Show Love with Clean

“She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household… She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.” (Proverbs 10:15, 18 NKJV)

I pause to absorb the timeless message. That woman had great self-confidence, to know the merchandise she was creating was good enough to sell.

I read on. “She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed in scarlet…”

I tilt my head, thinking. My kids still fit into last winter’s coats. I wonder if that counts as being ready for winter. I continue reading. “…Her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

Ohh, fine clothing! I just went to the mall and bought new jeans on clearance – I bet that counts! “She makes linen garments and sells them…”

Hmm, maybe the clearance jeans don’t count. I wonder if she was irritable from spending long hours sewing by herself late at night. “…She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.”

On her tongue is the law of kindness. I contemplate those words. She must have been tired, but yet she chose gentleness. How did she do it? My eyes focus in on the next verse. “She does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Excuses start rolling through my mind. Conviction begins rumbling in my gut. I want to close my Bible, to turn away from the uncomfortable. But this time, I make myself consider the words I’d just read.

I think of the 30 minutes I spend reading my favorite blogs before I roll out of bed most mornings, the 15 minutes I use browsing social media when I arrive home from work, and the 45 minute television show my husband and I regularly watch before we go to sleep.

None of these things are bad.

But then I think about everything I want to do. Declutter my house again. Publish the book I’ve written. Read to my kids more often.

Those little minutes are adding up.

I rapidly calculate the numbers, grasping for something measurable amidst the emotions swirling around my heart. Not counting in-between moments I spend throughout the day, I’m wasting at least 10.5 hours of time every single week. My mind whirls with the possibilities of what I could accomplish with that much free time.

If somebody told me they were going to gift me with 10.5 free hours each week, or 45 free hours every single month, what would I say I’d do with the time? Would I want to write another book? Take a warm bath every night? Exercise daily?

I know what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t say I was going to spend that time staring at my phone.

Sometimes we think we’re too busy. We don’t think we have time to keep a clean home or to linger over a great book with our kids. And yes, there are seasons of extreme busyness. But there is a very wise observation that says,

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

My question today is this: Are we finding a way or are we seeking an excuse?

This year, let’s love our families well. Let’s stop playing the part of the martyr and start welcoming our loved ones’ interruptions – and their messes – with warm hugs and gentle words.

Here are a few simple ways to start:

When we see photos of roses, chocolate, and other romantic gestures popping up on social media, let’s choose to also intentionally offer love in less flowery, but longer-lasting, ways. We can pour ourselves into our homes and our families. We shouldn’t clean because we need something in return or to make ourselves feel valued.

Cleaning runs much deeper than that. We want to live a life of no regrets, a life that isn’t held back because of a chaotic home. We desire to create a clean, calm environment that our family members want to come home to each evening.

We don’t always know what life holds, but whenever something comes our way, whether good or bad, we want to be ready.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…” Proverbs 31:28

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Friend, I know that sometimes we’d love to create a clean environment but we aren’t sure where to start. So I want to share a fantastic series that’s going on right now. It’s all about How to Organize Your Life in 30 Days, and it’s written by authors who hope to encourage and inspire you as you work to create space in your own home for love, laughter, and warm memories.

The best part is there are no rules – you can join in anytime and do as few or as many of the challenges as you’d like! Go here for details.

And don’t forget that you can read Chaos to Clutter-Free or join the Tidy Up club on Facebook for year round cleaning encouragement.

How to organize your life in 30 days- Instagram


It’s Your Year to Shine {The House}

Panic seized my heart. Please, no, I thought. Not now. I just need a few more minutes.

But there it was again, taunting with a sing-songy voice:

Ding-Dong!

Desperately looking around, I rapidly crammed a few more things into a corner then lifted a shaky hand in attempt to smooth my hair. Embarrassment flushed through me as I opened the door.

Never again, I told myself, stepping aside to let them in. I will never again be this embarrassed of my home.

Clutter may feel like a normal part of life, but it always comes with a cost.

Clutter induces stress, drains our energy, steals our time, and can rob us of our joy.

But we don’t have to live that way.

This year, let’s be proactive instead of reactive. We no longer need to panic when the doorbell rings. We can stop spending hours searching for lost items. We will take control of our laundry mountains.

Because when we regularly cultivate a clean environment, we’re not only caring for our homes and ourselves, but we’re also telling our loved ones:

“I love you enough to create a calm space for you. I love you enough to gently teach you how to care for your own things. I love you so much that I’m going to keep trying, over and over again, for as long as it takes to learn this well.”

This is our year to shine {the home}. Not for one huge, exhausting day or event, but for the entire beautiful year. Because when we’re taking good care of our homes, we’re not only offering the gift of clean – we’re giving the gift of calm.

If You Need A Gentle Nudge…

I’d love for you to join me in the Chaos to Clutter-Free challenge that begins anew in the private Tidy Up Facebook group every January.

I must warn you though, this is no ordinary challenge.

Determined people band together for encouragement, motivation, and inspiration as we declutter every square inch of our homes together. It’s going to be tough. We’re going to sweat. We’re going to cry. We’re going to want to scream and shout and give up and forget about the whole thing.

But we’re committed to pushing through together.

And when we’re finished, we’re going to cry and shout and jump up and down again – this time not in frustration, but in victory, because we’ll know that we did it. We’ll know that we pushed through the frustration, discouragement, sickness and fatigue, we kept going, we refused to give up, and we made it.

It’s going to be the hardest thing many of us have ever willingly put ourselves through. But when we’re finished? It will be glorious.

Here’s How to Shine {Your House} with the Tidy Up Friends:

  1. Join the Tidy Up Club on Facebook – while this particular challenge is specific to the winter months, encouragement & motivation are fresh all year long!
  2. Leave a comment on this post, send me an email, or introduce yourself to your new Tidy Up Friends so we know that you’re joining in.
  3. Dust off or purchase your copy of Chaos to Clutter-Free.
  4. Clean your house! Bonus if you take before & after photos to share with your Tidy Up Friends!

ChaosToClutterFreeCoverkindle2

If You’re Fighting Discouragement

Please remember that our value is not found in the cleanliness (or lack there-of) of our homes. Our value isn’t in the stuff we have or the meals we prepare. We’re valuable because God loved us enough to give us life. We’re treasured because He loves us so much that He allowed His Son to go to the cross on our behalf. That, my friend, is the greatest hope and gift of all.

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…” Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, (NKJV)

Do you believe you’re valuable enough to live in a clean home? Are you ready to shine? If not, what’s stopping you?


Praying through Proverbs: 31 Days of Marriage Strengthening Prayers

I’m thrilled to let you know that I’ve teamed up with my Canadian blogging friend, Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife, to offer a 31 day marriage series this October. We’re Praying through Proverbs with married couples all over the world at her MarriagePrayers.Today site.

PrayingProverbs

I’ve read Darlene’s blog for years and her articles have helped me become a better wife in so many ways, so becoming real-life friends and now working on a prayer series together is a huge honor and blessing.

You can read all the details about this beautiful new series in Darlene’s lovely announcement.

AllumeFriends

Left to Right: Mandi, Ashleigh, me & Darlene at Allume 2014 in Charleston, SC

Tell me one good thing going on in your own life right now – I’d love to rejoice with you.


The Difference Three Hours Can Make

I rose early, resisting the temptation to snuggle close to my husband and drift back to dreamland. Tiptoeing across the hardwood floor to the kitchen, I squinted at the glowing numbers on our 1980’s microwave. Three hours. That’s all I had. I knew I couldn’t do everything I needed to in that amount of time.

But I could do something.

3 hours to a haven

So I wiped the previous evening’s mascara from my eyes, brushed my teeth, and pulled open curtains to let the morning light softly awaken my home.

Time to work, I told myself softly.

As I hurried, I kept silently echoing a phrase: Love them enough to give them a soft place to land. Focused on that thought, I rapidly waded through clutter, scrubbed counters and swept floors, one eye continually on the clock.

Only three hours.

Here’s the difference:

Kitchen Before and After

“Our kitchens are where we pour love into the foods we make, reconnect as a family, entertain guests, sit and linger over coffee with friends, and where many childhood memories are made.” – Davonne Parks, Chaos to Clutter-Free

Living Room Before and After

“Remember that the less there is, the less there is to clean. And, the less stuff there is, the more usable space you will have.” – Davonne Parks, Chaos to Clutter-Free

Bathroom Hallway Before After

Wanting an easy success, I tackled the bathroom and hallway next. What you’re seeing on the toilet paper holder isn’t toilet paper – those are paper towels that I tore into fourths. #KeepingItReal

Bedroom Before and After

It took exactly 30 minutes to make the master bedroom feel clean and cozy(ish) again. Hemming curtains and replacing the mirror are on my mental to-do list.

girls room cleanup

And then I decided that, bad allergies or not, it was time for my sleeping beauties to rise and shine.

playroom cleanup

By this time I was tired and wanted to stop cleaning. But I decided I could push through for just a little longer and do a 30-minute power session in our school/play room.

Far from perfect. But so much better. Three hours (and sixteen minutes). That’s all it took to create a haven, a soft place for my family to land, at the end of a long day.

How would you bless your home if you had three extra hours?

home is a haven

$500 Cash Giveaway

Friends, I am so excited to share with you that housekeeping isn’t the only thing I’ve been working on – I’ve also gotten together with a group of bloggers to bless a family with $500 (Paypal) CASH!

Our hope is that we can monetarily bless a family so they can pay off a bill, be able to have their kids participate in extra curricular activities, begin an emergency fund, or take a little weekend getaway.

500CashGiveaway

For your chance to win $500 CASH, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter –

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends August 25th, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT.  Must be at least 18 years of age.  Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

I’d love to hear – what would you do with an extra $500?