Mothers day is just around the corner, and it is my pleasure to welcome to the blog one of the most insightful mothers I know. Emily Allen is the founder and visionary behind KindredMom.com, an online community and podcast dedicated to helping women find joy and purpose in motherhood. She is the mother of seven, and she is forever marked by the rescue and redemption Jesus Christ has accomplished in her life.
You’ll love her right away.
She and her team have written a book that would make a fabulous gift for yourself or a mom in your life for Mother’s Day, and she’s graciously shared an adapted excerpt with us today.
“I show up at the sink to an insurmountable pile of dishes. Nothing is scraped. Nothing is sorted. My limited counter space is overrun with remnants of our previous two meals—room-temp food, wadded up napkins between plates, stray silverware, and pans that need to be soaked. I pause and take a deep breath, aware that the only way to get out of this mess is to travel through it, bit by bit, plate by plate.
To my left, worship music plays softly through the Bluetooth speaker inside the cupboard of drinking glasses. I swing the cabinet door open so melodies can surround my weary soul as I swipe plates with a sponge and place them into the dishwasher. I’m hoping the cares I’ve brought to the kitchen will wash down the drain along with the bits of food I scrape into the disposal.
I’ve never been great at staying ahead of the mayhem, and as we’ve added kids to our family, it has become increasingly difficult to keep a tidy kitchen (let alone a tidy house). Most of the time I hobble along, performing whatever damage control is necessary to get through the day. Despite my best efforts, I constantly feel like our home is in disarray.
Like my kitchen, I am a mess inside—anxious, easily irritated by the squabbles of seven spirited children, weighed down by worries common to mothers everywhere.
Not a single thing I do in the course of a day leads to a satisfying end. I always have more toys to pick up, more laundry loads to flip, and more dishes to wash.
I turn up the volume loud enough to drown out the normal sounds of the kids, but not so loud I won’t be able to hear if an emerging situation requires my attention. Words of hope fill my ears, and the music draws me into another world. I replace noise with noise, but the worshipful words are a solace and an invitation to quiet my heart before God while my hands do the work they know. I am transported to a place where I am both physically present in an ordinary kitchen task and attentive to a deeper exchange between His spirit and mine.
When I show up at my kitchen sink, God shows up, too.”
~Excerpt adapted from “Worship at the Kitchen Sink” by Emily Sue Allen; this is an essay from Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds by writers from KindredMom.com
Maybe it’s the fact we have nine people living in our house, but it seems to me like there are always piles of dishes in my sink––even if I just finished doing all the dishes. The constant nature of the food cycle––prepare, serve, store, cleanup––is just one of many duties of caregiving that has required more energy than I typically have in reserve…not to mention I’d rather be reading, walking, or doing something creative with my time.
Still, I have come to believe it is a grace from God to draw me back to that humble place at the kitchen sink to repeat the same simple steps every day––a living liturgy to remind me that strength is cultivated by faithfulness. This simple, ordinary cycle is more than a hum-drum task meant to wear me out.
This basic household routine is part of a greater reality: faithfulness is required for flourishing.
For me, it’s less about the dishes and more about the truth of servanthood. Serving my family is not always gratifying. Sometimes it is mundane. Sometimes it is annoying. But when I set aside my boredom and annoyance to do what is needed, I can see the purpose in my service. I am nourishing my children’s hearts and bodies.
I am modeling a good work ethic and what it looks like to care about basic needs with love. I am expanding my children’s understanding of the effort involved in serving them, and I’m teaching them––meal after meal––how to be grateful.
I am empowering my older children to join me in the process of scraping, rinsing, and putting away dishes, demonstrating how we all should be moving toward age-appropriate responsibility for the stewardship of our lives.
I will still let out a sigh when I see the next obnoxious pile of dishes taunting me from my kitchen sink, but that won’t stop me from getting my hands wet to repeat the cleaning process yet again. This is about more than dishes. This is how God grows my character.
In the humble and repetitive chores of caregiving, I am reminded that God continually cares for me. He strengthens me to do what is necessary. He equips me as challenges arise, and He stays with me even after the clean dishes are put away.
When I faithfully serve my family, God nourishes me for the tasks and produces a flourishing life in my family and in me.