Why I Blog: Live Deliberately

 

Tons of blogs vie for your attention. You can find blogs on organizing, cooking, cleaning, parenting, getting close to God, renewing your marriage, and so many more.

So why do you read this one?

Over the weekend I began to think more about why I write, and what the main message is that I’m trying to convey. After all, I don’t just want to write so that I entertain you, or so that you all boost my traffic numbers. I want to write to challenge you–and at the same time to challenge myself, because through blogging and writing I often clarify my own goals and thoughts.

What am I trying to do? Let me start by telling you what my primary purpose is NOT. I am not trying to teach you how to clean, or get organized, or parent, or even how to be married. I am not even trying to teach you how to get closer to God (though I hope you do that through this blog). There are so many blogs that specialize in each of these things, and do it better.

What I am trying to do is to spur you on to live deliberately; to challenge what other people have told you you should do with your life. I want to ask those questions that open up our minds to the possibilities that God really does have for our lives, and see how things could be richer, more fulfilling, more meaningful, more intimate.

That’s the meaning of the name of the blog: To Love, Honor and Vacuum, which was originally the name of my first book. Sometimes we get into this groove where it feels like most of our lives is a job, an endless assembly line, and we can’t get off. But life isn’t like that. You always have choices, and those choices can take you closer to God’s heart, and thus closer to true joy.

I firmly believe that our culture works directly against that as it seeps into us, even when we don’t want it to. And that culture teaches primariliy three things: laziness, selfishness, and dissatisfaction. It teaches laziness because it says the most important thing is to be entertained. We aren’t to try hard at anything; we are to find the shortcuts. Get away with the least effort possible! It teaches selfishness because it says that the most important thing is to be happy, rather than to be purposeful. We are to find happiness, and if we don’t have happiness, we should dump what we’re doing. And it teaches dissatisfaction because it’s always showing us how we could be doing a little bit more, trying a little bit harder, and finally achieving success. Except that it’s always that little bit more out of reach.

I don’t want to teach you how to work harder; frankly, I think most of us are busy enough. I simply want to teach you how to think differently about how we live. Most people, I think, go through this life of being a wife and mommy without giving it real thought. What am I building? Are we growing closer? Does my family love God? Are we spending time in a meaningful way? A lot of us don’t have time for these questions because we’re so busy trying to get laundry done and chauffeur kids and head to work, because we’ve bought into the idea that life has to be that chaotic. It doesn’t.

Yet we won’t see those possibilities unless we stop drifting through life. That, I think, is the modern malady. We are drifting, allowing the stream of our culture to push us where it wants us to go. We are working for more and more stuff. We are sending our kids into more and more activities and not seeing them enough. We are busy so we don’t connect with our spouses. We expect our spouses to meet all our needs. We feel dissatisfied, but we can’t identify why?

Now please understand; I do not have all of this figured out. That’s one of the reasons I write! As I blog, I remind myself what I should be doing, and should be focusing on. But these are things I have thought deeply about. My husband and I had to work to get our marriage strong, because it did not start out that way. We had to fight to stay strong when our son died, and everyone told us that our marriage now faced a crisis. I had to make the decision to give up what would have been a lucrative career because I wanted to watch my kids grow up. And my husband is right now struggling with how much he should work, given that the kids will be out of the house in four short years.

We live in a poisonous culture, and I don’t want it to poison me or my family. And so I challenge everything we do. Why am I doing this? Is this necessary? I want to make sure that at the end of my life, I can look back and at least say, for better or for worse, I made choices to do what I did. I’m not blaming anyone else; I deliberately thought about it and prayed about it.

So that’s who I am, and that’s why I blog. I want to live deliberately, especially in my marriage, in my parenting, and in my home. I hope in these writings that I will both inspire you on towards purpose and meaning, and give myself the occasional kick in the pants, too. I want us all to live for God, not for our culture.

From now on, then, when I write a post, I’m going to ask myself, does this fit? Am I urging people to live deliberately, to stop drifting? And if I am, I’ll post it. If I’m not, I may leave it. I want you all to know who I am, so that you know what you’ll get when you come here.

So that’s me. Now, who are you? Why are you here? What do you like? I’d love to know!

Thursday Thoughts: Prizes, Shielding Kids, and more!

Hello, friends!

I’m busy editing chapter 10 of “The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex” today, but I have a few things I want to tell you about, and a prize to give away!

First, the prize. Last week I asked you all what the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received was. One lucky commenter would win a copy of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and this morning I used a random number generator to pick a comment. It was Michelle from How to Eat an Apple! Thanks, Michelle, and congratulations! She participated yesterday in Wifey Wednesday, too. I’ll try to offer prizes more often, because I like giving things away!


Now for something not so fun. I’m royally ticked at the moment with our disgusting society. As readers of this blog know, I’m pretty picky about what media comes into our house. We don’t have cable, and get no TV channels. We only watch movies that we rent or borrow, and thus think about first. The girls listen to lots of music, but they’re very discerning and don’t listen to stuff I’d hate. The computer has controls. They’re allowed on Facebook, but I know their passwords and can see what they’re doing.

So I think I’m pretty safe.

Well, on Tuesday we went to the library and rented some Agatha Christie Miss Marple movies. Agatha Christie, people! That’s safe, right?

Apparently not. I remember all these movies I saw from the seventies and eighties that were fine, but apparently the BBC is now producing a new series that is not fine. We were watching A Pocketful of Rye, and right in the middle of it, with no warning, is a scene of a couple having sex in not exactly the missionary position. You couldn’t see body parts, but it was obvious what they were doing. It was only about a 15 second clip, but boy was it jarring.

Then the next day I got a chat message on Facebook from a friend asking me if I knew what Facebook group my 13yo had just joined. I took a look–it was one of these groups for Christian girls about how beauty is on the inside, and tell each other we’re beautiful, etc. etc. Pretty harmless stuff. A bunch of teen girls that she knew had joined, so she joined.

The group had 125,000 members.

Well, somebody decided to post some extremely graphic disgusting porn pictures on that group’s wall. I saw them; Katie hadn’t. So I made Katie remove it from her profile, and all was “well”, I suppose.

But what it reinforced to me is that I can’t protect my kids from everything. Even when I think I’m taking a ton of precautions, stuff still gets through.

So I’ve had to sit down with my girls again and have a talk about it. We’re very open in this house, so it’s not like they don’t know about things, but I don’t want them to have gross pictures in their head, or a distorted view of what sex is supposed to be. They’re at the age when they’re starting to first experience sexual feelings, and when it’s tied to stuff like that, it can do long term damage.

It’s bad enough with girls. I can’t imagine what those of you with boys go through.

Now, I know many parents who have just decided to say no to Facebook for their kids, and I understand. But honestly, it’s the only way for my girls to keep in touch with some of the amazing Christian kids they meet at all the quiz meets we go to, and they’ve developed some awesome friendships out of it. I know it has its dark side, but it has its plus side, too, and sometimes when Rebecca feels like none of her friends near home understand her, she can go online and talk and pray with someone from Florida or Kentucky and she feels much better. That’s worth something to me.

It’s all just a giant balancing act, and I guess we have to realize that a parent’s job is not only to shield–for we cannot completely shield–but also help them process things when bad stuff gets through.

I understand that. I’m just not all that happy about it!

What's the Worst Advice You've Ever Received?

I’m busy working on my manuscript for “A Good Girl’s Guide to Sex” today, so I don’t have time to write a real post.

So instead, I want to ask you to write something!

I’m putting together a column on “The Worst Advice You’ve Ever Received“. So let me ask you: What’s the worst advice you’ve received? Let me know, and I’ll choose one respondent to win a copy of my book, “To Love, Honor and Vacuum”!

I’ll make the draw next Tuesday! Thanks for your help!

Feeling More Like a Maid than a Wife and a Mother?

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I’m still absolutely loving my Christmas vacation, but I thought I’d take a moment and link to a great excerpt of my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum that was just published at Power to Change.

Here’s a bit of it:

To Love, Honor and VacuumI laughed when I read a recent study done in Europe about women’s time commitments and how these commitments affected their sex lives. In Italy, women have made great strides in the workforce. Yet their progress at home has lagged behind that of other Western European nations, mostly because their culture is one in which men tend to take their wives for granted. So today, when an Italian woman comes home, she still does most of the housework. She is run off of her feet, and the end result is that she spends less time on sex than do women in Finland, Sweden or England. Italian men, who are known for their machismo, aren’t actually getting as much loving as English men are, largely because culturally they have not yet learned to respect women’s contributions.

We may not be as undervalued as our Italian sisters are, but we’re still often taken for granted.

It’s hard for many men to respect what we do because they themselves aren’t reared for it and would never do it. Women typically do the lion’s share of the housework, so it’s assumed we’re not as important as the men are, since they’re able to escape the drudgery. You may even buy into some of this mentality, wondering who you are since you’re “just a mother’” or “just a wife.” Ultimately, though, everything will pass away except people. The impact we have on our kids or our neighbors is perhaps even more important than any job we could have, and this impact is only possible because of the work we do at home, whether or not we also have a job.

If you husband diminishes the value of what you do, then he perceives value outside of Christ.

Have a family meeting and talk about where you’re going as a family. How does he want the children raised? What does he want for the family in the long run? What values does he want your children to have? How are they going to develop them? Many people have never answered these questions. They go through life working at their jobs without asking the reason behind what they’re doing. Throw everything on the table: his job, your job, your kids’ schooling, all your commitments and activities, and ask God for a vision for your family. Once you both have one, it’s easier for you as a couple to see how everyone’s labor, wherever it’s done, fits into that vision.

Even if your husband isn’t a believer, you can still discuss where your family is heading. Brainstorm about how you can make sure your family meets the goals you set. Chances are this will involve valuing the typical things we women do, like creating a comfortable home and nurturing the children. Once you’ve verbalized the importance of your contribution, it’s easier for him to want to be involved around the house, or, at the very least, to be grateful that you are!

Pick up the book here, and get your year off to a good start!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum Review

Just received an email from a woman who read To Love, Honor and Vacuum:

I’ve been asking God some questions lately and he directed me to your book from our church library and it’s been a breath of fresh air and a source of hope like you can’t imagine. Not only do I find common sense and truth in what you’re saying but I feel loved and cherished knowing that God has directed me to read it.

That made my day! Don’t know much about To Love, Honor and Vacuum: the book? Here’s a 1 minute intro:

Buy it on Amazon here!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum Quote: A Life of Your Own

Quick thought from To Love, Honor and Vacuum:

Don’t let your life completely revolve around your husband. If you don’t talk with anyone else, socialize with anyone else, or go anywhere without him, there is no mystery in the relationship. Instead of a lover, you become an obligation because you pressure him to fulfill all your emotional and relational needs. That’s why you need to keep a life of your own. God made you uniquely you. It’s okay to pursue your gifts, interests, or hobbies and to expand your horizons. Don’t wait for your husband to fill all the space in your life; ask God to help you fill it with the things He wants to grow in you!

 

Quick Wisdom from To Love, Honor and Vacuum


Are you frustrated by the fact that your home is out of control, and no one else seems to want to help get it back into control? Has life become chaotic, and you feel like you bear that burden alone?

That’s the life of most women these days. And I don’t think it should be! My philosphy in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum–and in this To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog–is that everybody should grow closer to God, and that means that everybody should learn to show love, should bear their own load, and should be responsible.

Including your kids.

So how do you do that? You can yell, which doesn’t work, or you can institute conseqeunces. Sometimes, though, consequences are difficult to figure out. And it’s hard to be consistent. I thought today I’d publish one of the consequence ideas I had in my book, and then ask you to add your own!

Don’t Pick Up Things Off of the Floor

Rationale: Picking up toys and clothes that family emmbers leave lying around in common areas (not bedrooms if this is agreed upon) teaches them that others will step in when they are irresponsible.

Consequence: Some families have a “jubilee” basket, similar to the jubilee in the Old Testament, where all land is returned to its original owner after a set time. In the same way, after children leave for school in the morning, or after they begin work (if they’re homeschooled), or go out to play, you pick up everything left in common areas and leave it in a basket in a closet. You can return them on Sunday, or the owner can redeem them prior to that for a dime or a quarter or whatever you think is appropriate.

On occasion, our family has had to do something more drastic. After repeatedly asking the kids to clean the playroom, or their bedroom, to no avail, we’ve hauled out the garbage bags and filled them with toys for the Salvation Army. If they had too many toys to keep tidy, then some had to do! Sometimes the kids helped us weed through, and other times they wailed on the sidelines as we confiscated stuffed animals they hadn’t looked at twice in two years. But when there are fewer toys, it’s much easier to clean up, and children are less likely to be overwhelmed by the task.

The jubilee system is one of those things that doesn’t need to be used very long. It puts fear into children, and pretty soon they stop leaving stuff around!

What do you do for consequence based discipline in your home? Leave a comment, and share it with us!

And don’t forget to check out To Love, Honor and Vacuum! Get an autographed copy from me here, or order from Amazon!

 

Quick Quotes from To Love, Honor and Vacuum

On Saturdays at my house we clean like little fanatics. We put the kitchen timer, give everyone a list, and away we go!

It’s much easier now that the kids are older and are able to help. But I remember how frustrating it was when the kids were young.

Let me leave with a little bit from my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum:

Face it…Housework’s Depressing! Studies show that housework can be one of the most depressing jobs, whether you’re doing a whole day of it or just fifteen minutes of dishes.

There are three reasons for this: you usually do it alone, nobody thanks you when you finish something, and besides that, it’s never done anyway! The other day I finished vacuuming only to find my daughter playing with Play-Doh…on the floor.

Can any of you relate? I find laundry one of the most never-ending tasks, too. You’re never done all the laundry and the ironing at the same time. And if you are, that state only lasts for a few hours before you create more!

What’s the point of all this? Don’t let your life revolve around housework. Homemaking is a noble task, and I do find it gratifying in small doses. I love getting a kitchen counter all clean, or a batch of muffins made. But on the whole, the things taht matter are relationships. If you spend so much time cleaning that you don’t play with your kids, or you’re so worried about the state of your house that they can’t play lest they get things dirty, you’re doing something wrong.

My philosophy: keep your house comfortable so that people can relax there and hang out there. Make it a place your family wants to be. But do this with a plan, and with speed! Make housework go faster so that you have more time on the important things.

Want help with this? I’ve got FREE household charts to organize your chores, your schedule, and your kids’ chores!

And check out To Love, Honor and Vacuum! If you want more help making housework go faster and learning how to share the load, get an autographed copy from me, or order from Amazon!

Here’s a quick video of it to make you smile:

 

Have a great weekend!

Quote from To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Until you can say, “I am sticking with my husband through thick and thin,” you will always be testing him. “Does he measure up? Is he meeting my needs?” As soon as you ask the question, the answer will be no.

Find To Love, Honor and Vacuum at Amazon.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum Review

Did you know you can read To Love, Honor and Vacuum with one hand?

Apparently that’s a big plus!

For those of you who don’t know, To Love, Honor and Vacuum is not just the name of this blog; it’s the name of my first book. It’s for all of you out there who feel more like maids than wives and mothers, and want to figure out a way of running your household so that people respect each other, are kind to each other, and help out. It’s about changing the way YOU do things, instead of waiting for others to change. And it helps you focus on God’s priorities, rather than our own.

Anyway, I got this email earlier this week and thought I’d share it with you:

I just bought a couple of your books “To Love, Honor, and Vacuum” and “Honey, I don’t have a Headache Tonight.” Right after I ordered my copies I recommended your blog entry on Doormats or Housewives to a good friend of mine who, after reading it, decided to order “To Love, Honor, and Vacuum” as well. She has a 3 month old baby and a husband who goes to work and comes home to play computer. She had just been telling me how stressed she was about her house and husband (I am actually going to help her out with housework but it’s tough because I live almost 1.5 hours away). My husband isn’t quite as addicted to the computer as hers is is but also spends a lot of time on the computer instead of with our toddler and me (though my hubby has a more relaxed work schedule and tries to help out around the house).

Anyway, I recieved my books last night and started reading the first one this morning (reading about housework when I should actually be doing it lol!). I sent my friend a text to say that I had started reading it and that it was really good so far and I could totally relate to everything you were saying.

She sent me back a text: That’s cool. I’m excited. Hey, how big is the book? Like can you read with one hand or do you need both? Weird question, I know lol!

Me: Not a weird question at all. I am playing trains with Caleb with my other hand, It is most definitely one hand readable.

Her: Very nice, that’s exactly why I was wondering. I have other books I would like to read but you need two hands and how often do you get both of your own at the same time!

So I just wanted to shoot you off an email to thank you for making sure that the book is one hand readable. I’m sure that many moms appreciate it!

There you go. If you need to, you can read it with one hand. Want an autographed copy? Order it from me. Or you can get it at Amazon here: