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Housekeeping and Heart Keeping-a Winter Relief Story

Posted by Erin Allison on

There, in the middle stall of the second floor women’s restroom I stood in front of a gleaming toilet asking God to forgive me for loving the Winter Relief guests more than my family.

Winter Relief >> Needs >> Housekeeping. That’s where I found myself signing up to help. After getting my kids off to school, I committed to serving two mornings. When we invite guests to live in the church building for a week it makes for much more custodial work. While Allen does an awesome job year round, it’s not really fair to add so much to his usual workload for the week of Winter Relief.

“Housekeeping” is one of the many ways that Severn Runners can share the load. If you click on that serving opportunity, it means you come in for an hour or two after the guests leave for the day and clean the common areas upstairs where the guests live. For me, it involved cleaning the upstairs restrooms that the guests use during their stay. I was happy to serve and do just a little to help Allen.

In the bathrooms I emptied trash, refilled soap bottles, cleaned the counters, sinks, toilets, wiped down faucets, door handles, towel dispensers, trash cans, and swept. (As a side note, contrary to the bathrooms in my home where the boys outnumber the girls, the women’s restroom required a little more work than the men’s.)

With every dunk of the cloth into the cleaning solution I was focused on doing the best job I could. I wanted things to look nice and be sanitized. I wanted to show the guests they were loved and cared for. (And I wanted to make sure that Allen was impressed with my cleaning skills.)

As I went from trash to counters to toilets I prayed. I thanked God for a church that allows their facility to be used for Winter Relief. I thanked God for our staff. I thanked God for Allen who does what I was doing and so much more every day. I prayed that the guests would open their hearts to Jesus. I prayed that they would be released from the bonds of addiction. I prayed that God would heal and restore their family relationships. I prayed for them to acquire and keep jobs. I prayed that they would be able to become independent and support themselves.

Then, although I was jamming to the praise and worship music drifting from my phone in the hallway through the door of the restroom and into the stall where I was cleaning, I heard God speak.

I wasn’t prepared for what he said. What I wanted him to say was, “Thank you for loving others! You’re the best!”

But what he whispered to me in the most loving way was, “Daughter, you are doing a great job. I love that you’re using this time not only to serve others, but more importantly to talk to me. You know, you wipe counters, sweep floors, and clean toilets at home too. Rarely do you tackle those things with such a good attitude. Rarely do you have such a glad heart about maintaining the building where your family resides as you have about maintaining the building where the church resides. Rarely do you use cleaning time to pray for your husband and your children as enthusiastically as you are praying for complete strangers right now.”

As the cleaning rag fell limp in my hand, I stood in the stall and I had to ask for God’s forgiveness. I asked him to forgive me for grumbling every time there’s a mess for me to clean at home and to give me a grateful heart that I have a home to clean and a family to clean up after.

Many times I feel like I’m honoring Jesus or blessing others when I serve. The truth is that usually it opens the door for God to teach me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Consider serving and let God speak to your heart.

Find a regular serving position here.

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Housekeeping and Heart Keeping-a Winter Relief Story

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There, in the middle stall of the second floor women’s restroom I stood in front of a gleaming toilet asking God to forgive me for loving the Winter Relief guests more than my family.

Winter Relief >> Needs >> Housekeeping. That’s where I found myself signing up to help. After getting my kids off to school, I committed to serving two mornings. When we invite guests to live in the church building for a week it makes for much more custodial work. While Allen does an awesome job year round, it’s not really fair to add so much to his usual workload for the week of Winter Relief.

“Housekeeping” is one of the many ways that Severn Runners can share the load. If you click on that serving opportunity, it means you come in for an hour or two after the guests leave for the day and clean the common areas upstairs where the guests live. For me, it involved cleaning the upstairs restrooms that the guests use during their stay. I was happy to serve and do just a little to help Allen.

In the bathrooms I emptied trash, refilled soap bottles, cleaned the counters, sinks, toilets, wiped down faucets, door handles, towel dispensers, trash cans, and swept. (As a side note, contrary to the bathrooms in my home where the boys outnumber the girls, the women’s restroom required a little more work than the men’s.)

With every dunk of the cloth into the cleaning solution I was focused on doing the best job I could. I wanted things to look nice and be sanitized. I wanted to show the guests they were loved and cared for. (And I wanted to make sure that Allen was impressed with my cleaning skills.)

As I went from trash to counters to toilets I prayed. I thanked God for a church that allows their facility to be used for Winter Relief. I thanked God for our staff. I thanked God for Allen who does what I was doing and so much more every day. I prayed that the guests would open their hearts to Jesus. I prayed that they would be released from the bonds of addiction. I prayed that God would heal and restore their family relationships. I prayed for them to acquire and keep jobs. I prayed that they would be able to become independent and support themselves.

Then, although I was jamming to the praise and worship music drifting from my phone in the hallway through the door of the restroom and into the stall where I was cleaning, I heard God speak.

I wasn’t prepared for what he said. What I wanted him to say was, “Thank you for loving others! You’re the best!”

But what he whispered to me in the most loving way was, “Daughter, you are doing a great job. I love that you’re using this time not only to serve others, but more importantly to talk to me. You know, you wipe counters, sweep floors, and clean toilets at home too. Rarely do you tackle those things with such a good attitude. Rarely do you have such a glad heart about maintaining the building where your family resides as you have about maintaining the building where the church resides. Rarely do you use cleaning time to pray for your husband and your children as enthusiastically as you are praying for complete strangers right now.”

As the cleaning rag fell limp in my hand, I stood in the stall and I had to ask for God’s forgiveness. I asked him to forgive me for grumbling every time there’s a mess for me to clean at home and to give me a grateful heart that I have a home to clean and a family to clean up after.

Many times I feel like I’m honoring Jesus or blessing others when I serve. The truth is that usually it opens the door for God to teach me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Consider serving and let God speak to your heart.

Find a regular serving position here.

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