APPLIED CHRISTIANITY

Keeping Your Home
9
        This chapter is partly for women who choose not to be employed outside of their home to help make the living.  But
there are many things the career woman can apply also.  It is about keeping up your house, your home.  If you have trouble
keeping the clutter out and getting things done, this chapter is lovingly for you.  If you find housework uncreative and
unexciting, try this new and different approach.  It just may work.   

        Yes, this IS a Christian work.  But you may object right off that there are too many other Christian works to do, too
many other people who really need you.  You could even use this book as proof.  Right?  Wrong.  You could try to use the
Bible as proof, using Jesus' rebuke to Martha for complaining that Mary wouldn't help her in the kitchen.  Right?  Sorry.  
Let's just look at it again.  

        As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home
to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all
the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do
the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"  "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many
things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better,and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke
10:38-42).  

        Two things indicate that Martha was in charge of this house.  First, Martha was the one who did the welcoming;
second, it was specifically referred to as her house.  So, this means that Martha was primarily responsible for seeing that
things were prepared for Jesus, their guest, and possibly also his apostles.  This indeed would require a great deal of
preparation.  Nowhere in the Bible is a woman condemned for such preparations; but rather is praised for it.  What, then, is
the issue?  

        Martha finally went to Jesus and complained that she had to do all this serving [a good work] by herself, without her
sister's help.  This word "work" is sometimes translated "serve" and comes from a Greek word meaning to obey the
commands of another; to do certain good things voluntarily.  Examples are when a person becomes a Christian, a deacon
ministers, the needy are helped, the hungry are fed.  So Martha, in her statement, was indicating that what she was doing
was a beneficial obligation to insure the comfort of others.  Is this what Jesus was condemning?  

        Martha's own interpretation of what she was doing, and Luke's inspired interpretation of what she was doing differ
widely.  If what she was doing was limited to serving, this would be in tune with the other teachings in the Bible.  In fact, did
not Jesus at another time state, If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark
9:35b)?            

        Luke says Martha was "distracted."  This word comes from a Greek word meaning to bustle about aimlessly, to busy
oneself about trifling, needless, useless matters; used of a person who is meddlesomely inquisitive about others' affairs, a
busybody; one who wanders around.  This same "distracted" word used for Martha was also used in the following
scriptures.  

        We hear that some among you are idle.  They are not busy; they are busybodies (1 Thessalonians 3:11).  Besides,
they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house.  And not only do they become idlers, but also
gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to (1 Timothy 5:13).  

        So then, when the Bible states that Martha was"distracted by all the preparations," it is emphatically referring to her
undisciplined wandering around the kitchen doing needless things and not really doing any work, not accomplishing
anything, and possibly even making matters worse.  Martha was just spinning her wheels.  Perhaps she was ashamed and
embarrassed that she couldn't seem to get anything accomplished, so she put the blame on her sister.  

        Jesus lovingly chided, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things."  The word "worried" comes
from a Greek word meaning to be drawn in different directions.  The word "upset" comes from a Greek word meaning
confusion.  Another way of saying it would be, "Martha, you are going in every direction at once, all confused about so
many things, and not getting anything done anyway.  Come sit down with your sister and me."  Jesus was definitely not
condemning Martha for doing her housework or serving, but for wandering around getting nothing done, and using it as an
excuse to not do important things.  

        It is all centered around attitude, point of view.  Do you consider yourself a slave to your house or the queen of your
house?  If you do not have to go outside of your home to work, you have not only a spiritual obligation here, but a
wonderful privilege and opportunity that men do not have.  They go out and earn money - cold, hard cash.  They may or
may not earn it doing a job they like or feel a personal interest in.  And what's it all for?  Food, clothing, a comfortable and
attractive home,  And you, Your Majesty, queen of your house, you have the honor and privilege of turning that cold cash
into those things he is earning the money for - making them a reality.  That's the fun part!  

         However, you may feel that you are too much of a Martha, you seem to work all day and don't get anything done.  
You may ask, "Why try?"  Below are some easy and uncomplicated ways to perform your good works in your home.  With
these suggestions you probably will think of others.  So, your majesty, if you are ready for a suggestion, let us begin!  

        First, let's create a family for you.  Let's assume you have four children - two school age and two preschool; and that
your husband must leave for work no later than 7:00 AM.  

        You will want to get up at 6:00 so as to avoid a rush.  Now there isn't anything so bad about getting up at 6:00 if you
go to bed at 10:00 - eights hours sleep.  You can arrange for a half-hour nap during the early afternoon to get more sleep
to refresh yourself halfway through the day.  Or if it's purely a psychological hangup, pretend you are living five time zones
away  and it is really 11:00 AM!  

        Before you ever leave your bedroom, you should get dressed, fix your face and hair - which shouldn't take more than
twenty minutes if you're not going anywhere.  Then tidy up your room - make your bed (not more than 3 minutes) and pick
up clothes and other miscellany (about 5 minutes) ~ yes, including your husband's clothes.  How wonderful!  It is now 6:30
and you already have one room clean and yourself fresh and pretty, ready to be presented to your awakening family!  

        At 6:30 wake up your children.  Call them only once.  If they do not get up after the first call, this means you have
indirectly trained them to stay in bed by letting them get by with it.  So discipline them immediately (not yelling though, for
you have a gentle voice ~ Proverbs 31:26), and retrain them.  Unless you serve pancakes or waffles, it should not take you
more than 15 minutes to fix sausage and eggs or oatmeal or something similar, with toast.  Have your school-age children
come into the kitchen and set the table for you.  

      At 6:45 the entire family should sit down to eat together.  Remember, your husband is the king and you are the queen
of the house.  To start the day together as a family with your king at the end of the table will give a real feeling of closeness
to your family and a warm sense of why and for whom your husband is faithfully going to work every day.  Do not ever let
him eat alone - even if he claims he does not mind, for he probably would not let his pride admit it bothers him.  Let him
know he is special enough for his whole family to want to get up in time to be with him, and he'll think of you all through the
day - really!  What a wonderful good work this is!  

        Now it is 7:00 and everyone says goodbye to the man of the house.  Your preschool children probably will still be
dabbling at their plates.  Your school-age children can now take up to half an hour to get dressed.  

        At 7:30 they should be ready to tidy up their own room - make their own bed, pick up their clothes, and put away their
toys.  Everything should be off the floor but the furniture.  Nothing should be on the furniture but lamps and a few
decorative items.  If they do not have a toy box, give them a cardboard box to put in their closet or under their bed.  If they
do not have enough drawer or closet space for all their clothes, give them a box for socks and underwear to put in their
closet or under their bed.  But do insist that nothing be left out - no gum wrappers, no blocks, no doll shoes, no car tires.  

        You must discipline yourself and them to take care of everything.  They should tell you when they are done so you
can check.  If anything is left out, point them out, then let them take care of that.  If they are having trouble sticking with
their chore, you may wish to set a kitchen timer to limit them to perhaps 20 minutes to clean up everything.  For, like
Martha, learning not to "fiddle around" is part of learning to be neat and clean.  

        When they are finished, compliment them and tell them their room looks very nice.  Brag on their accomplishment to
both them and others within their hearing.  They will feel good inside and will inspire others.  They will also learn to stick with
a job and not be quitters - a gift from you that will be valuable throughout their life.  And for this, too, they will rise up and
call you blessed.  

        During the time between 7:00 and 8:00 when your children are getting ready for school (this will have to be adjusted,
of course, if they leave earlier), your preschool children can finish eating and then play while you wash the dishes and
clean up the kitchen.  If one or both of your preschoolers is above age two, they can be taught to carefully take most
everything off the table for you.  No child is too young to learn to help; and if you call them your good little helpers often,
they will have a good feeling inside for being just like grown ups.  

         To make your kitchen look as nice as possible, no matter how the woodwork or formica or linoleum look, do not leave
things sitting on your counter tops, stove tops, and table that you can find a place for in your cabinets unless they are used
often such as canisters.  It should not take more than ten minutes to wash your breakfast dishes and another ten to dry
them and put them away out of sight.  Five minutes to wipe off the counter tops, table and stove tops, ten minutes to sweep
the floor, and ten minutes to mop it.  

        Your kitchen will take approximately 45 minutes to fix up; however, you will be interrupted by wiping off little ones'
mouths and checking the older ones' rooms, so you should allow yourself an hour.  Once you have done this, you will have
a gleaming kitchen which you should not have to re-enter until noon (unless you wash or iron, etc.,in there).  

        Now it is 8:00.  You have been up two hours and have been very busy.  Your husband is gone and your older
children have just left for school.  You now deserve a little break.  Take out of the freezer the meat for the evening meal,
then fix yourself a cup of coffee or glass of tea and sit down in a comfortable place.  If you do not want to just sit and stare,
play with your little ones or read a chapter from the Bible or inspirational book, or knit, or do whatever else would relax you.  
But be careful not to start something that will be hard to tear yourself away from, such as a novel ~ it's tabu and for later.  If
your little ones bathe in the morning, they may wish to play in the tub during your half-hour rest, depending on their age.   

        At 8:30 take your little ones to their room to get dressed and do their share of cleaning up their room.  If they are two,
they are old enough to learn to make their own bed.  Help them with it, but do not do it alone for them.  Sure, it will take
more time, but they will love doing things together with Mommy, and love you all the more.  

        Sit down somewhere in their room, then, while they pick up their toys and clothes.  If they are old enough to get them
out, they are old enough to put them back.  Then explain to them that throughout the day, whatever they get out to play
with, when they are done they are to put it away before they get something else out to play with.  You will have to have a lot
of self-discipline to make this rule; but it's the only way to keep a clutter-free house.    

        Proverbs 19:18 tells us Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not your soul spare for his crying (KJV).  Train a
child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it Proverbs 22:6).  It should not take more than 5
minutes to dress each child, and about 20 minutes to tidy up their room.  Total, 30 minutes.  

        Now it is 9:00 and you have most of your house clean and tidy already!  How wonderful, your majesty.  You'd make
anyone proud - including yourself.  Don't you feel good?  Isn't the world a wonderful place to live in?  Haven't you already
made your world a wonderful place to live in?  

        Go into your living room or den.  This room should require the least amount of your time.  The previous evening your
children should have put their books, shoes and toys in their room.  Therefore, all that may be in the living room or den in
the morning is newspapers and perhaps dishes from an evening snack.  If you knit or work on any project here, make sure
there is a basket or some place to put it away.  It should not take you more than ten minutes to straighten it up and quickly
dust.  You still have time to sort dirty clothes and put your first load in.  (With a family of six, doing two loads a day will keep
things manageable.)  

      9:30 and you are ready to clean up the bathroom.  Try your best to keep it odor-free and sanitary.  Clean out the sink,
tub, and toilet daily so they are never really a hard chore.  Be sure to clean around the bases of these appliances where
bacteria usually grow the most quickly.  Then spray with a disinfectant.  You will have fewer colds in your family doing this.  
Wipe off the mirror and chrome fixtures with window cleaner to make them really shine.  

        Put out of sight as many toiletries as possible to avoid clutter.  If you do not have enough room in your medicine
cabinet for everything, you might make yourself a little shadow-box type shelf on another wall in the bathroom, stain or paint
the outside, and then for a door use an inexpensive framed picture hinged to your box on one side.  

        Last, mop the floor with some kind of sanitizing agent.  This is extremely important to both cleanliness and health.  It
shouldn't take you more than half an hour to clean up your bathroom, and put your second load of clothes in the washer.  

        10:00 and Eureka!  You're done!  Amazing!  And you've earned another rest.  Pour yourself a hot or cold drink and
sit down and relax awhile.  Play with your children or read to them or whatever is relaxing and fun to you.  

        You have two hours left in your morning.  Try to keep it as free of prior commitments as possible.  Two or three times
during the week you could use this time to do some major cleaning item such as vacuum, wash windows, clean cobwebs, or
whatever.  Or you could sew.  Or if it is summer, you might want to work in your yard.  There's lots of projects around the
house to choose from.  

        If you don't need to do anything like that, sit down and write a letter to a family member who lives far away or one of
the others mentioned in the chapter on letter writing in this book.  You may wish to use this time to telephone people
regarding personal, social or business matters, or to just encourage some friends.  Or this may be your day to go to a
Ladies Bible Class often held at 10:00, or some special club.  

        A word about avoiding clutter the rest of the day.  Train yourself to give a room the once-over quickly whenever you
enter or leave it to see if anything is sitting out that should not be ~ a cup, a toy, jewelry, a letter, a scarf.  Pick it up and slip
it into its place ~ about a 30-second job.  This may sound picky, but you will save yourself a longer chore later, thus doing
yourself a big favor.  You now have until 3:30 or whenever your children get home from school to do the things you'd
probably rather be doing ~ 5 or 6 hours.  Have a wonderful day!  

        Make sure you are home when your school children arrive home from school.  This gives them security, warmth and
feelings of love.  But, alas, you will have to keep clutter in the living room under control.  There the coats are flung, the
books are dropped, the shoes are taken off.  Children should be trained to walk a few steps further and put these things
where they'll be out of the way - hooks on the wall, in the closet, or even a doorknob.  You may want to fold clothes (with a
little ironing and mending thrown in?) while they tell you what all they did at school.  Mostly just enjoy your children during
this time.  Make their homecoming special.  

        Begin dinner about an hour before you expect your husband home if possible.  Make sure the TV, etc. are turned
down upon his arrival, for after all, he's had a very long day.  Do try to make it peaceful ~ at least the first few minutes he is
home.  Greet him at the door.  If he was not trained while growing up to hang up his coat when he comes in, do not expect
him to start now ~ just take that extra minute and hang it up for him with a smile and a prayer of thanksgiving that you have
a husband to come home to you and your children.  Take his lunch pail or brief case even before he drops it, and put it
away for him.  Then sit down at your table together.  When your children are grown and gone, meal times together will be
one of the happiest memories each of you will have.  

        After dinner, there is no reason why your school age children should not divide up the duties and clean up the kitchen
while you go into the living room or den with your husband to relax for the rest of the evening.  

        "But I still hate housework," you might declare after all this.  "I know it's supposed to be noble and all that, and it is my
Christian obligation, but to me it's nothing but plain drudgery and demeaning.  Besides, I've got other more creative and
satisfactory things to do."  

        Dear Queen, remember God is again confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and for order (1 Corinthians 14:40).  He uses
dirt as a symbol of sin (Isaiah 57:20) and cleanliness as a symbol of righteousness (Psalm 51:10).  God uses bad odors as
a punishment (Isaiah 3:24) and sweet smells as representative of sweet sacrifices (Philippians 4:18).  Spots and blemishes
represent the wicked, while white is pure and good (Isaiah 1:18).  

        Noble Lady of your palace, if you like creativity, then create!  And since God uses symbolism, you use symbolism too.  
Use creative symbolism.  Here's how:  

        Look at those dirty dishes.  Wash each one as though it were a jewel in your heavenly crown to be made bright
again.  Look at the marks and dirt on your floor.  Sweep it and mop it and put a little shine on it to give yourself and your
family a little foretaste of the clean and shining streets of gold you will walk on in the heavenly realm.  Look at your dirty
oven.  Wash it even as the Lord washes way your sins.  

        Look at those wrinkled clothes.  Iron each piece as a work of art to see how smooth and silk-like you can make them
for your royal household.  Look at those torn clothes.  Mend them as the Lord mends hearts when they are torn and
broken.  

        Look at your dirty windows.  Wash them and let the golden sunshine into your home, your life, your heart.  Look at
your messy bed.  Pull the sheets and covers up nice and smooth, and then crown it with a bedspread the color of a gem
from the very foundation of your heavenly home.  

        Yes, everything you do can remind you of the royal home that is awaiting you in heaven, and the royal realm of the
home that is all your own, and with which your Lord has so greatly blessed you.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your
heart, as working for the Lord (Colosians 3:23).  

        You are the only one in your little world who can make your home into your family's fortress and palace.  You are the
only one, dear Christian lady, dear mother, dear wife, who is truly worthy (Proverbs 31) to do this for them.  God bless you
in this truly worthy good work that is as great as you are!
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