Raising Olives welcomes guest blogger Kimarie from Cardamom’s Pod. Kimarie and I have known of each other since we were young teens. Our fathers are both in the ministry and are long time friends. Kimarie is the mother of 9 children and blogs about her life and family adventures at Cardamom’s Pod.
It was THE DAY. I was armed with my cleaning supplies – scouring pad and powder, scrubbing bubbles spray, and determination.
It was time to clean my bathtub.
Cleaning is a chore, but hard well water makes it much more so. Most of the time when we used our sinks, we would use a washcloth to quickly blot up the sitting water before it would evaporate and leave the dreaded “watermark”. The bathtub was often neglected, due to my lack of organization in cleaning routines, and simple procrastination.
The soap scum came off easily, exposing the dull brown marks left by our hard water. Scouring and powder worked, but was very tiring. Off I trudged to the cleaning closet to get the vinegar, which would gently melt away the mineral deposits. It worked well on the walls, but I became impatient with the crust around the drain. It was thick and stubborn, and I had already spent more time than planned on this project. I did not want to wait. I decided to get… the spoon. I scraped away large chunks of “stone”, noticing a few new scratches on the metal ring around the drain. Then, even though I knew it was too harsh – I actually splashed a little toilet cleaner on the remaining bits, melting them away – and etched the metal. Oh, well – at least it was clean now. I put a thick application of paste wax just around the drain, and on the walls of the tub area, trying out a little preventative maintenance.
One thing I have found is that while I am busy with physical labor on something like that, my mind works furiously. I had been reading some books on child training, and I began to compare that topic with the job I had just completed.
Obviously, the best way to keep my bathtub clean would have been to do so from the beginning. I could have paid attention to its composition, researched what cleansers were best to use, and found something to protect the surface from the harsh elements. Have you seen the way water beads up and rolls right off a newly-waxed car? Have you ever seen the owner of such a car meticulously polishing it every day, getting every speck of dust before it builds up?
With children, it is best to start very young with training – and we need to read God’s Word which tells us what children are like, and how best to train them up. This adds protection from many future problems. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us to diligently teach God’s commands to our children – when we sit, walk, lie down, and wake up.
Even if I had placed a protective barrier on my bathtub, experience has taught me that it can’t just be put on one time – it will wear off slowly, and needs to be re-applied on a regular schedule in order to be effective.
It’s all too easy, if we’ve gotten off to a “good start” with our children, to slack in our diligence and begin to lose that initial “protection” we placed around them. We need to be watchful and active, because God tells us that a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15) Ecclesiastes 10:13, referring to a house, reminds us that “Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.”
I didn’t have a good cleaning routine in place, so the grime built up quickly – even more so with the hard water. I had young children, so there would be interruptions, and when I grabbed a quick shower, I would just see the dirt, sigh, and put it out of my mind. “I’ll deal with it later.”
How many times do we do this with our precious children? We see little behaviors and problems creeping in, and we sigh, thinking of how much time it will take to reprove, correct, and train. We are tempted to say, “There’s so much going on today, and that problem is so small, I’ll get to it the next time.” Once again, God’s word has the solution in Proverbs 13:24, and tells us that parents who love their children will discipline them promptly. Just to be clear, that means right now!
When the stains on the bathtub were so bad that my husband began to hint that I really should clean the bathtub, I formulated my plan, and we’re back to the beginning of this little story. I grabbed my supplies and tools, and went to work. I spent a long time, and became exhausted and frustrated. Then I became impatient, and used harsher tools and chemicals, permanently marring the tub. If I had just put the vinegar-soaked rag on the stain and waited 24 hours or so – the hard, crusty minerals would have softened and been easily wiped away. I’d done it before on other sinks – gently and with patience.
Sadly, we are so prone to this as well in our child-training. We neglect to nip problems in the bud, and they flourish into full grown plants (oops – that’s for another analogy post). We get embarrassed when someone points them out to us. We break out the “big guns” and go in blazing. We work long and hard on the problems – crushing our children’s spirits – instead of following God’s ways of putting on the fruits of the Spirit and gently confronting sin (Galatians 5:22-6:1). When we get impatient and frustrated, eager for quick results, we may even resort to sinning ourselves – using whatever method WORKS to get this fixed NOW. Permanent, unpleasant memories are created – in both children and parents – that may last a lifetime. Thank God that His grace and mercy can heal many of these, but how much better it is to not create them in the first place!
As we raise our children for God’s glory, may He give us the ability to “be sober, be vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). May we remember that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13).
Thanks Kimarie for a beautiful post about how we should train our children and how we so often fail them. This was a blessing and a good reminder for me. To read more about Kimarie and her family visit her blog, Cardamom’s Pod.