Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Continuing with the cards going into the 3 X 5 card box we started a few days ago…  Now add these sections and cards.

  • Daily section – my most urgent concerns.  I put this section in front of the numbered tabs.  With one card for each need, including my husband, a couple of friends with cancer surgeries and treatments, a friend who is going through divorce, my day’s appointments, and anyone I’ve told I’d pray for them this week.  (After that, I may mark that card “Wednesday” and pray for it once a week.)
  • Friends – These cards have an orange stripe across the top.  I have an orange tab at the back of them for rotating them back.  I pray for two of these each day.  They include friends who’ve moved away, friends who are deployed, prodigal children of friends, and so on.  These are the people I want to pray for from time to time, but not every day.

  • Missionaries and ministries – Thursday is my day to pray for missionaries and ministries such as the chaplains on our military bases.  I have picture cards for as many of them as possible.  I pray for their health and finances.  I pray for their effectiveness in ministry.  I pray for their families and marriages.  Then I rotate their cards to the next Thursday date.
  • Our pastors – I pray for the staff of our church by name on Fridays.  I pray similarly to what I pray for missionaries, but also for the church’s direction and creative team.  Some of our staff are pregnant or have been sick.  This card is marked “Friday” in the top corner and I rotate it back to the next Friday date.
  • My co-workers – people I work with, one or two per day.  These card have a green stripe across the top.  I have a green tab behind them for rotating them back.

To pray for something every 2 or 3 days, just put a 2 or 3 in the top corner, and rotate it accordingly after you pray for it.  Or if it is something you want to pray for occasionally, put 10-20-30 or 5-19 on it to pray for it on those days.  Each day, you will pull out a manageable set of cards to pray over.
(To be continued…)

Monday, November 19, 2012



Note:  This may be uncomfortable to those of you who are “unstructured”.  If so, don’t worry about the system.  JUST PRAY! 

Years ago, when I was feeling guilty over my prayer life, the Lord gave me an idea for managing my prayer time.  I felt like there was much I was forgetting to pray for and in some cases I was only praying sporadically for very important things.  Then there were those people I’d said I’d pray for and forgot about afterward.  (No wonder I felt guilty!) 

So I got a 3 X 5 card box and some dividers.  I put tabs on cards for the days of the month, numbering them 1-31.  Then I began to put cards into each section for the following, layering in each category: 

  • My children (and later their families) – I wrote their names and their needs on a card.  These got a pink highlighter stripe across the top.  I put a pink tab on another card.  I put two of my children’s cards in the first day, two more in the second day, and so on.  Then I put a pink tab in the day after these.  I would pray intently for them on the day their cards came up, then rotate them to the pink tabbed section and moving the tab back to the next day. 
  • My extended family – I decided to pray for my siblings on Tuesdays.  These cards with their names and needs got a blue stripe.  They rotate back to the next Tuesday.  I put our parents on Wednesdays.  They also have a blue line across the top and “Tuesday” in the top corner.
  • Big issues, including world affairs and current events – Modified from Dick Eastman’s Change the World School of Prayer*, these needs are on one card for each day of the week.  I pray for the following:
    • Monday – world evangelism.  I pray for my personal friends who are on the mission field and for those who are involved in spreading the gospel throughout the world.
      • For WORKERS – Mt. 9:38 – that they would be strengthened and faithful for the work
      • For OPEN DOORS – Col. 4:2,3 – for all nations to allow the preaching of the gospel, especially Communistic & Muslim countries.
      • For FRUIT that remains – 2 Thes. 3:1 – people to be saved and discipled who can then lead others to Christ
      • For FINANCES for the work – Ro. 10:14, 15 – that workers would be encouraged, not slowed or disheartened by financial needs.
    • Tuesday – my church. 
      • For LEADERS WHO PRAY – Acts 6:4
      • For SAINTS WHO SERVE – Gal. 6:2
      • For PEOPLE WHO PRAISE – 1 Pet. 2:9
    • Wednesday – world issues / current events
      • For the counties involved in “The Arab Spring” and for religious liberty to come out of that. 
      • That unjust or repressive leaders would be removed and replaced by those who favor religious freedom
      • For natural disasters and national crises. 
      • For the persecuted church. 
      • For the nation of Israel.
    • Thursday – for spiritual awakening / revival
      • For HUMBLE REPENTANCE – 2 Chron. 7:14
      • For HUNGRY DESPERATION – Jer. 29:13
      • For HELPFUL GENEROSITY – Is. 58:10-12
      • For HOLY UNITY – John 17:20-21
    • Friday – my family – based on Luke 2:52
      • SPIRITUALLY (in favor with God)
      • SOCIALLY (in favor with man)
      • MENTALLY (increasing in wisdom)
      • PHYSICALLY (increasing in stature – good health)
    • Saturday – political and civil leaders (Dan.2:19-22) – that they would realize their authority comes from God.  That they would be wise and judicious.  The foolish and ungodly leaders would be removed.
      • National, state, and local office holders
      • Legislation
      • Judges
      • Police & Fire
      • Public services
    • Sunday – myself
      • That I will be “F.A.T.” – faithful, available & teachable
      • That I will maintain integrity and purity
      • For input that will cause spiritual and personal growth.  Sometimes this requires outside sources when the church is focused on new believers.  I pray the Lord would bring them into my path.
      • My wishes and dreams

After I pray for these needs, I rotate the cards back to the next numbered day that matches the day of the week.

(To be continued...)
*You can find Dick Eastman’s prayer map at www.EveryHomeForChrist.com.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


 One of the things I see with many parents these days is indecisiveness.  When Johnny wants to go outside, they say no.  Then as Johnny continues to whine and wheedle, Mom gives in and lets him go out.  When Suzie doesn’t eat her dinner, Dad says she may leave the table, but will get no dessert.  Later at dessert time, he gives in and allows her to have dessert.

I’m not sure if these parents are trying to show themselves as kind, but they are actually demonstrating weakness instead.  Children need a surefooted parent, a sense of stability.  Years ago I heard a quote from a single parent I remembered and tried to emulate:  “I hardly ever say no, but when I do, I NEVER change my mind.” 

How can parents do a better job of being decisive?  First, you must start by knowing when to say yes and when to say no.  What is the family standard?  What is the goal of your child training?  Is there a moral reason that would lead you to one decision or the other.  If so, be firm.  Don’t make a declaration unless you mean to stand by it.

Second, determine that there are other ways to demonstrate kindness.  Plan fun outings, show tenderness when a child is hurt or in need, be kind to animals, watch your tone of voice.  But when it is a discipline matter, you must be FIRM. 

If you are unsure of what answer to give in a situation, stall.  Tell your child that you must think about it a moment before giving her an answer.  Then when you decide, stick to your decision.  Change your mind only if you are given new information that changes your perspective.

James 1:5-8 (Amplified) says 5If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.6 Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.7 For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

I believe that a vacillating parent actually is teaching their child how to be successful in manipulating.  For a boy, learning how to manipulate women can have devastating consequences in adult life.  For a girl, learning how to manipulate men has serious repercussions.  For anyone, manipulating authority and not expecting to ever be told a firm no can lead to narcissism (deep self-centeredness).  It can cause problems in keeping a job.  Narcissistic people can be self-centered enough to hurt others with no conscience.

By being firm and decisive, you are not being mean.  You are being wise.  You are presenting an example of authority that is worth following.  Decide carefully, then stick to your decision.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012

When our children were young I read about George Mueller, who had founded orphanages during the late 1800s.  His philosophy was to pray in everything they needed, and not to ask any person for money.  God provided the equivalent of about $12 ½ million (in today’s dollars) during that time.  He helped 2100 orphans over 50 years.

One of the things that Mueller did that spoke to me was to create a minimum clothing requirement for each child.  His list included 3 pairs of shoes for each child!  One would suppose that they might get along with as little as possible under the circumstances, but since the whole project was to be an exercise in faith, Mueller felt that a minimum level of provision and care should be set at a comfortable level.  Wow!  That challenged me!

So I decided that I, too, would set a minimum requirement for my kids.  I made a list of basic items for boys and one for girls.  This included church clothes and play clothes, socks, tennis shoes, church shoes, flip flops and snow boots.  The winter list had a coat for snowy weather and the summer list had a swimsuit and cover-up.  I kept the list and checked through the kids’ things about twice per year.  Any item not in good repair or outgrown was weeded out.  Only items nice enough to keep went to charity.   (I myself had received enough stuff that needed to be thrown away instead, and found it was depressing!)

First of all, I felt good about making sure my kids were ready for anything.  They felt taken care of.  Though money was tight, they didn’t usually even know it.  I also found that I had eliminated the need to go clothes shopping prior to taking our vacation.  Finances could then be focused on the vacation itself.

The second benefit of this list was that I knew what was needed for any given child when I was going to garage sales or sorting hand-me-downs.  I could choose to pass on items we had plenty of and zero in on what was really needed.  I was less likely to buy on impulse, and perhaps regret my purchase. 

These guidelines serve as a “max” idea as well.  If you are given a bag of clothing by your child’s just-larger cousin, you can say no to 13 T-shirts with fun logos on them.  Choose 4, and pass the rest on to someone else.  What a relief to be able to close that drawer in the dresser and not have stuff spilling out because it is so stuffed.

So try it!  Make your own list for yourself or your kids.  Consider what activities you need to be ready for.  (Work, camping, going to the gym, church, and so on.)  What does “enough” really look like?  Mary Poppins said, “Enough is as good as a feast.”  I think that applies to our dressers and closets as well as our appetites.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Day by day we are given the opportunity to make choices that will add up to be the sum total of our character.  What we are when we are old is a collection of those choices we have made.  We become a distilled version of ourselves, of our choices as we near the end of our lives.

One aspect of our character comes from making choices toward discretion or simple-mindedness.  Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent man sees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished with suffering.”   One translation identifies the prudent man as a man of discretion.

Discretion[1] is:

a)     the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation

b)     cautious reserve in speech 

c)      prudence

d)     the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information

e)     the result of separating or distinguishing  (right from wrong, good from bad, beneficial from foolhardy, etc.)

The opposite would be not thinking before your speak; saying everything that goes through your mind; choosing the quick and convenient as opposed to the better though slower option.  Choosing to blindly trust someone we don’t know would be a lack of discretion.  Not being able to keep a confidence or being a gossip would also be a lack of discretion.

Proverbs 11:22 says a pretty woman without discretion is like a gold ring in the snout of a pig.  Wow!  How easy it is to find a foolish, silly and shallow woman these days.  Some act blindly, choosing foolishly, then wonder why things are going badly. 

But a woman with discretion – in speech, in personal management, in business affairs?  Those are rare indeed.  This kind of woman is beautiful and successful in a much deeper and lasting way.

We should always be seeking to grow in wisdom.  We can ponder what we know about people, and learn to observe human behavior and personalities in order to better understand what people are truly like.  We can think ahead, considering consequences before we step forward into commitments.

I like the idea of “savvy” women, women who think and then act accordingly.  In the course of directing your future, begin with your life today.  Choose wisely, think ahead, be a woman of discretion.

[1] Free Merriam-Webster dictionary online.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Years ago I picked up a little book at the Christian bookstore for just a dollar.  It was called Practicing the Presence of the Lord by Brother Andrew.  It turned out to be a Christian classic that challenged me deeply.  This book is actually a collection of letters between two brothers in the Lord, one older and one younger in the faith.

Written in the 1300’s Brother Andrew discusses how to live in constant awareness of God’s presence.  We know scripturally that Jesus is with us always through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but how much are we really conscious of it personally?  I began to make it a goal to talk to the Lord throughout the day, to be aware of His nearness as much as possible.  It is SO much easier to walk in the flesh, thinking about ourselves than being aware of His Presence.  I enjoyed this growing walk, stretching myself in a new way.

Then recently, I picked this book up again.  I have to say I am better about being aware of God’s presence throughout my day than I was when I began this journey.  But this time I began to notice an expression Brother Andrew used about being aware of the exalted presence of God.  Wow!  I began to ponder my sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence as Comforter and Guide, but now I am trying to remind myself several times per day of God’s hugeness!  Thinking of Him on heaven’s throne, surrounded by angels, crying “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  This is a more exalted view than my friendly expressions like, “God, did you see that person cut me off just now?!  Of course, you did.  Silly question.”

I begin to realize how small my problems are in this fallen world; how silly some of the arguments are between people and nations in view of His eternal greatness.  I feel small compared to Him and His Universe.  Then I am amazed that He cares for us.  He chooses to.  Wow!  Join me as I begin a new stretch of the journey, seeking to walk on a higher plane.  J

Friday, March 2, 2012


What NOT to Respect

One of the harder things in our culture concerning respect is that we may be taught that everything should be respected – other religions, other people’s lifestyle choices that are harmful, etc.  That is not true.  One cannot live a discerning life and think that all things are equal.

First of all, other religions are not equal with Christianity.  Jesus gave his life for ours.  Nice teachings of other religions are hardly comparable.  God is large and in charge when it comes to faith matters, and He says that obeying Him brings blessing.  Disobeying Him brings curses.  (Deuteronomy 28, John 15-17)  Romans 10:9-10 say that we have life if we believe God allowed Jesus to be crucified and then raised Him from the dead.

And how about those lifestyle choices?  Teach your kids to be observers of results.  Life is all about cause and effect.  One example is the food choices we make (less fat, more fiber, a little exercise) and how they affect our quality of life as we get older.  Consider stories in the news about teens or adults who drink and drive.  While we feel compassion for those who make bad choices, we cannot demonstrate a respect for those choices.

Another thing NOT to respect is laziness.  A lifestyle of constant TV and video games will not have the same outcome as a life of hard work and / or community service.  One will tend to poverty and boredom; the other will be full of rewards and joy.

Speaking of media, we do not have to respect wrong opinions and lies.  All ideas do not give the same end result.  Whether it is national debt or religious freedom in other countries everyone has an opinion.  The end results of dictatorships, evil governments, and hatred will always be agony, deprivation, and sorrow.  Our government’s overspending will result in future hardships like inflation and diminishing economic output.

So while you consider what to respect, remember to compare your thinking to God’s thinking.  Find scriptures if you are not sure about what is right and what is wrong.  God is very vocal in the Bible about human behavior and choices.  He loves everyone, but he does not promise the same results for all life choices.  Be careful about what you respect.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Continuing our discussion of what to respect…

#3  For other people God has made
Other people belong to God.  They are His creation, and they are precious to Him.  Whether we like them or not, whether they are like us or not, we are not to judge their value as any less than ours.  How can we judge someone as lesser without leaving behind a question that we might be lesser?

Several categories of people are given precedence in the scripture:
  • The elderly – Leviticus 19:32 (also numerous places in Proverbs)
  • The poor – Galatians 2:10, James 2:5, several of Jesus’ parables
  • Widows & orphans – James 1:27
Children also need to be taught to be respectful toward their peers and siblings.  Sarcasm, cut-downs, and one-upmanship are not godly patterns.  They are tied to pride and selfishness.  While this means hard work for parents to train against the sin nature of childish humanity, the payoff is rich!

#4  The property of others
One of the basic things God addressed in Levitical law (Old Testament) was what was to happen if someone damaged the property of another.  Examples were given for when a man killed his neighbor’s cow.  The basic concept was the need to replace something that was damaged.  In present day terms this can be as simple as not throwing trash in someone else’s yard or in replacing a toy broken while visiting a friend.

The founders of the United States included basic tenets of ownership and respect for property in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.  Property ownership is part of the American Dream.

Even children have a sense of what is theirs, of what they have dominion over.  This is why parents must not ignore children’s requests for parental assistance when guests’ children abuse their belongings.  When we hosted a small group meeting in our home, we had separate toys that were put out during that time.  We did not require our children to share everything.  We respected that as their dominion, and allowed them to decide what they wanted to bring out or not. 

As adults, we share what we choose to share.  My husband and I have a rule that if we borrow something, we return it in as good or better shape.  What we lend, we must be willing to let it go if something happens to it.  We do not loan what we cannot afford to replace ourselves.     

This is golden rule and then some.  Not only do we “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but we do unto others as Jesus has done for us.



Monday, February 27, 2012



What is your feeling when you hear this topic?  Roll your eyes and say, “Yeah!  THAT sure is lacking in our culture?”  Or, “Yeah, I’d like to get more respect!”  Whatever your feelings, you probably would have to agree that showing respect for others is something necessary to a good life, whether you are an adult or a child.

Parents who do not teach their children to be respectful are doing them no favors.  They may think they are raising independent thinkers, but those who do not know how to work under authority have serious problems all their lives.  They frequently struggle to hold a job.  They move from situation to situation rather than staying and working things out.   I have found that people who are perpetually needy or even homeless have this lack of respect for authority in common.
So what should we respect?  What does proper respect look like?

#1  Respect for parents and those in authority
Romans 13: 1-5 says we are to be subject to civil authorities.  These structures are put in place by God.  It says this proper alignment with authority structures is part of having a good conscience.

Parents must model this for children by showing respect for the authorities over them.  Bosses, police officers, and government officials can be the subject of complaints, gossip and even downright slander.  We can express our disagreement with policies of our President or Congress without being disrespectful.
I Peter 2:17 says “Show proper respect for everyone:  Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  This follows verse 16 which talks about living as free people.  Respect goes with freedom!

Children are to honor parents.  (See the Ten Commandments.)  Children are to obey parents.  (Ephesians 6:1)  If they do not learn to obey you, how will they ever obey God?  If they do not respect your authority, how will they respect and obey at school or work after they are grown.  Work on these patterns while they are young and moldable. 

This is not to say they should be mindless robots.  After they obey, it is good to discuss the reason “why” you asked them to do certain things.  Help them see how good it is for them to do what you ask.  Let them discuss things with you.  Do not ask older children for blind obedience.  Explain why, not by way of justifying your existence, but helping them think at higher levels.

Teach children that it is okay to question authority in a respectful manner.  Not to be confused with arguing with authority, they may ask for clarification on a matter.  If they have further information that has not come to light, they can bring that to the discussion.  But they must accept that in the end, the authority has the right to settle the matter with their decision.  Young children (under 8 or so) should obey first, and get explanations afterward.

Everyone is under someone’s authority.  There is no such thing as 100% independence.

#2  Respect for God’s creation
I’m not a tree hugger, but I do see our responsibility as stewards and viceroys of God’s creation to rule it, subdue it, and make it fruitful.  We cannot destroy the environment we live in and expect to live well in it.  None of us wants dirty water or barren polluted land to dwell in.

First, we should be grateful that God gave us a beautiful place to live.  Is. 45:18 talks about how God formed it  and did not create it to be a worthless waste.  We could be living on the moon!  Yikes!

That said, creation is meant to be enjoyed.  It is not meant to be preserved separate from human touch.  It is not sacred in itself.  It is not to be worshipped.  (Ro. 1:25)

As good stewards, we can leave it better for our children and our grandchildren than it was when we received it.

More on respect tomorrow...

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Children don’t arrive with a manual in the glove box.  Sometimes I wish they would.  But God does give us the Bible with lots of instructions for parents.  Here’s some of the best advice I have received for parenting.

 #1 – Embrace the fact that God give life and therefore He gives parents the authority to do the job. 

Sometimes parents seem to be intimidated by the job of parenting.  They are more concerned about their children being mad at them (a given at some point!) than they are about training the child to do what is right and to be a good moral person.  You are not their buddy.  You are their parent.  They will have other friends through the years, but only one mom or dad.  And if you do a good job through the years, you’ll get the opportunity to be adult friends when they grow up!

Deuteronomy 4:9-10
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

#2 – Embrace the responsibility of parenting.

God gave you the job, even though He knew you wouldn’t do it perfectly.  My husband and I apologized to our oldest child when he was about 12.  We told him we were learning to parent with him as our guinea pig, and were doing the best we knew how.  (Thankfully, we can say he turned out great!)

Be intentional in your parenting.  Don’t wait for a problem and then react, but set goals for character and spiritual growth.  Choose skills to be learned and chart a course for teaching them.  Build on each child’s strengths and gifts, and help them work on their weaknesses. 

Don’t react to situations that arise out of your being embarrassed or when something personally offends you.  Stop to think about the principles you are training into your children.  Correct them for their own good and growth, not your personal satisfaction.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Proverbs 22:6

Children don’t turn out well on their own.  (Proverbs 29:15)  Society has taught that we should expose our children to all kinds of ideas and then let them choose.  NO WAY!  Pour into them the principles that apply to life, teach them the moral reason why, and train them up to a solid standard of behavior.  In the heat of the moment when they are angry, you want them to remember there is a standard of what is acceptable and good.

Proverbs 29:17 

Don’t let the child lead.  Even if they are smart or gifted, they are not all-wise or great in experience.  Some parents let their child do anything they want, and then correct behavior as necessary.  This is a bit like telling them they can do no wrong.  They’ll be surprised when society does not agree.  (This was actually cited as a concern for the two young men who perpetrated the Columbine massacre.)  Teach them to embrace and cultivate their gifts, but also to struggle against their weaknesses.  They’ll thank you for it someday.

Proverbs 26:12

Don’t let them be independent too young.  Give freedom commensurate with ability and demonstrated responsibility.  Kids with too much independence at a young age will rebel against restrictions placed on them later.  They actually become “wise in their own eyes”. (Prov.)  Notice, I did not say truly wise, but just that they think they are.  Think of a graphed line that shows responsibility / freedom at “0” at birth and at 100% at adulthood.  Your control should start at 100% at birth and diminish to “0” by adulthood.  Midway (around 12 or 13 if the child is responsive) the two lines should cross and be about half-and-half.

#3 – Embrace the hard work of parenting. 

Face it.  Children will not misbehave or have an emotional meltdown only when you are rested and ready.  Parenting means you are still on duty when you’d rather be doing something else like when you’re sick or when you need a nap.

Realize that some days will not go well.  Get back up from a spouse.  Tag team with a grandparent.  Declare amnesty for the offenders and go out for pizza once in awhile.  Give yourself permission on those bad days to do nothing but deal with kid-issues.  The house may be a wreck, but everyone is alive to try again another day.

Take respites.  Make sure you have time alone or get-aways for date nights and fun times.  All work and no play makes mommy a grumpy person.  Schedule and guard that time.  It should be 2-4 hours each week with other adults or by yourself.  Mommy burnout is a real possibility.  And it’s ugly!

#4 – Don’t parent out of fear.

You may have bad experiences from your childhood, perhaps even an abusive parent.  Don’t let that stop you from being active in your parenting.  Some folks are paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing, so they do nothing.  That leaves they child in a bad place, without guidance and protection from their own whims and willfulness.

Tomorrow – what to train into your child, not just train out of him / her.

Thursday, February 2, 2012



Years ago my way of cleaning was to let things pile up until I couldn’t stand them.  Or I would let things go, then clean like mad when we were going to have company.  You know how it goes.  It’s like when people tend to fix up their home only when they plan to sell it.

One day the Lord convicted me of that, telling me that if it was good enough for my family, it was good enough for anyone else.  They were as important (or MORE important) than anyone else who might come to our home.

I had to rearrange my thinking.  What was good enough for my family?  What message was I sending to my children about their worth?  It was time to raise the bar.  My goal was not to just get by, but to create a place that was orderly and peaceful.  I wanted to send subliminal messages that they were cared for and loved. 

Making sure the daily “Basics” were faithfully done and that there was healthy well-balanced cooking in the works spoke volumes.  Limiting clutter, making sure surface (counters, tables, floors) were clean said this is a safe place for you to grow and to bring your friends.

I made the front living room off limits to toys.  I could welcome guests without having to apologize for clutter.  Toys were okay in the family room, but we had a “toy break” clean up time twice a day.  One set of toys had to be picked up before the next round brought out.

I had to analyze what was piling up.  Did that stuff have a home?  If I found myself moving a stack from here to there and then to somewhere else, did it have a place?  The old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place” applies.  It needed a bin, a drawer, a hook, or somewhere where everyone knew it belonged. 

Having a box or bag in the garage or bottom of the coat closet designated for charity took care of a few things that tended to pile up in bedrooms and the laundry room.

You probably don’t qualify for those scary TV shows about hoarders and people who don’t clean out their refrigerators, but you can set a standard of cleanliness that makes your home the place to be.  Send your family a message:  “You are WORTH ‘company clean’.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



There are still a few chores that aren’t on our list, things like washing windows and cleaning baseboards.  I like to treat these as projects to be done each spring and fall.

Wash windows (I love mild soapy water and a squeegee for this!) 

        Clean baseboards, banisters, and tops of door frames 

        Dust books and book shelves 

        Vacuum behind refrigerators and freezers 

        Clean oven 

        Clean out pantry shelves 

        Have carpets cleaned professionally (2-4 times per year)

        Tidy and sweep out garage 

        Touch-up paint throughout house

        Wash blinds and/or drapes

        Change furnace filters (every other month or so)

        Flip mattresses

Pick one Saturday per month for one of these projects.  Don’t give up all your Saturdays for them.  Don’t let them haunt you or make you feel guilty.  Work them into your calendar.

When you notice something that needs to be cleaned (like the chandeliers or light fixtures), put it on that rotating list for that one project day.  Don’t beat yourself up about it being dirty.  This stuff has to be done in everyone’s house.  Trees lose their leaves, birds lose their feathers.  It’s the second law of thermodynamics.  Things proceed from a state of lesser to greater disorder.  It even happens in the universe.

Then you can sit back and relax on your deck or at your fireplace, enjoying your lovely, orderly home.

Saturday, January 28, 2012



As we look at those chores on the Weekly Rotation, there are some ways to save time and effort – working smarter, not harder.

Tip #1 – Laundry
A friend called mine “The Laundry Dragon” once.  The name stuck!  Start slaying your Laundry Dragon by understanding fabric content and how to handle them.  Read labels.  Follow directions.  Treat acrylics and nylon gently.  Don’t cheat and throw everything in together.  The fabric won’t last as long and you’ll be replacing those great sweaters!

Use good detergent and stain removers.  I like TriZyme or Biz as an additive. They contain organic enzymes that break down food stains and even lipstick.  I seldom have to pre-treat collars or stains.  Everything comes clean.  Once in awhile I use a prewash spray for something stubborn.  Check stains before they go into the dryer and get set in with heat.  I’m proud of my family looking clean and sharp.  And they don’t have to feel self-conscious or embarrassed because of tacky clothes.

Use good tools for stacking and sorting laundry.  I have a divided hamper for dirty laundry.  A full section is a full load of colors, darks or delicates.  For clean laundry I LOVE those stackable bins that are open on the front.  With one for each family member, I toss their clean items in for them to come and get each day.  I mate socks as they come out of the dryer.  Strays go into a small basket on a shelf, and I mate those once in awhile.  (When the kids were younger, one of the kids had the chore of mating 3 pairs every day from this basket.  J)  Recently I found these bins for under $5 each at my local Wal-mart.  Get the size that holds several pairs of jeans and T-shirts.  They are often used for potato bins.

Hang most outer clothing on hangers as soon as the dryer stops.  If you missed the buzzer, put a damp towel in (and a dryer sheet) and run it again for 10 minutes.  I don’t iron many items, and most are ready to wear this way.  If you don’t have enough hangers, pick up a few from the dollar store.  If your laundry room doesn’t have a rod for these items, you can get a hook or arm that hangs over the door.

Set aside things that need to be mended.  Don’t put them back in the closets or drawers unless they are ready to wear.

Tip #2 – Tools
You don’t find carpenters pounding nails with a rock.  Don’t try to do housework with poor tools.  Buy the best vacuum within your budget.    Price is not necessarily a measure of what’s best.  It doesn’t have to double as a food processor or carpet shampooer.  Make sure it is easy to get up and down stairs, that it has a hose for edging and getting under coffee tables, that the bags or canisters empty easily and hold enough for more than a room or two.  Pay attention to how much power it has and how easy it is to retrieve legos and small toys from inside it.

Keep a spray bottle of disinfectant cleaner under each bathroom sink and in the kitchen.  Have plenty of rags (without using your good towels).  Have a toilet bowl brush and cleaner in each bathroom.  These are not expensive, but you’ll find it easier to give it a quick swish if you don’t have to trudge downstairs to the other bathroom to get the tools.

If your dishwasher is doing a crummy job, check to see if it has a filter that needs to be cleaned out.  You shouldn’t have to prewash the dishes for them to come clean.

Stop and think about what is frustrating you or creating an obstacle to doing your weekly chores.  Find a way to make that chore easier, faster, less of a burden.  Work smarter, not harder!

Keep carpet spot cleaner and a rag under the kitchen sink especially if you have children.  We have a lot of company, and it keeps me from being stressed when something gets spilled.  I just jump up and grab the red spray bottle.  (I’m actually more surprised if company comes and goes and we DON’T need it!)

Keep a roll of trash bags that fit the trash can under the bathroom sinks or in the rooms where you will need them.  Leave one or two in the bottom of the trashcan.  Maybe the person who takes the trash out will take time to put the new one in place.  Or maybe not.  Oh well, at least it’s handy.

Tip #3 – The Timer
The Timer is your friend!  Don’t dawdle through chores all day long.  If you find yourself stalled, set a time for one chore, then another.  Turn up the music, and get it done.  Set a limit for total chores then go do something fun or worthwhile.  Charities need volunteers, friends need encouragement.  Don’t be a slave to housework.  J

Tip #4 – Grocery Shopping
Use a divided grocery list that matches the aisles and sections of the grocery store you prefer.  (I like the one that comes with my Covey planner.)  With produce, meat, frozen, and canned goods grouped together, you can get in and get out more quickly. 

Build your grocery list from a menu saves money and time.  Deciding what to make as you are going down the aisle leave you to the mercy of slick marketing.  A little planning ahead will help you eat healthier and avoid the danger of buying too much when you are hungry.  I try really hard to stick to my list and ignore the call of impulse buying.

Next time – Major Projects and Spring Cleaning