Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dishes in the Clothes Dryer

Leslie Basham: How many times have you rushed around on Sunday morning trying frantically to get everybody to church? Here’s Donna Otto with some advice.

Donna Otto: Order starts the night before. Order doesn’t start the morning of your day. It starts the night before. The key word to organization is preparation.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 10th.

Earlier in the week our guest, Donna Otto, described her bleak home life. She didn’t experience joy or peace until she began to visit the homes of some of her friends, and it changed her life.

Donna determined to create a home of order and peace, but it wasn’t easy. She’ll tell us about some of the practical things she had to learn about organization in just a minute.

To begin, here’s one of the women who has been listening along with us.

Woman 1: My background—you could change the names and the dates and the places—is the same. And it was visiting other people’s homes . . . I remember on Friday nights, usually after games, I’d spend the night with someone.

One family I loved to spend the night with because on Saturday morning everyone had to clean, even the brothers, as well as the one sister that I was friends with. Even if they had a friend spend the night, this was what the family did, and I loved it. It was a designated time—I can’t remember now what it was. But say like by 10:00 everyone was done, and then you were free for your Saturday.

I loved spending the night there. So I patterned our Saturday morning cleanup after that. My husband still worked on Saturdays. He wasn’t there, but the children and I and any guests did Saturday morning cleanup.

I heard a little tip somewhere about how to make it fun. We got Daddy’s silly hats. He was a fisherman at that time. He’s a golfer now, but he always had an assortment of hats . . . and aprons and feather dusters, and fun, peppy music. I mean, fun was not a word in my growing up. So that was just a neat thing.

Now my two kids that are married do that, and it’s exciting to me to see God redeem what I did not have. It’s just fun. I just bless you for what you’re doing for young moms. They need it. These moms, especially the moms that are at home, need an encouraging word.

Donna Otto: I am not wired this way. I used to hide my dirty dishes in the clothes dryer. The women in the audience are shocked because, I can imagine in an audience of this size, no one has ever done that. Anyone hide their dirty dishes? No way.

That’s because we lived in Chicago, and there were mice. I had tried hiding my dirty dishes everywhere else. This was the only airtight place. The mice couldn’t find them. So I’m very smart. I just thought I wasn’t very organized.

And I’m a “flibbity jibbet” by spirit. I’m easily distracted; I have a love for a wide variety of things. The hero and mentor of mine said to me one day, with her very austere voice, “Don’t carry a Bible unless you’ve swept under the bed.”

Yes, your eyebrows went up. My eyebrows went up. My face paled. My heart began to beat.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What did she mean by that?

Donna: What she meant by that was, don’t you dare go out there (she would never speak to me this way, but) how dare you go out there and teach the Word of God and parade around that you are a lover of God when that very God who created you is a God of order .

I would say to the audience, how many of you wish for more order in your life? Every hand goes up. Why is that?

Because Proverbs says to us that “she strives not to be lazy.” So what do I prefer: reading a book—doing what satisfies me—or doing what brings order and calm in my house? Cleaning the oven, going to the grocery store—doing the things that bring order into my world.

God really used that in my life, because now with great integrity I can stand in front of an audience and say, “Be ye disciplined in the things of God,” because I am. Do I have a perfectly ordered house? No.

Here’s my criteria, and I think it’s a good one for every home. Is it okay with you to have someone in your house in every room you live in, right now?

Nancy: Oh dear.

Donna: You see, that’s the difference. There are some rooms you would say, “Oh dear, no.” But there are other rooms—we’re not talking about picture perfect here. We’re not talking about Better Homes and Garden.

I have a young friend who does food photography, and she showed me the picture that was on the cover of a magazine. She said, “That room cost $250,000. The lettuce is not lettuce. It’s some green thing that looks like lettuce. The mayo is not mayo. It’s lard. It’s food photography.”

We don’t live in food photography. We live in real life. So I say to myself, “What’s my family okay with? What’s most important to my family life here?” It goes back to the things we talked about earlier.

What’s most important to that line drawing of a home that I have on my refrigerator? Those things are more important than a persnickety way of life. No one wants to live with an immaculate homemaker. No one. It’s not a happy home.

Nancy: So that’s not what you’re saying we should strive for.

Donna: I’m not. What I’m saying is, strive for something that brings order into your home, that glorifies God, because then you can begin to use that place called home. Usually, singularly the largest investment we ever make is in our houses. Well, let’s use them to glorify God.

Women in America now tell me, “I can’t have someone in my house until I have two weeks to get it ready. I couldn’t have someone around a kitchen table or a dining room table because we eat in front of the TV and the dining room table is piled high with papers.”

Well, I say now’s the time to sweep under the bed. Get it out; find some order. Again, find the kind of order—not Donna Otto’s style of order with an empty nest—but your style of order, what brings your husband pleasure.

Most women know what their husbands don’t like. Most women know what they need to help their children out in finding more order. And order starts the night before. Order doesn’t start the morning of your day; it starts the night before. The key word to organization is preparation. Preparation.

So how do you get prepared? Remember, one of the “Otto’s Mottos” is, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always gotten.” “Duh,” the kids would say. Of course I’m going to get the same response.

So now is the time to make some change. And I really believe, Nancy, that we stand in the presence of a holy God, and we are changed.

Woman 2: I remember, growing up—a clean room for my mom was major. To me, I always kind of bucked against that. I didn’t really like that. So now I’m a mother of four, 4 and under. My issue now is, I’ve kind of gone to the other extreme to not make it a big deal. I’d rather sit on the floor and play with my kids all day than clean up their rooms.

Now, my living room is always pretty nice, because my husband likes to come home to a clean living room. We do that in the afternoon all together. But their rooms, I just kind of let them go.

My question is, how do I balance not making their rooms the main priority with my kids, but also teaching them that that is something . . . it’s their stuff and they need to take care of it, but I just don’t want them to feel like I felt, that that was more important than the time we would spend together, just doing nothing or playing.

Donna: If you and I were sitting across the table right now, I would put my hand on your cheek and I would say to you, “Sweetie pie, I think you’ve already answered your question,” because you’ve said every piece of ingredient necessary.

You’ve assessed your background. You’ve assessed why you’re doing it. You’ve asked a balance question. What is balance? I think you probably already know that letting the rooms go is the extreme of your mother’s making the room to be worshiped.

So I would encourage you to evaluate for yourself what you’ve already evaluated, and then take action on it. There is a balance, and it’s never too late to begin to teach your children how to maintain their stuff.

Two things I would quickly say: 1) Guard yourself; with children in America in the 21st century and how much stuff they can own . . . You have lots of children in your house. I had an only child. She could own a lot more than you with four or Holly with eight. It’s not possible. So guard your stuff and how much they can own.

2) I would create a storage system, because the four-year-old child—her stuff or his stuff is going to be used by the one-year-old child. So create a storage system. We talk about that in the book. You can get it out of the room and into a storage place so that you have access to it when you need it.

And lastly, I would say you need to go back to what we talked about earlier today, in light of who you are, and subjugate that to the cross. “Father, this is what I felt growing up. I can’t avoid that. Christ covered it.”

But there’s an elephant on the table that’s as big as you just described, and it is how you grew up; so now you’re doing the opposite. And what will your children say? You have to look that far down the road and say, “Okay Lord, this is really about me, not about them. So help me, Lord, to create the balance to help these precious gifts You gave me, so they don’t come into their adult life with the same kind of baggage.”

We all have baggage. We all bring something into our adult life that our parents did right or wrong, some of it worse than others.

So I think I would first be careful of how much stuff; second create some storage so it’s easier to keep those rooms clean and orderly for the children; and then lastly say to the Father, “Where’s the balance between where I came from to where You want these children to be?”

And I believe you already know pretty much of that. And then take action.

Leslie Basham: Our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, will be with us for some closing comments. Our guest, Donna Otto, has been answering some practical questions about organization and cleanliness. But more importantly, this discussion is about glorifying God through our homes.

If that’s your passion, I hope you’ll learn more from Donna Otto. When you make a donation of $20 or more to Revive Our Hearts, you can order Donna’s book Finding Your Purpose as a Mom. She’ll help you understand what it means to make your home a place of peace, growth, and service.

To order Finding Your Purpose as a Mom, visit our website, If you’d rather use the phone, call 800-569-5959.

When you order, we’ll include a free bookmark printed with “Otto’s Mottos,” some of Donna’s words of wisdom. And your donation will help Revive Our Hearts continue to provide biblical instruction for a current generation of women.

Well, what if your husband doesn’t want to get organized? How should you approach him? Donna Otto will tackle that tomorrow. Now, here’s Nancy to wrap up our time.

Nancy: No matter what your background, what your home of origin, how disordered, disoriented, dysfunctional (to use a modern word) your home may have been, through Christ and the grace of God, God can give you a fresh start. There is a vision of home and family in God’s Word and in the family of God that God wants you to embrace.

We’re looking at Donna now, an older woman as an empty-nester and a lovely woman of God with a godly marriage and a godly daughter who’s now starting her own family . . . just to see that God is the God of redemption. He redeems broken, messed up, hopelessly confused situations.

So as you think about the family that you came from or maybe even where your family is today and you say, “This is a mess!” . . . as we listen to Donna we’re hearing Christ say to us, “I can redeem that.”

And as Donna has reminded us, you need to come to the point where you say, “That’s past. That doesn’t control me. I release it.” There may be forgiveness needed. I let it go, but I’m not going to let that control the woman that I am today.

 Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.