Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Smeltz Family in the yard of our farm; I'm the little one.

Housecleaning time! When I was a girl, that phrase declared war on our farmhouse. Buckets, rags, furniture polish and Pine Sol® in hand, we marched into enemy territory, room by room.

My mother, sisters and I first removed any loose items from the battlefield. Pictures, figurines, dishes—all wiped and moved to another room for safekeeping. We recruited my brothers to drag the piano from the wall. Its cover with aqua tatted trim, along with all doilies, were washed, starched and ironed. Couch cushions flew and  hidden treasures pocketed.

Down came the large picture of God the Father, a youthful Jesus and a descending dove-like Holy Spirit. One year we painted its frame silver. Grandma and grandpa’s large oval portraits, one guarding each side of the Trinity, were cleaned.

We moved plants from windowsills and washed windows. Dust accumulated in a farmhouse air conditioned by open windows. In wintertime, so much air leaked in that our bedroom windows frosted. A wood-burning living room heater and a kitchen coal stove meant lots more dirt and soot to remove.

Critters came through every aperture. I remember sitting on the floor playing Monopoly® when an extra player sidled up to the board—a big black spider. Quick! Hit it with a shoe! At housecleaning time, we evicted them from dark, webbed corners.

We wiped down ceilings and walls and dragged rugs to the clothesline to attack with a carpet beater. Then we scrubbed the floors—on hands and knees. No Swiffer® allowed. A couple tablespoons Pine Sol® in hot water left hands red and floors as sparkling as unfinished wood floors with their varnished borders could get. Ahhh, that smell!

Then came the highlight of the day: rearranging the furniture! After all that work, you couldn’t just put everything back in place. No one would realize you had housecleaned. Try the bookcase beside the piano. Windows limited options, but we had fun toying with possibilities.

While our air-tight homes no longer require such vigorous attention, I wonder if we would do well to houseclean our spiritual lives from time to time. Is any clutter preventing us from developing an ongoing relationship with God? Any dirt that needs to be washed clean by the blood of our Savior? Any rearranging of priorities needed to make time to develop our spiritual sides?

Just a thought or two to consider on a leisurely summer afternoon as you contemplate what you missed if you didn’t live in The Good Old Days. Excuse me. I’ve got to do some cleaning.

Feel free to share this post with anyone who might enjoy a trip down memory lane. Or post it on your Facebook page. Today I’m featured at Spunky Seniors: Stop by and say “hi.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: Charles Wesley: The First Methodist

We tend to think of Charles Wesley sitting in his study writing hymns while John Wesley traveled throughout England and even America to establish small-group Methodist “Societies.” But this book by Frederick C. Gill opens our eyes to the brothers’ teamwork. While John was a strong administrator, Charles was made of the stuff of artists and mystics. Read some of the 8,000 hymns he composed to sense his heart. John directed Charles as he placed committed Christians in charge of the small groups. At times the brothers differed over how best to proceed.

Life was not easy. Audiences sometimes pelted Charles with eggs and rocks as he preached. The Wesleys refused to break with the Church of England. Their hope was to bring the church back to its roots of basic doctrine and to serve within the church. But by offering Christ to all, they offended both the established church and reformers.

Charles married Sally who bore him eight children; only three survived to adulthood. He struggled with supporting his family, poor health and constant travel. His foundation for faith was based on the church, the scriptures and personal and family piety. Sally graciously supported him.

The book is indexed with names and the page numbers on which they appear. It’s an old book but a great read for anyone who wants to better understand the reformation process and the development of the United Methodist denomination.

Reviewed by Shirley Brosius