Monday, June 11, 2012

Working Vigorously...So You Can Enjoy the Rewards

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." Proverbs 31:17

Scenario 1: With a sigh, I looked around my kitchen. The coffee pot wasn't prepped to brew a cup for me or my husband by the time we got up. There were dirty dishes in the sink. Someone forgot to wipe down the counters. A plate of now-stale biscuits still sat on the table from last night's dinner. I had no clue what I was going to make for breakfast...or lunch...or dinner. And all I want to do crawl back in bed. My work space was not ready for a full day of activities, cooking, organizing, and teaching. Looking at my kitchen puts me into a funk that affects the rest of my morning.

Scenario 2: With a sigh, I looked around my kitchen. I reach for a clean coffee cup and immediately pour myself and my husband a fresh, hot cup. Leaning back against the counter, I glance out the window to see the first rays of sunlight filter through pink, purple, and orange clouds. And I smile. I am able to pull my chair up to my computer to read my devotion for the day and to spend some quality time with the Lord writing in my prayer journal. The house is quiet. My kids are still asleep (or at least quietly playing in their rooms), and I know what I'm preparing for breakfast because I prepped it last night (the pancake batter is waiting patiently for me in the fridge) and I have no worries about dinner because I made my menu plan for the week last night. Looking at my kitchen gives me joy to work through the rest of the day for my Lord and for my family.

I kid you not, those two scenarios happened this past week. And as I was reflecting on God's blessings as I prepared my heart for worship yesterday at church, those two scenarios ran through my mind. Then this morning, as I was going through this morning's devotion and Bible study, the theme was evident: hard work pays off. I am currently going through a Proverbs 31 Bible study (by Good Morning Girls and Women Living Well), and this week's verses are Proverbs 31:17-18 "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." I talk often of how when God speaks to me, he sets before me appropriate scripture time and time again until my brain realizes that He is saying something specific to ME. And this was what He was telling me, "Take care of your home. Do the dishes before you go to bed, prepare the meals for tomorrow, and take care of your family. Do all these things in a timely manner, and you will find rest. You will be blessed." And He is so right! Those mornings that are like Scenario 1 really affect the rest of my day. I end up working hard to catch up just so I can provide good meals for my family and good educational activities for my kids. Those are the days when my temper is on a short fuse. Those are the days when I forget to show grace to my kids. Those are the days that I am not proud of the food I set before my husband. Those are the days I truly hope my children don't recall when later in life are asked about their childhood memories.

But those sweet, sweet mornings that are like Scenario 2 are the ones that are blessings. Those are the days when I can start  by taking a deep, refreshing breath and know that I can handle today's tasks without having the burden of first finishing yesterday's tasks. Those are the days when my children see a nicer mommy, and when I send my husband off to work with a fresh, hot cup of coffee, a portable breakfast (an egg and bacon biscuit), and a lunch. Those are the days when I can truly enjoy a morning of devotion without getting frustrated with children or the dogs or just morning itself. Because I chose to prepare the house the night before, God is blessing me with a bright and fresh day. And that is the example I want to set for my children, and hope they remember all the days of their lives.

And I cannot tell you how incredibly true this is. Saturday night was a crazy busy night for me. We were invited to spend the evening at a friend's house for swimming and grilling. I made a chocolate meringue pie right before we left, which meant when I came home late Saturday night, with a full tummy and exhausted children, I had a messy, messy kitchen to tackle. I opted to just sit on the couch and watch a little Gamecock Baseball, but my heart was nagging. I didn't want to have to fight through those dishes Sunday morning. So I got off my lazy bum and cleaned the kitchen. And what a blessing it was Sunday morning to get up and not have to have just one more thing to do before we left for church (at 8 am!).

BUT Sunday night, after spending the day fixing things around the house, making lunch for after church, going to home group (what a blessing THAT was!!), and then making pickles with the cucumbers from my garden, I opted to not clean up the kitchen...I was just too tired (ie, lazy!). And this morning I was faced with Scenario 1.

If I had just chosen to work vigorously last night, like the Proverbs 31 wife, I would have woken up to Scenario 2. Verse 18 says "her lamp does not go out at night." To me, that means she spends the evening preparing for the next day. Sometimes that means doing the dishes at 11 pm. Sometimes that means getting that pancake batter or cinnamon rolls or grits prepared for tomorrow's breakfast. Sometimes that means setting out the meat and preparing the marinade for tomorrow's dinner. And sometimes that means preparing for tomorrow's activities so the kids can have a full day of educational and fun activities.

And when we women, who were given the task of being managers of the home (yes, you working moms, you know that we are also responsible for managing the home as well...I have been there, I know), take the time the night before to work vigorously, we are blessed the next day. Our husbands are blessed. Our children are blessed. Our friends and families are blessed. And God reveals Himself in all things, great and small, and we are prepared to see His blessings with a clear mind and a calm heart. May you join me in the task of preparing our homes each evening for the next day so our families can be blessed!

PS: By the way, God's message to me this morning has inspired me to take a look again at my New Year's Resolutions. Each week I think about it, but not with the vigor that I did for the first 2 1/2 months. I will do a mid-year update this week in hopes that it will encourage me to pick the important resolutions and begin again. No one says I have to give up just because I failed at them the past few months, right?

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