Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Laundry Cure

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who prays over housework!  Yes, I admit it.  I pray over my messes and more than one person has laughed at me for admitting such a thing.  Then the first week of January my favorite weekly e-newsletter, “Serenity for your Soul” appears in my inbox.  The writer, Lorrie Flem, of Eternal Encouragement always seem to say exactly what I need to hear.

Here is what Lorrie wrote:  “When I was newly married, I was not quite a pretty picture of Suzy Homemaker.  Truth be told. I more closely resembled the Horrid Homemaker or Psycho Suzy.”  Wow, Lorrie, we must be twins separated at birth!  That’s exactly how I felt during my newlywed years.  It amazed me how much mess 2 adults could generate and this brain of mine could not wrap my head around a system to clean it up.  Let me clarify:  Yes I knew how to wash dishes, wash laundry and scrub toilets, but doing them sporadically without some type of system is not going to keep your house clean! 

I did the best I could till baby number 3.  Oh no, that means we’ll now have 5 mess makers in the family.  I can’t even keep up with 4!  Lorrie’s answer in her free weekly newsletter is the same answer I found 12 years ago: Lorrie writes “In Philippians 4:13, God says some words that should give all homemakers hope: ‘I can do all things thru Him who gives me strength.’”  She even told me why I couldn’t seem to get things right the first 6 years of marriage.  She said, “If you put a period after ‘all things,’ this statement is wrong. ‘I can do all things.’  YOU can’t…what blows the lid off our limitations is the rest of the verse: Thru Christ who gives me strength.”  Thanks Lorrie, I really needed this timely reminder!

I’ve had these words bouncing around in my head all month as I’ve prayed over my housework and a couple of amazing things happened.  First, I realized that, my kids needed their chores changed up.  They were unmotivated to complete their normal chores and the mess was threatening to take over.  Second, God used my 16 year old daughter, to deliver something BIG!!! Are you ready --- The Laundry Cure!!!

First let me explain.  We have 5 large dirty clothes hampers in our house. We barely keep the hampers from turning into mountains, most of the time.  For the past year our routine has been like this:  I’ll wash a couple loads a day, then at chore time my 16 year old daughter is in charge of folding all clean laundry, then all children help put them away.  That sort of worked for a little while.  Problems: 1 - it took too long to fold so many clothes so only part of them would be folded 2 - she couldn’t get full cooperation from her brothers to put their assigned clothes away when folded 3 - the unfolded portion from each day started backing up the flow because I stop washing if there is nowhere to put clean laundry, and 4 - this defeating cycle started wearing the kids out and it was getting to the point where I was having to take over every aspect of laundry because mountains were forming. 

In comes God’s gift: The Laundry Cure!  We had a family meeting to discuss why everyone was struggling with chores and and to get input from the kids to find out which chores they would and would not like to do.  We were just about done making new assignments when my sweet daughter said, “Mom, why don’t we just throw all the clean clothes in a pile and let everyone grab and put up their own.  That’s what so-and-so does.  Besides, the boys clothes never stay folded in their drawers, so why fold them.”  My first thought was shock, “What, don’t fold the clothes!?!”  This was followed by the realization that she was right. At least half of the clothes folded in this house are unfolded almost immediately after being put away.  So we decided to try an experiment.  We  got all the clean laundry in the house, which at that time was about 5-7 loads and timed how long it would take to sort it.  It took 7 minutes!  Then it took about 25 more minutes to fold non-clothes items, like towels and sheets, and to put everything away.  Wow! That’s about how long it normally takes for just the folding of 1-2 loads. 

I’ve been washing like a maniac this past week.  I’ve emptied all the dirty clothes hampers.  If I run out of baskets to put clothes in out of the dryer, I find empty boxes.  Then every other day I call everyone to the living room, dump the laundry in a big pile in the middle of the floor and in about 30 minutes all the laundry is put away!  Talk about freedom!  Thank you Lorrie of Eternal Encouragement. Laundry was too much for me, but it wasn’t for God.

Lorrie’s free newsletter is dedicated to women who hunger and search for righteousness where the fruit is peace, quietness, confident trust and a sparkle in her eye.  If that sounds like you then sign up here.  I'm part of the Gabby Mom's Program and have been asked to give my honest review of the Serenity for your Soul newsletter.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Part 4: Setting Goals~ Don’t waste another minute!

Years ago a friend taught me the power of goal setting.  She said that if you write your goals down, your subconscious will be working on it even when you’re not thinking about it.  She told me a story of when her family was broke and her husband was only making about $600 a month.  They borrowed money from a family member to attend a seminar where they learned the power of goal setting.  On day one they were given a homework assignment to set a goal.  Not just any ol’ goal they could accomplish on their own, something HUGE, beyond their own ability.   You know, the “Dream big” philosophy.

This is how that conversation went:

Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing to make $2,000 a month!  Well, maybe we could make $3,000. That would be awesome!  Hmm…should we even dare to dream it?  Why don’t we go for it? Let’s write down $5,000 a month!!!! 

It was mind boggling, but that’s what they wrote down.  Fast forward a few months.  Her husband is offered a job.  They ask him how much he wants to make.  He immediately remembers this seminar experience, so of course he says $5,000 a month. Guess what?  They gave it to him.  That’s not the end of the story though.  Achieving goals is not usually so cut and dry like that.  Something fell thru, he never got paid by this boss and the job fell apart, BUT it opened a new door in his career, which over time, did create and surpass this income.

Next, this friend taught me how to create a vision board, a poster board with pictures of things she desired (a baby boy, a minivan, a computer among other things).  They moved house, the poster got packed away somewhere and she forgot all about it. Sometime later she found it.  She had another baby by this time; It was a boy.  She had the exact minivan on her poster.  She did not have the same computer from her vision board, but would you believe she had the exact desk that the computer was sitting on! 

I didn’t understand any spiritual principles behind setting goals, but she convinced me to give it a try. 

I’ve had my own similar experiences, in big ways, like getting out of debt, and little ways, like writing a book outline.  I believe this blog only exists because of the goal I made in 2008 to write a book for my children.  “Embracing My Mission” is a goal that started small; to leave my story for our children.   I have no idea what God has in store for it.  I never intended to bear my soul to the world wide web, but here I am!

How to set a goal: 

First, you must, must, must…WRITE it down.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before and for good reason.  This doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy.  In fact you may never do it if you think you have to do it perfectly.  Get a piece of paper.  Take 10 minutes, brainstorm, and write down every goal you can think of.  Write everything that’s important to you and everything you want.   I write spiritual goals, family goals, educational goals, parenting goals, homemaking goals… and anything that falls under dreams & hopes.  Hang this goal list in a place you can see it often. 

Second (this is optional), create a vision board. Get a poster and paste/tape/staple pictures that represent everything you want.  For example, I have a picture of myself smiling to remind myself to smile often thru the day.

Are you done yet!  If so you’ve done the most important part.  You’ve set your feet on the beginning of the path that will take you where you want to go.  I’ve heard it said, “Those who aim for nothing, hit it with amazing accuracy!”  God has bigger plans for you!  Aim for something! 

I find that if I meet with my children regularly (monthly/bi-monthly) and go over our goals, they happen faster.  Even goals we seem to have no control over.  Like the time my daughter wanted to go to Japan (we’ve hosted 5 Japanese exchange students over the years).  We didn’t have extra money laying around for airfare to foreign lands, but we trust God and the goal setting process.   Guess what?  We won an airline ticket from the exchange student organization.  My daughter had her ticket purchased and was schedule to go less than a week before last year’s earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of Japan.  No, she didn’t go.  I’ve learned that goals don’t always exactly happen like we imagine they will, but they usually happen in some form or other. 

This year I’m going to spend more time writing out each goal in more explicit detail to get a better vision of what I really want.  Sometimes I put something on my goal or vision board and when I get it or almost get it, I discover I didn’t really want it.  Like the time I had a cruise posted on my vision board.  Some friends, out of the blue with no knowledge of my goal, offered my husband and I a half priced cruise they were not going to use.  We turned it down.  I realized I didn’t really want to go on a cruise.  I took it off my vision board. 

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18)  I likewise believe that if I set no vision or goals before me, than the abundant life I could have had, will perish before me.  What are you waiting for? Set goals and go for it!

This is a 6 part series:
Part 5 Daily Spiritual Checkpoints
Part 6 Prayer

Monday, January 2, 2012

Part 3: Be Patient!

It takes time to change. 

I’ve kept a pretty faithful record in my journals and most changes in me that were significant and important took not just months, but years!  Remember how I set my original goal to learn to be like Mrs. Duggar (ie. learn to speak with a meek and quiet spirit) in January of 2009?  If I had given up after 1 year, thinking God was not helping me, I would have lost - BIG time! 

It took a full 1 year 8 months for the very first significant change to occur.  This was when a friend mentored me in biblical child training and discipline principles (see Part 1).   After 2 months of trying to absorb and implement this into my family I saw huge results in my home.  After a few more months of working on this, I KNEW I was on the road to meeting my goal; at the beginning of the road, but on the road nevertheless.

It wasn’t until October 2011(2 years 10 months after setting my goal) that I made significant, noticeable progress on my original goal.  In fact my first realization came while I was talking with my teenage daughter about it.  She said “Mom, you’re about 90% there!”  That made my year!

I believe that God will only change me up to my capacity to change.  I’ve also learned that given time, faith, and willingness, God can enlarge my capacity as long as I don’t cast out that righteous goal because of my unbelief.

Just a word of forewarning:  Even after making so much progress thru the years, it is still very easy to slip back into old patterns of behavior and thinking.  I’ve noticed this with many changes I’ve made over the years.   Don’t give up because you slip back into the old you!  Expect it, so when it happens you can say, “hmm…I guess I’m human!”  Then move on.  If I blow it the difference is very noticeable to me, and I’m much quicker to apologize, repent and get back on track.

Scriptures say that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things, and it never fails (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).  Being patient, enduring and waiting on the Lord and His timing is such an important part of the journey.  It may take me years, but I believe I will not fail.

Where is the Lord asking you to be patient and wait on Him?

This is a 6 part series:

Part 5 Daily Spiritual Checkpoints

Part 6 Prayer