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.

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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.

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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.


When You Want to Adopt… But Your Spouse Says No

{NOTE: This is different from the type of article I usually write, but sometimes I sit at my laptop, put my fingers to the keys, and words fly out that surprise even me. I hope it encourages some of you who are having a difficult time getting on the same page with your spouse. I’ll be back with a new organizational post tomorrow!}

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I thought I’d have four children. Two girls and two boys.

The only problem with my plan was that my husband disagreed. “Only two,” he told me. “I can take care of two. I can be a good dad to two.”

“Yes,” I answered. “And we can be good parents to more than two as well.”

More talking. More late night whispering. More praying.

“I want to adopt,” I announced, several months later. “I know we agreed that we’d only adopt if we couldn’t have biological children, but so many kids need good homes and we have a good home. We’re the perfect people to do this.”

“Only two,” he repeated. “I can be a good dad to two.”

I reminded him of how I’ve had this desire on my heart since I was 13 years old. Yet, he stood firmly by his decision.

I’ll pray, I decided.

I spent weeks in deep prayer. I wanted to be as fair as possible, so instead of asking God to change my husband’s mind, I diplomatically prayed this:

“Dear God, Thank You for giving me a husband who is a good father to our children. You know that I want to adopt and he doesn’t. You know there are so many orphans out there who need good homes. I know that Your will for Nathan is the same as Your will for me in this. Please change one of our hearts and bring us to the same page. Thank you for loving us and adopting us into Your kingdom. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I fully expected God to change my husband’s heart. I’ve heard so many stories about how the husband wasn’t on board but God worked behind the scenes. And I could hardly wait for my husband to come to me, seemingly out of the blue, and announce that he wanted to adopt!

Only it didn’t happen that way. God didn’t change my husband’s heart.

{Join me over at My Joy-Filled Life to read the rest –>}

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When Messy is Okay

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Sometimes people think I have a perfect home, all the time. And while that would be fantastic, it’s not my reality. My family lives here. My husband and I have kids. We make messes – and we don’t always clean them up right away.

Organization is lovely. Having a clean, inviting home is wonderful. But sometimes embracing a little mess is good for the soul, too.

In fact, some days I don’t clean at all. Yesterday was one of those days. I worked while my daughters were in a class yesterday morning. Then we came home and had lunch together and I laid down for a bit while they played.

Then we attended a holiday dinner last night and instead of cleaning before we left, I primped. I styled my hair. I braided my girls’ hair. I took my time.

No rush. No stress. We had a lovely time at dinner and it was nice to feel unrushed and feminine for a change, instead of just thrown together. I was surprised at what curls and a few bobby pins did for my frame of mind.

When we got home, I told my husband, “I’m going to clean tomorrow. Today I needed to refresh.” He used to not believe me, because most of the time my intentions were good but my follow-through was poor.

This time, Nathan hugged me then played a round of Donkey Kong Country with our kids before heading to bed.

He knows. He knows the girls and I tidied our home two days ago. He knows that what’s messy to me today would have been a rare level of clean a few years ago. He understands that sometimes when I spend an hour or two taking care of myself instead of our home, it’s better for everyone.

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He also knows that I will clean it up, and soon. He trusts me now. I’ve worked hard to earn that trust.

If your spouse doesn’t trust you to clean or to catch up, try not to feel discouraged or frustrated. See it as an opportunity to grow and to earn trust.

Many times there has to be a heart change before the difference is seen outwardly. I spent a solid six months working on my own heart and home before my husband noticed the outward difference.

Sometimes we need to put caring for ourselves over caring for our homes. But, many times, caring for our homes is one way to care for ourselves.

It takes time. There are setbacks. It’s okay. Just keep trying. Slow progress is still progress!

“As you declutter, keep this really important thing in mind: You are never behind in this challenge. Your house will only get clean if you work at it. And only you will know whether you legitimately don’t have time to clean some days or whether you’re just making excuses. But even if you slacked off last week and didn’t clean a thing, today is a fresh day and a new start. So is tomorrow. So just pick up where you left off and do your best.” – Davonne Parks, Chaos to Clutter-Free

If you know your home needs help but you don’t know where to start or you’re lacking motivation, read my book Chaos to Clutter-Free or request FREE personalized advice.

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I also absolutely love Myquillyn Smith’s article about being hospitable to ourselves.

What do you think a good balance is between self and home?


When Your Spouse is Mad about the Messy house

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“I have no idea where to start. My parents lived like this and now I’ve taken these awful habits with me to my husband and 1 year old son. My husband and I fight about it all the time. I want to save a lot of clothes because I hope to lose weight and fit back into them. I picked 1 room which is the living room. We are in a 2 bed 1 bath apartment and the rooms and kitchen are just as bad if not worse. I have to learn where to start somehow. Please help me!” – Chelsea

Marriage Encouragement

Chelsea, I completely understand how you feel! When my husband and I were first married (and for several years after…), I didn’t know how to be a great homemaker. For me, it wasn’t that my mom didn’t try to teach me – it was that I just didn’t get it.

Learning how to keep things tidy isn’t an easy endeavor, but it is a worthwhile one.

Can I offer you a little marriage encouragement? I read in His Needs, Her Needs that usually the things a spouse complains about is what the spouse needs the most.  For example, if someone’s husband complains that dinner is never ready on time, there’s a chance that acts of service fill his love bank. When that need isn’t met, it’s depleting his bank.

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So the next time your husband complains about the messy house, try answering with gentleness instead of defensiveness. Sincerely say something like, “I’m so sorry that I haven’t kept a clean home for you. I want to do better. Can you offer grace to me while I learn?” Then give him a hug. Keep doing that every single time he complains and see if it helps!

Make sure that you really are working on decluttering your home so he can see that you’re genuinely trying, even if the progress is slow.

Ask your husband what his top three housekeeping priorities are and focus on those. Maybe he doesn’t care if your son’s room is a mess but he doesn’t want to trip over toys in the living room. If so, let your son’s bedroom go for a little bit and focus on keeping things picked up in the living room! You can also pray for your husband to have a compassionate heart about your struggles.

As you work on decluttering and improving your cleaning habits, you can add more things in later, but for now focus primarily on the three areas that are most important to your husband.

And don’t forget that it’s okay to not do everything by yourself! If your husband is working outside the home and you’re not, then your primary job right now is to take care of your one-year-old child and your home. Keeping your outside activities limited will help you to be home enough to care for your home. If you’re working outside the home as well, then go ahead and discuss how to divvy up some tasks.

Tips for the Other Spaces

If you’d like specific bedroom and kitchen tips, email photos to me! For now though, here are a few basic decluter tips:

1) Take it one room at a time. Don’t even try to declutter your kitchen while you’re simultaneously sorting your clothes and cleaning out the bathroom!

2) Consider putting clothes that are too small for you elsewhere so you don’t have to see them everyday. Under-the-bed totes, or even a box in the top of your closet may be all you need so you won’t have to dig around clothes that don’t fit.

3) When you’re sorting your clothes, ask yourself a question: “If I saw this item at the store right now, would I want to pay to buy it?” If your answer is no, then donate it. Only keep the clothes that you really love and will be excited to fit back into!

4) Purge items like crazy! For more clothing advice, read step one of this article. And for a great kitchen declutter how-to, read this.

I hope this helped you, Chelsea! I’m going to post your living room photos, and answer your specific living room questions, later this week but I wanted to cover the heart issues first.

If any of you reading this are thinking that you have the opposite problem – you want to declutter but your spouse won’t let you – then make sure to read this post about what to do when you’re married to a pack-rat.

What additional advice do you have for Chelsea as she works to create more peace within her home?