31 Days to Clean

I like lists, programs, and schedules. They are my “love language” for productivity. When I saw this 31 Days to Clean challenge on a Christian woman’s blog, I knew that I had to give it a try. Our house is relatively clean but I undergo spurts of productivity and end up doing massive cleaning on Fridays to ready the house for the Sabbath. My hope is that I can find a workable schedule and motivation to keep the house clean on a daily basis instead of skipping housework and then doing massive cleaning sessions.

Day 1 is all about priority. What are my priorities now versus what they should be? Right now, I have to admit that taking care of myself and making myself happy is way too high on the priority list. Here are what my priorities should be, my goal:

1. God – He should be the most important thing in my life. Without God, I have nothing. I want to spend more time in prayer, Bible study, and Scripture memorization.

Motivational Scripture:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

2. My husband – God gave me a wonderful husband and I need to focus more on him than I do on myself! My husband demands very little from me but I know he would be thrilled if I put more of my energies into the little touches that will bless his life.

Motivational Scripture:

“…Her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all'” (Proverbs 31:38, 29).

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).

3. Home – I want to keep our home clean. I want to feel that we can invite guests over at any time without worrying about the kitchen floor. I would like our home to feel inviting to us, a place to relax and spend time together.

Motivational Scripture:

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).

Women are “to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5).

4. Church – My husband and I are still church-less. We’ve been floundering for months since our church was closed. We’ve visited other area churches but have yet to find one that we can call home. I’d like to get to know other Christians, find a Bible study, and get involved in some sort of ministry/outreach.

Motivational Scripture:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

5. Personal – I have several hobbies that I’d like to learn more about and practice, mainly photography and writing. I also need to take care of my body with proper exercise, enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, etc.

Motivational Scripture:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Dishes and menus

I am happy to say that the dishes have been washed/dried/put away for the last two days! I don’t know why I struggle so much with keeping a clean kitchen, but I’m slowly learning to prioritize.

I also created a menu for the next week. My diet is being overhauled again and I’m trying to eat mostly fruits and veggies with a regular, vegan meal at night. We have fruit for banana/peach smoothies and peach/strawberry smoothies, both of which are very good. I’ve found that the more fruit I consume on a daily basis, the less I crave desserts. I haven’t had dessert in over a month.

Menu planning is always a challenge for me as I can never think of anything new to eat. We tend to rotate through the same meal options – haystacks, burritos, spaghetti, and orange tofu. All of these meals taste good but we have problems with variety. I decided to try a new recipe this week so I’ll be making vegan soba and mushroom soup this weekend. It’s a bit different than our normal dinner fare! Hopefully it turns out well.

I’m melting

It is almost nine o’clock at night and I’m melting. It’s still 95 degrees outside!! Why do I live here?

I realized today that the state is requiring emissions testing on our car this year before registration is due at the end of the month. I hope it passes!

Today was pretty laid back. Hubby brought home his first full time paycheck. Hurray! I caught up on the dishes, washed some laundry, vacuumed, worked on cleaning off my desk for a few minutes (the never ending chore), and played with the cats. I also wasted a bit of time today playing a free downloaded game – Blocks Annihilator. It’s very similar to the Yahoo game Collapse. A waste of time, yes. But fun. 😉

Farmer’s market

I am so excited. If hubby’s working from home on Friday, I’m going to borrow the car and visit this farmer’s market. It’s only open on Friday mornings so I’ll have to visit some week when hubby’s off work or working from home. There is another farmer’s market we visited last year that’s open on Sundays, but it’s 10 miles from our house.

Buying locally will provide better quality fruit and veggies as well as contribute toward my goal of green living. Hopefully I can find some good organic produce that’s cheaper than the grocery store prices.

Oh, to eat burgers again!

The Lord reminded me this morning to spend some time in prayer and Bible study before starting my day. It was hard for me to sit still and read when I wanted to be up “doing” something but I’m happy I listened. I read three chapters in Mark about Jesus healing numerous people. It amazes me that the Jews had Jesus in their midst, heard Him preach, saw Him healing people, and still wanted to kill Him. I wonder if we would do the same today.

I pushed myself again to complete all of my “active” housework early in the day. I completed everything on my list, especially those jobs that require me to be moving around the apartment exerting energy. By 10:45 I ran the dishwasher, washed some pots by hand, baked cornbread, vacuumed, cleaned the two litter boxes, swept the kitchen and bathroom floors, took out the trash, swept the patio, and wiped down the toilet and bathroom sink.

Hubby was off work by 11 today. We ate lunch together and then hubby took a nap while I created a menu plan and shopping list for this week. In the heat of the day (100+ degrees), we decided to go grocery shopping. I didn’t really want to leave the house while it was so hot out, but we desperately needed to buy food. Our fridge was completely empty except condiments and our cupboards held half a box of Cheerios, a couple cans of tomato soup, and some oatmeal. That’s it.

What joy it was to walk around the grocery store and buy more than just pasta. Oh, what joy! I used to take it for granted that I could buy whatever groceries I wanted. For the first time in 5 months, I spent more than $25 shopping for a week’s worth of food. Haystacks, potato salad, baked potatoes, stir fry, spaghetti, Boca burgers, homemade pizza, and macaroni and cheese are on the menu this week. Oh happy day! I spent $45 total by shopping the sales and printing out some great internet coupons, among them two free bottles of BBQ sauce!

I will never again allow myself to spend $100/week on groceries. That was our old food budget. Now that we’ve been broke, completely out of money, I’ve learned how to shop inexpensively. I know I still have a lot to learn compared to some of the expert shoppers, but I’ve made a huge dent in our grocery bill these past few months. We were even able to buy hubby some new socks!

Habit Sunday

I know I’ve posted about it before, but I have trouble getting everything done – cleaning, reading, cooking, spending time with hubby, taking care of the cats, etc. Our life has no formal schedule right now as hubby isn’t working except for the occasional contract job. Last week was kind of crazy since he was out of town for a couple days and worked a contract job Wednesday through Friday. This is the first week in months that I’ve been home by myself during the day.

I love my hubby very very much. When he’s home, I tend to just do things with him, whatever activity we decide we want to pursue. As a result, most of my housekeeping falls by the wayside. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with spending so much time with my husband. I just think that I’m letting him down in a way because our house isn’t clean, I’m not organized, and I’m really bad about making a nice supper. When hubby was working, right after I got laid off, I was making nice dinners. I was happy to be the wife who would greet her hubby with a hot dinner after he arrived home from a long day of work. Because we’re home all the time (excepting those days when hubby finds contract work), all our meals are kind of thrown together at the last minute.

We live in Arizona. It’s May. It’s hot. We’re broke. We’re also challenging ourselves to at least hold out until June before turning on the air conditioning and driving up the electric bill. Towards the end of last week, I discovered a very loose schedule that works wonders with this weather. If I plan my day so that the housework is done in the morning, it requires less sweat and effort. Then I can spend the afternoon job searching, writing, organizing, etc. All of these are things that require little movement.

Simple, right? I really wonder why I didn’t think of it before. This schedule also tied in well with my attempts at creating new habits this week. My morning cleaning schedule involves dishes, vacuuming, making the bed, sweeping, and cleaning out the litter boxes. As I’m trying to complete all the housework in the mornings, I challenge myself to finish by 11 and end up creating a smooth flow as I move from room to room.

The only thing I’m falling behind on is my personal Bible reading. Hubby and I read together every night so I am reading the Bible daily. However, I’m only reading it on my own about half the week. I’ll keep working on this.

My challenge this week is to fine tune my morning schedule and decide what tasks need completed daily versus weekly. I also need to spend more time in the afternoon looking for work.

Update and SMART Sunday

My temp job seems to be over. I say “seems” because we finished the labeling project but I’m still waiting to hear if the company wants us to return for the original project. My partner and I worked 5 days, 26 hours total.

It was tiring! I’m just not used to the commute, the hours away from home, and the stress of working under someone else. I am very very thankful to God that He blessed me with the hours. It was just surprising that I’m so out of practice with working schedules. 6 months really does make a difference.

I’m excited to get back to blogging. Last week, I didn’t really have the energy after work to form coherent thoughts. I love writing and this is one way I can express myself, regardless if anyone reads!

I am also making a change to my Sunday blogging. I was posting a summary of my exercise over the past week and then a weigh in report. I found myself wanting to write more about some of the workouts and my challenges. However, I didn’t want to post every day on this blog as that wasn’t my original intent in starting the blog. I also didn’t want to post an entire book every Sunday.

My solution? I started a separate blog for my exercise/weigh-ins/and future raw food challenge. Adventist Runner will be my new training log and anything health related that doesn’t fit in nicely with homemaking.

Instead, I plan on posting SMART Sundays. The Lazy Organizer originally created the SMART Saturday, but as that is the day I celebrate the Sabbath, I’ll be posting on Sundays. I know I posted about The Lazy Organizer’s blog before, but she really is a genius about organizing and homemaking. I love reading her posts.

My goals for this week:
-Make the bed every day. I really like how our bedroom looks when the bed is made up in the mornings.
-Go to bed each night with a shiny sink. This is really a Flylady concept. The idea is to have a clean sink at night, which means the dishes will be washed and put away, the counters will be wiped down, and the sink will be clean. The kitchen looks so much better when the sink is shiny.
-Spend 15 minutes in personal Bible study each morning. Hubby and I study together every night but I’m missing personal study. It’s not enough that we study together. I also need to be fed spiritually as an individual. 15 minutes isn’t that long, but I think it’s a good place to start.

I’ll post again next Sunday with an update of my goals and possibly some new goals for the following week.

A great organizing resource!

I had great plans of writing a long post (with pictures!) about my cats-who-won’t-let-me-sleep-at-night, but I’m behind on my housework. We have an evangelistic meeting tonight, so we leave the house at 5:45. The kitchen is clean, but I have vacuuming, a load of laundry to put away, and I need to find my filing labels. I know there are a couple of other things I want to do this afternoon, but I can’t remember what they are…

So instead, I leave you with The Lazy Organizer’s blog. I have been reading through her archives and she has some of the greatest tips! One of my favorites is The Organized Bed. Now why did I never think of that?


Looking to the future

Now that our unemployment claim has been approved, I’ve been thinking about the immediate future. Our claim won’t cover many bills, but it will cover the rent and enable us to purchase groceries. Hubby is still looking for a job, but I have a feeling something will happen soon.

For a long time, my desire has been to be a wife, a homemaker and a mother. Hubby won’t offer me an idea of when he thinks we can start a family, but I am already a housewife. Even though we’ve prayed about returning to work full time, we believe that God intends for me to stay home.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been struggling with motivation. It’s hard to develop a routine, create goals, and settle into being a housewife when you don’t know if you are going to be living in the same state next week. I’ve been selling some of our possessions to cover a couple bills. I spend most of my time helping hubby with his job search and writing/editing cover letters. The rest of my housewife duties, goals, and aspirations have fallen by the wayside. I’m lucky if I even stay on top of dishes.

I really need to dedicate myself to being a homemaker. Even if we move next week, keeping the kitchen clean, laundry washed, and the house picked up now will create a more friendly home environment. I believe the home is important, and if I’m not performing this duty to the best of my ability, what is the point in me staying home? I will not neglect my duties of helping hubby with job searching, but I will shift my priorities so that I can both aid him and be a keeper at home.

Titus 2:4, 5 says that young women are “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Regardless of where we live next week, I still have an obligation and a desire to fulfill this counsel.

Proverbs 31 also contains an excellent model for wives:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

I want to be this woman. I want to look well to the ways of my household, honor my husband, and most importantly, honor God.

A not so traditional homemaker

I am on hiatus from full time homemaking this week. Oh, I’ve been keeping up with the basics, ensuring we have clean clothes and food to eat. But that’s it. Our house is still really messy in that you can tell we came back from vacation and left everything where it fell.

My husband was laid off from his job two weeks before Christmas. Actually, it was on a Friday afternoon, two hours after I purchased my plane ticket to Wyoming. Ouch. While I felt incredibly guilty going out of town right after he was laid off, Jeff told me to go.

Now that we’re home from visiting Michigan (tickets purchased last May, thankfully), we’re job searching. I’ve spent a lot of my time helping hubby with his cover letters, resume, and job searching. He does all the local job searching and I look out of state. It’s been slow going. I can’t tell if people aren’t quick to respond because they haven’t mentally returned from Christmas/New Years vacation or if it’s a sign of the economy.

Maybe my work as hubby’s “job searching assistant” still counts as homemaking, just not in the traditional sense of the word.