With God’s character and His Word as our foundation, we begin building our homes today the Psalm 127 way. We’re not going to labor in vain, for pete’s sake. We’re going to let “the Lord build the house” so we have homes that reflect well on Him, act as safe harbors for our families, and shine like beacons in our communities.
Where to start? At the beginning of course.
I love how the Bible begins with “In the beginning God created…” Our divine Author sees no need to explain who He is, where He’s come from, or why He is the central character in our Book. He simply ….is. He is the great I AM; He always was and always will be. But, I digress.
In the beginning God created. He created our home — the heavens and the earth. You can read the creation story in Genesis 1-2, but I’m going to move on from there quite quickly today. I am most intrigued by the way God created. I think it is here that we see our very first building block for a home that bears God’s mark.
When I create things I tend to make a haphazard, willy-nilly mess. When I sew, my kitchen table and the surrounding area look like a bomb went off in a fabric store. There are pieces of fabric and thread everywhere. When I cook, pots and pans quickly mount up on my counter tops and shreds of celery, carrots, and onions accumulate in my sink. My recipe gets stained with tomato juice or dish water, and my dogs hang around anticipating flying shreds of grated cheese falling to the floor. And don’t even get me started on what it looks like when I attempt to do a little scrap-booking. Let’s just say I’m real good at the scrap part, but not so great with the book part.
But when God creates, He creates order. That’s why I know the whole evolution and big bang theories aren’t correct. I don’t find record of God doing anything with a big bang in the Bible. No, He simply spoke the world into existence in a very logical order. He didn’t have scraps lying around like I would have. Nothing got stained from a haphazard spill. And there were no left-over parts that caused God to scratch His head and tuck them out of sight until He figured out where they belonged later. God creates with order.
Alexander Pope wrote, “Order is Heaven’s first law.” I think he has something there, and order might ought to be the first law of our homes as well.
An orderly home makes its inhabitants and guests feel peaceful, secure, calm, protected, and refreshed. Disorder, on the other hand, causes us to feel restless, ill at ease, distracted, and even skiddish.
So how do we create homes where order reigns? Well, how did God do it?
The way I see it and the way I read the Bible, God creates order through:
- having a proper place for everything (sea creatures in the water, creatures with legs on the land, winged creatures in the sky, etc.)
- instilling routine (day and night, the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons)
- instituting traditions (“on the seventh day, you will rest…”)
- proper maintenance (man was to cultivate and keep the garden)
- proper relationships (husband and wife are companions, father is the leader, children are to obey and honor their parents, parents are to discipline and raise their children, etc.)
I suggest we simply follow God’s blue print and build our houses accordingly. I’m going to give you a few of my ideas for how to flesh this out in our homes, and I welcome you to give me some of yours.
- Don’t “put out” or display everything you own. I read recently in a woman’s magazine that if you’re displaying everything (every little chotchke, trinket, or decorative knickknack) you own, then you probably have a cluttered home. So the last time I dusted, I simply took a few items off my piano and china cabinet and stored them away. I may never find them again, but that’s another dilemma!
- Straighten and organize one room a day until each room looks orderly, welcoming, and fresh. Gretchen Rubin says in the June issue of Woman’s Day that “messy areas tend to get messier, and tidy areas tend to stay tidy. Once your dining room table is finally cleaned off, or that enormous stack of papers on your desk is gone, it will be easier to vanquish the new clutter that enters your house every day.” I gave her theory a try this week and I think she’s right. It’s definitely easier to keep order than create it afresh every Saturday!
- Try putting your housecleaning on a schedule. I’ve used different housekeeping schedules over the years and found success with different ones at various seasons in my life. You might do certain jobs on specific days of the week (dusting & vacuuming on Mondays, sweeping & mopping on Tuesdays, bathrooms on Wednesdays, etc.) or you could clean a different room each day. If you work outside the home, you may need to do like my family did when I was growing up. As soon as my mom got home from teaching school on Fridays, we would all start cleaning the house. Working quickly and together, the four of us could accomplish most of the indoor cleaning in a couple of hours so our weekends could be spent outdoors or on hobbies.
- Develop and maintain some crucial family routines. I’ve noticed that many parents today don’t institute routines because they either feel they can’t or they’re too frazzled to enforce them. But routines actually cut down on those frazzled nerves and set children up for successful cooperation. Kids of all ages (babies through teens) like knowing “what comes next.” Some of the routines that have been important in our home include nap times (when my kids were younger), daily quiet times or devotionals, regular family dinners, homework before television or electronics, going to church every Sunday morning, reading and prayers before bed, chores during the summer and on weekends, and cleaning the kitchen right after a meal.
- Create some fun and lasting traditions that the whole family can enjoy and count on. Traditions often change as your family ages, but you can still milk them for all they’re worth. And in my estimation, traditions are definitely worth the work required to keep them alive. We tend to think of the holidays when we think of traditions, but who’s to say you can’t have a Saturday morning tradition of pancakes or waffles? For years, our family had a Sunday night tradition. When we got home from our church’s evening service, everyone fixed their own supper – even the 3-year-old! And everyone could have whatever they wanted – even ice cream with cookies on top! As long as they cleaned it up, too!
- Sometimes you just have to stop and do the big jobs! I’ve found there’s no way around spring cleaning. You may wait until the fall or even winter, but those big jobs have to be done. Make a day or a week of it, but clean the garage, purge the freezer, wash the windows and screens, clean the carpets, … you know the jobs! I find it works best to dedicate a week in the spring to all these nasty chores. What about you?
- Insist on proper communication in your family relationships. Tone of voice, respectful responses, timely apologies, spoken gratitude, and simple acknowledgments all play a part in keeping family relationships on the up and up. However, in our carefree, anything-goes culture, it’s easy to slip into some bad habits that create disorder in our homes. In our home, we still insist that our children say “yes ma’am and no sir”, etc. I try to get a pleasant “good morning” out of our teens (that’s a tough one!). I consistently jump on any uses of what I consider to be inappropriate slang. And even my husband and I apologize when we speak sharply or say something rude out of anger or a bad mood. I think godly and respectful communication is just as crucial for creating an orderly home as clean closets or well established routines.
So those are some of my ideas for creating an orderly home. Remember, the goal here is to create homes of order so our spirits are refreshed and our family lives are enjoyable. We’re not going to win any awards for having the cleanest closets or the most spotless garages (although I certainly feel more like a winner when my house sparkles than when it’s full of clutter and dust!). But an orderly home certainly sets the tone for a thriving family life. I think it’s worth the effort. Don’t you?
Remember, I’d love to hear your ideas for creating and maintaining order in your home. Thanks for sharing!