Does my home reflect a clean heart?
This question invites others ~ like, what is my criteria for describing a home that reflects a clean heart? It obviously has less to do with the specific cleanliness of my home and more to do with my attitude within my home.
Is my home a haven for my family? Am I hospitable to all who come to my door? Right now - I would have to answer that my home does not completely reflect a clean heart, because I know that my heart isn't fully clean. I realize we are in a major transition, we're all sick (at the time I wrote this) and I'm operating on less sleep and limited physical energy and capability.
But, I hear an edge in my voice, a snap to my words and I know that I am not gracious about the many external interruptions in my day.
So, what can I change about this? And, how do I balance being open and hospitable with what is best for my family?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I can pray. Pray for a clean heart and an awareness to my areas of weakness. Pray for those who share my home with me that we would mutually bless each other.
The next thing I think of is to plan. I function so much better when I have a plan in place for my day. It helps me to get more accomplished, but also helps me to be more relaxed which creates a better attitude. When I have a plan, I have also put more thought into how to incorporate my children rather than feeling they are an interruption. (I like this calendar and use it to write my daily to-do list on. In addition, I have a chore plan for my daily chores which came from reading this book.)
A third thought comes to mind which is to prepare. Starting my day with the Lord is a necessity that I've been skipping too often lately. When my heart is prepared - my home operates more smoothly. There is another way I think of this word - prepare. What can I do ahead of time to make the next thing go more smoothly? I used to set up breakfast the night before - down to setting out the vitamins, our Bible storybook, the dishes, mixing up dry ingredients for muffins or anything else that could be done ahead. I'd like to re-adopt this and apply it to the rest of my day as well.
Praise. Instead of focusing on what I wish I could change, have a heart of praise. Practically, listen to uplifting music and sing praises to God' praise my children in their successes and be conscious of several things to be thankful for each day. I've been lax about my Thankful Journal, but it would be a great way to incorporate this.
All of these things take time and a willingness to think ahead, but they help cultivate a clean heart in me by cutting frustration.
Now, how do I balance hospitality with what is best for my family?
I have found that when I compromise this balance, it leads to frustration and to a trail of thinking that cultivates uncleanness through resentment of others encroaching on my time.
* Set limits. See my "Action" notes below for more on this.
* Be flexible - realize there will be exceptions.
* Seek God - be open to the Lord's leading over a rigid "rule" or "policy" ~ maybe He has a special plan for hospitality today that includes me.
It is not selfish to set these boundaries because it contributes to a more peaceful Mama which creates a home that reflects a clean heart to all who share it with her!
How does Proverbs 31 fit with this?
* Verse 12: The attitude I have in my home creates either a place of rest or a place of unrest. Consider how the condition of my heart affects those in my home.
* Verse 13, 15, 17, 18: I see an overwhelming theme that she is not lazy. I mentioned in a previous entry that a clean heart and laziness simply cannot go together.
* Skimming the rest of the chapter, I see evidence of the things that God brought to my mind earlier: pray, plan, prepare and praise. Her life is a testimony of these qualities. Scripture mentions that she prepares food, their winter clothes are mended and ready, she sews, she helps others. These things require planning and preparation on her part in order to fit in to the smooth running of her household.
* She bears evidence of a clean heart by her priorities, her attitudes and her actions. I am inspired anew to want to be like her because she is a Biblical model of a godly woman.
* Eliminate things that contribute to an unclean heart.
~ Record a message on our answering machine that explains we do not accept calls between noon and 3pm for Quiet Time. (done)
~ Make a sign for our front door explaining Quiet Time and that we do not receive visitors during this time. (done)
~ Be committed to consistently notifying callers if we are eating and return their call after the meal instead of taking it during the meal. Because of David's work - we do have to answer the phone.
Here is the sign on our front door:
* Host Spring Clean 2008 via my blog.
~ While the cleanliness of my home does not dictate if I have a clean heart, I do think it can contribute to having a clean heart. When there is clutter and dirt everywhere - I am distracted and not completely at peace. Order in my home can cultivate a peaceful and clean heart that is more able to be focused on good things than on clutter and mess.
~ This is something I've hosted the past two years and last year, we had so much fun. Lots of wonderful friends joined the cleaning and I have a great prize all ready to go for this year. Be watching for more details on this!
* Pray about a good attitude, appropriate opportunities and wisdom to know what is best for our family when it comes to hospitality.
* Memorize one verse about gracious hospitality.
* Invite others into our home once a month.
* Set out breakfast the night before and look for other ways to carry this preparation attitude throughout my day in an effort to help things run more smoothly. (I've done the breakfast prep every night this week.)
* Participate in the Making Your Home A Haven Challenges weekly at Biblical Womanhood.