20 Minutes Till Clean, Part 2

On my journey to explore holiness and housekeeping, it’s been 7 days into a 66 day experiment to keep two rooms in my house “5-minutes to clean”. If you missed my first article, check it out here.

Just to recap, I’m exploring the idea that how I discipline myself with my housework is a reflection of my spiritual discipline, so I’m attempting to keep two areas of my home clean enough to be company ready in 5 minutes, and more importantly – look for the spiritual lessons I can learn while doing so.

I‘m happy to say, the first 6 days were a great success! I loaded the dishwasher after daily meals and wiped down the stove every day.  I gave the floor a quick sweep and even cleaned out the refrigerator, because clean on the inside is important too!

As I approached each task, I prayed, seeking wisdom and insight. There was such a sense of peace, and I felt closer to God than I have in a very long time.

Waking up in the morning to a clean space was a new adventure for me, and I have to say, I liked it a lot.

Now you may have noticed I started by saying I’m 7-days into this journey and the first 6 were wonderful.   This is not a typo.  Because you see, on day 7…my husband came home.

He was traveling the first week, so my first 6 days were solo.

Gene’s been home for 10 hours now and there are shoes, a suitcase, and dishes already out of place. You see, he did not sign up for my little experiment, nor did he know anything about it.  It took me about 2 hours before I started to become stressed, and short tempered.  That new-found peace evaporated.

What happened? Can my sense of well-being really be so precarious, that adding 1 person into the mix makes my house of cards come tumbling down? What does that say about me?

So I sat down with my journal to uncover what God was trying to teach me through this little hiccup in my experiment. There are SO MANY lessons I could pick out, but here is what He said to me that day.

People are messy. But that’s not a bad thing.  It was so easy to keep my life in order when I was on my own.  Without distractions.  Without conflict.  But neither was there any laughter when Gene wasn’t home. There wasn’t anyone to share the victories, or help carry the burden either.

With a little conversation, I laid out for Gene what I was trying to do, and now, I’m not the only one loading up the dishwasher! So even though people can be messy, the burden is lighter when it is shared.

Here is my lesson from God. People are messy but worth it.  What good is a clean home, if there is no one to share life in it?  I think God views us that way too.  I sure know I’m a mess!  But God still wades into a relationship with me, bringing his patience and Grace every day,  God said it Himself:  “two are better than one…a chord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecc 4:9-12)

20 Minutes Till Clean, Part 1
20 Minutes Till Clean (When the Wheels Come Off), Part 3

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

20 Minutes Till Clean

When I married, over 30 years ago, I was young, foolish, and oh so unprepared for the responsibilities of a household. On top of it all, my 2 new sisters-in-law were straight from Marvel Comics and Better Homes and Gardens! They were Wonder Woman and Martha Stewart (before her prison time that is).

Donna was a woman finishing her degree, working full time, raising 3 boys and whose house was always spotless!  Lucy, was Super Mom – attending every football and basketball game, feeding her family organically before that was trendy, and again, with a perfectly clean home. Me? I couldn’t cook and half the time I had to wash dishes just to try!

I adore my two sisters of the heart who are 15 and 20 years my senior. Through the years they took me under their wings, taught me how to cook, clean, and other life skills. One thing I haven’t mastered from them though, is their self-discipline. You see, my house cycles from tidy to chaos like the tides come and go. I clean it up…I mess it up….I clean it up….I Mess it up. I can’t even lay the blame on kids because we don’t have any. It’s all us.

I call it “20 minutes till clean” and my friends know to give me 20 minutes to get things in order before they drop by. For years I’ve been ok with that philosophy….lately though I’ve been thinking…

You see, God has filled the world with mirrors of the spiritual realm. For example, God is faithful, like the rising of the sun, and even our families are designed to teach us about our relationship with our spiritual Father.

So, I can’t help thinking that my philosophy of housekeeping is a reflection of my spiritual health. To my shame, I can see the parallels to my story. My spiritual life is good for a while, then I mess it up, God comes and cleans it up, and I mess it up again. Over and over God and I do this little dance. Doesn’t He ever get tired of cleaning up my mess?

The bigger question is, do I tolerate my God life being 20 minutes from clean?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am NOT saying you have to be perfect before you come to God, or to stay in a relationship with Him. Jesus did all that work! And we stand perfect and blameless before God, wrapped in the righteousness of Christ! – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

It’s more like the Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder and inviting me to the next level of depth in my relationship with God. I can hear Him saying… “it could be even better. Let’s try something new…”

He’s been talking to me through the scriptures. Here are a just a couple to think about:

  • “live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way”  (Col 1:9-11)
  • and again “just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written ‘Be holy because I am holy.'” (I Peter 1:15-16)

Can I honestly say to I live that way? Not so much.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to let my discipline in the physical realm remind me to pay attention to my spiritual discipline. If I fail, I’ll learn to lean more fully on God’s grace – win-win!

I’m told it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become a habit. That means my target is May 15. I’m going to pick 2 rooms – my kitchen and the bathroom.

Instead of 20 minutes till clean, my goal is  to keep them 5 minutes till clean, and each day when I’m doing dishes, sweeping or dusting, I’ll think about my relationship with God, I’ll look for ways to be more holy, ways to be more like Jesus every day.  Check back and see how I do!

20 Minutes Till Clean, Part 2
20 Minutes Till Clean (When the Wheels Come Off), Part 3

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Finding Conviction, Comfort, and Clarity in Discouragement

Do you ever find yourself discouraged and at a loss for what to do next? I found myself there a few weeks ago. The stress built up on all sides of me; work, family, marriage, and my health. As I tried to find answers to problems, solutions to puzzles, and the way out of troubles, I only came up with dead ends and more frustration. I was discouraged. I was losing hope and the courage to stand on my convictions. I was on the edge of giving into defeat.

I shared my feelings with a dear friend of mine. She brought a great perspective to my situation. She challenged me to ponder the thought that I was discouraged because I had the wrong focus. Was I looking through the wrong lens? As we discussed my hardships, dead ends, and frustrations, it became quite evident that I was out of focus! I was completely caught up in what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought I didn’t have. What was the common thread there? It was I.

My friend encouraged me to focus on God our Father instead. I was brought to Psalm 73:21-28 (ESV), 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Colossians 3:1-17 and Hebrews 12:1-3. I meditated on these for days; Praying, Reading, Listening. I became refreshed, renewed, and reassured that I just needed to switch my view from internal to eternal. Psalm 73 mentions the eternity that gave me the conviction to stand strong on the promise of God’s faithfulness. I found comfort in knowing He is my refuge. And I found clarity in what I first thought was unanswered problems. The struggles dissipated as I loosened the grip on my impatient and foolish desire to be in control. God knows what we need before we even think a thought. Why should we not trust his lead? He created the world, He created us with his own hands and breath, and He wants to bring us joy through his glory. Our hearts can keep the faith that all will be for the best when God is in control.

In the verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”, God calls us to share such experiences. I encourage you to read the rest of the passages in 2 Corinthians to learn more of God’s comfort and how when we share our comforts we are strengthened to continue through the trials. I hope you find encouragement though my journey. May God bless your path as you follow his lead.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t keep them. That does not mean I don’t need to make changes. I am not perfect. Although I have not set official New Year’s resolutions for several years, I am always setting goals for myself. Maybe this year I should turn those goals into resolutions and invite you to join me. Our goals (a.k.a. New Year’s Resolutions) for 2017 will look something like this:

  • I resolve to thank God often for making me a new creation through Jesus.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    Christ came so that we could become new and improved.
  • I resolve to put off my old ways and to put on my new self—to act like the new creation I am.
    (Ephesians 4:22-24)
    This is not something that is forced upon us. We must resolve to put off our old selves and to put on a new self created in the likeness of God’s righteousness and holiness—the new and improved self. We must choose—resolve—to become new. This is the most important resolution we will ever make. I might want to lose weight, but until I choose to do it the weight won’t come off. I have to resolve to do it.
  • I resolve to embrace the new heart and new spirit God gave me.
    (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
    Our new God-given heart and spirit will help us to desire, recognize, and follow His Spirit. Just as a personal trainer helps me stay focused on my fitness goals, the Spirit of God within us will help us keep our resolution to put on a new self.
  • I resolve to follow God’s new command to love others.
    (John 13:34-35)
    Under this new covenant the commandments are thrown into a hat and stirred around; then, God puts in his hand and draws out a single word to summarize their essence—LOVE. We are commanded to have a deeper level of love in our lives as new creations. A love that will cause people to recognize the influence of Christ.
  • I resolve to keep my eyes focused on the new heaven and new earth where Righteousness Himself dwells.
    (2 Peter 3:13)
    Whenever we become frustrated or feel hope slipping away, we are to turn our eyes to eternity and refocus on what will be—a new heaven and a new earth where Righteousness lives.
  • I resolve to seek daily renewal in knowledge so that my life may reflect my Creator, in strength so that I may soar even during difficult times, and in mind so that I may discern God’s will.
    (2 Corinthians 4:16)
    Just as silver will tarnish if it is not polished every day, our newness can become dulled by life if we do not renew ourselves daily. This daily renewal can take several forms. First, our knowledge of the Creator is being continually renewed as we study and meditate on His word. (Colossians 3:9-10) And this knowledge reflects to others the image of the Creator. We need to daily grow in our knowledge of God in order to accurately reflect His image. Second, when we are waiting on (serving) the Lord, our strength for each day will also be renewed. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Finally, another area where we experience renewal is our minds. (Romans 12:2) As we put off our old selves and put on the new, we are transformed—our minds are renewed. We can think clearly—looking at God’s will with new eyes.
  • I resolve to testify to what God has done by singing the new song He placed in my heart.
    (Psalm 40:2-3)
    When we leave our old selves behind, we have a lot to sing about! You had better believe that if I reach my fitness goals, I will be singing the praises of my trainer. How much more should we sing the praises of Him who helps us become new creations? When we sing praises to God, others will see what He has done—our new song is a witness or testimony to God. God gives us a reason to sing. We need to sing our new song so others can see Him.

These resolutions are great, but they are only attainable because of Jesus. Something new has a price tag attached. The price of our newness was the blood of Christ. We prefer new over used in every other area of our lives. Why settle for anything less than the newness purchased as a gift by Christ? Why not join me in reaching for these 2017 New Year’s Resolutions?

 

Father,
Thank you for making us new creations through Jesus. Help us, Lord, in our resolve to put on our new selves—to act like the new creations you have made us. Thank you for the new heart and spirit you have placed within us. Father, when life wears us down, help us focus our eyes on the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where Your Righteousness lives. Renew us in knowledge as we daily meditate upon your word so that our lives reflect Your image. During difficult times, renew our strength so that we may soar above our circumstances. Renew our minds each day to recognize You and Your will. And, Lord, as we go through our days, may we each love others deeply, and may we each sing our new songs so that others will see You. Lord, thank You for making us new in Christ Jesus.
Amen.