Thursday, November 1, 2018

Five W's to Help You Clean House!

I made surprising discoveries as I housecleaned kitchen cupboards. A small jar of pepper I looked for turned up. I gained valuable shelf space by combining smidgens of coffee. I pitched solidified marshmallow cream and stale snacks, threw out old heavy oven mitts that I never used and found a bag of pecans (surely stale by now) I didn’t know I had.

When I was young, loose fitting screens and doors invited pests into our homes. Cupboards were high and deep with contents easily forgotten. Dust from our unpaved lane covered even the insides of closets, so we housecleaned each spring and fall. Now homes are tighter, so it’s said we no longer need to houseclean. Don’t believe it!

Housecleaning restores order and eliminates clutter. We find forgotten contents. And we get a fresh, clean start as we wipe away dust, dirt and crumbs.

Perhaps our lives need the same housecleaning. We might start by asking ourselves the five W questions reporters ask when writing a story:


Who am I? Have you found your true identity? Is your identity wrapped up in your work? Do you feel at loose ends if you’re not working? Does your work consume your time and thought?

Do you think of yourself as “only” a mother, a wife or a daughter and put yourself down for not acquiring a more important status in life?

Our identity is provided by our Creator God who made us in His Image. We are His children. His Son Jesus died so that we may spend eternity in heaven. This earthly existence prepares us for that eternal future. Have you spent time considering your relationship with God and how that affects your relationship with others? Like finding lost ingredients in my cupboards, finding your true identity allows you to enjoy a well-balanced life in tune with God and others.


What am I here for? God has a purpose for each of our lives. Whether we’re called to raise a child or solve a universal problem, we have a purpose. Everything we experience can, by God’s grace, be used to encourage someone in a similar situation. If we keep such stories to ourselves, they get as stale as my pecans. What opportunities do you see to support someone by sharing your story with them?

What is God calling you to be about? What spiritual gifts and talents has He given you? What burden has He placed on your heart? Share it with a friend and see where it leads.


When might you spend time with God to houseclean your thoughts and emotions? He will help you recognize expired items in your life—unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, jealously, anger—and replace them with peace of mind. We may think “out of sight, out of mind.” But God wants us to bring ugly feelings into the light of His love. He is able to infuse us with His compassion, understanding and grace to pass on to others. And that leaves us with fresh products of joy on our shelves.

Perhaps a neighbor offended you as a child, and you’ve never forgiven her. Perhaps a coworker turned on you in some way and you’ve held a grudge. Perhaps someone blamed you for something you did not do, and you’ve harbored resentment. Time to (as the song says): Let. It. Go.


 Where will you go to connect with God? Do you have a prayer corner? Do you attend church? Do you pray before you make decisions? God is everywhere, and He is happy to interact with us no matter where we are. But He is a gentleman. He does not intrude if not invited.

Do you ever go to dark places where you hope God doesn’t see you? To clean my cupboards, I climbed a step stool to peer into back corners of high shelves. Invite God into every room of your house and let Him help you empty waste cans and toss garbage. What about those books and magazines? What about that snarky language that you use only with your family? What about that grumbling that stops as soon as you pull into the church parking lot? Invite God into every nook and cranny of your life.


Why should you bother to houseclean your life? Life passes quickly. “Our lives may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for we quickly pass and fly away.” Psalm 90:10

We never know when God will call us home. I’ve been graced with more than seventy years and they feel as fleeting as the blink of an eye. I watched my children grow up and now see my grandchildren becoming young men and women. I am so glad I dedicated my life to Christ as a young woman. I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but my basic motivations and intentions were meant to glorify God. I hope you can say the same.

But if not . . . simply stock up on cleaning supplies. It’s never too late to houseclean your life and make a fresh start.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)

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