Among the many jobs I’ve had in my life was being a professional house cleaner. That meant that Crusita and I would go to other people’s houses and vacuum their house, do their laundry, clean their kitchen, bath, etc. It was an honest but absolutely un-fun and (as I foolishly thought then) undignified way to earn a couple of dollars, but hey, I’d heard there were Starving Students helping people with their moving, and there comes a point when any job is ok when you need to buy that $300 textbook pronto. And as long as your friends don’t know . . .
I digress. My point is that there was a time I was paid to do cleaning, after which I would go home and collapse in front of the TV while all the chores that needed to be done in my house could go hang. But Crusita was very different. I’m sure she was the shorter, Mexican version of Wonder Woman—a veritable dynamo of energy and vitality. Once she got home she would cook and feed her husband and children, do general cleanup around her home, do laundry if necessary, and then prepare the next day’s lunches for everyone to take to work or school. And yes, her house was orderly. It was unbelievable how the woman could clean other people’s houses for a living and still have time and energy to keep her own home clean.
As you may imagine, my time cleaning houses was very brief. Still, during that time Crusita taught me a few tips about Housekeeping. I also picked up a few other tips over the years. I’ll share with you the ones I think are the best.
-Make a schedule for every-day cleaning and designate the “Big Cleaning Day.” If you work, designate a day in the weekend for this—not too much fun, but if the proceeding tips are also followed it’s not much of a drag.
-Put your cleaning tools within easy reach and at strategic locations. For example, your Tilex, rubber gloves, sponge, etc should be close or in the restroom and with easy access.
-Find the essentials and deal with them first.There are some things that grate on your nerves and having them incomplete will sap your morale until they are done. For me it’s the beds, the kitchen and the dishes. These must be done so that even if I don’t clean anything else during the day I can still have a bit of peace.
-Involve the Family. Everyone has to pitch in and at least clean up after themselves.
-If possible get the cleaning done early. It’s incredibly hard to do cleanup after noon. What is the best time to clean up? Between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
-15 Minute Spurts: Set a timer to 15 minutes and do as much of your essentials and maintenance cleaning as possible. Be thorough, though! Have 2-3 of these in your day, spreading them throughout your day at specific points that work with your schedule.
-If it takes less than two minutes do it now
-Music! There is nothing more energizing and motivating as you clean.
-Stick to schedule. Self discipline is key!
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Let’s be honest. At the beginning of this thing called “walk with God,” opening the Bible and devoting energy, mind, and body, to sit still and seek God through his word feels like a chore. But by applying the rules of Housekeeping to your spiritual life, you will find that your inner self will be beautifully kept throughout the week—and after all, aren’t we all habitations of the Holy Spirit?
-Designate a time during the day and a special day during the week in which to study. Daily study would include a chapter or two the Bible, and any other supplementary study materials such as quarterlies and devotionals which are supposed to be looked at daily. “The Big Day” would be the Sabbath, of course. Take more time to dwell on the word—have a Bible commentary? Bring it out and delve deeper into the word. Time should not be a concern during this day.
-Put your materials within reach. The key here is to be strategic and orderly about where you leave your study materials. If you say you are a busy person and have difficulty making time, then be a smart busy person and avoid having to go all over the house just to retrieve Bible, quarterly, notebook, pens, and highlighters. I always study and pray upon waking up, so my materials are right next to my alarm clock (which is also strategically placed to blare out in the morning all the way across the room, thus forcing me to get up out of my comfy bed)
-Get rid of distractions. This is a biggie. Seriously, eradicate anything that will not let you be in peace during your study time. Believe me—there is always something that will try to get in between you and your time with Christ.
-Involve the family. I thank God for sisters. As we share the room, my sister and I will both wake up when my alarm goes off and pray and study together. I swear it works. We have reached a point in which we willingly wake up to study some 7 out of 10 times. The other 3 out of 10 times I run to my alarm press the snooze and jump back into bed hoping the alarm didn’t wake Liz up. Then out of the darkness I hear her voice—Paula, aren’t we going to study? I get up again, bemoaning my extra sleep, and turn on the lights. That’s my example, you may find that you can study with your spouse or your kids and make a healthy habit that will benefit all.
-Get it done early. The benefit you get of studying early in the morning is more than I can tell. The word of God fortifies you spiritually for the trials up ahead, much as breakfast gives you energy for the busy day. Your frame of mind will be more positive and you will be more receptive to the Spirit of God. Life is placed in its proper perspective when you put your priorities in order by giving God the first place.
-15 minute sessions. Start with 15 minutes a day, twice a day. No science to it. Study in the morning, and then study in the evening before going to bed. I started with 15 minutes, then increased to half an hour in the morning, it just became something that special.
-If you need prayer do it right where you are, don’t wait for the Designated day or for one of your 15 minute sessions. You spill some juice on the counter—are you going to wait for a 15-minute clean-up session to deal with it? No. Do it right away. You are being tempted to covet your co-worker’s car (or whatever), are you going to wait until your evening session to pray about it? No. Do it then and there in your mind as you walk past the hot little sports car.
-Music! This could apply to the evening session or the “Big Day” as it tends to relax you and creates a better atmosphere. You’ll want to dwell in that time with Christ. If you prefer, you can sing, too. No need for an iPod there. I am a bit old-fashioned in this area, I like the hymnal, and when I have the luxury of prolonged time alone with the Lord I don’t hesitate to sing as many as three or four hymns before I begin studying.
-Stick to the schedule. When all is said and done, you have to really be disciplined about this. You’ll hit the snooze button 9 out of 10 times at first, but the habit can be formed quite well enough when there is a will and—most importantly—when the Holy Spirit works in your life. Such a deep hunger and desire to learn more will be awakened in you as you strive to learn and know who Jesus is. Prayer will help you get to this point too.
Which brings us to a final point—
-Prayer, a most important element in keeping up your study schedule. Pray before and after you study, asking for divine guidance and the Holy Spirit to work in your life. To take you from being a person who looks at Bible-studying as a dreaded chore to being a person who gladly, willfully, and joyfully looks forward to spending time with God.
Prayer is a point that, of course, is not to be found in the Housekeeping guidelines…But, maybe it should be. Then maybe I could—at last—take the theory of how to keep a house clean throughout the week and put it to practice as successfully as I have done in keeping up a Bible study schedule.