Christian speaker, blogger, and author Shannon Upton is back to help you build your house with Jesus as the perfect cornerstone. Through her conversational style, fun anecdotes, and step-by-step guides, you'll learn how to establish the perfect amount of structure for you and your family. You'll find concrete ideas with a strong foundation in scripture, giving you the tools you need to joyfully tackle your belongings, routines, and family.
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Read an Excerpt
Building Your House
A Faithful Mom's Guide to Organizing Home and Family
By Shannon Upton, Brad Pauquette, Emily Hitchcock
Columbus PressCopyright © 2015 Shannon Upton
All rights reserved.
I organize for Jesus.
I know how that sounds. People's brows furrow when they hear me say that I have an "organizing ministry." How does one do something as secular as organizing and call it a ministry?
Well, I certainly wouldn't have thought of it on my own. My plan was to become a professional organizer, sailing from house to house and helping people clear out their clutter. I was excited to make my own quiet waves for Christ this way, leaving joy, peace, and clutter free spaces in my wake.
But when my youngest child was just one year old, the Lord steered me onto a different course. He took my love of organizing, combined it with my experiences as a wife and mom, added a generous dash of wisdom born from suffering, and wrapped it all up for me in a clear vision: I was to help my sisters in Christ use organization to clear out their spiritual clutter.
He opened my eyes so I could see how all of our spirits are cluttered to different degrees. We all feel anxious, at times, about our lives and how we're choosing to live them. We worry about what we aren't doing that we should be ... or what we are doing that we shouldn't.
God gave me a burning heart for women who are struggling with time and household management — which is all of us, at least sometimes! My ministry is based on Proverbs 14, particularly the first verse:
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
That's what spiritual clutter really is: the worry that we're tearing down our own houses. It's the sneaking feeling that we aren't being the wives and mothers and daughters of God that we should be. We want so much to be that wise woman, building her house with both hands!
The Proverbs 14 Woman
As I studied Proverbs 14, I found that it offers much more insight into building our homes for our families and our Lord. When we embrace this wisdom, we can become Proverbs 14 Women!
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. (verse 4)
It takes work to keep a household running: to keep your house and your kids clean, to keep up with everyone's schedules, and to keep food in the fridge (or in the manger, as it were). You, Jesus Mom, are the strong ox for your family. Through your hard work, there will be an abundant harvest of love, peace, and joy in your home.
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. (verse 8)
We need to take a deliberate look at the truth. Often, we ignore those thoughts that tell us we need to do things differently, or better. We continue to hoard our spiritual clutter, silencing those little internal warning bells and disregarding our uneasiness. But the folly of fools is deception, and we're no fools. As Proverbs 14 Women, we'll give thought to our ways, facing those anxieties head on and clearing the clutter out of our spirits.
The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. (verse 11a)
We won't start with the physical clutter — first we need to strive for upright hearts. When we hold our hearts' insecurities up to the light of God's truth, some of them will evaporate. Sometimes we'll have to fight to surrender our worries, pushing them out of our hearts and lifting them up to the Lord. But some of our spiritual discomfort is coming from a place that's pure and true — the Holy Spirit calling us to uprightness. Your spiritual clutter can be the nudge you need to get organized and make a plan.
Do those who plot evil not go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. (verse 22)
You can use organization to clear out your spiritual clutter and make room for love and faithfulness. When you tackle your anxious thoughts, weeding out the lies and bringing the truth to light, the plans that emerge will bring about change to your household! I'm going to help you make these plans as you envision the home you're preparing to build. You'll be ready for the work — then you'll have to begin it.
All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (verse 23)
We can make all of the plans we want, but until we actually put them into action, there are no rewards. And as Jesus Moms, we're not doing the work because we want to check off to-do list items or impress others. We're doing the best we possibly can to build our homes for the love of our families and the love of our Lord.
And he who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. (verse 26)
When you build your house with both hands, intentionally for Jesus Christ, you're creating a secure fortress, a refuge for your family. Your work will affect your whole household — your husband, your children, the very feel of your home to all who enter. You'll be creating a peaceful home and allowing the hearts within to find peace as well.
A heart at peace gives life to the body. (verse 30a)
A heart at peace gives life.
My David Moment
God began to prepare me for this ministry during a period when I was experiencing a complete lack of peace — my heart was bursting with spiritual clutter in a way it never had before.
God introduced me to motherhood with the birth of my son Spencer, and I loved being a mom. Yes, even the first time he threw up all over me, himself, and everything else within a five-foot radius, I loved it. It was three in the morning and I had this sleep-addled thought: Where is this kid's mom? She's got to come clean this up! Wait, it's me. I'm the mom. I'm the Mom.
What a joyful realization! Then, when Spencer was almost four years old, my husband Travis and I welcomed our second child. I was blessed to hear the words, "It's a girl." We were elated!
But (you knew there had to be a "but" coming), a few days after Karly was born, I developed a Postpartum Anxiety Disorder. Though I had never heard of PPAD, I learned that many, many women suffer from it. Several of the women I knew opened up and shared their PPAD experiences with me — even though I secretly wished they wouldn't.
I specifically remember a certain mommy acquaintance telling me all about her postpartum time. She told me how afraid she was that she'd drop her baby and the baby would die. I nodded along because I felt exactly the same way. She told me how she was afraid to leave her house or answer the door or phone. This, too, totally rang a bell with me (no pun intended). She told me how she struggled with strange fears, suffered panic attacks, and woke up screaming from nightmares. I was dealing with all of those things on a daily basis.
I knew she was trying to help me feel better by letting me know that I wasn't alone, but all it did was make my burden seem heavier — more real somehow. She was bringing up feelings that I was trying so hard to keep under control. And then came the kicker: she finished her story by saying, "Seriously, those were the worst three weeks of my life."
Bless her heart, I'm sure those were three terrible weeks for her and her family. But when she told me her story, I was in year three. Honestly, I wanted to slug her.
Back around the time my sweet Karly turned a year old, I realized that the various medical professionals in my life had stopped referring to my "PPAD" and had started to refer to my "GAD." I mustered the courage to look it up online and discovered that GAD stands for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In other words, my postpartum time was over and yet my anxiety was as bad as it had ever been. Meanwhile, I was still waiting desperately for the old me, the real me, to return.
When Karly turned eighteen months old, I accepted that this anxious, fearful me was the real me now. I spent a few days carrying a very heavy heart, mourning the loss of the life I'd planned. Then one day I woke up with anger burning in my spirit. I knelt by my bed to pray and had what I think of as a David Moment.
Have you ever read a Psalm and thought, I can't believe David said that to God, the Almighty God! How did he dare? (You can check out Psalm 58 if you're not sure what I mean.) David could be so blunt, so brazen, so ... disrespectful. It seems unbelievable that he talked to God that way — and it's actually recorded in the Bible!
But in our angriest, most frustrated moments, we begin to understand what David surely realized: God knows our hearts anyway, so we might as well lay it all out there and be real. Here's how I started that day:
Lord, I know You promised in Your Word that You're going to bring good out of this, but I can't possibly see how. Maybe You'll bring Travis and me closer together, but right now, even on my best day, I know my anxiety annoys him. Maybe this will draw me closer to the kids ... but come on, Lord. I'm down here trying not to scar them for life with my particular brand of crazy. OK, maybe You want me to talk to some anxious woman some day so I can help her ... but Lord, I don't think I can help her. None of those anxious "sharers" are helping me!
And then, my David Moment:
Listen, Lord, I DON'T CARE if You want me to help one woman or five or twenty — it's not enough, God! It's not enough "good" for me to have to suffer this! No one should have to suffer this, Lord! No one should be so constantly afraid of everything all the time. No mom should worry that she'll kill her children by accident. I'll lead some stupid support group if You MAKE me, but it won't be enough and I will NEVER understand why You're making me go through this.
I said those things to the Almighty God. If my kids talked to me that way, believe me, discipline would follow. I talked to God that way, yet His love and grace followed. On my knees, I again realized that I'm the mom, the mom God chose and equipped to parent my precious children.
After that day, I did my best to live my life for Jesus and my family even with the fear. I began to recognize and address the specific anxieties in my spirit, and I claimed the tools I had to fight them. I learned that a little organization and prayerful planning helped me to relax and feel at peace in my home. I also learned to surrender — my perfectionism, my comparisons to other moms, and my useless, hurtful thoughts.
And then, nearly four years to the day after Karly was born, the Lord blessed me with a healing. On the day my son Oliver was born, the Lord lifted the burden of clinical anxiety from my heart. I need you to understand that this is not typical in any way. All of my doctors said the anxiety would get worse after Oliver was born so I needed to prepare for some really bad times.
But I had prayed that the Lord would use those special nine months to fix whatever had gone wrong in my body the last time, and He did. With praise and thanks and awe, I continued to live my life for Him — but not as the "old me" I had yearned for. Instead, I was a new me who had changed and suffered and grown.
After about a year, wouldn't you know it, God did call me to help someone. And not just one anxious woman, or five, or twenty, but many, many women — most of whom had never even heard of postpartum anxiety. They're the women who've heard me speak or have read my first book, Organizing You: Finding Your Spiritual Clutter and Using Organization to Clear it Out.
And here's the best part: the day I sent the final manuscript of Organizing You to my publisher, I experienced the exact opposite of my David Moment. I sat in front of my computer, ready to hit "send," and was simply overwhelmed. I thought about the two years I'd spent working on the manuscript, hundreds of hours of work. I thought about all of the talks I'd written and practiced and given. And yes, I thought about those four years of clinical anxiety. Then I put my hand on the screen and prayed.
Lord, please bless this work. If just one woman reads this book and grows closer to You, then all of this will be worth it.
How He changes our hearts. For the good, for His Glory. And now I'm praying that God will use my story and my willing heart to bring some of that good to you — the mom He chose and equipped to care for your precious family.
Organizing You, The Sequel
Speaking of Organizing You, I should mention that Building Your House is really a sequel of sorts to my first book. If you haven't read Organizing You, you don't have go back and read it (although I'd love it if you did!). You can start right here. Think of it like any great movie sequel: you walk out of the theater having truly enjoyed the movie, but you have a few questions, like who was the guy in black, and why did he have that monkey?
The same concept applies here. As you're reading, you may think, Is she serious about a paper-based daily planner? What are chore cards and monthly lists? Why is she so obsessed with chocolate? And when am I supposed to find the time to do all this organizing? The answers to those questions are in Organizing You. (Except the chocolate one; there's really no explanation for that.)
Organizing You focuses on the inner woman, on truly organizing you as a person. It's a guide to organizing your time, chores, and thoughts. Those things are all foundational to great home organization, and I deeply desire that kind of peace for you. I prayerfully fashioned my first book to help you discover your personal spiritual clutter and create your own personal organizational systems to clear it out.
What you're holding is essentially the second half of that book and an integral part of my ministry message for you — the part about actually running your household. This is the half with the really down-to-earth, actually-get-in-there-and-organize-your-home advice. We're going to use organization to tackle your physical clutter, routines, husbands, and kids — all in the name of Jesus. This is where the rubber meets the road, Jesus Moms!
Just What Is a Jesus Mom, Anyway?
The one thing from Organizing You that I really want you to understand is the concept of the "Jesus Mom." Throughout this book I'll be referring to you that way, and believe me, it's a huge compliment. In many ways, the Jesus Mom is the antithesis of the "supermom" our secular world holds up as ideal:
The Jesus Mom doesn't try to create or present the "perfect" family; she seeks only to please her Lord. (Galatians 1:10)
Though she plans her days and lives her life with intention, she strives to follow God's direction for her life. (Proverbs 16:3,9)
She doesn't fuss or mope her way through the tasks in front of her; she does her work for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)
She doesn't find her worth (or lack thereof) in her belongings, her appearance, or her homemaking skills; she knows she's worth more than rubies to the Lord who loves her. (I Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 31:30)
The Jesus Mom wants to live and love and parent and work and run her household with the awareness that Jesus is walking beside her, every moment. (Matthew 28:20)
If you're reading along and thinking, Yes, Yes, Yes! I want those things, too! then you're a Jesus Mom already, and this is the organizing book for you.
Building Your House isn't simply about organizing your stuff, it's about building your home on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ and living in His abundance. Your focus on the Lord is what gives your desire to organize your home meaning. The point isn't "having it all" or even having it all together — it's settling our spirits so we can dwell in the Lord's peace.
Peace ≠ Perfection
Sometimes we think being a Christian means our spirits should be naturally and perfectly clutter free. The Bible says we shouldn't worry about tomorrow, indeed that we shouldn't be anxious in anything. Hmmm. If our hearts are for the Lord, then shouldn't peace simply fall on us like a dove?
Sometimes God does bless us with peace that way, but sometimes we have to work for it. At the beginning of my clinical anxiety journey, I felt terribly guilty about my fears, like I was missing an essential element of trust in the Lord that a "true Christian" should have. Then the Lord brought this scripture to my attention:
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
Excerpted from Building Your House by Shannon Upton, Brad Pauquette, Emily Hitchcock. Copyright © 2015 Shannon Upton. Excerpted by permission of Columbus Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: Spiritual Clutter, 3,
Chapter 2: Your Stuff and Your Spirit, 22,
Chapter 3: Clearing Out That Physical Clutter, 36,
Chapter 4: Storing Your Stuff, 51,
Chapter 5: Creating Peace with Routines, 67,
Chapter 6: The Way You Do the Things You Do, 82,
Chapter 7: Family Routines, 97,
Chapter 8: Organizing for Your Family, 117,
Chapter 9: Organizing for Your Husband, 137,
Chapter 10: Walking in Faithfulness Through Your House, 158,
About the Author, 181,
Study Guide: Getting a Bigger Bucket, 183,
Appendix A, 203,
Appendix B, 205,
Appendix C, 208,
Appendix D, 211,