Thursday, January 20, 2011


There are so many things about which (and people about whom) I want to write, but--for some reason--I feel like I need to write about keeping house.  Or my failure to keep house well.  At the moment, this failure is one of my sore spots.  In terms of insecurity and personal frustration, it's the sorest of my sore spots. 

Allow me to preface the rest by saying:  I know I am loved by most (if not all) of the people reading this, and I know you are even now having a conversation with me in your minds.  I have italicized and bolded what I guess to be your thoughts and questions, below, and will proceed to address them. 

Your house can't really be that messy or dirty.
I would not want to die of shame or embarrassment if you walked through my front door right this second; however, this would not have been the case had you walked through my front door Tuesday morning.  In preparation for a small group Bible study in my living room, I spent the entire day cleaning up the main part of my house and Clementine's bedroom on Tuesday.  Even so, during Bible study, my eyes were drawn over and over again to the fingerprints on my windows, the dust on my furniture, the mysterious smears of food on the blanket on my tv stand, and the UFOs underneath the tv stand.  None of these issues have been addressed in the two days since Bible study.  Furthermore, since Bible study, dirty clothes and random objects have accumulated on my living room floor, as well as unwashed dishes in my kitchen sink.  (My dishwasher is broken, currently.)

My clean-up of the aforementioned rooms of my house involved the vacuuming and sweeping of a few rooms, but not every room, and there was no dusting or mopping.  Dusting and mopping occurs only rarely, here.

There are two rooms in my house into which I would not invite you.

Your house doesn't look that terrible in your pictures.
Notice that I take a lot of close-up photos, and these in only a few rooms.  I am known for kicking stuff out of the way before taking close-up photos in these few rooms.

So, are you, like, a hoarder?
There are a couple people in my life who would probably say, "Yes."  These are people who have helped me move on several occasions and therefore have a good grasp on the sheer amount of my worldly possessions.  I love the hoarding shows on tv and have watched them with rapt attention...less because I identify with these overwhelmed, exposed individuals and more because I find comfort in knowing the situation in my house could be worse.

I do not consider myself a hoarder but acknowledge a sentimental attachment to many items, also a desire for my unwanted items to find their way to perfect, new homes.  The two above-mentioned rooms are the two we use least: an addition we hope to turn into a playroom, and our bedroom.  These rooms are catch-alls for boxes, bins, hampers, and laundry baskets of "stuff."  Sometimes I sweep my arm across our counters and knock everything my arm touches into a box, which I subsequently shove out of sight in my addition or bedroom.

Well, Poor Thing, you DO have three kids, two of whom are babies.
That's true; I do.  And--to that end--the babies are almost never in the care of anyone but Jim or me.  They are almost never asleep at the same time, and the two particularly cluttered rooms are nearly impossible to address when even one of the babies is awake.  Clementine is very busy and cannot be left to her own devices at all, but especially in a messy room.  She is also a light sleeper, which presents a problem in my cleaning of my bedroom (which is next to hers).  If Clementine were napping, I could put Charleigh in her bouncy seat and work in the addition downstairs, but the addition is unheated, which presents a problem.

Having said that, those who have known me longest will tell you I had the housekeeping issue before I had children and when I had only one child, so I can't really blame the situation on bringing baby girls into the world.

Are you saying you're lazy?
I don't consider myself lazy.  I am pretty much always doing the point that I watch very little tv and read much less than I would like.  I am, however, less physically active than I should be.  I spend a lot of time sitting, hanging out with my kids.  I should put Charleigh in a carrier more often, but her weight gets me in the back.

What are you doing with your time?
Taking care of and playing with my kids.  Cooking and baking as much as possible.  Also blogging and performing various acts of community care.

Speaking of which: if your house is out of control, is it safe to eat your food?
Absolutely.  The food I prepare is unexpired.  All of the dishes, pans, utensils, and work spaces I use in preparing your food are clean.  Anything that falls on the floor goes in the trashcan. :)

Can I help you?
In terms of cleaning?  No.  There is only one person who does not live in this house whom I would allow to help me clean (unless I were desperate), and that is my mom.  She lives eight hours away.  Jim told me I could bring a housekeeper in right before Charleigh was born, but I wouldn't do it.  I felt like I needed to address my clutter before she could clean, and I was embarrassed for anyone (even a housekeeper) to see the state of my house.  A friend came to visit last week and asked (begged, really) to help me go through some piles in my dining room.  This person has a perfect heart, but I didn't know how to tell her I'd rather suffocate under a stack of fallen boxes than have her help me in this respect.

I would tell you that you could help me by playing with my babies, but that's probably not entirely true, either, because--if you came over--I would want to visit with you, not clean.  Also, I would feel pressured to clean to a certain degree before your arrival.  I'm not sure whether this added stress would be a good or a bad thing.

What is your point in sharing this?
Well, I could use your prayers.  I feel very convicted to change this problem area in my life.  The problem and my feelings about it are more complicated than you might suspect:
  • A friend of mine surprised me, one day, by showing up with a chocolate cake.  (She is almost sure to read this, and she will know who she is.)  This person has a perfect heart and had perfect intentions in bringing the cake, and, in fact, I had said to this person: "Come over any time."  But my house was DISGUSTING on the day of her surprise visit, and I wanted to die when she showed up; thus, I have stopped saying to people: "Come over any time."  But I want to be someone who says this and means it.  I get lonely.
  • Brian Hughes preached a sermon, once, in which he said that Satan loves secrets.  I hate Satan.  You can be sure I have not been readily sharing my housekeeping issues.  I feel like, after talking openly about them, I will be more apt to correct them.
  • My pastor David Simpson loves to use an analogy about closed-off rooms.  He's really talking about parts of our hearts/lives into which we won't allow God, but he compares these to messy rooms in our houses into which we won't allow guests.  Every time he uses that analogy, I squirm in my pew.  I'm tired of it.  I want to have clean rooms in my house so I can appreciate his analogy.
  • My housekeeping issues are a source of envy and sometimes hate.  I go into clean and organized houses--or see pictures of clean and organized houses--and I envy the people to whom those houses belong.  Sometimes I want to stab those people with one of the dirty forks in my kitchen sink.
  • I fear that my housekeeping issues are a matter of pride.  To be honest, I often feel like I have more important things to do (bigger callings) than to clean house.  Who do I think I am???
  • I fear that my housekeeping issues reveal messed up priorities.  In some cases, I am spending time caregiving instead of cleaning, but doesn't God expect me to care for my family, first?  This is a matter of prayer and definitely one of those areas in which I need balance.  I don't know that I'll ever desire perfection in my house, but it would be nice if my children could play in our addition.  It would be nice to have a freshly-mopped kitchen floor, say, weekly.
  • Disorganization breeds chaos.  I can't find things.  It's never worse than on Sunday mornings when we are trying to get out the door for church.  I tend to get frustrated (and sometimes downright hateful) while trying to get somewhere or accomplish something at a set time.  Sadly, there are times that my nasty attitude ruins our entire day.
  • I fear that I am setting a poor example for my children.  Cade, bless his little piggy heart, is known for being a disorganized mess at school.  Clementine tries very often to "help" me with a broom or a dishrag.  This makes me feel guilty.  What does it say that more hope for a clean space rests in my not-quite-two-year-old daughter than in me?
  • I fear that I am a sad excuse for a wife because my husband cannot always find clean clothes for work.  Also because he has a difficult time in navigating through the giant piles of stuff in our get to our unmade bed.
  • I know God wants better for me because he has called me to host a second Bible study in my house starting next month.  I have two birthday parties and an untold number of playdates to host within the next two months.
Are you going to stop blogging?
Awww...thanks for caring about that.  No.  Very often, I blog while breastfeeding, and I anticipate another nine months of that action.  And I will make time for blogging for many other reasons.  Perhaps I will share those at a later time.  For now, I'm going to share pictures of my house, all taken this morning.  Please pray for me.  I know I tend to be all (as Christy would say) "jokey jokey," but--even if you find this post humorous--I have been serious in writing it.  Sore spot.  Embarrassing and hard to share.  Shameful.

Kitchen Sink

Living Room Window

Dining Room

Laundry Room


  1. I wandered over to your blog. I've always loved to read your writings.

    This particular blog post touched me. I do not have kids. I do have a wonderful husband and a very spoiled cat. You would assume that someone without children would have an immaculate house, right?

    Rarely is my house spotless. My house is spotless whenever someone plans to come visit. I kill myself in anticipation of visitors. Right now, my sink is overflowing with dishes, and I have a dishwasher that works. My counters are cluttered. My girly den, otherwise known as the office, is littered with crap that should be in a garbage can. I have laundry piled on the floor, and I have a snow day that I could be getting it all done. Yet here I sit, happily reading and doing some writing of my own.

    On the other hand, I have a best friend with a pristine floor from which you could eat. She is a single mom with two beautiful girls. She won't go to work in the mornings until her bed is made whereas my bed hasn't been made in months. She needs and loves order.

    I don't need it.

    Yes, we need clean clothes and clean dishes. Do I need to dust weekly? No. Should I? *shrug*

    I've learned as I've gotten older that we "should" do a lot of things based on others' expectations of us. But are they all really necessary? Maybe we should endeavor to find a happy medium.

    Truthfully, when I do clean and everything is in its spot, even my husband says he can't stand it because everything is too perfect.

    I will pray that you find peace as you try to find a happy balance in all of this. I think we (as girls) expect too much of ourselves. You have three beautiful, happy babies and a wonderful marrriage. To me, that's much more important than having a spotless home. :)

    Love you!

  2. :) You have been to my have been to my heart...sometimes both are a mess..but I know you don't come to visit my dirt or disarray you come to see me...and I love you for it..your home is loved in and lived in and my personal opinion is that is the best way to keep a house!! I keep you in my prayers that God blesses you and helps you meet your challenges and overcome your struggles. Finger prints, laundry and dirty dishes come and go but he house that love builds is forever :)

  3. girl, i am getting 2 no u better thru ur blog. it is the way we r wired! i am also like u and w those same desires. my college friend terri(she is the only 1 i would allow also)
    spent the weekend and wanted 2 help out since i was out of commission. MY BEDROOM IS THE CLEANEST ITS BEEN IN 5 YEARS! i am inspired and determined 2 do more. just a little projet here and there but a start. lets pray 4 each other on this!