Tuesday, October 2, 2007

One Hour Ahead...

Today I didn't accomplish an awful lot around here. Although I did get my laundry folded-it was a mountain on the chair for far too long. We've been doing the "grab and go" method of getting dressed since I've wrecked my house in this room switch...and YES-I'm still working on it!!! Things seem to go in spurts in my house.

It got me thinking about how I run my home-or don't really run it-I just sort of let it happen without a real plan. And that is where I think I am missing it. I could be a poster child for Flylady for sure!! Except I hate getting my picture taken!

Now, for those of you who have it all together-this will be pure dribble (unless you're doing a thesis on the domestically challenged), but to the rest of us who haven't quite figured out how to accomplish the joy of "order"...each time I have a housework epiphany-I am elated! I've read almost every book on getting your home neat and tidy and then I try to implement the ideas in it faithfully. Alas, I am what the Flylady (http://www.flylady.org/) would call living in "chaos", an acronym for "can't have anyone over syndrome". Also what the Sidetracked Sisters, Pam and Peggy would call "sidetracked"-ready to run and play at a moment's notice, forgetting that you were in the midddle of cleaning out the sofa (http://www.shesintouch.com/ ). Really I try to diligently clean, then I stumble upon some memorabilia and I'm off on a whim.

I've read books on how to simplify-but you wouldn't know it if you looked in my basement right now or on my dining room table! It's nothing more than those who truly love me have seen before when they've dropped by unexpectedly. But still as embarrassing as it was the last time because they never seem to drop by when it's clean! Mortifying!!!

So...I've got this new/old book...and added to my overflowing knowledge of what I already know to do-things are starting to make sense. Like the sliver of sunlight coming back from behind the moon in a solar eclipse. A slice of a ray of light. The very slightest sliver mind you...but a slice nonetheless!! Lord...whatever You're doing-PLEASE don't stop now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The book is called: The Complete Home by Julia McNair Wright. It was written in 1879. Really! Did women struggle with keeping a home way back in 1879 you ask??? Well, if this book is evidence then I'd have to say, "Yes." I guess 24 hours was only 24 hours even back then.

So, feeling the way I've been feeling lately-I open the book, which I purchased recently for no small fee on ebay. I have since found other books, to my delight, full of wisdom from the "simpler times" (which I do intend to share at a later date).

As I sat this morning with my coffee and opened this book of housekeeping wisdom from eons ago, the very chapter I open to is entitled: "Order in the Home". Now I ask you...was this Providential??? I sure thought so! So, I began to read.

The narrator, Aunt Sophronia, is visiting her neices and hearing how they run their homes. They are both newlyweds and each has a different way to run her home. I mention they are newlyweds because I'm sure by the time they've been married as long as I have, they've figured it all out. Especially with Aunt Sophronia's help. Aunt Sophronia...where are you????????

I'll share a couple of tidbits to whet your appetite... (Helen and Miriam are newly married and their cousin Hester was raised by her father and is not married, but is going away to school for four years.) They are having a discussion with Aunt Sophronia.

"Is it better," asked Miriam, "to know something of everything, or everything of something?"

"Absolutely, one can do neither," I said. (The I being Aunt Sophronia.)

"Well, within human limitations, understood."

"It is better, " said Hester, "to know everything of something, for thoroughness is in itself a great virtue, and will enter into all your life, making one in all things painstaking and honest."

"This devoting yourself to one thing, however" said Helen, "will make you one-idead, crotchety, a hobby-rider, and you will be detestable."

"These people of one idea have been the people who moved the world," retorted Hester.

"The fact is, my dear girls," I interposed, "no one branch of study stands isolated it reaches out and intermingles and takes hold of others. Hester's ideas are in the main correct; study that for which you find in yourselves most aptitude; aspire to completeness in whatever you undertake; value knowledge, and seize whatever comes in your way, and put what you acquire to use as fast as you can. The Lord found great fault with the servant who buried his talent in a napkin."

"What do you suppose his talent was?" asked Helen.

"Time, perhaps: the one talent common to all."

"And what was the napkin wherein he buried it?" asked Hester.

"Disorder, doubtless; for you can bury more time in disorder than in any other way."

"I must be very disorderly, then," laughed Helen, "for since I went to housekeeping I have no time for anything; you have no idea how behind-hand I am. I have not opened my piano except on a few evenings; I have a whole basketful of accumulated sewing, and hose for darning; I haven't read anything but two or three novels; I have not done a bit of fancy-work--"

"My dear girl!" I cried, "if this is your record now, what will become of you when cares increase?--say, for instance, if there were two or three little ones."

"I'm sure I don't know," said Helen "I should have to set up another servant or two, and then we should be bags of rags, and all our buttons would be off, I expect."

"Indeed, Helen," I urged, "there must be a sad mistake somewhere if you have reached this result. Living here in the village, with but two in the family, you have a very modicum of household cares; what think you of young wives on farms who have chicks to feed, several hands to cook for, butter to make, oftentimes no servant, or but a young girl? and yet nearly all of them would make a better showing than this. I remember when Cousin Ann's three elder children were little things, and she kept but a half-grown girl, there were no rags and no mending in arrears, and all the farm-work being done by half-past two, she could sit down to make or mend, and in the evening pick up a book or a newspaper. She made a point of reading as much as she could, so as to be able to interest and instruct her children. Her son Reed's wife has a young child and keeps no help; she sends butter and eggs to market, and manages so well in all her work that she has spare hours for making pretty and useful things for her house, for reading, and for doing all her own sewing, and not being behind-hand with it. Depend upon it, the secret lies in industrious order-in what is called good management."

"But I cannot understand it, Helen," said Miriam: "your house has only ten rooms beside the bath, and you keep a servant: where does your time go?"

"How can I tell where it goes, when I never can find it?" grumbled Helen. "I dare say you don't understand it. Why aunt, there is Miriam doing the most of her own work; no matter when I go there, the work is all done; the house is neat as a pin; Miriam is sitting at her reading or her sewing; she has made perfect gems of fancy things that stick here and there in her house; even in her kitchen she has fancy wall-pockets for string, paper and little bags; fancy holders, a pincushion hung by the window, a crocheted scrap-bag, and, if you'll believe me, always a bouquet in the window!"

"Why not have it nice?" said Miriam. "I have to be there often, and I can work faster where things are handy, and enjoy myself better when things are pretty. Why should I run upstairs for every pin I want, or look five minutes when I need a string, or have scraps of rag and paper stuffed in corners for want of a convenient bag to put them in?"

"What amazes me is," said Helen, "where you get the time for all these things."

"I got it from Mrs. Burr for a wedding gift," said Miriam.

"Do explain I wish she had been as liberal to me."

"She sent me a book of her own making, two boards of gray Bristol, bound in red satin and painted with one of her lovely landscapes. Inside was only a single page: that was white Bristol, illuminated with a wreath of flowers, bees and butterflies, and this motto within: 'Always be one hour in advance of your work.' I saw at once that here was the key to the Order that reigns at Mrs. Burr's. If I were an hour beforehand with work I should never be hurried or worried; if I began at once, the habit of being in season would be fixed. I saw also that the one hour would by good judgement in planning grow to many, and I should always have time to spare. I concluded to think the housekeeping matter out and have an exact routine for it; it was little trouble to do that I had only to copy Aunt Sophronia: she always had exact order here."

"But I hate routine," yawned Helen.

"Then you hate what you have never tried," quoth Hester.

--end of excerpt for now--I will share more possibly tomorrow..I find reading it fascinating and enlightening. I haven't read to the end of the chapter-so this is fun for me too!

I thought there were a couple of good points here: Aunt Sophronia said the secret lies in industrious order and good management. And the pretty picture/saying Mrs. Burr gave Miriam that said, "Always be one hour in advance of your work". Maybe when my work is done, I will make some similar thing and hang it somewhere to remind myself to stay ahead!

I used to follow the Sidetracked Home Executives method of housekeeping. Then, I got talked out of it by some well-meaning people. This used to be a problem for me-letting other people persuade me easily instead of sticking to my guns and knowing what was best for my family and I. No more. Today I have decided that I will get out my index cards and get them ready to guide me through my daily chores again. Using their system was helping me see light at the end of the tunnel. Between them and Flylady-I should be "one hour in advance of my work" very soon.

I'd like to give my husband much credit here. He's always trying to give me sound advice about things. In my pride, I've been insulted and angered by it. But since the Lord has been dealing with me to not resist my husband, I am seeing that he has wisdom in many places. He is a hard-core Type-A personality. If I let him, he'd have this place spiffy in no time! I am trying to take his advice now and utilize his ideas. He's teaching me how to get freed up to be his help meet. Being a suitable helper to Dave is my greatest desire now. In doing so I am honoring God-and that brings ultimate joy to my heart and peace to my household! A place where God dwells and there is harmony amongst each other.

I pray God will keep shining those breakthrough slivers and slices of light out to me and get me straightened out and walking on the path He sets before me. I pray I would take joy in the little accomplishments along the way because at some point I will be one hour in advance of my work, and then I'll have time to sew and stitch and delight myself in the home-sweet things. I'll have time to be a blessing to others and not feel like I've neglected my own family by doing so. I'll become the wife who is a suitable helper to Dave and the peaceful Mom I desire to be.

I pray the same for you whatever your situation may be! Be open to the little rays of light. I ask God to show you the areas where you can be one hour in advance of your work !!! That you would find yourself desiring to honor the Father with your daily tasks doing them unto Him and for His glory. He is good, bless His Name forever!

Here is a little poem to think about...

A Prayer for Everyday

Make me too brave to lie or be unkind.
Make me too understanding, too, to mind
The little hurts companions give, and friends,
The careless hurts that no one quite intends.
Make me too thoughtful to hurt others so.
Help me to know
The inner most hearts of those for whom I care,
Their secret wishes, all the loads they bear,
That I may add my courage to their own.
May I make lonely folks feel less alone,
And happy ones a little happier yet.
May I forget
What ought to be recalled, each kindly thing,
Forgetting what might sting.
To all upon my way,
Day after day,
Let me be joy, be hope! Let my life sing!

Mary Carolyn Davies

Good night my dears...and remember to be thankful for the home-sweet things, through them we are able to honor God.

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