Sunday morning was awful. My husband had to work, but I was determined to get the rest of us to church on time because we had missed the past three Sundays due to conflicts. I really wanted to go, needed to go. This had been an emotionally difficult week for me as I must accept the reality that it is my mother's last Christmas here with us. While it's sweet of people to say we don't know for sure, we know it would take a miracle for her to live another twelve months, and since she's had a long, happy life, I'd feel selfish to ask for a miracle.
We were already running late, no surprise there, but had found my daughter's lost shoe and had the rest of our breakfast in hand as we piled into the mini-van. The electronic doors opened just fine, but when I turned the ignition, it groaned mildly and died. It was dead. And church was starting in less than ten minutes. I climbed out and went straight to bed, crying. Why didn't God want me at His house today? I was heartbroken and frustrated. I tried appeasing myself with the fact that we'd be attending the Christmas Eve service the next day, but that didn't help. My plans for the day were off to a terrible start. After my brief pity party; after all, you moms know our self-indulgent pity parties can't last but a couple minutes before we are inundated with needy and loving children. Mine all climbed up into bed with me, and I heard my middle son coaxing my daughter to give Momma a hug.
Was God so disgusted by my dirty house that He'd rather I stay home to clean it than go to church? I guess so. So I devised a plan to get this house in order and visitor-ready even though we weren't hosting any more holiday events this season. I asked my boys to bring me a pen and paper. Then I created a chart and put my name and each of my children's names on it (even though I knew the only way my two-year-old could help was by merely NOT making new messes of her own). I had four blank columns for chores, deciding each of us could do a chore in fifteen minute intervals, starting at 11:45. If someone finished a chore before the grandfather clock chimed, that person would get to rest. Nobody was supposed to move onto the next chore until the time was up. I didn't want the boys rushing through each chore, and I knew I'd need a couple minutes at the beginning of each fifteen-minute session to help show them what to do and how since I had been doing most of these chores without them all year.
The boys were fine with their chores because as I called out items that needed to be done, I let them volunteer. My middle son, for instance, wanted to clean the kitchen table and stairs, sort laundry, dust the upstairs window blinds, and dust the upstairs game room. My oldest son opted to clean the outdoor patio table, vacuum and dry mop the wood floors, clean my bathroom counter/sinks, and scrub the upstairs toilet bowls. My youngest son chose to dust the downstairs window blinds, vacuum the downstairs rugs, and scrub the downstairs toilet bowls. Meanwhile, I selected four of my own chores, knowing I'd still have plenty more to do before the house sparkled. However, in one hour's time, our house was now picked up and clean enough for people to see it if they stopped by, and knowing this cheered me up. I thanked my boys and told them how much I appreciated getting about two hours worth of cleaning done in an hour. I guess mathematically, it should be about four hours worth of cleaning, but they are kids after all. Regardless, I was happy with the end result because not only was my house much nicer but my kids were willing workers! They didn't find during the process and worked hard. I will definitely use this method again!
I know we need to go to church regularly, so missing out these past few weeks has been hard on me, especially today when I really felt the call to go. Why my car battery was dead, I still don't know, but with a much cleaner house, I can focus my attention today on Christ and His birthday. It's not how I had planned on spending my Sunday morning, but then again, how often do we spend our days exactly as we had planned. Sometimes, God likes to throw a wrench in our plans in hopes of us learning from it.
I'll be sharing this post at some of these parties here.