Friday, March 27, 2009

Jesus and Mr. Clean

Today, I cleaned bathrooms. 4 bathrooms to be exact. When we first moved to this house, we were in hog heaven not having to wait in line anymore. Gone were the days of rushing through the front door after returning from dinner, hollering "I get the bathroom first!", and pushing through the family, small bodies and 1 large man bouncing off the sides of the hallway, proving how serious I was. Now all the little piggies have made the bathrooms anything but heavenly. I have to ask myself, was indoor plumbing really that great of an advancement? Think with me for a moment

Cain may have said, "Mom! Where's my loin cloth? I left it laying right by the creek after my bath!"

And Eve may have replied," A wild boar carried it off. I tried to tell you not to leave your clothes laying around." Problem solved. No more personal items laying around for the wildlife to shred.

Trees designated as "private" bore signs that read, "Use all the leaves you need, we'll grow more." No more cries to answer, such as "where's the toilet paper", "do you have any softer paper towels" and "do we really have to use wide ruled paper?". Nature's cool breezes provided what pine fresh spray in a can could not-instant ventilation.

Somewhere between cleaning toilet number 3 and 4 I had a brainstorm. I am going to install papertowel holders in all the bathrooms directly above the toilet paper. Above each will be a small plaque, (tastefully coordinating with the bathroom decor of course) that will read, "Don't just sit there, clean something."

The problem then arises, that after all the bathrooms are cleaned, one of my alternate personalities emerges. The first one to emerge from a cleaned bathroom is immediately brought before the Senate Committee, of which I hold all offices.

"What were you doing in there?" I harshly ask.

"Did you pee? Yes? Did you raise the lid? Did you get any drops anywhere else besides the designated area? Did you wash your hands? Did you poop? Was it loose or firm? LOOSE!!!! Oh. no! Did any residual matter stick to the upper part of the bowl, or was it all flushed down?? Did you touch the faucets with your dirty hands, or use your elbows like I showed you?"

And there is great fear and trembling present for the child who has to make multiple trips to the clean bathroom.
"Didn't you just use the bathroom? That's it I'm cutting back on your fluids! You're drinking too much! And go get the Immodium! You need a dose just in case! Did you use the fancy towel to dry your hands? I 've told you and told you, that towel is for the special guests! That's not us! Use the stained towel under the sink! "

It never fails, somebody gets a stomach virus after the bathrooms are cleaned. Although I have sort of wondered if all the tension in the home during and following my attack on the porcelain portals, has not induced irritable bowel syndrome in my kids.

I assure you, in those moments, the victim wishes he had just gone outside.

The thing that scares me the most, is that I am starting to have some very disturbing dreams about Mr.Clean. Apparently, in the deep, dark recesses of my heart, I secretly long for a bald man to come and not sweep me off my feet, but rather sweep around my feet. His smiling face on the cleaning bottle, just seems to say, " I will clean those bathrooms for you, my love, and I will enjoy doing it!" I am having some spiritual conflicts with the fact that he wears an earring, (oh, and the fact I am married), but I honestly believe if we had an immaculate home, my husband could tolerate the bald man with Febreeze cologne hanging out in the laundry room.

Oh, the daily trials of keeping the bathroom clean, and surviving in our home after they are clean!
In the middle of my tirade, God gently yet firmly, brought something to my attention. He has had the same issue with me for years, yet He has handled it so much better. While I realize the above comments may seem a little disgusting and improper to speak of, they are nothing compared to what I am getting ready to share. I have a horrible, disgusting habit. I have tried to break it, tried to hide it, tried to make it smell better or even look better-but I can't. I am a sinner. I daily sin. I try desperately to keep my soul fragrant, clean, and spotless, but I am powerless on my own to do it. So I must then make a trip to the "water closet" or more appropriately called the prayer closet. There I must reveal, confess, and grieve before my Father, asking for forgiveness for once again, having to dirty, and blemish the pristine, spotless, and beautiful throne room I entered. Yet, almost like Pilot, I am told to wash my hands of that sin. Each time I am given a fresh washing in the sparkling sink of mercy. Oddly, God has His children use stained towels too, to dry their newly cleansed hands- they are stained red with the blood of His Son and embroidered with Grace.
I have repeated this ritual time and time again, more times than I can remember, and not one time the Father chooses to remember. Each time I am met with the same welcome- open arms and gentle words. No condemnation. No reminders of how many times I had been there before. No rebukes for the messes He has to clean up-repeatedly. Just the same love, mercy, grace, and willingness to cleanse.
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning." Lam. 3:22-23
It is a truly great and wonderful act of mercy and grace, that each morning we arrive in His presence to find no lingering reminders of yesterdays failures. There are no fingreprints on the sink of grace mocking us for having to return, no damp or wrinkled towel of mercy laying on the floor, reminding us it is right where we left it yesterday. New, fresh, clean, and sparkling preparations await me every day in the Father's Presence-for He chooses not to remember and removes all such memorbilia from His presence. New mercies-yet the same Loving God.

Now, I am having a very different vision of Mr. Clean. Same smiling face and eager desire to clean, yet in a very different way. He has olive skin, brown hair, and deep eyes that can look into my very soul, yet they never reveal the disappointment and sadness at what He must see there. And while He has no pierced ear, He has pierced hands and feet, that take His desire to clean me to a whole new level. And while He does accompany me to the laundry room, He dwells in my heart, for that is where there is the most work to be done. And there He smiles and says, "Let me clean you, my love, and I will enjoy doing it." Jesus puts Mr. Clean to shame.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Battle of Chicken Run

Well, I have exciting news. My morning devotion this morning was attended by 7,000 others. It was a packed house. Sadly, they were all hens and roosters. I locked myself in the chicken house by accident this morning and had to do a fair amount of praying while sitting on a bucket waiting for help. It was "Survivor" chicken house style.
If you haven't heard, our family now owns Triple Cross Farms, where we care for 27,000 chickens, and gather their eggs. It was a complete act of God that opened the door for us to receive this beautiful home, farm, and business. He has been working out the plan and details step by step over the past year and half. We had no idea where we were heading, but the journey was an amazing one that I would not have wanted to miss.
As I sat on the bucket this morning with hens pecking at my rubber boots, I sort of wondered if God and I weren't both having doubts about me being here. The morning started out a 5 0'clock am. Apparently, some of God's creatures do stir that early, though I am not generally one of them. (God can confirm this.) So the hour itself was one strike against me. The second strike was the fact I took NyQuil at 2 am to help me sleep. Next time I am going to remember to dose the chickens too, so we can all get some extra sleep.
Half conscious, half sick, and half sedated , (see even my math doesn't calculate that early), I stumbled to the chicken houses to feed the chickens. I am assuming most of you have never been in a chicken house with 7,000 chickens. The houses run 500 feet long. The water troughs run down the center of the house, suspended from the ceiling. The controls are on the right side of the building. This information is important to the next dramatic part of my story.
When I went in, I walked down the wrong side of the building to get to the controls. I had a choice- walk 500 feet around to get to the right side of building, or crawl under the water lines.
Those of you who know me, know the only thing worth walking out of my way for is a good dessert, or a good buffet.
SO I chose to get on my hands and knees on the ground, in the wood shavings and you know what else, and crawl under. This is when I encountered another problem. Ever since the very first time I walked in a chicken house, I have chosen to wear men's size 13 rubber boots. I do this in hopes of intimidating the roosters. (It's odd how what seems so rational in my mind, looks so stupid on paper.) If I thought walking around in oversized boots was hard, crawling was even more so. Every time I pulled a knee forward, my foot slid farther out of the boot. I would then slide my knee back to replace my foot back in the boot. After a few moments of alternating this procedure between both legs, it dawned on me. I was getting nowhere. I was shuffling my legs back and forth digging a trench I was now getting caught in. Both boots then became wedged under me, as I struggled to retrieve the boots, and keep my face out of the wood chips.
But that was not my greatest struggle. I was now face to face with the Roosters. They are magnificient creatures when you are looming over them. Face to face, not so much. They descended on me, much like I was deep fried and in a bucket. I was pecked and scratched while I clawed my way out of the trench,to the other side of the building, beating them off with one boot and a sock.
I should mention, our chickens are usually wonderful, tame, and non- agressive, but they are also creatures that panic and freek out over any abnormal, out of the ordinary object, or behavior. A 280 pound, hyperventilating woman crawling around on the ground waving a boot, falls under that category. The chickens had dinner and a show. It was not a performance I wish to repeat. (There are 7,000 others that agree.)
After the harrowing battle at Chicken Run, I was ready to head back to my bed. As I tromped to the door through the haze of chickens feathers and airborne dust, I dreamed of a hot shower, and my warm bed. But life can be so cruel, for as I turned the knob nothing happened. It was locked. I pounded, cried, and rammed the door, begging to be let out. A 7,000 voice choir joined the song behind me. "Please, let her out!" they squawked in unison.
But I succumbed to my fate and sat on a bucket to await my knight in shining armor riding in a pick up truck to rescue me. " One word from him, and I'm throwing myself under the truck,"I muttered to myself.

Maybe today, you're having a rough start. What should be an easy and smooth task has turned into a monumental undertaking. I have to ask did you forget your key? Not the key to any wooden man made door, but the key to Heavenly provision and power-the key of Prayer. We can be right where God would have us to be today, but without that Key, we are powerless and purposeless. We are trapped in the right time and place but it's purpose cannot be fulfilled. How many days of purpose have I lost because I failed to use the Key of prayer to unleash God's power in each place. What would the Cross have been without Gethsemane? What would the Day of Pentecost have been without the Upper Room? What is a church without an alter, or the Temple without the Holy of Holies? Without prayer our lives are stages awaiting great performances, arenas awaiting magnificent exploits, and blank pages awaiting a written masterpiece. None can be accomplished without God, and the world may never see or read them without prayer.

Prayer. One little Key can unlock so much. The absence of one little Key can keep us trapped in so much. Can you hear the 7,000 "amens" behind me?