings is often pizza night at our home at least every two weeks. Having a theme gives you a launching point for each day so you don’t feel like you’re completely lost.

So your list might look something like this:

Mondays: Soup & Salad
Tuesday: Crockpot
Wednesday: Mexican
Thursday: Chicken
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: BBQ

6. Make a running Breakfast, Lunch & Snack Menu.

I keep a running weekly breakfast, lunch, and snack menu that goes on repeat week by week. This keeps things simple and more easily restocked. I rarely change this part of my menu planning except for special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc.). Once the plan is set, I don’t have to think about it and can just focus week by week on the dinner menu. Here are our regulars:

Breakfasts:

Monday – Eggs & Toast
Tuesday – Oatmeal
Wednesday – French Toast
Thursday – Oatmeal
Friday – Eggs & Smoothies
Saturday – Pancakes
Sunday – Cereal

Lunches:

Monday: Sandwiches (Turkey or ham)
Tuesday: Mac & Cheese
Wednesday: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Thursday: Tomato Soup & Grilled cheese sandwiches
Friday:  Cheese, Summer Sausage, and Crackers
Saturdays: PBJ’s

Snacks:

Apples & Peanut butter
Cheese and crackers
Stretch Island Fruit leather
Brown Rice Cakes with Peanut butter
Fig Bars
Nourishing Protein Bars 

7. Search your cookbooks, favorite recipe websites, and find meals around your themes. 

I currently mainly use Real Simple Best Recipes cookbookAllrecipes.com, and my own recipe index for my meal inspirations. Another great healthy site is Nourishing Gourmet (edited by a long time friend of mine), Allrecipes.com is especially useful for specific ingredient searches and a wealth of reviews on each recipe. For example, I may have a chuck roast in the freezer, so I’ll search Allrecipes.com for recipes with that ingredient and get inspiration from the recipes that come up. This site is helpful because it provides a wealth of awesome reviews and ratings, and most of the recipes can be easily adapted to make them more nutritious (see my tips for making recipes more whole foods based here) according to our diet specifications. I also add the ideas that my hubby and kids offered, and whatever leftovers I discovered in my fridge/freezer.

Alongside our main dishes, I plan side dishes for several dinner meals (specifically those with a meat based meal) with in-season produce. I usually only make a side dish if the main dish isn’t a casserole combination of some kind for simplicity sake. Right now, we’re eating alot of fresh veggies – corn, green beans, brussel sprouts, and more!

All my ideas get written down on the master dry erase menu plan board.

8. Make your shopping list.

Once you have all your meals planned out on your sheet, lay your grocery shopping list next to your menu plan. Start at the beginning of the week and scan through the ingredients required for each meal. Add any necessary items to your running grocery shopping list. Work towards the end of the week or two week period as you have chosen. Remember any staple items that may have been consumed and need restocking. I scan through my dried herbs, pantry, and bulk grains to make sure I have sufficient stock on hand. If not, I add that to my grocery list too.

Finally, if I really have my act together I would clean out the fridge before departing to the grocery store to make room for new food and to clear out any past their prime items. This is my goal. ;)

With my master shopping list in hand, I pack up and depart for the grocery store. I always pack a little snack for the kiddos. In this season of my life, we limit it to ONE stop. It’s not worth it to me with limited time and energy to go to every sale in town. I find a store that I can get every item on my list at and go there. Currently, it’s usually Trader Joes or our local New Seasons Market. I may spend a bit more then if I couponed and hit all the sales, but I can get all my grocery shopping down for the next two week period in one hour flat. And then we can get home and spend more time relationally with my little ones and managing our household well.

Please note: this is a system that works for me but goes through its own tweaks and changes on a regular basis. You have the freedom to take ideas and adjust them to your preference! I know for sure this way might not work for everyone, and that’s okay! Find a system that works for you and go for it, sister! Please share your favorite menu planning tips!

Comments { 35 }

Cleaning Your Home in 30 Minutes Per Day

Housecleaning is one task that I just LOVE! Actually, not really. It’s last on the agenda and last on the list of priorities in my life right now. But there is certainly some level of maintenance that must take place in order for our home to run smoothly and peacefully, and for us to be able to extend any level of hospitality. I honestly am a recovering perfectionist.

Through seasons of babies, little ones, and trials, I have had to learn to let go and embrace the mess. The mess communicates that hearts are nurtured and bellies are well fed. Letting some things go is okay, mommy. Don’t kill yourself over mopping the floor every night. Yes, it might need it…but it’s going to be there tomorrow too. How do we make a workable routine that will help keep the house picked up without killing yourself at the same time? We still want plenty of time to play with and train little ones. So, here is my 30 minutes a day housecleaning plan for you. Yes, it is possible. As long as you are willing to let go of the deep cleaning for another season.

1. Find 30 minutes every day to do a daily maintenance task.

I take 30 minutes every morning after breakfast cleanup to do a 30 minute cleaning task. Mondays are laundry day at our house where I do it all in one day, so I reserve Tuesday-Friday for these remaining tasks. Tuesday is day 1, Wednesday is day 2, etc. You could also do all four of these tasks once a week during a two hour period of time. To be perfectly honest, this happens more often then not. It really depends upon how the week flows, but you will often find me doing a two hour chunk of these simple maintenance chores around my home on Fridays.

I started my list by making a master list of all the basic housecleaning tasks specific to my home. Then, I determined how often each task needed to be done. For example, my bathrooms need to be cleaned and my floors need to be mopped once a week (at the very least). I vacuum the basement and the bedrooms once a month, etc. Lastly, I jotted them done into a weekly schedule as follows. The first two days repeat each week, the last two days are the less frequent tasks. I post this list in my kitchen so I know each week of the month what tasks need to be completed. Finally, I set that timer and get to work! You’d be amazed how much you can get down when you set your mind to work diligently for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes is done, I stop. I’m not doing in depth cleaning here, just picking things up and wiping surfaces down.

And include those little helpers by all means! Give them a rag and a little broom and encourage them to work with you. This is part of our education as a lifestyle goal.

WEEK 1:

1. Clean bathrooms (disinfect toilet, countertops, mirrors, shower – I usually clean out showers every other week to ease the load)
2. Vac and mop high traffic areas (entry way, kitchen, living room)
3. Clean bedrooms (quick pick up, wipe down surfaces, & vacuum)
4. Clean windows on main level (inside and out, as needed)

WEEK 2:

5. Clean bathrooms
6. Vac and mop main traffic areas
7. High dust the entire house, wipe down surfaces (art work, coffee tables, dressers, shoe rack, chairs, mantle), sweep patio
8. Clean “extra” rooms (basement and office, pick up & vacuum)

WEEK 3:

9. Clean bathrooms
10. Vac and mop main traffic areas
11. Clean bedrooms (pick up, dust, wipe down surfaces, & vacuum)
12. Clean up the garage and/or car

WEEK 4:

13. Clean bathrooms
14. Vac and mop main traffic areas, wipe down tables & chairs
15. Organize a closet (pick out a kitchen closet or storage closet that needs sorting), clean out refrigerator
16. Deep clean kitchen (wipe down appliances, trash can, cupboards, and clean out one cupboard)

For the general everyday cleanup, we follow these simple routines:

2. Add a general house clean up in your evening routine.

Every night before bed, during or after kitchen cleanup, we do a general house pick up. Get all the little workers to help together. In this way, you can start the next day fresh and clean. Toys are picked up, and kitchen floors are swept.

3. Clean up as you go. 

Another valuable tool I have learned is to clean up as you go. While making your meals, put ingredients away as soon as you are done with them. Put a few dishes in the dishwasher while the dinner is cooking on the stove. This practice will save you hours of kitchen clean up time. We try to teach the kids that they can only take out one toy/game at a time. After they are done playing with it, they must put it away before taking something else out. This helps train them in the importance of staying clean and organized. This prevents the huge playroom distaster where everything is everywhere. Lastly, when we do any project or craft, we all help clean up the mess afterwards. We want to train our families that we all work together for the good of the family. Your children can learn this when they are very young. Make it fun by singing the clean up song, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere…”

My Favorite Tools

And just for fun…here are the housecleaning tools I use and love. And yes, this is really all I use.

Enviro Floor Steamer - We use this steam mop for all our floors and it is easy, natural, and environmentally friendly. Cleans your floors with heat and water. Nice.
Oreck Vacuum - We had to buy a new vacuum about a year ago and wanted something real lightweight and high quality. I love the simplicity of this vacuum. It’s what professional housecleaners use and it was well worth the investment!
Microfiber Clothes – I love Norwex but these basic microfiber clothes are a bit more reasonable. Microfiber is the best!
Mrs. Meyer’s All-Purpose Cleaner - I love this simple, natural cleaner for everything! I keep a small spray bottle in each bathroom, under the kitchen sink, and in my cleaning bucket for easy cleanups of all kinds of messes.
BioKleen Amonia Free Glass Cleaner - I was tired of homemade cleaners that left streaks on my window. This is my new addition – natural, safe, and does the trick.
Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Toilet Brush

What tips can you share for maintaining a clean, organized home?

{Photo Credit}

Comments { 39 }

Increasing the Passion In Your Homemaking

I labored diligently to get my house picked up and cleaned today…the floor needed a serious mopping (as evidenced by my baby’s knees and feet which were black from crawling all over the floor), the garage was overflowing with stuff and the car had been kicked out of its home. My windows are overflowing with fingerprints and streak marks. But there is life happening here today.

When I just focus on this role of homemaking as simply a list of tasks to be done: keeping little mouths fed, keeping laundry moving through the wash, picking up toys, and de-cluttering closets, it can easily become a burdensome task. It’s tiring. I’m sweaty all over right now.

 It’s About Relationships

My perspective on homemaking takes a whole new viewpoint when I turn my gaze from the mundane housecleaning, meal-planning, and miscellaneous maintenance to how this home, this place, affects the people around me. Passion and enthusiasm in this job comes when I view it through the filter of relationships. What is the purpose of this space? How does it impact the lives of my husband, children, family, church body, neighbors, etc?

When I view it as a beautiful domain that God has entrusted to my care, a place to offer refreshment for my hubby who is weary at the end of his long workday, as a place to train and disciple my children in a warm, cozy environment, a center place of evangelism where hungry souls can come for physical and spiritual food, then my perspective changes radically.

Offer a Taste of Heaven

“Let not your hearts be troubled…In My Father’s house are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2). Did you catch that? Jesus Christ himself is domestic. He’s creating a place of joy, peace, and great treasure for us in heaven. He’s specifically creating it with you in mind. He knows your likes, your interests, and He wants it to be a place you delight in and find eternal rest in.

“So as women, when we create welcoming homes where Christ is honored, we’re creating here on this earth, a physical, visible reflection of an eternal, invisible reality. We’re giving people a taste of heaven.” – Nancy Leigh Demoss

Your Homemaking is Ultimately about Jesus

Our homemaking is far more than just about ourselves and our homes. It’s about pointing people to Jesus.

Our mission to create a home that welcomes people – our husbands and children are at the top of that list. A place that ministers to their needs where they can find comfort, healing, rest, love, and a sense of belonging. Our culture just focuses on the home as a place to eat and sleep, but God sees it as a place where life, love, training, and comfort are cultivated.

With this in mind, when I clean my home, I’m ultimately serving Jesus. When I pick up after my husband, I’m allowing Him to rest and relax after a long days work. When I add beauty to the walls with pictures, paint, and simple decor, I’m making a place that’s homey and welcoming.

And you know what? When I do this job with joy and delight, I’m storing up treasures in heaven. For Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. And when we walk in His footsteps, life blossoms will burst from our fingertips. Children are happy. Husbands are happy. And others are refreshed. And ultimately, God is most glorified when we are satisfied in this place He has called us to. When you see your work as an opportunity to worship your Creator, God is rejoicing in you!

So sister, go forth today and scrub that toilet, cuddle up with a little one and read that story, plan that special meal to show your family you care, and know with confidence that God is smiling down upon you…He cares because He’s doing it in heaven too!

{Photo Credit}

Comments { 43 }

Dry Erase Menu Plan Display with a Repurposed Frame

This last week, I shared with you all my updated Spring/Summer monthly menu plan. Although I can compile a monthly menu plan fairly easily since I have been following this method for a few years now, I rarely break it down week by week for myself. I haphazardly live day by day more often then not. What’s for dinner tonight? Shoot…I forgot to thaw that meat out. Now what? Recently, I realized I just needed to get something visual before my eyes. I needed a place in the kitchen to display my menu to serve as a gentle reminder to make sure I make necessary dinner preparations for the week.

My solution?

I took an old 8×10 picture frame with the glass inside and printed out a free menu planner document behind the glass. I then hung it up on the wall in my kitchen with a dry erase marker resting on the top of the frame. With this method, I can easily write in my menu for the week and see it clearly every day! I can erase with a napkin, toilet paper, or a rag, and start afresh next week. I like to make a monthly master list of my menu plan, but then like to break it down week by week and chose from the 4 selected recipes ideas for each day of the week (following my daily themes for meals) to see which is most appetizing for our family for the week. This gives us more variety and flexibility each week.

I tried it with both a monthly menu plan printable (pictured at top) and a weekly menu plan printable (pictured just above), and I think I have concluded that I prefer to display one week at a time so that it isn’t as cluttered or confusing. But feel free to use whichever method you prefer! You could also use this same idea with a plastic sheet protector and tape it to your fridge!

There is no end to the ideas for using a repurposed frame for helping you stay organized. You could put your weekly schedule in there or keep track of whats in your fridge/freezer with an inventory sheet. Have fun!

Comments { 17 }

My Favorite Home Management iPhone Apps

Screenshot of Clear app

In the last year, I have been using an iPhone and have found it extremely useful for organizing my life and managing our household well. I love having everything in one place, from our calendar, to my to-do list, to basic note taking. It is ultimately becoming my homemaking binder on my phone. It has saved me a lot of time because it is all conveniently located on one device.

It has certainly been distracting at times, so I have found it wise to set parameters for use to prevent myself from becoming overly consumed with this easy access technology. Frequently, I delete all my social media apps so I can take regular fasts from them. I am currently taking a week fast from them. I also find it helpful to make sure I keep my phone on the counter for the better part of the day, so I am not distracted to look at it while I’m teaching school, or doing various other tasks around my home.

I wanted to share with you what applications I have found to be most useful. I have sampled many different apps, but keep coming back to the most simple, clean, and basic apps out there. It is quickly becoming my virtual homemaking binder!

All of these are also compatible (as far as I understand) on iPod touch and iPad devises.

Mint

We love to use Mint.com for all our household financial budgeting and organizing. With the Mint app you can categorize purchases, add transactions, check on balances, and keep tabs on your income all for free!

Craigslist Pro

Craigslist Pro makes it easy to find great deals, post your own ads, and email sellers in a few seconds. With it’s use of the Iphone camera, you can actually post your own ads in a matter of a few minutes from taking the picture, adding a description, and posting it all from your phone. Saved me oodles of time! I’ve tried many different free craigslist apps, and paying $0.99 for this one was well worth it since it is not buggy and easily navigable.

Clear

My most recent find and favorite app (thanks to my dear hubby!) has been the Clear application for organizing my to-do list. It is so simple, crisp, and colorful. Tap to add a to-do, slid to the left to delete, hold to move one around…wow. I have set up several different lists in my Clear app, including a personal to-do list, Blog tasks, Household needs, (which I also use to make a simple grocery list), Errands, Long term Goals, etc. As we run out of things around our house, I add that item to our household needs list. When I need to pick up some groceries or other items, I look at this list and can easily move things around according to food categories/aisles, etc. It is by far the best app I have used for simple home management and is only $1.99.

Shopper

So currently I find myself using Clear to make my basic grocery list, but in the past I have also used Shopper, which I found very helpful as well because I could make multiple grocery lists for the different stores that I would visit and it automatically organizes it by file and you can add the cost of each item for the budget conscious. Since I shop on a monthly basis for most things, I could just keep the same ongoing monthly grocery list.

Reminders

The Reminders app comes with the IPhone and is very useful for setting reminders for various tasks. I use it to remind me to change the laundry, add yogurt starter, put something in the oven at a certain time and it will buzz me. Sometimes I will need to remember to bring something to someone’s house, so I will set a reminder to go off 15 minutes before departure with the listed items to bring. No more forgetting things!

Home Routines

I have recently been introduced to Home Routines by my readers and am just beginning to use it. I like how it allows me to add my own morning and evening routines, cleaning schedules, etc. but also provides structure to build my own cleaning zones with reminders using the Fly Lady model. Love the built in timer to help me get tasks done in 10-15 min. Great app to keep you on track in your household management.

Notes

The Notes app also comes with the IPhone and is just a basic general virtual notepad. I use this application to keep my thankfulness list, my weekly menu, and other basic important notes that I want to remember. From this app, I can easily email my notes to myself or others for safe keeping.

Google Calendar

I love using Google Calendar for all our household and family scheduling. It is easy to synch to include my husband’s schedule and important dates and deadlines for my blog. In this manner, we make sure that we know each other’s schedule as it is easily accessible from our phones. It’s nice to have my schedule on my phone at all times to refer to especially when I am out and about.

All Recipes Pro

I find nearly all my recipes and new inspiration for crafting my own recipes from Allrecipes.com. Whenever I desire to make something new, I use allrecipes.com because every recipe is thoroughly reviewed! They recently released the All Recipes Dinner Spinner Pro app and it is awesome. I can find a wealth of quality recipes with a simple search, check out the awesome amount of reviews, and add my favorites to my recipe box within the application. It can also make you an instant shopping list with the ingredients found in your choice of recipes. Well worth the $2.99!

So there you have it…my favorite simple applications! I’ve tried a wealth of other free apps and most often they are useless or frustrating. Investing in a couple quality apps is worth the time saved!

I recently put a blurb out on our facebook fan page for recommendations for iPhone applications. See the discussion here. These are the ones that the readers have tried.

Comments { 31 }