Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kitchen Counters

In the morning, I wake up and switch the laundry.  Then, I make my way to my kitchen and begin the coffee, empty the dishwasher, and clean up the counters.  Once that's done, I start on my husband's breakfast and lunch.  When he leaves for work, I sit down, read a few minutes, and try to get my mind around the day ahead.

I have to start my day by getting my counters clean.  If I don't, I feel frazzled inside.  I feel like I'm behind the 8 ball before I even start my day.  I have to admit, though, that I hate wasting time drying dishes.  So, I have a drying mat that all my hand washed dishes dry on in the morning.  The dirty pile of dishes becomes a clean pile that will dry over the next few hours.  

Sometimes it feels like these piles won't ever get taken care of.  Yet, somehow, they always do.  I just keep pressing on.  Some days I have one load of laundry and some I have three!  

The past few weeks have pressed in on me.  A bit like the walls of the garbage compactor in the first Star Wars movie.  It all started slowly, imperceptibly.  Then, it moved a little faster.  Something braced it, but the walls moved again after a moment.  

Then, the reprieve comes and the brave and valiant heroes escape.  And they continue on their journey, which encounters joys, triumphs, and trials.  

Life is like that.  Life presses in.  Then, there is a reprieve or a triumph.  Later, more trials and challenges are encountered.

My children tell me at times that they wish I didn't have to work so hard.  My oldest daughter has often told me that she doesn't want to have kids or get married.  To this, I respond by telling her that she, her sister, and brother bring me my greatest joys.  I try to explain that life involves work and it often isn't easy.  

The sadnesses of life can compound the stress of the work, though.  That is what I am walking through.  You see, my mom is sick.  She has been sick for two months.  We don't know what it is yet.  She's having tests done and taking care of herself.  I'm watching out for her and doing my best to love her well.  It's hard.  Really hard.  She had a blood transfusion two weeks ago and that has bought her some more time as we wait for appointments and tests.  

When someone asks me how I'm doing, I often answer these days, "Putting one foot in front of the other."  Or "Well, I'm standing.  And that's good."  I don't take the strength to stand (emotionally and physically) for granted.  Some days are better than others.  In my mind, having the strength to stand and bear up comes from the Lord.  That's a given in my mind.  I wouldn't have the peace that I do without him.  I try not to dwell on what could be.  I try to trust and simply consider today.  

Last week, someone commented on a book review I'd posted on Amazon.  I always go back and read what I've written before to see if I still agree with what I once said.  I was glad I did.  This is the review of the Money Smart Family System.  Then, I read the comments again to the review.  Only 3 of 28 people on Amazon who have read my review have found it to be helpful.  It is a book about family finances from a Christian publisher.  All of the negative comments basically intimated that our finances don't need to be about God and that I was presumptive in making such an assertion.
In the review, I say this about the book:
"This book is not what I'd recommend to a Christian family. God isn't a part of the picture this book presents. Is it a book I'd recommend to a family that wants to live a moral life, but doesn't believe in God? Yes. That's who this book is for. Is there a danger to a Christian family following this model? I think so. I think one of the greatest pitfalls for our children to believing in God is the strong American value that we can do it ourselves. We don't need help or need anyone else. We are always hearing "Believe in yourself" . We need to be careful to teach our children, I believe, that everything we have comes from the Lord and we are to be good stewards of it."

One of the comments particularly struck me...
The writer said basically that it's my job to raise my kids and that not everything needs to revolve around Christ.  The author stated that money is money and that it's my prerogative about how I teach my children.  It's my job to teach my children but that I shouldn't fault the authors for leaving God out of the picture in the book.  Finally the writer asks what business it is of mine anyways.  (I've paraphrased the comment to make it more mild, but also so that I can't be sued or some such for quoting someone who doesn't desire to be quoted.  It does cross my mind that someone might do something like that someday, because people can be quite unkind in their comments on Amazon.)

To which I responded with this comment:
"First of all, I disagree with you. I'm not being rude. This what reviews are for--to provide different points of view. I often read views that differ from my own opinions as a tool to help me figure out what I think. The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. That means with my finances, too. I am not telling you how to raise your children. I am sharing my opinions in my reviews. It is very ironic to read your comment this morning. My husband and I have been discussing how much we need to trust God with our finances. It's easy in the process of penny pinching and being frugal for us to become very focused on every penny we spend and put our focus there instead of simply being frugal and trusting God to provide. I was just reading Mark 4:40 this morning and it talks about trusting God amidst the storms. Family finances can be some of those storms. I have written this review for parents who want God to be part of the picture in how they teach their children about finances. It sounds like this book is what you're looking for, but it wasn't for me and my family. That is okay.

I went back and read Mark 4:40.  It was just what I needed to hear.  It was my way out of the garbage compactor I found my heart in.  The storm is going to continue.  It is going to be hard.  But, I can trust that God will see me through it.  I don't say this in a morose tone, but in one of persistence.  I know I am going to press on.  Sometimes my heart is going to falter.  But, God isn't going to let me down.  

I will continue to stand.  I will continue to clean my counters in the mornings and prepare for the day ahead.  Speaking of which, I need to skedaddle right now!

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