Archive | House cleaning RSS feed for this section

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

Advertisements

Start with the Dust Bunnies

4 Mar

One of the funniest books I’ve read on marital relations is Laura Jenson Walker’s Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde.

In her chapter on neatness, Laura wrote, “Everyone has different standards of clean.

“Like my mom and aunts for instance, who wouldn’t know a dust bunny if it hopped right up to them.

“My mom raised my sister Lisa and me the same house-cleaning way,” she said, “Except that all of our dust bunnies have names.” (1)

Later, she wrote about a friend named Pat who had a husband who left various items of clothes strewn around the house. One day he came home from work to find his wife  had decorated their apartment.

“Pat had quite artistically hung his socks over a chair, draped his shirt over a picture frame,and dangled his underwear from the dining room light fixture,” Laura said. “We women call that decorating with a point.” (2)

Several television shows have highlighted the differences between people ~ not always husband and wife ~ who are messies and neatniks. The most famous couple was Felix and Oscar on The Odd Couple.

The guiding line for me has always been the anonymous saying that a home should be “clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” It’s easy to go to extremes. I’ve grieved over the stresses of a hoarding household with nowhere to turn or breathe. But I’ve also cringed in the presence of a fussy homemaker who eyed everything I did, afraid I’d mess up her picture-perfect home. Neither is healthy or happy!

At the end of her chapter on neatness, Laura shared the verse: Isaiah 32:18: “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” We do need to relax in our homes. They are a unique place for us to let down our hair, kick off our shoes, and be at ease. But there does need to be a point at which we clean and organize, or our homes won’t stay peaceful havens of rest.

The Proverbs 31 Woman took time to work on her home. We don’t know whether she had dust bunnies, but she probably had a dirt or stone floor in her home. Regardless, it is obvious from verses 10-31 that she was an industrious woman, caring well for her household.

There are many “systems” for housework that list the essentials of cleaning and organization. [I’m sure you have positive resources that help you keep things in line, and I’d love hear from you.]

But at the risk of simplifying this subject too much, I believe there are some basic questions every person needs to ask when considering their home:

  • Does my home honor God?
  • Does my home look welcoming? Warm and inviting?
  • Is my home uncluttered and calm?
  • Can I or my family grow and learn here?
  • Is my home healthy ~ clean, but not fussy?
  • Does my home contribute to joy and laughter? Can I open it to serve others?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then what needs to change? [I know that Marcia Ramsland, The Organizing Pro, has lots of ideas for positive changes that organize one’s life as well as the home.]

Make changes one small step at a time, but methodically. Start with those pesky dust bunnies, perhaps.

[I think my boys’ first pets were dust bunnies (LOL), but that changed when I discovered what those dirty fluffballs contained! Seriously. Dust bunnies aren’t so harmless! They can harbor all sorts of nasty things that affect your health!]

So get a plan, and write down steps of things you want to change. Check them off as you complete them or make them part of your lifestyle ~ and you will soon have a more relaxed, efficient, God-honoring home.

[Now…  as for getting messies to go along with neatnicks’ plans? That’s another story! I hear there’s a Messies Anonymous group online!]

(1) Laura Jenson Walker, Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde: Delighting in the Differences Between Men and Women (Bethany House Publ., 1997), p. 129

(2) Ibid, p. 130

%d bloggers like this: