Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Joy--Can I Clean For Fun???

Yesterday on our way to the library, I told the kids to think about what they wanted to learn about this week so we could check out books on their desired topics.  Joy asked me to find her a book on housekeeping.  Unprompted.  I know.  I started laughing and tried to direct her to something a bit more--sciencey.  But she was adamant so I said okay.

I found the most picture-filled book I could and brought it over to her, figuring she'd take one look at it and change her mind.  Nope.  "Thank you, Mom.  Thank you!"  She sat right down and started pouring over the book.  In the car on the way home, I hear comments coming from the backseat.

"How to clean a laptop.  I think we should clean yours because it's really dirty, Mom.  How to clean a mattress??  You can clean your mattress??  How to clean spots out of carpet!  This book teaches you how to clean everything!"

We get home, she asks me if she can clean for her Productive Free Time.  Um, yes??  She proceeds to flip through her book and find the section on window cleaning.  She then cleans all the windows she can reach.  She dusts.  And then she is done for the day.

Today she again asked to do chores for her Productive Free Time.

"Mom, do we have any stains on our carpet?"  No.  "Oh, darn."  That girl sure does crack me up!  "Oh well, I will vacuum."

I tell her that is a great idea because our house is still full of wallpaper scraps and hole filling compound sandings.  I ask her to vacuum the baseboards while she's at it.

"Mom, I'm supposed to do that after I vacuum.  First, I pick up all the little things on the floor.  Next, I vacuum.  Then I use the hose to get the edges."  Oh.  Apparently I've been doing it wrong all these years.  Snort.

After vacuuming, she used wood duster on the piano and then cleaned the faces of all the appliances in the kitchen.

I have decided that I love her current interest.  I wish I could inspire the rest of my kids to want to pursue the art of housekeeping as part of their Productive Free Time.  Though I do have to admit, today when I told the girls to sort their own laundry and put the reds/pinks/yellows/oranges in the washer, they both were very excited and had fun watching the washer fill up and soak all their clothes.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Making Meals For Others--Overcoming A Long Held Fear

One of My Kitchen Helpers

I cook dinner for my family almost every single night.  I make almost all of our food from scratch.  I invite people over to my house and serve them the food I make.  I haven't killed anyone yet.  As far as I know, I haven't even given someone food poisoning.  Yet, there is something about making meals for other people that I give to them to eat at their house that has left me almost paralyzed for pretty much my entire married life.

When people have babies, you won't find me signing up to bring them a meal.  When people have surgery and are out of commission for a while, you won't find my name on the meal list.  I will watch your kids, I will drive your kids around, but meals???  No thanks!

The first time I ever made a meal for someone is forever etched in my mind--I made a chicken and stove top stuffing casserole.  I delivered it raw.  RAW!!!  No side dishes.  Nothing.  Just a casserole full of raw chicken.  I hope the mom threw it away.  I still shake my head over this.  My only excuse is that I was 21 years old and single.  I could barely cook anyway, and I had no clue, none at all, what someone should bring to a family that just had a baby.

My other few attempts were only a slight improvement.  I did actually deliver cooked food.  With side dishes.  But I hated every moment of it and was filled with dread the entire time.  About 8 years ago I decided I was done with this torture and never did it again until this past summer.  A friend had a baby, but my friend has a gluten allergy, so she said we could just send ingredients that she would cook in her own house using her own pans.  So I sent her a bag of ingredients.  No cooking involved.

But then about a month ago a friend had surgery and I watched her child while she recovered and her husband was at work.  Those two days of watching her child, I decided that I would make more dinner than necessary and send some home with them.  That wasn't so hard.

Then another friend has been having a difficult pregnancy and has three young kids.  The Lord impressed on me that I needed to make meals for her family.  Three meals.  Oye.  Lord, you have NO IDEA what You are asking!!!

Yet, I obeyed.  I bought stuff to make lasagna, meatloaf, and chicken chimichangas.  The girls and I cooked it all up in about an hour yesterday.  We browned meat, made sauce, boiled pasta, rolled burritos, and formed meat into a loaf.  As I packaged all the food into disposable pans, I felt pretty proud of our meals.  As if they might actually taste good and not kill anyone.  Like they were real offerings and not a punishment.

I won't say that I suddenly now love making meals for other people, but I will say that it's not as bad as it used to be.  I might even do it again.  One day.  At least, I probably won't run screaming in the other direction when someone comes near me with a meal sign up sheet.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Listening and Obeying The Holy Spirit--An Amazing Story

My Obedience Journal

For the past few years the Lord has given me a "theme" for the year, an area to work on--sort of like a New Years Resolution.  This year the Lord gave me three words.

Listen and Obey

The Lord wants me to learn to listen to His voice and obey His direction.  Over the years I have gotten pretty good at hearing the Holy Spirit when He speaks to me.  I would write down what I heard, shut the book, and then walk away.  I'd remember to follow through about half the time.  Not a very good track record.  

A few weeks ago I decided that this method clearly wasn't working for me, especially as the Lord wanted me to grow in this area.  So I got a pretty journal that I devoted to writing down only the things that the Holy Spirit tells me to do.  I have a running list.  I cross the items off as I accomplish them.  Some are one off things--call this person.  Some will take a life time to achieve--grow in this.  These ones will never get crossed off.  

Every day I read through my list and work my way through.  Most of the things on my list are personal to my family.  But a few things go beyond my home.  Those are the harder ones for me because sometimes they don't make sense.  But in the Lord, everything makes sense.  My job isn't to sort it out; my job is to listen and obey.  Here is a story that happened this past week and it brings tears to my eyes just writing about it:

On Monday the Holy Spirit told me to purge my pantry and that He would tell me who the food was for.  Okay.  I purged the pantry, getting rid of everything we won't eat, and a few things that we would eat but I just felt should go in the bag.  Tuesday.  Nothing.  Wednesday.  Nothing.  Thursday--Lord, did you really mean that You'd tell me who this food is for??  Because the bag is still sitting there in my laundry room collecting dust.  

Friday around 3:30am, the Lord wakes me up from a sound sleep.  My mind is flooded with the song, Hey Brother by Avicii and is stuck on the lines "It the sky comes falling down for you, there's nothing in this world I wouldn't do.  What if I'm far from home?  Oh brother, I will hear you call.  What if I lose it all?  Oh sister, I will help you out."  (I admit I listen to this song a lot so that could explain that part)

Then the Lord gives me a grocery list--milk, bread, Cheerios, Ritz crackers.  The list keeps repeating through my mind.  Milk, bread, Cheerios, Ritz.  Finally He gives me a name.  

I woke up Friday morning and set to finding out where this family lives.  I only know them by sight, as I've never really talked to them before.  I asked a few people where they live, but no one knew.  I was hitting dead ends all over the place.  Um, Lord?  If you really want me to bring this food to this family, You're going to have to help me out here.  

Finally I get a phone number.  Which is great, except MY plan was to just drop the food off, ring the bell and run.  Because bringing two bags of groceries to a family I barely know is sort of embarrassing.  I hesitate.  FINE!  I will text the wife and explain the situation and ask if I can drop some things by.  

We only have a limited amount of time to get the food to them because they are leaving.  Which didn't leave me enough time to stop off at the grocery store where I had medicine waiting.  We had to go to the store near their house to pick up the milk and bread, drop it off, and then go to the same exact store--different location--to get the medicine.  Which seemed terribly inconvenient, but I brush that aside because I am obeying the Lord here.

We rush through the store, get our milk and bread, go to a U-scan and I spy a coupon sticking out of the coupon machine.  Score!  I look at it closely.  It is a coupon for a $20 gift card with the purchase of a prescription.  A prescription I am going to pick up at the other store when we are done with our errand.  I nearly cry on the spot at the way the Lord confirmed that I was obeying Him.

We drop the food off.  The mom is harried as they're getting ready to leave.  Her baby is crying in her arms.  We set the food down, I give her a hug and we leave.  

Two hours later the mom calls me because she has to tell me the back story.  Last week she was reading a biography to her son about George Mueller.  He is a man who opened orphanages.  He believed that they should never ask people for things, but to pray for their needs and trust that the Lord would provide.  A milk truck broke down in front of the orphanage and all the kids got milk because it would spoil otherwise.  Tons of examples of the Lord's provision.  She then told her son that she wanted him to be wealthy when he grows up so that he can be the man who God wakes up in the middle of the night to tell him to go to the grocery store to buy the milk and bread for the mom with the screaming baby in her arms.  

And then I show up at their door, with a story about God waking me up in the middle of the night telling me to go to the grocery store to buy bread and milk to deliver to the mom with the screaming baby in her arms.  On the very day that they ran out of milk and bread.

God is amazing.  The way He works out the details for His purposes.  How He calls us to just listen and obey even when it doesn't make sense to us.  Because there is so much more going on that we don't see.  How could I know that this mom had just shared this exact story to her son as an example of what she wanted for him?  How could I know that she would run out of milk that very morning and wonder how they were going to get more?  How could I know that the Lord would bless me with $20 that more than replaced all the food I had just given away?  And if I had known where she lived and was able to just drop the food off without letting her see me, I would have missed this entire blessing of seeing the intricate story of how the Lord was at work.  

God truly is amazing.