Doing dishes is a waste of time. They just grow back!

CleanI’ve decided that doing dishes is a waste of time. They just grow back! Especially in my house with teenagers and their smaller siblings running rampant. They hide in dark corners and conspire about how to get yet ANOTHER cup when my back is turned. And it doesn’t help that the older ones have learned to cook. I come home from work to find that they’ve become creative gourmets without the aid of a full-time dishwasher. Granted, they are old enough that I can pull the “I’m the mom and YOU can do the dishes” card. But still, the reality exists that there are always dirty dishes around no matter how many times we wash them.



Life is like that. We do the same things over and over. We sleep, we wake, we eat, we read our Bibles, say our prayers, work, talk to friends, drive the same roads, cuddle with our kids, laugh, eat again, pay the bills, empty the pantry, go to the grocery store, come back home, lather, rinse, repeat…and it’s wonderful. Somehow, in the midst of the sameness, there’s always an adventure. There’s joy and comfort. We humans like consistency after all.

Our spiritual lives echo this pattern. We die to ourselves daily (1 Cor. 15:31). We read the same Bible over and over and never even begin to exhaust its bounty. We pray daily and it continues to refresh and revive us. We “repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5) um, more than once. The cool thing is that no matter how many times we blow it and dirty things up, there’s always a dishwasher. His grace is sufficient for me! (2 Cor. 12:9)



Okay, maybe doing dishes isn’t such a waste of time after all.

The Past Can Hurt

The past can hurt. I’m finding myself facing things this week that I’d made it a point to bury. I felt it was better for me to not dwell on things gone by…it seemed better that way. However, this week, I’ve needed to pull from the memory banks and remember how it felt to live through what I’ve lived through. I believe God allows us to go through certain situations so we can help others later. I’ve always felt that my experiences made me stronger and prepared me for the road ahead, but here I sit, remembering, feeling and praying that I have the right words…that I would be inspired by the comforter and let His words flow through me. I feel completely inept. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I took a small break from cleaning and organizing projects I had planned for the day. I flipped on The Learning Channel for background noise while I munched on a granola bar and it happened. Memories I’d locked up for years came flooding back. One episode of “Hoarders” and suddenly, I was a little girl digging through the six-inch deep carpet of laundry on the bathroom floor. My favorite shirt had somehow inched deeper into the mayhem and landed on the bottom. By the time, I rescued it, it was too late. It was mildewed and completely ruined with no hope of recovery. The brown, grease and grime covered appliances on the TV were like they came straight out of my memory. As I watched, I was amazed to find things so similar to my past, like the holes in the floor that guests sometimes fell through because they didn’t know the proper procedure for jumping over them.

I remember the day a family friend came over and attempted to help us clean. She and I were in my parents’ bedroom and I was standing on the bed when she made the mistake of touching the closet door. It was just enough to cause the closet door to give up its mission and it broke and fell directly on top of me. I laugh now at the memory being completely buried under door and who knows what behind it while our friend screamed in panic and unburied me.

I knew our lifestyle was extreme, but I didn’t realize how it affected me until that moment the other day watching others living in similar circumstances. I panicked. suddenly, ever corner of my home that had the slightest pile of clutter became the enemy of my soul. The pile of mail sitting on top of the piano mocked me as if it were ready to multiply any minute. The books I have been so reluctant to part with because, let’s be honest, who wants to get rid of BOOKS?!!, suddenly seemed so unimportant. My husband has never quite understood my attachment to the printed word, but they’re so pretty! Ah, and my husband…he’s a conservationist apparently. The man will reuse anything. We have little stashes of salsa jars and empty lunch meat containers that he uses to take his lunches to work. It saves my Tupperware and for that I’m grateful, but what if it too, multiplies into a horde of garbage invading my kitchen cabinets until they explode and trap me underneath the pile. I was losing it.

After a short meltdown, I decided to tackle one cluttered area at a time starting with the things I tend to ignore most frequently. I had to make myself remember that my past doesn’t define me. The bondage I lived in as a child (most of which was completely out of my control) has no power to dominate who I am as a woman. I may never completely rid the world of clutter, but my home is NOTHING like the home in which I was raised.

This, just like all of the other things in my life, both physical and spiritual, needs to be tempered and balanced. I cannot fall into an opposite mania, where I strive so hard to be different that I forget about who I am. I can learn from my past, facing it bravely and moving forward with grace and dignity. I can use my experiences to teach my children the importance of doing things a different way. I can use my experiences to remind myself not to go back but to press on, knowing the difference between extremes and finding a balanced ground to rest on in the middle of the two. I can use the panic I felt when facing those memories to understand a little more about myself and why I pressure myself to have the “perfect” home; why I often feel as though I don’t measure up to the imaginary standard of what a woman should be able to accomplish. I can use this knowledge to pray for healing, to grow in grace, to move beyond my past into the woman God designed me to be. I can get over it…and I will.

My Poor Inner Neat Freak

I am a neat freak who is hopelessly trapped inside a messy person’s body. I find myself overcome with the desire to have a beautiful, clutter free home but the ability to keep it in such a state eludes me. This split personality frustrates me more than any other attribute I possess.

In May, we found the perfect, cozy little nest to call our home. It’s in a great location. The yard is great for the kids to play. We love it here and it was a huge upgrade from the tiny apartment we were living in prior to our move! As an added benefit, we live next door to our pastor and his wife. I work for the church and our offices have been located in my pastor’s home while our church was transitioning to a new facility so I can walk across the yard everyday to go to the office. Bonus!

Yesterday, I found myself colliding with my inner perfectionist when my Pastor called and said he had a dining room table we could have to replace the rickety one we had which never did quite fit in our dining area. It was a huge blessing! However, my house was not quite “fit for company”. I worked all day and then went to pick up the kids and rushed home to straighten up only to find out he was on his way at that moment. There was no time. In my frazzled state, my husband made a profound statement that shook me. He said, “It is what it is, why hide how we really live?” I can’t say I was happy with his comment at the time, but the truth is, we do live this way.

I can so easily find myself in a rose-colored world of denial where I run around like a madwoman attempting to hide the things I’d rather not let anyone else see. I can so easily find myself becoming comfortable with the chaos rather than mustering up the motivation to fix it. I can so easily find myself shifting the blame for my mania to those around me with things that are fundamentally true but possessing inherent faulty logic: statements like, “the kids really need to do more to help me around here. I shouldn’t have to do it all myself” which may be true, but I forget to acknowledge that I am responsible for assigning them tasks. I can’t complain that the house isn’t magically clean when I’ve not told them to do anything and I’m fighting in my own strength to stay on top of it as if I were some super ninja of organization. I can so easily find myself making excuses for my negligence (I am so busy, I work, I take care of three children, I’m pregnant and tired etc.).

Even deeper than the dirt and clutter in my home, are the implications these tendencies have in the realm of the soul. Are there areas I don’t want exposed to the world? Are there things in my heart, I’d rather not bother cleaning out, so I stuff them away to be dealt with later? Are there things that come out from time to time that would make me wince when others see them? Do I hesitate at the thought that someone may see “how I really live”?

My goal for this week is to examine myself both inside and out. I know better than to overwhelm myself with trying to conquer all my giants in less than 24 hours. I also know that starting where I am, in all my shortcomings, without beating myself up when I don’t perform up to my own standards, is better than remaining stuck beating my head against the same wall day after day. So today, I will accept where I am and take a step forward. My house won’t be spotless tomorrow and I probably won’t be posing for a write-up in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon. I doubt I’ll be receiving calls from the saints gone on before to tell me what a model of faith and holiness I am, but when all is said and done, no one will be able to say of me, that I didn’t try. That is enough to make me smile and I believe it pleases my Father as well.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” Colossians 3:23