For more than 25 years Donna Otto has shared inspiration and practical wisdom. She is an Author and founder of Modern Homemakers (formerly Homemakers By Choice), a national organization which offers weekly teaching for a new generation of "counter culture" women who have made the choice to stay at home. To hundreds of young homemakers, Donna has been the wise, fun, Godly Aunt every young woman wishes she had. Each teaching session encourages women in their role as a woman, wife, mother, and keeper of the home.
Andrea is one half of “The Girlfriends” who sit down to chat with Donna from time to time. This time, we learn more about her life as a girl growing up in Canada, her modeling stint in Japan, and the life she has built with her husband, Shane, and 4 kids in Arizona. Each of the choices she has made along the way have led her to a fulfilling life in Christ.
Two change points in Donna’s life has led to greater spiritual formation: taking a Sabbath rest day during the week and finding a woman to be her spiritual director. If there is something about your life that you would like to do differently, listen and take notes as there are many tools and ideas Donna gives us to help us grow more spiritually.
Close friendships are a ‘call and response,’ meaning you are there for each other, praying for one another, and encouraging one another throughout your lives. A ‘friend of your right hand’ is willing to go through the ‘messy middle’ with you!
How many times have you wished you could take back something you’ve said? We have all used our tongue in unkind ways. Scripture tells us not to let any unwholesome or corrupt word come out of our mouths. Donna gives us practical ways to help us be more gracious women by checking ourselves in how we speak to others.
The Girlfriends are back and have a lot to say about personality types and friendship. They have great insight into the differences between introverts and extroverts because they live it and have learned how to temper their personalities. This is one fun interview!
There are several ingredients that are important to close friendships. Intimacy, as in a confidant, Acceptance, Humor, Willingness to Make Sacrifices, Perseverance, and Forgiveness. Donna has so much wisdom to share on this topic of Friendship, which is one of the themes for Modern Homemakers podcasts this season. Enjoy!
Dr. Greg Crow and Andrea Doan are Donna’s guests and they discuss the ever important issue of Communication in Marriage. They will cover the subtopics of conflict resolution and ways to respect each other. Good communication applies to all relationships, but especially with your spouse.
Even though the words ‘People Pleaser’ may have a negative connotation, Donna says that we SHOULD be looking to please others, but not to our detriment. She shares a lot of good wisdom and advice on the subject.
Intimacy with your spouse is a way of showing kindness. The Bible tells us that your body is his, and his body is yours. Join the Kindness Challenge with Shaunti Feldhahn on her web site and be reminded of ways to show kindness to your spouse.
Did you know that having a grateful spirit will benefit you spiritually, cognitively, psychologically, socially and physically? Not everyone is born with a grateful spirit, but 40 per cent of people who are grateful intentionally practice this habit. You can strengthen your ‘gratitude muscle’ with the suggestions Jane Wilson gives us in this lesson, in a culture that is less grateful than ever before.
Leading up to Donna’s quiz, which you will find on the Modern Homemakers web site, Donna unpacks Luke 17:11-19, which is the parable of the ten lepers who Jesus healed, but only one returned to thank Jesus.
What God calls us to in patience is waiting. Patience is ‘receiving the gift of time,’ not trying to hurry time up. Do you ever think about the coming of the Lord? God may not come when you think He should come, but He will be on time!
Each Tuesday and Thursday, Donna will offer a different tip on ways to show kindness to anyone who you may come in contact with. Join the 30-Day Kindness Challenge on Shaunti Feldhahn’s web site and let’s make the world a kinder place! You will be just as blessed as the person you are being kind to.
This teaching took place in front of a live audience over 20 years ago, and it is so full of wisdom from a mother of 8 children! Valerie Shepard offers encouragement for moms who want to spend time with our Lord each day, but find it difficult to do so when our children want and need so much of our attention. Be a good example to your children by intentionally spending time with God so you can be filled with His love that you, in turn, will lavish on your family.
What do Friendship, Kindness, Girlfriends, Spiritual Formation and Trust have in common? They are all subjects Donna will be covering this season and she gives us an overview of what to expect and the interviews to look forward to. Get ready to grow!
Donna’s special guest is her dear friend Elisabeth Elliot’s daughter, Valerie, who is here to talk about her book titled ”Devotedly,” which is the account of her parents’ courtship based on the letters they exchanged and their love story. Even though Jim Elliot’s life ended tragically, this love story is more about their obedience to God and following His will for their lives, which is something we all can learn from.
Just as the Welcoming Prayer, which Donna has been reading at the beginning of each podcast, is about consent, Christ is calling us to consent to a deeper way with Him. Adopt kindness as a way of life by remembering how considerate Jesus was to allow interruptions in His travels. We miss A LOT if we don’t stop for the interruptions by our kids, our spouses, and others.
Are you lighting the light with kindness? Colossians 3:12 tells us, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” Jesus modeled kindness, so those of us who have accepted Christ have Him living in us and should be shining for Him.
Amy Cavness is talking with Donna about the book “Doing Life with Your Adult Children” by Jim Burns. Amy has 3 adult children and shares some great nuggets of wisdom on some of the ways she and her husband learned to let go and let God design who they were to become.
Donna’s list of books she read over the summer include The Kindness Challenge, Devotedly, Doing Life with Your Adult Children, Gift from the Sea, Basking in His Presence, Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, A Lamp for My Feet, and The Mitford Years series. So much to talk about…so little time!
Welcome back to a new season! Donna has spent the summer planning and preparing for a year chock full of interviews with many people who she would love for all of us to know. Our theme for the year will be FRIENDSHIP, and we hope you will participate in the Kindness Challenge with Shaunti Feldhahn coming soon!
God calls us all to obedience. Donna tells us to ask ourselves 3 questions: 1. What am I being disobedient about? 2. How is my life complicated? 3. How much is enough? The most important thing we can do is make space in our day for time with God. Just sit in His presence as you may have once done with your spouse before you were married, or when you held your infant in your arms, bonding with each other by just being together.
There’s a reason that this was one of the top 10 podcasts from the last 2 years! Donna packs so much wisdom into this final part of the Training the Will of a Child series. Are you practicing authentic Christian living? You need to model a life of faith if you want to create a hunger for faith in your children. A holy mother gives instruction, gives direction, and establishes rules! Train your children to have self-control and teach them self-denial.
It is common for followers of Christ to seek the approval of others, BUT God’s approval matters most! We are to imitate Christ and outdo one another in preference and consider others as more important than ourselves. The many questions that Donna has for us will make us think about whose approval we are trying to win.
Nehemiah had a vision and consulted with the Lord before asking the king if he could return to help rebuild the city of his people. Nehemiah refused to be sidetracked by those who wanted to do him harm while he was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. As women, we need to protect ourselves from things that will discourage or distract us from doing the work of a mom/homemaker.
This question assumes you will serve, as we are instructed in the Bible. Cast your gifts towards others and you will be as blessed as the people you are serving. David Otto gives this analogy: Think of us as a ‘choir.’ Every voice is important. If you’re silent, if you do not use your voice, your gift, the choir is less. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Be a Heb. 10:24 kind of person, roll up your sleeves, and find your place in the choir!
Each Monday for 10 weeks, we will re-air the most popular podcasts from the last 2 years. What does it mean to have a heart transformation? Guarding your heart has to do with resting in who God is. Proverbs 4:23 teaches us to ‘guard our hearts.’ In other words, how are we spending our time so that we are drawing closer to God? So much of what we do draws us away from Him, so let’s break habits that keep us from Him!
Donna’s summer challenge: Choose one of the disciplines (one chapter) in Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth,” that will encourage your spiritual formation and sweep clean your heart, so as to be ready for Him! Borrow the book from the library or find it on line.
Elisabeth Elliot was a great influence in Donna’s life and a great friend/mentor to Donna. We get to benefit from their relationship when Donna passes down Elisabeth’s wisdom and teachings to us listeners. Don’t stay in a rut, because God ordained that we all participate in His vast, eternal plan; in the walk that He has asked each of us to walk.
With Donna’s storage system and method of organizing, you can free yourself of all the clutter in areas where you tend to store or hide stuff. When it comes to your guest room, if you have one, make it guest-worthy!
This is one lesson you will want the entire family to hear! Get ready to take notes! Our sin nature is to hoard and want more, but Donna gives sound advice on budgeting and being generous with what God has provided your family.
Summertime may be down time for most kids, but Donna encourages us to continue training our children to grow to be independent. Read, play family board games, exercise, have theme days such as Music Monday or Tasty Tuesday, cook together, plant something, write goals and work toward them. The ideas are plentiful, so get started!!
Young children and older children, alike, should be helping with household chores and it’s never too late to teach them the principles of organization which Donna teaches us. Kids should be responsible for keeping order in their rooms and all areas of the home.
More organization advice from Donna on making your master bedroom a sanctuary where you both want to spend time in a clean, orderly, relaxing, space. Donna also gives great tips on arranging your master closet and wardrobe so you know what you have, and what you need, before you go shopping again.
Home is a place of traditions and making memories, a place to return to with joy. It is a place where God lives, a place of shelter, safety and warmth. Welcome people into your home with your eyes, hands and your heart. If you want this to describe your home, heed Donna’s advice and get started!
A prayer basket is a simple organizational tool that will help you “Go Grow Up” in Jesus! Gather a few items to keep all together in one place to be ready to spend time every day in communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It’s the old “Baby Bottle vs. Steak!” Hebrews 5:11-14 says, “ …you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Be teachable!!
Mentoring is one of the subjects of this collection of topics which Donna covers. Donna’s definition of mentoring is “giving your life perspective away.” Our mentor also gives us 30 ways to quickly declutter. Pick a few and get started today!
In part 2, Donna shares her system for dealing with mail, including junk mail, and shares how to organize files, your desk area, and ways to keep it all accessible so you are handling bills, RSVPs, etc., on a timely basis.
Paperless society? Not really! We still all have piles of paper to deal with and Donna is going to tell you her secrets to getting it all under control. Once you follow her advice, you will have peace of mind and fewer pieces of paper to deal with!
The GOAL of the kitchen is to feed your family nutritious meals. Donna teaches the principles that are part of the warp and woof (look that one up!) of her life. Take notes, and start to do one or two things that will help you be more organized, save time and money, and train your family to help prepare meals.
The kitchen is the most complicated room in the house. It’s up to you to make it less complicated. “Having a prepared home encourages a prepared lifestyle which encourages a lot more relationships building…” Donna Otto
This lesson is chock full of tips on organizing and keeping your kitchen clean.
Housework should be team work! It’s not about what’s fair or equal, but assessing together what needs to be done and negotiating the tasks. When you welcome your husband into the process of housework (especially if he never learned to do chores), you can help your husband help you!
Donna reminds us that PREPARATION is the key to ORGANIZATION! If you want to be more organized, try developing a couple of the habits mentioned by Donna. She covers the laundry room and bathroom, and encourages you to train your kids, even as young as 2 years old, to help with sorting laundry, etc.
Are you carefully stewarding the resources which God has given you? Take a tour of your home with paper and pen in hand and take stock of what you need to do to get organized in every room. Use the principles which Donna teaches us to put the practical tips into action and get a handle on organization once and for all.
Ephesians 5:15-17 instructs us to be wise in how we live, making the most of every opportunity. When it comes to our homes, this means to be orderly so that we can be welcoming. God calls us to use our homes/apartments/space of any kind to be hospitable.
Ouch! is what you may be saying when listening to the reasons Donna cites for the clutter in our homes, BUT when you follow her sage advice and practice letting go of things that you previously could not get rid of, you will find renewed energy! Messes, piles and clutter wear us out! As Donna’s “Otto Motto” goes: What makes you tired is not what you do, but what you don’t do. So use a buddy to help you get started decluttering!
Donna mentions a book she picked up called “Present Over Perfect”. Perfectionism can keep us from living in the present and being there for the people in our lives. Donna gives us many examples of how we can be more present on a daily basis by opening up to others and making time for loved ones.
In John, chapter 21, we learn just how gracious and merciful Jesus is when he instructs Peter (who had denied Jesus 3 times), and the other fishermen, to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, where they caught more fish than their nets could handle. When we fail Jesus, His grace prevails! So follow Him (NOT man), for He has a plan for us!
There is a spiritual formation movement in America and there is always a possibility for spiritual transformation in our lives. In order to be children of the light (and not of the world), we must die to selfishness and take into consideration what God would have us do.
The 7 last phrases that Jesus uttered while on the cross are the subject of Donna’s teaching. In Luke 23:42-43, Jesus tells one of the criminals hanging next to him that “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Donna says that those verses are about salvation, and explains that salvation is not just a one time event, but can be experienced many times.
This is Holy Week, the Week of Weeks, a week to take some time to ponder the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Mary used reckless abandon when she poured the jar of nard on Jesus in preparation for what was to come. Is there some reckless abandon that God is calling you to? It is not too late to fast or to do one small thing this week as a sacrifice for Jesus.
As humans, we don’t like to repent, but 40 days of Lent call us to reflect and repent, and also to change and prepare our hearts for Easter and the resurrection. To repent is to surrender and yield, as Mary yielded to the Holy Spirit. When you repent, Christ will change your heart. Do you have more of Christ in your heart this Lenten season?
Donna asks 10 questions which will help you diagnose the ‘condition’ of your heart to find out what it takes to change your heart. You may be surprised at what you discover. Be a woman who has the courage to allow God to change your heart as you grow in your walk of faith.
Each of us has a hidden heart that can sometimes get us in trouble! Unkind words can flow from our hearts, disguised as witty or sarcastic comments. But the Lord knows our heart and, if we want to be more like Him, we need to expose our hidden heart and allow God to change it.
In Luke 10:38-42, we hear Martha complain to Jesus that Mary should be helping her in the kitchen. Jesus reminds Martha that Mary, who is sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him, is doing what’s more important. Distractions are everywhere and can keep us from basking in Jesus’ presence, but Donna shares ways that we can set aside time to be with the Lord.
We are a culture that is worn out! Retreating is the cessation of something to do something else, to engage in a better way. Clear your calendar, shut down your phone and come away with Jesus. Donna gives us ways to make a retreat (that doesn’t have to cost any money). “When we choose retreat, we make a generous investment in our friendship with Christ.” Ruth Haley Barton
In pursuing a changed heart during this Lenten season, be careful to not mock the Lord by leaving your ‘space’ unchanged. God is faithful to help you change, so harvest wisdom from the past and be intentional about making the changes that will break the old bad habits and guard your heart from falling back into your old ways.
This Lenten season is a good time to work on changing your heart in ways you may never have thought of. Donna shares the ways that she worked on her own heart starting with keeping a journal for 40 days, but keeping it simple. She mentions a book called “Small Surrenders,” which talks about the things you can give up that may be interfering with a closer relationship with God. Don’t give up in whatever difficult situation you may be in. God will reward you!
Be ready to be inspired to make significant changes in your life and your heart after hearing what Donna has to say on the subject. We may view change as disruptive but, as CS Lewis said, change can be expansive. A changed heart will result in wisdom and power from God.
Donna was convicted by what scripture says about judging and teaches us that judgment takes up all the room that we have for loving. Ask Jesus to change your heart, your mind and your mouth, especially in this season of Lent
Easter falls on April 21st but the Lenten season leading up to Resurrection Sunday begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th. It is a time of setting ourselves apart and experiencing Christ’s sorrow and His suffering. It is a time for fasting and giving alms. Donna talks about the customs of Easter, and encourages us to make this an uncommon season in which we intentionally grow closer to Jesus!
Here are some recommendations from Donna. Timothy and Kathy Keller’s devotional book, The Songs of Jesus, offers daily devotions in the Psalms. Barbara Rainey wrote three books that are offered at FamilyLifeToday.com. They are from her Growing Together series on Courage, Gratitude, and Forgiveness. Also, learn about a new Bible Study tool called CASKET EMPTY (an acronym) which will help you and your family learn the Bible in a way that is easy to remember.
Are you sitting around dreaming about the things God has already told you to do? Donna uses many examples from the Proverbs on the different characteristics of a sluggard. These are essential tools in training your children and also identifying your own traits that keep you from getting started or following through on things that God would have you accomplish.
Colossians 3:12 reminds us to clothe ourselves in kindness, which is more and more uncommon in our culture. Jesus modeled kindness and always had time to heal someone or spend time with them. Donna encourages us to make kindness a way of life, especially with our husbands.
The mystery of marriage, designed by God, can be difficult to comprehend. Donna is committed to staying in her marriage until the end and encourages all of us to do the same. Grace is God’s way, and Donna gives us a wonderful example of what over-the-top grace looks like in our relationships, as well as ideas to show extraordinary grace to our husbands.
Marriage was God’s idea and sexual intimacy is designed not only for procreation, but for pleasure between a husband and wife. Have a pen and paper ready to take Donna’s short quiz on words that describe you and your relationship with your husband.
Thomas Keating wrote “The Welcoming Prayer,” which Donna has made a practice of reading daily and encourages us to make a habit of it too. She also tells us about a new book by Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest ministry for former gang members in the world. His book, “Barking to the Choir,” is full of funny twists on sayings that he has heard over the years while serving in the L.A. gang scene. Finally, Donna talks to us about ways to grow spiritually. For those of you living in the Phoenix metro area, join Donna on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month for bible study class at Heritage Church. Go to our web site for details.