Washing dishes for Jesus

There are seven of us in our family, and we eat most meals at home.  We also do not have a dishwasher machine.  We have a small kitchen that becomes cluttered and unusable very quickly if dishes are not dealt with. 

For a long time dirty dishes were a point of contention between myself and my husband.  I felt like I washed the dishes more often than he did (I even started keeping count), and that he should wash more, and he became annoyed with me when he was washing and I was sitting around using the computer or reading a book, and not helping him get through them faster by drying.  I would become irritated with him when I needed to cook and the kitchen was still full of dishes from the last meal.  Such a small thing, but resentment simmered and even broke out into arguments and anger.

I realised my attitude was wrong, and that I needed to change it, but how?  I found the following verse, and put it over my sink:

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters,since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. 

Colossians 3 verses 23-24

Every time I wash the dishes (especially when I really don’t feel like tackling them again), I remember that I am doing them for my Saviour, as an act of love for Him.  The difference has been extraordinary: so marked that I can only attribute it to God’s work and the power of the Word of God in my life.  The resentment is gone, and if it tries to return I can dispel it easily.  We have had no more fights over this issue.  Both of us have changed.

When self-pity tries to throw a party, I can boot it out by thanking God.  It doesn’t seem to matter what I start to thank Him for.  Once I start on that track it’s easy to continue.  Perhaps this is the ‘secret’ of contentment that Paul writes about in Philippians 4 verses 12 and 13:

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

There are many things we can (and do) complain about.  But if we are in Christ the reasons for thankfulness are so much more numerous and more significant, and when we focus on these, the heart overflows with joy and He gives us strength.  Our thankfulness is a beautiful offering to our Father, more precious than any sacrifice.

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
    or a bull with horns and hoofs.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
    you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy,
    and does not despise his own that are in bonds.

Psalm 69 verses 30 to 33

In some ways it seems trivial to write about my struggles with dishes, when I know that there are many people in the world who are suffering terribly, people who would love to have three meals a day and the ‘problem’ of dirty dishes.  However, it seems as if it is not our circumstances that are the most important factor in our contentment, and that each small battle we face may be a training ground for something greater:

Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.  Luke 16 verse 10

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!” Matthew 25 verse 21

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Banishing the black dog

Depression, I know you.  You’re a fog that seeps into my mind, obscuring the view, stealing my hope.  I think I’ve escaped you, but you want to return, an unwanted visitor who won’t take the hint and leave.  You tell me that there’s no future for me and that my life has no value.

Some days there’s a battle in my mind, when the thoughts come and attempt to destroy me.  I fight with words and songs and on my knees.  I cry out for deliverance, for my King to save me from my despair.  He speaks His truth to my spirit and restores my hope.  He dispels the fog, giving me a vision of the future so that I can persevere.

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Verses for Parenthood

I would like to say now that even though I am the mother of 5 children, and a stay-at-home mum, and a homeschooler, I do not consider myself to be an expert parent.  In fact, I can only point to the grace of God who sustains me, gives me wisdom when I ask Him, and who forgives my sins and heals both my wounds and the hurts I have inflicted on others.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;

God is our salvation.

Psalm 68:19

Today I’d like to share some of the verses that have been signposts pointing me to a way of parenting that is more Christlike.  I have been transformed from a violent, angry and selfish parent to one who is patient and loving (though still not perfect).  This process has taken about 10 years.  My darkest time was about 7 years ago when my third child was a baby.  I wanted to change desperately, but it seemed impossible.   I wanted to kill myself, run away, anything to escape.  I thought that my family would be better off without me.  That was a lie.  Somehow God’s Holy Spirit got through to me that it would be better for my family if I was able to change and be a different person, than for me to die and leave them.   white_dove-wideHe gave me a thread of hope to hold on to, that better days would come.  And they have.

‘Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.’

Philippians 4 v. 5

The true Christian parent must be gentle.  This does not mean that the parent is weak or does not discipline their children.  However we can see the gentleness of Christ with children.  He valued them, He welcomed them and He was beloved by them.  They were drawn to Him because of the love that radiated from Him.  That is what I want to be like.

Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1 v. 20

This verse has reminded me many times that my human anger will not produce true righteousness in my children.  It may induce them to comply with my wishes, and behave as I want them to, but will not change their hearts.  My Heavenly Father has worked in my heart, taking away the anger and giving me peace.  I need to come to Him each day because it is easy to fall back into my old habits of becoming irritated and impatient, and using my anger to try to produce God’s fruit.  It won’t work!

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31 v. 26 (NRSV)

How can I teach others to be kind, if I am not kind myself?  The righteous mother teaches others to be kind and her words are wise.  They flow from a life that is full of wisdom and kindness.

For the Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread….

See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8 v. 11-13, 18

I call this my ‘homeschooling verse’ because God gave it to me about a year after we started homeschooling.  It is a reminder to me that I must not fear what anyone else fears, but only fear God and do His will.  He will make me and my children a sign to others.  They will see His presence with us as we obey Him.  There are so many things that we as parents worry about and fear, but Jesus tell us not to worry about the future.  Trust in Him for the days to come.  Seek the kingdom first!

Here is my last one to share, which the Holy Spirit pointed out to me only recently.

I know your works.  Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.  I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3 v. 8

God gave me this verse at a time when I was deeply discouraged about homeschooling.  I was afraid of what others were thinking about my children and about me.  I had a sleepless night, torturing myself with these thoughts.  Then in the morning, I asked Him for guidance, and turned to Revelation, the book I was reading then, not expecting anything encouraging, but that verse leapt out at me.  He was saying that He knows that I am weak (and I am), but I am faithful to Him and that is what matters.  This past year both my husband and I have been praying more, seeking God more, and putting Him first.  He is in control, and no one can shut a door that He opens.  🙂