Usually this time of year when the world buds with new life, I get the spring-cleaning bug. As I roam my house with my rose-colored, spring-cleaning glasses securely perched atop my highly sensitive spring-cleaning nose, I enthusiastically organize, de-clutter, purge, and then re-organize what's left while making certain all dust, dirt, and grunge is completely extinct... with all smells of sweaty boys replaced with the sweet aroma of orange blossoms and lemon zests. Yes, it's true... I am a "neat nut" at heart!

This year, however, with our house on the market and our family awaiting a major God-led course correction and possible move across the state, I feel a little let down because I was forced into a premature spring cleanse over the Christmas holidays. So, gratefully, my home is indeed in order, but the spring-cleaning bug is still beckoning. We found ourselves being lovingly led by God to focus more on cleaning out several bad habits which have slowly crept their way into our household and homeschool rather than completely turning our home completely upside down with the chaos of more organizing and purging.

Over the school year, my husband and I have noticed several bad habits developing in our three boys... selfishness, stubbornness, and laziness. Now, we are well aware that they are just boys. We are well aware that they are just children. However, when those bad habits are allowed to take a foothold in their lives, Satan is allowed to do the same.

What are we doing to remove Satan's unwelcome intrusion from our lives? Well, during our regularly scheduled family meeting (a.k.a. supper), my husband introduced a 21-day challenge to create three new good habits to replace the three old bad habits. Because scientific research reportedly shows that it takes 21 days to build new habits, we each (since Dad and Mom aren't always perfect either) are now re-focusing our hearts on accomplishing (both at home and abroad) the following goals:

1. I am helpful.
Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (NIV)

2. I am cooperative.
Romans 14:19 - Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (NIV)

3. I am hardworking.
Proverbs 12:24 - Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. (NIV)

If you noticed, our family is focusing our goals on the positive, not the negative (don't be selfish, don't be stubborn, don't be lazy). We have charts with our 21 days and our goal habits clearly visible in the places in which we spend the most time... our classroom and our kitchen. Every evening, during family meeting, we reflect on our day and determine whether or not we were successful in building the new beneficial habits.

Since we have turned our attention to "spring cleaning" our unwanted habits, our home is already much more peaceful and joy filled with much less grumbling, complaining, and arguing. We are sifting through the clutter of our selfishness. We are purging the dirt and dust of our stubbornness. We are eradicating the foul odor of our laziness.  We (each of us individually) are focusing on pleasing God in all we say, do, think, and feel.

So, if your home is lacking peace and joy, perhaps it's time for a little "spring cleaning" of your own!

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Michelle Painter is a wife and best friend to Bobby, a mother to 3 wonderful sons, and a former Texas public school teacher called by God to home school. She considers home schooling a challenge, a privilege, and an undreamt of blessing. She prays that others may glean encouragement, empowerment, and blessings from what she writes. She would love to hear from you at blessingsundreamtof@yahoo.com.