Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Can God Help Me With My Housework?

By Pamela Van Atta

Piles of dishes, loads of laundry, and a “To Do” list a mile long overwhelms even the best of women. So, can God help me (and you) with our housework? He did create the heavens and the earth. Do dust bunnies fall under the heaven and earth category? I believe they do, and I believe He can prescribe a remedy for housework challenges.

I found a parable that spoke volumes about housework. In Isaiah God says, “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way” (28:24, 26 NIV). So many things can go wrong in farming. But God says, “I’ll teach you the right way.” Now if a right and wrong way exist in farming, then I’m sure a right and wrong way exists in housework.

“So God,” I said, “What am I doing wrong?” Then I took out a pen and began to journal. Somewhere in the midst of my scribbling, I noticed a theme emerging. Apparently, I acquired a rather lousy work ethic for chores. I quickly explained to God, “Lord these chores are mind-boggling-boring! How can anyone be inspired to do such basic things?”

In a flash, the “Virtuous Woman” of Proverbs 31 sprang to mind. I read the passage several times in my NIV version of the Bible, but nothing seemed to make sense. Then I read it in the Message which says, “First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work (Prov. 31: 8-9).

A light burst on in my head. My lousy work ethic stems from my inability to sense the worth of my work. Immediately I asked God, “Teach me the worth of my work.” Not long after, I remembered a friend of mine giving a testimony at church.

Mary stood in front of our Sunday school class with tears streaming down her sweet face. “I feel like an ugly old troll,” she said. “I’ve felt like this since I can remember, but have no clue as to why.” She told us she asked God to heal her from this feeling. And miraculously he did. “I remembered going to school dirty. My school sent me home because of my filth,” Mary said, still crying.

I realize now the worth of my work. My children’s self-concept grows from their environment. If they live in a chaotic, cluttered environment, they will feel chaotic and cluttered, but if they dwell in an organized, clean home, they will graft that order into their own lives.

This knowledge has improved my work ethic. Now I sense the worth of my work. However, this is what God taught me. What God uses to inspire me in my housework may not be the same as what He will use to inspire you. Therefore, take a few minutes and ask God, “Teach me the worth of my work.” What does He say?

Once I received motivation to do my housework, I inquired of God again. “Lord,” I said, “Teach me the right way to do my housework.” And God answered.

God knows my tendency to become overwhelmed by laundry. So His idea for me is to do only one load per day, and for me, it works. I’m never overwhelmed because I’m always caught up. I look into the dirty clothes hamper and think, “I can do that.”

God also taught me the right way to put clothes away. Putting clothes in the washer is one thing, but folding clothes and putting them away is a whole other world. I absolutely hate folding clothes. So God’s solution for me was a no-brainer. He said, “Try hanging them up.” I hang everything up now except for underwear and socks.

Laundry at this point in my life is relatively easy, with the exception of socks. “Lord what do I do about the sock fiasco in my house?” I can’t tell my oldest son’s socks from my youngest. My husband’s socks never seem to wind up in the same load. Ending up with three socks, none of which match, makes me want to pull my hair out!

God’s answer was a stroke of sheer genius. He gave me the idea to throw out all socks. Now my two sons wear the same sock size. So I bought both of them all new socks, only each pair was completely identical. I did the same with my husband’s socks and my own. Everyone has nine pairs of matching white socks. So when I do the laundry, I don’t match the socks. I simply put them in the sock drawer. Whichever two socks we pull out, they match.

God solved my laundry dilemma. He knows my personality, and my unique tendencies- and yours too. He understands what we can and can’t handle. He knows us inside and out, and He can solve any household chore that challenges us. I promise no pile of laundry is too high for Him! All you have to do is ask, “Teach me the right way Lord.” What does He say?

Visit Pamela Van Atta’s web site at http://www.healingworksministry.com/.

Are you overwhelmed with housekeeping tasks? Read on for tips from P31 Woman readers on how to keep a step ahead.

Let the Housework Slip Between the Cracks
By Jenny Rae Armstrong

Can’t find enough time to devote to housework? Let it slip between these "cracks" in your day, and your house will virtually clean itself!

While the coffee is brewing...
Clear the clutter off your countertops, then grab a sponge and wipe them down. Give your appliances a quick once over while you’re at it.

While the water is coming to a boil...
Inspect your fridge. Throw out anything that looks or smells suspect, then swipe the empty spaces with a soapy washcloth. Toss the washcloth on the floor when you're done and get rid of those spaghetti splatters.

While the bathtub is filling...
Spritz the mirror, sink, and toilet with a multi-surface cleanser, and wipe them down. Squirt cleanser into the toilet bowl and swish it around with a toilet brush. Keep cleaning supplies in the bathroom to make it easy.

While the computer is booting...
Go through that pile of papers cluttering up your desk. Toss the junk mail, file the bank statements, and if your computer is really slow, bring those coffee mugs back to the kitchen.

During the commercial break...
Put stray toys, socks, and school bags back where they belong. You’ll be amazed at how tidy the room is by the end of your favorite program!

Homemaking Events
By Kathy Stamer

Have you ever read articles or books that tell how often to clean things in your home? One book I read suggested cleaning the refrigerator once a month, changing the sheets once a week, and sweeping the kitchen floor daily.

When I was working full-time, raising three children, and taking care of my husband, I wondered how I could change the sheets once a week.

Here’s a solution that I came up with during this busy season of my life to keep on top of homemaking responsibilities. I call them “Homemaking Events.”

What are Homemaking Events? They are events, or steps taken, that take very little time and produce noticeable results. Here’s a list of my ideas, which may spur you on to think of others:

Make spaghetti sauce using canned tomatoes. Run the tomatoes through a food processor and add your choice of seasonings. While the sauce is simmering, a delightful aroma permeates your home. While you do have to keep an eye on the sauce and stir it occasionally, for the most part you can leave it unattended.

Wash the lampshades that are water resistant. Fill the tub halfway and immerse the lampshades. Let them soak for awhile, and then give then give them a quick swipe with a cloth and you're done.

Machine wash bath mats and small throw rugs. This is one of my favorites because it only takes the time to put them in the washing machine, and put them back in place once dried.
Prepare make-ahead food. Some of the things I make ahead of time are: hard-boiled eggs, macaroni salad (it comes in handy for a starch to add to a meal) and easy soups that can be frozen in individual containers.

Line the kitchen cabinet shelves. Use any type of liner, adhesive if you want to keep the liner, or paper if you plan to change it periodically. The same thing can be done in linen closets and dresser drawers.

Throw out icky and toiletries in the medicine cabinet and other storage spaces in the bathroom. For example, body lotions and creams, old and unsafe make-up, and toothbrushes.
Make gingerbread. I saved this idea for last because it's the most fun. Who doesn't like freshly baked gingerbread served with whipped cream? It doesn't take long to mix the ingredients, and the effort is so worth it!