a little order goes a long way

Open Heart — Open Home:

I already mentioned this book, and what a wonderful refresher it was on living lives poured out — for the Lord and for His Bride. After many inspirational and challenging pages on the spiritual basis for such life priorities, Karen Mains gets into some practical how-to’s:

Know the shortcuts. Have a routine. Don’t clean for company; clean according to that routine. Make a little pie-chart of your time, and really? Really, you spend that huge chunk cleaning your house instead of loving people??

Of course, she didn’t write it quite like that, but that’s how the Holy Spirit said it to me. I was simultaneously convicted and liberated (which is what usually happens when God points out an area of weakness and offers His life instead.)

I don’t want to spend most of my life behind on my housework, buried under a mountain of tedium that feels hopeless and holds me captive. The whole point of my house and the work it involves is that it be a home — a place of refuge and godly culture that impacts people.

I read that in June, and began praying for wisdom. I’m famous for getting really excited about regimens and then turning into a sergeant, dragging the rest of the family behind me. I didn’t want that. I wanted to have the wisdom of the Lord for better managing my life, so that I could more effectively bless Him. And after hemming and hawing about potentially “ruining” our summer with a new-for-this-season chore chart, I finally did it. After all, I realized, a new baby is coming, and then a new school year with two students, and the time for learning some new routines is now.

And I am so, so thankful.

We’re not living in a constant state of deep-clean, by any means, but I was able to identify some areas that continually tormented me, if you will, and got systems to conquer them:

Laundry done — folded, put away — before breakfast.
Dishwasher unloaded, dish drain emptied, sink cleaned — before breakfast.
Kitchen floor vacuumed every morning.
General tidying and cleaning every day.

And all by 10am, freeing us to play, do errands, enjoy company — planned or spontaneous — and (let’s be honest) take naps. And wake up from the nap in a fairly tidy house.

For me, front-loading my day is what works. Post-lunch has never, ever been a predictably productive time for me. Living in a just-spring-cleaned house is a pipe dream, but some order and tidiness can actually go a long way. Certain dirt bothers me more than other dirt. These are things I’m learning, things that I can take into account as I order my life and prioritize my time as housekeeper.

And new babies change everything. That’s something else I’ve learned. An unknown variable that you just have to be ready to work with.

That’s okay. Because seasons come, go, and change constantly. Each day is different, and so is each home. You’re you, and I’m me. Your family isn’t my family, and our outworking of hospitality is unique. But the heart of God is unchanging: He loves people. And when we seek Him for wisdom in how our lives can be more effective, more in tune with His priorities, our hearts and homes reflecting His order and love — well, we can count on Him to give it.

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