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Archive for the ‘Humble Helpmeet’ Category

By two or three o’clock each day, my house looks like a toy monster exploded in a library.  Schooling my elder two children while keeping the youngest three entertained, fed, happy and out of trouble takes its toll on the house.  By this point in the day I have started laundry, started doing dishes , and started (sometimes) supper.  But all the unfinished tasks seem to scream for my attention all at once.  In the laundry room I notice that my washer and dryer haven’t been wiped in ages and there’s a strange  green substance spilled over the dial panel on the dryer, but as I’m closing the door to the dryer and turning the dial to start another load, Punky, who was “helping” put in the laundry, falls and needs to be consoled.  Then  I notice that Bud’s math book is on the counter and I haven’t checked it, yet, like I’d promised.  Oh, and there’s that letter I’ve been meaning to find an address for so I can mail it.   But before I can do any of that,  I need to find out where Li’l Britches is because when he’s quiet, it usually isn’t a good sign.   And I can’t forget to call the doctor about that prescription that needs refilled….

The list of things that I never get to seems to be multiplying.   I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been feeling angry, and I had a good idea it had something to do with the condition of the house.  I honestly am tired of feeling embarrassed about and making excuses for it.  I clean.  I just don’t ever seem to get the house to look like it’s been cleaned.  I can’t clean as fast as the kids can “unclean”. 🙂   So the situation isn’t really going to get better until my little ones are older and my older ones are better helpers– or until they all move out– so I need to do something, instead, about my anger.  

Last night as I lay in bed it kind of hit me.  The real problem is not that the house needs more attention than I give it.   It isn’t that the kids don’t put their things away (though that would help!).  It’s not that we have too much stuff (although we do).  It isn’t that I am not organized enough (though that, too, would help!).  No the real problem is that I feel like a failure, all the time, because my house is not as clean and neat as I would like it to be.  Somehow, even though I’m teaching my kids each day, reading to them, loving on them, training them (some!), and even though I am fixing meals to meet the special diet needs of my oldest son, teaching Missy how to sew, recording firsts and funny moments with the camera, and keeping clean clothes available — if not always folded– for all…. somehow it all seems to mean nothing.  The stacks of clutter on the counters, the dried toothpaste in the sink and  and the crumbs under the couch seem to be whispering to me, ” If you were a really good parent, like ________, then I wouldn’t be here.  You aren’t good enough.”  And it makes me feel like I’m failing everything because I’m not great at everything.  It’s no wonder I get irritated when I see the tupperware scattered  over the floor or the school work scattered on the dining room table instead of filed neatly. 

I’m glad I recognized that I’ve been having such negative “self talk”, as they say in psychology circles, because now I can confront it with truth.  Just because I’ve had the same can of dusting spray for five years, that doesn’t make me less loved by God.  I never did anything to deserve His love in the first place, so there isn’t anything I can do to make Him love me less, not even sitting down for a cup of tea when I know good and well that there’s a sticky spot on the floor under the couch.  

So, again, I’m reminding myself of the goal, which is to seek Him first above all things.   I may never have a spotless floor and a counter free of clutter at the same time.  Some people can do that, and it amazes me.  I look on it as a gift that I obviously didn’t get.  So, I’ll keep the house livable as best I can and try to ignore the condemning taunts of the cobwebs and dust bunnies.  Really, when I’m 80 will I think back to these days and sigh, “If only I’d scrubbed the tile more….”    I doubt it!   I pray that God will help me prioritize the important above the urgent.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”  Romans 8:1

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Here are some things I wish I was doing:

  • Writing everyday
  • Singing more
  • Getting up before the kids
  • Spending time with God each morning and night
  • Teaching my kids logic
  • Sighing at my children less and laughing with them more
  • Eating healthy
  • Making DH feel like a super hero
  • Living simply
  • Taking more risks
  • Calmly training my kids
  • Remembering the important things
  • Letting life experiences teach my kids most of the time and using the textbooks to supplement, instead of vice versa
  • Managing our home well
  • Spending more time looking my kids in the eyes
  • Finding contentment in the now 😀

Ok, so that’s just some of the stuff I feel like I could improve or start doing.  Sometimes I get a little discouraged thinking of how imperfect I am and how I “should” be doing better — but that kind of thinking only leads to defeatism.  The real challenge is seeking after the One.   If I can do that, the rest takes care of itself.  Wait…. that reminds me of a verse I learned long ago.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Alleluia!

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I didn’t get around to that post I promised a few days ago.  I’m at the beginning of my third trimester, and starting to slow down I think.  Sleeping all the way through the night is a memory now as I trek to the bathroom every couple of hours.  The lack of sleep, I think, is starting to affect my energy levels. 

Today, however, was a productive one.  DH and I spent the majority of our time de-cluttering.  I was starting to feel as if the house and our many things were beginning to take over.  I threw away a lot of stuff and tried to negotiate the sale/donation of some larger unnecessary items with my husband (though I admit with little success).  I have long felt the need to throw off some of the worldly weight that seems to steal time and space from me, but the inspiration I needed to act has come from that book I mentioned before, Better Off.  Reading this “experiment” of a young couple living a life of minimal technology and no electricity has given definition to a feeling of dissatisfaction that has grown in me over the past couple of years.   I have long felt “robbed” by the technology of computers and television (who hasn’t lamented the time “wasted” on these devices?), but I never stopped to consider how thoughtlessly I have accepted, used, depended on many other devices that have in turn taken more from me in the way of community, time, sense of purpose, mental agility, and physical strength than they could ever make up for in their attempt to “save labor”.  

Now, granted, de-cluttering is hardly a leap toward simple living.  It is more like an inching, a mere baby step toward controlling these “things” that I have unthinkly allowed to take control in my life.  Perhaps a bigger step could have been take, but I am not the only one whose sensibilities need be considered.   My husband’s help today was an act of pure sacrificial love on his part.  He would rather not part with anything if he can help it.  So for him, it was a stretching.   It is good that we balance each other.  I am libel to throw out too much and then regret it, and he is apt to keep everything until we can’t find eachother or the children amid the mess.   I am sure our path to a simpler way of life will have to be carefully navigated if we are both to come out as winners.   For now, all I’m asking is for some clean countertop space. 

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Why is it that when you miss a couple of hours of sleep one night, it seems to take a couple of days of extra sleep to catch up?  And when you’re pregnant, it may take a whole week to regain the lost sleep.  Well, it seems like I’ve been playing catch up all week, and I could still sleep for a whole day if I didn’t have any responsibilities.

We attended the marriage retreat last Friday night and Saturday, and Dh and I really enjoyed getting away and having all that time for uninterrupted conversation.  We had a beautiful ocean view room with a balcony.  The weather was beautiful, the tradewinds keeping it cool and fresh.  We stood out on the balcony and looked at the city lights all around us and enjoyed the Friday night fireworks on the beach.  Then we decided to go for a walk along the beach and through the shops in Waikiki.  It was beautiful.  It was relaxing.  We were alone.

Unfortunately, I had not packed good walking shoes.  I was thinking more of style than of comfort when I packed my one pair of cute-but-uncomfortable sandals, so we stopped frequently and didn’t walk as far as we had planned.  On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in at Planet Hollywood for a late night snack (the baby’s gotta eat…) and live music.  By the time we arrived back on the 29th floor, I realized that I had perhaps overdone it with all the walking.  I was so exhausted.  I guess I’m not as young as I once was, and being pregnant isn’t as easy the fifth time as it was the first.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to sleeping so I’d be ready for our 8 o’clock session in the morning.  Unfortunately, the bed was not as comfortable as it looked, and I tossed and dreamed and dozed until about four a.m. when I finally pushed Dh to the other side to make room for more pillows. 

The alarm at 7 a.m. was not welcome.  But we got down to the meeting room for breakfast and our morning sessions.  We enjoyed hearing all the stories and insights from the other couples who ranged in marriage length from 1 month 9 days to 38 years.

We got home around 3:30 in the afternoon to our very eager children, and we literally crashed on the couch.  And I’ve been trying to catch up on some sleep since then.  But it was so worth it.  Dh and I hadn’t “gotten away” in longer than we could remember.  Once our new baby boy arrives, it will be a long time before we do it again.  So I’m glad we went.  I just wish I could have had a day to sleep when I got back. 🙂

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In the last 24 hours I heard:

  • “I’m not gonna eat!”
  • “Phtbbbtphttbb!” (tongue out, spitting in disrespect)
  • “I DON’T WANT TO DO ANY MATH!”
  • “That’s not fair!”
  • “I DON’T WANT TO STAND IN THE CORNER!” –repeatedly for at least 30 minutes.
  • “I hate chicken.  I hate rice.”
  • “That’s mean!”
  • Pippin barking at 5 a.m.
  • Pippin barking at 5:45 a.m.
  • Water running outside, full blast at 7 p.m.
  • “Um, Mom, Bud is pouring buckets of water into the house through the window.”

In the past 24 hours I “discovered”:

  • Dog poo on the living room carpet (at 5:05 a.m.)
  • Dog poo on the bottom of my foot (about 5:06 a.m.)
  • Dh sleeping on the couch in the morning after an exchange of angry words at about 5:45 a.m.
  • Water all over the floor underneath the window in the living room
  • A drenched little boy who should have been brushing his teeth to get ready for bed while I rocked the baby

I’m tired.  It has been a bad day.  Too bad to blog, I told Dena.  But then I thought, “Hey, that would be a great title…”

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Wow.  I have had so much to think about.  Between my own musings, Mark Moore's lecture, and Amy Scott's blog posts, I am feeling more than ever the oppressiveness of the sin of materialism.  I think what has captured my attention most was Amy's comment:

"Of course, the problem isn’t that we disagree that consumerism has run amuck, but that we’re so entrapped that we don’t even realize we’re slaves."

All I can say is, "Amen" and "Lord, open our eyes to our enslavement!"

And I want to know, right now, what is one thing I can do?"  Because, honestly, as a wife (and therefore the helpmeet, not the leader in our home), I can not change the direction of the family's discretionary spending.  I can pray, and I will pray that God will lead and direct my family through my husband toward righteousness, but in the time I wait on the Lord…what might I do?  How can I make a difference?

I will continue to mull this over and bring it to God, for I know that He has not finished with me on this yet.  (And for some reason, I keep thinking of Starbucks and how shameful it is of me to spend so much on a latte….  Perhaps I have my first step already laid out for me.)

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In answer to my prayer for a more teachable spirit, the Holy Spirit led me through two quick lessons to get me on track.  Lesson one was in my previous post.  Lesson two followed just 10 minutes later. (more…)

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