How to Load a Dishwasher by Faith

September 24, 2012 · 22 comments

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by Melissa McDonald

I was at a bridal shower recently. I don’t have any idea what gifts the bride received because I was playing with my toddler in the other room while the bride opened her gifts.

A friend joined me. Her oldest daughter is getting married soon so her days of hiding out in the toddler room could be long gone. But she sat down to relieve me of my shape sorting duties so I could bounce my 6-month-old.

As we visited she said something about how we always think we need grace for the “big” things but we really need just as much grace to load the dishwasher, again.

Before my daughters were born, my husband, Eric, encouraged me to meditate on Scripture while I did simple tasks around the house. It was great. But once Miriam joined our family that technique went out the window. Sleep deprived and exhausted I could hardly remember my name. And just when I realized I could listen to worship music while I went about my day, the game changed again and I could no longer hear the music above the commotion.

“Here, mommy!” begins the unloading the dishwasher chant. Miriam hands me a glass that’s a bit too heavy for her and likely to come smashing down if I don’t take it quickly enough.

“Thank you sweetheart. How about you put the silverware in the drawer?” Two little fist fulls of silverware clunk in the drawer.

Next she goes for a bowl which, from the angle she’s at, definitely won’t come out. “Stuck! Stuck!” She pulls harder.

“Oh, if you stand over here it’s easier, see?” I quickly pull it out before another one of the prongs in our dishwasher snaps off.

More glasses. More silverware. More bowls. A sigh of relief. The baby starts crying. “Up, up!” Miriam demands not wanting to share my attention with her sister.

“We need to go help Annette.” I turn to pick up the baby. Miriam stays behind, rolls the empty shelves in, closes the door, and pushes the start button.

I return with a baby in my arms to cancel the wash. “Remember, we can’t push the button until mommy puts the soap in.” I scan the counter filled with dirty dishes and swarms of fruit flies.

I need grace to load the dishwasher. I need grace to not just plop down on the couch. I need grace to be patient. I need grace to be joyful. I need grace to bypass the pity party.

My prayer is simple, “Help me load the dishwasher.” It’s short because that’s all I have time to say.

But I really mean that I can’t do it in a way that makes God look beautiful to my children unless he helps me. He wants me to realize I’m dependent like that.

This time all the dirty dishes fit. I fill the little container with soap. Miriam gets to push the button. And in less than 24 hours I will need grace to load the dishwasher. Again.

What small things do you need grace for, again, today?

Melissa McDonald and her husband Eric serve international students at The University of Iowa. Melissa is passionate about discipling women, starting with their two daughters and extending to the women she knows from around the world. Melissa blogs at Radiant Ministries Today and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 melissa pidal September 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

wow, such a timely and great reminder. thank you!

as for me, i think i need grace when it comes to my attitude; that i would make spending time with my children more of a priority than having a perfectly spotless house!! i was sweeping the crumbs from my floor the other day while my boys were asking me to read to them. i told them to wait so i could finish. then realized they wont ever remember crumbs on the floor. but they will remember if i took the time to read to them when they asked me to. and pretty soon, they wont need me to read to them anymore!!


2 Melissa Deming September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

This article had me laughing, crying, and saying amen. Can’t count the number of times I’ve been reduced to near tears over chaos in the kitchen and the need to be slow to anger! thank you for the gentle reminder to ask for grace!


3 nicolette September 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Love love love this, thanks for the encouragement and the challenge!


4 Deb H. September 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thank you for the encouragement and insight! I’m a stay-at-home mom of 3, but one is in college (locally), one at a private high school and the jr. high child is at home, homeschooled. I STILL feel like you do when it comes to the everyday tasks of life. I still have lots of commotion, I still feel sleep deprived (teens keeps late hours and if I want to talk to them, I need to be there to listen). Good stuff to think about today.


5 Melissa September 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Apparently this is a message the “Melissas” in this world need to hear :-)

As the mother of a 14-year old girl, let me encourage you to keep loading that dishwasher with your precious one. I didn’t allow my daughter to help me in the kitchen as much as I should have when she was a toddler, but I’m so blessed now that despite my failings she loves to be in the kitchen. She helps me cook most meals during the summer, and on the weekends during school.

Getting through those young years is difficult, but this, too, shall pass.


6 Melissa September 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Haha! I love all the “Melissa’s” chiming in! Thanks for the encouragement to keep her in the kitchen. There are definitely days I’d rather be alone in there!


7 melissa September 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I wonder how many “Melissas” will chime into this post, because here’s another one! :) I was expecting to read a post on how to organize a dishwasher, but came away with more than that. Thanks for sharing!


8 laura b September 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Thanks Melissa! Between laundry, diaper changes, sweeping up food (or fishing food out of the babys’ mouth when I haven’t swept), doing dishes, reading stories, picking up toys, etc, etc, etc it’s hard to remember that God is with us. Boy do I need His grace on a moment by moment basis. P.S. We have fruit flies too :)


9 Rebekah September 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm

This is SO GOOD. I need to depend on God’s grace for so many things, but right now especially to patiently and kindly help my two older sons get out the door to school (our 5 year old drags his feet the whole way) and for our evening/bedtime routine to not be a time where Mom is constantly yelling out of frustration and impatience.


10 Lori Pavelka September 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

This is beautiful, Melissa, and so. exactly. where I’m at right now. Thank you!!!


11 Jennifer September 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I am not a Melissa! :-) But! This post encouraged me. I am newly married, and we don’t have children yet, but Lord willing, one day we will. This post is timely as I am trying to figure out how to balance married life still. I need grace for everything, even apart from children! Thanks for this reminder of my need for God’s grace in the daily and ‘mundane’. :-)


12 Catherine Parks September 26, 2012 at 12:04 am

YES. This is what moms need to hear. Thank you for your life-giving, grace-filled words. They have followed me through my last two days of mommyhood as a reminder of the grace that is always there.


13 Amy f;) September 26, 2012 at 7:03 am


and I had fruit flies on my counter today too.


14 Heather September 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

This is great, especially this line: “But I really mean that I can’t do it in a way that makes God look beautiful to my children unless he helps me. He wants me to realize I’m dependent like that.”

I know I’m always trying to get beyond needing God’s grace. I’m glad He won’t let me, well, in my good moments I’m glad He won’t let me. :) My 8 year old daughter now has the unloading job at our house, and God is teaching me about being gracious to let her do it her way in the time it takes her, without hovering or being bossy, just saying thank you. And boy, I sure am thankful she does that task with such joy! ;)

(Totally unrelated: my husband will be applying for a position at Univ. of Iowa this fall. If we end up coming your way, I’ll be in touch!)


15 Melissa September 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Thanks for your encouragement, Heather. Definitely get in touch if you end up at the University of Iowa!


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