Monday, January 31, 2011

Detox Your Mudroom

We all have them in some form another - that room at the door that catches dirt, leaves, laundry detergent and dog hair. It's the mudroom, the back door, the catch-all and the laundry room. The truth is we concentrate on other, more highly-seen places and the mudroom gets a closed door and a forgotten interest.

The mudroom is a much-used area of our home. It collects spill-over that doesn't fit in the kitchen. The washer and dryer are there, as are all of the cleaning supplies. It's the dogs' dining hall and their portal to the outside world. In a multi-functional room like that, it is constantly in need of cleaning and organizing.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. Proverbs 10:4

To get a handle on this busy area, declutter the entire room. Get down to the bare walls and as much bare floor as you can. Clean from top to bottom, paying special attention to those much-used floors. Get behind the washer and dryer, moving them if you have some help.

Sort out what needs to stay and what's just taking up space. We have storage cabinets above the laundry and they're a terrible collection space. It's easy to tuck things away behind closed doors and forget that they're even there. Make some serious decisions about what to keep and then organize how they'll go back into storage.

When we moved into our new home a couple of years ago, the kitchen was too small for our rolling island. We moved it into the mudroom, which is right off the side of the kitchen, and use it for extra kitchen utensils, disposable dishes and larger items that don't fit in the kitchen cabinets. Utilize all of the storage you can so you can find things easily when you need them.

The mudroom is also a central location for the girls. They have their dog dishes there, many of their accessories are stored there and it's a high-traffic area to the outside world. Keeping dog hair up is a must, as is sloshed water and dog food residue. (Although they're pretty good about taking care of that one themselves.) We keep them healthy by cleaning their bowls frequently and keep the house as clean as possible by wiping muddy and wet feet before they come in.

Whatever uses you have for that extra room, consider it a bonus room! Use it for those out-of-sight purposes that will help keep you organized and efficient in your daily routine.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Detox You Prayer Closet

We talked about the detoxification process - getting all of the toxins and contaminants out of your home. We've talked about cleaning out closets - getting organized and clean behind closed doors.

Today we're going to combine the two and take a peek in your prayer closet.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:5-6

I pray that you have a place where you go, whether it's an actual closet or some other private place, where you can be alone with the Lord. Think of your prayer closet as that special spot away from the eyes and noise of the world. It might be a room, a chair or your bed first thing in the morning. It might be your car as you're traveling to and from work. Or it might be that beautiful garden, park or field where the only sound is your voice calling out to God.

Perhaps you've had a prayer closet for years. Perhaps it's well used, fully furnished and frequently visited. If so, praise the Lord! This means that you're devoted to spending quality time walking side-by-side with your Creator. This is a blessing that many choose not to receive, so it a special, precious choice.

This may be the time that you need to spruce your prayer closet up a bit, though. When we use something so well loved, it can become tattered and worn around the edges. We don't want the time we spend in prayer to become repetitive or burdensome, so ask the Lord to give you something new. Maybe a burden for someone, a desire to grow in some specific area or simply more love for Him. Don't allow yourself to get in a rut over something as important and lovely as prayer time.

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. Psalm 5:1-3

There is also the possibility that you've got cobwebs in your prayer closet. You used to go there all the time and commune with the Lord, but now other things have taken up your time and attention. There's dust all over your prayer life because it hasn't been a priority like it once was.

This is an easy fix - empty out your prayer closet, clean it all up and get your heart right with God. There is nothing better in this life than quality time in prayer, and you can't have that with junk in your life. Neglect is a terrible problem when it means that God comes pretty far down on the list.

Perhaps you need to find a new place or time for your prayer time. Keep your Bible next to you so you can have His Word available. He will speak volumes if you just take the time to listen. Take away all the distractions that will draw your attention away from the valuable conversation the Lord wants to have with you every day.

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. Psalm 102:1-2

If you are a new Christian, you may not even have a prayer closet set up yet. Please don't take this special place for granted - separate yourself from the noise of the world, even your family, just for a while. Set up a spot somewhere in the house where you can be alone. Gather your Bible, your favorite devotional books and your prayer journal. Make it a pretty place just for you, a place that makes you happy and calm and ready to talk with God.

My prayer closet has not been bathed in prayer the way I'd like lately. I pray we will all make this conversation a joy in our lives and the clean condition of our prayer closet a priority of our hearts.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Detox Your Wardrobe

Now here's a touchy subject for many women - clothing. We all fit into one of three categories when it comes to how we dress:

1. It's the most important decision of the day.
2. It's the most fun decision of the day.
3. It's the least important decision of the day.

What we wear sends very specific messages about who we are as Christian women. Scripture is very clear about the choices we make in stocking our wardrobe.

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, nether shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5

This becomes a touchy subject for some women because they don't want to give up their jeans and pants suits. They'll tell you that the Old Testament is outdated and we live under grace now. That means the law isn't necessary or applicable anymore, but God's Word is timeless, just as He is.

As you look through your closet, are there articles of clothing that seem to cross these lines? Some of us wear skirts all the time because the Scripture has convicted us that way. Perhaps you don't, but have wondered about this choice. Pray that the Lord will speak to your heart about those clothing choices.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

After I began learning God's callings for women, I decided that I wanted my outsides to match what He had done for me on the inside. When I got saved I became a new creature, one that has the Holy Spirit living inside it. That kind of temple, as the Scripture says, means dressing right and well. If simply dressing appropriately is honoring unto the Lord, then I am willing to make that effort for my God.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

I take care to dress in a way that separates me from the world, so that you can truly tell a difference between me and a lost person who doesn't have Christ living in them yet. I also want to make sure that what I wear won't create lust in a man who isn't my husband. Did you realize there were so many effects of the clothes you put on your body?

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Christian women can dress in a way that is comfortable and easy to work in, but in the end we are to be honoring unto God in all we do, say, eat and wear. Make sure that your clothing choices reflect the Christ residing in your heart. If that means sorting out clothes that are too small, don't fit or aren't appropriate for other people to see, then pray about making good, informed decisions.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Detox Your Guest Bedroom

Whether you have company stay once a year or every other week, you want that special space to be warm and inviting. Take this opportunity to create a haven for your guests - just be careful. They may want to stay indefinitely!

As with any other room, it's time to take everything out of the room. Sort into your donate box and trash bag, and relocate those things that have mysteriously found their way into this room. Pull the furniture out from the wall and clean the ceiling, wall and floors. Then clean and move everything back into place and clean the center of the room.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

Throw the bed linens into the wash or get a great new set. Change out anything dark and heavy to something that will be bright and cheery when your company walks in. Keep clutter and knick-knacks put away so there is room for them to put their personal items out.

Remember that there's a fine line between a room that is functional for your daily life and one that is reserved specifically for guests. What do I mean by that? It may not be practical for you to have a completely empty closet in your guest bedroom if you're already short on space. But you can have the center of the rod and part of a shelf clear for their hanging clothes and shoes. Compromise on some space if you need to to give your company their own area, but remember that you're the one living there every day.

For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. Hebrews 3:4

That being said, keep your guests' comfort and enjoyment in mind. Have some pretty soaps and towels in the room when they arrive. Place some magazines or local guidebooks where they can browse through them. Have plenty of empty space in the room for suitcases and bags.

Add those little touches that show you're glad they're here: an alarm clock, some fresh flowers and an extra quilt at the foot of the bed. Pile a few cozy pillows on the bed for snuggling and you may not see your guests again until breakfast!

Create a sanctuary in this one room to the delight of your guests.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Detox Your Relationships

How do you know when you're in a toxic relationship?

* Do you cringe when you see their name on caller-ID?
* Do you avoid contact unless absolutely necessary?
* Have you stopped interacting the way you used to?
* Does the conversation usually lead around to something uncomfortable?
* Has it become a one-sided interaction?
* Do you feel guilty when you don't write or call instead of excited that you get to write or call?

This may seem extreme, but there are some people in our lives that aren't healthy relationships. They're not illicit or nasty, they're just not beneficial. A friendship or family relationship should nurture peace and growth in both participants. If they don't and it seems more like a battlefield, you need to find out why.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9

Perhaps you know exactly why: something was said, done, not said or not done and sent everything out of whack. Or maybe you've just grown apart and don't share the same interests and viewpoints anymore. Either way you need to decide if that relationship is worth saving.

We never want to give up on any relationship that can be loving and a source of joy. It may require some work from both sides, and that's a requirement for two people to grow and flourish together. But there are other times, due to sin or evil choices, that there needs to be some separation.

So as you analyze those tumultuous relationships, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can you talk to this person openly about the issues between you?

2. Are you willing to do some bending yourself to set things right?

3. Is the relationship one that will be enjoyable again as it once was?

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Pray about what God would have you do in your difficult relationships. He'll let you know through the stirring of your heart whether you should endure through and build a strong foundation with this person or if you're both better keeping your distance. Toxic relationships can be saved, but only by the grace of God.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Detox Your Marriage

In keeping with the cozy bedroom theme, we need to focus on that special man who share the room with us. Our relationship with our husband is the most precious one we have, next to our Savior. If the marriage doesn't stay in a constant state of detox we turn into bitter, cranky, uncontrolled women...and it's our own fault, not his!

By cleaning out some of the toxins we've allowed to creep into our marriage, we can create a stronger, more lasting relationship with our husband than ever before.

* Love - You may be beyond the point of puppy dog-eyes and making kissy faces, but love is still foundation of your marriage. True love isn't just a feeling that comes and goes, but the conscious decision to be kind and devoted no matter what comes along. Life isn't always flowers and candy, but it is full of opportunities to share love with your husband.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:14-15

* Respect - The Bible word for respect is reverence, a word that is used for both the Lord and the husband. Through our human eyes we may not think that our spouse deserves much respect, but that reverence is a command from the Lord. When we decide to give our husband Godly respect, we honor both our marriage and the Lord. Then both relationships can grow and prosper.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:33

* Time - When we're juggling a marriage, children, a job, running the home and church, something will always fall by the wayside. Please don't let that something be your marriage. When you've retired, the kids are grown up and you're living somewhere new, all you have is each other. Take the time now to build, uplift and mend the holes in your marriage. Let your husband know through the gift of your time that he is the most special person in your life.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Proverbs 5:18

* Submission - As time goes on this becomes a harder concept for today's woman. We are not called to be in charge of anything, but to be a help meet for our husband. This means giving up control and following his leadership whether we agree with it or not. Submission isn't becoming a doormat, but fulfilling the God-given role He has outlined for us in Scripture.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:22-24

* Commitment - If you're in this for the long haul, it's time to solidify what God has given you. Marriage isn't always about date nights and seeing fireworks. There are more likely days of endurance, support, patience and courage. The wishy-washy women are the ones who hang in until they're uncomfortable and then let go when times get rocky. God's women learn through His grace how to hang in, hold on and hold fast because the best is always yet to come.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Monday, January 24, 2011

Detox Your Bedroom

What words come to mind when you think of your bedroom?

During our bedroom detox process, only three words should be your focus: cozy, restful and peaceful.

Our goal for our master bedroom is to be a retreat, a sanctuary. No matter what happens during the day, the bedroom is the one place you should be able to go and rejuvenate.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverbs 16:2-3

So how do we get to that place of peace and joy?

1. Declutter. Move everything out - this includes closets and under the bed. I know this sounds like a broken record, but if you don't start with a clean slate, you'll end up in a vicious circle. Have your donate box and trash bag close, and then be ruthless. If it doesn't belong in the bedroom, doesn't serve a purpose anymore or doesn't fit...out it goes!

2. Cleaning. Move all of the furniture to the center of the room and clean walls and floors along the edges. Dust and sweep each piece of furniture, getting in drawers and on shelves. Then move it all back and clean the center. Do the windows, the fan blades and all those nooks and crannies you might not tackle in your regular cleaning.

3. Sorting. Ask yourself some serious questions before you move anything back into your bedroom. Does that particular item promote the cozy, restful feeling you're working toward? Is there somewhere else for it to live if you don't store it in the bedroom? Do you even need or want it anymore? Does it fit? Does it make you happy? If you can answer yes to most of these questions, move it back in. If not, it needs to find a home elsewhere in the house or in someone else's house.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

4. Organization. Reread the post last week about closets. Set your drawers and shelves in order using the same criteria: by season, by size, by color, by how frequently you wear/use/need them. Keep as much as you can behind doors or in drawers to keep that relaxing feeling. The less clutter in plain sight all the time, the more peaceful the room will seem.

5. Decoration. Have fun - add color, texture, patterns, smells and sights that you love. If this room is to be your sanctuary from the world, keep it simple, beautiful and lovely. Don't hang or set out anything that doesn't make you feel joy and peace.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Even the most seasoned Christian woman has "one of those days" every now and then. It may be from sickness or exhaustion or simply working too hard for too long. We've all had them and we can rest assured there are more coming down the road.

It's during those weary days that the voices start:
Just quit for a while and you'll feel better.
Why work so hard to begin with?
Does it really matter in the long run?
Give yourself a break.
No one will notice, or maybe not even care.

When we're physically and mental weary, our fight gives out. It's a struggle just to keep the forward momentum going, let alone keep up our Christian service. And those voices don't make the effort any easier.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

This body, this earth and this moment in time aren't all there is to it. We're called to continue, to press on and to continue serving the Lord no matter how weary or how many voices may chime in. That's hard when we're simply flesh, but that Heavenly reward is all we need.

We may not see the results of our endurance right now, but that's alright. It can be frustrating, but maybe we're not meant to have pats on the back or ticker tape parades. There is no reward on earth that will ever compare to the riches waiting for us with Jesus Christ.

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

So how can we stay positive and focused on the road ahead?
* Stay grounded in God's Word.
* Stay faithful to all of your church services.
* Stay devoted to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
* Stay aware of those things that are slowing you down.

And how can we help others who are going through the same, difficult, weary times?
* Make a phone call.
* Send a note.
* Give a hug.
* Share some Scripture.
* Simple be there.

We all have our up days and our down days, but we don't have to let them ruin our mood, our service or our testimony. Rest quietly in the Lord and He will provide more than we could ever ask or think.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Detox Your Closets

How many closets would you estimate you have in your home? Count the ones in the bedrooms, the hallway, the bathroom, the entryway...they add up quickly. And if they're like ours, they're filled to capacity with stuff.

We often think that out of sight-out of mind is a wonderful concept, simply because we can tuck the extras in our life into a closet. That lovely door shelters us from having to see everything we don't have a place for. But really all it's doing is postponing the inevitable...overflow!

So look at each closet in your home like its own little room. Find a place for everything and put everything in its place. In those same few steps we've been detoxing the rest of the house, we can set each and every closet back in order.

1. Clear everything out. Empty your closet of anything and everything - take the clothes out, clear off the shelves, make sure the floor is empty and remove anything from the walls. We want a completely blank slate to work with.

2. Clean. Wipe down all the shelves and the rod under them. Sweep the floor with a carpet powder or sweep and mop if it's a tile floor. This is also the time to repaint if you're going for a completely different look.

3. Sort. Nothing goes back into this closet unless you use it, wear it or carry it. Be ruthless - have your thrift shop donation box and a trash bag close by and fill them. Throw away anything that's broken or ripped, even if you have a notion to fix it. If you haven't already, you probably won't. Donate anything that doesn't fit properly or make you feel wonderful when you wear it. If there are things that you've been saving for other people, separate them and get them out of the house!

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Luke 15:8-9

4. Organize. This is the fun part! You get to decide how to arrange everything and put it back into the closet. Consider some new rolling drawers for smaller items and a great wicker basket for larger ones. When you hang your clothes back up, organize them in a way that works for you. Organize by color, by season, by how much you use that particular item. Group like things together, place them by size or with your favorites in the front. Keep it simple and you'll be more likely to put things back where they belong.

You don't have to organize as methodically as I did - the idea is to clear out the excess in your life and feel like you have control of the "stuff" instead of it having control of you. Find what's going to make your space attractive, make what you need accessible and keep them in great condition.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Detox Your Living Room

Are you about ready to move on from the kitchen? Perhaps you've finished and you're ready to tackle another living space. Or maybe you've had all you can take of crumbs in the crevices and soap in the sink. Whether you're done or just want to take a break, let's go into the living room.'

This is the room where your family meets in the evening for television, movies and video games. This is where you cuddle with your sweetie in front of the fireplace. This is where you fellowship with friends and family. The living room should be an inviting place that just screams, Stay here for a while!

So what's keeping it from being that cozy place? Let's identify five trouble spots and how to tackle them.

1. The clutter. With all those uses this room has, there's bound to be stuff laying around. Cords from the electronics, game controllers, books, magazines and the everyday lived-in signs of use pile up all over the place. The key to corralling clutter in the living room is to give everything a home. That's where it lives when it's not in use, no matter what the excuse is. If you have a specified basket for books and magazines, have them all end up there at the end of the day. If you have places in the entertainment center for movies and video games, that's where they live when you're done with them. Clutter can't expand if it's organized and put in its home.

2. The furniture. Chairs, sofas, footstools. All those big pieces with fabric are going to attract dust, food and pet hair. The longer they go without cleaning, the more potent they will become. Start with a great pet hair roller or lint brush and go over each piece inch by inch. Get all of the hair up and dig out all the food bits. Use the vacuum cleaner attachment to get in all the crevices and under the cushions. Then do some spot treatments with cleaner as you feel is necessary. Finally, spray the whole piece with a fabric refresher and enjoy the fresh smell of clean!

3. The dust. Even if you don't have a fireplace, you've probably got plenty of places to capture dust and pet dander. The electronics can be especially magnetic, so let's begin there. Using a cleaner specially designed for electronics and a microfiber cloth, attack all of those surfaces - top bottom and sides. Get in all the nooks and crannies until there's not a hint of dust or pet hair. Then move on to the other flat surfaces. There are some great multi-surface cleaners out there now so you don't have to carry around a dozen different bottles. Find what works for you and then work your way around the room in a circle. Pay special attention to the areas around windows and air vents.

4. The floor. We've covered this topic a couple of times before, so you can go back and review as necessary. Move all your furniture to the middle of the room and clean the edges of your floor, up against the walls. Then move everything to the outside edges and clean the middle. Chances are that some spots of your floor haven't seen that TLC in a while.

5. The aesthetics. Take a good look at how you've decorated your living room. Does it scream warm and inviting yet, or do all of the little touches need some work? Try changing out your wall hangings or the layout of the room. Exchange your winter decor for some more spring-themed pieces - we're just a few weeks away, you know! Keep it simple and uncluttered so people will focus on you and not your stuff. Just those few little details can dramatically affect how you and those you invite into your home see your room.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Detox Your Diet

So at this point your kitchen is moving toward detoxification. While we're on the subject of food - we were, weren't we - this is a great time to talk about revamping your diet, too!

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

God created out bodies for one purpose - to glorify Him! Everything that we put into these bodies is a contract with the Lord Himself. It's not just fuel and it's not just comfort. Food choices are just as important as how to dress modestly and who to fellowship with.

There are no rules about what food to eat, just guidelines. They are like directional markers showing you the way. You may go off the path briefly, but your body will respond in kind. Putting the proper food and drink in will help the temple of your body run more efficiently for God.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Guideline #1: Stay as close to natural as you can. Drink water instead of something with additives. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over frozen or canned. The less processed they are, the closer to God's nature they are. Wouldn't you rather have a freshly grilled pork chop than a defrosted one? Keep that image in mind as you do your grocery shopping.

Guideline #2: Carbs in the morning, protein all day. Carbs give quick energy while protein gives you sustained energy. If you limit your carb intake to the morning and early afternoon hours, you'll make it through the day better and you'll sleep better at night. Protein spaced regularly throughout the day, and especially in the evening, keeps you feeling full.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Guideline #3: Sweets, salt, carbs and fats are all moderation. There's nothing wrong with a donut...on occasion. Salt on your meat is small amounts. Carbohydrates are helpful to your body...but not in large quantities. Get the picture?

Guideline #4: Portion control. God has created many lovely foods for us to enjoy, but free will gives us the opportunity to show restraint. We can savour that pork roast without eating half of it in one sitting. And ice cream makes a lovely dessert, provided we don't eat the entire container. Show the Lord that you honor the temple He made for you by cutting back on the size of the portions you eat.

Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. Proverbs 25:16

You don't have to stop eating in order to have a healthy body. You don't even have to change what you eat, as long as you pay attention to how much you're eating. Making smart food choices can change your mood, weight, skin and energy level - detox your diet and start feeling as good as God intended.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Detox Your Kitchen - The Wrap Up

For the past two days we've walked through a kitchen detox behind closed doors - cabinet doors, refrigerator door and pantry doors. In this final step we'll cover the aesthetics and all the surface detox to make your kitchen both safe and pretty.

* Clear everything off the counters and walls. Set up a small table to hold all of it, or put it in another room temporarily.

* Wash all towels, dishcloths and window treatments. They just gather dust and oils from your cooking.

* Start at the ceiling and work your way down. Use your vacuum cleaner attachment to remove all cobwebs and dust from the corners and walls. If there are areas of wallpaper or paint that need touch-ups, take care of them now.

* Wash the windows and window sills. Open them up and get rid of all the outside grime that may have come in through the screen.

And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. Titus 3:14

* Time for the counters - use the best, most disinfecting cleaner you can find. With them cleared off you can get in all the corners and into the grout if you have tiles. Make sure to include the back splash and down the fronts of the tile.

* Use the appropriate cleaners to tackle the stove top. Take out the burners, then remove and soak the drip pans. If the top of the stove lifts up, wipe out all of the drippings and stains under there. There are great, special cleaners for glass top stoves, so use those, not any other kind of cleaners or scratchers. Run the cleaner function on the oven and make sure all of the knobs and dials are clean.

* Here it comes - clean out the microwave. Hot, soapy water works best. Heat a cup of water for two minutes before you begin, as the steam will loosen the gunk. From here on out, cover your dishes when heating them so you'll prevent some of the splatter.

* Clean and return a few of those things you took off the counters. As a general rule you only want one or two things out on each counter space - it's less cluttered and more appealing to the eye. Keep out only those few things that you need immediate access to every day, like the coffee pot, coffee bean grinder and bread box. From there, narrow it down to those favorite pretties that make your house into a home.

* We've worked our way down to the floor. Check back a few days for a refresher course if you need it, then sweep, clean and mop.

* And finally, clean your sink until it sparkles. This is your reward for all that hard work. It may not seem like much now, but it will when you reach that step, trust me!

* Then step back and take a look at your organized, clean, pretty, safe kitchen! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Detox Your Refrigerator and Cupboards

I pray that you're in the midst of a kitchen overhaul! Yesterday began the detox of the kitchen cabinets, which is a huge undertaking. Don't be surprised if that part alone takes several days. When you need a break from sorting and organizing behind those doors, move on to your food stash.

Focus on the refrigerator first. Empty it and check all of the expiration dates on the packaging - some of it is probably past its prime. Set the good stuff aside for the moment.

Remove the shelves and drawers and wash everything in hot, soapy water. Your owner's manual may have specifics about what types of cleaners to use or not use. If you don't have it anymore, use some gentle dish soap and a soft cloth. Then sit back and enjoy that "new refrigerator smell" again.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29

Repeat in the freezer. Throw out that old ice and start making some fresh. Anything that has freezer burn gets thrown out and some things may need to be repackaged so they don't end up that way, too. Make lists from both the fridge and freezer of what foods need to be replaced.

Lastly wipe down the outside and the handles. Who knows what's been on the hands that opened those doors - sanitize for your protection. Now you can organize the food that remains, wipe down the containers and replace them all in the refrigerator.

The same rules apply to the pantry and food cabinets. Anything that has passed its expiration date or smells "interesting" gets thrown out. Reorganize and wipe down the shelves. Check the containers as well - some may need to be repackaged for freshness. Now may also be the time to invest in some new plastic containers and other storage pieces.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-5

This part of the detox process shouldn't take terribly long and can be a nice change of pace from cleaning other parts of the kitchen. And you never know - you might find enough ingredients you didn't know you had to make an entire meal! Check and see.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Detox Your Kitchen

Second only to the bathroom, the kitchen is an important place to detox...over and over again. Think about all the things you're putting into your body and the bodies of your family and you'll soon realize how cleanliness and order are essential where you eat and prepare food.

So much of our day is spent preparing meals, unloading groceries and washing dishes. All of that use will create messes, germs and disorder in a hurry. The kitchen is a large, full room so we'll break the detox process down into manageable steps and spread it over a few days. Nothing says you have to hurry through your cleaning and organizing, so take as many days (or weeks) for each step as you have time.

For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. Job 34:21

The Kitchen Detox Part 1:
1. Wipe down the counters. Don't worry about a deep clean because we're going to use them in the next step and get them grimy again. Just clear them off and clean off the major messes.

2. Run a sink full of hot, soapy water. We're going to roll up our sleeves!

3. Unload one cabinet door. That will sound either too simple or way too much work, depending on the condition of your kitchen cabinets. Start with one shelf if that's all the time and energy you have. The idea is to break it down into easy parts and feel like you've truly accomplished something when you're done.

4. Dust and wipe off each shelf. You may need new shelf-liner paper or the vacuum cleaner hose to reach in all the corners. Get all of that grime and gunk out now before you put all your treasures back in. Scrub the inside and outside of the cabinet door as well, paying special attention to the handle.

5. Sort, wash and organize everything from that cabinet. Have your donate box and trash bag handy - you're really going to need them. This is the time to make hard decisions about what you need and what you don't need in your home. Clean everything you're going to keep and line them up on the counter.

6. With some creativity and common sense combined, put those special things you're keeping back into their new home. You may decide you want to mix and match things from other cabinets so they're more easily reachable. For example, you may want to move the plates and bowls into the cabinet above the drawer where you keep the silverware. Take a look at what set-up will be most efficient and clean in that direction.

7. Wash, rinse and repeat. your way in a circle around the room, attacking each cabinet as it comes. Sort, wash and organize as you go, and don't worry about neatness right now. If some things get left out while you're working on the next cabinet, that's fine. You may find there's really no room for them after all, and they'll end up in your donate box.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Have you noticed how many magazine covers and television shows scream: A New Year, A New YOU? Apparently January 1 brings about this magically time when we can change everything and start brand new.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

According to the Scriptures, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I became a new creature. God has already moved past those old things and made me new through Him.

Why would we want to be somebody new? Better, perhaps. More grounded in the Lord and His word, yes. But something new and different? God has made me new so I won't have to try to become new on my own.

But this turns into a mental problem for our human minds. We either forget that we're new creatures, don't believe that we're new creatures or don't understand who that new creature is. We're so caught up in the world's ideas of being better and newer and different that we forget. We forget that we can't change that new creature we've become because we're God's new creature.

We don't just exist anymore - we live because of Christ. God made us new, so all we have to do is keep the vessel neat and clean and pure. It's never been our calling to make something of ourselves because He already did that. We just have to listen to His moving in our hearts and obey His voice.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Detox Your Air

We're all snug in our homes during these cold winter months. Even here in the south we're bundled in front of the fire for a warm evening indoors.

But being tucked inside a closed-up house for weeks at a time has its effect on your home's air. Contaminants build up and air toxins can cause serious health issues. If someone in your home already has asthma or allergies, they will intensify without an air detoxification.

Go through your home looking for some of the major culprits of bad indoor air.

* Make sure all of the gas appliances are properly installed and vented correctly. This will prevent gas fumes from seeping out into the home.

* Pet hair and dander can fill the air, affecting even those who don't suffer from allergies. Groom and bathe pets as recommended by the vet, keeping fur under control. Also clean furniture, rugs, carpet and hard surfaces frequently.

* Be on the lookout for mold in the bathroom and kitchen. Take preventative measures like installing ventilation fans and keeping susceptible areas dry.

* Clean your fan blades and vent grates regularly. Otherwise you will be recirculating air-borne toxins back into the room.

* Run a dehumidifier during damp weather. This will help prevent mold and keep the room at the proper humidity level.

* Install radon test kits and carbon monoxide detectors. You may have no idea what's in your air until you do.
Once you take care of a few little things around the house, you can breath free knowing your air is safe and healthy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Detox Your Mind

If you've even done a fraction of the detoxing we've been talking about over the last few days, chances are that you've had both good thoughts and bad thoughts about the process. The mind is incredibly powerful for both motivation and destruction, depending on how you allow it to work.

We've all had those depressing days when that voice in our head tells us that everything is bad, we'll never get anything accomplished so why try. When we don't turn off our minds to those lousy thoughts, our mood plummets, our productivity takes a dive and we'd rather curl up with a pint of Rocky Road than work around the house.

An important part of our life detox process is filtering out our mind. The thought process we use to be good servants and good stewards for the Lord is essential.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

We have been given a new, transformed mind that is capable of focusing on God's perfect will. It's the flesh that says, It doesn't matter how the house looks. The renewed mind says, I will take care of the home God has blessed me with.

The flesh says, You've been so busy all day - leave those chores for another day. The renewed mind says, Do all to the glory of God. Take care of what needs to be taken care of.

The flesh says, No one will notice if those things go undone. The renewed mind says, God will notice. I will notice.

God's good, acceptable and perfect will isn't for you to have a showroom-ready house. It's not about being picture perfect all the time, but creating an environment that reflects His perfect love. The conviction from there is personal, but our calling is to keep, build and care for our home. Now our minds just have to pick up the slack.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Paul wrote this verse to the brethren, to the believers. The saved have been given the gift of mind control, and not in some science fiction way. Through God's grace we can choose what our minds think about, what they meditate upon and how they move from concept to completion. We're not like the world, going by feelings and impulses. Our brains can filter out the desires and lusts of the world and focus on those beautiful thoughts of God.

If we look at those true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous things around us, there will be praise and rejoicing in our hearts. Chores are just depressing tasks until the mind tells us that they are service to God and family. Errands are just boring trips until the mind decides that they are important opportunities to witness and serve. Perception isn't restricted to the eye - it's also in our mind.

Detox your mind by shutting off the voice that wants to bring you down. Your mind is not a tool of depression and discouragement, but a tool for the Lord to use. This isn't easy, but it's necessary to be joyful and victorious in this present world. Find those beautiful thoughts Paul described and keep those in the forefront of your mind. Then cleaning the bathroom or washing the windows won't seem like meaningless time-wasters, but moments for serving God and finding beauty in keeping your home.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Detox Your Bathroom

This is my least favorite topic ever, so we're going to get it out of the way early in this process. The bathroom isn't a difficult room to tackle, or the largest one by any means, but one that requires cleanliness and diligence.

Begin your bathroom detox by clearing everything out of the room - start with empty counters, empty cabinets and no shower curtain. "Stuff" will just get in your way. We'll sort and clean it all at the end of the day.

Next you'll want to spray a leave-on cleaner in your shower. Use one that is a deep-cleaner and one that is specific for whatever tile product you have. (No, they're not all the same.) Let the cleaner sit and do its work while you go on to the next step. Set a timer if it requires a certain length of time to really work. Remember that the product should be doing all the hard work, not you.

Also read the label on the toilet cleaner bottle - if you need to leave it on for a period of time, apply it now, too. Pick up all of the towels and rugs and throw them in the laundry. They should be about done by the time you finish this whole process.

While that's going to work on your shower, start at the ceiling and clean your way down. (Are you noticing a theme in every room?) Sweep out cobwebs, patch peeling wall paper and clean all of the light fixtures. Wipe down the walls right before you move on to the counters.

Using one of those great bathroom cleaners they have out now, spray and wipe down all counters and other porcelain surfaces. You'll probably be surprised at how much hairspray and dog hair can get built up in all the nooks and crannies. This is the time to de-grime all those hard surfaces and make them sparkle!

When the dinger dings, wipe off or spray down the shower according to the package directions. Do the same for the toilet. Having the proper tools and products on hand will make these two steps practically effortless, so spend a few minutes in the store reading labels.

Once everything is pretty and clean again, start sorting all of those health and beauty products you took out of the cabinets. Read the expiration dates and get rid of anything past its prime. This might be half your collection, but that's way better than saving product that won't benefit you in any way. If you don't use it or haven't used it, send it on its way.

Have a little fun here and come up with a new organizing system. Try baskets under the sink or some really great new make up bags. Find a way to keep the bathroom cleaner and more organized so this detox job won't take so long next time. Once you figure out what you'd like to do, load back in the few (hopefully) things you're going to keep.

And finally, the floors. We talked about proper floor etiquette earlier in the week, so go back and take a refresher course. Get all the dirt, grime, hair and water off the floor and you can actually protect your flooring from deteriorating. Plus they'll probably look like new with a little elbow grease! Before you walk out the door, rehang the shower curtain and you're all set.

Now that all of the work is done, put a little creativity into it. Put up some new pictures or get some new, pretty towels. Changing the wall color can give you a fantastic new outlook, but so can changing the color of your shower curtain. Have fun with this much-needed, not-so-much-fun-to-clean room.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Detox Your Collections

What collections do you have in your home? Do you love books? Pottery? Bears? Flowers? Butterflies? Cats? Roosters? Glassware? Everyone has things they love and enjoy placing in (large) groups around their house.
But what do you do when your collections take over your living space? It might seem like there are books spilling out of the bookshelves and piling up in every room. Or maybe you have more stuffed animals than people! Perhaps you can't close your kitchen cabinets because you've collected so many different baking pans.

The idea with any collection is a combination of enjoyment and moderation. There is nothing wrong with surrounding yourself and your family with the things you love. That's one of the joys of having your own space. But as with anything in life, moderation makes your collection manageable and fun.

I adore Boyds bears. I used to work at a store that sold them, so each and every bear that came into the shop grabbed my heart. Great for making a fun work day, but not so great for my home and pocketbook. After a while those sweet little bears were everywhere - and there was no room for anything else! So with a tender heart and some ruthlessness, I narrowed down my collection to my very favorite bears. Now they are displayed in two places - the plush Boyds in the dining room and the resin pieces in the craft room. Only the ones that were the most special got to stay and the rest found new homes.

Another passion of mine is reading. I have two bookshelves full of books, almost to the point of overflow. I was raised that books are precious, and it's a joy to bring home new books and curl up to read them. The difficulty is in making decisions about keeping them. There is only so much room in the house and only so many shelves for books to live. Once they get beyond that point, the question is how often you will reread them. I read my favorite books repeatedly, but others have either never been read or one reading was enough. Those are the ones that go so there is room to find new ones. What a motivation to sort!

And finally there is paper. I adore paper - I'm a scrapbooker through and through, so card stock and decorator paper take up the biggest space in my craft room. I even have fabulous friends who give me paper for my birthday and at Christmas. The issue becomes whether I can use it up quickly enough before more comes in. It may sound silly, but it breaks my heart to have something and not use it. Paper can quickly pile up and not get used at all - I can only craft for so many hours each day!

But I found a fun solution for this one! I sent a box of scraps and full sheets that I wasn't using to the wonderful woman who got me started paper crafting in the first place. In return, she sent me some of her own that she wasn't using. I got a huge creative jump-start and was able to get some new designs. It was a fabulous trade and now I don't have quite so much paper piled up.

When you're looking at your own collections, think about space, cleaning and enjoyment. Any collection that spends most of its life packed away probably isn't as special as you think. If you don't have room for all of your collection's pieces, start thinning them out. Share some with friends so they have a personal, special gift that reminds them of you. Donate them to your church for special occasions or to the local thrift shop to help the needy in your community. If you have plenty of storage space, rotate your pieces so only a few are out at a time. Then it feels like a whole new room every time you switch them out.

We all have pieces we love, but there comes a time when we have to detox the amount for the sake of our home. Remember that they are just "things" and aren't the center of our world. It may be a challenge at first, but as Jesus Christ Himself said:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:20-21

Let your treasure be in Christ, and enjoy the simplicity of the collections in your home.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Detox Your Paper System

As we go through our homes and detox each room, we're going to find tons of paper. Bills, receipts, letters, coupons, lists...there are so many things we keep and let pile up. Soon those piles overrun everything and that's all you see in each room!

Room by room, we need to collect all of our paper in one place. Having a designated home for each and every sheet of paper that comes into our house is essential or we'll waste time and energy looking for things when we need them.

So as you tackle the paper that's already in your home, find a system that works for you. Either the one you have isn't working or you don't have one in place. I have a filing cabinet in the corner of the craft room, but I tend to pile up paper in front of it to file later. This is great if I take the time to file every now and then, but not if I have to go searching through the pile to find something immediately. A filing cabinet may work for you, or you may like the idea of folders in a cubby in the kitchen. Create something wonderful that fits your lifestyle and allows you to make order out of chaos.

Sort through each pile, deciding what you absolutely have to keep (for serious, financial or document purposes) and what can be discarded. Have a shredder handy so you can destroy personal and sensitive information.

Isn't this terribly time consuming? Yes.
Isn't this a little nit-picky and tedious? Yes.
But isn't it time consuming and tedious to search every single pile in your home to find the water bill?
But isn't it time consuming and tedious to walk around a pile of papers when you probably don't need half of them in the house?

Any time and effort that you put into detoxing your paper system now is going to save you time and effort exponentially later. Think about how much more efficiently your home could run and how much more sane you would feel if you could walk right up to a file, pull out what you need and have confidence that you can put it right back when you're finished! Investing time in your home is a simple way to know you're building it for the Lord.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

Leaving piles of papers around the house can be considered plucking down your home with your own hands. There is little peace in a system of disorder, and that peace is what our souls crave. Why would we not put forth the energy to care for a silly thing like paper?

The paper system in your home can be a thing of order by keeping three simple rules in mind.

Paper Rule #1 - Downsize what you don't need! Sort, shred, organize and store. If it's old, useless, never been read or still in the envelope, chances are you don't need it. Carefully analyze everything and deal with it appropriately. Recycle what you can, then shred and toss what you can. You'll be surprised at what you've clung to for weird reasons.

Paper Rule #2 - Put it in a different form! If you have a scanner, put some of those necessary documents on your computer. Look on magazine websites for articles instead of clipping everything. Copy recipes into your cookbook or save them in a binder instead of piling them up. Collect all of your coupons in one place and tuck it in your purse. Keep lists on your desktop or phone to save paper. Do what works for you, choose what fits your lifestyle and get rid of what you don't absolutely need.

Paper Rule #3 - Keep the paper out to begin with! The majority of bills can now be viewed online, as can pay stubs and payments. Request that all of them be sent to your e-mail address and not through regular mail. You'll have them all on-hand, but not in-hand, which is just fine. They will be available to print if you really need to, but chances are you won't. Open your mail next to the garbage can so you can discard immediately. (You know that if you don't do it now, you probably won't do it at all.) Then it won't travel around the house where it isn't needed.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with all of your paper, take it pile by pile and room by room. This isn't a rush job and you definitely don't have to finish this task before you go on to the next one. Remember that building a home is a work-in-progress, so pray for some sorting abilities and tackle that first pile!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Detox Your Priorities

Here's a brand-new week in front of us. All of these blank, beautiful days God has blessed us with are just begging to be filled with chores and activities and worship. There are so many ways we can spend the time we've been given, and the start of the week always holds so many opportunities.

So how will you decide how to prioritize all of those chores and activities and worship? When you run out of time at the end of the day, will you be pleased with what you chose to do? How are you to make wise decisions about your priorities?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Scripture is clear: the things of God come first, and everything else will be handled for you. When you're planning and prioritizing, prayer, Bible study and church come before all else. Not only do they start your day in the right frame of mind, but you're showing love and devotion to the Lord. While the rest of your schedule won't magically fall into place, your priorities will be off to the perfect start.

Many times we see the busyness of the day and not those times with God that help us through the day. We take our eyes off the Lord and put them on everything we think just has to be accomplished. Then we're just filling time and not worshiping God with every breath.

What do you have planned for today? What's on the schedule for the rest of the week already? Do your plans put God first and others second? We probably all need to weed out some "must-haves" from our priorities, because they really aren't a priority in God's eyes.

Yes, there are many things that need to be done and many people to love and interact with. There are places to go and people to see, but so much of what we do is self-imposed and not God-inspired. Detox your priorities by weeding out anything that isn't essential and keep those things God would be ultimately pleased with. You might find that you've got time to spare and energy you didn't know you had! It's all about priorities and understanding what has eternal importance.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Our church family has been burdened with death over the past few months. Some of our sweet senior saints have gone on to be with the Lord and others are imminent. Even as the wife of an embalmer, death is never easy.

There are so many mixed emotions that accompany the passing of a loved one. We want to rejoice because they are now face to face with Jesus Christ Himself. There is disappointment and longing over the separation. And we question our own life and how long it will be before the Lord calls us home, too.

But regardless of age or health, there is comfort for the soul of a Christian woman.

For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. Psalm 48:14

God promises us His presence continually and eternally. We walk with Him in life and He will walk us through to death. That promise makes the thought of going home sweeter because we won't have to go alone. We have the great Guide leading the way from now until our last breath. And then the saved are promised rest for our labor in His gracious presence.

Still, we are human and fears of the unknown take over. We think of how we will miss people. There is regret and pain over what we've done in this life, let alone if we're prepared to go on to the next. All of these swirling thoughts distract us from greatest truth of Christ's Resurrection.

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

We aren't going to some lonely place separated from everyone. When we die we leave behind this shell all aching and filled with pain. In that final moment we take our last breath on earth and our first breath in Heaven. I can't wait to open my eyes and finally see the face of my Savior. The tears fall even now as I think about that moment so dear to the life of each of us.

There will always be sorrow surrounding death - it is normal to grieve for those we love. But balance that grief with joy over their present state and God's truth becomes clear. One day we will be the ones entering into His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, and what a glorious day that will be!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Detox Your Dining Room

What images come to mind when you think of a dining room? Is it a peaceful place for a candlelight dinner? Or a festive atmosphere where the whole family is gathered? Or perhaps that special occasion location has become overrun with clutter and you couldn't eat at that table if you wanted to!

When we don't use spaces for what their original intention was, they don't seem to feel right. We have a huge, high dining room table that takes up most of the room. When that table is piled high with papers and computers and the contents of my purse, the rest of the room could be spotless and it would still feel oppressive.

I'll admit that we don't eat at the table all that often. We use it more for working on our computers in the same room or as a collection place for things leaving the house. The unfortunate problem is that it's also the collection point for things coming in, and if they don't make it past that table, that's where they often stay.

One of my "first thing in the morning" chores is the dining room. It's the first room off the front entryway and if it's cluttered, I feel like the whole house is cluttered. I can get the rest of the day flowing by taking a few minutes to send "stuff" to their rightful homes and clearing off that huge flat surface.

The dining room can be returned to its original and intended use by simply looking at it as such: a room to dine in. Files and paperwork have other places to live. If they stay out too long, you'll forget why they were there in the first place and they'll never leave! Handle the piles, sort the piles, move the piles to the piles storage area and keep future piles off the table. Imagine how much more peaceful your dining area would be with just the removal of those few things on the table.

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. Proverbs 31:14-15

As with all the other rooms of the house, we need to tackle the dining room from top to bottom and in a circle. Get the cobwebs out of the corners, wipe down all the picture frames and curtain rods and clear out shelves. You might be surprised how much dust has gathered in that hutch or in the glasses on the bookcase. And one task that will change the air and the feeling of the entire room - clean the light fixture! Wash the glass, change the bulbs and clean the fan blades. A few minutes of work and you might see the room in a whole new light...literally!

Now, here's a bone of contention for some. I've heard a suggestion that you should sort through your cookbooks and only keep the ones you use regularly. Others say only save the recipes you like or want to try and get rid of the rest. You could even start a folder of favorites and keep just those copies, not the entire cookbook.

Here's my personal take on the matter: I have enough shelves in my dining room to hold the 60-or-so cookbooks that we have collected over the years. As long as we have shelves to hold them, they will be staying in our home. Books are precious to me to begin with and I can't even imagine tearing one up for the sake of space. We are also avid readers and avid cooks, so when you combine the two you get cookbooks! I love knowing that I have access to founts of information whenever I need them, and I can actually hold the book in my hand. I love paper and I love books, so this collection is one I will gladly allow to grow.

In your home this may not be so big of an issue. Take a look at the "things" that are collecting in your dining room. You may need to pare some down before the overrun the house. They may just need to be dusted and re-dispursed throughout the room or house. If it's clean, lovely, used and loved, then find a home for it. If not, find someone else's home for it!

This is when you need three things nearby - a box for moving things to other rooms, a box for donations and a trash bag. You will find tons of things for each container, so label them well. You'll probably surprise yourself if you'll be ruthless enough in your sorting. Who knows, you may find some priceless treasures you forgot you had!

Once you've got the room cleared out and sorted, clean from top to bottom. When the floors are all done, load those few things you've decided to keep back in. Anything that doesn't look like a dining room stays out! Anything that makes a lovely eating environment gets to stay.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Detox Your Floors

The most simple and most profound way to bring toxins into your home is on your shoes. The results are grimy linoleum, stained carpets and damaged hardwood flooring. Cleaning up those well-traveled areas will not only change the look and feel of your home, but will give you confidence and motivation to continue your detox process.

Pictured here is our entryway floor. It's that textured laminate tile stuff that always seems like a bear to keep clean. It's right inside the front door so everything from outside gets tracked onto it. The girls use it as a thoroughfare to every room in the house, so it's a trap for dog hair. That's why it looks as though we have a family of 27 instead of just four.

We often think of floor cleaning as running a mop over the hard surfaces and chasing the vacuum around the carpets. That might do for a quick pick-me-up, but it's not doing much to detox your floors.

Especially with textured floors, like what we have everywhere, mopping just pushes the grime into the crevices. That's why this build up looks so bad - it's being ground in with feet and with cleaning products. The absolute best cleaning attack on these floors is hot water with plenty of liquid dish soap and a scrub brush.

Oh no, that sounds like work! I can't get down on the floor! I'd never get back up! I'd rather walk on dirt than put that much elbow grease into anything! There's no time for rolling up my sleeves like that! you have all of the excuses out of your system? I cleared out the entryway, scrubbed and dried, did baseboards and replaced all the furniture in about half an hour. Just 30 minutes and I had a sparkling white floor again! No harsh chemicals or long hours pulling my back mopping.

The best part was this: just as I was wiping up the last water from the last row of tiles, the big dog came trotting up to the edge of the tile. She sniffed, looked at me and stepped one foot very gingerly onto that freshly cleaned tile. The background music stopped for an entire minute while we stared. I looked at her, then at her foot. She looked at me, then at her foot. Sensing the seriousness of the situation, she removed the foot from my shiny floor and stretched out on the dining room carpet. Smart dog.

We have three different styles of this laminate throughout the house, so my cleaning process in the bathrooms, kitchen and mudroom will all be the same. If you have hardwood floors, please use the cleaners and techniques recommended by the manufacturer. Treating them with some extra TLC will keep them looking fabulous for years to come, and good maintenance will prevent future headaches.

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil. Isaiah 1:16

Now to carpets. I hate carpets. I have two black labs and light-colored carpets. I could sweep every day and not get my carpets back to normal. So what are the options?

1. Clean your vacuum cleaner. It sounds like common sense, but when was the last time you wiped out your sweeper? Whether it has bags or not, there are tons of places for dirt and grime to land, so cleaning out filters, brushes and hoses are super important before you start sweeping. It's like pushing around a mop full of dirty water - it's really not helping the situation.

2. While your vacuum is drying out, move all of your furniture away from the walls to the center of the room. Use the crevice tools to get along the baseboards and the edge of the carpet. Use carpet powder or an appropriate cleaner to get up the stubborn bits. Sweep out past the part of carpet that your furniture covers. It's a breeding ground for dust bunnies! Move the furniture back and finish sweeping the carpet.

I have vivid memories of this being done in our house growing up. I'm severely allergic to dust, so I wasn't allowed in the room while it was being done. I could sort things or watch from the doorway, but I couldn't move mattresses or clear out the furniture. That wouldn't fly now, so a couple of times a year I get tremendous allergy attacks. The more often you do good, deep cleans, the less problem you'll have doing it.

3. Steam clean as necessary. Not every room needs steam cleaning. And it's not necessary to rent a big, cumbersome steamer anymore. Many companies make small, lightweight steam cleaners that you can purchase and have on hand. Compare prices and if you need heavy-duty cleaning fairly often, this might be the route to go.

Remember that anything that gets tracked in through your door will end up spread throughout the house. If you have the space, set up a show rack at the door and ask everyone to use it. As with sin, like Isaiah said, a little can spread a long way. Keep the grime contained at the door and it won't end up everywhere.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Detox Your Schedule

If you're truly serious about ridding your home and your life of all the junk you've allowed in, it's going to take some time. Yesterday we talked about clearing out the entryway of your home - this is not a project you can tackle in a day and be done with it. It requires time and attention to truly detox a space.

Even if we were to spend hours in each room and days examining our lives, we would still just scratch the surface of the grime we've built up. Each layer that we clean off or sort out is a powerful, positive step toward being the victorious Christian woman that God designed us to be.

But how do you find time in your lovely, busy schedule to take care of home, family, work, cleaning, chores, errands and all the rest of the requirements packed into each day? The answer is: by detoxing your schedule!

* Think of your calendar like any other room in your home. Let me explain. When you deep-clean a room you clear out all of the furniture, take everything off the walls and start over with a blank canvas. Your calendar should be the same way - clear it off completely so you have a plain white sheet in front of you.

* Define those #1 most-important activities. These include, but are not limited to, church services and activities, errands for family necessities like groceries, driving to school and work, and basic chores around the house. The first things are those you would "pen in" because they are requirements of the day.

* Next come those activities that aren't necessities, but still need to be done. This is where the deep-cleaning of the entryway comes in. This is the "get the paper work sorted" stage. This is where you write thank you notes, groom the dogs and clear out the refrigerator. If they aren't high up in your priority list, they'll get hidden underneath the "extras" you add in.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:24

* And now some serious detoxification of your schedule. What did you have on that full schedule before that doesn't need to go back on the new, cleaned schedule? What have you agreed to take on that is causing unneeded stress and strain? Are there activities on your calendar that cause you to run around like a headless chicken unnecessarily? Whether they have become integral parts of who you think you are, your day is ultimately controlled

* Schedule in your fun time. If you're not planning some excitement and relaxation in your day, you may not get any. Watch a movie with the family. Read a book for a few minutes in the middle of the day. Break up your household chores with a great cup of coffee and some fruit. Any smart woman will tell you that a crammed schedule can be contaminated like anything else, but the victorious woman will do something to clean it out.

Get creative with your new detoxed schedule and find some great ways to serve the Lord with all that time! Tomorrow I'll give you some great ideas and suggestions to do just that and continue your detox process.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Detox Your Entryway

As we begin the physical detoxification of our homes today, we're going think about the first thing that people see when they walk into your house. Whether you have an actual hallway like we do, or your door opens directly into a room, that entry area leaves a lasting impression on everyone who comes through the door.

And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:18

So what is it that people are going to see in your entryway? The idea here is to create a welcoming space that draws people into the rest of the home. Keeping this area clean and de-cluttered invites your loved ones from that first visual.

Begin by clearing out the whole area, including furniture, rugs and wall hangings. Then start at the ceiling - sweep out cobwebs and wipe down the walls as necessary. If there are places that need a little touch-up paint or smudges that need removing, take care of that now. Work your way down to the floor, giving special attention to stains, scratches and the grime in the corners.

Clean all of the windows and mirrors until they shine. Dust all furniture and decorations that you plan to put back in the space. This is the opportunity to make some decisions about what truly fits in the entryway and what was simply there because it's always been there. Also take the time to notice the details - our house numbers are on the front door and they were getting scratched up. It's time to paint them - sometimes the little things make a huge difference.

Now, one of the first priorities in your entryway is space. If you just have a little hall or a few feet that open up into another room, you may not have much floor area for furniture. Clutter or piles of coats and boots make it seem even smaller. Find new homes for outerwear and bags, even if it's hanging them on the wall or tucking them in a nearby closet.

We have Danny's grandfather's hi-fi in our entry, and it's all that can fit there. The space is so small that you couldn't put much else in there, but it's the perfect size to allow room for someone to come inside, walk past and move on through. This is a conversation piece - pick something for your entryway that isn't some copy-able piece that anyone could have.

The color of your entryway can speak volumes about your home. Are you a plain white type of person or do you prefer bright bolds? Do you like paint or wallpaper? Thanks to the previous owners of our house, we have the most beautiful, subtle shade of green on our walls. I think it makes the first impression of our home calm and soothing - the perfect combination for a place I'd like to be a refuge. You may not have the time, energy or money to repaint or wallpaper, but you can clean what you have, spruce up the walls with a couple of pictures or just put up an interesting border. The choice and style are yours.

The next key is what you choose to display in that first focal point of your home. We don't have anything in our home that doesn't have a story attached to it. We have family furniture and collectibles that really mean something personally. The items on display in the entryway should have special ties to your family - the people entering the house want to know exactly who you are, and your choice of decorations tell them that.

Don't forget that you probably have a line of sight from your entry to other rooms of the house. We'll tackle those areas on another day, but anything you can see from the front door will have an effect, positive or negative, on that inviting feeling you're working on.

You can definitely use existing pieces, just re-purposing them or changing them a little. The mirror in our entryway is dinged up and a little broken around the edges, but you can't tell unless you look very closely. With a handful of nails and some dollar store garland, it's become an eye-catching piece that fits with the style of the room.

Finally, go outside and close the door. Walk up, come back inside and really feel the first room of your home. Now that it is clean, organized and breathing new life, you may notice some other changes and improvements you'd like to make. Continue on in this room and praise the Lord for all the blessings He's given, just in your entryway!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Detox Your Attitude

I did my prayer walk through our home yesterday, and I pray you did, too. Getting some perspective on the situation changes everything about how you plan your attack on the contaminants in your house and life.

What that prayer walk also did was bring one thought to mind: Can I just get a new house and start over? As I wrote down all the projects I wanted to tackle and messy areas I wanted to clean, I ended up breaking the house up into 16 separate areas. I included each room, the garage, car and front and back yards. Each one got a page and they filled up quickly, but it was rather inspiring to see how much potential our home has.

And then came my second thought...can I afford to hire someone who will do all of this for me? Those 16 pages suddenly became a daunting challenge that might be better left to someone else, right?

That's when the Holy Spirit hit me in the chest like a ton of bricks. This is your home, your haven of rest. It is your responsibility to be a good steward of all the blessings God has placed in this home and has promised to keep continually.

The problem wasn't the pages of list in my hand, it was my attitude about those responsibilities. I wasn't seeing the projects ahead of me as my service to the Lord, but as time-eating, sleeve-rolling-up chores that I had put off. Perhaps it was as much seeing my shame in bright neon lights as it was realizing what had to be accomplished.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

This world doesn't find it necessary to keep the home or there wouldn't be television shows about hoarders and professional cleaning teams. This world has no problem putting work off until next week, let alone tomorrow. But by changing our personal attitude, the renewing of our mind, we can tackle what's we've procrastinated away with a whole new outlook.

When I stopped in my kitchen during my prayer walk yesterday, I immediately saw clutter, wasted space and work spaces that needed cleaning. But as I prayed over that room, the Lord showed me a space where I can prepare nutritious meals for family and friends. All it needs is the time and attention to make it good and acceptable - not a showpiece, but a clean, welcoming room that fits in the perfect will of God.

I think I may need to do my entire prayer walk again, this time looking at each room through the eyes of the Lord. He sees our homes as the center of fellowship and worship outside of the church house. If we see the house as the primary place we serve Him, it's not always work, but pleasure in serving God.

Will scrubbing bathrooms and washing windows be fun? Probably not, but I can still have a joyful song in my heart. God has blessed each and every one of us with a home, each in different styles, sizes and levels of disrepair. Each of us has a service to the Lord to keep the home and make it meet for the Master's use. Imagine what God could do with our home when it is neat, organized and cozy again.

Let's get our attitude adjustment out of the way right now so we can dive into home detox for the Lord!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Preparation For Detoxification

Starting today we begin the process of detoxing our lives - home, body, attitude, mind - the whole kit and caboodle. This is a huge undertaking, but with prayer and planning we can rid ourselves of the contaminants we've allowed in.

Before we start cleaning, sorting or throwing out anything, we need to find God's perfect will for our lives. Do a prayer walk through your house, asking the Lord in each room what He sees as problems. Pray that each area of your home be used in ways that will glorify and honor Him. What is it in each room that is keeping you from serving Him better or in new and exciting ways. Carry a notebook with you and jot down what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.

You may discover that layers of dirt and dust are creating health problems, making you less effective as God's servant. Or maybe clutter has made your bookkeeping and finances less than efficient, so you can't use the blessings He has given you to their fullest.

Perhaps your home is in beautiful, clean condition. Praise God if it is! But there is little worse than being in a rut and not enjoying the blessings God has in mind for us. Do the prayer walk anyway and see what areas you need to expand, dream and create wonderful testimony's to God greatness.

Ask that the Lord would open your eyes to the ways He wants you to build your home. Pray for wisdom and time management so that you can devote all you are and everything you have to Him. Going into any project with a plan is smart, but beginning it with God's strength and support is an outline for success.

Next, gather the tools you're going to need:
* Cleaning supplies
* A box labeled "donate"
* A box labeled "sell"
* Trash bags
* A pen and paper
* Your Bible

Keep all of these things handy for your journey through the detox process. We've all been overrun by something in our lives, either physically, spiritually or mentally, and this is the opportunity to work them all out.

Do your prayer walk today and prepare for whatever the Lord may tell you. Tomorrow we'll dig in to the detoxing with the most important part of any project - your attitude!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Can you think of one thing God has done to bless you since you woke up this morning? Can you remember a blessing from yesterday? Can you remember blessings from the past week or month? The further back we go in our memory, the more blurry those great and mighty things God has done become.

How do you jog your memory about other things in your life? Do you write yourself notes to read later? Do you mark something on your calendar or type it into your computer or phone? Do you use sticky notes or tack a reminder on the refrigerator? Perhaps you've found some system that helps you remember those important details you will need in the future.

But have you ever built an altar?

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12

God had won the war for His people. They had called upon His name in prayer and He had been faithful to preserve them from the Philistines. As Samuel set a stone up, it became a memorial of victory and praise to the Lord for His mighty works. The Lord had helped when all seemed overwhelming, and this stone was the "sticky note" placed for all to see.

Imagine walking past that stone with your children, remembering how God had won the battle. The young ones weren't there but your story of God's faithfulness solidifies their faith as well.

And what about the times when those miracles seem few and far between? Memories become cloudy and we almost forget how wonderful our Lord has been. That's the moment that we walk past the stone. Then all of the memories of a powerful and amazing God come rushing back and the trials of the day don't seem so tough anymore.

What altars do you have set up in your life? You may not have a stone in the middle of the floor or even a pile on the shelf, but you have ways that you remember God's blessings. Perhaps you have a praise journal or a photo album of precious memories. Those are always available when we're starting to see a little fuzzy.

When you go home from church on Sunday, do you tuck your Bible away on a shelf or do you keep it out handy? Do you write notes in it, or is barely cracked open? Those little messages to yourself can be the spark you need during the week to focus on the Lord.

Having Scripture hanging on the walls and framed on shelves and dressers helps as a reminder while we're going about our daily activities. Favorite verses lead us back to times when God was extremely good, exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think.

Whatever you use as a memory jogger, that is your stone of Ebenezer. Raise it high and remember how wonderfully blessed you are to be a child of God!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's Time To Detox Your Life

Now that the holidays are over, life will return to normal. But what does "normal" mean? Looking around our house this week, I would have guessed a bomb went off. With everything else going on, I haven't taken much time to set the house in order. My suspicion is that yours probably looks very similar.

As I was starting my chore list for the clean-up effort, it suddenly became clear that there was more than just a straightening needed. Little things pushed to the back burner have now become bigger things. Tasks that I had planned on doing the first of the year are now ready to be done and new ones have popped up to join them. The list is growing because my home needs tended to.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women 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. Titus 2:3-5

As Christian women and wives we are called by God to be keepers at home. If you were to take off the blinders like I did and look around your home, you'll probably see a to-do list like mine. Your personal life is most likely the same way - your diet, exercise, appearance and relationships could all use a good cleaning as well.

So for the next few weeks we're going to go room-by-room and space-by-space, physically and spiritually, detoxing our life. The word "detox" means getting all of the contaminants and toxins out of our system. While we can see the dirt and grime around our home, we may not always see the dirt and grime in our body and mind. Together we can detox each area of our daily life.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

Whether by neglect and lack of time or by no fault of our own, we need to take a serious look at our homes. If we take the wisdom God has given and apply it to the building of our homes, we can honor the Lord while caring for those we love.

Let's detox our lives, starting on Monday with a prayer walk. Prepare to get real with yourself, get down and dirty, and make changes in your home and body that will bring glory to our Heavenly Father. It may sound like a lot of work, but what greater joy is there than to walk down the path God has placed before us? And when you're working with sisters in Christ, you'll always have support and encouragement.

Ready to detox? See you Monday!