Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Whatever You Do, You are Serving the Lord Christ

  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

One day last week I walked into a local fast food establishment in order to get a much "needed" cup of liquid caffeine.  This particular location has been the scene over the last seventeen years of many first day of school breakfasts, last day of school celebratory lunches, emergency breakfasts with a trusted friend when life was just too overwhelming and I needed to ventFrequented often by our family, I have seen many managers and employees come and go.  

On that morning last week, I witnessed a scene I don't recall ever witnessing before.   First of all, it was just after 10 in the morning and it was a morning when concern for the possibility of very slick roads for the morning commute had been of utmost importance the night before.   And at just after 10 am as I approached the entryway and tile sidewalk just outside the door, a young man had a wet mop applying water to the tile surface.  I hesitated a bit just to check for a thin sheet of ice that might be appearing.   I did not see any ice so I proceeded.  The second sight to greet me was the dining room cleanup lady busily mopping a large section of the dining room floor.   I walked towards the counter and was stunned at what I saw next.

Usually upon approaching the counter, I am greeted by the lady who has been there as long as I have lived in this community or one of the other cashiers and asked what I might like to order.   Usually there are one or two employees behind that counter, maybe two or three in the drive-through area, and usually two or three visible in the food prep area behind the front line.  But last week, there were so many bodies present in the space, I just stopped and stared.  People were moving over each other wiping surfaces- counters, monitor screens, cleaning the floor; I heard the sound of the grill being scraped and saw bustling bodies working, working, working, cleaning every surface, one on top of the other.   It was like an out of control machine with parts moving in all directions, interfering with the work of the one beside because space was tight.  

The only greeting I got was a very tense, "What would you like to order?"   I got no smile, no bantering, no asking about the kids.  The girl who waited on me looked as though she wanted to cry and I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that she had done just that before the morning was over.  

But the most striking observation of all was the manager who was prancing like a peacock back and forth across the front area, then down the side towards the back work area when asked a question by some poor soul.  She was barking orders every couple of seconds to someone, everyone.  She was in charge and left no doubt about it to the observing outsider or to those insiders whose expressions showed clearly they regretted being in that place at that time.  In my short time in that establishment on that morning, I heard her bark at her employees numerous times.  Someone dared to tell her they were out of food for an order and she barked back that breakfast is served until 10:30 am and she was not going to tell a customer at 10:26 am that they could not have what they wished to have. "We have chicken; we have the other ingredients; so get it prepped and get the order ready!" 

 On the one hand, that's good customer service; on the other hand, watching and listening to her took my appetite away.  My stomach knotted in empathy for her employees.  I figured that if I had hung around until 11 am, I probably would have heard her barking at those same employees about how many extra biscuits and small pieces of chicken were left over and what a waste they had created that morning!  She was in charge and every one in that dining room knew it as did every employee. 

And shamefully, I took the sights and sounds and realized that at times, my children, all four of them through the years, have had those same emotions and expressions that those fast food employees exhibited.  

Confession:  I am a horrible home manager!   My house is so overrun with clutter that sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe.  I cannot tell you the last time it was REALLY clean all over, every surface, much less organized and neat.  I have let busyness and other commitments get in the way of creating and maintaining a haven for the ones I love most in this world.   And oh my, if someone calls and says they need to stop by, then I become that barking manager, "Pick up this, get rid of that!"   The only difference is I don't just bark, I do participate.  In fact, I have carried more than my share of what work is done for years.  I have not trained my youngest children well at picking up after themselves; I shudder to think how much my future daughters-in-law will loathe me because of this.  

The fast food-cleaning frenzy experience sparked an internal spiritual dialog.  It reiterated that I need to lead my sons like Jesus led his apostles- through servant leadership.   Jesus, King of the universe, did not strut around barking orders.  He got down and got his hands dirty washing the dirt and dung off the feet of those He loved, served, and taught.  He walked among the sinners and the sick and He touched and He healed their physical ailments and their soul ailments.  Jesus was not too good to work; He worked hard and long and showed us the way to love and manage the people with whom we are entrusted

And now, as for me and my household, we need to get down to work.  We need to work together to create order, rid ourselves of dirt, dog hair, and chaos. or as FlyLady Marla Cilley (FlyLady.net) calls it, Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome!   

Pressing on in Him,


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Focus Changes Everything

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." 
 Romans 12: 15

Yesterday was a rainy day and a Monday.  (I could hear the Carpenter's lyrics rattling through my brain for half the day.)  It was cold, the perfect day to stay in and attend to my out of control, cluttered house!  But we had business to attend to elsewhere, family business.

On the last day of last week, a sweet friend in our church family had to release her dear mom to eternity.  Yesterday was the day that her family celebrated that life and said their temporary goodbyes to their mom, wife, grandmother, aunt, sister...

I quit my house rescue mission just after lunch and went to shower and dress.  Shower, check.  Makeup, check.  Hose, check.  Little black skirt, check.  Shoes, uh oh!  I never got the shoes I wanted to wear out of the vehicle my husband drove to work today.  Time? Nope, not going to work!   Shoes, ugly and old which don't coordinate with anything but maybe blue jeans on a slouchy day, check.

Dressed and ready, old, ugly shoes and all, I walk to the living room.  Ahhh, boys are ready.   One of the advantages to home education is that their education can include times like this of showing up for people we love.  One says, "I don't like funerals."   I reply, " Well son, no one likes funerals; but God tells us to love our family, His children, by being there, sharing their sorrow.  

As we began our journey across town, one of the boys says he cannot believe we haven't picked up his new shoes.  "Look at these shoes I'm having to wear; they are gross, paint-splattered, nasty-looking!"   I reply, "Yeah, well son, my shoes aren't so great either.  But you know what?   Today is not about us; no one will be concerned about our shoes."   But our friends will know we love them.

And that was the moment that helped me take my mind off my shoes and realize how blessed I am to be a child of God and part of the family He created.   Life in Christ is never about ME, it's about HIM and others.  It makes all the difference in my ability to serve when I remember that.