Don’t Be a Martha-Mom

Yesterday I wrote about keeping house rather than waiting until the house was so bad that you need to devote a whole day to cleaning house. Today I want to address the other end of the neatness spectrum.

My grandmother says “life is too short to waste time cleaning.” She washes dishes and laundry, and there aren’t things scattered all over the floor. But sweeping, dusting, mopping, and cleaning out cabinets are not in the list of things she enjoys. This always bugged my mom when she was growing up. Now my mom is a meticulous house keeper. They live on a farm and I would still eat off her floor! She sweeps at least once, if not 2-4 times a day. If there are 5 dishes on the counter she washes them. The floor is mopped weekly. And Laundry is done religiously. I fall some where in the middle. I like the house clean, but I can survive in a mess too. I really think there needs to be a balance between preparing to be on the next episode of hoarders, and keeping your home so clean that the work of cleaning becomes stressful.

There is a story in the Bible about Jesus visiting the home of two sisters (Luke 10:38-42.) Mary and Martha had the honor of hosting the son of God! That’s a big deal!! But they both had very different opinions of what it meant to have Jesus in their home. Mary sat down at her savior’s feet. She wanted to focus her heart and mind on what was being said. She was attentive; the kind of person you want to pour your heart out to. She was the one friend who holds eye contact while you tell a story, when everyone else has gotten distracted and walked away. Martha, on the other hand, was busy. She was pouring water or wine for guests. Checking on supper. The towel she used for washing feet was dirty so she went out to wash it and bring in fresh water for the basin. Martha was the friend you call when you need help painting, or when you are sick and need some one to bring over some soup.

After a while, Martha got angry. She was busy cooking, cleaning, serving guests…missing out on enjoying the presence of Christ and the others who were gathered in her home. I can just see her grumbling under her breath, getting more and more irritated. Finally, she’d had enough; she burst into the room where Jesus was speaking and fellow-shipping, and demanded that Jesus make Mary help her with all the work! And I love what Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.”

Wow! That must have come as a punch in the gut to Martha. In her mind she was serving her guests and that was the best thing she could do. Instead, Jesus told her she was worried about things that weren’t important — not eternally important, anyway.

I think as moms we can turn into Marthas if we are not careful. We can be so worried about sweeping up messes, and keeping toys in the perfect place that we forget what is important — our family! Your children will never remember the time you went 2 weeks and didn’t get the bathroom scrubbed. They won’t worry about the time the yard didn’t get mowed for 2 weeks. It won’t matter to them in fifty years if you washed and changed the sheets every single week.What they will remember is that mom used to stop in the hall and sit down to read a book (or that she was always too busy to read.) They will remember the time you started a water fight (or that you yelled when their clothes got muddy.)

Be a Mary. When your parents drop in for a visit; stop. Sit down and talk to them. Don’t talk over what you are doing. Stop, and talk. When your child has a looooooong, long…long story about something. Stop. Don’t sweep and nod. Don’t rush them to “wrap it up already.” Stop. Be the friend who looks the other in the eye and listens to the story long after everyone else has gotten distracted. The cleaning will be there tomorrow. Our children grow up and leave. Our friends aren’t a guarantee. Some day you will attend a funeral for your parents and grandparents. Your spouse needs to see you listening. Don’t be a Martha-mom.

(The washer stopped 10 minutes ago…but Skeet just brought me a book so I’m fixing to read The Fire Cat.)

House Cleaning vs. House Keeping.

With two kids in the house things can get messy, fast! There are always toys on the floor. Books get pulled off the shelf, looked at, then left in a pile. Dirt and grass come in stuck to shoes and clothes. Snacks get spilled then crushed. Dirty clothes begin to pile up before clean ones are even put away. Juice and milk drip from cups. As much lunch ends up on the floor as gets inside little bellies…. You know what I’m talking about. It can all get overwhelming in a hurry.

Here are a few ways I stay on top of the chaos, rather than waiting until I just need a shovel and a dumpster to get the house clean.

  • Wash dishes, either by hand or in the dish washer, EVERY DAY. Notice I didn’t say after every meal; just every day. If you have a large family, or you tend to use a lot of dishes when you cook, then you may need to do them more often. I find once a day to work fine for us. And, yes, I occasionally skip a day if we eat out or something that causes us to have just a few dishes. The key here is to stay on top of them. Waiting until there are no clean cereal bowls on a Tuesday morning, is NOT cool.
  • Wash at least one load of laundry 3 out of 5 week days. Or do one a day, if that is easier. I tend to wash 2 loads on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Though some weeks, I can get away with just 1 load on Monday or Friday. Monday and Friday I wash shirts, skirts, underwear, etc. and jeans. Wednesday is bed sheets, and a load of whites (towels, socks, dish rags) with bleach. The day you wash clothes — shock — fold them and put them away! Again, there is some wiggle room in this, but STAY ON TOP OF IT.
  • Keep toys organized. This one may require a toy purge. Find a few types of toys that your child(ren) enjoy and keep them in groups. For example, both of my children enjoy the play kitchen. It’s set up in the play room (basically an extra living space, that we have to walk through to get down either hall in our home.) Since we got the play kitchen I have taught Gracie to keep things put away. She has a basket for play bread, chips, donuts, etc; one for play meat and cheese; and a third basket for play veggies. She knows where each thing goes and Skeet is now learning how to put them away too. It may seem crazy to teach a 1 year old to organize play food, but the skill will serve him well later anyway. The kids also enjoy Little People. I would prefer to keep these toys set up some where but they tend to get scattered quickly, so they all get put away in a large tote box every evening. (The kids clean up most nights. However, in the interest of making sure we haven’t lost pieces I often will either pick things up, or sit with them and name/count items to make sure we have things together.)
  • Sweep or vacuum often. This is pretty self explanatory. Your house will instantly feel cleaner with clean floors. Grit and dirt can also scuff floors easily, and make them wear out faster.
  • Make the beds every day! I know you are just going to get back in the bed at night. But make the bed in the morning, and do not unmake it for any reason during the day. Just like a clean floor, a tidy bed makes the house feel neater.
  • Finally, and this is hard for all of us, keep clutter down. Junk mail, an empty shoe box that won’t stuff in the trash can, a slightly broken toy, glue that was used and never put back away, a screw driver on the counter top… it all adds up to feel overwhelming and cluttered. I’m about the world’s worst for letting clutter pile up, especially in my kitchen. We do so much living in the kitchen and a lot of it just tends to pile up in there.

A little bit of work each day to KEEP the house clean is so much better than a lot of work on one day to get the house clean again. Make up a chore chart for yourself if you have to. Type up which things need to get done daily, weekly, twice a week, and so forth. Then slide it in a page protector and hang it in the laundry room or some place. Keep a dry erase marker near by and check off what you have done each day. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel better about your home, by keeping it tidy.

Not the Preacher’s Job

I’ve been thinking lately. Mostly my mind just wonders here and there. Yesterday it wondered toward seeing children saved and baptized. Always such an awesome experience! But then I thought of the times I have heard Sunday School teachers, or parents say their children had to talk to the preacher. I’ve heard mothers tell their kids this for months; saying the child has to approach the preacher herself, supposedly, to show they are really “ready to be saved.” I have a few objections to this approach.

These are personal objects and maybe some pastors won’t agree; but here they are anyway. First, I believe once a child reaches a point where they know they are not good, no matter how narrow that understanding; they have already reached the “age of accountability.” In other words, if your 6 year old asks about being baptized because they “don’t want to die in hell.” Then that child already understands the beginnings of salvation. He may not fully grasp all aspects of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but he knows enough that God will hold him accountable. I know it sounds absolutely horrifying to think of a 6 year old going to hell; but I do believe knowing he needs Christ, and not actually accepting Him, would merit separation from the Father in Heaven. Again, maybe a stronger Bible scholar would argue with that; however, that is MY understanding.

Which brings me to my second objection with asking kids to go to their pastor to accept Christ. If, once a child begins to see the need for Jesus in her life, she is accountable for her sins; then is time not important in that situation? Let’s suppose your 9 year old is asking questions about asking Jesus into her heart. Now let’s say that you don’t feel “qualified” to answer those questions so you tell her to wait and ask the preacher on Sunday. Sunday comes and the pastor has to rush after church for another obligation. You try again to speak on Wednesday but your child is shy and doesn’t want to interrupt the preacher chatting. This goes on for a couple of weeks before you are in a car wreck…… What if your child were to die not having professed Jesus as her savior? What if that were the case, and you had simply ignored her questions because “that’s the preacher’s job?”

That last statement brings me to my final objection to making children wait to talk to a pastor. If you can not even explain Salvation through Faith in Christ to your own child, to whom CAN you explain it?! If we are to be leading others to Christ, shouldn’t we know what that means?  If you can’t tell your very own child that when they do bad things, like lie or disobey you, that it makes God sad. If you can’t continue by telling them God knew we would do bad things, so He gave something even more special than toys or money just for us. That God loved us so much that He let His Son be killed; and then His Son, Jesus, didn’t stay dead. He rose again so that We can still know Him. We can pray and tell Jesus “thank You for dying so I don’t have to. Please forgive me for doing bad things; I want to do things that make You happy.” …. If we can’t find SOME words to explain it to a child, how can we ever explain it to a coworker, a stranger, a friend, or anyone else?

Jesus said “let the children come to Me.” He didn’t say let them talk to the preacher and let him decide if they are ready to come. He said “let them come.”

You’re Too Much

Five years. Yes, 5 years, 6 moves, 2 children, a lot of lessons, some bills, bills caused by lessons; and a load of laughter. Friday marks our anniversary. The day we said “I do” to more than we could have ever expected. Things have not always been easy. Some days we flat don’t like each other. Our children will be grown and out of the house before we ever agree on parenting styles. But we never argue about money. The only thing more hard headed than you, is me. And the only thing more hard headed than me, is you. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade you for anything!

PART_1465316825727_0607161038.jpgIf had known on that hot August day when we first met in Mr. Bob Young’s poultry science class, the friendship that we would develop… well, let’s just say you would have had a crazy stalker a lot sooner! To be honest (but you already knew this) I thought you were a bit odd. I told my parents there was a “cowboy geek” in my class. I said, I figured if you couldn’t do it from a horse you probably just didn’t care. Back then, that was pretty true. You had a big, (dirty,) black felt hat with a feather in it. You wore dark, tight fitting wrangler blue jeans, higher heeled riding boots, and wrangler pearl snap shirts over a white t-shirt. And you had a mustache! That was your look.

Most people forget we met at college. In fact, that wasn’t really where we got to know each other. No, for that we have good ol’ Kerby and Nimr our bosses from the AgriLife research center. I got my job there first. I liked the work and had heard they were looking for another student worker. Then I heard you had just quit your job at the ranch where you had been working. I told you to apply and you did. Nimr asked me about you; if you would be a good worker. I said yes, and he said my job was on the line if you didn’t work out. (Pretty sure my job was safe for a while. I still had like 6 giant bags of grinding to do…after that, who knows.)

Before long we were working together building fences for a rotation grazing study. I don’t work well with others. I just don’t. But you were different. It wasn’t like working with someone. It was like having an extra set of hands. It’s weird because we are both picky about how things get done; and we are both control freaks. But we just fell into a rhythm so easily. You had “more manners than was good for you” and refused to let me use a t-post driver. That drove me nuts. I’d practically beg to use it…but it also made me feel special that you took care of me that way.

That summer we worked on the *poo* crew (they might have given us a slightly different moniker that I just can’t seem to make myself type.) Work started by 7 am. And at least one of us had to be back again at 7 pm. The work itself was pretty crappy, pun intended. But the company was great. We tracked a lot of fence shorts that summer. Worked a lot of cattle in the heat. It’s funny how much you can learn about a person by working with them like that.

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Apparently, I talked about you a lot… like a lot, a lot. Dianna knew you as “this guy at work.” And Regina was the one to finally tell me “you know you like him!” in a very matter of fact every-one-but-you-knows-that sort of way. It was true. I was smitten. I tried not to change how I interacted with you after this new revelation. Turns out, that wasn’t so hard. We were already tight by then. Mr. Young called us running buddies. We secretly competed to see who could do more for Ag Club. It was like “oh, he signed up. I better go too.”

It took a few months for you to catch on though. We met at work on a fabulously spring like day in December. The center was closed for Christmas but we had to feed cattle that day. You talked funny. And you kept spitting out the window. You said something about the Marines after you finished at Kilgore College. The Marines?! What happened to moving to Montana to run a ranch? And Snuff?! You were then one who once got all offended and told someone you wouldn’t dip “in a million years.” I found out later a girl had let you down pretty hard. But for that day I was just confused. I should have been able to enjoy the beautiful weather and some good company, but I couldn’t. I confronted you about the snuff after a couple of weeks. All you said was “Dr. Pepper wasn’t enough anymore.” I got mad. I cried angry tears all the way home. Then I dropped my stuff in my room and ran out to the barn to beat up some hay. (That poor, poor hay.)

Your birthday was coming. I had a plan for your special day. Early in the morning on February 4, 2009 I sent you a text. “Happy big 20 my friend. Love ya.” You just said thanks. Then you avoided me for like 3 days. Then you started following me. February 10th was a Tuesday. I had a lot to do, and was busy with preparations for Ag club auction. You were on my tail. Out to the truck. Back to the old lab. I was giggling with anticipation…and cracking up because Jerome was like Visa that day… he was everywhere you wanted to be. Finally, you blurted out “Wanna meet for lunch tomorrow?” I said sure, and we agreed to meet at the Jalapeno Tree after class. I remember after we sat down the waitress asked if it would be one check or 2, and I panicked. I was so excited to meet that I hadn’t thought ahead and I had no money. Boy was I relieved when you said it would be one check. As we left I gave you a flirty look and asked why the lunch treat. “I just felt like taking someone to the Tree.” To which I replied “well, any time you just feel like doing it again, let me know.” And we have been eating there as often as possible ever since.

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I could type for 3 years and not write all of my fondest memories. The thing is: you’re too much. You’re going to spoil me. Great minds think alike – and then there’s us.  I love you to the moon and back Brandon Kyle. Five years of marriage, 6 moves, 2 children…. And I am so, so blessed that God Blessed the Broken Road that led me straight to you.

June OCC Inspiration

For the Month of June Canyon Country Church will be focusing on collecting Operation Christmas Child items for 10-14 year old boys. And just like the months before I went to Walmart for some inspirational shopping. Below are the items I recommend collecting. These are just ideas. Loads more ideas can be found by searching Operation Christmas Child on Google or Pintrest.

Clothing:

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It can be difficult to find clothing that will fit in official OCC boxes. They are very small; for that reason, i am looking to order boxes from another source this year so that we can include clothes in more boxes. That being said, a pair of jeans, or nice sneakers are still just too big… unfortunately. I recommend athletic type clothes, because they can be folded so much smaller. These medium shorts were $6.84. The bright, medium shirt was around $3. (Remember to avoid graphics and words that won’t translate well to another language or culture. Solids, stripes, and plaids are great.) I’ve misplaced my receipt…again. So I’m not certain on prices for the socks and underwear. Obviously belts and athletic pants aren’t a really good combination, but belts do make nice gifts. this set of two will go to brighten the faces of two young men, for only $6.88. And, of course, the $.98 flip-flops.

Fun gifts

Just like with the 10-14 year old girls, I opted to go with more practical gifts for the oldest group of boys. The pretty kitchen towels are an inexpensive way to bless a child. The single green towel was around $2, and the set of 5 was around $8. This package of 10 flashlights and batteries was right at (or maybe a little over) $10, in the camping section. That’s a pretty good bargain to get gifts for 10 different boxes at once.  I chose to get a role of fishing line and a box of assorted fish hooks as well. Fishing is as a lively-hood is still pretty common in many places around the globe. A well thought out fishing kit could be a huge blessing…or just a little fun. The pocket fan was $1, and just seemed like the perfect way to cool off, and entertain a fellow for a while. Tools can also be included in the shoe box gifts. Just remember no knives, or saws.

This can be a fun age group to shop for. It can also be a challenge. With Summer vacation we all tend to get busy with our own lives. Please don’t let children across the globe suffer for that. It’s simple to grab a few extra items when you are already shopping anyway.