The Lenten Cleaning is going well, so far I've been able to stay on track and keep up with everything else! Breaking the cleaning down into more manageable jobs has been helpful. I washed walls on Friday when the older two were at their homeschool co-op and the little one napped. It felt great to get rid of cobwebs and dust and food (ahh, life with babies!) from the walls. We did the floors, which entailed moving furniture and area rugs, on Saturday and my sweet husband did the bulk of the work.
For cleaning the walls I used 1 gallon of hot water with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda. I found the recipe (though I omitted the ammonia) and other great tips at "How to Clean Walls."
Monday I worked on the fridge and the oven. I chose today for these two since I don't usually bake on Mondays and it's my grocery shopping day, so the fridge is fairly empty anyway.
Tuesday and Wednesday I've done smaller jobs like cleaning out the microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer, work that I usually only do if catastrophe strikes! Overall I have found the work rewarding; the house has begun to feel deep-down clean. The rest of the week the de-cluttering of the kitchen will begin; I'll try to take pictures as I go. The pictures of the cleaning were quite boring--no one really wants to see my fridge!
The time dedicated to "work with my hands" has given me space to think more about the work of managing a home--it's higher and lower purposes--which I hope to write more on soon.
Cleaning in light of Lent has also led me to pray more while I work which I hope will continue after this season ends.
And at the times when I haven't prayed, I've tried to just focus on the cleaning itself, working quietly and well as an attempt to worship the Creator and Giver of all of these good things, pushing out worries, those little conversations I have in my head, attempts to compose a blog post while I work! And as a result, I've often felt very blessed that I have whatever it is I'm cleaning. There have been small moments where I've been filled with gratitude for areas I usually grumble about (laundry, dishes). As I take the time to slowly and carefully clean, things shine again, their purpose is made more clear, and my work seems more important. This is very different then my usual "throw yet another load of laundry in, notice how dirty the washer is getting, and give it a half-hearted wipe down." During those hurried times, I often feel annoyed, grumble about the effects of the Fall, and pine for fancier appliances and a maid. And so in trying to clean as part of a rhythm of work and rest, with goals of simplicity and proper care of His gifts, the work and I become more redeemed.
May His Work continue on my affections, my attachments, my will, and my ambitions as I make our home shine so we may live in His Abundance, capable of appreciating His good gifts.
I pray again,
"Teach me your way, O LORD...give me an undivided heart..." (Psalm 86:11 NIV)
An Undivided Heart.
A Heart that wills one thing.
A Heart detached from vain comforts that do not satisfy.
A Heart Uncluttered. Body and Soul. Our home. Our routine. Our affections.
All United to His will.
P.S. I also wanted to add an idea from my friend Christina, who has decided to not tackle a huge cleaning project right now, but liked the idea of the 40 days/40 bags on a smaller yet still meaningful scale. She writes,
"We are all, even A. [her almost 2 yr old], picking one thing a day to put in a bag that will be given away. Some days we will devote to a specific family and give things they need or might like, but most days we are just trying to clear out and such." What a great plan!
P.S.S. I've also kept the children entertained while I cleaned with The Chronicles of Narnia on CD:
They love this, listening over and over and over again. This edition is a dramatic reading of the books with some sound effects and the parts of the characters done by different actors which has really made the story come alive for them.
Anyone else attempting the 40 bags or 40 areas for Lent? Or have any other insights you've gained in your first week of Lent?