I have never been a good housekeeper. My mother would also readily admit that she is not exactly gifted in this area, so I have always (rather conveniently) blamed her for my lack of skill in the domestic department. When I married Michael last year, I became the highly unqualified manager of a rather large household, including 2 adults, 1 teenager, a middle-schooler, 3 little boys, 2 babies and a dog. My sweet husband is a detail oriented, task managing kind of guy, and I am so thankful. He can walk in, bark a few orders, and have everybody hopping to get things done. I, on the other hand, am a typically laid-back, happy-to-put-it-off-til-tomorrow kind of gal. But I am the one home all day with the job of "getting things done", and he is working hard, making a living and providing all the things we need. It isn't fair to expect him to do both our jobs, even if he is better at it than me. And so begins my current journey... One that will hopefully lead to better habits, an orderly and peaceful home, and a happy, healthy family life!
On Monday of last week, after having the kids snowed in at home for several days, I was truly at the end of my rope. The house was a disaster, Michael and I were both tense, and I was feeling really hopeless and overwhelmed. I kept thinking, "I can't do this. It's too hard. I'm not good at this." Those thoughts led to some all-too-familiar dark thoughts, "I'm a terrible wife. I'm a failure as a mom. I'll never be good at this." Well, needless to say, I was in tears. And feeling pretty stupid for crying over a messy house. I was not about to say to my very logical husband "I am crying because the house is a wreck." Because he would very logically think, "Then why are you sitting on the couch crying? Get up and do something about it." (He is kind enough not to voice such thoughts, but like all women, I believe I can read his mind.) So, it was in this pitiful state of mind that I cried out to God, saying, "You know I can't do this by myself. Please help me." And here is what happened...
As I lay in bed that night, thinking through the schedule for Tuesday, I suddenly remembered that the topic for our women's group (Women of Wisdom) was home organization. Now you might think that I recognized this as an answer to my earlier prayer, but I was still feeling sorry for myself, so I began dreading sitting through a lesson that was only going to point out all of my failings and make me feel even worse. Everyone knows that the women who lead these sorts of discussions are organization queens, right? Why else would they be asked to speak on the topic? But I set my alarm anyway, got us up and out the door, leaving my dirty dishes and laundry for later.
I was glad I went the minute I walked through the door, seeing friends and smiling faces, and I began to relax. Karen Burke was the speaker for that morning, and I love to hear her teach on anything. So I got out my pen to take notes. She began with a part of her testimony that I had not heard before. She told us (gasp) that for over 20 years her home was in total clutter chaos! She talked about the effects it had on her marriage and her relationship with the Lord. She said something that I will never forget. "It is a heart issue." I won't list all the tips, because frankly, the details of how to do it were irrelevant at that moment. What was happening in my heart as I listened to her was the answer to my prayer from the night before, and believe it or not, I actually realized it! I probably looked a little silly with tears in my eyes, but all I could think of was how much God loves us. To lovingly tend to even the daily struggles that we have that rob us of peace, and to place people in our path who can help us along the way. All I did was throw my hands up in frustration and ASK for help. And He provided it.
I am slowly getting a handle on the mess around here, and the biggest difference from before is my attitude. I am now eager to start on my "to-do list" every morning, not only because I want to please God, but also because I want to please my husband and make a haven for our busy family. The immediate reward is a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day, and sensing the calm that is descending on our home life as a result of things being in their place and easy to find. The long term rewards remain to be seen, but I feel confident they will be worth the commitment I have made to change in this area.
My favorite practical resource is http://www.flylady.net/, and I am using this website daily. I want to include some verses that I am working on memorizing throughout this journey, because that is the key to unlocking the power of Christ in any pursuit, even the mundane jobs that we moms do every single day!
1 Corinthians 14:33 "God is not a god of disorder, but of peace."
Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."