Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Clean Home

I sit here at my computer.

My house is clean.

Not perfectly clean, not perfectly organized.

But so clean and so organized that I can hardly believe it is indeed my house.

You see, I got hooked on Flylady. I didn't think I needed rescue help from a personal online coach. My house was not the victim of utter CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I have people over usually twice a week--and manage to make it through the day without utter despair (most days). But what I lacked--and what FlyLady helped me with--was a good routine.

I dislike housework. Dishes, laundry, picking up, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms...! Yuck. I just plain dislike it.

Or so I thought.

It turns out I do not dislike housework so much as I dislike always trying to play catch up. And I'm constantly trying to get caught up because I do not have a good plan. And because I've evidently been harboring some deep and unreasonable hope that someone (maybe the Cleaning Fairy who lived at my parents' house?) would eventually show up and start keeping up with all this housework. That I shouldn't really be called upon to keep up with things because what do they think, it's my job or something?? For almost 4 years I've had the following verse hung up on my refrigerator:

"...Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be pure, sensible, workers at home (emphasis my own), kind, being subject to their own husbands so the word of God will not be dishonored."

Titus 2:4-5

And all this time, I've always felt perfectly justified to claim victory in this verse because having lotsa little children is work and because I didn't *go* to work, therefore, I worked at home.


I frequently had weeks on end where each day was marked by me trying to grab a nap whilst the kids watched a show, then scrambling to eat, check email, take a shower, dress: myself and the wee ones (and did I know where their socks were? Mmm...somewhere in this pile. Or maybe this pile. *dig dig dig* Mmm. Maybe they're not dry yet?) I wanted to do what was fun or at least not housework as often as possible. And I made a lot of selfish choices in order to pursue this end. Of course, while the choices were selfish, the repercussions were probably much harder than the actual work would've been. I mean, really, who wants to dig for 5 entire outfits (shirts, pants, socks, underwear) that somewhat match/fit EACH MORNING EVEN SUNDAY WHEN WE'RE TRYING TO ACTUALLY BE SOMEWHERE ON TIME???

Then I read a bit which pointed a bony finger of conviction in my direction. It labled the wife of the family as the "thermostat of the family." Evidently, I'd been relegating myself to the position of "thermometer" merely reflecting the heat in the house, when I should've been *setting* the temperature for the rest of my family. My home, ideally, should be a haven for my family, a place of peace. And yes, sometimes of quiet.

*Mull mull mull*

I did not like how snappish I'd become. How short-tempered. How selfish. I did not like digging for underwear at 4 am when my son needed a fresh pair because he'd wet his last clean ones. And then, after drowsily digging for ten or so minutes, having to tell him he'd have to just wear pj pants until the morning because I couldn't find any. And then having to feel guilty when he cried because he's very particular about how his clothes feel on his body and he doesn't like just wearing pants to bed. Poor guy. I didn't like watching my husband struggle to get to work on time because he couldn't find clean clothes, couldn't find clean dishes to pack a lunch with, and had no good options for lunch anyway, because we hadn't planned ahead when grocery shopping.

*heaves a sigh*

This. was. not. working.

Hence the change of plans.

I am already amazed at what I've learned and benefitted from this program, this free program. Perhaps it's not for everyone. I certainly didn't think it would be for me.

But as I perch on my stool and type these words, this is what I can see to my right: Countertops with nothing on them. A sink with no dirty dishes in it. Gleaming tile floors that have actually been swept AND mopped. A clean dishtowel hanging on the oven door.
Behind me: A living room with nothing on the floor. Except one cat toy.
To my left: More gleaming tile. An entryway shelf with only the amount of shoes that actually fits. Coat hooks that don't look like they're starting to mutate into a coat monster. A seating area with only my bag on it--no papers, books, or toys stacked precariously.

And I know the rest of the house is similar.

And most importantly--

I did not have to work long or hard for any of these things to happen. I had a plan and I actually used the plan, and it worked. Hallelujah! I even have a plan in case I don't follow the plan one day. The FlyLady is constantly reminding me that I don't have to worry about catching up, I just need to jump in and get started. What a lifted weight, one that I didn't even realize I was carrying.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chandler's Prayer and the Quest for the Cutest Blog on the Block

Today I visited a blog that caught my eye and ignited my inspiration. I've seen several cute blogs in the last several weeks since I've started perusing, but this one must've been more up my alley than the others, because I finally decided to take action. I used to know how to do things on computers, but then I got stuck with an old one for several years and I just gave up, realizing that I'd never be able to keep up with a 98 Windows or whatever it was. Then my lovely brother David took technological pity on me and gave us his "old" computer which is light years beyond anything I had any experience with. Couple that with the beautiful flat screen monitor Matt got for his birthday...and the speaker system he bought soon after, and we have got ourselves...uh...more than we know how to handle.

So I finally decided to learn how to make my blog cute. I had taken note that most of the blogs I admired were from The Cutest Blog on the Block and I had assumed that this was an exclusive, expensive, or at least confusing club to take part in. Half an hour later (all right, it was closer to an hour...and yes, I had a girlfriend helping, er, cheerleading me on) I had finally figured this thang out. And I'm now the proud possessor of a Cute Blog. *wide smile*

When my darling Matthew got home from work, I told him of my wonderful accomplishment. To which he sweetly replied, "honey, I'm so sorry, but I just don't care very much about your blog. What am I gonna do--come home and read it every day?"

I told him he didn't have to care about the blog, just the feeling of accomplishment. He decided he could do that, and I proceeded to tell him all about it. Poor guy. I can't imagine what it must be like to work SO HARD all day making physical labor miracles happen and then to get home to your wife who puffs up her chest and says "I made my blog cute today! Ta da!"

Ah well. I read one of the wonderful Proverbs31Woman devotionals that tells us that basically, there is no one else who is here to compete for my job as Elizabeth Christine Floyd. I am the only one He made for this place on Earth. I don't need to feel jealous, competitive, or like I need to do anyone else's job. I am me. Ta da!

* * * * * * *

Same post, new story

* * * * * * *

Today at naptime, Chandler (age 5) was praying as normal, and suddenly realized he'd forgotten to pray for the homeless people. We try to start praying for people without homes more regularly when the cold weather hits, and this year he's very serious about it. Well, today he put a new twist on it:

Chandler: "...and Lord, I pray for the homeless people. I pray for them because they might only have one pair of underwear..."

(my ears prick up)

"...and if they only have one pair, then they'd have to wear the same ones all the time and they'd get really dirty..."

(I feel like I should say something...but what? "we don't pray about underwear"?)

"...and Lord, it's just not fun to wear dirty underwear. So I also pray that they would find a home. Thank you for all the blessings You give us, Amen."

I pause mentally, trying to process a prayer about homeless people underwear, and while I'm working through this, I smile encouragingly at Chandler and tell him that was a nice prayer.

As he drifts off towards sleep, I continue to think.

There was nothing really wrong with Chandler's innocent (if unorthodox) little prayer. I've been trying to explain to the kids how God cares even about the details of our lives. I want them to know that God is caring and intimate, that He is interested in the practical, immediate, and sometimes odd little things that are important to us. And He wants us to feel we can approach Him with these things. He wants to be a real part of our lives.

Does God care that I have enough diapers to make it until Friday when we get another paycheck? I believe He does--and even though it may not feel as spiritual as praying for the starving children in Africa, it builds my faith when the diapers really do last or when my mom unexpectedly stops by with a new pack without knowing I might need some.

Does God care about people who don't always have a fresh change of clothes or a place of their own to shower? I believe He does-- and I decided that it was sweet of Chandler to pray for their "underwear needs". What a very real problem that could be, and who else is gonna pray for it? Maybe no one other than a practical 5 year old boy who believes that God cares enough to listen.