When first approached by author, speaker, and fellow-blogger Shannon Upton to write a review on her latest book Building Your House, I was a bit skeptical. After all, I tend to have an aversion toward most “how-to” books on the market because I’ve found life generally is more complex than simply following a list of steps to reach the desired results. Let’s face it, there’s a whole lot of living that takes place between points A and B, let alone A — Z, but I was pleasantly surprised at the spiritual content portrayed alongside the practical measures offered in this book.
Upon reading the very first sentence of Chapter One: I organize for Jesus, I knew Shannon was a kindred spirit. Applying biblical insights from Proverbs 14, she conversationally shares how women can use organization to clear out their spiritual clutter and thereby build a home firmly set upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ. Much more than a handbook of organizational techniques, Building Your House is a call toward Christlikeness and cultivating a home where Jesus is both welcome and present.
Drawing from her own experiences, Shannon understands that pursuing an organized home isn’t about “all or nothing” perfection, it’s a way to settle our hearts so we can live all in for God. The focus of the book continually points readers (lovingly referred to as “Jesus Moms”) to invite Christ to be the head of our homes so we are freed to follow, not lead and direct, nor scramble to hold it all together. Instead of looking at the overall mess or the endless have-to’s, need-to’s, gotta-do’s, readers are encouraged to break big things down into small pieces so the largeness of each is not overwhelming. One practical way she suggests doing this is through the Quick Sort method of five piles: Keep, Elsewhere, Maybe, Give, and Toss/Recycle, noting that each of us will have our own way of determining which pile receives particular items. The key is to make sure the things we keep are stored in a way that is most functional for our individual family’s needs.
Lack of routine is another area addressed that can not only add stress to our homes, but subtract peace from our hearts. By establishing routines that work for our family’s schedules, we are increasing productivity while removing potential flare-ups along the way. Of course, each of these adaptations are best implemented when we are prayerfully taking our concerns to God first and considering our family’s needs as we arrange things according to Shannon’s suggested “Three C’s” concept — Clear; Credible, and Consistent.
Speaking of consistent, Building Your House consistently reminds readers that our primary purpose is to clear the clutter from our homes and our spirits so God’s love can settle deep and shine brightly. While it might be tempting to focus on merely the household organization part of this book, one should not overlook the prodding to cultivate a heart that makes room for Jesus above all else. Shannon’s desire to encourage readers to demonstrate growth in faith and love is repeatedly seen from beginning to end as she challenges us to live with intentional thankfulness for the blessings we experience on a daily basis.
While this book promotes organization in a way that is God-centered and practical, a few readers might potentially become discouraged if attempting to employ every strategy presented. As an administrative and task-oriented person myself, I find I sometimes actually need to relax my standards of organization in order to keep peace in my own home. While Shannon does encourage us to devise our organization around the needs of our individual families, others may join me in becoming a bit frustrated if the response from family members is less than anticipated. Also, while the author makes no qualms about writing this book assuming she is speaking to a mostly Christian audience with stable marriages and at least adequately-functioning families, I can see how a single mom or a woman with either an indifferent spouse or rebellious children might experience some level of disappointment, despite the wonderful recommendations contained in this book.
Taken as a whole, there are many good suggestions in Building Your House that can be put into place. Its truths are applicable whether you already tend to be a Martha Stewart in the making, are a complete free spirit whose house could vie for an episode on Hoarders, or if you find yourself fluctuating somewhere between the two extremes. A helpful Study Guide for each of the ten chapters allows for inner reflection or group discussion, and a few Step-By-Step guides are also included as reference tools to get you started in your efforts. If you’re looking for a book to motivate you in organizing your home while creating more space for Jesus in your busy lives, Building Your House is a wonderful place to begin. It will have you digging into that junk drawer, diving into that neglected closet, praying those long-overdue prayers, and hopefully moving closer to Jesus every step of the way.
As a final thought, I leave you with Shannon’s own words :
Jesus Moms, your home’s core of strength is the Lord, our Almighty God. Your home’s beauty comes from the work of your hands, the love in your heart, and the beautiful spirit He’s created within you. Walk through your home in peace and faithfulness, claiming your abundant life in your loving God!
Additional resources, including a free in-depth Bible Study for Building Your House, information regarding the author’s previous book Organizing You, and a plethora of other materials. can be found on Shannon Upton’s website: www.OrganizingJesusMoms Shannon can also can be contacted for speaking engagements. Look her up. You’ll be glad you did!