Choosing What is Better in Our Homes

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

My husband and I sometimes watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. In this series of inspiring home makeovers, Marie works with families whose homes are disorganized, cluttered, and chaotic. The families living inside seemed stressed and most definitely overwhelmed. Over the course of a month or so, Marie comes in and helps them transform their homes into spaces that are enjoyable, organized, and restful! When she makes her final visit to the home, the families welcome her with open arms, smiling faces, and usually some grateful tears. They are overcome by the peace she has brought to their homes and can’t seem to find the words to thank her enough.

In one episode, a mother who was trying to organize a heap of laundry asked Marie, desperately, “Do you have kids? How do you
get them to clean up?” Marie responded, “They just see me do it, and I enjoy myself, and I make it fun to clean together.” I think Marie is on to something!

I do not know about you, but often, my own go-to homemaking attempts are just me barking at my children to clean their rooms, huffing and puffing as I try to get “all the things” done. In those moments, homemaking is not fun at all; it’s stressful. I want my home to feel as if you’ve been wrapped in a warm hug when you enter it—a place where my family can rest, a place where they can retreat, and a place where they can fill their love tanks.

It is a little tradition around here that before my husband comes home, the kids and I always take about twenty or thirty minutes to clean up the house. My husband appreciates a clean home after a long day at work. I have had many, many times when these twenty to thirty minutes have literally been the most stressful part of the day for all of us. Mostly because I choose to let the task take over the heart of what is trying to be accomplished. When I bark orders at my kids and act completely overwhelmed, the whole house can feel my frustration, and it usually doesn’t end well. The result is that we will have a clean house but at the expense of everyone walking on eggshells around Mom.

On the contrary, when I have taken time to explain to my children that it shows Dad how much we love him when we create a peaceful home for him to come home to, they all get a little pep in their step to do an extra great job. Just the other day, my oldest, who is nine, said to me, “Mom, I know you have been overwhelmed at how messy the house has been today, but when it was time to clean, you seemed happy! It makes me feel like today is a good day!” The heart behind how we make our homes matters. Our kids are watching us, and we set the tone for the mood in our homes more than we know.

I adore the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible on this very topic (Luke 10:38-42). It is simple but profound. Martha opened her home to Jesus as He was traveling. Her sister Mary was also at the home. The story goes on to say that Martha was busy trying to prepare and being somewhat of a busybody. However, Mary just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him. Jesus remarked that Mary had “chosen what is better.” I wonder if we, too, could take this same gentle challenge in our homes,
choosing what is better over our rigid task list! We could snuggle up with our kids and read more, taking the time to smile and tell them how much we adore them. We could listen to our children talk about video games for the billionth time with enthusiasm rather than multitasking to keep getting chores done. We could plan a small in-home date night with our husbands after the kids go to bed, popping popcorn and cozying up next to each other on the couch rather than loading the dishwasher.

I believe that Jesus is in the “tidying up” business as well. While He may not be broadcasted on a popular media platform like Netflix, He makes His mark in the hidden places of our hearts. He whispers to us “tidying tips” of love, grace, forgiveness, and sweet traditions to implement with our families at home. He gives us a vision of the kind of home that our hearts long for and the kind of home our family will treasure for years to come.

Jesus is not concerned with the state of our laundry basket or if our drawers are organized. He cares about our hearts and how we love those in our homes. He cares about that “warm hug” and about a gentle smile as we go through our mundane days. We can rest assured that the laundry will keep piling day after day and that dishes will return to the sink, but through it all, we can take heart that we “chose what was better.”

Faith-Filled Idea: Have Fun by Setting a Timer 

Setting a timer is an amazing motivator for staying focused on a chore (for you or the kids)! If you have kitchen, laundry, or
any household chore to accomplish and you need a jump start as your energy starts to fade, try setting a timer. This method
encourages you to beat the time you have set, stay hyperfocused on that one desired chore, and find out that it usually takes less
time than you think to complete it. If you beat your time, have a little treat or reward ready.

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