These past few months I have been working and working on getting my home in order. As I told you before, I have many years of "homemaking debt." That is years and years of mispractice with my time. Thus years and years of accumulated stuffing and disorganization. A woman of God has a terrible time being creative in her job when she practices this kind of "time banishment." Time banishment is the opposite of time management. I am afraid I have banished an awful lot of time over the years.
Before I began working on my home these past few months, I was thinking about God's Word. One of the verses that I was thinking about was Ephesians 5:33b
"And let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."
I thought about that verse. Oh, that's easy, I thought, I respect my husband. Yes, I was sure I had that verse covered. Then this nagging little thought came into my mind. "Yes, Laine, but does the keeping of your home bring respect to him?"
Ouch. That little thought hurt. I thought about my husband. My husband loves to have people over for dinner. He loves to have his family over for the weekend. But how many times has the disorganization of my home caused me to say to him, "Oh, not this weekend, Art." Or "maybe next Friday night, Art." Why? Because of the work it would take for me to get ready to have weekend guests or a family over for dinner. You see, my home was always working against me. My home was a hindrance, rather than a help, in hospitality.
So often I would ask the LORD, "What am I doing wrong?" I would notice other women who could keep their homes in order. Why was I always struggling so? I would notice other women whose homes were always open and inviting. Why couldn't I practice this so easily as well?
Then I thought, "Well, everyone is comfortable in our home. It doesn't really need to be in order." That was sure a lie. For who was the most uncomfortable when someone unexpected dropped by? You guessed it. Me.
Again that nagging little thought, coupled with The Word, came into my mind, "Does the keeping of your home bring respect to your husband?"
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I did not like the way my thoughts were going. But praying and pondering the Word of God brought me to realize that I had some serious work to do. I was going to get this home ready for hospitality! I was going to bring my husband respect. No more excuses. I tackled my home with new found resolution.
The first thing I did was to learn how to keep one room ready and welcoming for any drop in guests. This was the corner I started in. (That was when I wrote to you the letter entitled, "The Parlor Mentality.") I worked on this for a few weeks. What I mean by that is, I developed the practice of cleaning this room first and training my children to keep it clean during the day; this way we might have a nice room to take guests to, should they come by unexpectedly. It takes about 3 weeks to develop a habit, so we now have this habit down. The next thing I worked on was cleaning my bathroom every day. I figured that my drop in guests might need to use the bathroom, so it would be best to have it nice and clean. So every day after I "ready the parlor," I go and clean the bathroom. (A letter that I wrote in the past entitled, "How To Clean a Very Messy Bathroom" explains how I do this rather quickly.) Since we only have one bathroom and six people, it gets messy every morning after all the nighttime showers and morning preparations for the day. So it is best that I daily go through it quickly and thoroughly. Again, I now have this habit down.
Many of my friends have children. My children also have many friends over in the course of a week. I knew that these younger guests would definitely wander to my children's rooms down the hall. I thought it best that these rooms be kept neat in case one of their friends might spend the day with them, or overnight. (I wrote about the pleasure of "Practicing Hospitality with Children" some time ago as well.) So I began to work on their rooms. I started with my daughter's room.
I found that this was the easiest room as she is pretty neat. It wasn't too hard to get her room in order and keep it that way every day. I kept thinking how nice it was to have an orderly room should I have an overnight guest, like our Ayuko, who comes once or twice a year from college to visit us.
The hard part came when I went into my sons' room. Ugh. Double ugh. This room was so bad. The first thing I realized was these boys cannot have a lot of things in their room. They really do better in keeping their room neat with only a few items at a time in their room. So I went in and took out. And took out. And took out. Then my husband painted their walls halfway up a dark green to hide a multitude of spots, stains, and smears. I put up a border between the white and green on the walls, and bought them two handsome comforters for their beds which tied in with the colors in the border. The room was now in order. The challenge has been to keep it that way. But I work on it, because I think, "Now this room is ready should we have overnight guests, or should the boys have a friend spend the night." Again, it is getting into the practice of keeping something neat and tidy, which I am trying to work on in my home.
This Easter my brother-in-law and his family will be coming to spend the weekend with us. It is the first time in a long time that I am ready to have guests over without a "major coronary house attack." What is that you ask? That is when I go into my serious alarm cleaning with many major bypasses (and lots of family anxiety) to get my home ready for welcoming someone in with open arms.
Now I am not finished in my new "Bringing Him Respect" household management plan. ~Smile~ But it is getting better and better every week. I keep thinking of the verse in Proverbs 31 where her husband sits at the gate in the middle of all her work.
"Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land." Proverbs 31:23
Her work brings him respect in the gates among the people. The verse which always seemed so very out of place to me, now makes perfect sense. It is a beautiful picture of the laying down of one's life that the other might shine. She is shown working in the home throughout the passage; he is shown shining in the gates. She brings him respect.
That is how the Word of God works. It opens one's mind to understand that there is more than housework going on here. There is respect going on here. Not only that. There is also glory to God going on here. Oh, the joy, the incredible joy of bringing "Him" and him respect in our homes. And then seeing that respect result in the "washing of another's feet," or otherwise more well known as, "practicing hospitality." May He do it through us. May He do it through us!