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Category Archives: Homemaking

How to Make a Home When You’re Feeling Depressed

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My husband sent me these beautiful flowers when I was sad. It was a first. He’s learning to love me (and understand me) more with each year we are married.

Back in November I was really struggling with a downcast soul (as David calls it).

I couldn’t wash my dishes without crying. I couldn’t seem to do the laundry or make meals or even get out of my chair. I just felt so…defeated. Weary. Sad. And there was no specific reason for it; I just seem to be a bit predisposed to discouragement from time to time. And when it hits, it hits. I have no control over it. In fact, this last time it hit, I just rested in it. I didn’t fight it.

Today I wrote an article on doing the work even if you feel lazy. A sweet woman commented and said that it’s hard to do the work when you feel depressed. I told her that post wasn’t for her, and to rest and be gentle with herself. Here are few more things I want to say to those of you who are just feeling discouraged, or sad or weary, but you are still trying to make a home.

*If you are severely depressed or the dark days never end, please talk to a doctor.

The Only Way Through is Through

If you are struggling with depression or discouragement, I have found that you can’t rush it. You can’t just climb out of the dark place, you have to walk through it, one step at a time. But you are not alone. You have the Holy Spirit with you as a guide. Which brings me to my next thing…

Ask the Holy Spirit

Sometimes I forget that I have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of me and that I can ask Him what is going on. The Scriptures say the the Holy Spirit is my counselor, comforter, guide, and advocate. I have access to His wisdom. “What is going on here? Help me? Comfort me, guide me, show me the way I should go with this.” I do not have to go through the dark times alone.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

I have a tendency to crawl away and hide when I’m feeling depressed. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone, and I really don’t want to inconvenience anyone. What a lie from the enemy! God gives us friends and relationships and puts people around us because life is hard and we need each other. When I try and hide away, my friends hunt me down. Sometimes I lie to them and say I’m fine, but they know. It’s so good to be honest and vulnerable, because they offer lifegiving words to my weary bones. They speak truth over the lies I tell myself. They bring me flowers or coffee, or just listen to me. If you are feeling discouraged and you want to hide away, call someone. Talk to your husband. Reach out to someone.

Ask for Help

If the laundry is piling up along with the dishes, ask for help. Can your husband or a friend or your kids help out? Even something, some help, is better than nothing.

Do One Thing

My friend Joanna reminded me recently that when she is feeling down, she tries to do just one thing. She said to me, “I operated under the false assumption that I had to feel like cleaning my house.” When she doesn’t feel like cleaning, she purposes to do just one thing. Sometimes that’s all we can accomplish. That’s okay. One thing.

Be Gentle With Yourself

It is so easy to beat up on yourself during the dark times. I always feel like a failure when I’m in the dark, and I speak words of failure over myself. No good. The enemy will whisper lies to you and you will believe them so easily when you are harsh with yourself. God is kind and gentle, He is our gentle Father, and gentleness is all throughout the Scriptures. How can we be gentle with others if we can’t first be gentle with ourselves? Friend, in the dark times, speak kind words to yourself, listen to the truth, and cut yourself some slack. Be gentle with who you are and where you are. You are loved and looked upon with compassion. Try and see yourself through those kind of eyes, the compassionate kind.

Slow & Steady

There are no rules with how you have to clean your home. We are all different, and we all go through different seasons, and during the dark ones, take it extra slow and steady. No rush. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Slow, seek Him in the still place. Steady, lean on the firm One. 

Ask God if There is Something You Need to Repent Of

During my time of depression last fall, I kept telling one friend of mine that even though I felt so sad, I could still feel God’s kindness all around me, it was so odd. I kept repeating to her how kind God was, and she said, “I hear you keep using that word, kind. Look at this.” And she opened up the Scriptures to Romans 2:4, “…the kindness of God leads you to repentance…” I was familiar with the verse, but hadn’t thought about it. Could there be something I maybe needed to repent of? I asked the Lord, and I was very encouraged to be reminded that He is not mean or punishing to me, but gentle and kind, especially when leading me to something I need to repent of. And here’s the thing about repentance, it isn’t always something a thing, like spending less time online, or quitting yelling at your kids, or whatever. It might be an attitude. You might need to repent of trying to fix yourself. Or maybe you need to repent of believing lies. I don’t know, but I do know that if you’re discouraged yet you feel God’s kindness all around you, perhaps you can just ask Him, “Is there anything I need to repent of?” There might not be anything at all, but there might be.

Buy Flowers

If you can swing it, buy some cheery flowers to put on your dining room table. There is something about flowers that brighten the soul.

Worship

When the dark times come, and likely they will continue from time to time, and I know I have to just walk through them, I listen to worship music. I let the words of truth and praise wash over me, and I sing them back to God because even in the dark times, He is with me and He is light. I encourage you not to listen to music that holds you down in the dark, but praise God instead; let your soul be lifted.

“Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43:4,5

With love and compassion, Sarah Mae

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You will find gentle encouragement from a friend in my new book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way.

You can get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, My Givingtons Shop, or wherever books are sold.

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For All the Type-B Homemakers Out There (No more making your bed with this giveaway)

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To all the Type-B homemakers out there, I wrote a book for you. (Type-A-ers, hang with me, I’ve heard that some of you like the books as well for the Mary aspect).

First thing you should know friends is that this isn’t a cleaning book. I mean, it is, but that’s not the heart of it.

The heart is that all of you would know you are loved, regardless of your homemaking abilities (or lack thereof). It’s a book about freedom and love and keeping on, knowing we are being gently molded into maturity and Christlikeness by our gentle Father. Are there cleaning challenges? Yes. But they are nothing new! The goal with the cleaning challenges is that you would do them with a friend, or friends, and have fun with them. There are also Mary challenges, heart questions and scripture to help you draw closer to the One who made you who you are, and who loves you so incredibly.

If you struggle with keeping your home clean, this is the book for you. And I’ll be right there with you cleaning alongside you. Want to join in? Get the book here for under $10. We kick off a cleaning challenge on April 11th.

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Now, I have something very special for you today.

The most Type-B thing you could ever have is a bed you don’t actually have to make. (Tweet that)

I mean, a bed that looks made but you didn’t have to make it, but it’s made? ALL THE FEELS FOR THAT.

Which brings me to my giveaway for today:

A $200 Beddy’s gift card!

What is Beddy’s? 

Beddy’s is an amazing shop created by moms who discovered how to make beautiful, comfortable bedding sets that zip up, but that look like regularly made beds! GENIUS.

Beddy’s motto? Zip your bed in 10 seconds or less. YES PLEASE. Now, before I go any further with this post, please take a minute and go to this post by Ann Voskamp: 6 Ways to Speed Clean to a Clean Enough House. It’s so so good, AND she shares her love for Beddy’s. Head HERE to check out all of the Beddy’s bedding sets.

Here are just some of the Beddy’s choices:


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Learn more about Beddy’s here:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Enter to Win the $200 Beddy’s Gift Card!

Just fill out the form below! WOOT! Open to the U.S. only. This giveaway ends on March 19th, 2016, at 11:59pm EDT.
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Good “luck!”

Your Type-B homemaking friend, Sarah Mae

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When you buy the book and the journal, you get my Longing for Life eCourse for FREE! Just email your receipt to sarahmaewrites (at) gmail (dot) com.

Buy the book HERE. Get the journal HERE.

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Maid Service for YOU. Amen. (Having a Martha Home the Mary Way Launch Week)

I’m a simple girl. I don’t ask for much.

All I really want is to be able to hire someone to come over and clean my house every now and then. You know, wash the floors and such. Scrub the caked on food off my dining room table. Sidenote: One of the neighbor kids was at my house recently and said, “Miss Sarah, how come I never see you clean?” Precious boy. I said, “We all have our strengths and weakness, don’t we?” :)

Now I know I’m not the only who could use some house-cleaning help. I bet some of you out there would LOVE to have someone come over and clean your house. No shame. That Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t Proverbing without some help, know what I mean? SERVANTS. She had them. I think we would all be a little more P31 if we had some help. Can I get an AMEN?!

With that said, I want to help you get some help. How about this: 6 MONTHS OF FREE HOUSE-CLEANING courtesy of Tyndale in honor of my new book Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul, ON SALE NOW! Head HERE to read all about it!

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Free house-cleaning?! YAAAAAS!!!!

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Maid service PLUS my new book = WINNING!

Here’s the deal: I could only secure ONE 6-months of cleaning gift, so that means only one of you can win. I KNOW! If I were independently wealthy, ALL OF YOU who needed the help would be getting maid service gift cards from me. I would have maid service. Also, every new mom that I met would get maid service until her children were 10. But alas, I’m just a sweet little author with a kind publisher who is willing to give you all this STUPENDOUS gift. Thank you Tyndale! We love you!

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter to win the 6 months (one cleaning a month) of cleaning giveaway, fill out the form at the end of this post. Open to U.S. residents only. Contest closes on Saturday, March 19th, 2016 at 11:59, pm EDT.

Also, BUY MY BOOK! But only because you want to because you want a clean home and a happy soul and YOU WANT TO CLEAN WITH ME! Oh yes, we are going to have a group cleaning challenge in April. Stay tuned! Also, when you buy my book THIS WEEK, you get gifts. Gifts are fun. Check out the gifts HERE.

Buy Having a Martha Home the Mary Way from:

AMAZON         BARNES & NOBLE           GIVINGTONS

Or your local bookstore!

“I love, love, love this book! Sarah Mae is a fellow struggler. As a recovering messy I appreciate that. Rather than detailed spreadsheets and overwhelming to-do lists, Sarah offers practical advice and gentle challenges that offer hope to our cluttered homes as well as our cluttered hearts. I wish I would have had this book back in the middle of my struggle.”

Joanna Weaver, Bestselling author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

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When you buy the book and the journal, you get my Longing for Life eCourse for FREE! Just email your receipt to sarahmaewrites (at) gmail (dot) com.

Get the journal HERE.

Know someone who could use this giveaway? SHARE THIS POST with them!

I’ll be doing giveaways ALL WEEK, so come back tomorrow for more! Don’t want to forget? Subscribe to my blog posts HERE for free!

Love and cleaning magic, Sarah Mae

P.S. I’m over at (in)courage today talking about SLEEP and lazy bones! Check it out HERE!

Giveaway Form (can’t see the form? Click HERE to come over to the blog and enter!)

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There are affiliate links in this post. See my disclosure policy here.

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Trading One Mess for Another

This is a post from my husband, Jesse. I asked him to write this because of all the letters I get from women who feel they can’t meet the standards their husbands have for them when it comes to cleaning their homes. I get it. Jesse used to be like this. We talked about it and I asked him what changed. This post is his answer.

“What have you been doing all day?! The house is a disaster!”

We had 3 young kids. Two were toddlers and one was still a baby. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how dishes were overflowing, last weeks dirty clothes were still on the floor, crumbs from last nights dinner still lingering and the house looked worse than when I had left the same morning at 6:30am.

How is it possible that a house is in worse shape than when I left it? At the very least it would be slightly cleaner. I was irritated and some days quite angry. I worked all day and was exhausted, and here my wife is a stay at home mom and the house looks like a disaster. So naturally I walk in stepping on some things and harshly and sarcastically ask what she had been doing all day. On days when I had a hard day that seemed chaotic it felt like I was switching one form of chaos for another. The wanting to come home to a place of order where I felt like I could relax was very important to me.

This went on for a long time…as in, years. It became a contentious part of our relationship. I would leave for work come home, say sarcastic back handed comments about the house (I was and am very good at sarcasm) hoping it would motivate Sarah to clean more, not caring what the fallout was from the comments were as long as the house was getting clean(er).

There was one weekend in particular she had gone away for a few days and I was home with the kids by myself. I had made it a mission to passive aggressively prove that it CAN be done. To manage a house well having it cleaned top to bottom every single day that she was gone. Let me tell you I had the house spotless for 3 days straight. And I let her know it. She came home happy to see us all after she had been away and she was surprised to see the house so clean. I through my snide sarcastic comment that in a nut shell expressed how easy it was and that it can be done. Well….that killed a sweet homecoming and thus continued our feud. I didn’t really care, I thought the end justified the means.

This contentious part of our relationship started spilling into other parts as well. I’m not sure what caused the change but I do know this: I asked myself, “Self, why are you putting so much pressure on your wife to have a spotless, clean house 24/7? Is it not enough that she loves our children well and manages to keep the home chugging along? Is it worth having a contentious marriage in exchange for a spotless house? If she puts more energy into having a solid clean and tidy house will she be stealing some of that energy that is being put into raising our children?”

I started coming home and not badgering her about the home. And strangely, our relationship got better. (Shocking…I know – insert sarcasm here). The reality was on the weekend that she had left when I had the house spotless, the house was not as pleasant. I was hard on the kids to help me clean and maintain it being clean. That was probably one of the more miserable times I had with the kids by myself. You see, when Sarah is away a few times a year, I absolutely look forward to it because it means I get to hang out with my kids and have fun. And we have a blast. Except for that one weekend, because I was too busy trying to keep the house clean and proving a point to Sarah that it can be done.

The reality is, it can be done, keeping a perfectly clean house, but there is a cost. (tweet that)

The cost for Sarah and I is a relationship that has tension. And lets say that tension is a mood killer…if you know what I’m saying ;).  I also realize that Sarah has a very tender heart and when I come into the house and start criticizing her it’s like running a bull dozer back and forth over her till she wilts. When I made the change it affected our whole home and also my marriage.  With all this said, she does strive to have a clean home and she does care. We ended up coming to an agreement. I had expressed to her that the most important thing to me when I come home to decompress is to be able to have one clean area to come home to. For me that is the living room. I have a great comfy chair I love sitting in and talking to Sarah about my day. This way if her day has gone crazy, it doesn’t take long to tidy up just the one area before I walk in the door. We have been doing this for years and it has help us out incredibly.

For the husbands out there, I know it can be frustrating coming home and asking how come the house is a disaster. But if your wife loves you, loves your children and is raising them well, then know it is just a season. Because one day the laundry, the dishes, the messy table, the muddy shoes and the toys will all be gone. It will be just the two of you. If you have spent your years muddling in the contention of how clean the house needs to be then the only thing you will be left with when its just the two of you is a messy relationship. The irony of trading one mess for the other I hope will not be lost. Compromise and be thankful for the richness of a loving wife and home. The mess will pass.

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You can find more from Jesse HERE.

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Dear Younger Self (and all the homemakers out there who feel like they’re failing)

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Always. Everyday. I’m hoping we don’t have to do dishes in heaven.

I USED TO REALLY beat myself up over the way my home looked, and I believed some lies that caused havoc in my heart. Lies that sounded like this:

“I will never change.”
“My husband would be happier with a woman who cleaned all the time.”
“I hate cleaning, and I hate that I’m not the cleaning type.”

I put a lot of stock into how well and how often I cleaned (which wasn’t well or often), and I constantly felt like a failure. I wanted to be a good homemaker; I wanted to make my husband proud.

It’s been twelve years since I got married and started keeping a home, and while I’ve grown into my own as a homemaker, I still have to work at it. But I have learned a few things, and I’d like to share them with my younger self . . . and all the non-cleaners of the world who struggle with feelings of failure.

Dear Younger Self (and every woman who feels like she’s failing as a homemaker),

Your identity is not defined by how well or how often you clean.

The sum of who you are is not in your ability to keep the dishes off the counter and the laundry put away. You are no less or no better in God’s eyes. You are His, which means that you are beautiful and perfect because of Jesus, right now, right where you are. As you continue to submit to the Holy Spirit, He will mold and change you to be more like Jesus. From an eternal perspective, you are already complete. Yes, you’re working it out here on this earth, but your righteousness is set before the throne because of Jesus. Rest in that truth a minute?

My friend, your identity is not in what anyone else thinks of you. (tweet that)

I used to believe the lie that my husband would be better off with someone who was a good cleaner. I was in so much bondage due to this lie; I felt worthless. The truth is, my husband would love it if I cleaned more and better, but
 he loves me and is committed to me for life. He accepts my purple boots, my sparkly nail polish (Can a grown woman wear sparkly nail polish? Yes!), my driven personality, and my complete lack of Martha Stewart DNA. I care what
 he thinks because I love him and respect him, but we also respect each other as we grow. The thing is, even if my husband thought I was worthless or stupid or whatever because I didn’t clean up to a particular standard, it wouldn’t really matter because he doesn’t have the authority to tell me who I am. That authority is reserved for God alone.

Only Jesus has the authority to tell you who you are. (tweet that)

Here’s another thing: you are not a slave to your personality.
 I’ve got news for you, love— “This is just who I am, accept it” is a selfish excuse and not fit for a woman who longs to be like Jesus. When I claim, “This is me, deal with it!” I am not claiming the humility or servanthood of the One who died for all my ugly. No, that’s not the way of the Cross. The way of the Cross is to submit your personality and your bents and all of the things that make you who you are to Jesus. All of who you are is for His glory.

It’s okay to know you will never have the Martha Stewart way about you. God doesn’t love you any more or any less because of your bents. However, He does ask you to obey, to be faithful, and to trust His work in your life as you surrender to Him. And so I counsel you to practice laying yourself low and to follow the Way.

You can choose to love well through keeping your home.

I know you don’t like to clean—you find it boring, and you’d rather do almost anything else. But listen, you can love others well by creating a place of peace and beauty for those around you. You can love yourself well by taking care of your home and giving life to it. You can create beauty out of ashes, peace out of chaos. It is Kingdom work, eternal work, because love is eternal. Look at cleaning as an act of love toward yourself and those around you. Look at it as an act of worship to your God, an ebb and flow of life that you will settle into.

I think the best part of being married, having children, and keeping my home is that I now understand more of who I am and that life undulates as I swim through it. I know the ups and downs, and I know there are times of great consistency, great upheaval, and great peace. I have learned to be content with the ebb and flow of life. I know I’ll never be the go-go-go type of cleaner, but I also know I will care for my home and the people in it. I will choose to maintain my home, push back on the Genesis Curse, and persevere in order to love well.

It’s a good place to be when you find peace, when you accept who you are, when you quit striving, and when you give yourself to the Potter. It’s the sweet spot.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Jesus, in Matthew 11:29-31

With love, Your Future Self who is still wishing for a maid but who is at peace with her identity in Christ, Sarah Mae

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Looking for some encouragement when it comes to making a home? Check out my new book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way and the companion journal, 31 Days to a Satisfied Soul, on sale now.

Buy the book now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever books are sold.

Get the journal on Amazon HERE.

When you buy both, you get my self-paced eCourse, Longing for Life, for FREE! Just email your receipt to me at sarahmaewrites at gmail dot com.

P.S. I have gifts for those of you who purchase the book – see them HERE!

There are affiliate links in this post. You can read my disclosure policy here.

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