And yet, even with all this encouragement, let me tell you that there are many many times when I catch myself thinking that no one really knows or notices what I do. Why bother sweeping the floor, when its just going to get covered with crumbs after snack. And does anyone else know how often I clean the bathroom? I can spend 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour cleaning the house...and who notices? really?
One of my favorite names for God is "God who sees me." It comes from an unlikely source. A young Egyptian slave. She has been taken far from her homeland, given as a concubine to her mistress's husband. Pregnant, she answers the question of "where do i find my value" with the certainty that she carried the master's heir. She becomes inflated with pride and self-importance. It might have been the first time in her life that she felt significant. She disrespects her mistress. The Bible says she despised her mistress. We don't know what she said exactly, but it must have been a zinger. And she is in turn mistreated by Sarai. So mistreated that pregnant and without food or money or prospects, she runs away along a desert path. And she has a supernatural experience there. An angel of the Lord appears to her with a prophecy and a message just for her. And she gives a Name to the Ancient of Days. The God Who Sees Me.
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me" Gen 16:13
Now, let me tell you that I'm in no way mistreated. Neither am I ever to the point that I feel like running away...at least not recently. But I *can* identify with feeling exausted and, allegedy, unappreciated on the side of a dry dusty road to nowhere. That, in my personal opinion, definitely describes housework. And in those times, when I forgotten to lift my eyes, when I've been the one to lose sight of where I'm going and why. I know that I've got a God who has never taken his eyes off of me.
Similarly, when I'm feeling unappreciated and unnoticed, I remember that not only do I have a God who sees me, but that I have a God who sees what I do 'in secret'. There are times that the memory verse which gets me through the day is that "your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." And, because you know I have the attention span of a preschooler, sometimes I have to turn my chores into a game....like a secret santa game. How many small things can I find to do for others, that I can complete without their noticing?
And the last refrain that I have, isn't from the Bible...or if it is, I can't find it. Its from a site called FlyLady. The notion is that I'm blessing my family with each little chore that I do. There was, sadly, a period of time that our toilett had a small leak. We replaced the seal, and had the seal replaced, many times...yet the thing would still leak. I would spray and clean and spray and clean and spray and clean around the base of the toilett multiple times a day to keep the bathroom sanitized. So, when i found myself on my knees wiping around the back of the toilett AGAIN, I had to remind myself, sometimes out loud, "I'm blessing my family, I'm blessing my family...."
Ok, I was wrong. That isn't the last refrain I have. Because there are times when, in my humaness, I don't want to bless my family. There are times I'm irritated with my family. There are times that I just don't care. Case in point. I was doing a class using a book called "Balance at the Speed of Life". I don't remember much of what I learned from that book, but there are three distinct memories I have from it. One was that the cover had an elephant balancing on a beach ball. The second was that for the period of a day or so, we were supposed to log our activities through the day for a couple of days. From that we were supposed to extrapolate how much time we spent on different activities and what portion of our life each week was spent on each activity. I discovered that other than school... planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up after dinner took up the largest chunk of my waking life. Now, at the time I had this revelation, I had been immersed in an ongoing struggle to engage my family in dinner conversation. I was losing that struggle and I was pretty frustrated with it. Suddenly, in my mind, the knowledge that I was spending a big chunk of my day in an failing effort made me want to give up. I seriously, seriously remember sitting at the kitchen table and contemplating a chef strike if my family didn't start talking to me at dinnertime. In the end, what saved me from marching down a road that would have only brought strife and discouragement to everyone was a strategy that I think Naomi had shared at one time. She had been at a stage in her marriage where she didn't feel like doing anything for her husband. She got through it by NOT doing anything for her husband. She did what she did through the day, by pretending that she was doing it for Jesus. She cooked dinner and set another place at the table, not for her husband, but because she was pretending that Jesus was going to come and be a house guest. If her husband happened to sit in the place she had set for Jesus, that was fine. And there are times in my life where I have to adopt a similar attitude. The near dinner strike was one of them. The scripture that goes with this strategy, which is my ultimate emergency strategy, is from 1 Cor 10:31 "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
So, the fact that I have four different strategies, including an emergency strategy, for getting myself through housework might tell you how much I like doing housework. And I know that no one likes housework, not really. But I think I put more weight on how my house looks because I'm a stay home mom. And i hate housework, and its never done. And so I struggle the most with it.
Another strategy that I want to share with you, as one runner to another, is some of what I do during my daily devotions. I'm not a very disciplined person by nature. So, there have been times that I've found myself drifting through devotion time and lacking focus. To counter that I have a system that has really worked well for me. I have a notebook that I keep just for devotions. The first thing I do during my morning devotions is make a short list of seven specific things that I am thankful for that day. I find that starting my day being thankful for blessings helps put me and keep me in a positive mindset. (I'm not a morning person either, so getting in a happy mindset is a good thing.) After reading my scripture for that day, I try to jot just a sentence or two down about what the scripture meant to me personally.
And, finally, I had found myself going through my devotions like they were just one more item to check off my morning to-do list. Made my list of blessings, read my scripture, close the Bible and move on. Check. And then one morning my readings took me to the passage in James, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does." I realized that all too often, that's exactly what I do. I listen to the word, but I go off and immediately forget what I just heard/read. I needed someway to remember it and reflect on the scripture through the day. Perhaps if I jotted a verse on a sticky note and put it somewhere where I would see it often through the day? But where? And the passage itself suggested a spot. The bathroom mirror. After all, being a woman, I can hardly go into the bathroom and not make at least a quick glance at the mirror. So I started writing a scripture verse on a yellow sticky note and slapping it to my bathroom mirror.