Thursday, April 28, 2011

{holy} cleaning

I started a little somethin' this week (first mentioned in my previous post).

31 Days to Clean is about the “why” and the vision and the heart for taking care of our homes.

The heart of our homes is not in the ability to keep it perfect at all costs; the heart of a home is love. We live in a thing, a non-eternal structure that needs to be maintained. The thing is worthless without the life we bring to it and through it. This book is about bringing life to the mundane in order to love well.
After each days reading, there are two challenges:
  • The Mary Challenge - Something you do that encourages/engages your heart
  • The Martha Challenge - Specific cleaning tasks
Two of my dear friends agreed to come along for the ride (oh, how I love me some accountability) and we are four days in and hitting on some really good stuff.

Plus, our homes are starting to sparkle.

So far we have covered why we clean, ways we can give life to others, ways we can give life to our homes, and how to create a "put your feet up" atmosphere. 

On the practical side we have cleaned out our fridges and freezers, dusted and shined the tops and outsides of our kitchen drawers and cabinets, and scoured our ovens and microwaves.

I believe everything is spiritual (i.e. holy exercise) and I love the connection between my heart (the Mary) and my hands (the Martha).

Take care of my home is so much more than just a list of a chores - it's a way for me to show love to my family, bring life into my home, and take care of the blessings God has entrusted me with. 

That, to me, is a game changer.

If you're looking for a way to add some perspective to your daily grind, this might be for you. You can join an on-line group challenge here starting May 1 or grab a few friends and work through it together.

Forgo perfection...choose life.


    Monday, April 25, 2011

    my {daily} life in bullet points

    What I've been up to (don't pretend like you weren't dying to know):
    • Running - I'm trying to train to run the River Bank 5K "fast(er)" and we've got a 10K on the calendar for June. I am officially saying crazy runner things like "After you run five, what's another mile or two?" and "I love to run." I'm using Hal Higdon's site as a guide.
    • 31 Days to Clean {Having a Martha House the Mary Way} - I found this devotional/e-book through my cousin Kristin and I convinced a couple of dear friends to commit to doing it with me over the course of the next 5 weeks or so. Each reading consists of two things: The Mary Challenge - Something you do that encourages/engages your heart; and The Martha Challenge – Specific cleaning tasks.
    • Purging, organizing, simplifying - right now I'm working on pricing garage sale stuff and now that it's all in one spot at the end of my basement I can't believe how clean/empty it looks down there. I am also enjoying extra cupboard, drawer and closet space upstairs. 
    • Trying out a new cookbook, The Stocked Kitchen - the authors spoke to our MOPS group but I missed that meeting. I've heard good things about it though so I'm going to give it a try. The idea is that you keep your kitchen stocked with the ingredients on their grocery list and then you are able to make any of the 300+ recipes in their cookbook. Spend less, stress less, waste less and enjoy cooking more (or so they say).
    • Taking pictures for my 365 blog - I wasn't sure if I could keep up with this when I started and there are days where it is a bit hard but for the most part it's easier than I thought it would be. When I look back at the past 253 days I am so so thankful that I started this journey. There are many moments, big and small, that I would not have captured without this blog and it's helped me to look a life from a different angle.
    • And the usual: wiping noses, paying bills, fixing Slinkys, chasing the baby around the neighborhood. driving to t-ball practice, forgetting to send in show & tell items.
    How about you? What have you been up to? 

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Walk for Water {2011}

    [Please excuse the retroactive blog post. I realized I never shared about 2011's Walk for Water, after blogging about it in both 2009 and 2010 and now in 2012. Here are some snapshots of our experience. You can learn more about Walk for Water and 20Liters here.]

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Spring Purging

    The smell of spring in the air and the annual neighborhood garage sale that is right around the corner is putting me in a purging mood. I've been working my way through bigger projects like the pantry and Ella's room but also through smaller ones like the junk drawer, my spice shelf and the dreaded Tupperware cupboard.

    My 12 Step Purging Process
    1. Empty everything out of the drawer/cupboard/closet. Every. Last. Thing. Trust me.
    2. Wipe, vacuum, wash, etc. Whatever you need to do to get the area clean.
    3. Decide if your space could benefit from any sort of organizing system. This doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Hunt around in your basement for small boxes, old coffee mugs, or baskets and put them to work. Or, take your earnings from your last garage or Craigslist sale and buy yourself something cute from Target (for smaller containers the dollar store is a good place to look too).
    4. Start by putting back your absolute keeps - things you use on a daily/weekly basis.
    5. Make a No Way Jose pile.
    6. Make a maybe pile...sentimental items, duplicates, things you are having a hard time parting with for whatever reason.
    7. Make a keep...but-needs-a-new-home-within-your-home pile.
    8. Take a deep breath. Be honest. If you don't use it, remove it from the space. Even if you spent a lot of money on it. Even if your grandma gave it to you. Even if someday you might need four soup ladles but right now you only need one. Someone else out there will need/want/be super excited about that item. It's OK for it to find a better home.
    9. If you fall into the indecisive/bad-at-decision-making category I give you permission to stash all the no and maybe items out of sight for a certain period of time (maybe a month? but no longer!) and once you realize you don't need or miss them, then you can donate/sell the items. It's like a get-rid-of grace period.
    10. Open up your edited drawer/cupboard/closet and smile. Close. Open. Smile. Repeat as necessary.
    11. Remember that less really is more! The less stuff you have, the less you have to manage your stuff, think about your stuff, take care of your stuff. Plus, your stuff actually fits in the space God has given you and you can see what you have at a glance. Freedom. Breathing room. (Amazing how all the stuff we own starts to own us after a while.)
    12. Toss, donate, and sell all the no-go's. Take the needs-a-new-home pile and actually put the items in their new spots.
    The key is to empty everything out first - this forces you to really take a hard look at everything and it takes activity on your part to put things back. The other key is just to S-T-A-R-T!

    Start small. Baby steps. Maybe a drawer this weekend, a cupboard next, and when you really start to get the hang of it you can tackle the garage. Just kidding. Don't do that.

    I've made it most of the way through my kitchen and I realized the other day I have a drawer that is completely empty. I don't have the world's largest kitchen by any means and this has never been a problem before. No idea what to do with it.

    I might just leave it empty.

    Because I can. 

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    {holy} exercise

    In January I tried yoga for the first time. I signed up because of a Living Social deal and because I figured variety was the spice of life and if I wanted to make a go of this exercise thing I needed all the help I could get.

    I went and I really liked it. The only drawback was the extra effort it took to change "life force" (their term) to "Jesus" (mine), however, I appreciated the link between the physical and the spiritual.

    When someone started up Holy Yoga at our church a few weeks later I got very, very excited. Jesus + an amazing workout = one very happy girl.

    I soon figured out that Jesus wasn't just showing up at yoga.

    I found Him in the beauty of the snow covered trees while we cross country skied.

    And in my prayers while I ran along country roads. My old running thoughts: Ihaterunning Ihaterunning (gasp) Ihaterunning. My new thoughts: Thank You for the gift of exercise. Thank You that I am even able to run.

    And a few times I've even spotted Him beneath the water at the Hudsonville High School swimming pool. The first time I swam with goggles this winter, I started my first lap and put my face in the water - the way the water was lit up, the way the bubbles came up around my face, and the rhythm of my body working together was enough to take my breath away (along with the fact that my head was underwater in an icey cold pool at dawn).

    The point is everything we do is connected. We like to compartmentalize our lives but the truth is our physical self is connected to our spiritual self which is connected to our mental self and so on. What we do (or don't do) in one area of our life affects all the other areas.

    This has been a turning point for me. It's something I have heard before and even known already but it's an entirely different thing to be living it out day in and day out.

    Holy exercise.

    Thank you, Jesus.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011


    Matt's faithful plant en route to a new desk.

    In case you haven't heard the news, Matt has switched jobs again. Hold onto your hats: it's a little confusing as his "new" job is with his old dealer group. He's back at Grand although he's working out of the Lowell store now.

    We are excited that he once again has some extra flexibility and freedom both in his hours and the way he works deals. He's also happy to be working with some really great people from his days at the Grandville store.

    For the first time in his career, he's working primarily with used cars (giving him a great opportunity to learn more about that side of the business) but he can also sell anything new within the Grand family which includes Buick, Chevy, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

    (And as always, he would love to help you out - 616.901.8663 or

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    it's about time

    It's April and I haven't forgotten about my 11 for 2011. (If there is one thing this experiment in exercise has taught me it's willpower and I REFUSE to be another failed resolution statistic.)

    I'm happy to report that I have made serious progress on three more resolutions since last check namely #3 Be more intentional with my time; #5 Spend less time on Facebook; and #7 Read every day to my kids.

    Everyone's daily time situation is different (obviously) besides the fact that we all get 24 hours each day. For me, the problem was being able to disengage from the internet and the computer since as a stay-at-home mom it's my main outlet to the outside world and as a part-time work-from-home employee it's also how I get work done, make money, use my brain (on non-kid related tasks), etc.

    The problem was I was feeling bored, burnt out and distracted. I was doing a lot of different things during the day but I wasn't really doing any of them completely or very well. I was also finding that my hours and days were blending into each other...there was nothing distinctive about any of them and I was starting to find that a tad bit depressing (for some more thoughts on God's gift of time, seasons, and rhythms, go here. My favorite line: "We need rhythm in our time—it’s what makes one moment different from another. It gives shape and color and form to all of life.")

    This subject has been on my mind for months now but I couldn't quite push myself to make the changes (or be able to stick with them). We watched a Nooma with our house church last Sunday about the choices we make - the things we hold on to...and the other things we miss out on in the process - that finally pushed me over the edge.

    My solution has been to give myself "office hours". I am on-line in the afternoon during nap time/quiet time and then again after the kids are in bed. In between, I simply turn the computer off. I have also streamlined my blog reading and my Facebook-ing (I try to "hide" "friends" who I don't have day-to-day contact with...sorry guy that I had 9th grade history with...)

    Not exactly rocket science but it's working for me. It took me a couple of days to re-orient's amazing how quick I am to head to the computer to check my email or Facebook when I am the slightest bit bored. Now that I am used to the new routine my mornings aren't as rushed, lunch time isn't so stressful, homework actually gets done right after school, dinnertime is more relaxed, and bedtime once again includes reading books.

    The irony is that instead of being less "productive" I am actually fitting more than ever into my days when I'm not on-line. Not to worry...I'm not becoming a crazy overachiever, I just have time to fit in all the little things I want to do...exercise, drink tea, scrapbook, crawl around on the floor with the baby, catch up on the HGTV shows piling up on the DVR, bake cookies, organize closets, nap, etc. On the flip side, I'm making much better use of my time when I am on-line. Who has time to waste on Facebook when there is work (the paycheck-producing kind!) to be done? 

    On that note, I'm moving resolutions #3, #5, and #7 to the A+ Work category, and I have been keeping up with resolutions #1, #2, #8 and's hoping they are no longer resolutions and have become full-fledged h-a-b-i-t-s...but I still have a few more to tackle. Thank goodness there are still 8 months left in the year!
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