Announcement: I cleaned the bathroom!
I know. You’re thinking, And??
You haven’t written a blog post in weeks… and you cleaned the bathroom? That’s it?
Listen. I don’t think you understand. I cleaned the bathroom. Here’s what that looks like in my world: Sometime around 7:45 yesterday morning, I’m sitting on the couch, feeding a baby, trying in vain to also drink my coffee and read the John Piper devo app on my phone.
Side Note: you need to get the John Piper devo app on your phone!
Anyway, I say “trying in vain” ‘cause let’s face it. After all the kids are up, coffee and devo is spotty, at best.
And, of course, since I’m feeding the baby, Carson has to go potty. Now. Like, right now. So I send him off and task the older boy with helping him.
And alas, minutes later, there’s pee on the floor.
::I’m sorry, I know, I said ‘pee.’ This is just going to be one of those posts today, okay? Nothing poetic here. If it had been a girl, it would have been ‘tee-tee’, but it was a boy, so there was ‘pee’ on the floor.::
Anyway. So Christopher (thank God for older boys, am I right?) cleans the pee off the floor, but I decide right then and there to clean the bathroom.
Well, after I finish feeding the baby and getting breakfast into my tribe and drinking only half my cup of coffee and forgetting where I put down the mug… then I get right to cleaning the bathroom.
Two hours and seventy-five interruptions later, I stand back and admire the fruit of my labor. It’s quite possibly the cleanest and most peaceful room in the house. I think briefly about shutting myself in there the rest of the day. True story.
But wouldn’t you know, a little while later, one of the kids waits to the very last mili-second to go to the bathroom, so I ended up cleaning the toilet and a section of the floor again. (This time it was tee-tee. Ahem.)
I stand back and admire my work. Again.
About half an hour later, I’m helping Carson in the bathroom and this time he makes it like a champ. No accident. But – much to my dismay – I notice a smell lingering with the lovely aroma of scrubbing bubbles… It takes me a minute of sniffing around to find a spot I’d missed earlier (what with the seventy-five interruptions, eh?).
So I quickly decide I’m going to spray down the entire area again (you know, with the seat up and all) and make double-sure it’s all extra clean.
After I spray it all down, I call for the older boy to bring me some paper towels, but he doesn’t hear me. So I retrieve them from the kitchen and when I get back to the bathroom, I find that one of my children is a ninja.
She has somehow made it past me and into the bathroom and because she – like her sister before her- has waited until the very last mili-second, she doesn’t even bother with putting the toilet seat down, and just sat on the rim – sat on the rim, on the cleaning spray for crying out loud – and this does not end up working like she’d thought…
So after cleaning up ‘tee-tee’ again…
I stand back and admire my work.
I have four bank boxes stacked up beside our desk, waiting to be moved to storage, and two boxes of files waiting to be put back in their places… a new stack of school paces waiting to be placed in kids’ folders… and a beach bag full of miscellaneous receipts and photos and study notes, waiting to be filed…
::because – you know – your junk looks less like junk when it’s collected in a bright, pretty beach bag, am I right?::
…not to mention the pile of laundry on the couch, the three baskets waiting to hit the washer, the kids’ closets needing cleaning out, or the floors that haven’t been mopped since before Christmas.
But by golly, the bathroom is clean!
That one accomplishment seemed to take me half the day and was wrought with frustrations.
And the bathroom isn’t the only area of my life that feels like that.
I have a John Piper app on my phone for a reason. Because some days it’s the only way I’ll get a little Scripture rattling around in my head… and hope it will get planted in my heart…
I can hold that app open on my phone and read a line or two while I’m nursing the baby… and read and think about the next line or two while my phone is sitting there on the kitchen counter and I’m coring apples to go with lunch…
There’s this picture in our bathroom. A framed 4×6 snapshot sitting on the window sill – of Jeff and me in a different era of our life… we were with half our team, camping out for the weekend on a mountain side in the himalayas. He’s got me thrown over his shoulder and we’re both wearing our hiking fleeces and our headlamps. And it was nightfall when our friend Chad snapped us with his camera – caught this moment frozen. It’s too dark in the picture to see the landscape or the tents behind us.
You mostly see our faces, smiling. Me thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and him grinning back at the camera. We’re so young and fresh and energetic. Full of dreams and plans and ideas for the future. The world our oyster. Sure, there would be babies one day. But they would be bi-lingual and immersed in the culture – and by golly they would be practically leading the masses of local children to the Lord by the dozens. Our heads were filled with visions of mission work and published works. And just, lots of works.
Now a decade later, “attempt great things for God” has become trying to get through the day without losing my patience with the kids, and also manage to knock out 3 meals and keep one side of my sink free of dirty dishes.
Sorry, Flylady, check back with me in oh, twelve years? Maybe then I can work on making my sink shine.
If I can also manage to read a story to my kids and everyone has clean underwear – bonus!
Some days I think “Jesus, in my weakness you’re strong? Well all I’ve got is weakness… so then I guess all I’ve got is Your strength, right Jesus? So… how come every day is still a struggle? Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains… so how come these mountains of laundry can lay my spirit so low?”
And some days to think I was going to spin my story telling other souls how to walk with Jesus – it seems preposterous! I’m the one who’s gone back to crawling.
At the end of the day, the bathroom is dirty again, and the sink is full and the real test is this – did I love You, Jesus with all my heart? Did I love others as myself?
Every day that’s what it will come to – this is the season we’re in. God has somehow, in His way, brought us back to the basics, the foundation.
No matter what condition the house is in… no matter what discipline issues we’re dealing with, or how much ‘orphanage dust’ is flying around here… no matter what learning difficulties one of the kids is going through or how tired we are after 60-hour weeks… no matter how much the baby doesn’t sleep, or how many kids end up piled in our bed by morning. At the end of every day, it comes back to those two questions:
Did I love Jesus today? With all my heart?
Did I love my neighbor (the one who’s always blaring the loud music) – did I love the lady at Walmart, my children, my husband – as much as I love… me?
The little embers of those young dreams and visions are still lit somewhere inside me… I hope to walk that proverbial mountainside trail again – to “attempt great things for God.”
But to do that before ace-ing this test I get at the end of each long day – that would be premature.
Because most of the time – before you can walk – you gotta crawl.