i've been reading this book called home comforts, by cheryl mendelson. it's kind of a giant delicious textbook for housekeeping. (yes, i realize i'm a huge nerd.) although there are a lot of instructions and detail about the minutae of cleaning and organizing, one of the under-girding ideas of the book is that a home isn't just a place to eat and sleep and store things. it's a place where those who belong are surrounded by things and situations and people they love; a place for activities and restfulness and pleasure; a place that cradles the identities and values of each person and the family as a whole. so i've been thinking a lot about the physical ways to create atmosphere in our home - a tidy space leading to a tidy mind, a well-planned menu leading to healthy bodies, fresh sheets for sound sleeping - things like that.
and fittingly, if unplanned, in my bible reading right now i'm looking at proverbs 31 - what makes an excellent wife. my challenge (the verse that made me twinge in conscience) is 31:27 - 'she looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.'
as my longsuffering mom can attest, i've always been pretty good at eating the bread of idleness. i'd rather bury my nose in a book than tackle chores, especially the boring ones like sorting out old clothes or flattening cardboard for recycling. on the other hand, i love the restful feeling of being in a tidy house and i love to cook and have friends over, so it's not like we live in squalor because i'm just lying around all the time. i've learned to overcome most of my natural tendencies for laziness because i also have a substantial capacity for comfort.
but still, this verse was picking at my conscience. so i imagined that God was going to nudge me into finally putting sam & vava's too-small clothes in storage, cutting out some online time to get rid of fingerprints on windows and dust my bookshelves. (all of which i should do, i know.)
but just when i was about to get out the cleaning chart, He stopped me with this verse:
set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. colossians 3:2.
look well to the ways of my household - but set my mind on things above?
and the light dawned. there's more to the ways of a household than a cleaning schedule and menu.
so, what exactly are the ways of my household, and do they reflect a mind set on things above? i mean, does the routine running of a day in this home point our minds toward God, in joy and thankfulness and love? is there an atmosphere of contentment, generosity, peace? kindness? holiness?
looking well to the ways of my household doesn't just mean fresh linens and clean countertops (although it definitely includes those too). it means deliberately fostering love and forgiveness and thankfulness, joy and devotion and honour. it means turning on happy music and dancing in the kitchen. it means i'm sorry springs quickly to the tongue, and i forgive you springs more quickly. it means an open door and a ready welcome. it means prayer is a constant glad conversation, not just a mealtime telegram. it means being present for each other, not just bodies rattling around inside the same four walls.
it means caring about every soul under this roof. (i'm praying for you, sheldon!)
it means deliberate love.
i want to nourish an atmosphere that feels kind of like colossians 3:12-17 ...
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,giving thanks to God the Father through him.