Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Clean and Orderly

Yesterday afternoon I couldn't stand it any longer...

I HAD to deep clean the kids' rooms.  Oh- my- goodness.  I honestly thought they had been putting things away properly when I sent them to clean their rooms!  All kinds of things were shoved in corners and in the wrong drawers.  Ugh...

I was pretty patient most of the time, but when I found one of Jayden's dirty, wet diapers in one of the older boys' drawers, I had to give my lecture about the importance and prudence of doing things right the first time.  Abe joined in on the lecture, and our clean-up session quickly became our  Monday night "Family Home Evening" lesson/activity.

Our home is never spotless, but it is usually pretty clean.  I take a box or two of old clothes or toys to Goodwill several times a year.  I do, however, have a hard time giving away things of sentimental value... and things that others have graciously sacrificed to give to us.

As I went through the children's clothes last night, I realized they have WAY too many clothes.  I never had clothes that cute growing up, so it is hard for me to get rid of the kids' clothes... in case they "need" them.  As I sorted, I pictured so many other little children benefitting from the nice clothes, and I felt the Spirit strongly encourage me to donate more of the cute clothes than I had originally planned.

We were able to gather a MOUNTAIN of clothes to donate to charity... my next project is to sort through the clothes that are being passed down to younger siblings!!

As a family, we organized until late into the night.  We all breathed a big sigh of relief as we looked around at the tidy closets and dressers.  We gathered for family night prayer, and Abe offered the prayer.  I felt the Spirit really strong again as he asked that the children would recognize the importance of cleanliness.  He also asked that the Spirit be able to dwell more in our home because of that cleanliness.

We sent the children to bed and did a little work on the computer.  When Abe and I went upstairs to our bedroom, we discovered some letters that had been delivered to our bedside mailboxes! :-)

A couple of years ago, Tyson started a tradition of writing letters and secretly delivering them to our bedsides- everybody else followed suit and wrote letters to each other.  Nobody had taken the time to write any letters to each other for the past several months, so Abe and I were surprised to find these sweet notes after such an intense and tiring organizing and cleaning session.

As I looked at the letters, a thought came to me... because of the cleanliness, their love and the Spirit was stronger in their hearts- just as Abe had requested in our family prayer.  

Each of their letters gave us GREAT joy.

I am the caped hero crawling on the burning building to save the people from the menacing giant.  

Abe ran such a mighty touchdown that he left a trail of football players all down the field!

Jordan's letter was "anonymous"so he addressed it to Brother and Sister Mills... "From:  mail"  Abe and I also got a big laugh looking at the man(Daddy) with the big hair singing, "Afro Power."

...and sweet Mariah woke up this morning with a desire to leave a note in our mailbox as well.  It's a drawing of her, Juliana, and Jayden playing happily together.  

I learned 2 things from this deep-cleaning experience:

1)  God gives us wonderful things.  We don't have to give up all that we have- there are things that we need, things that we're using and saving for good use, and some things that truly have sentimental value, but I believe that I have been guilty of hoarding some "things" in an effort to show gratitude to God for giving them to me.  I didn't want to ever seem ungrateful by getting rid of them.  I believe that in being good stewards of money and other "things," we are actually showing more gratitude to God by wisely giving to others in need.

As I write this, I am realizing that I should take another clean sweep through my things and reassess if there is more to donate- I'm working on "letting go."  It's a process!! :-)

2)  When our home is not so cluttered, the Spirit can work in our home much more freely.  I saw that first-hand when precious letters showed up at my bedside simply because their hearts felt happy!!

In comparing our homes to our sacred temples, Elder Gary E. Stevenson shared this experience in  the April, 2009 General Conference:

"Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some “home improvement”—hopefully not an 'extreme home makeover.'”

I believe this principle to be true... our homes should be like temples.  That is the goal I hope to achieve... VERY SOON! :-)