What does it mean to “help” my husband?

I was pondering my wifely skills and shortcomings (praying He will “cleanse me from my secret faults”) this morning and asked God the question:  What does it mean to “help” my husband.  I know this word (Genesis 2:18) comes from the same Hebrew root translated in Psalm 54:4 where is says “God is my helper.”  Being like God to my husband?  Lord, what does that look like?  God loves unconditionally and faithfully.  God always forgives, always hears and listens, guides and guards, and looks for ways to bless.  He helps.

Helps.  The Ministry of Helps, I’ve been learning, is simply that:  helping where help is needed.  It includes but is not limited to, Holy Spirit-led ministering via a hug, listening ear, kind word, thoughtful deed, card, letter, call, or even an e-mail that says, “You’ve been on my heart and I just want you to know I love you,” etc.  And all of that is best served with Word-based, Holy Spirit-led prayer.

Is that something Christians just know how to do?  Apparently not or they’d also know the joy of it, and do it more often.  And more effectually.  Listen:  No one needs a “woe are we, such worms who only deserve death” prayer.  No one needs our lies added to Satan’s because we’re scriptural illiterates who think God has good days and bad days, and it’s a roll of the dice, and He’s probably not going to help anyway, but it’s worth a shot.  We guess.  Maybe.

People need prayers of faith based on the truth of God’s Word about His great and never-ending love for us.  People need prayers from people who know what Jesus accomplished on the cross.  They need prayers from people whose hearts are actually filled with the very Spirit of God because they’ve accepted the gift of Jesus and what He accomplished at Calvary.  People need to be ministered to in the power of this Love.

I weep when I begin ministering like this at church.  My heart is so grieved as I pray for people and realize their desperate need of prayer and of a caring touch, that sometimes I can hardly speak through the slinging snot.  What a picture, right?  No one seems to care that I have to blow l my nose throughout the prayer.  What they care about is being cared about.  I realize as the Holy Spirit reveals hearts to me during prayer, that people are broken-hearted and disconnected.  They are weak, weary, and vulnerable to that ever-prevalent lie of the enemy:  No one cares a single thing about you.

I have learned that even my adult children, who have been taught from their very beginnings that they are more precious than words can say, are susceptible to this lie.  And since this lie comes at them continuously in some form or fashion, I must continuously speak and pray the truth.

The tendency is to see a problem in an adult child’s life and to lament it, pray that situation changed or certain influences removed, and to frown really hard in the meantime.  But those children need equipping.  “Equipping” sounds like tools and gear and rules and how-to instructions.  But those are physical things, and must be preceded by the spiritual.

Let me clarify. I’ve been considering the incredible pressures my children face right now.  I’ve been doing a little more worrying than I should (any worrying is more than I should worry) and a little less praying than I should, and a little more speaking the problem than I should (yep, ANY speaking the problem is more than I should speak).  My daughter, Hannah, for an example, is fighting numerous hard battles right now.  She wants to excel at all things, and let no one down ever (especially God) while in the midst of extreme responsibilities and demanding/needy people, but without extreme support.

Except for her parents.  We are extreme support.  We are equippers.  We don’t say, “Well, Hannah has her act together, Hannah reads the Word and prays more diligently than do her siblings, Hannah will be fine,” as we focus on the others.

No!  That should not be the reward for her efforts.  The squeaky wheels shouldn’t be the only ones getting the grease. When I sense there is a difficulty, and when I don’t, there is still a difficulty, or very possibly a host of difficulties.  It’s time, not only to pray for Hannah as usual, but to pray with her.  To let God use me to bless my child.

As He does.  It’s such a blessing when I call and say, “I want to pray for you,” and then to be used by God to speak things I had no idea about, but that bless and strengthen and help her.  I did this recently only after several days of prayer and consideration, and a two-hour quiet time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer.  This meant that through my prayers He was speaking to her heart, blessing her heart, strengthening and helping her, giving her perspective on things that were troubling her.  Bringing her peace, power and an undergirding for her day.  Equipping her.  It’s my job.

The Word talks about equipping the saints, and we’re all too ready to sign on for that:  Oh come all ye saints and listen unto me.  I shall equip you!!!  But we are to start where it all starts.  At home.  We come before the Throne of Grace for our personal equipping, putting on the full armor of God, hearing His voice, heeding His voice, seeking Him and basking in His goodness and grace.  Then, and only then are we equipped to equip.

We moms are also ready to sign on for equipping our kids first, and our husbands next, or last, or never.  But that essential time in the Word and prayer will straighten out all the crookedness in our thinking, and we will come to see the truth about “helping” our husbands:  We are acting as God’s most essential ambassadors, His equippers.

Just as the Queen of England has no need to drive the car, neither do we have to be front, center, and “in charge” when we know our true worth to God as Homemakers.  Let us embrace, accept, and occupy our thrones as He intends.

 

Love Reasons and the Loveliness of “No”

There is a child in my church who looks like a fairy wood sprite.  Her hair is white, her skin almond pink, and her large and luminous aqua eyes slant up with intelligence.

Her voice is intriguing, and for me it defies describing.  Perhaps because I am more interested in the mobility and expressiveness of her face when she’s talking.  Were it not for the new daddy in her life who understands the value and loveliness of the word, “No,” this child might be easy prey for the enemy of her soul someday.

But the fairy wood sprite is winning, and if this new daddy has his way, her entire life will be a fairy tale.  She is learning that she is royalty, deserving of all the best things, which include discipline.

I usually sneak peaks at this child from afar, but Sunday I went so far as to kiss her white head when she wore a bit of a frown on that dear face.  “Here’s a feel- better kiss,” I told her as she passed, and was gratified to see her smile as she walked away.

This child doesn’t need yet another adult fawning over her beauty, trying to make points with her mom and grandma by giving her whatever she wants, feeling sorry for her because (until lately) she was daddy-less.

If this child does what most kids do, she will act up a bit now and again.  And again.  If her parents do what most parents do, they will ground her, speak sternly to her, get angry and tell everyone who will listen all about it.

But if these parents are bold and brave because they know they’ve done the training, the nurturing, the hard part in saying “No” when it needed saying, they will also have the strength and wisdom to speak straight to this child.

I imagine such a scenario as this:  “The answer is ‘No'”, Dad says, (parents agreeing ahead of time after prayers together for wisdom) “And I’m going to tell you some of the reasons why.”

Child looking mutinous, still standing, so very wronged is she.

“Sit down.  I want to look you in the eye because I want you to see the love in my eyes.”

Child sits.

“So many reasons.  The phone is keeping you awake, keeping you from other activities, making us feel left out of your life, exposing you to things that may or may not be healthy for you.”  Mom thinking the main reason is that the more her child is hooked up to electronic devices, the less respect she shows her parents, and she chases a niggling thought that sounds something like, “And whose fault is that?”

Child rolling eyes.

“Please don’t do that.  Do I ever do that to you?  Because if I do, if you learned that from me, I sincerely apologize and give you leave right now to call me on it if I ever do.”

No comment.

“But there is another reason.  I call it The Love Reason.  The reason that someone who loves to make you happy, who loves to see your smile and hear your laughter, who wishes every moment of your day was pure joy – the reason such a one as your ma or I can say the dreaded “N” word is The Love Reason.

Child looking interested, alert.

“See, if I notice a kid in the store hooked up to her phone, it exasperates me.  But when it’s the child God gave me to love, in kicks The Love Reason.  The Love Reason is also God’s reason.  He says “No” about certain things because He loves us and doesn’t want our enemy to get at us.”

“He has high hopes for us, a destiny planned, a hope and future beyond what we can ask or think or even imagine.  So, you could just say my Love Reason is Love.  I love you and don’t want you harmed, hindered, or set back.  I don’t want you following the crowd and not going on your particular and beautiful adventure path in life.

Child listening.

“It’s my job.  God gave you to me as a responsibility and a gift to steward.  Even God Himself doesn’t own you – He wants you to give your life to Him willingly.  But He does have Love Rights.  Love Rights include the right to say “No”.

“So, Love Reasons and Love Rights. I could bore you with all the science behind what that phone’s doing to your fine brain, but suffice it to say watching instead of creating and doing shrinks the imagination part of the brain.  I think we can agree imagination is a marvelous and precious thing.”

Child nods just a little.

“So, here’s the deal:  Along with the No Thing I’m going to do the Hard Thing.  I’m going to put myself at your disposal to facilitate electronic alternatives – creative, action things that you can think of to do.”

Parent wonders what possessed him to make this offer – Mom raises eyebrows very high.

Child is quick on the draw.  “I want you to help me build a canoe, and take me fishing.  And my bike tire is flat.  Plus Mom said we could have a tea party and I want to do that.  Tomorrow afternoon.  So, maybe we need to go to the store right now to get the stuff.”

Mom is laughing right out loud.  Dad takes deep breath.

“Well, it just so happens I’ve been looking at canoe plans on the Net.  Let’s go to the garage and see what we have and what we need, then we’ll go to Home Depot and the grocery store.”

“Isn’t that technology, looking on the net at canoe stuff?”

“Why yes, it is.  But I wasn’t just watching people build, and fish in, canoes.  I’ve been finding out how they did it.  And we’ll make one even better.  I’m thinking your canoe should have pontoon floaters on the sides so it won’t tip if you want to stand up and fly fish.”

“Can we make a campfire and cook the fish at the lake?”

“Absolutely.”

Phone forgotten.

What do you do?

I was asked this question by a “working” woman and I didn’t answer.  I knew she didn’t have time.

But I’m going to give it a try, as it’s early still, and by day’s end I’ll have done so much I won’t recall it all.

I awoke around 6:00, thinking of yesterday’s blessings and thinking of God.  I “slept in” until 6:20, which is 7:20 in Texas.  After a quick face wash teeth brushing, it was time to pull on my warm robe and to call my daughter, who was on her way to class at Kenneth Copeland Bible College, and to thank her for sending to me some of her class notes on prayer, as well as a lovely scripture.

She was, as always, happy to hear my voice.  I shared devotionals with her, and talked about revelations from the day before, what was on her agenda, and then prayed with her before she left her car and started her classes.

It was then time for my early morning “encouragement cuddle” with John, which he seems to think is necessary to give him strength to get out of the warm and cozy covers.  Next came the fun job of picking warm clothes for this bright and chilly Rocky Mountain day – black jeans and thick black socks with a black, pink, and blue plaid Betsy Johnson flannel shirt (nice and long and flattering).

This accomplished I returned to my Quiet Time with God, listening first to Joel Osteen’s timely words which were direct answers to questions I had about a few of my endeavors, including writing.

I went from Joel to Audrey Mack, whose thoughts about the joining of the Spirit and the Word gave me more prayer fodder.  And somewhere in there the complicated became simple, and I knew exactly how to solve a writing problem that had been vexing me for some time.

Wow, wow, wow.  I didn’t waste time.  I wrote.  An entire chapter.

I then awoke Seth with a coffee promise, put the heavy whipping cream into a warmed Mary Engelbreit cream jug, heated cups and put on the percolator.  Such a joy, the soon gurgling coffee rising up and showing off through the glass atop the percolator.

John had already told me he didn’t want breakfast (we ate late last night), so I talked food talk with Seth as we satisfied our tummies with very creamy coffee.  We also covered a bit of history – things like the amazing tonnage of steel the US produced in peacetime Depression years, when various automakers went from steel to aluminum, then “after-market” work on less than stellar truck engines, and finally, comparisons of 20th-century world dictators.

Next we went through the fridge freezer and found nothing for lasagne, which Seth thinks is the thing for dinner tonight.  He took off to my writing cabin, where there’s a freezer full of meat (he is very fond of coming home with sausages, bacon, deer, and various other treasures).

Somewhere in all this I wrote a letter to our son, Benjamin, who is overseas in the Military, and tucked it into a card.  John found a lovely verse to add (Psalm 139:9-10 NIV) and Seth added a couple of words as well.

We will make a special trip to the post office soon to mail this along with a letter to a loved one in prison, and I’m about to write a short letter to Rebekah, as well.  Don’t we all love to get real mail?

Sending real mail is one of the lost arts of this age of “working” women, but I am determined to do my part to keep it alive.  That’s what homemaking is about, keeping the worthwhile alive.  That’s what home is:  Life.

“What do you do?” she asked, truly curious about how I spend my time.

So far this morning I have also washed the sheets and a white blanket, and put in a load of jeans and dark T-shirts.  I have resisted the urge to fold the whites done last night, as there are major things I want to get to today, and I can fold the whites later, perhaps when my daughter Jane calls me back (I called her as well this morning, but she was at work early and couldn’t talk).

Back to the utility room:  Ignoring the whites, I filled a pot with hot water, vinegar, and a little bit of Dawn, because I’m about to scrub the trim and railing in the stairwell, as it is high time it was painted to match the trim at the top and at the bottom of the stairs.

My first plan for today was to deal with apples.  I have a big box completely full (given to me yesterday at church) that I plan to turn into apple sauce, pie fixins, etc., but that will wait until afternoon.  The stairs must be done first, while the motivation to scrub is living (which is why I must stop blogging – I have already written a blog post this morning about homeschooling!).

I am no doubt leaving things out – like the skimming of a magazine, straightening the living room, sweeping under the table, and in the foyer, checking mousetraps, the underlining of a favorite verse in The Passion Bible, with a mental note to share it with Hannah, the daughter who gave me this Bible for Christmas last year.

I hear the truck – Seth has returned.  It’s time to do something.

Praise the Lord, first of all, for the endlessly rewarding, challenging, and beautiful gift of Home.

Blessings all over you, Dear Reader!

Bev

Hands-on Parenting is NOT Evil!

It comes from every direction.  My daughter is encouraged to drink by our “friends.”  She is on her way home and tells them that her parents wouldn’t be pleased by her driving and arriving under the influence.  They assure her that it’s time to be her own person.

She just proved that she is.  And that she’s not dumb as a post.

She leaves home and supposedly Christian women make fun of her for calling “your mommy” every day.  “You need to grow up,” they say when she won’t take their negative and decidedly unChristian advice.  No, they need to grow up to the point they can actually keep their mouths shut about that which is none of their business.

She is grown up, and yet still a child.  Aren’t we all?  I call my parents when I need to hear the voice of one who will always love me, one who will not belittle me for being a bit sad or needy or unsure.  Does that make me defective, immature?  No, it makes me human.

My daughters communicate with me – when they’re feeling on top of the world, when they’re under a cloud, when things are rolling right along fairly smoothly.  Why should they not?

Rather than apologizing for having a good relationship with a parent or a child, we should thank God for it, and continue to do those things that brought us to this happy outcome – be there for that person, pray with and for that person, and let them know we will be as the Lord Himself is, the one who will never leave them nor forsake them.

It’s called giving them a strong foundation on which to stand, as well as wings for flight.  It’s called love.  And because of that love, my child feels free to let me know when she wants to handle things on her own.  I have such faith in her and respect for her, that I always ask her how she wants me to proceed, what she wants me to do or not do.  

We prayed this morning about a difficult situation, and I read scripture aloud to her, and encouraged her.  But when it comes down to the tough part, she must walk this walk alone.  And yet, when a child knows that she knows that her parents and Jesus will never leave her nor forsake her, how can she be alone?

Something about such a person really gets to people who don’t have this kind of surety.  Is it jealousy, or is it simply the all-pervasive societal view that parents are inherently stupid and faulty and should be sidelined and ignored in pursuit of . . . what?  The lovely mess that these anti-parent folks have made of their own lives?

What is this unholy desire to separate children from their parents?  What is this need to control and convince and influence?  And why is this invariably from people who have little or no control or success in their own lives, and with their own children?  But I must say in our case, most of our most vitriolic critics are themselves childless.

And yet, no need to fret.  My daughter, the one accused from every direction of being “too dependent” on her parents, is so much stronger than her accusers.  She goes on about her merry way, and forgives.  And she prays for those who show her nothing but disrespect and contempt (that after a bit of exasperated venting).

Just as I communicate with my parents and with my Savior, I have raised a child who does the same.  So to all these busybodies, I say, “Just mind your own business,” or as my mom says, “Tend to your own pea-pickin’.”

 

Embracing Boredom, Especially for Kids

No doubt thanks to someone’s inane but much-touted childrearing advice, many parents think kids should be entertained 24/7.  Add this to the “new information!!!!!” that kids should also make decisions for which they have neither the training, maturity, nor understanding to make, and you have frustrated and unattractive children on the loose.  Everywhere.

When my kids were acting up and acting out I had the wisdom (because of going to and believing and trusting God’s Word) to know I  was the key.  They needed me to be a warrior not a whiner, a problem solver, not a problem lamenter.  They needed me to look in the mirror and say, “Bev, are you a mother or milquetoast?”

They needed me to be wise to their manipulative and selfish ways, not a pudding or a jello, quivering at the very thought of my precious and perfect little ones not having everything they want every minute of the day.  They needed me to be a no-nonsense responder to their childish nonsense. (Sorry to all child-worshippers, but the last thing anyone on earth needs is for their needs to be the most important thing on earth.)

The parental response of “Find something to do or I’ll find something for you to do,” (and this didn’t mean something electronic) has been replaced with a horror of boredom.

Hold it.  Whoa.  Stop right there.  Boredom can be a very good thing.  Boredom fosters creativity and thinking.  As I told my kids on the rare occasions (kids learn quick what works and what backfires bigtime) they complained of boredom, “I’ve never been bored in my life.  I’m both simple enough and wise enough to be fascinated with God’s world.”

Translation:  Go play in the creek or chase lizards, or build a new fort, or make a train out of the fold-up chairs in the garage.  Go dig in the dirt or have a tea party with your dolls.  Just go and do and don’t tell me you’re bored.

I didn’t care if they simply sat on the back porch and dreamed of fighting pirates in a storm at sea, sighing at the “boredom” of their lives.  I didn’t care if they climbed a tree and listened to the birds all day long, or did nothing at all.  What I cared about was the attitude that their lack of ability to amuse themselves was not only my problem, it was my fault.

Sometimes we as moms have to sit on our urge to make everything perfect and beautiful for our little darlings.  We have to disabuse ourselves of the FALSE notion that the world will end and they will graduate at the bottom of the class if they even for one minute do nothing.

Doing nothing at all, but without a “poor little bored me” attitude, is a good thing.  Because in such times some very important things are happening in a child’s brain:  they are becoming thinkers, even philosphers.  They are being programmed as God intended, becoming the programmers of their own lives, the masters of their own thinking, discerners of the lies that masquerade under the guise of “new information!!!”

So here’s some new information:  Put the lens of common sense and the Word of God and the tried and true on your new information and see if it passes the test of workable parenting (that is parenting resulting in kids who are joys and joyous, rather than frustrated terrors).

If you and the world at large do not enjoy your children, your “new information!!!!” is faulty, to put it mildly.  In John Parker-speak, it is “the sheet of the boool”.

Parents, we’re IT!  We must be the adults (do the hard thing without whining) so that our children can be children (we make the decisions so they can grow in peace to the place where they can make decisions which are age and maturity appropriate).

Again, we are to be the adults, folks.  It’s wrong to rob a child of their childhood because we don’t want to grow up.  Your kids never asked for you as a parent.  They are the victims or the victors, depending on your choices.

So here’s something to try:  do nothing for awhile, every single day.  Think it through, pray it through.  Develop your parenting philosophy based on the knowledge of who your child is and what God intends parenting to be (see how He parents us – there’s a bit of sacrifice involved).  Exchange knee-jerk, angst and anger filled parenting with a spiritual, mental, and physical grace dance.

Enjoy!

Elaboration of this and so much more in just a couple of hours on The Homefront Show.  Tune in and tell a friend:

http://www.1360am.co

is the place to go

for The Homefront Show!!!

Today, Friday, May 18 at 2:00 Mountain Time

 

 

 

Swiss Family Robinson, John and Rebekah Parker, and Pastor Mark Williams

What do the above listed books/folks have in common?  They’ll all be featured on the Homefront Show in less than two hours!!!   http://www.1360am.co is where you want to go at 2:00 PM Mountain Time today.  That’s 2:00 Friday, January 26.

John and I will discuss what makes a good book and using books for family unity, and Rebekah will share an almost unbelievable story of forgiveness which will put our petty grievances in perspective.

I have more treats, such as the bizarre behavior that coexists with a “not my fault” mentality, and Pastor Mark Williams talking about honor, and how giving honor honors the giver.

Lots of good, inspiring, uplifting words today, including words about the power of words both for building and for destruction.  So contact anyone who needs a lift today, and just say this:

2:00 PM Mountain Time, 1360am.co.

Thanks for being with us!

Bev

Proverbs 31 Truth or Consequences?

beautiful home

We’re all in this together, and no one of us is the others’ slave.  We will serve ourselves as we serve others and God via caring for our home.  Amen!

I used the C.O.D. (Child of the Day) plan as a truth vehicle in raising our kids, and even today, as I am creating yet another variation of it, I marvel at its inherent genius.

little-girl-praying.jpg

Born of necessity when each of the kids chimed in during breakfast prayers, the C.O.D. has become my good buddy through the years.  As we (John and I) repeatedly picked up and put our forks back down to the tune of yet another prayer request, I decided we would simply take turns praying.

“Thank you, Father for this beautiful day and for each other and for this delicious food.  Please bless it to our bodies and protect us from anything harmful in it.  In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen.”

That was the beginning.  Then came, “And please help me find my hungry lizard,” which sparked another creature-in-distress thought in another little mind.  “And pweez help Grandpa’s cow that’s sick.”  Now Grandpa thoughts.  “And please, Jesus, help Grandpa remember to bring gum next time.”  Fork up, fork down.

“And Lord, please . . . .”

“OK, that’s enough.  Let’s eat.”

I quickly wrote up a COD list:  The Child of the Day gets to ride in the front, stay up 15 minutes late in bed with Mom and Dad, pick the readaloud story at bedtime, and have other privileges as determined by Mom and Dad issue by issue, day by day.

pen and paper

Benjamin would be the C.O.D on Monday, Hannah Tuesday, Rebekah Wednesday, and Seth Thursday.  Rarely has an idea garnered such immediate support and enthusiasm.  Not only were they all about the day for themselves, but they staunchly supported the rights of their siblings.  “It’s your day.  You get to choose.”

And what a blessing for me.  “Mom, can you sew my doll’s arm back on?” went from being another unneeded interruption, to something I enjoyed doing because I said, “Tomorrow is your day.  Bring her to me tomorrow and we’ll have a sewing lesson.”  Meanwhile I could round up the sewing box, determine if I had acceptably colored thread, and simply prepare myself to do that thing that wasn’t on my “want-to-do” list.

The C.O.D. concept would have been a success if it had never evolved, and if it had simply solved who was praying at mealtimes.  I was thinking recently when we had guests over and got ready to pray, how nice it was to hear the kids ask, “Whose day is it?”  The guests were blessed and it blesses me that my kids are absolutely unfazed about leading prayer in front of anyone and everyone.

“Whose day is it?”  The C.O.D. program would have been a success simply for the memory of Seth climbing into his high chair with a big grin as he asked, “Whose days is its to pway?”

Seth’s questions lately are about yet another change in the program, which is now less a program of daily privileges and more of a weekly responsibility list.  Thursday is still Seth’s day to pray, or to say, “Hey, Mom.  There’s one piece of pie left and it’s my day.  Can I have it?”  That’s an easy “yes”.  But other questions of late, such as, “Hey, Mom, I think with Hannah gone and Benjamin working for Dad and Rebekah doing Mary Kay all the time, maybe we could take another look here.”

He didn’t actually say those words, and being Seth, he never actually complained that more and more of the load was coming his way, with little appreciation or remuneration to show for it.  (Aside:  Beware of piling more on that child who doesn’t complain and who will do a good job, just because that’s the easy road.  Not good.  Not fair.  And the biggest losers are the kids who are being taught irresponsibility and laziness).

Because the Proverbs 31 Woman “watches over the ways of her household” I know changes need to be made.  I’ve made a few preliminary steps:  asking other kids to do extra, doing extra myself, getting John’s input.  But this morning as I was reading Laurie Beth Jones’ Jesus, Enrepreneur , I realized that this is a matter of, for starters, two things:  1) making a list; and 2) stewardship.

Laurie Jones says, regarding a confused young man, “Doesn’t he realize that how we handle small matters will determine how and if we handle great ones?”  Stewardship.

I realize as I’m pondering how well things C.O.D. have worked in times past, that it was at least in part because everything was clearly understood, discussed, explained, illustrated, and written out.  Time for a new and improved chore list.

Through the years we’ve gone from one day a week on dish duty, to a week on dish duty, to rotating per month, and then back to weekly stints.  The division of labor went as follows for several fairly harmonious years:  Dishes, Floors, Laundry, Miscellaneous.  Four kids, four categories, continually rotating, per a list on the fridge.

John has always been on board, especially if he sees something that will interfere with my peace, i.e. dirty dishes in the sink right before I’m about to start cooking.  “Who’s on dishes?” he’ll call on a Monday, when everything switches.  If there’s any confusion, we simply look at the list.  “Let’s see.  Benjamin was on dishes last week, so it’s Hannah.”

But then Benjamin went away to college and we consolidated things.  Then Hannah went away to Fort Collins and we came to two categories:  1) /Laundry and Floors; and 2) Dishes and Miscellaneous.

“Dishes” (or Kitchen) has always meant you do the dishes as soon as the meal is over, with each diner bringing their dishes to the sink.  Also included is occasional fridge cleaning, and a weekly checklist (which has somehow been misplaced) including clearing and wiping down all counters, the fridge, cabinet doors, baseboards and walls, and putting every single thing in its place, on the last day of the week (to be modified per interfering events).

“Miscellaneous” includes taking out the trash, building fires and bringing in firewood, running errands, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, straightening, and whatever else needs doing.

“Floors” means sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and once per week cleaning all baseboards.

It’s all pretty straightforward, and except for laundry, everyone seems to clearly understand.  Well, there is that one little thing which in the minds of all parties except myself, seems quite difficult.  And that one thing is this so very often repeated instruction:  Don’t take the trash out before you put a new trash sack in the can.  This is particularly important when I am cooking and you’re off to get on your coat and boots and traipse to the dumpster and leave me trashcan-less for a good ten minutes.  It’s the little things, it surely is.  But I don’t and won’t give up on this one.  Don’t leave me trashcan-less!

Back to laundry.  It’s my favorite job.  I won’t call it a chore because I simply love throwing nasty whites into a lovely machine, filling it with wonder ingredients, pushing buttons, and then walking away while its wonders are performed.  Now it’s time to throw bright and lovely-smelling whites into the dryer with a lavender sachet, and again, to walk away!

And then for the putting away.  I only do my and John’s laundry, and when I hear the beep I make every effort, especially now that it’s chilly weather, to get in there and snuggle my face into the towels and get them folded and put away while they’re still warm.  I would happily do all the laundry, time permitting, but time does not permit, and it’s important that everyone contributes.  People need to know they’re needed (those helping) and people need to know they’re appreciated (those being helped).

Kids, such as Seth, who are getting plenty of chances to help, need to know they’re appreciated, both by parents who see and take action, and by siblings who step up to the plate.

This is all truth.  If I don’t teach the truth- it’s important to know how to do basic life tasks; it’s important to do your part and then some; it’s important to live in a nice, clean, orderly home – then I’m teaching lies, and I’m leaving them to a life of unpleasant consequences.

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I have to get off here and make a new C.O.D. list.  Benjamin (Lt. Parker) is here for a very short while, as he changes from the Montana National Guard to the Kansas Guard and then deployment in March.  So, for that time, I must make changes.

Maybe I’ll combine Dishes with more cooking (I don’t need any cooking lessons and they do!); put Miscellaneous with Floors, and let Laundry stand alone.  We’ll have a family meeting tonight to discuss all these things.  I’ll make the most coveted and begged-for of cookies:  chocolate peanut butter no-bakes (make with heavy whipping cream and half-n-half and salt as well as vanilla and almond flavorings).  I’ll encourage input after I set out some reminder truths:  We’re all in this together, and no one of us is the others’ slave.  We will serve ourselves as we serve others and God via caring for our home.  Amen!