How Wisdom Decorates a Home

He tells us that a wise woman builds her home while a foolish one tears it down. And we smile and nod as we sweep our front porch and think of the ones we’ve known who have been folly’s handmaid. We glance around at our tidy yards and manicured bushes and maybe pluck a weed or two  thinking that this shows our humble piety and willingness to admit our own sin.

Only we’re not standing on our front porches being neighborly, we’re actually guarding the door hoping no one will want to come in any further. And if they do darken our doorway we have our fancy parlor with plastic furniture covers all pristine and ready for guests.

We don’t want to walk them down the hall past the snapshots of every hurt and injustice framed by bitterness that we’ve hung. And if they do make it to the living room they are sure to notice the major incident that defines who we are and everything we do hanging in it’s place of honor above the fireplace. On the mantle sits the vase of dried up day dreams sitting in the stagnant and murky waters of “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

Other vases full of our expectations for everyone, even God, teeter on the edge of window sills, just waiting to be knocked to the ground and shattered.

Tiny bumps of our family’s rebellion mar the smooth surface of the area rug they’ve been swept under, causing us to continue to stumble.

Sarcasm dents the walls leading into the kitchen.

Our dishes are chipped and cracked with discontentment as we pile them up in the sink barely scrapped clean. Crumbs of presumption scatter across the counter.

Through the crack of the laundry room door we see the piles of neglect as we ignore our duties and responsibilities. The utility closet bulges and is barely able to remain shut against the unforgiveness and disappointments that we’ve tucked inside.

There are many ways a foolish woman can tear her house down without it looking like she is.

But when Lady Wisdom is bid come inside, to clean and refresh, she throws open wide the windows of our hearts and minds bringing with her the Spirit of Truth that dispels the dark shadows of every corner.  We can take down the mementos of the past that shade the present and toss them into the fireplace along with the “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

We can heed her direction and empty those other vases of our expectations for the people in our lives, and more importantly the ones we have for God, and push them  to a place of security and fill them with the beautiful bouquet of His good and perfect will watered by His sufficiency.

We can stop hiding our sin and take the area rug away and wax and polish a deep shine into the hardwood flooring of obedience. The sarcasm of our speech can be sanded smooth and the vivid shade of a word fitly spoken can color our walls.

Learning the art of contentment despite our situation and circumstances makes for unmarred serving ware. Gratitude can dispose of  the taken for granted crumbs.

We can learn to be keepers of our homes, and joyful ones at that, when we see the provision God has graciously bestowed upon us. We can let go and get rid of all the junk we’ve been carrying around from house to house and relationship to relationship.

The truth is our physical homes can sometimes hide the turmoil and chaos of our souls. Other times it can be an accurate reflection of that chaos and turmoil. But in either case we have to remember that we, since we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Peter says, are living stones being fashioned into a spiritual house.

May we be as diligent and willing to  clean our minds and hearts as we are to declutter and put to rights our physical dwellings.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #40 ~ The Cleaning Edition (In Which Colgate Toothpaste Saves The Day)

First my disclaimer:
These are some of the poorest quality photographs I have ever taken…at least in a long, looooong time. But I hate reading these kinds of post and not seeing evidence photos of the process so even though my white board is in a really awkward spot for decent pictures, I am secure enough in my clicking and snapping that I will gladly put them here.

Now on to how half a tube of Colgate toothpaste saved the day. Or at least made it better.

I have a giant white board hanging on the wall that is sort of the in between space of the kitchen and coming into our living room area. And by giant, I mean it’s pretty huge ~ it’s about 5ft by 3ft-ish. For the most part I love it. I can jot down quick notes, honey do-lists*, Bible verses we’re contemplating, and the kids have plenty of space to practice math problems, do Latin lessons and spelling lists, or just draw. (Have you noticed the amazing colors that dry erase markers come in this days? And now there is something called a dry erase crayon?! Can’t wait to try that out.)

We try really hard to keep permanent markers in safe out of the way places and not let them mix in with all the fabulous dry erase markers but occasionally there’s a mix up and oops! Not a big deal generally because it’s usually caught before too much writing has taken place. And in case you didn’t know this here’s a nifty trick – if you quickly color over a small permanent marker mark with dry erase marker you can then wipe them both off. Which is great unless a.) using a permanent marker isn’t noticed until quite a bit of drawing has occurred or b.) the drawing is pretty big. Option C is what happened with us which is a combo platter of both a and b.

I wasn’t really sure what to do. Our nifty trick wasn’t helping and I wasn’t sure what to do. So I did what any woman would do: I turned to pinterest and I was not disappointed. When I went back to find the original pin that I read I couldn’t find it but there are several listed if you’re curious.

What you’ll need:
white board with ugly permanent marker on it

toothpaste (I used Colgate because it’s what I had on hand)
damp wash cloth

What you’ll do:
Cover markings with a liberal amount of toothpaste
Wait a few minutes
Scrub off with damp cloth

I’m not going to lie…you need to put a little elbow grease into it. But when you’re done you board is sparkly white and minty fresh smelling!

*So about honey-do lists. They’re kind of a running joke between me and my beloved. He doesn’t like lists. He doesn’t like for me to make lists-written or just mental ones. He really hates for me to list my lists out loud too, which is a problem because sometimes I’m just talking through what needs to be done or happen and it just falls out of my mouth in a list like form. He’ll get this funny look on his face and say something like, “You’re listing me!” in a sing song yada yada yada kind of way. Of course me being me means that I will upon occasion poke fun at him by making list on purpose. And that’s what I did one day at the top of the white board. Being kind of sassy I put about four things on the right corner of the board under his name. In the left I put a couple of things for me under my name.  He did his normal “You’re listing me!” in his sing song yada yada yada and then we just went about our business. A little while later I happened to pass by the white board and noticed that something had been added. In neat letters he had carefully written “quit nagging” on my list. I believe my response might have been, “Yada, yada, yada”.

(Just to be clear this was all done in good fun. Not that he won’t call me out for nagging if he needs to mind you, he’s a good husband like that. Course I’m such a great wife that he rarely needs to..ha! I’m saying that totally tongue in cheek 🙂

Okay so I said that I was confident in my picture taking to not worry about putting up bad pictures but well, I can’t do it. I mean I left the pictures but I don’t want you to leave with those pictures in your head, like that’s the kind of pictures I always take. I mean what if this is the first time you’ve ever been to my blog? Anyway, here’s a picture of a bee on a flower that I took the same day as the fuzzy white board pictures.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #25 ~ The Non-edible Edition

I don’t think I’ve shared a “recipe” here that wasn’t to be eaten so this is a first but today I’m going to show you a quick little recipe that will make your house smell marvelous.

What you’ll need:
one lemon sliced
1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
water
What you’ll do:
Put all the ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and allow mixture to simmer and flood your home with a crisp citrus scent.
Add more water periodically.

There you have it! A nice crisp and clean aroma that’s simple and natural.

Housekeeping 101

Here are a few thoughts I have been thinking about housekeeping.
Do it.
Doesn’t get much more basic than that does it? Stop whining and moaning and do it. It’s got to be done because the last time I checked  cleaning fairies only exist in my feverish imagination. And, here is the real kicker, do it with a happy heart. Why?
Because we’re told to do all things…even laundry, dishes, and toilet scrubbing…without complaining.
Happy, happy , joy, joy, right?
Hardly.
There are days when I hate the idea of cleaning up again because it seems like the same mess I cleaned up yesterday. Dirty dishes. Every day. Dirty clothes. Every day. Sweep the floor. Every day. Okay, well not that last one. Not every single day. But, hey don’t judge me 😉

You get the point. A lot of what I do is the same thing I do all day everyday. Why pick up the living room when I know that four girls will come bounding in later this afternoon leaving remnants of themselves and school all over it? Because I want them to have a place to unload all of it. Knowing that it will be dealt with and put in it’s proper place. Knowing that someone else’s eyes will sweep over the load they’ve been carrying, helping them sort out the unnecessary and trash, letting them know that someone else will accept the color page offering and treasure it or will give them a place to cry over a failed test. I want them to have a place where wounded hearts and hurt feelings can be soothed or bad attitudes can be adjusted and joy can be shared.

Sort of like us being able to go before God and unload all of the stuff we lug around. We can trust that He will put our messy emotions and thoughts in their proper place. His eyes sweep over us seeing into the deep pockets and helping us get rid of the unnecessary things we carry there…he accepts our broken hearts and failures and chips away at the walls of pride. I want my living room to be a place where my children come to find mercy and grace and it’s really hard to do that if it has piles of laundry and yesterday’s junk everywhere distracting us.

Sound like I’m spiritualizing a little too much? Maybe. Except for two things. First, my kids come home to laundry on the couch some days. And, as I sort of confessed earlier, my floor isn’t always swept clean and hey, isn’t that a barrette on the mantle and oh, I’m sorry you just sat on the hair brush. The parallel of having your home in order to minister to your children (husband or friends) doesn’t magically transform your humble abode into God’s throne room. But it does bring me to the second reason that I don’t think I’m over spiritualizing house work.

We are imitating God as Father and God as Son when we tend our homes. In the book, Keeping House ~ A Litany of Everyday Life, the author reminds us that housework is all about bringing order out of chaos…it is a way that we participate in God’s work of creation. God’s continued involvement in this world is not done and we see His work everywhere everyday. Our need to tend home and hearth each day is an answering faithfulness to His steadfastness. Christ came as the ultimate housekeeper. Putting to rights that which had been put into disorder. And, as Margaret Kim Peterson also states, “But if in Jesus God himself could take up a towel and wash other people’s feet, surely we, as Jesus’ adopted brothers and sisters, can find it in us to wash one another’s dirty clothes and dirty dishes and dirty floors.”

Viewing your daily homemaking chores with spiritual eyes will not suddenly give angelic wings to your cleaning routine. But it is a way to see the value of your everyday work no matter how monotonous it may feel. It’s a way for our story to echo His story. All of our stories read differently so it is natural that the way I keep house will be different from how you keep house. Figure out the best way you can tell that part of the story and then be faithful in the telling of it.

Sharing with The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary and Cozy Book Hop. Also linking up with Womanhood With Purpose’s Friday Link Up Party.