The ‘discipline’ of first things first.

apron garden

Image by klynslis via Flickr

I first wrote this piece in 2006, but it came to my mind this morning as I was facing yet another kitchen full of the aftermath of getting the family up and out the door to school. There were so many things I would rather do than clean up. Yet, as I reflected on the fact that putting my house in order is my ‘job’, well, I just did it. And I stood back and admired the tidy kitchen before I sat down at my computer to work on some other needful things. Better than facing the dirty kitchen later in my morning, when feelings of resentment would probably accompany my tidying efforts.

In any case, here’s what I wrote, which still rings true in my life today.

I had to apologize to my children yesterday after school.  I have been home ‘sick’ for the past few days, and after my energy level began to pick up I found myself cleaning and tidying like I haven’t done in some time.  And the only reason I can think of for the renewed interest in cleaning, is that I’m actually AT HOME.

My life as a homemaker is usually quite busy, and I don’t enjoy all of the chores that come with my job description.  Many of my tasks are outside the home too, and most of those are more enjoyable.  So, my days usually include a variety of things, from walking my dog, to helping in the classroom, to grocery shopping, to errands, and even the occasional coffee with friends.  I have tried a number of different ways to accomplish my tasks in the home, both scheduled and non-scheduled.  The scheduled approach is best for me, so that on Monday I know it’s laundry day.  There isn’t any doubt that its laundry day, it just is.  I don’t have to justify, rationalize or wonder, It’s just laundry on Monday.

Problem is, on Mondays I’m not always home for the day.  And our laundry piles are pretty prolific.  So, making it laundry day doesn’t get it done.  Only being at home and working through it systematically gets it done.

So, this week, being at home and sick, reminded me that I haven’t been home enough.  As my husband kindly reminds me from time to time, it’s all about balance.  And when the scales are full of dirty clothes on one side and no clean ones on the other side, then that’s definitely not balance.

When I was home I saw other indications of unbalance in the form of cobwebs, burnt out light bulbs, grubby bathroom taps etc.  And I felt badly for two reasons.  One, that the job that I’ve been entrusted with isn’t being done to the best of my abilities, and two, that I’m setting a less than excellent example to my kids.  How can I, with good conscience, tell them off for not making their beds, when I haven’t made mine.

So, my apology to my kids was for both of these reasons.  I want them to know that I blow it some times, and that I’m human.  But I also want them to know that our family values include doing our best, keeping our commitments, and meeting our responsibilities, even when it’s not fun stuff.  Would I rather be out grocery shopping than scrubbing toilets – absolutely!  Does the thought of 10 loads of laundry fill me with joy?  Not really, but I do feel joy when the job is complete.  Even if the hamper stays empty for only a few hours, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at a job well done, at having given my best to the task, and at having been true to my commitment to care for my family.

Because I love words and the impact they have on me – they stick – I thought of a little line of words that I could think about when the lure of e-mail is greater than  the messy kitchen.  It’s simply this, “The discipline of first things first”.

The word discipline might not sit well with you.  It’s received a bad rap, I think, as we immediately consider the negative connotations of disciplining our children, or the stern teacher disciplining students.  But discipline has another side to it.  It’s about choosing to do what you have already committed to.  It’s about meeting priorities, even when they are not pleasant.  It’s about choosing the important things over the needful things of the moment.  It’s about lining up my behaviour with my values.

My spiritual life requires discipline.  It’s so much easier to call up a friend for emotional support than to pray to my heavenly father.  It’s easier to keep on doing chores and running errands than stop for a quiet time of reading, meditation, and praise.  It’s so tempting to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than joining together with God’s people for worship and teaching.  You may think that choosing the latter in each case sounds like legalism, but for me anyway, the discipline combined with the desire allows me to make better choices.  Better choices for me anyway.  You will have to decide what’s ‘first’ in your own life.

Today was a good day.  I chose to read my devotional before I started my day’s work. I chose to clean the kitchen before I answered personal e-mails.  I chose to finish what I had started, before beginning a new project.  Not martyrdom, simply honouring my priorities.  Everyone’s will be different.  But everyone has them.  It’s a matter of sticking to them, and that does take discipline.

Trying to be faithful in the little things,


Poetry Friday014


Over and over
I drag it up and lay it down
Only to pick it up again,
And here I am, ashamed,
Hooked in,

Laying my Isaac down sounds noble,
But, with coals glowing hot
On the altar,
My greedy fingers reach
To snatch back
The sacrifice.

I convince myself of another way,
With another lamb,
‘Cause this one is virtually unblemished
Strangely precious,
Somehow larger than life.

And although I know a higher
Holier way awaits
On the other side of the flames,
I choose to trade redemption
For burnt fingers
And slightly charred

Lesley-Anne Evans

Illustration: Rembrandt – The Sacrifice of Isaac

Why my husband is hot!

A few years ago I would have cringed at the word ‘hot’, as it brought, in my opinion, a certain air of disrespect or familiarity or blatant sexuality that I didn’t care for. It made me feel uncomfortable to hear kids referring to the opposite sex in this manner, and I warned my kids to not say it. But, as I have become fully immersed in the world of teen-dome (three kids aged 12, 14, 17), and slowly desensitized to terminology that comes with it, I guess I’ve allowed myself to open up to this word and to others to a certain extent. Perhaps I was being a prude before? Perhaps I didn’t know the kids who were using the language as much as I know my own kids and their friends? Like other youthful vocabulary through the ages, the word says what it says with no pretense. Although it’s still not used commonplace in our family, I like the rawness of it, the honesty.

That’s why I think ‘hot’ is a perfect way to describe my husband, Bob!

Sure, there’s the obvious superficial outwardly sexy part of him that makes him hot. He’s fashionable, trendy and good looking, he’s up to speed on current events and politics, he’s always the visionary and creative thinker that never grows tired of dreaming of a future that is brighter, better, bigger than life as it is. And he’s a hard worker, never a slacker, growing a business from nothing with integrity and talent. He’s funny, bright, charismatic, a true leader who has honed his ability to work well with teams, be it board members or staff or volunteers. He is driven. He is honest.

He never stops asking questions, naturally inquisitive. He loves to talk. He is interesting to listen to, and a great story teller.

My husband loves God, his church and his family. And he’s not afraid to tell anyone that. His faith is active and alive and visionary and even in this, always asking questions… which is refreshing in a sometimes stale Christianity. My hubby keeps me honest and on the straight and narrow.

But what makes my husband hot is the fact that he is faithful. Including the 2 years we dated, my husband has been faithful to me and to our marriage for 25 years. I trust him whole heartedly because he is trust worthy. He has proved that over and over again. With all the junk coming at him from the media, and everything else that bombards him on a daily basis, still he comes home to me. He loves me. He chooses me. Even when I don’t deserve it!

I admit that I often allow life and the kids to get in the way of our marriage. I forget that the kids will go and even friends might move away and life will change. The constant in it all is Bob. I can’t afford to take him for granted, now can I?

I just attended my Uncle Dave’s funeral in Orlando, Florida last week. He was 70 years old, and married to my Aunt Betty Lou for 48 years. They had no children, so she was his world and vice-versa. Their life together was a love story, although she admits they’ve had ups and downs too. She showed me the valentine’s bear he gave her… his very last gift to her. He adored her. He prioritized her. He took care of her needs. And she basked in the glory of his love. He was hot to her. I’m certain of that.

My Aunt shared some marital wisdom with me as we cried and talked together late one night. She told me to never stop taking time to look into Bob’s eyes. She looked into my eyes as she said that… and she was very serious.

So, for the past week my hubby and I have been dating, going to a neighbourhood cafe for wine and Jazz, out for dinner to celebrate our 23rd anniversary, spontaneously calling and texting each other during the day. And we’ve gone for walks with the dog, and we’ve looked into each others eyes. And the fire is still there.

I can feel a shift happening within me as I see some areas where I need to make adjustments to how I’ve been lacking in love. I’m thankful for the chance to make change. I’m thankful for my hot husband.