Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Order, Obedience, Sincerity

When I wrote this post, I thought I had the “order, obedience, sincerity thing almost down. My two naughty chair --no matter what, even if I’m nursing a starving baby or about to burn dinner—offences were “disobeying a direct order” and “lying.” I just have to figure out a creative way to add “picking up the toys” to our daily task list, I thought as I listened to the incredibly inspiring speech on sanctity by a mother of twelve.

Yeah, turns out that having three kids far under the age of reason is boot camp for my soul! The virtues I’m learning by the school of hard knocks are order, obedience and sincerity.


I had no idea that this simple virtue would define “good day” from “awful day.” Forget checking our D.C. the pollen count, if the laundry in my house is spilled all over the hallway--that spells a “bad” day for us. Everything else goes down hill from breakfast over unwashed dinner dishes.

Has anyone seen wrote Cold Mountain? You know the scene where the lovely Ada screams to the hardy Rudy “Why? You can ask Why about just about all of my education. I know how to embroider, but I can’t knit. I can name plants in Latin, but I don’t know how to find three herbs we can eat! I can name all the major rivers in Europe, but I can’t name a stream in this county! If it had a purpose, if it had a use, then I couldn’t learn it because it wasn’t fit for making me a lady!” I have that same dialogue in my head every day. I never had use to learn anything practical in life because I was to busy mastering obscure Latin terms in order to be a working woman!

My notion growing us was that housework was for fools. As a smart girl you weren’t supposed to waste your time preparing dinner. My mom, who it must be said is a cracker jack of a teacher, served us fish sticks or chicken nuggets every night. Every single night something came out of the freezer, got defrosted in the oven (and later the microwave) and ended up on our plate. Bathrooms, linen closets, hallway closets, we never cleaned them. Once a year, my family would spend a day of “work camp” where we would gather all the trash and broken things into a huge pile of trash-bags and cart them away.

Not surprising, there are some inherent problems with this method of maintaining “order.”

So I’ve been starting from scratch. Since my marriage, I’ve painfully, painfully built up some methods and learning some home-making skills under the gun. Now with three “real” children (as opposed to two and a baby who happily went everywhere in my arms), my house-hold routine has fallen apart. No one naps at the same time. No one will sit quietly watching TV together without needing a constant referee.

And so I’m stuck, except the need for serious order is growing! One of the saddest things about the whole “roof is leaking” incident is that I thought, “oh no, I just finished spring cleaning their room.” My next thought was “thank heavens, how could we have picked up their entire room in under 10 minutes if I hadn’t already pitched out half of their old toys?” While we hope that the roof will stay dry, three kids mean that we will soon be battling other emergencies like the stomach flu.

So order is crucial, because the more kids you have the more you increase the risk that “disorder” will soon engulf your home.

Please pray for me, to master the “order” habit. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to increase the virtue of “order” in your life.


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Hmmm... Order. This is also a huge struggle for me. FlyLady.net has been a big help to me, as far as helping to change how I think about household tasks. But I don't follow her plan to a "T". In fact, right now, I'm not following any plan at home. I'm (once again) at that point of feeling a little overwhelmed by all of it, which only leads me to procrastinate on getting anything done. And that just leads to guilt, and frustration, and lots of other negative stuff.

    This is a constant cycle for me. The positive thing is that I can see a pattern of improvement - even though I haven't figured it all out, I have made progress. I'm not where I used to be.

    I hate the cycle (why can't I just be like my mom or my sister? their houses are in constant order) but at the same time, if I'm not struggling with anything in my life it would either mean that I had acheived perfection (ha!) or that I had stopped caring. I'm coming to the realization that there will always be an area of struggle to serve as a reminder that I am dependent on God.

    Gosh - sorry to ramble on so much! I tend to "think out loud". :-)

    When I have a little more time I plan to come back and take a peek at more of your blog. You give me some good food for thought!

  2. It's hard talking with all the kids around so I wanted to share some of the stuff I learned from my mom, the queen of order and mom to seven.

    1. Have a routine. Each job had a different day in our house: Monday - sort laundry, Tuesday - wash, fold, iron, Wednesday - Clean bedrooms, Thursday - Clean kitchen and bathrooms, Friday - Clean living room. I implemented the same routine (a little tweaked for my household) and find it works great. I don't worry about laundry all the time - just Monday and Tuesday. I don't worry about dusting the living room; I'll do it on Friday. I have the freedom just to do each day's task - and only that task - and then move on. Plus if we all get sick or something and I miss cleaning one week, things don't get too yucky because I cleaned it last week.

    2. Be flexible. This seems the opposite of the first, but there are times in life when housework takes a back seat. I let myself ignore the routine during big transitions, i.e. new baby, new job. Housework should serve your vocation, not BE your vocation.

    3. Everything needs a home. It is hard to clean up if you don't know where to put things. Then you never get going. Things stay more organized when everything has a designated "home" in your house.

    4. Make your bed in the morning. No matter what I always try make my bed first thing in the morning. For me, this really sets the tone for the day. Just seeing one thing in order and looking good right away gets me psyched for the day. And if nothing else gets down, I can always go to my room for a little peace, quiet, and order.

    Now if I could just figure out a good toy storage situation...