Keeping a clean and tidy home [My Journey - Part 1 of 4]

This series was drafted a long time ago, waiting for the right moment to be posted.  Maybe the right moment is when I have a bunch of other posts in the works without much time to bring them to completion!  Also, it seems like with the New Year, many people want to focus on developing new habits particularly with cleanliness and organization.  I hope this series can be an encouragement to those wanting a fresh start when it comes to keeping a clean and tidy home!  Full disclosure though - even though I still affirm what is written in these posts, due to the season of life we are in right now (up with twins at night and managing three under 17 months during the day), I am not doing a very good job of putting these things into practice at the moment!  With time, I do hope to go back to good homemaking habits!  Enjoy!
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I was the teenager with the messy bedroom.  I was the 18 year old with a cluttered car.  I was the college student who had notes galore spread out everywhere.  I was the new wife who couldn't seem to keep up with two people's dirty dishes.  I was the hostess who didn't want to invite people over on a whim because our house was too messy.  I was the mommy who was constantly falling further and further behind on cleanliness and organization.

Some people are born with a desire for neatness and order (all of you A-type personalities are still recovering from that first paragraph).  I was born with a desire for fun, comfort, and creativity; no order needed!  Why would you make your bed when you are just going to climb right back in it?  Why would you put away those jeans today when you are planning to get them out again tomorrow?  As my mother-in-law so wonderfully puts it, "we are be-ers, Emily...not do-ers" (we always exchange a smile over this comment).

Slowly I've learned to cope with my personality tendency towards all play and no work.  In college I learned that I couldn't keep up with deadlines, studying, and classwork unless I organized everything into binders.  At work, I learned that I couldn't stay on top of my responsibilities if I didn't clean my desk everyday.  And at home, I at least knew that I couldn't let things get out of control for too long or it would take a whole week to get the house back in order.

Things started to really change at the beginning of my recent pregnancy.  I went through a phase where I was EXHAUSTED.  Like...more tired than I knew a person could possibly be.  More tired than when Lewis was up nursing multiple times a night.  Tired like I ran a marathon and had the flu at the same time.  Our house barely survived.

The dishes and papers and clothes and stuff that I barely kept up with before the pregnancy was now closing in on me.  I was overwhelmed by my inability to get any type of housework done, and I was tired of feeling behind everyday.  I also didn't like having to watch my gracious husband (who worked very hard all day), come home and do the dishes while I laid on the couch.

Now, this was thankfully a phase, and as I got further along in my pregnancy (and found out about the twins...which explained a lot), my energy levels increased.  However, I don't regret the feelings I had during those weeks, because I was finally fully convinced and convicted about what it means to be a homemaker who keeps a clean and tidy home.  The "why" of cleaning finally started to sink in...and I majorly needed God's help to change.

I began to see that my habits were not a good example for our children.  How would I ask them to keep a clean room and help with chores when I don't do chores and pick up my own clothes regularly?  How could I instill in them a hardworking spirit if I liked to lounge to the detriment of our home?  I was also subtly affecting my marriage.  My husband, while extremely tolerant and kind, helping me anytime I needed it, really should be able to come home to a peaceful and stable environment.  Who wants to come home to a kitchen covered in dishes, an unmade bed, toys scattered on the floor, and a wife who is in a frenzy after enduring the stresses of the office all day?  Not only was this about my family, but it was about hospitality.  I regularly turned down opportunities to have people over to our house because of "the mess".  Things were either clean (because I planned for guests), or they were in no state to entertain.  This was a bigger deal than it seemed.

The next step - repentance.  A realization that my identity wasn't in my messiness or my cleanliness but in Christ.  There is no condemnation for my sin.  I belong to Him and need to lay down my life to take up the life that He has for me.  With the help of the holy spirit, I must continually die to myself and my sinful habits and tendencies and replace them with righteousness (something only available to me on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross).  I wanted to live a life that glorified God, even in the mundane daily activities.  I didn't want make excuses for my sin anymore, but instead desired to turn and run towards God, asking for His help in this area.

And (as he always does when we genuinely repent), God who is abundant in mercy began to help me overcome my desire for "being" and started to equip me to "do".

Can you relate to this struggle to keep things clean, tidy, and organized?  Not to a level of perfection, but even to a practical level of necessary functionality?  If you can relate, or if you often wonder why it matters to have a clean and tidy home, stay tuned as we explore why this homemaking discipline is biblical and important.
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