More Ministry, Less Misery


I’ve gotten a lot done today, but I am tired with a capital “T” and ready for bed.   Last night was the second of two consecutive nights that I’ve stayed up late and gotten up early.   I can’t even remember why I was up except that I got engrossed in something on television, and at some point, it began to watch me rather than me watching it.   


Today was a grocery day and I wanted to get out early to beat the crowds.   The superhero, whose night was almost as late as my own, graciously offered to go, but I was already up and so let him rest.    Truth be told, I hadn’t completed the list as I should—the death knell on a budget—and taking the time would have crushed the goal of an early start.    I felt like treating myself to an early morning cup of coffee, and I couldn’t resist a rare chance to praise the Lord alone while driving.   I plugged in a great wake-up-and-get-to-dancin’-and-shoutin’ tune—Dietrick Haddon’s “I Gotta Praise (Holy One).” Man, I hated to get out of the car.


 The Muzak pumped out  80’s pop music, and every now and then, I reminisced of my college days and sang along.  Inevitably when I’m alone, though, my mind somehow finds its way to my life—what am I doing, am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and what I could do differently, whether better or worse.   I enjoyed my time with my thoughts amongst all the hustle and bustle, but I couldn’t help but people-watch as I filled my basket.  


So many don’t enjoy grocery shopping, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I get a kick out of meal planning.   It’s one of my favorite household activities.    Past the joy of eating (smile), I like managing the budget, and consequently setting the course for what we’ll eat.   I love making the list, experimenting with new ingredients, and observing how the whole process translates to where we’ll shop—a regular grocery store, a whole foods store, a fish market and/or a produce market, dependent upon the beginnings of the process.   The superhero is often the “legs and feet” of this process—the one who actually shops.   It works for us: he likes to be out and about, and he often shops on his way home from work.


Anyway, I’ve been reading Cheryl Mendelsohn’s Home Comforts (subtitled ‘The Art of Science of Keeping House’) after seeing it on Ambleside as a suggestion for a living book on home economics.   I’ve not gotten too far, but will hopefully delve further into it during this summer’s vacation.   Though our home is far from immaculate, and more often than I’d like it’s not even company-ready, I have learned to embrace managing the household as more ministry than misery.    I don’t dance with a broom just yet, but I realize more and more each day that, as the author says much more eloquently than I would, all of the tasks that we manage, and the associated value that we place on them, are a function of what we want people to feel while in our homes.    “People,” by the way, can be those that live in the home every day, and not necessarily company.      How we manage the home is about safety, health and wealth, and the mind, body and soul.


The oldest and I will cover parts of this book together in years to come, although I can already see that we won’t subscribe to its ideas cover to cover.  I enjoy a clean, neat home, but I don’t want household management to become burdensome for me so I’ve never been a fan of the Fly Lady, etc. (my apologies to those of you who are).   I’ve already noticed that as she talks about routines in cleaning, she suggests working “high to low.”   I’ve not figured out why yet, but I know that, for this home, low to high works best as the downstairs is about as far as 95% of our guests travel.   She also begins early in the book with how to make the perfect cup of coffee.    Though I still enjoy coffee, I don’t want to pick it up again as a daily habit; I had the worst headaches when I detoxed from caffeine years ago.   I did feel good that those items that she lists as daily habits were in line with I instinctively do anyway.   But, I prefer to be ministered to by her precepts of what managing a household is about, and to be transformed by the renewing of my mind in this area.    The next time someone wants to make you feel less than worthy because ‘all you do is stay at home,’ consider this:


‘Housekeeping requires knowledge and intelligence…, the kind that is complex, not simple, and combines intellect, intuition and feelings.   You need a memory good enough to remember how things are done, where things are, what the daily routine requires, what everyone in the home is up to as it affects housekeeping, the state of supplies, budgets, and bills…The ability to split your attention in several ways and stay calm is essential.  You need to exercise creative intelligence to solve problems and devise solutions: efficiency measures that save money or time; psychological or social measure to improve cooperation; steps to improve physical comfort; analyses of why and how some routines break down.   Housekeeping comprises the ability to find, evaluate and use information about nutrition, cooking, cleaning, and safety.   Above all, housekeeping must be intelligent so that it can be empathetic, for empathy is the form of intelligence that creates the feeling of home…’

Mendelsohn, pg. 10-11

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3 thoughts on “More Ministry, Less Misery

  1. Belinda, I'm right there with you regarding the late nights and early mornings. The old cliche there aren't enough hours in the day comes to mind!
    I too am a people watcher and sometimes leave the grocerey store bothered because a child looked bedraggled and neglected or the group of college kids in front of me are raving about how drunk they got the night before. Sounds self righteous I know but I just want everyone to behave themselves and to be nice to one another, haha!
    If my comment sounds a little disjointed it's because I'm also giving my two cents on the entry before.
    Did you ever watch The Cosby Show? There was an episode where I think Rudy made up a story about a fantasy place where everyone is happy until some rude folks move in and take over. Everything starts to go wrong and the beautiful fantasy place is no longer beautiful due to the inconsideration and insensitivity of the "rude folks". The climactic moment is when Rudy is witnessing the rude folks being mean for the upteenth time and Rudy yells "Stop!" and they did and that was the end of the story. Quite honestly, I'm looking forward to our King riding in on His white horse and shouting, "Stop!" and then we can just all go home where everything is alright.
    I am so sorry for the way your little one was treated. I can understand your anger and frustration with your neighbors. We as a family strive to practice good manners, even when so many around us seem oblivious to what good manners are. We teach our children to look someone in the face when they are being talked to. We teach our children to say thank you, Ma'am, and Sir as well as please and May I. I have stopped my children many times whether at church or shopping and made them go back to someone and say thanks or hello if they were spoken to and did not reply. Common courtesy seems to be going the way of Do unto others as you would have done to you, exiting quickly out the door!
    If I would have had the privilege of having your sweet one over I would have had her at the dining room table playing some board game with the girls and my five year old little guy or catching insects with nets and bug boxes or drawing, painting, or whatever else their precious imaginitive minds could have come up with. There is no excuse for treating a child shabbily much else leaving a five year old out and about unsupervised. She should have been escorted home.
    Oh Belinda I think I worked up my dander, whatever that is!!!
    Yes, forgiveness is a hard one for me at times too.
    I hope your family has a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!
    Blessings, Julie

  2. Oh, I do love grocery shopping – but for a totally different reason. I just love any few minutes of quiet I can get!!!!!!! I love to get away, alone with my music and my thoughts. Perhaps I'm more of an introvert that I originally thought.

    P.S. Love the quote!

  3. Oh how I like this post! I am going to check out the book!Truth is what we do is a ministry to our families and to anyone who stops by our home. No small calling on our lives!

I'd love to hear your two cents!!