Cleaning House

We’re having guests over for Thanksgiving dinner. So you know what that means – SPEED CLEANING! I know – if I’d kept up with the daily chores all along, I’d only have to “spruce up.” I really do see the wisdom in that. But my housekeeping skills have not been very consistent, so now there will be frantic straightening  along with prepping for the meal.

I’ve made my share of attempts to form a regular cleaning routine, but none have taken root. The one-room-a-day system left me discouraged when I ventured out into the untamed rest of the house. I tried a variation, doing the same chore in every room in one day, and got tired from lugging the equipment all around the house.

Part of my issue with cleaning is that the job is never done – I’m caught in a continuous loop. Whatever surface I dust on Monday is covered again by Thursday, and the floor I sweep needs another run by the next morning.Plus, there’s this kind of performance pressure to make each room resemble a page from Better Homes & Gardens, which stresses me out.

I’ll admit it, I have a cleaning attitude problem. When I was single, I got away with doing next to nothing. As a new bride, I made a passionate vow to please my husband by keeping the house looking gorgeous, just like my mother-in-law did in hers. Later, kids and pets and busyness kicked in, and I grumped about how I couldn’t keep up.

In each season, I’ve found a way to be discontent. I’ve swung from laziness to perfectionism to martyrdom, always taking a negative view about the chores and myself. Well, it’s time to take a step back, take a breath and refocus.

Cleaning the house is not about impressing anyone, or proving how worthy I am. It’s simply about handling something God has gifted us with respect, and taking care of my family. Having rooms be picture-perfect doesn’t matter as much as making them comfortable and healthy.

If I can concentrate on keeping my home a blessing instead of a showcase from now on, then I might enjoy the cleaning of it a lot more. And having people over will only add to the fun of a holiday.

 

A Special Meal

I subbed yesterday at an elementary school here in town. It just so happened that they were holding their “Celebration of Family Day.” All the students had invited their parents to come and eat a Thanksgiving-style meal and do some arts and crafts with them. The kids were so excited!

While I sat for a bit in the Teacher’s lounge, I saw various staff and PTO members setting up. Each of them took their roles very seriously, whether it was manning the sign-in station or serving turkey.  it was fun to see the anticipation they felt, and the sense of joy they showed in their work.

It reminded me of the Veteran’s Dinner that was held at my church a couple of weeks ago. The menu was also Thanksgiving-themed, but instead of doing arts and crafts, the attenders swapped stories about military service. The spirit of cheer was as infectious at this meal as it was at the school, though.

At both these events, it was clear that the organizers wanted to make the the guests feel warmly welcomed. From the decorations to the dessert, all the details were carefully planned and carried out. And the main goal seemed to be to create a special time of fellowship that would be treasured long after it finished.

All that made me wonder – do I put as much thought into the atmosphere of a regular, “every weekday” kind of meal at home?  

I simply can’t make a roast and fixings every dinner. And my kids are too old for making paper hats. That’s fine – those things are only elements meant for certain occasions, anyway. I’m thinking that the most important way to make any meal special starts with having a genuine desire to honor the people coming to sit at the table, and letting them know how much I always value their company.

An Avalanche Of Praise

20151016_113609One of the first things I do most mornings is to take my dog outside. She has a great time sniffing around the yard, doing what my Dad has called her “doggy business.” As I follow her (she takes me for a walk, you know), I find my thoughts usually turning pretty quickly to God.

Stepping out into the air, especially when it turns colder, is a wake-up call for me as well as Marcie. And walking through our little piece of nature grounds me in the present moment. I can get caught up in admiring how tall the trees have grown, or taking in the variety of bird songs being sung.

The more aware I am of these details, the more quickly I remember the One who made them. And I realize that He created them for both His and my pleasure. That thought leads me to thank Him for the beautiful display of His love.

Sometimes my praise is quick and quiet, staying tucked inside my heart. But other times, like today, it gets spoken out loud. I started this morning by naming what I saw right in front of me – Lord, thank You for the sunny morning, and for the amazing colors of the leaves. Thank You for creating such lovely things for me to enjoy.

I could have stopped there, but I didn’t want to. After the sun and leaves, I wanted to thank God for the blue sky, and our big back yard, and our house. More and more items came to mind, and each one seemed to lead to another, like links in a chain. Before I knew it, Marcie and I were at our front door 10 minutes later.

This kind of “avalanche” of praise can happen for me during my prayer time, too. People, situations, hopes and fears all spring to mind, making it hard to find a good stopping point. And I don’t really want these times to end – they feel so intimate and precious.

It was an awesome way to start my day – and that is a praise all it’s own!

How about you – do you ever find yourself caught up in avalanches of praise or prayer?

Cars

We traded in our Subaru recently to get a newer vehicle. It was a good deal – we got more for it than we expected, and the dealership offered to come and pick it up. But when their tow truck pulled out of our driveway, the silver Forester sitting on the bed, I almost cried.

It’s a little funny to get sentimental over a car, I guess. But looking at the Forester, and the Legacy that went before it, I saw so much more than a make and model.

A lot of life happened in those cars, and as their odometer readings grew, so did our family. Like the wheels beneath us, the seasons rolled on – from baby seats to boosters, from KidSongs CDs to Alternative rock stations.

And the conversations that happened within those steel doors!  In the early years, Mommy or Daddy entertained the back seat riders. Lately, the issues of teenage life have been shared and puzzled out with Mom and Dad. I am grateful for each one I got to be a part of.

Out of curiosity, I once tried to calculate the percentage of my kid’s lives that had been spent sitting in a car. Then I tried to figure how much of my life had been taken up by travelling and playing taxi. But I decided that In the end it doesn’t matter. The important thing is those moments, whether they came during long stretches on our way to see relatives, or quick bites on the way to school.

Our new vehicle is a truck. My husband knew we’d need the extra room for moving both our kids and ourselves in upcoming years. It only has two seats, which feels a little weird to me. Well, it’s a new vehicle for a new chapter. And I’m trusting it will be as amazing as the last one!