In an effort to avoid anything that could possibly be mistaken for a resolution, I started something new before the new year.
I sat down at my kitchen table and made a list of all the tasks I needed to do in order to fulfill my mission of being a good keeper at home. The weekend warrior movement when it came to cleaning was just not working for me. Cleaning a room a day while juggling a freelance career and a toddler was just not working for me either.
I mean, who needs to be that cleaned and polished and mopped anyway?
Every time I fell behind on housework, I felt guilty and guilt is downright depressing! Something had to change.
I figured, why not break down my keeper-at-home to do list into manageable chunks? The whole house wouldn’t be clean all at once, but at least portions of the whole house would be clean at least once a month. I would then have to barricade the area with a red velvet cord strung between brass columns to maintain the cleanliness for at least , oh I don’t know, 30 seconds. That’s usually how long anything stays clean in my house.
(Now, before you make a mental note to never eat from my kitchen or visit with me, let me explain that there are regular daily chores that the eldest children are responsible for. Such chores include taking a broom/dust mop to the floors, cleaning out litter boxes, filling bird feeders, nightly dishes. And, no, having the children participate in chores is NOT child abuse, regardless of their multitudinous protestations. They get paid for the work.)
I began with a list of 31 numbers, and then remembered not all months have 31 days. Okay, so 30 items.
Then, there was February.
Okay, so 28 items.
Then, there’s the whole Resting on the Sabbath. Subtract five because some months have five Sundays.
And, of course, there are some tasks that simply cannot wait twenty three days to be done – like the floor mopping – so I needed to subtract another five to mop all floors on Saturdays.
(We have hardwood and linoleum on the entire first floor – don’t judge …)
My magic number.
My keeper-at-home, reasonable-service-to-my-family, guilt-busting, get-‘er-done number.
And there you go. My dream of being a true Proverbs 31 Woman was one step closer to becoming my reality. It would take a multitude of eighteen-day segments to get there, but I knew I could do it.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 31:17 NIV)
On day one, I used the Webster and annihilated each and every cobweb in each and every room. On day two, I removed all glass in all light fixtures and washed it, dusted every light bulb and wiped down every fan blade. On day three, I meticulously removed and vacuumed and returned to order all the books on our two sets of book shelves. On day four, I prepared the correct ratio of Lestoil and warm water and scrubbed each and every fingerprint and swipe mark from doors and doorjambs.
You get the picture here, right?
At first, I received a great deal of satisfaction. My home smelled better, I had actually accomplished good, measurable things, and I had alleviated my guilt at not having a completely spotless house all at the same time.
There was just one problem: no one really seemed to notice. Not only did they not notice the work I had done for them, they also didn’t observe the don’t-you-dare-touch-that-because-it’s-clean-rule.
While my children and husband were busy going about their after school and after work lives at home, they didn’t see the mess they were leaving behind.
A water spot on the faucet!
Tiny granules of sugar AND salt on the counter near the canisters!
Grossly mismanaged bathroom usage practices!
My insides were a cartoon character about to blow – red-faced, ears making like a boiling tea kettle, levitation from the pressure of the impending blast … and then, I heard it.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. (Philippians 1:3 KJV)
Ding dang it for the oh-so-gentle voice that extinguished the flame of my indignation.
I had turned a chance to show a servant’s heart to my family into some type of drudgery. I had missed an opportunity for praise and gratitude and sweet remembrance and turned that moment into resentment and entitlement.
Oh, Lord, forgive me.
I went back and looked up every reference that was similar to that verse in Philippians.
I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers (Philemon 1:4 NKJV)
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all (Romans 1:8 NKJV)
do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:16 NKJV)
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you (Colossians 1:3 NKJV)
The apostle Paul even goes on to write this several more times as well, sometimes even writing these very words from the darkness of a prison cell. My home is not my prison, so why do I treat it like I am some warden?
Sweet, God-gifted humility filtered through the air in my home and settled right into my heart. The mess I was cleaning up was the mess that should make me think of the good gifts of my children and my husband. And this thinking should prod me into lifting up my family first thing.
Go back and look at where these verses are located. They are all in the first chapters of their books and they are all within the first few lines of each first chapter. My initial response should be prayer and gratitude.
My second response should be a visible move toward growth. In nearly all the thankful-to-think-of-you passages, the New Testament writers say they are thankful and full of remembering because they have heard of the faith and growth of the new church. How are my children to see the benefits of growing in wisdom and faith unless I model it for them? And how are they to integrate that into their lives unless I teach them how to pay attention to the good and kind things that others do and say.
God has helped my arms to be strong for my tasks. He obviously needed to work on the strength of my heart as well.
Who can find a virtuous woman ?(Proverbs 31:10a NKJV)
Find her in me, Lord, please find her in me.
Come on, Mama. It’s Monday, let’s do this together …