The Daily Grind

In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people follow a call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah gathers, directs, and works alongside the Isrealites to restore the physical and also the mental/emotional state of their city. While I’m no theologian, when reading through Nehemiah I noticed that Nehemiah wasn’t specifically, audibly called by God for this job. God burdened his heart for these people. He begs God for His leading. He prays earnestly that God would open doors to restore His people. Nehemiah sees himself as willing and capable to respond to the need of God’s people. This is sometimes how I feel. God has burdened my heart with injustice. There is a problem that is near to God’s heart, just like in Nehemiah. I am a willing and capable servant answering a call.

But this is not the point. There is another element to this story of Nehemiah.

To be honest, the biblical narrative is kinda boring. There’s many lists of materials and names that are hard to pronounce. It’s not an epic tale with action, wars, and valiant bravery like David and Goliath. It’s about a fairly mundane task of repairing a broken down city, dealing with politics of kings and money, and finishing a necessary job. Specifically in chapter 3, it becomes very redundant in the explanation of how they rebuilt each piece of the wall.

 “The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs.”

Frankly, these are hard thoughts to connect, but stay with me.

A servant of God was burdened when he saw a need. He then took on a tedious, mundane job, and it was documented. The book of Nehemiah does a thorough job of explaining the materials and procedures of fixing a wall. To me it seemed boring, but looking into it, there must be a reason God wanted it put in His Word. It’s makes sense, though, when you look at the importance of this ‘boring task’ of rebuilding the wall. A wall around their city was vital to establish boundaries, provide protection, and restore the people who had been in exile. It wasn’t a sought-after job, but it was needed. It wasn’t glorious, but it was necessary.

This is where I am.

Being a Family Teacher can be very mundane. Hitting a certain level of comfortability with our job has brought on a new need to be intentional about what we do. I found myself thinking of the verse ‘do not grow weary in doing good’ frequently this week as I completed many technical parts of this job – paperwork, meal planning, laundry, bedtimes, grocery shopping. I’m fairly certain that others feel this same way whether it be about their job, family, or anything one does on a regular basis. This is the Daily Grind. But we have to look past the practical into the importance of the job. If there is anything I’ve learned from a tough month in this job, it is how essential this task is. I think this is mirrored in the book of Nehemiah, in the life of Nehemiah. I have found much encouragement from reading through the small, mundane, daily role of the workers on that wall. They didn’t give up. They worked together. They had many obstacles, but overcame.

It seemed like a simple order to rebuild a wall. Yet, I can’t imagine it was easy to keep at it every day. It had to be hard to keep looking toward the end goal. Not many jobs are extraordinary, there is always a part of our lives that is mundane. But God has called us to it. He has called us to be faithful to Him, to see a need and meet it, to work to the best of our ability for His glory. He doesn’t ask us to change the whole world. He wants us to change OUR world, sometimes by faithfully completing everyday tasks with His love.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 

The Joys

It’s easy to have a heavy heart in this job. Some days we feel trapped in sadness and despair when we look at the outcome of these children and families. But one of the strengths we share is humor. Jonathon and I both love to laugh and joke and tease. It was the basis for our friendship, and now it gets us through our crazy life. I may cry most days, but I also laugh my head off. Kids are funny. Their innocence, awkwardness, clumsiness, and ingenuity create hilarity. We know for a fact that it wouldn’t take long to get burnt out of this job without the ability to see joy in every day. So, you may not laugh as hard as we do about these stories, but we hope you can see the joys of living our unconventional life.

To start, here’s a list of things we never thought we’d say:

‘You cannot dip your shoes in your juice.’

‘Get your head out of the freezer.’

‘Stop biting the couch.’

‘It’s not safe to tie those shoelaces around your body.’

‘Why did you color in the hymnal?’

‘You can’t take a shower in the sink.’

‘Why did you color on your pants?’

‘Please give me all the nails in your bed.’

We learn so much as parents everyday, but mostly about how not to laugh in their face at some of these statements.

‘You’re lucky I’m not old enough to show you my middle finger.’

‘Is asking a girl out hard? I hear it’s pretty hard to do.’

A child asking me a “private question”: ‘Are my armpits supposed to smell when I take my shirt off?’

Brothers: ‘Can we sleep in the drawers under the bed?’

A picky eater: ‘What brand of pizza is that? I only eat certain brands.’

Mr Jon saw the child’s school picture with trees as the background: ‘You went out into the woods to get your pictures?!’ Child: ‘Ummmmm . . I don’t remember. It was in the gym??’ Mr Jon: ‘Well, in this picture you’re in the woods. Did they bring trees into the school??’ Child: ‘Ummmm. . I don’t even know, Mr Jon!’

3 Year old whining, Mr Jon: ‘What happened, buddy? There’s a bunch of hair in your mouth.’ Child: ‘I licked Phoebe all the way to her tail’

Elementary boy: ‘I called a girl Squidward from Spongebob and my teacher said I liked her.’

3 year old: ‘Miss Heidi, these are my NIPPLESSSSSS!’ (lifts shirts)

‘Miss Heidi, close your eyes! It’s a zombieeeee!!’

3 year old: (in timeout) ‘Imma take my pants off!’

Mr Jon doing morning routine while Miss Heidi gets ready for the day. Once I come out, the 5 year old says: ‘Miss Heidi, you like to sleep? You always want to sleep.’

At church: ‘Are they drinking blood? Miss Heidi, is that wine?’

‘Miss Heidi, there’s these things. They’re sheets, but not normal ones. You have to get them in the corners just right. But once they’re on there, you don’t even think the corners are there. It’s pretty complicated.’

7 year old girl: (with a mouth full of food) ‘all I want to do is just eat garlic bread’

‘Our teacher said a bad word today in class. It was really bad.’ (gets his textbook to show us the word “asexual”)

Middle school boy slams: ‘I don’t make sense. I make dollars’

(lots of stuttering) ‘Don’t even laugh. I can’t fix all that. I even forgot what I’m supposed to say.’

‘Miss Heidi, your dog is freaking me out. Every time she looks at me, her eyes are brown’

‘Miss Heidi, the thing I want to be most is a nut cooker. The guy who cracks peanuts with his hands and throws ’em in a pot and cooks ’em. Like a nut cooker.’

‘Miss Heidi, I would never smoke the cigarettes. It’s a gateway drug.

From middle school boys singing Oklahoma in the shower to 2 year old’s picking their nose at the table, we think our life is pretty comical. We thank God for the ability to see humor. He makes good things come out of bad situations. I thought of that as a long term plan, but in this role, we see it daily. It’s in the small things. It’s a bit unconventional, but God uses dance parties and farting and middle school awkwardness to help our whole house see something good in all the chaos.