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Where to Start When You Don't Know Where to Start
pamela spurling



Dear Sister in Christ,


You know, I have many letters from discouraged sisters.  Maybe you are one of the sisters who is feeling low at this time.  Perhaps you are struggling with a trial that’s become overwhelming to you —perhaps you’ve even lost hope.  Well, I encourage you to not despair and to not give up.  What I want to share today is prompted by letter of reply I wrote to a sister who was totally overwhelmed by her situation and had (what I call) lost her house.  By this I mean that her home was in such a state that she no longer felt she’d ever get a handle on it and would never come out from what seemed to her an avalanche.  Maybe you’ve been at just such a place in your life and you can relate to this sisters’ dilemma.


So, then, today I’d like to offer help and share:
                           “Where to Start When You Don’t Know Where to Start.” 


If your life seems chaotic and you no longer have any idea how to get a handle on your life or your home, I’d like to offer some encouragement and practical suggestions about where to start when you don’t know where to start.   I understand and I hope to be of help to you.  First, go before the LORD. Honesty is the best policy here: admit you’ve let things go; seek help for correction; make the corrections; and go on.  Go on with a new resolve to maintain order---everyone has to start somewhere.  All of this may take a bit of time depending on your situation.   [Remember these ideas are for someone who’s really lost the house.]


You can begin with a very simple *daily* task:  Every day when you get up, do this FIRST... get up and make your bed and basically tidy your room and spend time in the Word and on your knees.  Try to do this everyday for several days — it will become a very natural habit.   Even if you start with a few minutes at first… after you begin, you’ll long for that time.


THEN — Get the children up and teach the children to do the same as you’ve begun doing.  Try doing this everyday for several days.  Accept all attempts at compliance cheerfully!  Remember… you didn’t get into the “mess” overnight and you won’t get out of it overnight.


If you’ve “lost the house” — meaning: IF the home is *totally* out of order, then DO this:  Even as you’re establishing your initial morning habits, go in and prepare some or all of your dinner for that night.  Make a salad, a Jell-O/fruit salad and put them in the fridge, put some meat and veggies and broth in a crock pot to simmer all day and forget about dinner.  This will enable you to concentrate on tackling your job.   Today’s the day you must tackle the job.  A clutter house is a cluttered schedule is a cluttered mind is a depressed mother.  Really.   You can and must get over this mountain and you are not alone.  I pray as I write this that every reader will be blessed and enabled to do what must be done and, the LORD being your helper, you will get this done.


You can make this an adventure.  It really can work and it really will work if you want it to!  Let your family know what you intend to do and what you intend to maintain.  As cheerfully as you can do it, let them know that everyone is going to need to play a part in the program.  


Get dressed, shoes on!  Put up your hair and put on an apron.  Mobilize your troops.  Now, give every person a box or laundry basket and have them go all over the home with their box and pick up every single thing that is theirs and put it in the box and take the box to their room. WORK TOGETHER.   Pick up every piece of laundry in the house and put it in a barrel.  If you have a big family, a literal barrel with wheels is great for the laundry — whatever you have is best for now.  Fill the hamper with every single piece of dirty laundry. 


Pick up every thing that rightfully belongs in the kitchen---load the dishwasher and run it (you may need to come back and unload and reload and rerun the dishwasher).  Put every thing away in the kitchen. Wipe the counters.  You don’t have time for a “deep clean” right now, “cleaned up” will do!  Leave that room so that you don't hang out and snack and visit.    You do not need a snack yet.  Your dinner is already being taken care of, so you needn't spend time there.  


Now then, run a load of laundry!  Then go pick up every single newspaper, newsletter, magazine, paper, etc and put them in the recycle bin or the box for "papers to go through"  on your desk.  Then, cheerfully set up a trash barrel in your hallway and by your back door and throw away every single item that ought to be tossed.  Then, cheerfully go into every room and put things in piles... a pile of books, a pile of clothes, a pile of toys, a pile of papers, a pile of shoes, etc. 


All of this may have taken a day or two… maybe even more.  Try to stay with it no matter what.  You may need to repeat all these things again and again depending on how much there is to do to get your home in order!  Do much of your dinner preparation each morning so you won’t be derailed from your tasks.  Don’t take breaks and don’t snack.  You will be fine.  As you work along, learn to establish a routine... and every day go around your home and pick up every single thing that is out of place and put it in a box — learn to get that box emptied right away into each proper place.  


Gather everyone together and again explain your plan of attack.  Things are going to be tough for a few days but then after everyone gets together and orders things up, you’ll have a smooth running home.  Assure them it’ll be worth it and *you* are going to set an example.  (If your children are all very young, then enlist the help of a trusted friend or a young lady who’d be willing to come help you get your house back.) 


So then… You’ve been going around the house, gathering up stuff that needed to be tossed, washed or taken to another room.  Now that you have things in the right rooms---even if they’re still in boxes… keep attempting order!  FIRST clean out/order up the drawers and closet.  RUN and switch the loads in the laundry— folding into the basket(s) for distribution later... then go back to the bedrooms...  Now you are ready to tackle each pile.  Put the clean clothes back in the drawers or closet, put the dirty clothes in the barrel in the hallway (because you will have found dirty clothes in the closet and drawers).  Put away the shoes.  Put all the books where they go. Give away most all the toys! Seriously! Allow only the number of toys that will fit on a specific toy shelf or in the toy cupboard.  If you have a toy cupboard or cabinet, then get a latch to keep the CLEAN cabinet closed until permission is granted to have a play time or whatever.  Consider getting a lock for the cabinet if chaos is a problem.  Keep everything put away until it is time to rotate the toys and exchange them for the *few* that are in daily use.   Make sure you put things you find (that need to go elsewhere) into a box designated for that.  Put the things for “give-away” out in the garage or in another location — set a plan for actually taking them to the thrift-store.


GO switch the loads again — folding clothes into the basket(s) again.  This should take you less than 15 minutes each time.  Then go back and— put away the "stuff" particular to each person... papers, books, hair things, etc.  When you have gone through all the piles, then go through the box of things you have gathered from all over the house.  Put the stuff away.  Don't keep junk or junque.  Then clean up the rest of the room.  Again, this might be done over a period of days!  Dust everything, wash the windows, curtains, light fixtures, vacuum, arrange things, make places for things to go.  Put up shelves or whatever you can do — some shelves or containers may just need to be temporary for right now — don’t let that hinder you from pressing on.  Don’t compare your self or your work or your possessions to someone else or someone else’s.   Above all, set the Joyful example!!!


Learn to put things away each time yourself!!!  Specifically label shelves if you need to — this will be for *you* to put things away.  Others will catch on, too!  A shelf or shelving unit by the backdoor can hold the shoes.  A basket in a designated spot can hold mail — same place every day, another can hold things for your husband, and another one can hold newspapers.  Large hooks on the Hall wall can hold coats, hats, mittens, purses, duffel bags.  Hooks in the bathroom can hold towels.  Hooks by the door can hold your keys and your purse.  A large box at the bottom of the stairs can hold the things that need to be put away at the end of EACH day—every day.  A hamper in the hallway can hold the dirty clothes.  A shelf can be made by each child’s bed to hold specific things just for that child.


As dinner is taken care of each day, new habits for mealtimes and new determination for order is established, you’ll begin to understand and realize a new freedom.   And there’s nothing like success to “breed success!”


A basin of soapy water can sit in the sink to hold dishes till washing time and while you are preparing meals. Learn to clean as you go.  A shelf in the hallway can hold the different baskets of books and papers for each child's school work.  Children’s schoolbooks/workbooks can be kept in separate bins or basins so that they will keep things together for each day’s work.  A shelf in the most-used room can hold the box or bin of  library books or borrowed books —label that box and don’t let other books/tapes/CD’s in that designated “Library Box.”.


Washcloths in a basket on a kitchen shelf can be ready to be wet and given to each child at meal time to wipe up their area and themselves—you'd be surprised how far this little procedure can take you!!!  It’s amazing how clean you can keep things by employing this little habit of hand-wiping and table-chair wiping at mealtimes.  A basin can be used at each mealtime to gather all the dishes and flatware to take to the kitchen— use less steps and get more done.  You see the pattern?  Do more in less time and get more done with fewer steps.


Get up each day and get going — you'll be so glad you did.  Play beautiful music — get rid of agitating music — really, that so-called upbeat music will eventually agitate you and will subconsciously agitate your children.   It you have a TV, get rid of it or keep it OFF!  Keep computer time in check!  And despite what anyone says about dexterity and coordination, computers are not the best use of time and skill---and for right now, there’s no time for computers—later, yes, but right now you have a mountain to scale and conquer.   Keep everyone busy and attempt joyful attitudes—whiners are downers.  Little slogans help… no whiner at this diner but a winner eats dinner… they’ll catch on.  No “murmuring” is key!


Well, this whole process above may take weeks—and you’ll need to repeat it daily till you get it ALL done!  You already have what it takes to do what you need to do.  The Lord will help you — He is a God of order and He loves you and will help you accomplish what you need to do: with joy.  Don't give up — it's worth it!!  Colossians 1.11 


Remember… it all starts on your knees: the Most High place.


With love,

pamela spurling

2004 pamela spurling

Revised January 2007   PO Box 2130 Snohomish WA 98291 USA   19992010   PO Box 2130 Snohomish, Washington 98291 USA
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