A woman’s work is never done. (Subtitle: My house is always dirty.)

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I’m going to make a declaration about housekeeping that’s probably going to sound stupid.  I don’t claim this philosophy to be any doctrinal absolute, and I admit up front that it may be entirely motivated by rationalization; nevertheless, I’ve thought about this for several months and I’m ready to declare it true in the Book of Stephanie.  Ahem . . .

I don’t think we’re supposed to have a clean house. I think we’re supposed to WANT a clean house and work toward it.  This phrase from April’s General Conference about Mary and Martha’s house fit in perfectly with my philosophy on this:

“It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home.” ~ Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer

I think the Savior would rather hang out in a home where people are working together harmoniously (even in a very unfinished project) than where a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown is screaming at her children to get their last sock off the floor, and they better not have left the hand towel on the floor when they just used the bathroom.  In fact, if he showed up at my house right now, I bet he’d sit on the floor next to me and help me fold laundry while we talked about important things.  But I’d miss out on that if I ran around like a freak trying to clear the counters and make the beds really quick before I paid him any attention. I think I’d even miss out on that if I sat down with him, but my mind was constantly focused on everything that was undone.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” and all that “house of order” stuff, but I believe what matters most is that we are consistently striving to make our home a place where the Spirit of God is welcome.  And if that’s our goal, be it in the early stages of chaos or the last load of laundry, for all intents and purposes, I think the Savior knows He’s invited.  And that’s all that matters.

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Why I can’t blog for FlyLady (or myself) and other excuses

We went camping this last weekend at Canyonlands National Park and also visited Arches National Park. I had never been to either one before and they were really cool to see. You may have already known that there is an average rainfall of only about 9 inches a year in that desert region, but what you probably didn’t know is that the entire 9 inches would fall during the two nights in October that my family chose to camp there. Yah, we didn’t know that either. Weird. By the way, little pop-up trailers/campers really do a good job of keeping you dry despite torrential rainfall. I slept horribly though, because I always think that every little noise is the footsteps of Jack the Ripper trying to break into our trailer and put our family on that Nancy Grace show. Besides that, I saw that episode of Man vs. Wild where Bear Gryllis taught that you should not camp in the desert during rainfall because flash floods can carry your tent away and toss you off a cliff. Believe me, I relived that episode over and over in my mind all night. Plus Natalie got cold and climbed in my sleeping bag with me. Both nights. You can imagine the peaceful slumber that followed all these factors. Despite my dramatic account of the accommodations, we really did have a nice trip and I’m still a fan of camping.

[Pretend I have a camera and that I just inserted beautiful landscapes and happy-family photos here.]

The post-camping aftermath, however, is always a slow and painful recovery. My hallway was full of dirty clothes, half-empty coolers, soggy bedding, and the DVDs and other items collected from the floor of the car. And when you didn’t sleep so great the whole weekend, you’d rather be washed off a cliff by a flash flood than have to face that big mess of work. So for the last few days I’ve been wandering my house like a zombie looking at piles and rooms that really need to be cleaned and wishing I lived in a parallel universe. One with a big, comfy bed and self-cleaning children and houses. I tried to make a joke to myself when I walked through the kitchen the other day: “Hey, I wonder why Martha Stewart or the FlyLady haven’t contacted you to do some guest posts on their blogs?” See, I’m even snarky to myself, except I didn’t even really think I was that funny.

Other than getting my GCBC post up late Sunday night, I haven’t mustered up a blog post since then, and let’s face it, this one here is just mostly an excuse for not writing one. I had an argument with a loved one and my feelings got hurt, and I decided I needed to write a letter to express my feelings in the right way. I like to write things down instead of having confrontations. I can choose my words carefully and say everything I really want to say without being interrupted. The process also helps me give words and meaning to my feelings, making them more tangible and more memorable. So while I usually walk around drafting blog posts in my head, I’ve spent the last few tired days drafting this letter in my head instead. And I still haven’t written it because it’s hard, but I will.

I also spent several hours today at the Children’s Hospital with Natalie.  I now know more about bladder health and bladder dysfunction than I know about my own husband.  Here’s hoping our plan of action leads to improvements.

On a lighter note, can I say how much I love that I can write a blog post called “Stuff you should do for me” and all you wonderful reader-people-friends just pop in and give me the greatest advice and ideas, or commiseration, or whatever else it is I need? So thank you. I’m on the cusp of solving my photography issue, but I’m thinking I should set up some rotating schedule or something for all you nice folks who offered to step in and do it yourself. That would be awesome. I could have monthly photo shoots, and all those “My enchanted family” portrait collectors would be so jealous because I’d have like an album-cover wall-of-fame up in my living room with glamour shots of my family in a plethora of exotic settings and matching outfits. So, yah, watch for that sign-up sheet to come around soon. (Not really, I’m joking, unless of course you really did want to take photos of our family because that’s just the funnest way you can think of to spend your time, then by all means, let’s talk.)  I may never need to buy a camera after all.

I NEED MORE CONFERENCE TALK AND PHOTO CONTEST SUBMISSIONS. I do have some, but I know there’s more talent lurking out there. You have until Sunday. Go here for more about the conference talk thing and here (see #4) for instructions about the motherhood photo contest. Email your submissions to dd.stephanie[at]gmail.com — you understand that instead of actually writing [at], you actually use the little @ symbol, right?

In case this post has sounded depressing or desperate, I wanted to share some of this cool devotional I studied this morning. I scanned a list of recent titles looking for something that might strike a chord with me, and this talk called “Avoiding Spiritual Drift” stood out to me. It was given by a chemistry professor, but give it a chance despite all the sciency analogy talk at the beginning. I really liked what he had to say. Here’s a glimpse:

“I think that one of the most insidious, yet most common, standards that we use is comparison with the lives of those around us. This corrupt standard expresses itself in a variety of ways. [He shares some cool examples from his own life] . . . I need to draw an important distinction at this point between using others as measuring sticks for our own progress and turning to the examples that others set for inspiration. We can find motivation and inspiration in the accomplishments and gifts of others without making the kind of comparisons that lead to pride or depression. . . . The pitfalls […] don’t lie in recognizing strengths or deficiencies in those around us, but in using those observations as measures of our own value.”

Okay, I’m done now.  Really.  I’m not going to write any p.s. or anything.  Okay, bye.