A dear friend stopped by this morning to bring spices over that she is not packing for a move. She and her husband are in the midst of whirlwind changes in their life, just as their last child graduated from college and got married... they are walking through an open door "back" to Europe. (He is British, she an American but they have lived overseas much of their married life.)
It's just amazing how everything they have been through in their lives have led to this moment to work with a small university in a formerly war torn country and brings with it an opportunity to minister in a country which is mostly Muslim. They had planned to return to Sierra Leone at this time in life but God had other plans.
She was offered a job for which she has experience but she turned it down... both she and her husband deciding she will be of much more value being available to show hospitality both to students and others in the community. (She has decided to take her old "Biscuit Tin" with her to have something to offer with tea when someone stops by.)
I will miss them very much. We both shed tears as we hugged at the door of my home, talking about how she has been there at times I needed her (like when I was packing a four bedroom Colonial house to move to Detroit... very ill with what we learned was diabetes).
Anyway, she and I were talking about their house selling quickly to open the way for their departure. I was telling her about another home I knew which is in horrible shape even though those who live there should know better... I mean filthy and horrible condition. They couldn't sell it now until it went through a complete remodeling job.
She reminded me both of the parents work full time and I know they spend most of their evenings away from home, too. There is no one in the family who has seen the importance of housework... both small and large throughout the years. When we first met the family, the house was known as always being messy and cluttered... not very clean both inside or out. Many years later, the deterioration is quite evident.
I am reminded of Edith Schaeffer's section of one of her books where she talks about the necessity of someone caring about the home (as she said, sometimes it can be the husband when the wife is going through a very busy season and he has more time).
The timing of our conversation was interesting to me as I had just spent the past week doing little maintenance and organization projects. I don't have the energy to do a huge project so I must work with many small projects spread out over time. Just this morning I took the broom to the walls and ceilings of a few rooms as I noticed an amazing amount of spiderwebs having popped up this week (which makes me wonder where all those spiders are). It took five minutes since it was caught early.
Stephanie teased me about washing dishes so often... okay, so she'd put a glass down and it was washed... but I shared with her that is the way I keep the kitchen clean enough to want to cook and bake in. I've found in the years I've lived with no dishwasher that as long as I soak the dishes in hot, soapy water for about half an hour I can quickly wash them and let them dry in the drainer... especially in the morning and evening and more if I'm doing much baking.
My sink is too small and there is very little counter space to let them stack up for one big dish washing... and I know if I entered the kitchen where it was very cluttered I wouldn't want to spend any time there.
Of course, I'm not talking about keeping the house so pristine no one can be creative or feel comfortable. I've been in my friend's house many times (the one who was here this morning) and while it is clean and well maintained (and very cute), it was obviously lived in... especially when their daughters were home. :)
I thought of that when I saw the evidence of Christopher's being back home this weekend... a sink full of glasses (he has this thing against using the same glass twice, even if he's immediately pouring another glass of milk!) and his computer and textbooks being all over the family room table this morning. That kind of clutter shows me another person lives here.
No... what I'm talking about is the necessity for keeping the house clean and well maintained as life is being lived (and the outside, too, of course). One can't enjoy a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the table when the dirty breakfast dishes are still sitting there hours later or the walls are covered with dirt.
We had many, many years when we both worked outside the home but I'm very thankful that my husband cared enough about maintenance that we both made time to clean and organize. We had a couple rental houses that were in better condition when we left than when we moved in. Like Edith Schaeffer also said in her books, a sign that Christians dwell in a home should be that is is clean and beautiful. (Hmmm... can you tell who was my foremost mentor in homemaking?)
Now I must practice what I preach. Hubby is due home this evening and I need to finish the small amount of work necessary to finish organizing the office. The air is much less humid today so I will spend a little time in the garage decluttering. Unfortunately, it tends to get out of hand each winter (when I don't do the necessary maintenance in cold weather).
It reminds me of the old saying "a stitch in time saves nine". Regular maintenance is so much easier to handle and quite often saves money, too. I'll remember that when I walk out in the garage later today... sigh.
Picture: Attractive Housewife: allposters.com