by Leslee Stewart

On your mark. Get set. CLEAN!

Housework doesn’t rank very high on my list of favorite things to do. But recently I was introduced to a new online tool that combines cleaning with competition. And that equals a lot of fun.

Fly Lady Bingo
Fly Lady Bingo is a facebook-based game that helps you quickly knock out daily chores while playing bingo with other FlyLady fans online. For those unfamiliar with The FlyLady, she is a de-clutter queen who has built an empire on motivating people to get rid of their junk and turn housekeeping into an easy extension of daily life. Check out her website, www.flylady.net for more information about her methods.

To play Fly Lady Bingo, first you need to “like” Fly Lady Bingo on facebook. Once you do this, you’ll notice there are two types of bingo games played on the site: 15×6 and 7×7.

A 15×6 game means you make a list of six chores you need to do. At the top or bottom of the hour, a “caller” will announce a game on the site and will call out a random number (#3). You then set your timer for 15 minutes and do whatever chore you have as #3 on your list (clean kitchen). Every 15 minutes, the caller will select another number and you continue to do your corresponding chore. After the first three numbers are completed, a 15 minute break is called (FlyLady encourages breaks when cleaning – gotta love that!). The game resumes until all numbers, 1-6, have been called.  A 15×6 game typically takes two hours to complete. If you made it through the whole game, post/yell ‘Bingo!’ when you’re done. You’ve won yourself some progress and a cleaner home with a little fun in the mix.

The 7×7 game works exactly the same, only you make a list of seven chores and you have seven minutes to complete each one, with a new number being called out every seven minutes. This game is better for lighter chores like dusting one room, paying bills, or starting a load of laundry.

The participant dialogue during the game is fun, too. Many players share whatever task they’re working on at that time. One lady was using her 15 minutes to PUPA the family room (that’s Pick Up and Put Away – lots of acronyms are used in Fly Lady Bingo.) Another player was menu planning. And participants are from all over the world, which adds to the uniqueness of the game.

I’ll be honest that I was a little intimidated by Fly Lady Bingo when I first checked it out. Between the fast pace and the acronyms, I wasn’t sure I could keep up. But the game’s facebook page has detailed instructions on how to play and what acronyms stand for (see the site’s “notes” tab). Plus I found the players and callers friendly and welcoming. After asking a few questions and reading through the instructions a few times, I felt more confident to give it a try.

Fly Lady Bingo is a great tool to use especially when you’re not feeling motivated to clean – it’s quick, it keeps you focused, and it gets the job done. So sign up, make your list, and get your house a little cleaner today. BINGO! 


Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

by Renee Scott

My disdain for clutter is an understatement.  It bothers me to see items in disarray in my home.  I will find myself feeling a level of imbalance if there’s clutter.  Even though I hate it, let’s face it, mess happens.  It’s inevitable with two kids and a busy life.  Just imagine what it feels like for me right now as I undergo a major de-cluttering in our home. 

Every room.  Every closet.  Every cabinet. 

It’s my present day reality as I prepare for our neighborhood garage sale.  A normally My clutterbeautiful space in our home is now full of stuff.  Despite the fact I frequently give away clothes, toys, and shoes, I’m finding out that it is very easy to tuck items away.  We also have a tendency to forget about those items.  They soon become a part of the look and feel of the room. 

Here are a couple of reasons why it’s vital to remove clutter from your space:

Make room for additional items

  • Kids grow fast (and sometimes so do the adults).  Before you know it, a new wardrobe is needed and there’s nowhere to place the articles of clothing because the old stuff is blocking the way.
  • Share/Donate with others – Luke 6:38 (NLT) shares the following:  “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Can you imagine what your home would look like if you lived in it year after year and never decided to remove old items?  The same holds true for our personal lives.  The elimination of old habits and mindsets are a necessity.  It’s also important to understand that the decluttering process in our own personal lives can be painful.  It may require severing relationships that are unhealthy which is always difficult.  Regardless of the pain, it’s imperative!  Similar to a bone in your body that becomes disjointed, it’s essential that the physician return the body part back into place. 

Take confidence in the fact, the temporary pain will subside!

The same holds true for the de-cluttering process.  It’s crucial that you yield to the fact, pain has purpose.  Here’s how I start the process to declutter in my own life:

  • Remove “noises” that cause disorder by taking three days with very little media influence. No radio. No phone. No television. No social media. 

There are times when we need to pull away from the “sound” in the world that hinder us from having clear minds.  We need free space in our heads to allow us an opportunity to hear the gentle whispers that God speaks daily to us.  He always provides tender words of guidance but it’s often difficult to hear because we don’t take the time to quiet ourselves.

During this time, change the atmosphere in your surroundings.  Replace the “noise” in your life with scriptures, prayer, and inspirational music.  Take time to journal thoughts and ideas.  This period of solitude will expose a bounty of past hurts, poor relationships, and behaviors that hinder your forward progress.  You will be amazed how 72 hours can transform your life and jump start the decluttering process in your life!

Renee ScottRenee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, Double Portion Inspiration, where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of 15 years and mother of two children.

By Becca Christensen

Two years ago I never would have imagined I’d be blogging about health.  I had been overweight my whole life, having tried and failed on more than a few occasions to lose weight.  I was unhappy with not just the way I looked but the way I felt!

After moving back to Florida and returning to Grace Family Church as my home church, I determined it was time to work on discipline in my spiritual, personal, and financial life.  I began by signing up for the Dave Ramsey course and as I’ve shared in a previous blog, it changed my life.  What I didn’t share is that it didn’t just change my financial life, but it showed me the value of discipline.

After taking control of my finances, I determined it was time to address my health. In fact, it was way past time!  I started on Easter weekend two years ago and within a year I’d dropped 70 pounds and run my first 5k!

That’s a little background but what I really want to share with you today is a few tips that I hope will encourage you on your journey to meet your personal health goals:

  1. Set attainable goals.  While it’s important to push yourself, it’s equally important to set goals you can reach.  If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, don’t set your goal at 10 pounds per week!  Most weight loss programs suggest 1-2 pounds is healthy. If you want to train to run a marathon, don’t start with a 12 miler.  Set goals you can meet so that you will keep working towards them and can feel proud of your performance.
  2. Have Accountability.  There’s safety in numbers.  Find a friend or group of friends with the same goal(s).  Make sure you check in weekly. This will keep you motivated and keep you from falling off the bandwagon.
  3. Make a Plan.  If you fail to plan you can go ahead and plan on failing!  Eating healthy requires having healthy foods on hand.  Working out requires scheduling in the time and following through.  So whatever your goals, plan out how you will achieve them.
  4. Reward Yourself.  I find that rewarding myself goes a long way.  Every month that I reach my weight loss or exercise goals, I reward myself.  The trick is not to reward yourself with a cupcake (you laugh, but we’ve all done this).  A new workout top, a few new songs on your ipod, or perhaps a new workout video can be great rewards to keep you moving forward.
  5. Pick a Plan You Can Stick With.  The greatest mistake I see with people failing at their health goals is picking a plan they can’t maintain.  Realistically you aren’t going to give up carbs forever or workout 3 times per day for the rest of your life.  Make a plan you can stick with long term so the results will last.

Taking care of our bodies and taking our health seriously is important!  I hope that these tips help you reach your goals and when you need motivation look for it here:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – I Corinthians 6:19-20

Becca Christensen works as an event specialist in the non-profit/sports world. She loves to bake, travel, read, blog, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca attends Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her blog, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

 

by Julie Jaunese

Have you ever given much thought to prayer?  Prayer is the means to have a one-on-one relationship with God.  We are able to tell Him our deepest thoughts; although I am convinced God knows our thoughts before we have them.

I was thinking about prayer the other day and began to think of the picture my nephew took of a forest fire in Michigan.  (He works for the National Forestry Service.)  I had been thinking about prayer as a tree for some time.  When we pray, we are the trunk.  Each branch is formed by the prayers we offer to God.  By that I mean we have a branch that forms each part our family.  I have a husband and two daughters so that would be three separate branches.  Each person in my family has their own unique need that requires prayer. They also have friends and burdens they would like you to pray about and these items form the twigs. Another branch I like to pray for would be the government and those in authority over us.  Other branches are friends, relatives, missionaries, those who are ill, the people I work with and those I work for.  My tree might look entirely different than yours but in both cases, we are the trunk of the tree.

Each time we pray, claiming God’s word – especially when we use the scriptures when we pray, we set in motion a fire storm from heaven.  God hears us and dispatches his angels.  If you look at the picture of the trees you see the fire beginning from the bottom and extending upward.  When we are ‘well grounded’- when our roots go deep – when we memorize the scripture – when we put our faith in the God who created us, knowing that we are on a first name basis with Our Father (meaning we are close to Him 24/7) – that is when we see answers to our prayers.  That’s when the fire of God goes up through our trunk and extends to all of the branches and even to the small twigs that are on the peripherals of our lives. 

I love reading the prayer of Solomon in I Kings 8 – think about the above analogy as you read it. I have used the words from The Message Bible below.

“O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your personal word. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!

Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, “You’ll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel’s throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have.

O God of Israel, let this all happen; confirm and establish it!”

Go on and read the chapter, not just my excerpt.  Don’t you love to tell God how much you appreciate him?  I love to thank God for his answers to my prayers.  Remember, don’t rush away at the end of your prayer and go on to something else.  Sit for a few minutes in your quiet place and allow God to speak to you.  If you were talking to your best friend you wouldn’t rush off after they shared their heart to you.  You would contemplate what they had just told you and then you would talk to them.  God wants to talk to you so be patient and WAIT UPON THE LORD.  You will be glad you did!

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for over 40 years.  She has two daughters and two grandsons with a third grandchild on the way.  She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house.

 

By Misty Umholtz

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is the true story of how Jen Hatmaker (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it? There are many thought-provoking moments in the book, but at the same time, Jen Hatmaker is one of the funniest authors I have ever read. Her book offered many laugh-out-loud moments that had my husband asking, “What is so funny?”

Jen, a pastor’s wife, did her due diligence for this project. She took seven months and fasted from one thing each month. She did a lot of prep work in advance to make this all work successfully. She had a husband who was on board plus her three kids all go to school, which in my opinion, makes it all more doable. She also did it with seven of her closest friends by her side, who she calls “The Council.” Even when you’re fasting, friends make anything way more fun.

Month 1- Food.  Jen and her husband ate only 7 items for 31 days. Chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and apples.

Month 2-Clothes. Jen wore 7 pieces of articles of clothing for a whole month. Underwear did not count, (she got to change those, thank God). Not 7 outfits but one pair of plain jeans, one long-sleeve shirt, two short sleeved shirts, one pair of capri pants, one long dress shirt and cowboy boots or tennis shoes.

Month 3-Possessions. Every day, their family gave away 7 items that they owned and used in their home. Yes, 7 items each day. And they did not just drop it off at a Goodwill but hand delivered it to the homeless and people in need in their church and schools.

Month 4-Media. Their whole family shut it all off. No TV, gaming systems, facebook/twitter, iphone apps, radio, texting, and internet (except for business and school purposes).

Month 5-Waste. Their family started gardening their own produce, composting, conserving water and energy, recycling (everything), driving only one car, shopping only at thrift and second-hand stores, buying only at local stores (for everything).

Month 6-Spending. The Hatmaker’s picked only 7 vendors they could spend money at all month. The Farmer’s Market, the gas station, online bill pay, the kid’s school, limited travel fund, emergency medical, and Target. No restaurants!

Month 7-Stress.  Jen practiced the Seven Sacred Pauses a day, which is to stop and offer designated, specific prayers seven times a day. Their family also practiced observing rest on the Sabbath for 24 hours from sundown Saturday night to sundown Sunday night.

Throughout this book, I laughed, I cried, I was convicted and I prayed that I would never be the same. The spiritual truths that the author uncovered and explained were of earthquake magnitude that shook me to the core. This book never made me feel condemned, judged or guilty but inspired me to be more like Jesus in every way possible.

It might not be feasible to do a full blown 7 month fast like Jen, but maybe it is possible is to get a group of friends together and try to do a condensed, modified version for  7 weeks or even 7 days.

Where am I as a reader going to begin? A major overhaul to my closet, household items, budget, thought processes and the motivations of my heart.

At the very least, it might bring some much welcomed balance and order to my life.

Here’s a video preview of the book.

 

Misty Umholtz loves being a wife and mom of two small children. She enjoys ministry and she also likes football, which should win her an award for “dream wife.” But on the other hand, her love for shopping might disqualify her from that possibility. You can read more about Misty on her blog, Finding Meaning in the Mayhem.