Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cleanliness, Inside and Out

We accomplished so many things in the past week that it feels like a whole month has gone by! I hardly noticed that the kids had started school again, because I was still working on a spur-of-the-moment weekend home improvement project.

My Mom arrived for her visit last Wednesday night. I had spent all day straightening out the house. My brother had also helped me to get the kids’ rooms in order, so everything appeared to be clean and organized.

On Thursday we prepared for my son’s seventh birthday party, a Whiz Bang! Science Experiment Party. I was a little nervous about the experiments, because I had never gotten around to trying them out myself. Here on Long Island, most class parties are held at a professional party place, so kids are used to being entertained. I always feel like I have to meet a certain standard to keep their attention. But everything went smoothly, and the kids had a blast. We even got a little whiffle-ball in. I was very relieved to have it over with.

During the party, we grew some crystals. I got out some food dye to color the crystals and asked each child what his or her favorite color was. When my nine-year-old said GREEN my Mom carefully noted the change from her long-standing old favorite color, PINK.

“Why is her room still pink? Let’s paint it green!”

I agreed, not knowing what I was getting myself into.

On Friday, Mom took my nine- and ten- year-old girls out for a day of beauty. They got hair and nails done. They stopped at Walmart for color chips. We picked out a shade we could all concur on, and Mom went back to pick up two gallons.

“We’re not going to start today though?” I half stated, half asked, “They have their dress rehearsal at 5:00.”

“I’ll just do a little cutting in,” said Mom, “It’ll be a cinch.”

I dropped the girls off at the church and returned. Before I knew it, Mom had all the furniture moved away from the wall. I cringed because I knew what was lurking there.

Bags and boxes full of miscellaneous girly stuff. Doll clothes, hair thingies, game pieces, play jewelry, markers, old cards and papers, all in a jumble. She started to put things in bags.

“Just clear out behind the headboard and we’re done,” she said.

I was overwhelmed by all the stuff. I needed time to sort through everything. I misplaced a bag that had her precious American Girl Kirsten’s Noah’s Ark set in it. I went to inspect the garbage in the street but could not find it. I burst into tears. I left Mom with the gargantuous chore and went to catch the end of the girls’ dress rehearsal.

Mom painted all day Saturday, and we went to the see my daughters perform in The Sound of Music that night. It was absolutely beautiful.

On Sunday, we went to Mass, came back home, had lunch, and put the baby to bed. I brought the girls back to the parish hall, saved our seats, went to Home Depot for new blinds and Stop ‘n’ Shop for flowers, and back to the church to meet my in-laws for the matinee performance. My husband and son met us there. Mom stayed home with the baby. She did the white trim and put everything back in place.

My daughter was absolutely delighted with her new room. Mind you, I still had all of her STUFF in my study and could not even get to my computer until I sorted through it all and carted out the unneeded boxes.

So Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning after the kids went off to school, Mom worked on an academic article, I worked on sorting through the stuff, and together we took care of my toddler. The time flew! And then she flew away.

An hour ago, I got through the last shoebox full of stuff and put the sorted under-the-bed boxes where they belonged. We decided which pictures to keep, and they went up on the wall. It’s the cleanest room in the house. I have always thought the best way to clean out a room is to paint it!

It got me thinking about how our secret thoughts can be like all the dusty stuff lurking behind my daughter’s furniture. We might look and act like “nice people”, but we know all the prejudicial, judgmental, complaining, non-loving thoughts that we might harbor in our hearts. The only way to get rid of those spiritual dust mites are through prayer, confession, reading God’s Word, and filling our minds with Godly thoughts. Then we can look clean and actually BE clean.

“How good God is to the upright, the Lord, to those who are clean of heart!”
Psalm 73:1

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