Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

adoorwreathIf you come to visit me (Please call first!), you won’t find a fancy house. We live in a 1912 Craftsman bungalow that is a work in progress. When we bought it in 1997, it had last been remodeled in the era of Mediterranean style with metallic silver wall paper, and indestructible avocado green wool carpet. Let’s just say it took vision to see the potential!

The kids called it the maze house. It had been added onto a couple of times without closing off any doors or windows. Which meant that rooms looked into other rooms such as the kids bedrooms looking into our room! Not a great plan. You literally could stand in the back yard and look in the window and see through windows and doors into the park across the street from our house!

There weren’t a lot of houses on the market when we were buying and if the truth were told, we might not have bought our house with the work it entailed if something else was available. But the price was right and it was big enough for our combined family so with stars in our eyes not to mention a sprinkle of insanity and a wheelbarrow load of naivety, we got married, combining man of my dream’s two boys with my little girl into one family, bought the house, and began to remodel. We’ve been told multiple times by long married couples that when they remodeled it almost led to divorce.

But we survived and thrived which told me two things. 1) God has a sense of humor. 2)The age of miracles is not past.

Yeah. It was hard. We negotiated everything. Even the curtain rods. But we now have a home we love. And I’ve thanked God a zillion times for the twice roofed (hail) house that is our home.

Warm refinished pine floors have replaced the avocado green carpet. Whitewashed wainscoting with buckskin painted walls add warmth where silver wall paper once reigned. The blue on blue kitchen that you once needed sunglasses to tolerate is now a favorite room with light and warmth.


But I have learned something about my tastes during this process. Or maybe I’ve learned I was meant to have a housekeeper! Either way, my tastes run to the hard to keep clean.

For example, my kitchen counter-tops are black. Which means they show every drip, every drop, every splatter, every crumb of everything I cook. I love how it looks when my kitchen is spotless but unfortunately in a lived-in house, it is seldom spotless.

You would think I’d learn, but in our last remodel–the master bath, I fell in serious love with a black (the catalog said “coffee”) vanity. I had searched and shopped and nothing was quite right. Wrong size, wrong height, wrong style, just wrong. Now you should understand that the master bedroom we started with was once a mother-in-law apartment with a postage stamp sized bath. It had a serious ugly going on. Think pine paneling and old plaster. Linoleum floors. And I’d lived with it for 15 years while we did other things that seemed more pressing. Like central heat and air.

So I had to have The Vanity. Angels sang in heavenly chorus when I opened the Restoration Hardware catalog. Never mind that it was made for double sinks and I wanted a single vessel sink. Never mind we couldn’t find a top to fit it except for the one that was in the catalog but came with 2 sinks. Never mind they’d have to rearrange the plumbing–in cement. I’d found coffee-colored¬†vanity nirvana and nothing else would do. Man of my dreams said yes, he loved it too, but you should have seen the carpenter’s face when we showed him. Love? Not so much.

bathroomvanityBut I love it with the vessel sink and white marble tile counter and quirky drawers that were our answer to the above issues.


Except that like my kitchen countertops, it shows every toothpaste smear and make-up fingerprint made as I stuff the stuff in the drawers before running for the door with my usual hair on fire speed. I always plan to wipe them off later. I know it only takes 30 seconds, but I am sure I don’t have 30 seconds to spare. Instead I wait until it takes a bottle of Crud Cutter (that is a real name. Don’t ask me how I know) and half an hour to remove the cemented toothpaste.

If cleanliness is next to Godliness, I’m failing.

Thank God it’s not.

I am grateful for grace even as I realize that the time/vanity/cleanliness issue is a reflection of everything else in my life. I’m trying to do better. To take the breath and take the time and just do it. My dream is to have a home where I can fling the door open to you when you show up and welcome you in. To offer hospitality to anyone who comes to my door.

I’m not there yet. In so many ways. I’m a work in progress and so is my home. And if God is patient with me, I can be patient with myself.

But for right now? Please call–and then drop by!




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