Monday, June 29, 2009

Ponderings on household maintenance

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:


Kirsten said...

Loved this post. Thanks, Brenda!

Married life said...

Great post! : )

Beth said...

Oh boy...I really need to work on my house...I certainly want it to look like a Christian lives here! Thanks for your encouragement!
It's not bad...just cluttered...I know I can do this decluttering thing!!!
I work just 24 hours a week in an assisted living home for special needs individuals and I was commenting to my DH how easy it is to keep it tidy...there is not too much laying around...not much clutter. That really has gotten me thinking about how I am living right now...we certainly need to declutter and give things to others. My 16 year old wants to have a garage sale and give the proceeds to an orphanage in Africa. THAT just might be the incentive that I need!
Thanks for your thoughts!(I really love reading your blog!!)

cheri said...

Not that I'm the best housekeeper in the world....but it was nice to come home tonight, after sitting in the hospital waiting room most of the day,to a clean home.

It was nice to know that dishes and laundry and such were not facing me after an emotionally draining day.

Sometimes we make our homes welcome and clean for guests. It is nice when they are welcoming and clean for us too!

Praying for safe travels for your DH!

scrappy quilter said...

Another great post. I often think if we thought of our house has a home rather than a house, we'd take much better care of it. I think taking pride in our home is so worth it. It speaks volumes, don't you think.

Anonymous said...

We had family mambers sick for several weeks and today was the first day I had to play catch up. I worked every hour I could but still more to do. I had the house and yards looking good and was about to tackle some bigger work projects but am now starting over to get it back in shape. The time spent with the family was of course necessary. The families needs had to come first. They are all well now praise God.I am so glad I even have a house to take care of. I have been decluttering and need to do more. Canning and such are awaiting and so I need to get things ship shape so I feel it clean enough for the canning. There is such satisfactiion in working hard and getting the home clean and comfortable for our loved ones isen't there. It wears you out sometimes but it is still so sweet a feeling. Glad your husband is coming home. He sure will come home with new stories and a happy heart for having gone to see his buddies. It was wonderful how you said God worked this all out for him. Jody

Marie said...

I am disabled and one of the most bothering things to me is not to be able to clean like I use to. We don't have any extra help in the house and I do what I do by what I call "piddling". I do a little and rest a lot. I make the bed as I get out in the morning. I try to keep things picked up but that can be hard with DH not doing his part. I feel like I am constantly washing up things in the kitchen and cleaning the counter. But, I am so grateful that I am at least able to do this much.
I do have a friend, though, that has the messiest house but she is busy doing for others. She has not a lazy bone in her body when it comes to cooking and caring for others. I can say a Christian lives at her house along with all the mess.

Diana said...

Enjoyed the post. I, too, love a home that we can be proud to come home to. I have been attempting this summer to de-clutter a little each day.

Stop in.


Olive said...

Great post!

Vee said...

A hearty amen! It is impossible to truly enjoy a home that has gone too far in the wrong direction. It diminishes our lives in so many ways as so often we don't feel as if we can minister to outside guests, not to mention our own family and our own selves.