Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: The Organized Heart

In the past twenty-four hours I have read a short book. After church I had to tell ladies at church about it, and even one man is going to get it for his Kindle. Pure Excitement I have for this book by Staci Eastin--The Organized Heart: A Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos, published by and released in March of this year. This is the kind of excitement I get when I discover something in Scripture that speaks right to my heart. I have needed her book.

Periodically I blog organizing and de-cluttering on this blog. But on my way to organizing the clutter and chaos at home, we had that crash I wrote about last December. After that with sore back and painful hands I could do less about the clutter issues. I did want to. I admire Dolores and others who have their act together at home and they are able to be that caregiver to their husband with an orderly home. Now that I have been released by the chiropractor, I am going to the gym and doing more.

Mrs. Eastin puts heart and faith into what I needed to read. Where does she start? Mrs. Eastin's book is not about a system. She writes that she had a motivation problem--not a problem of whose system to use. Eastin in this short book deals with four idols. Here are some quotes:
The disorganization in my life was not due to lack of knowledge or skill and it was not due to a problem in my childhood. Rather, it's a broken belief system: a heart issue, a sin issue. At the end of the day, it's idolatry. . . . We never conquer sin by adding more rules. . . . My attempts to get organized always failed because I tried to change my habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life. (pp. 11, 12)
The Idol of Perfectionism
Perfectionism prevents us from living our lives. It prevents us from enjoying our families. It robs us of joy. And most of all, it prevents us from basking in God's grace and serving in the strength that only he can give. God knows our talents, our energy level, and our resources. He alone is perfect, and he can work mightily, so we can trust him. (p. 31)

 The Idol of Busyness
Just because you can do something doesn't mean God has called you to it. . . . Fear of man indicates that we find our worth in pleasing others rather than pleasing God. Instead of working to bring glory to God, we hope to bring glory to ourselves. . . . God is not sitting helplessly in the wings, hoping we'll come through and help him out.  (pp. 35, 36, 39)

My book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill,  deals with some of these issues of the fear of man and learning to give God the glory. Eastin puts it simply:  God is not glorified in the amount of things we get done, the number of spaces we fill on our calendar, or the length of our to-do lists. God is pleased when we serve him with sincere hearts. (p. 41)

 The Idol of Possessions
I have tried to study couponing. Eastin points out that it can all lead to hoarding. Mmmm. She writes: Excess possessions will rob you of your peace, add unnecessary stress to your life and hinder your ministry to others. (pp. 51)

The Idol of Leisure
When everyday life is a race from one urgent deadline to the next, we withdraw from open fellowship with God and submission to his will. . . . The procrastinator loves to hoard her time for herself rather than work diligently on the errands and tasks God gives her. . . . Many women are addicted to TV, social networking sites, shopping, reading, and other hobbies. While none of these activities are necessarily evil in and of themselves, if you indulge in them to the extent that they prevent you from doing what God has ordained for you to do, they are sin. . . . Are you a wise steward of your time? Do you prayerfully schedule your days for what God has called you to, including appropriate time for real rest?  (pp. 66-69)

In her chapter on difficult circumstances, she doesn't deal with the Alzheimer's caregiver. But the author does point out both our responsibility and God's sovereignty. God, the divine Caregiver, will work things out and we can therefore be content. Unlike FlyLady who has an elaborate system, Staci Eastin at the end of the book gives principles to use after the idols of your heart have been dealt with.

What has this short book done for me? It has freed me to not worry excessively about FlyLady's lists, couponing or another system from one of my books or magazine articles. If I can pray over my schedule, serve my husband in his lonely journey in Alzheimer's, serve others as well, and (without guilt) schedule time for my own leisure, then I can have peace and know I am bringing glory to God.

It has always been that one day in heaven, I want Him to say, "Well done, Carol. You knew you could trust Me as your divine Caregiver to take you through your earthly caregiving adventure."

Staci Eastin blogs at Writing and Living. I am going over to her blog now and thank her.


  1. Great book review. I put this book on my 'wish list' and definitely hope to buy it soon. I read parts of the book on Amazon. It looks good and I am a testimony to what she shared.

  2. Good review, Carol. Sounds like an interesting way to tackle the situation, too. Our heart and its attitude is always at the root of things.

  3. This morning I didn't make a check list for hubby. He took notes on the day. He wanted to know everything.

    Finally he said, "So what are you going to be doing all day?"

    "I am going to be home all day," I replied.

    "So what am I worried about," he said.

    Our afternoon also includes going together to a support group for both of us--unique opportunity. Glad I chose to be with hubby all day and applying the princibles of this book.

  4. Thanks always for your sweet and loving comments!
    For me, being organized can at times drive me crazy....I try to organize and de-clutter too much.
    Good luck to you, but don't get nuts like me...

  5. Hi Carol, I think that's how the Lord has showed me to manage my days--my relationship with Him first and foremost each morning, and care for Steve throughout the day. If I need caregiving help in order to do business or ministry, I arrange it.

    I fit in cleaning and couponing as time permits, both of which garner good results for our home. But obsession with anything other than God and His word are not practiced here!

  6. Wonderful, Dana! You just seem to get so much done in one day when I read your blog! Then you are much younger than my 67 years and your hubby has Early Onset I believe.

    I am getting freed up from perfectionism. Look! I even misspelled "principles" above and didn't correct it! Also working on procrastination with God's help. Trying to get done what I get done after those few basics like daily devotions.

    Praying for each of you today, ladies--Dolores, Ruby, Dana, Sue and Sally. Pray that Sue would find a good assisted living place for her hubby. Thanks to Ann for helping her.

  7. Hey folks! Word to the wise: If you pick up Staci's book direct from our website (we're the publisher) you get the best prices, with additional discounts for bulk purchases starting at just 6 books...for Bible studies and reading groups. Come on by!

  8. I was thankful when a friend I met on Facebook while playing Farmville INSISTED on coming to visit me on Saturday! I'd been helping her husband with his CV and job applications (they both come from Hong Kong and he has an Honours degree in Maths). This insistence on repaying my kindness forced me to address the clutter in the loungeroom and hall, with boxes and boxes of Mum's things just sitting there. I couldn't bear to unpack them. I did make a start back in March and managed to declutter them a little bit, but then I got very depressed over it and could not go near those boxes. But knowing my friends were coming to visit I knew I couldn't let them see this mess. So I finally managed to get through several boxes, sorting them into 1) things to send to my brother and 2) things to go to the Vinnies shop. I took a large box of things to the charity shop and felt very proud of myself. I was pleased when my friend arrived to have my house looking OK, though not perfect; the three unpacked cartons are neatly stored against the wall. The hardest part of dealing with clutter is just getting started, but once started, you will often really get into it and get it done. I believe my problem was depression over Mum's condition and prognosis and the fact that it was like dealing with the estate of someone who has died, only she hasn't died, she's still here. I hope to continue my decluttering and extend it to my own cupboards.

  9. Louise,

    Good to hear from you. Change is always so hard, and taking care of your mom's stuff on top of dealing with her hallucinations and Alzheimer's is a huge task for you. Good advice on just starting.


  10. What a great review! I need to read this book. Motivation is my stumbling block for sure.

  11. I just finished this book, thanks to your review. It's great. It's perspective on our motivations and how our hearts are "bent" toward idol worship really helps to see things through Biblical eyes. I am in the midst of a huge "photo" sorting project in order to put together "memory" books for Gary. I would normally have to have them all perfect which would take way too long, and I believe the window for Gary benefiting from this is not going to last too much longer. "The Organized Heart" has helped me to remember the goal: A memory book for Gary. It is not to create a perfectly arranged keepsake album with decorated pages, lovely lettering and perfectly phrased captions. Thank you for posting the review. It came at just the right time.

  12. Laurie,
    Love hearing from you. Yes this disease changes our perspective so much. I passed your comments on to Staci herself.
    Hugs and prayers,

  13. Great post! I'm on a quest to de-clutter my home, heart and life. Thank you for this book recommendation I will check it out. God bless!

  14. Ariel, best to you in de-cluttering "home, heart and life". Both The Organized Heart and The House That Cleans Itself are have been great books. This second book is helping me handle one room at a time. The second edition of The House That Cleans Itself will be released in January of 2013. Mrs. Clark, the author of that book, LOL cleaned out her home and gave us 15 copies that people on this blog got. We also have a Facebook Group for my Facebook friends (suggested by Laurie) who are de-cluttering using that principle.

    The reason this reply is so late is that I am just now reviewing all comments on the four years of my blog.