I have been really challenged (read: convicted) lately, by the upkeep of the home and my role in it. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I purged each room of it's junk and had a total organizational overhaul. My house needed it desperately, and when I finally did it, I wondered how it ever got that out of control and why it had taken me so long to fix it. Now, don't get me wrong - some of you would not have considered it "bad", but for me it felt that way. For the most part, there was junk thrown in closets, no order in most hidden spaces and lots of unnecessary stuff lurking around each corner. It just wasn't "good".
I don't know if it is the upcoming arrival of a new bundle of joy that got me in such a panic about getting the house good and clean, or if it was just high time for it. Probably a mixture of both, but all I know is that I needed that boost. I needed to get my act together and stay on top of things. The laundry piles up too often. The toys are strung about what seems like always. The dust settles. The crumbs multiply. And then I have mini-anxiety attacks.
Something I have realized over the past month is that the more I get rid of, the more space that I have, the more on top of things I stay, the more effort I put forth - ultimately, the more at peace I am. There is something so soothing and relaxing about a clean, clutter-free home. To walk in a closet and see empty spaces ... to open a pantry and actually see the floor ... to walk in a little boys room and see toys in their proper spots - such peace.
My family has made sacrifices for me to stay at home. And my role in staying at home is to keep on top of it and to create a peaceful, warm environment for my family to dwell. It's my job. I was both convicted and encouraged when I ran across this a couple of weeks ago:
"This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I make to my God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness." Elisabeth Elliot
Hmmm. Faithfulness. Faithfulness in waking up and starting a load of laundry. Faithfulness in scrubbing the spots that people don't see. Faithfulness in getting the tasks done every single day as if I were doing them for Him. And let me tell you, if I knew the Lord was dropping in for a Friday night dinner, I can guarantee you my house would be sparkling like a mountain of jewels.
And then, a few days later, I read this - (do you think God was trying to tell me something?)
"The best way to make homemaking a joyous task is to offer it as unto the Lord; the only way to avoid the drudgery in such mundane tasks is to bathe the tasks with prayer and catch a vision of the divine challenge in making and nutruring a home." Dorothy Patterson
In my morning prayer, I have begun to give my tasks over to the Lord - asking Him to give me diligence, wise time management between balancing the home and my little boy, and endurance for when I become weary (which comes even quicker being pregnant). My whole outlook on my responsibilities has changed and on days when I do not cover myself in this prayer, I can tell a huge difference in my entire demeanor and attitude concerning the home.
I gained a new perspective a couple of weeks ago. A perspective I once had, but had begun to fog over as children and life busied around me. I am blessed in this life, being able to stay home with my babies and create a secure, sweet place for them to grow. It's important for my husband to come home to a nice place of refuge after a stressful day at work. And as the main caregiver for our children and the keeper of the home, I have a lot to juggle and these things are not always so easy to create. It seems simple to keep up the home if you're there all the time, and to spend ample time with the children if they are always at your side, and to always have warm dinners and a smile on your face at the end of the day - but oh ... if only things were as they seemed! Sometimes it seems impossible to stay on top of. And sometimes it is.
And other times, it's easy to catch a case of the lazies when you do the same things every single day (eh, I'll fold those piles of clothes later), and that is a dangerous place to fall (7 loads of laundry later). I often see quotes about letting the dishes pile up so you can play with your baby and how your kids won't remember if the house was messy. I saw those quotes as excuses. "See? I'm not the only one. I would much rather read to Levi and play a game with him than vacuum and dust!" Yes, spending time with my child is extremely important. But, I learned not to use it as an excuse to let other things go. There is time for both. And spending all your time on just one side of the spectrum is not beneficial. It's important to be a living example to our children and to let them SEE us work. How else will they learn the importance of responsibility?
Now, I know my house won't smell of candy coated roses every day and be perfect all the time - that's not life. And there are days when I do let things pile up to spend extra time doing other things I deem important. But, it is my responsibility to give all of myself to my duties and chores, just like with any other job. There is time for work. There is time for play. It's finding that balance within myself and my home that is key.
And the secret door that key fits into is doing it to the glory of God. On the other side? Such peace!
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
And yes, that even means scrubbing the shower floor!
I hope this could encourage some of you out there who may be dealing with some of the same things. Being a stay-at-home parent is not always the easiest thing in the world, and I think it's important to be honest with our struggles and encourage one another in the life the Lord has called us to. Just know that even though my tagline says it, I do not always find the "charm in chores", and the busier and fuller my life becomes, the harder it is to find any charm in them. But, with the help of the Lord and asking each day for His vision for my purpose, it gets easier and easier.
Take courage, and clean on, my friends!