Home is my favorite place. I love home. I love the days when I have no where to go, no place to be, but just in my home with my husband and children. I long for my home to be a place of joy and peace. I pray that my children will have happy memories of our home and the time shared together here. I want people to feel welcomed, loved, and encouraged after spending time in my home.
I want to have an organized, clean, beautiful home, but I often struggle with feeling discouraged by how messy and NOT organized my home is.
Laundry is never all done and put away. The 8 of us produce a lot of laundry! The moment one load is finished, there is another load to start. I barely keep up. (I’m guilty of forgetting to put clothes from the washer into the dryer and the result is sour, stinky feet smelling clothes and towels. Am I the only one who has done this?!!!)
Toys are everywhere. We’ve got blocks, baby dolls, puzzles, cars, books, stuffed animals, art supplies, you name it….
We have a lot of shoes. With each person owning a minimum of 4 pairs of shoes (flip flops, sneakers, boots, and dress shoes) that adds up to 32 pairs of shoes.
I tend to toss things in drawers and randomly put things away in my cupboards. So even though the dishes are all done, the table and counter clean, I still feel disorganized.
Dusting is low on my cleaning priority list, and I’m not the best at cleaning crevices and corners.
My house can go from neat and straightened up to disastrous in a matter of minutes. Literally, 5 minutes is all it takes.
There is always at least one living space in our home at any given moment that I would feel embarrassed to have visitors see if they arrived without warning.
Several months ago, I was feeling so frustrated by my never clean enough house. The books, toys, laundry, and randomness of stuff felt overwhelming and annoying. Our kids would often hear me sigh and express frustration over our messy house. One morning, in the midst of my frustration, the Lord spoke to me through His Word.
I came across Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”
A barn without animals is much cleaner than a barn with animals. But what good is a barn without those animals? Sure, you can store stuff in a barn, but that is not what a barn is for. What good is a feeding trough without those oxen? If you don’t have any oxen, you don’t have to clean that trough, or clean that barn, but you won’t have the increase, the harvest, and the profit that can only come by the help of those animals.
My house would probably be cleaner if I didn’t have kids. I wouldn’t have as much laundry to do. Dishes wouldn’t get so piled up. I wouldn’t have toys laying around or little fingerprints on my windows and doors. But just the thought of my home without children brings tears to my eyes and a pit in my stomach!
My home is not meant to be empty. It is meant to be filled! Filled with children, filled with family, filled with neighbors, friends and memories. With the filling of people comes some mess! Sometimes a lot of mess.
Laundry, dishes, shoes, dust, and toys, are normal happenings of a living home. We cannot escape this kind of mess and that is ok! We aren’t going to look back on our life and think about our messy house (at least I sure hope not!) We are going to think about our family, our friends, relationships we built and memories we created.
The mess that comes with being a mom is so, so, so good! It’s a sign of life and fruitfulness. As I walked past my coffee table the other day, I noticed that it was covered in books. Toddler books, family photo albums, school books, and a couple of toys. My first thought was, “ugh…look how messy my coffee table is. I need to clean it up, sigh…irritation….frustration.” But then, I thought,”Awe…how blessed I am to have children. I have children who live in our home and enjoy these books. I’m going to be thankful as I look at this messy coffee table, because one day our children will grow up and leave this house, and I am going to miss them.” After changing my way of thinking, I felt joy and gratitude looking at that mess instead of frustration.
Psalm 113:9 says, “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” I love this verse and the reminder that comes with it!
When we have friends over to our home, often times there are extra dishes to wash after they leave, more crumbs to sweep up, or more toys to put away. This is a result of a blessing! Time shared with others even if it results in extra mess, is worth it. It means we are cultivating friendships, being hospitable, and enjoying life with other people.
Romans 12:9-13 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal,be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (ESV)
The New King James Version says, “be given to hospitality,” We can show love to others through our hospitality. We can honor others through our hospitality,
Hebrews 13 1-2 says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Wow!!!
I am always so blessed when people invite my family to their home. I feel loved and honored and grateful for their kindness. It doesn’t matter if their house is perfectly cleaned or not. The fact that they are willing to open their home and minister to my family through hospitality, is a wonderful gift that brings joy to our lives!
I still experience frustration over my messy house even though I’ve read and meditated on Proverbs 14:4. Even so, I can confidently say that I am learning to embrace the mess. I am also learning how to get rid of some mess so that my home is that peaceful, joyful, orderly place I want it to be.
Your level of clean.
We all have different levels of clean or unclean that we feel comfortable with in our homes. Some of us like things REALLY clean. Some of us feel better with a little clutter here and there. Some of us have orderly closets, cupboards, and toys tucked neatly away. For others of us, every drawer in our house is a “junk” drawer and we actually prefer a more messy, lived in feel. Every woman is different. We all have different personalities, likes and dislikes so our houses are all going to reflect those differences. This is great and as it should be!
Regardless of our individual preferences concerning a clean house, we should ALL work to make our home a place where our husband, children, and guests feel comfortable, cared for, and loved. While we all need to embrace “normal” mess, some of us may need to step it up in our cleaning to make our home that wonderful place, and some of us may need to back down and allow for a little more dirt…
I have a lot to learn and implement when it comes to caring for my home. I am not even close to being an expert on this topic, but here are some things I have learned that work for us.
- De-clutter! Less is More! Less stuff means less mess, less stress, and more time to play, read, and do the things with our children that we really want to do. I keep an on-going give away bag. We regularly donate items to the ARC. If you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away. if you rarely use it, give it away. If your child doesn’t play with it, someone else will and trust me, your kids won’t even miss it. Simplifying is the number one thing the Lord is teaching me right now when it comes to housekeeping. It is freeing to go through my house and let go of stuff we don’t use, we don’t like, or we rarely need!
- Keep a sock basket. We have SO many socks in our family. We used to sort and roll socks and deliver them to each persons’ room when we did laundry. Somehow this resulted in socks always missing and it seemed like no one could ever find a matching pair when they needed one. So now, we sort and match socks and put all except for my husbands (his go in his dresser) into a big laundry basket that we keep in our laundry room. Now, we all can always find a matching pair of socks when we need one and there’s much less sock clutter in our house.
- Invest in some Norwex cleaning supplies. This chemical free method of cleaning is the best. Our kids clean their own bathrooms using Norwex clothes. I especially like my Norwex floor cleaning system. I rarely use cleaning sprays because Norwex is so easy and effective to use. My mom sells Norwex. You can learn more and purchase products here.
- Have specific days for specific chores. We don’t stick to this 100% of the time, but we try to make Monday our laundry day, Tuesday bathrooms, Wednesday more laundry, Thursday cleaning out the Van, Friday floors and big overall clean up, and Saturday yard work day. This helps take away some of the complaining that comes with asking our kids to do chores. When they know what is expected of them on any given day, they are more inclined to get it done without me asking, and less inclined to complain when I give them a reminder to get their chores done.
- Do quick family clean ups. We do this every day. We all “speed clean” the main level, loft, basement, or whatever room(s) need the most cleaning. We often do this right before dinner. We all work together as quick as we can to get things straightened up. Many hands make light work.
- Teach your children young. My children start doing chores from the time they can walk. They put away toys, help empty the dishwasher, help clean windows, and help put away laundry. As they get older they may be responsible for taking out the trash, caring for our animals, cleaning their own bathroom, vacuuming floors, doing laundry, or washing dishes. Chores are a good thing. They teach our children responsibility, teamwork, servanthood, and diligence. Our children need to know that they have a part to play in making our household run well.
- Give each child a special box. Our children each have their own plastic storage container in which to keep things that are particularly special to them. These may be cards, certificates, toys, clothing, or artwork. We keep these special boxes stored out of reach and add to them only when they have something really meaningful to add.
- Be hospitable. Fill your home with people. Having people in your home is great motivation to clean. We do a more thorough cleaning when we know company is coming over.
- Cultivate gratitude. When I was a child, I would often complain about doing housework, especially intense, pre-company housework. My mom would tell me to be thankful that I could walk and see and that I had hands and arms that could do work! We need to be thankful for the homes that we have, no matter how big or how small, and teach or children to be thankful too!
Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
We need to encourage each other in the wonderful job we have as mothers and keepers of a home. Older women especially need to encourage younger women. We need the wisdom, advice, and help of others as we seek to make our homes the place God wants them to be.
The greatest kingdom work can happen in our home!
Jesus said, ““You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 10:43-45)
This perspective can bring us joy and freedom in our role as wives and mothers! We have the joy of serving our husband, children, friends, and even strangers through the work we do in our home. When we wash dishes, do the laundry, make good meals, we are doing the greatest work in the kingdom! We are serving!!! Ultimately, we are serving Christ!
When we keep a clean home no matter how big or how small, we are providing a place for kingdom work. So often we think that a church building is the center for kingdom work. While in many ways this can be true, (I love worshipping in my church building with other brothers and sisters), kingdom work should happen wherever we are, all throughout our week. Many churches around the world meet in homes. Many of the early churches of Christianity met in homes.
At the beginning of Romans chapter 16 Paul greets a number of people from different churches in Rome. He greets Pricilla and Aquilla and the church that meets in their home. This is awesome! Our church has small groups that meet in homes. We share a meal with other families and then study scripture together and pray for each other. The people who host these times of fellowship are serving Christ as they serve others by opening their homes. I am so grateful for them!
This past weekend we visited some friends from Cheyenne. They invited us to have lunch with them. They also invited a friend of theirs from Asia who is currently attending CSU to join them. We enjoyed a Mexican meal together in their home. This family welcomes the nations into their home! I was inspired as I watched my friend and her family serving and loving this young man from Asia while at the same time loving and serving my family and providing an opportunity for kingdom work.
Our temporary, earthly homes are just that. Temporary and earthly. Heaven is our eternal home. But when our earthly homes are dedicated to the Lord they become places of rest, refreshing, joy, ministry, hospitality, love, evangelism, discipleship, accountability, laughter, redemption, and so much more!
I encourage you to dedicate your home to the Lord. My home is not a perfect place and yours will not be either. My home is not immaculately clean. It is not always free from strife, sin, or sorrow, but I thank God for my home and acknowledge that it belongs to Him. I thank Him for the opportunity to serve from and in my home, and I pray that I will grow in that thankfulness and servanthood with every passing day.
I believe that when we look at our homes from a kingdom perspective we will be more inclined to hospitality. We will be more inclined to keep our home clean, to rejoice in cooking and cleaning, and we will be eager to entertain others. When we acknowledge that our homes belong to the Lord we will see Him do great things!
Ask the Lord how you can serve Him with your home. Ask Him how you can better serve your husband and children, Ask Him who he wants you to welcome into your home for a meal, for a time of prayer, or for a time of fun and games and then invite them to your home. No matter how big, or how small, your home can be a place of ministry.
May God help all of us to embrace the blessing of a beautifully, messy house that comes from having children and being hospitable!