“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)

We married young. I had an idea of what marriage would be, but, I confess it was based on Disney princess movies, and 50’s sitcoms like Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and like shows. What I needed back in 1974/75 was Roseann Barr.

So, the dream I had of marriage met with the reality of being a military spouse. They came crashing together abruptly two days after I said “I do”.

This caused anger in me. An undefined anger and resentment. It continued even after our salvation experience. People talk of great testimonies of being saved from addiction, vile life styles, crime and they are incredible testimonies. Not many people will testify that on the outside they looked good, and all together. Actually, I have never heard a person stand up and say, “I was an angry woman. I had resentment up to my eyeballs. I was redeemed from this.”

We don’t hear things like this because we are selfish. Everyone has a measure of selfishness in them. I am no different.

Today as I ironed Dale’s shirt the Lord walked me down memory lane. It was not a good memory trip.

“Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap  burning coals of shame on their heads.” Romans 12:20 (NLT)

This scripture came to mind shortly into my trip down memory lane this morning. I was enjoying ironing a shirt for Dale (I know, but I like to iron). I could almost hear the Lord laughing at me when I pressed the wrinkles out of the shirt. That is when my memory lane started.

I remember how much I hated to iron when we were first married. The creases that needed to be in the uniforms, the precision that needed to be there.

Sometimes being married to a Navy man who likes perfection was more than I could bear. Hence, the anger and resentment.

One day I was complaining loudly to the Lord about that man He blessed me with. And the scripture in Romans came to mind. I determined then, years and years ago, to do everything as perfect as I could, hoping to heap lots and lots of burning coals on Dale’s head.

At first I can remember growling over the things I did, seeing that he did not notice or stand up to applaud me. But, I continued to do so, praying for him to notice my diligence. I was doing things out of a selfish motive. I would do this, but, I wanted him to see me and lavish affection and gifts over me.

Years passed, I gritted my teeth many times. I whined to the Lord that I was not being appreciated. I refused to quit “heaping burning coals” on Dale’s head. After all, I was going that extra mile. I was being selfish.

Slowly I realized that as I ironed shirts and uniforms, my prayers were changing. Instead of praying for notice of my perfect creases in the shirts and pants, I was praying for my husband while he wore these uniforms and clothes.

I had found joy in the doing and without realizing it at the time, I was actually heaping burning coals upon myself. The coals finally burned through that selfishness and anger, revealing a love that was dormant for my husband.

I once heard a pastor say regarding marriage, “What ever was strong enough to draw you down the aisle, should be strong enough to keep you there.” There are a lot of arguments about that statement, but, to me, it made me realize that the young love I had when I married was indeed strong enough to keep me in the marriage.

When dreams and reality crash dynamics change. Continuing to be selfish does not help matters. After 48 years of marriage I can honestly say, I am still a bit selfish. I still want that applause and recognition from Dale. WE all crave that from our spouse, family, friends. But, the peace, and joy and satisfaction that with God’s help and strength, I can look at what I accomplish and say to our Lord, “Here is my effort. I may be more of a Roseann Barr type of Mom and wife, than a Donna Reed wife and mom, but this is from me. May it find worth in Your eyes.”

Without Wrinkle

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25-27 (NLT)

This Saturday a neighbor’s son is getting married. A few weeks ago, I offered a helping hand in anything that might be needed. Having put together things for a wedding, I know the lists can be long and towards the end of the planning you find you may be a few hands short of help.

My neighbor graciously took me up on the offer in the form of pressing some tablecloths. She didn’t give me many, but since I do love to iron, I was excited to be able to help out.

I love ironing. There are few tasks around the home that give instant gratification. Cleaning toilets, washing windows and ironing. You do a bit of work and you see instant results. It’s wonderful.

I also know that even in the little things my Lord teaches me things. I did pray over the tablecloths. I prayed for the people who would be sitting at the tables. I prayed for the bride and groom, for their life together, for being used of the Lord as a couple, for the parents who are gaining a family member to love.

Also, as I was pressing out wrinkles, I felt the Lord speak to me. As I looked at a bunched up wrinkled mass in the middle of one cloth, I heard, this is what you looked like when you first accepted Me into your life. I paused ironing to look at the jumble of wrinkles, wondering how this was like me.

The Lord continued, that although I had asked Him to be my Lord and Savior, I still had a bunch of stuff attached to my life. Compassionately, through the years, my Lord has taken His spiritual iron and has slowly and evenly pressed me. Each wrinkle, as it has disappeared has given me freedom, or joy, or redemption, or peace,or healing. Each time a new wrinkle appears, I know our Lord is there, being merciful and loving toward me.

The ironing went fast for me, partly because I love to iron, but mostly because I was able to talk with my Lord and like the Good Shepherd He is, He gently spoke to me, knowing His voice is the One I long to hear and learn from.

Ode to Housework

“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”
― Erma Bombeck

I have a schedule that I try to keep. Monday, laundry and towels, Tuesday bedding, blankets and ironing from Monday, Wednesday, groan that the laundry basket is beginning to fill, Thursday debate at doing more laundry, Friday try to remember that it could be a date night, Saturday make certain there are clean clothes for church, Sunday I take off, after all it is the Lord’s day. I also eat what I want on that day, blessed are the calories.

In between all of those laundry days I clean bathrooms, look at the kitchen floor (who in their right mind ever put white linoleum in a kitchen?) , vacuum, and look some more at the kitchen floor.

I try to keep a clean house, but I am one of those that does the company shuffle. You know, when company comes you pick everything off the kitchen table and countertops and hide it. That way people think you have an immaculate house.

I confess I do love to wash windows and clean bathrooms. You see instant results and that is rewarding. Today, as I was cleaning the bathroom I found myself full of questions. Questions like, why? Why am I so thrilled with a sparkling mirror when I know it will soon be splattered with toothpaste? Why remove soap scum when it’s just going to reappear? Why clean the toilet when you know what will happen.

The kitchen floor is the bane of my existence. If you look hard at it after cleaning it, you will actually see dirt appear immediately. I groan at the thought of scrubbing it when I know it will be dirty by time I put my wash pan away.

These are the thoughts of this housewife. I have had them for almost 50 years, more if you count the time as kids when we had to clean the house.

I am not complaining, really I am not. For in the mundane tasks the Lord is there speaking to me. I have learned lessons while cleaning the toilet bowl. He is in the details.

How often when I goof up, when I sin, when I veer off a path, does the Lord say to me, why? He doesn’t, I just threw that in. He doesn’t because of Calvary. I believe He does shake His head like I shake mine in redoing the cleaning. But, when I turn to Him and ask forgiveness, He sees that sparkling reflection.

Yes, I try to learn lessons in everything. God created the minutest details on this earth. The ants, the little piece of dirt that gets between your toes while wearing sandals, the thorns in roses, the gnats, the black flies. The things that can irritate. But He also created the lightening bugs, the rainbows, the sunsets and the soft spring grass. I believe God is in the mundane, the boring and the glorious.

I am grateful to be able to complete the boring jobs. I am glad I have things to clean and take care of. God is in all the details of our life. “Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him.” John 1:3 (MSG)

As I finish this post, I will once more go back to the mundane. The clothes are laying on the couch and the ironing board is up and it is calling to me. I know as I iron I will once more think how God has removed my wrinkles and in Him, I am fresh and clean.