This Month on Instagram

I have joined the #happyhomemaker2020 challenge on Instagram this month. I am sharing some things about my home in Japan. I thought this might interest some of you here. My Instagram account is public. If you are interested, scroll down on my sidebar until you see the Instagram widget. You can click on any photo and it should take you to my account. Enjoy!

Staying at Home

It seems the whole world is under a “stay at home” order.  Ours started the second day after my return to Japan.  It’s been almost 2 months…Just like everyone, I have lots of projects that I want to get finished.  I’ve been doing some serious spring cleaning.  I didn’t really do it last year since we were leaving for furlough and my home was in need of some TLC.  Even though others may not notice, I do and it makes me feel so good to have it done.

Another project that I’ve been wanting to get done was painting our guest room.  The walls were a dark blue.  This was my youngest son’s room in a previous life.  He had a blue camo theme going on. I lived with it for almost 8 years after his departure to college.  It felt so dark.  I wanted to brighten it up a little.  This week, I finally got it done and!  I also painted the back door of the church and our house since I had the mess out.  I didn’t want to put it all away just to get it out again.

Here is a short video I made of this project.  I hope you enjoy.


I’ve been keeping busy doing some housekeeping at the blog and at my house.  I’ve been getting rid of obsolete links and tidying things up around here.  I’m sure I am overlooking something, but I am making progress.  One of my “cleaned up” pages is about books.  It isn’t quite finished.  I hope you will stop by and check it out from time to time.  I’ve also started a list of books I’ve read as a form of accountability to keep me reading!

The Lord very graciously provided us with a new dining set and dish cabinet.  I am thrilled!  I have been busy sorting and rearranging cabinets and shelves.  I have so much more room now, more room for storage and more floor space!!  It makes such a difference in our tiny 900 square foot house.  The table will seat 6 as is, or I can pull out the end and add a leaf and seat 8.  It’s perfect!

new table_cabinet

As a result of this new table, I had a tablecloth that needed altering. It was a favorite that I didn’t want to part with.  It was a 70″ round tablecloth, but I was able to square it off, sew a new edge around it and pull out threads to make fringe so that it fits the table nicely.

new tablecloth.JPG

I’ve also been wanting some new runners for the shelves that run under my kitchen windows, but couldn’t find any to my liking.  I bought some fabric and finally got around to making them.  I thoroughly enjoyed being in the sewing room again.  🙂  I was surprised that the fabric I bought matched the tablecloth perfectly!! It wasn’t planned on my part, but God knew.

new runner

Thanks for stopping by!  Until the next time…

Planning, Part 2

As I said in my previous post, I have come up with a way to combine digital and paper for the perfect-for-me-now system to stay organized.

My husband has asked those of us in leadership at the ministry here to use Google Calendar so that we can see each other’s schedule. I didn’t really like this at first, but now I have learned to use it with ease. I like the fact that my calendar is on my phone and it sends me reminders of what is ahead. I need those reminders. Trust me!

Instead of carrying around the big, fat notebook from the past with sections for projects and notes for meetings, etc., I use Evernote. I have posted about this app before. I have “notebooks” for Bible studies I am teaching, projects I am working on and recipes that I want to try. The sky is the limit. I have the app on my computer as well, so it is easy to copy documents and pictures into a note. It then syncs to my phone or ipad automatically.

Another tab that used to be in my big, fat notebook was lists. I had lists for everything!!!! I like lists. Someone introduced me to the app Wunderlist . This is wonderful. I use it for lists of things I don’t want to forget like things to buy when I am in the USA or things I need to look for whenever I run errands. I also keep a grocery shopping list for short runs to the store. For my bigger grocery runs or trips to Costco, I have a shopping list on my computer that I can print, check off what I need and go. This helps me to think and not forget something when I make the longer trek to Costco.

In days gone by, I kept a flipper for chores. I learned how to do this when reading The Messie Manual. It was a life-saver when I was raising kids and trying to keep my house from becoming a warzone. The Home Routines app replaces this now. I like that I can add my own chores to the lists. You can check them off and they reset each day. There is also a built-in timer. Now that there are only two of us in the house, I don’t need this app as much as I used to. It’s sort of second nature to do some of the chores on the list and others don’t have to be done as often. I do refer to it from time to time to see how I am doing and if there is anything I need to work on. This app is currently $4.99 in the iTunes App store.   It is worth the money.

Another tab in the big, fat notebook was for addresses. This is now on my devices in my contact list. It is always at my fingertips and it is easy to edit when necessary.

Today we talked about my digital tools. In part 3, we will talk about my paper tool. I am enjoying using this and it is keeping me on target!

Until the next time…

Daily Planning Got You Stumped??

I have been floundering for some time trying to find the perfect schedule keeper, day-timer, planner or whatever you choose to call it. There are different seasons of life and what used to work well for me wasn’t working any more. When I first discovered Day-Timer, it was a life-saver to me! Then I read The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum Smith and became a huge fan of the Franklin planner. Although the book is not written by a Christian, there are several Biblical principles that moved me in a new direction in my life. Mainly, making time for what is really important. It has been over 25 years (gasp) since I read that book, but I still remember the illustration of the I-beam. When Franklin merged with Covey, I read some of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey. I liked the first book better, but it helped me as I used what became the Franklin/Covey planner. I kept EVERYTHING in this notebook. I used to joke that it had my whole life in it. But times change…

Time management has always been important to me. I have always tried to find easier, less time-consuming ways to do things. I love to be organized. Life feels out of control when I am not. One thing that those who know me have heard me say often is, “There are so many last-minute things that happen that you can’t control, why not control the things you can so it isn’t such a crisis.” I am now an empty-nester. I am a missionary pastor’s wife and as a result I have to travel a lot. Now I have to deal with luggage limits and an aging back that just can’t haul things around like it used to. Then there is the fact that we live in a digital age. I have tried to switch to total digital. I love the convenience of having everything I need on my devices. It is always a finger touch away. The problem is…I am a paper person.

Recently, I was talking on skype with someone and she said that I needed to find what worked for me in the season of life I am in. While mulling over that conversation, I stumbled across bullet journaling on Pinterest. It interested me, so I did a little research. It is a grand way to journal, but for me it is way too complicated. I’m not going to sit there and spend hours drawing out my monthly and weekly calendars. I am not artistic. I am not going to draw all the cute little pictures. Besides, that would take too much time, time that I could spend trying to get something done.

I purchased a calendar notebook at the end of last year to keep track of my exercise on the monthly pages and eating on the weekly pages. It helps me to see how I am doing when it is in writing. Across from the weekly page is a blank grid page. As I was using this one day, it got me to thinking…

Over the last few weeks, I have sort of developed my own system that combines digital and paper that is working for me. I am accomplishing far more in my day than I have in a long time. And yes, I do add something to my to-do list that I have already done so that I can have the satisfaction of checking it off!

Stay tuned for part 2…

Holiday Update

We are so grateful for the Lord’s protection early in the morning on November 27th. We had a busy day ahead, so my husband got up a little earlier than usual. When he came out of the bathroom, he smelled smoke. When he went downstairs, he started yelling for me to get the dog and get out of the house. He was able to put the fire out before the fire department arrived. It could have been so much worse. Be careful how and where you store your batteries. Lesson learned.bookshelf

The actual fire damage was small, but we had smoke throughout the whole house.  A friend came over the day of the fire and helped me clean and make the upstairs livable. I couldn’t have done it without her! We lived in the upstairs while we did repairs and cleaned and painted ever square inch of the downstairs.   Most of the soot and grime settled in the kitchen, so it was a big clean up job.  As you can imagine this is our busiest time of year in the ministry, so we pushed hard to get all the work done.  Christmas decorating was at a minimum, but it’s outside

The fireman came the day after the fire to give us their report. From what they can tell two batteries came in contact enough to spark and start the fire. I had one or two 9 volt and some button batteries for remotes in a basket along with office type supplies (envelopes, tape, hole punch, stapler, camera charger and the batteries).  I am in and out of that basket every day. Some of the batteries were in their original packaging; a few were not. I have gone through the house and tried to find other batteries. They are all out of the house now. The fireman also told Tim that he was amazed that he had the presence of mind to put the fire out. He said the flames had to be up at the ceiling. Tim acknowledged that they were and he just did it without thinking. I am so thankful that he did or the damage would have been much worse. When the fire dept. arrived, things were still smoldering and they ripped a hole in the wall to make sure the fire was completely out.  Wall

I don’t know why the fire started at that time. It was at a least 10 hours since I touched that basket, so why not sooner? Tim got up a little early that day because we had a full day ahead of us. The Lord obviously protected us. If Tim had waited 10 minutes later, the situation would have been much more severe. new wall

I had my hard drives next to the basket. They were in bad shape and melted together. Tim was able to clean them up and separate them. He plugged them in and I have access to all the files on them! That is such a personal blessing to me!!!

Thank you again for your prayers.  Your missionaries need them.   

My Home

Deck 2I wanted to participate in a link-up today of missionary homes.  I’m in the states on furlough right now, so I can’t take pictures.  Here are some links that show my humble, 900 square foot abode.  We are renting, but landlords in our area don’t do repairs,etc.  You are responsible for your own.  We have done all the work ourselves.  Next project we hope to do is paint the outside of the buildings.  We live on the same property as the church.  Hope you enjoy the tour!

The Kitchen/Dining Area

The Living Room

The Toilet

Our View

My Husband’s Labor of Love

A delicate subject matter…

When you ask people what comes to mind when they hear the word ‘Japan,’ the answer will most likely be technology.  Japan is a very advanced country when it comes to this area.  When you enter the country, if you visit the restroom in the airport, you will notice the Japanese style (in the ground squatty potty) toilets.  If you look for another option, you will find the western style toilets with the high-tech toilet seats.  At the least, they will be heated.  I’m not sure how this came to be.  Japan does not use central heating, so you never really appreciate these until you visit a home that doesn’t have one in the dead of winter!

toilet3A truly advanced toilet seat has the bidet options.  The top buttons in the blue adjust the seat temperature.  The next button that looks like air blowing is a dryer.  Below that are two smaller buttons that adjust the water temperature.  The next button is for a bidet spray and the one below that has a little more direct aim/flow.  The button with the red square is the button that stops the water flow and dryer.  In a women’s public restroom, there will be a music button.  This plays music so that your ‘neighbor’ doesn’t hear anything but pleasant music.  I’m told they don’t have these little ‘music notes’ in the men’s room.  I have no answers of how all this came to be, except that I have noticed a lot of European influences here and bidets are used in European countries.  We Americans are behind the times!  HA!

As I am sure you can guess, these are not cheap.  There are no Home Depot $100 toilets here.  We live in a home in which the owner will not do any necessary repairs.  The toilet in our home was close to 40 years old and beginning to fall apart.  When we started looking for a new one, we were completely flabbergasted at the price.  Add to that the poor yen/dollar exchange at the time, and the word ‘impossible’ comes to mind.

In the fullness of time, the yen/dollar exchange improved and my brother-in-law found a toilet for a greatly reduced price.  I also have a husband with some basic plumbing skills, so after years of flushing with a cup a toilet that was held together with caulking… toilet2…look at what the Lord gave us!  I am rejoicing in His goodness!  And before you have a chance to ask the final question…the spigot in the top allows you to wash your hands as the tank fills.  Nothing goes to waste in Japan!

On a side note, during one of our many trips through Detroit traveling to and fro from Japan, we saw a Japanese business man walking through the airport carrying one of these toilet seats.  This is not surprising when you consider the fact that it is often the little things that we miss about our own country. 🙂