Spring(clean)ing into Action

15 Apr

I think spring cleaning must be hormonal. And it seems the women’s hormones are the only ones that kick into gear!

I came across an article written by Kellie Head, a mother of six, as a guide for her husband to help her with the spring cleaning. It was called “Spring Cleaning a la Testosterone.” (1)

Kellie says she used to wonder whether men play dumb when it comes to cleaning, or whether they are simply trying to avoid any sort of housework; “but now,” she says, “I think it may have something to do with a testosterone brain block or something.”

Kellie decided to make a “cheat sheet” to help her husband when spring cleaning comes around. It included a number of definitions, and I’ll only share a few here:

“Vacuum (cleaner) … much like the leaf blower except it sucks in , instead of blowing out. Don’t let this alarm you. It isn’t broken and doesn’t need more torque, speed, RAM, or whatever it is you did to the dishwasher.

“Dust pan … Contrary to popular belief, this is where you sweep the dirt, not under the hallway area rug.

“Dust Cloth … A cloth designated for removing tiny particles of dirt from every flat surface of the house. Hint: look for your old ‘lucky shirt.’

“Oven Cleaner … No, not the teenager. This is an actual product that you buy, spray in the oven and wipe out two hours later. You won’t need your welder’s mask for this task, but if it makes you feel more dangerous, go ahead.

“Squeegee … Same principle as washing the car windshield, and yes, real men do squeegee!”

And then Kellie added this final note: “While Duct tape may be a wonderful plumber’s aid, it’s really not the best solution for keeping the bathroom towels in place and Jamie’s teacher is still asking why his homework was stuck to his forehead last week. For these reasons, I have hidden the duct tape and distributed your picture to the local hardware stores. Don’t make me call Duct Tape Anonymous again….”

My dad had a thing for duct tape. I think that I inherited the duct tape gene. While traveling on a revival team during the years when girls all wore “maxi dresses,” my heel caught on the hem of my burgundy plaid jumper and it ripped out right before I was due to go on stage. No problem. I talked our sound crew out of a roll of duct tape and taped my entire hem. It stayed in place through several washings that year!

I’ve often wished I had the Martha Stewart gene, but no ~ spring cleaning is not my cup of … Lysol. It seems there’s always something else I’d rather do when my daily work is done ~ like writing, time with grandkids, water aerobics, or watching something off-the-wall on TV like “Doomsday Preppers.”

I imagine that a number of cultures have some form of spring cleaning. I read about the preparations Jews made for the Passover in the Old Testament. Talk about spring cleaning! Unleavened bread became the symbol of the Jews’ exodus from days of slavery in Egypt, and every observant Jew made sure there was no bread containing leaven anywhere in the house ~ not even a crumb ~ before the Passover celebration. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was so much a part of Passover that their names were sometimes used interchangeably (Exodus 12:15-19, 41; Luke 22:1). During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Israel was to eat only bread without leaven (which represented sin) for seven days. (For more about this feast and parallels to Jesus, the Bread of Life, read here.)

So getting rid of the leaven was a crucial cleaning ritual, and, while I realize that the Jews had a spiritual reason for cleaning their homes before Passover, I imagine that every Jewish woman stood back and admired her clean, “purified” home when she was done. There was the satisfaction that they had obeyed God, and they were ready for the blessings to come.

When I look at the diligence of the Proverbs 31 woman, I imagine that she (and her maids) cleaned her home for many reasons, too. A clean, organized home enabled her to care for her family better. Perhaps it allowed her to offer hospitality without worrying about how the house looked. A clean home was one way to honor her husband.

We can’t have perfectly neat, clean homes all the time. Life gets messy sometimes, and we let things slide. Our dust bunnies invite friends, and spiders crochet doilies in the rooms’ corners. But there comes a time when we need to pick up the broom and dustpan and get busy. We set our homes in order to create a place for greater peace and joy. The more we want to experience a clean, hospitable home, the greater effort we’ll make to do whatever is necessary to get it in shape.

And by the way, our hearts get “messy” sometimes, too. We let things slide, and one sin invites another.  There comes a time when we need to remember the words of 1 John 1:9, God’s promise of forgiveness and cleansing when we confess our sins to Him. When our hearts are clean, we experience more of what God has for us, including peace and joy! We need more passion for purity of heart, like King David, who prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

We need to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and watch out for the “leaven” that causes problems. Cleaning doesn’t just happen, with or without the Martha Stewart gene.

May we use the words of scripture to motivate us to spring into action ~ cleaning our homes and our hearts!

(1) http://www.familycorner.com/parenting/humor/springcleaning.shtml

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