Let’s Be Hot Messes Together

matthew 23-26

It would be foolish to clean the outside of a dirty bowl and call it clean. {Matthew 23:25-28}

Yet it’s the same thing to clean up the outside of our lives and put on fronts, calling ourselves put together when our insides are a hot mess.

Every day I feel pressure to look put together in every area. I feel it from the outside world, but if I’m honest, even more from myself. It leads me to try my hardest to trick myself into thinking I have it all together so that I can put forth that vibe. It keeps me from sharing what’s really going on because if I don’t know your junk, why would I tell you mine?

As I’ve given more thought to my to do and to be lists, I’ve realized that my need to accomplish so many to do’s is closely tied to making myself feel tied together on the inside. Really, there are a lot of loose ends inside. Pride, jealousy, anger…there’s a part of me that believes if I control the outside of my life, then the inside will be set. But if that’s the case, I’m just addressing the symptoms, not the problem. Granted, making strides to change the symptoms will likely lead to {slow} changes on the inside. But the effective, more lasting route, is to deal with the junk on the inside. This is what is lasting; it will result in greater changes in my life than the quick fix.

So friends, I just want you to know that on the inside, things are a mess. But by the grace of God, He is untangling them and redeeming them for His glory. I’m begging Him to hurry up and make me more like Him- or at least let me get out of His way more often. But I know He is faithful and will complete what He started. I know I’m blessed to have people who are ok with that and don’t expect me to have it all together.

I want to be better at showing that sort of grace. Can we be honest hot messes together? Spilling what’s really going on and not wallowing in it, but encouraging and loving one another out of our junk? Let’s link arms and be reflections of Christ’s grace to each other.

How To Fake A Clean House

Weekly Tasks

My house is {almost} always 15 minutes away from looking clean. Four tips I’ve gathered over the years that {almost} never fail to make my house look cleaner than it is:

  1. Spend 15 minutes a day picking up. 
  2. Never waste a trip.
  3. Automate a cleaning schedule.
  4. Target the dead-giveaway-spots.

I’ve got to throw that ‘almost’ caveat in there because if you really live in your home, it won’t always be clean. But you sure can fake it!

Back to the tips:

Tip 1: If your house is basically picked up, it looks cleaner than it is. Guaran-stinkin-teed. 

Tip 2: Double your effectiveness by utilizing the time you’re walking around to put things away. Going to the bedroom? Take something with you that needs to be put back.

Tip 3: Break down the main weekly chores {mine are the kitchen, bathrooms, dusting, and floors,} and assign them each a day. {I use my google calendar so the tasks automatically pop up each week, but sometimes I just like to use pretty paper, so I also made myself a little chore chart.} Depending on the size of your house, you’ll probably spend an hour or less cleaning a day- and if it’s automated, you save time and brain space!

Tip 4: If someone is coming over, hit the tell-tale spots: mirrors, kitchen counter, sinks, and empty the guest bathroom trash. Voila! Fake clean complete.

Now that I shared all my secrets, you have to promise not to look too closely if you come over, ok? Now do me a favor and let me in on your faking-a-clean-house tips, too!

PS If you want a pretty chore chart, too, you can download mine here: GTR Weekly Tasks.

I May or May Not Be Becoming A Crazy Health Nut

In Defense of Food

Image Credit

Have you ever thought about what you eat?

I honestly didn’t until we got married and I began to cook more.

At the beginning it wasn’t very often; I was mostly trying not to burn anything and come up with things that my husband would like. I also was a little like an ostrich, my head buried in the ground- knowing I should consider these things but fearing that what I learned would turn me into a crazy health nut.

And then I read 7. There was something intriguing about Jen eating only 7 foods for a month. It was a simple premise, yet the benefits she explained made me curious. After that, I read In Defense of Food, by Michael Polland.

Michael gives away the premise on the front of his book: eat food, mostly plants, not too much. He opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking and eating.

I realized that I’d been gliding on autopilot, eating small portions of whatever I wanted and that I’d never thought about how much processed “food” was going into my body. (And it was labeled ‘healthy’ or ‘low fat!’)

What we call ‘food’ is not necessarily food. Michael gives easy-to-implement guidelines for more thoughtful eating, but the one I feel sums it up best is, ‘Don’t eat anything your great grandma wouldn’t recognize.’ Meaning? Avoid products containing ingredients that are unpronounceable, unfamiliar, more than 5 in number or include high fructose corn syrup.

I’m not chained to this, but I try to frame our food in light of that. And holy cannoli err…holy broccoli, has it made a difference!

When we eat closer to these guidelines, we have more energy, our skin is clearer, and we feel better in general. Honestly, as we eat more good foods, we want more of them. Fast food has lost most of it’s luster and my raging sweet tooth has calmed. {Is there a pig flying somewhere?}

So far, I haven’t done anything too crazy, like buying chickens {our hoa would kill us}, but a few changes like

  • adding more veggies and fruits into our diet;
  • canning our own salsa;
  • and planting herbs and baby tomatoes,

make me feel like I’m becoming a better manager of my family’s food. One day I hope to have a big garden, a freezer to hold the produce, or maybe join a CSA (right now there aren’t any close to us). The investigation is slow, and for some reason even though I know these things are good and should be implemented, sometimes it’s just so dang difficult to follow through.

I keep seeing and hearing more on the subject, so I’m curious about how other families are responding.

Are you a food investigator? Is it hard to implement better eating habits even when you know the results are what you want? Are there any books you’ve read on the subject that you would recommend?

A Questionable Mustache

i mustache you a question

I want to be a questioner. A learner.

To be those things, I must ask questions.

It’s far too easy to stay proud, stuck in a rut or comfort zone, straining to recreate the wheel.

But why? That’s foolish.

Too often I think of things I want to do but don’t follow through. So this week, I started brainstorming a list of questions. Things I want to talk about with Troy, my friends, and people I come into contact with. And I picked one to ask.

Troy has to work late a lot. I often have meetings on the nights he doesn’t have clients in town, so we don’t get to see each other much right now. Supporting him in this is something I think I’ve gotten better at, but I have a long way to go. So I asked a wise friend whose husband is also busy a lot how she supports and encourages him. Her answers affirmed a few things and gave me some new ideas. It was encouraging and refreshing. And I’m looking forward to practicing those things and getting better at loving Troy in that way. All from a simple question.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ask some more questions and grow a mustache so it’s even more fun to do so. It’s a good look for me, no?

mustache love

Because I Heart Cleaning

spring cleaning gone wild

I love to spring clean my house. And by love I mean that I love the feeling I get afterward. The cleaning itself? Meh. But after? I feel like I can take on the world. And that my house is awesome. And I, by default, am awesome.

The last two years, I’ve spring cleaned {do me a favor and pretend that’s grammatically correct, mkay? Gratzi.}, organized, and simplified over a whole month to make it doable for my schedule.

My plan of attack:

{Days 1-14}

I organize room by room. I try to assign rooms that are quicker {like the living room} to a busier day, and more complicated rooms {the closet} to a weekend. I give myself two weeks so I can miss some days and not feel bad. Guilt over cleaning = lame. Plus, this is the most time-consuming part of the process. Small caveat: I wait until the end of the month, when our grocery stockpile is at it’s all-time low, to clean out the pantry. It’s all about working smarter, not harder- can I get an amen?

As I go, I make myself three piles:

  1. Keep {Be selective. Have a friend help with this list if you tend to hoard.}
  2. Donate {Give things your family doesn’t need or use to an organization that will give them to a family who will.}
  3. Trash {Get rid of things you wouldn’t give to anyone. Read: ratty, old underwear. Eww.}

I sort through items as I take everything off the shelves. I wipe them, then thoughtfully rearrange as I put everything I’m keeping back. {By thoughtful, I mean I ask questions like, “Do I need to move something I use frequently to a better place?” And, “Are there any small changes that would save time or make life easier?”}

Along with that, I make myself a list of ‘to do’s’ and ‘to buy’s:’

  • Sometimes my to do’s get accomplished right away. For example, I took a delicates bag and hung it on my laundry basket for socks. Now I throw the bag in the laundry and don’t lose socks. {Unless my dog eats them. Seriously. I can’t get him to stop.}
  • We also do a lot of ironing, so on my ‘to buy’ list went a fold-down ironing rack. Granted, I have a feeling this is on a dream ‘to buy’ list, but it may be less expensive than I think. It would sure save a lot of stubbed toes and dangerous ‘the-iron-almost-fell-and-slash-or-burnt-my-hand-off’ moments.

{Days 15-21}

I do my normal weekly cleaning routine, and finish up any extra rooms on the list. I also organize and back up my computer.

{Days 22-28}

I break down deep cleaning tasks: 

  • Cabinets & doors
  • Baseboards & molding
  • High places {vents, fans, etc.}
  • Furniture
  • Floors

Each task gets one day. Leaving margin for busy days is important for me; if I have a crazy day and don’t get to the item, allowing a ‘free’ day keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and giving up.

{Days 28-30}

I go back through my ‘to do’s’ and ‘to buy’s’ with a fine tooth comb. What is unnecessary? What is a priority? I plan out the lists, measure {no skipping this step allowed!}, and go shopping for needed items.

I’ve found this yearly tradition saves me time and money, because I improve the processes I have in place and things are less likely to get lost in the clutter.

Do you spring clean? How do you break it down to make it work for your schedule?