Over the past month, I have encountered the idea of bringing peace to my surroundings over and over. I've noticed it in my devotion times, in blog posts....everywhere. So I've decided that it will be my theme for the year- to try to bring peace to my surroundings by eliminating chaos and confusion. It's not that I plan to live in a quiet bubble- I love happiness, talking, music and lots of people- but I want to step away from getting all worked up over stuff, stay organized, and avoid cycles of craziness! I think of cycles of craziness in relation to my house- letting it get super messy, allowing piles to build on busy days, and spending free days cleaning it all up, then letting messes build all over again when busy times strike. I want the words I speak to Nathan to be peaceful words, not fight-picking words, so that our home has a spirit of peacefulness and calm. The following verses have made me further inspired to work towards having a peaceful home and heart:
Colossians 3:15 "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..."
Matthew 5:19 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
Psalm 34:14 "...seek peace and pursue it."
Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they who love your law..."
Romans 14:19 "Therefore let us make every effort to do what leads to peace..."
1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace."
Isaiah 9:6 "And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
There are some really practical ways I'm going to work on this, in three categories:
-Turn off the noise. When I'm home doing things like dishes, banking and laundry, turn off the background noise. I tend to turn on music or a TV or news show from Hulu when I do these chores, but it ends up just being distracting background noise. I am finding it healthy and freeing to get rid of the noise and just think and enjoy the quiet time.
-Quit using Facebook as a way to procrastinate from things I really need to get done.
-Avoid "jabs". There's going to be times in marriage or in close friendships when you have to tell your spouse or friend something they don't want to hear. Just simple stuff, like talking about finding a better way to divide the chores, or getting dirty clothes to find the hamper, can be approached in a nice way, or with a jab. Verbal jabs don't usually happen by accident, and I want to avoid them.
-Sometimes life throws curve balls that stress me out, and there's no way to avoid them- they just happen from time to time. Then, there's things that make me stressed out and a not very pleasant person to be around, and they happen all the time. Like when I wake up and the dishes we didn't do the night before still aren't done (who knew we didn't have magic elves who washed them while we slept?), and there's no time to do them before running out the door. Or when I don't know what to wear, try 15 outfits on before picking one, am running behind because of it AND have a giant pile of clothes on my closet floor. Those things stress me out on a regular basis.
So, to save myself stress, and help me not be a grouch with Nathan, I can take simple steps, like picking out my clothes the night before and taking 20 minutes to tidy the house before I go to sleep.
In the House:
-Keep a good perspective on house cleaning/organizing. Someone posted this on Facebook last weekend and it really encouraged me. "Proclaiming the Prince of Peace as ruler of our home...Which is usually called house cleaning, but is really a simple act of worship to the Creator of true beauty and peace." I like the idea of keeping my home orderly to reflect the beauty and order of creation.
-As we a remodeling the house we'll move into in March, I'm consciously trying to choose things that will make our home environment peaceful. One of those things is making sure there is plenty of storage. Nothing squelches peace and calm like having stuff sprawled (and lost!) all over the house. Storage doesn't have to be expensive, and you don't have to remodel or get a bigger house to find a little spot to keep things organized. Some simple shelves and plastic storage boxes can make a huge difference without costing a lot.
-Divide housework between days. I did this in our apartment, and it worked great. With just 20-30 minutes a day, we could keep the apartment clean and organized. One day was bathroom cleaning, another was washing the kitchen floor, scrubbing the sink and cleaning our the refrigerator. One day was dusting and vacuuming, and so on. It kept everything fresh with just a little time and helped us to avoid total catastrophes.
-Write down on my grocery list the things that I'm out of, when I run out of them. It seems like every time I start to make something, I realize that I'm out of one thing and have to run to the grocery store. It's become a regular thing to go three or four times a week. I honestly don't enjoy grocery shopping and if I will just write things down, I can cut the number of trips down by a lot!