Karen wiped the dish soap from her hands, moving quietly to the living room doorway. Crystal’s scream told her there was trouble between her and her older brother. Taking in the scene, Karen saw Kevin, the older sibling, playing contentedly a good distance from his baby sister in her playpen. As she watched, baby Crystal deliberately let out another scream hoping, so it seemed, to get her brother in trouble. As Karen entered the room, Kevin looked up saying, “I didn’t do anything, Mommy, “ the tears already forming in his sapphire blue eyes.
Having caught Crystal in her deliberate deception, Karen rushed over to the playpen saying, “No, no, no. Naughty Crystal.” The shocked look on the 9 month-old face of the baby was priceless until it crumpled into tears. But it wasn’t baby’s tears that got the attention. Karen turned away and crossed the room scooping up Kevin in her arms for a cuddle. After sitting with Kevin for a few minutes, Karen went to the playpen and picked up Crystal, carrying her back to the couch for a family hug, wondering how many more times Crystal would try her ‘clever’ deception?
Later that evening when both of the children were in bed Karen sat down for a time of refreshment and reflection with the Lord. “Lord, I come to you because I need your perspective on the day’s events, just like always. I am tempted to keep a score card of how many times a day I have had to say ‘no’ to the children. It is so discouraging because they don’t seem to learn.
David wants the house kept clean but the children need my attention. He thinks I am wasting time all day if dinner’s late; or the laundry isn’t finished; or the floor isn’t swept. How do I please him with housework and yet minister to the children?”
As she sat quietly a verse came to mind, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” Flicking quickly through her Bible Concordance, Karen found the verse in Ecclesiastes 3, then she opened her Navy Blue, leather-bound Bible and turned to the chapter. She loved these times of conversation with the Lord.
“Lord thank you, that as I read you will speak, and help me understand your priorities.” At that moment another verse dropped like refreshing rain into her tired mind. “Children are a reward from him.”
“Yes, the children are my priority but conflict comes with the time-consuming chores of keeping up the house. David deserves a clean house and I function better when things are tidy.” As she continued talking to the Lord, the knot of anxiety began to dissolve in her stomach and she felt the tense muscles of her back loosen.
The next morning as the spring sunshine poured into the blue and white country kitchen Karen looked around at the clean surfaces of her tile worktops, enjoying the satisfying sound of the dishwasher happily doing its job. She checked the slow cooker turning it down while inhaling the warm, mouth-watering bouquet already filling the kitchen from the lamb stew.
Kevin and Crystal were in the living room with big smiles for Karen as she came to join them for a special time of playing, reading, watching a Veggie Tales DVD and a general loving, good time. Yes, the laundry needed to be done, the living room dusted, the grocery list written among a dozen other things, but God . . . God had given Karen a new perspective. Today instead of time-consuming chores she thought of the To Do List as time-constructive, constructive like forming together words into a phrase or a sentence. The children became the subject, the center, while the chores were the nouns and adjectives fitting in appropriately to support and value the subject, not only the children but also hopefully, David.
That evening, following a glorious sunset over the Coast Range, Karen tucked the children in their beds while David loaded the dishwasher. Then he joined Karen to say good night to Crystal first, then Kevin where he spent a bit longer hearing more about his day and the lessons learned from the Veggie Tales DVD.
As David entered the living room he paused at Karen’s chair and kissed the top of her head, saying, “It seems everyone had a constructive day.”
Karen smiled, “That’s the word, constructive” and under her breath she added,
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