Thursday, April 29

Friendships. . . a week and a day late

Well, I must admit, I dropped the ball. I was suppose to write last Wednesday and here we are a week and a day later and I am just getting to it now. Does it help that I have a good excuse? I was with my friends. Twice a year a group of friends and I head up north for a weekend of scrapbooking. I absolutely love scrapbooking, but I love getting away with my friends even more. It is a time to leave the to-do lists at home and relax together. I once read a quote that went something like this:

"The most useless day is that in which we have not laughed."

I think that is what I enjoy most about my weekends away with my friends. We laugh. Sometimes because we share stories about our children, sometimes because we are reading other people's blogs and sometimes just because we are so tired everything seems funny. No matter the reason, I always feel better after a good laugh. So as I am back into the daily grind this week, I am grateful as I think back to last weekend and the time I was able to spend laughing with my friends.

Tuesday, April 20


Life is all about relationships...with God and with others.

When building friendships, the Bible says it best: "She who walks with the wise, grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

You are who you hang out with. I have reaped the consequences of this truth in my life. I used to hang onto friendships because of convenience or habit. I didn't see the need to break off a relationship with anyone because I thought the more friends I had, the better. When I saw that I was becoming who I was hanging out with...and not liking that result, I became more discerning in who I spent time with.

I have had to scrutinize my friendships to see if who I was investing time in was really a friend who was encouraging me in my relationship with the Lord. Was she encouraging me in my relationship with my husband? Was she really a woman of character and not just appearance?

"Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are." I like to ponder this thought every year around my birthday. When I hear from my friends thru cards and calls, I am anxious for the future, hoping to become a better person because they are encouraging me by being who they are.

Monday, April 19

Better With Age

Know what gets better with age?


This week I am distracted by my friends. I intended to write more about friendship, but I have been sharing my days with friends instead of sitting behind a computer! This is my birthday week and I am continually humbled and thrilled to hear from my friends each time my birthday rolls around. Cards, calls, lunches, happy Birthday Wishes...all remind me of how special my friends are.

I have kept a journal about friendships over the years. It's not as complete as I would have liked it to be by now, but I wrote down thoughts and quotes that helped me through difficult relationships and helped me work on the friendships that I cherished.

Here are just a few of my thoughts:

"Living without sharing one's life is a wasted life"

"If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances thru life he will soon find himself alone. A man, sir, must keep his friendships in constant repair." (Samuel Johnson)

"Friendship is shared area. If there is no simultaneous, glad sharing of the same space, there is no friendship.
If there is no stuff enthusiastically held in common, the best you can hope for is acquaintance.
If there is no over-lapping of interests, there is no foundation for friendship."

Saturday, April 17

a few more ideas. . .

Today I thought I would share few more ways that I maintenance clean.

I must admit that I am very fortunate that my husband’s father was quite the stickler when it came to training his three kids to clean and I am reaping the benefits (one more piece of evidence that cleaning can be taught). My husband is very good about putting his dirty clothes down the chute and taking his shoes off at the door, but probably the one thing I am most thankful for is that his father taught him to wipe off the toilet seat and put down the seat when he was done . . .can you believe that?! So you moms out there with little boys, start teaching now. That act alone keeps my bathroom so much cleaner then the average household.

The next piece of advice for maintenance cleaning I have is one I have just started implementing in the last few weeks (cleaning and organizing is ever-changing due to the seasons of life we are in. My advice is if something is not working for you, change it. There is no right or wrong way to clean and organize). As my girls are getting older, we are involved in more things so there are times when they may be playing with things, and we do not have the time needed to clean up like we should. After a few days of messes added to messes, I decided something needed to change. I went out and purchased three-square baskets with cute pink gingham liners. I placed one in Maddie’s room, one in Abigail’s room and one in the hallway (the basket in the hall is more for Jeff. He places items he does not know which girl it goes to, and I go through that one and place the toys in the right girl’s basket). If we do not have time to put something away or Jeff or I find something around the house, we put that in the appropriate basket. One of the girls' jobs every morning is to empty their baskets. This has solved a huge problem for me and it was really so simple. The baskets are not so large that they will become unmanageable, but it gives us a place to put stuff when there is just not time to put it away right. It is a way to keep the house looking put-together but giving us a way to be flexible when we are in a time crunch.

The last bit of advice I will share today is to keep your cleaning supplies in each bathroom. I know it may seem a little excessive, but it makes cleaning so much easier when you can just open the cabinet door and find all the things you need to clean that bathroom. It also makes small pick-ups in-between cleaning easier because it is all at your fingertips.

I hope that a few of these tips will help some of you start to think about cleaning in a new way. Maintenance cleaning makes my life so much easier. I hope it will make yours as well. Happy spring cleaning!

Thursday, April 15

Maintenance cleaning

I love cleaning and organizing . . . I always have. I love the feeling I get when I take the time to clean out a closet or drawer and put it all back together . . . organized. I love it! But I must admit when Barb asked me to share on spring-cleaning I realized I am at a loss. I do not think I have ever done a top to bottom cleaning of any house I have ever lived in (other than when I first moved in) and I never remember my mom doing it either. After thinking it through, I realized that I am a maintenance cleaner, not a once a year cleaner. Basically the thought of cleaning a house from top to bottom is so overwhelming to me, a natural born cleaner, that I can only imagine how the rest of you feel. So today, I am going to share my ideas of spring-cleaning, which is really my everyday kind of cleaning.

I am the kind of cleaner that cleans as I go throughout my day (I do deeper cleaning twice a month, like clean the toilets, scrub the floors etc. but my maintenance cleaning really helps make those cleaning days much easier). Maintenance cleaning takes some practice, but is well worth the effort. I know it can be taught because I am teaching my daughters, one of whom is born like me and the other who is not. Yet they are both learning to clean as they go.

For example, after breakfast my daughters bring their dishes to the sink and put away any milk and cereal boxes right after they are done. I place all dishes in the dishwasher as I use them. Even while I am making a meal, I will stop to place the dirty dishes in the dishwasher before I continue. It is much easier to clean out a just-used pot than one that has been sitting there throughout the meal or overnight. I have found that most cleaning jobs that seem like they would take so long to clean actually only take a fraction of the time and are much easier to finish than if I would have waited. Let me share an example from my girls. If they are playing with their toys and have made a huge mess and I don’t make them clean up after they are done, when I make them come back later the mess seems overwhelming. But if I tell them they need to clean up that mess before making another, they may not always be happy about it, but I get less complaining because they are looking forward to playing with the new toys and are more likely to clean up quickly so they can get onto playing. . .does that make sense?

Another thing my girls are learning is that when they get out of bed, the first thing they do is turn around and make their beds. It takes all of two seconds but makes their rooms look significantly more picked up by just doing that one thing.

I also put a load of laundry in the washer first thing in the morning, then change it after I shower slightly later in the morning. If I do a little laundry every day, it does not become overwhelming and stains don’t set in!

We are also teaching our girls to rinse out the sink after brushing their teeth and wiping down the counter after they are done. I would much prefer to wash an extra towel everyday and have a clean bathroom as opposed to cleaning dried-on toothpaste every week.

I will admit that my way of cleaning takes more time to set up in the beginning, but once the routines are set, the whole family is involved in keeping your house clean . . .not just you. I also think there is great value in teaching our children daily to take care of those things that they are blessed with. God has given us so much and I think I have a responsibility to teach my child to value and honor those blessings by keeping them clean. I know that cleaning often gets put to the back burner, but I would encourage you to take another look at maintenance cleaning and slowly bring your home back into order on a daily basis . . . happy cleaning!

Wednesday, April 14

my favorite cleaning tool. . .

I am going to cheat a little on today’s post. I am suppose to share about spring cleaning. . .and I will tomorrow. . .but today I just have to share my favorite cleaning tool. I love it so much it deserves it’s own day on the blog. First, you need a little background.

I have hardwood floors throughout my home as well as I am an “on your hands and knees” kind of cleaner. So those two going hand in hand made for tough days spent cleaning on my knees. I must also admit that I love infomercials. I love watching them and I am always blown away by what they say a particular item can do for me. I do not often succumb, only because if it looks too good to be true, it is usually too good to be true. But for some reason this particular product always intrigued me and I told myself that one day I would try it. Well, two Christmases ago I found one on sale at Kohl’s and had another 30% off so I splurged. (Kohl’s also has an unbelievable return policy so if it didn’t do all the infomercial said it would, I could always return it). I think this could hands down be the best purchase I have every made. . .

my Shark steam mop!

They have since made improvements to the newer models, but there is nothing wrong with the older models. I loved mine so much I talked my mom into buying one. She bought the less expensive one, and it works the same, the cord is just shorter and I much prefer the longer cord so I do no need to keep unplugging and re-plugging it. This mop has shortened and improved my cleaning time more than words can describe. Once I sweep the floors, I zip around with this mop (which heats up within seconds) and it cleans and sanitizes my whole main floor in minutes. The hot steam gets up anything that may be under the kitchen table as well as sanitizes my whole floor-I love that!

So if you are in the market for a new mop, take a look at this one. It usually comes with a few different pads so you could also use it in the bathroom with a different pad. I have chosen to still clean the bathrooms the old fashion way, on my hands and knees, just because I think it would be hard to really get around the toilet to get it really clean, but remember that’s just me. Hopefully this little bit of advice will help a few of you struggling to find a way to keep the floors clean without breaking your back or knees. . .happy mopping!

Tuesday, April 13

Spring cleaning?

Cleaning and organizing....a topic that I love but have an ongoing, personal struggle trying to achieve!

These days it seems that I can barely maintain my regular cleaning, much less extra in-depth spring cleaning. In the past (read pre-kids) I would go through clothes, and try to organize closets and drawers in the spring.

With two little ones, I find I can hardly get my clothes from the laundry basket to the closet so the thought of 'spring cleaning' seems overwhelming to be honest.

Throughout the years, I have grown so grateful for friends who are willing to help me clean and organize. I have a friend who loves organizing and she has given of her time on multiple occasions to help me with my cupboards and drawers. What a gift she has and what a blessing to me!

I have another friend who is trading 'services' with me and she will soon be coming to help me with an organizing project in my home.

If you have friends with young children, consider taking turns watching each others children so you can get some spring cleaning done around the home.

If you have the gift of cleaning or organizing and know someone who could benefit from that, might I suggest you offer your services? It's a great time to connect and catch up, while being productive. What a blessing you would be to a friend in need.

Or, if you're like me, and can benefit from the help of others, don't be shy. Ask for help when you need it and don't rob others of the chance to bless you!

Monday, April 12

True Confession!

I don't ever remember really Spring Cleaning my house. Not from top to bottom.

Do you young moms clean your home these days top to bottom?

Turn your mattresses
Wipe the base boards
Wash windows
Pack away your winter clothes
Bring out the spring clothes
Give away the small and tattered items
Make a list of what needs to be bought for the summer season
Put on new bedding...lighter for summer
Clean out all the drawers and vacuum out the corners
...need I say more?

It sure sounds like it would be nice to get the house all in order, but LIFE happens and I always was glad I just was able to get a few necessities done.

I asked myself 3 simple questions as I wandered thru my house looking at the toys, books, clothes, furnishings, etc. deciding what I needed to purge:

1. Is is useful?
2. Is it beautiful?
3. Is it meaningful?

If I was itching to clean things out of my house, I would scrutinize an item with these questions. If the item didn't fit into one of these categories, I would pass the item on to someone else, hoping they would find it to be useful, beautiful or meaningful in their home.

Well, it's spring again! Hallelujah, but I am still not going to be cleaning my home from top to bottom this year. I don't have little kids under foot, but I do have LIFE to deal with. So I am off to put a few things to the '3-question test' and see if that doesn't make my home FEEL alittle cleaner:)

Friday, April 9

Quick Question about Margin

Is Margin all about having more time?

Absolutely not.

Probably an even harder area to find Margin in is in the area of finances. If we we have trouble trusting God with our time...trusting Him with our money is even harder.

Just as time management isn't the answer to balancing our time, income isn't the issue when it comes to money matters:

It's life-style

Most of us want a life style that equals or surpasses our income. It's innate, in Americans at least, that 'my money is mine to spend'. Our time is often viewed that way as well. That attitude robs us of Margin because we pile on wants and then we busily have to maintain that life-style.
Our hearts desire more.

Remember in earlier postings I said that Margin was the left-overs. The extra. Wouldn't that be great to have 'left-over' money at the end of every week? Intentionally looking at our life-style when it comes to our time and money may be the first step to finding Margin in your life.

Margin in our time and in our money will give us the freedom we need to give to others and begin building true relationships.

Thursday, April 8

Get Rhythm

I've shared with you over the last few days about Margin and Rhythm. Have you thought about your own life in relation to these 2 words?

I have found I need Margin in my life in order to develop Rhythm for the season I am in. Find some Margin in your life and then consider the following:

Determine what season you are in right now. Ask yourself what you can ONLY do in this season? Then do it to the Max. Watch your expectations. We don't always tell ourselves the truth. Rhythm comes when you are not driven by guilt but by recognizing where you are today.

Make the most of the opportunities you have for the season you are in. Invest. Serve. Seize the day. Esther is a great example of a woman who developed rhythm and lived each day to the max. She asked herself if she was where she was because of "such a time as this." She realized she was placed in a precarious season that could mean life or death. She saw what she had to do and she made the most of each day.

Live with absolute confidence that God is in control. "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6
God will carry you on! Anticipate the next season as you see the lessons you are learning today.

Why all this bother about Margin and Rhythm? Because life is more than just accomplishing tasks or achieving recognition. Life is about Relationships in each season we find ourselves in. Relationships cannot be developed and nurtured without margin and rhythm in a life.

Wednesday, April 7


For so many years, I tried to achieve balance in my life. That seemed to be the goal in making a life work.
Balance always seemed elusive though. When one area of my life was under control, another area was reeling into no-man's land. I longed to be able to bring my spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc areas of my life in perfect harmony. It took me way too long to realize that that wasn't going to happen.

When I stopped to look at my life from the vantage point that I moved in 'seasons' through life, I began to focus on rhythm rather than balance.

Seasons have rhythm to them. Bears hibernate; trees lose their leaves; flowers bloom. Our bodies have rhythm...our hearts beat; our sleep cycles; our hair grows.

When I see myself living in a 'season', I need to see what is required of that season for me to get into its rhythm and make the most of that season.

Do I recognize the season I am in and what God is teaching me or do I just endure it as a 'season', hoping the next season will bring me more joy or balance?

Seasons have shaped me. There is a beginning and an end to every season. That is what Solomon talks about in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. I haven't always been able to choose the season I was experiencing, but I could choose how I responded to the season I found myself in. There were seasons that I didn't move through too quickly because apparently God wanted me to see the value of that season. I needed to get into the rhythm of how life was unfolding and begin to enjoy it rather than just enjure it.

Each season, each rhythm has changed me. I was well on my way in life before I realized that each rhythm was actually preparing me for the next season.

Life cycles, it has rhythm. Birthdays, graduations, divorce, job loss, sickness, babies are born, family members die. As time goes; seasons come...a rhythm is to be found and seasons go.

A wise woman looks at the 'season' she is in...and she finds rhythm. Rhythm that God gives her to make the most of every opportunity.

Tuesday, April 6


Live a life that allows room for error.

Isn't that a novel concept? Everyone is so busy striving for excellence, we never consider making room for 'error' in our lives.

Margin allows room for error in my life.

Margin gives me room to breathe and evaluate what I am doing and gives me time to self-correct and get back on track if necessary. It gives me time to relax and enjoy!

Most of us have overloaded lives. We rush to do the urgent and often neglect the important relationships in our lives.

Here's a good exercise to reflect on:

A person who lives to be 75 years old, will experience 3900 weekends.
Find a jar and put 3900 marbles in a jar. Take out one marble each week...put it in another jar and see how quickly time passes.
You can't put the marble back into the first jar once another week is done. Time can and is used up everyday.

This could be a powerful object lesson to reflect upon each week.

Margin keeps me from getting overloaded and making the most of each week.

Eph 5:15 says we are to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity.
What is the wise thing to do?
Love God
Love Others

Life is all about relationships. Margin is necessary to make these relationships real.

The obvious question then is how do we build Margin into our lives if they are overloaded already?

That's where I've found the next word helps keep me on track...Rhythm. I'll share about that tomorrow.

Monday, April 5

Two Words

Betsy is spending this week with her family and Heidi is busy packing for a move, so I am going to share the next few days about 2 words that I have learned alot about over the years...mostly the hard way! The 2 words are Margin and Rhythm.

These 2 words are powerful reminders to me as I live each day, I hope I can communicate in this blog how I have implemented them in my life.

Richard Swenson wrote a book entitiled, "Margin: How to Create the Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserve You Need." It's a great book. I'm not sure what I share this week is directly from this book but I hope to share how Margin has worked in my life.

What is Margin?

Margin is the extra.

Margin is the left-over.

Margin is the space between performance and our breaking point.

We all need margin. A life without margin can be destructive;
Stress levels increase.
Focus becomes all about me.
Relationships suffer.

I used to think that the more that I could fit into my days (and nights) the better. I thought multi-tasking was a virtue but as I multi-tasked...the more margin I used up. The result was more stress, a self-absorbed focus and relationships that faltered.

Fear was the reason I kept moving and doing. I was fearful I would miss out. I was seeking approval in all the wrong places. I couldn't afford to have margin in my life, I had too much to do.

Sound familiar? I've got to believe all women have eaten up the margin in their lives at some point. We are just wired that way. Do, do, do. Serve, serve, serve. Run, run, run.

Margin Living is intentional living.

What I have found is that to build margin into my life, I have to TRUST. It's an issue of TRUST more than anything else. Will I trust God to fill in where I can't perform? Will I turn my days over to Him? Or will I seek to control it all myself?

As my Margin goes....God goes.

Friday, April 2


I have loved reading the posts from Betsy this week. Believe me, I am constantly inspired by her creativity and commitment in mothering well. I also love that she really uses these tools to point to Jesus. She isn't just the creator of all things cute...she has a deeper desire to have her kids know who Jesus is. That makes a for a really wonderful woman to be around and learn from.

We have not done anything "Eastery" this week. We are moving in a week and a half and I am surrounded my boxes. Both of my girls are sick and I am really praying that they are better before Easter. I have a couple baskets with special things inside for them but that is pretty much it. Looking at the sick faces of both of my girls, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that we may miss our church celebration on Easter and it makes me sad. However, it really is showing me what I can value most on Easter. I can value the adorable Easter dresses or egg hunts. But it isn't about that at all. Easter is a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The RESURRECTION of Jesus! Today, on Good Friday we remember that God gave his only Son to die a horrible death. Can you imagine that kind of love???? I would die for my children but I would not give their life up for another person. My mind cannot fathom the love He has for me. What wondrous love! And then on Easter morning we will proclaim that Christ has risen. He conquered death! He made it possible for me to live this life with a relationship with my creator. The one who knows my every thought before it is even spoken. The one who has numbered all of my days.

I may celebrate Easter at home this year but we will be celebrating the most precious gift given...our salvation. And believe me...I CANNOT wait for the day that I will hear my sweet girls proclaim, "He HAS RISEN!"

Thursday, April 1

Check out this fabulous idea for Easter: