Tidiness is not my strong suit, which a peek inside my car readily reveals. Because I have an ultra Type A temperament and am borderline OCD in all things that involve planning and organization, people naturally assume that I am also a “clean-freak.” Nope, unless it involves the color coordination of my calendar (red is for important things, not blue — get it straight, people), my approach to cleaning has always been rather “laissez-faire.”
My husband, bless his delusional heart, actually believes that he is a neat and tidy fellow. And why not? The same would be true of me if a magical fairy folded my clothes and placed them neatly in my drawer, picked up my shoes, and cleaned my workspace where last week’s breakfast dish still sat. Some of our biggest arguments as a newlywed couple, (and just last week — who am I kidding?), were over my “cleaning” abilities, or lack thereof. From the start, he liked my cooking, but wondered how I could go to bed with dirty dishes still in the sink. He appreciates my doing the laundry but not my way of doing it. Do I really just throw everything into one huge load? Yes, doesn’t everyone? (In vain, my mom has tried to teach me the value of sorting dirty clothes and using the proper water temperatures — hot/whites, cold/darks — yeah, I tried that for a few weeks, did not notice a difference, so I reverted to my usual method.) Simply put, I just do not get worked-up over or tied-down in the nooks and crannies of housekeeping. Why should I? I mean, how often do guests come over wearing white gloves?
I live by the saying,“ God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt.” Isn’t that the truth! My youngest daughter’s pacifier fell out of her mouth multiple times at Disney World, so I “sanitized” it by popping it into my mouth and then back into hers — immune system of the champions, right? Oh, and the “three-second rule” actually rules at my house — if you drop a cookie and pick it up in three seconds or less, it’s still good. Obviously, I am hardly germaphobic like one of my dear friends who wears flip flops at all times in her hotel room, placing them by her bed so if she gets up for any reason, her bare feet won’t directly touch the hotel floor. I mean, if you can’t see germs, can they really be all that bad?
Now, believe it or not, I love to purge and roll up my sleeves for really big cleans, like spring cleaning — that is my jam! It makes me feel like I’m getting a big bang for my buck, and I revel in that. Have you ever noticed your tub or kitchen cabinets screaming for a serious scrub after you clean the windows and blinds? Game on — Laura vs. Grime! Recently, I went through at least ten cloths cleaning the baseboards in our house, and afterwards, the sense of accomplishment was indescribable, not to mention the warm fuzzies I got dropping off multiple bags to Goodwill after some thorough closet cleaning. Then, on to buy more organizational items for my closets was just a WIN WIN WIN in my book. On the contrary, day to day, routine cleaning is a real drag, which I don’t enjoy. Not at all. Although keeping a tidy house for my family honors the Lord, it’s a bit of a battle for me, especially if I don’t get a big slap on the back every time I sweep the floors or make the bed. At least when cleaning for guests, they shower me with platitudes like, “What a pretty house,” and “I love those flowers.” Needless to say, that does help me to re-adjust my attitude.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
When my husband and I were looking at houses to buy, both sets of parents reminded us that more house means more chores. Adding twenty-five acres to that equation equals chores on top of chores. Friends know that from mid-May until first frost, most every weekend you’ll find us Baileys working outside until near dusk. To say that we may have bitten off more than we can chew is an understatement, not to mention that my husband has a pioneer way of thinking. So, with a fairly good-size, two-story house, two young children whose middle names are spelled M-E-S-S, large fields to cut, a garden to tend and pick, and numerous flower beds to weed, water and prune, we have many chores and much work, to say the least.
Once I told my husband that it really bothered me that he did not often compliment me on keeping house, like every time I wash a dish. Okay, I know deep down this is silly, but something in me craves to know that my efforts are noticed and appreciated. Well, he reminded me that he did praise me, especially when I’d finished a major “overhaul” cleaning. Then he asked if I had ever considered that he would appreciate a compliment now and then when he mowed the grass or weeded the garden. “Yeah, but cutting the grass is your job,” I replied. “It’s something you have to do, so why should I compliment you every time? Besides, you like working outdoors.” WAIT. Did I really just tell my husband that he didn’t merit praise for performing chores, fulfilling his duty to our family? Did I really just back-handedly criticize him for the time he puts into the garden when I love eating fresh vegetables? Perhaps God (and my husband), sometimes lets me run my mouth so I can hear just how ridiculous or wrong my thoughts and perspectives happen to be on any given day.
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,
and these defile them.
I’ve asked the Lord to give me a joyful spirit about housekeeping, as I genuinely love my role as homemaker. I do enjoy making meals from scratch and much to my husband’s delight, I even learned how to bake biscuits with CRISCO. Yes, that’s right, the white stuff — CRISCO. We have movie night every Friday and eat in the living room which is worth a little mess to clean up later, and sometimes we eat ice cream in the car because it provides such sweet comfort after a tough day all around. I throw the dishes in the dishwasher, pretty much in the same manner as I do laundry, without a thought, because my baby needs a cuddle before bedtime. Honestly, I’d rather have a tooth pulled than to wipe down the stove and microwave after supper. No doubt there are some women who keep every room in their house spick and span and have homemade cookies waiting for their children every afternoon after nap time or school. This same rare breed of woman also has white painted walls, white upholstered chairs, white plush carpet and a toddler — a true marvel! So when I visit these types, I stand, repeating, “Don’t touch,” to myself, fearing that some stain on my person might rub off on their pristine walls and furnishings. Heaven forbid!
As much as I would like to be great at both homemaking and housekeeping, I’m just not and have come to terms with that. So, if like me, you derive more pleasure from helping others clean up their lives than cleaning your bathroom, that is not altogether a bad thing. You will always be welcomed to my home, to enjoy the fragrant flowers as you walk to the door, but just ignore the weeds the size of small children that need to be picked. I invite you to sit on the sofa with a cup of fresh coffee, but you might find a few cheerios in the cushions. The food will be plenty, the conversation flowing, and dessert may feature fruit from our orchard. Should you stay the night, you may choose from eight different pillows, whatever is most comfortable. The cases will be wrinkled, but they will be clean. Feel free to use all the special soaps, shampoos, and guest kit essentials I have laid out, but watch out for the Barbies I neglected to pick up in the bathtub. Before turning in, we can sit outside on our back deck to enjoy the beautiful view and watch the sunset, but beware — a few of our rockers are missing some slats so be careful sitting down. For real.
My prayer for you as well as for myself, is that we will take pleasure in the mundane, necessary tasks that fill more space in our day than we would like. I also pray that we accept each day as a special gift from God, cheerfully balancing what’s important — our chores, our children, and a good chin wag now and then with our friends and neighbors.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
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