Housekeeping Tip #7: Bring Your Basket

The sun slowly lowered, casting a glow on the trees. The crowd stood shoulder-to-shoulder, crammed together as they hung on every word. There was nothing fancy or attractive about the speaker, but the message He offered was enthralling.

And then, there were whispers of sending them home. At a late hour, empty bellies. Their spirits deflated.

But, wait!

The voice was direct, “You give them something to eat.” Did they hear right? They held their breath as they strained to hear the response. And there it was again – instruction to gather what they could.

Somehow, it was enough. 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish filled 5,000 men, plus the women and children. And 12 baskets of food remained!

{Scripture References: Isaiah 53:2-5; Mark 6:34-43; Matthew 14:19-21}

Friend, I’ve mentioned before that Sarah Mackenzie’s book Teaching from Rest has challenged and transformed me in ways that nothing other than the gospel ever has.

One of my biggest takeaways from Teaching from Rest is the concept of bringing our baskets. In this section Sarah says:

Just like the disciples, I see this huge throng of people to feed – this seeming impossibility. The shaping of souls and raising of children, the mopping of floors, washing of dishes, bandaging of scraped knees and hearts and worries, the teaching and admonishing and loving and doling out of myself. It’s all too much…

But I have my little basket. I can read aloud pretty well. I’m good at organizing things on paper. I can make a decent pot of chili and I know how to push a vacuum. I love my children with all of my being… It’s just a couple loaves of bread and a few fish.

Apparently, that’s all He needs…

If you are being asked to feed a multitude with a tiny basket of loaves and fish, then bring your basket. He starts with that. Just like the crowd in the wilderness, which had been faithfully following Jesus for days, sitting at His feet, savoring His words, seeking Him earnestly, we do the same. We bring our basket – whatever talents, skills, abilities we have – and we seek Him with everything we are…

Surrender everything. Bring your loaves and your fish, even if you think them completely insufficient. They are insufficient. You are insufficient. But His grace is not. God is not limited by objective reality.

– Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest

Sarah also reminds readers that Jesus didn’t work with nothing – He had the disciples bring what they had before He performed the miracle. He also desires for us to use our own baskets in loving service to Him.

And before you decide that your own offering is too small, I want to assure you it’s not. You have something beautiful to offer to your home and your family.

I’d like to pray for you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for giving each of us unique skills and interests. Please help my friend to see what she can bring before You. Help her to rest in You as she prioritizes her life so she can thrive in the season You’ve placed her in. Show her what her basket holds and guide her heart so she can use her creativity well.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

While you’re scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, or bandaging scraped knees, think about your own basket. What do you love doing that you’re naturally good at? And how can you use your basket to bring life and light into your home?


Friend, if you’re new here, make sure to sign up for the FREE 10 Day Making Your Home a Haven email course, complete with inspiration and assignments to help you completely freshen your home in just 10 simple steps. It’s coming this fall and you won’t want to miss it! Go here for details.


Housekeeping Tip #6: Feed Yourself Beautiful Truths

My body curled into a ball as my face became drenched with tears. Shame and regret washed over me while I cried. Harsh words had been hurled at a loved one, the unlucky recipient who had unjustly borne the brunt of my overflowing stress.

I wished I could take those ugly words away from the hearer’s ears and shove them right back into my mouth, then swallow them whole and allow something kind and gentle to flow from my lips instead.

I desperately want to be a life giver. To refresh, uplift, and renew those around me.

But sometimes, I fall painfully short of that desire. Sometimes my attitude or careless words drain hope and happiness right out of someone’s spirit.

Because words and deeds are like that – they hold great power. And we can’t undo what we’ve already done. We don’t get a rewind or a do-over on life. We only get one shot at each moment.

In those minutes after my verbal storm, I felt unlovable and nonredeemable. I fed myself lies because I didn’t feel worthy of Truth. And the truth is that, yes, I should have responded in a kinder way, but one bad moment does not make me a bad person.

One bad hour does not have to accumulate to a terrible day.

One slew of unkind words, though not excusable, does not take away the thousands of beautiful sentences I’ve woven into someone’s heart.

Mess-ups, sins, shortcomings, they’re all redeemable. But to grow, we must feed ourselves life-giving truths. Dear friend, if you’re struggling with feelings of defeat, I want you to tell yourself these truths. Say them out loud. Feel the healing that can come from believing these words:

  • I am lovable.
  • I am capable.
  • I am valuable.
  • I am redeemable.
  • I am enough.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14, 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 deeply believe the words you just whispered to yourself? If you don’t, write them down, print them out, put them on your bathroom mirror, or stick them in your pocket. Tell yourself the powerful truths over and over again until you believe them. And then keep on telling yourself, so you never forget.

Because if we want to move forward, if we want to do well in life – whether at parenting, homemaking, a career, or any other desired goal, we must first believe that we can. We have to internalize the knowledge that every inch of us was lovingly created. We must know that we’re not beyond help.

Beautiful Tidy Up Friends, one of the worst lies we can tell ourselves is that it’s too late.

We eat another brownie and decide it’s too late to make healthy food choices today so we reach for even more. We waste the morning on electronics and berate ourselves for not accomplishing needed tasks, then we turn our defeated faces back to the brightly lit screen.

We make a bad move at the office or in a relationship and our stomachs sink because we know consequences will arise and people may be hurt.

But you must know, it’s not too late to alter the path you’re currently on. It’s not too late to make good choices and it’s not too late for you.

When we begin to feel defeated, we can pray for guidance and gently correct our inner voice by saying, “It’s not too late. I can help redeem this.”

When our little ones want us to snuggle with them in bed and we say no, we can return to their room, whisper an apology, and ask them to hold back the covers for us as we climb in.

When we eat too much dessert, we can set a bowl of fruit on the counter so it’s easier to make a healthy choice the next time.

If we make a poor decision in a relationship or at work, we can seek forgiveness from the people we’ve hurt. Because even though we don’t like drawing attention to our poor choices, it’s often the fastest way to restore a relationship.

If we live in a chaotic home, we can wallow in self-pity and defeat, or we can choose to start where we are to restore beauty and peace as we lovingly work to make imperfect progress.

We can stop waiting until the next big event, or next month, or even next year. We can stop waiting until the mood strikes and start now.

Because as my mother used to tell me, “Mind over matter, dear.” In other words, we can choose our attitude and choose our mood, regardless of the circumstances.

We shouldn’t make excuses for poor habits. But we don’t need to wallow in self-defeating ugly talk, either. We can gently acknowledge where we need to improve. We can kindly feed ourselves truth.

We must believe that we will make a difference. We will change. We will improve. We will learn to be okay with imperfect progress.

Because when we take the pressure off of ourselves to do things in the perfect way at the perfect time, we’re giving ourselves permission to move forward, right where we are, starting today.

Lasting change won’t happen perfectly right away. And a positive difference isn’t always noticeable from the outside until great progress has been made within our own hearts first.

But when we refuse to give up, we will begin making improvements. Yes, it might be two steps forward and one (or three) steps back, but we can dig in our heels, climb the mountain, and refuse to walk away.

We keep trying because every positive decision helps to propel us forward. We refuse to give up so we can mature into the women that God created us to be. We can choose to be refined (Zechariah 13:8-9).

And it will be beautiful.


Friend, this week’s assignment is to give yourself a small housekeeping success so you can start believing in yourself. Catch up on laundry, clean out your closet, tidy one room in your house, or gather a bag of gently used items for donation.

To really give yourself a boost, share this article on Facebook or with a friend, join the free Tidy-Up Club, or leave a comment letting us know a truth you’re working to believe. Immerse yourself in beautiful community so we can encourage and inspire each other as we work together to form positive, life-changing habits, one step at a time.

And to make it easy for you to encourage someone you love, I created printable You Are Enough notecards that you can share with a friend. Go here to receive your free notecards.


Articles Linked to Within this Post

I’d love to hear: What truths do you need to tell yourself today?

Housekeeping Tip #5: Look Ahead

I tenderly touched the items that were buried away in a closet. Tiny outfits, worn-out books, little blankets… they all tugged at my heartstrings.

“What do you do with the baby items when you think you’re done having children but you know you’re not immune to little surprises?” I texted to my friend Kelli, a mother of five.

The answer beeped in a few moments later. “Pass the items along. Don’t think about what you’re giving away – think ahead to the joy of what you’re gaining as you make room for new things. Trust God to provide if you do have another tiny blessing.”

Brushing soft tears from my cheek, I went back to the closet and started filling donation sacks with baby items. When I finished, I dragged our camping gear – evidence of a new favorite hobby – over to the closet and started filling in the empty spaces.

With each shelf I filled, my heart grew a little lighter and a little happier. Kelli was right. It felt good to pick the newer items off the floor and put them into a place of real belonging.

When we look ahead instead of behind, we’re creating space for life to be lived instead of holding on to a part of time that can never again be more than a memory.

When we look ahead, we’re able to focus more on the feeling of a clean house later rather than just the desire of wanting to rest right now. Looking ahead allows us to think about how we’ll feel if someone stops by unexpectedly when the house is clean – and when it isn’t.

Thinking ahead causes us to consider how we’ll feel when we lay down at night. Will we feel good knowing that we’d used little minutes to tidy up and wash some laundry, or will we feel guilt in knowing we’d been too distracted with technology to make sure everyone had clean clothes for the next day?

And when morning comes, will we be ready to greet the day in a clean home or will we feel dread, knowing we’re about to face an overwhelming mess?

Sometimes we desperately want a fresh home but feel too busy to clean. When that happens, we can look closely at our schedules. Perhaps we could temporarily lessen our social engagements, cut back on time spent with television or social media, or even re-prioritize service projects.

Even if there’s not much we can realistically minimize right now, we can still choose wisely to make a positive difference in our homes.

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


Tidy Up friends, Have you ever noticed how draining it is to live in disorder?

After a few days of recently living in an exhausting mess, I pushed through fatigue so I could make my home nice again. The following morning I was up and starting my day before the alarm went off – it is so much easier to get out of bed when we’re greeted by peace instead of mocked by chaos.

If you’re in a place of chaos, I want to encourage you to do one thing today to begin working your way out of it. Maybe you could get your laundry under control, clean the kitchen, or even just clear your bathroom counter.

Regardless of whatever is going on in your life, it’s easier to face other challenges when home is a haven.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – does creating a clean home help you feel peaceful & optimistic? If not, what do you do to calm your spirit?

Housekeeping Tip #4: Stop Waiting for Perfect (and My First Vlog!)

I tiptoe toward my bedroom to sneak away for a few minutes of quiet relaxation. Just before crossing the threshold, I pause and glance back to the kitchen. It’s quiet now and the lights are dim, but plates and cups remain on the table.

I turn to my room again, my eyes drinking in the site of my warm comforter. Just a few minutes, I tell myself. Then I’ll be refreshed and ready to clean.

But I hear a phrase echoing in my mind:

“The bitterness of living in a mess remains long after the sweetness of resting is forgotten.” – Sandra Felton, The Messies Manual

Hesitating, I pivot my body back and forth as I glance from my bedroom to the kitchen and back again.

My heart knows that Ms. Felton was right when she penned those wise words. The inward battle is over. I stride to the kitchen and roll up my sleeves. I know this is a choice well made.

And the resting will be even sweeter because a bitter mess won’t be waiting for me after.

Sometimes we wait for perfect. We wait for the perfect schedule, the perfect timing, the perfect mood, or the perfect weather. We think that we’ll clean when our kids are older, or we’re less busy, or we have a week off work, or after we get a better night’s sleep. The list could go on forever.

But a life lived in waiting isn’t a life fully lived at all. Life isn’t about one big choice that magically fixes everything and makes our lives perfect. It’s about little decisions. Small, right decisions many times a day over the course of many, many years.

Those small choices will turn into large habits. And those habits will greatly impact the quality of our lives and the value of our memories.

Tidy Up friends, we can’t do everything, but we can do something. Choose one room, or even a corner of one room, and start there. If you need a little extra encouragement, you can join the private Tidy Up Facebook page.

We’re working on a challenge this week of Preparing Our Homes for the Holidays, and the before & after photos are so inspiring! After you join the group, you can view Assignment 1 encouragement here.

And friends, I would absolutely love to have each one of you into my home. It would be glorious to sit together as we inspire one another to create space for life, love, and warm memories.

But because teleports aren’t yet real, I created a video channel on Vimeo. Consider this your invitation to housekeeping inspiration as I virtually welcome you into my living room.

When you know you need to clean, what holds you back from beginning? Is it feeling overwhelmed, being too busy, or thinking a project needs to be completed perfectly before you can even start? Let’s encourage each other in the comments as we begin together.