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This picture is from Thanksgiving. This is relatively clean in comparison.

Life is filled with listening and learning opportunities, isn’t it? I recently experienced yet another of those opportunities through my kids. Okay – so God just so happened to use my kids as an illustration so that I would actually catch what He had been saying through a series of sacred echoes. I know, I can hear it repeated throughout the land, “She’s a bit thick-headed, isn’t she?” “Takes her a while to catch on, don’t you think?”

Guilty as charged.

This time, as I was working in the kitchen, cleaning up behind my kids, I have to admit to a bit of grumbling with a tinge of whining. As you may or may not know, I had major surgery four weeks ago. My activity level has been greatly restricted. And, believe it or not for those of you who know me, I have really been trying to be good. In fact, I have been very careful to not push the limits given to me by my doctor.

I finally, and reluctantly, agreed to this surgery after my body abundantly demonstrated that it was time that I listen to the doctor and stop being so all-fired stubborn. I happen to have an extremely high threshold for pain, so when I cry uncle, you can be sure it is no trivial matter. But I extremely dislike being in the hospital and have an even greater dislike for the effects of anesthesia and for the required limitations during the recovery period. But having gotten me in there once, I absolutely had NO intention of having to go back to the hospital because I didn’t listen to instructions.

Suffice it to say, I have really been working at being good and following directions and not doing things that caused a strain anywhere near my abdominal region. No lifting. No vacuuming. No sweeping. No laundry. Not even doing the dishes and putting things away in the cabinets. So here’s a tidbit about my particular quirkiness. I can take a lot of clutter and chaos, but I really have almost no tolerance for my kitchen to be messy. And I really don’t like to wake up to a messy kitchen. If dirty dishes and pots and pans and clutter get in the way of my peaceful morning tea ritual, I am not a happy camper.

Don’t you think after having spent their entire lives living with me and hearing me ask over and over again to keep the kitchen clean, my kids would be especially thoughtful during this time? I mean, come on, genuine love demonstrates itself through putting others before ourselves. Love looks for ways to please and serve and do for others – especially what they cannot do for themselves when they have been through major surgery and are on strict orders! Right?!

So there I was, loading the dishwasher, washing the things that can’t go in the dishwasher, clearing and disinfecting the counters and the sink, and scrubbing down the stove top which looked like a battle zone after having four boys doing most of the cooking for nearly three weeks. And yes, I was definitely muttering to myself and thinking how they could have been more thoughtful (yes, I do know I have three teenage boys and one just barely not a teenager). Still, they could have listened and done what they said they would do, and maybe, just maybe, they could even act with a bit of thoughtfulness and intuition and taken the time to organize the cabinets instead of make complete messes of them. Yeah right!

And then, somewhere deep down in the region of my heart, this little niggling thought appeared. Really? And what about all the times you have not fully heeded My requests? What about the times you have shrunk back in fear or doubt or just plain distraction and not done the task I have directed you to do? How many times have you failed to hear and listen to My voice and My instruction in your life? How many times have you been just too busy to come to Me, to sit in My lap and let me calm you and dry your tears and be the shoulder you needed to cry on? How many times have you zoned out with whatever busyness was at hand and not paid attention to what I was telling you?

Busted! And then what a sweet time of cleaning I had as I finished up! My thoughts turned from grumbling and complaining to praising and praying for my wonderful kids, and then on to my family and friends I love so dearly. What an honor to be drawn into the heart of God on behalf of another!

And then, I was able to step back and see my clean counters once again. I could find my kettle, teapot, and favorite mug and get everything ready for the following morning. And, yes, it was just like I left it when I got up. Miracles to happen after all! ; )