Just finished wiping up the kitchen counters. Betsy, my 10 year old, made chocolate chip cookies tonight. One of her signature dishes, requested often by her sibs. The kid really is a good cook - apple dumplings, chocolate sheet cake, chocolate chip cookies, from-scratch pancakes. (Hmmmmmm, as I list her culinary repertoire, it occurs to me that they all belong to one food group. Not to worry- we have plenty of pharmacists in the fam tokeep us out of diabetic comas. Cook on, Betsy, cook on!)
Love the food but gotta work on cleanup detail. I often find sticky remains of her expertise on the faucet, the fridge handles, the floor, not to mention the kitchen counters. Often I call her back in to take care of her own messes but tonight I didn't. After the cookie dough was complete, I was wiping around the counters and she reminded me that Daddy wants" to be sure we wipe off the faucet. " (Thanks, Love). She said "Y'all always tell me to clean stuff up but you don't notice when I do." Gulp. Busted. How many times do I overlook the good things and instead pull out my referee whistle to call out what didn't get done? Not just with Betsy, either. Each of my kids could very likely recite numerous times I have focused on the sticky kitchen counters in their lives and overlooked the chocolate chip cookies.
It's not that I don't notice the good stuff. Honestly, I think that I think I am helping. Moving them from one achievement to the next. But, as I squirt some cleaner on the counter, I ponder. That's not how my Heavenly Father deals with me. He says "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox." (Proverbs 14:4) In other words, when you make chocolate chip cookies, the counters are gonna get sticky. Literally and figuratively. We are all works in process and we are gonna make a mess of things sometimes. When we are busy getting transformed, there will be some messes to clean up. But God doesn't focus on the dirty manger - He encourages us about the strength of the ox.
And when He does point out that we need to clean that mess up, His words leave us hopeful. Encouraged. Not condemned. Not feeling that our chocolate chip cookies are overshadowed by the sticky counters. The difference is in the sweetness of His speech and the pleasantness of His Words.
My counters are clean now. But I'm focusing on those cookies..............
Originally published on October 4, 2012