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My Mop Bucket List


I could feel her staring at me in the dark well before my eyelids ever flew open. It was the middle of the night, and there next to my bed was my oldest daughter, Reagan, about five years old at the time, with her double dimples and Shirley Temple blonde curls, uttering those three words that no mom ever wants to hear at that hour. “I got sick.”

Any mom who has experienced this scenario knows that there are three thoughts that invade your mind in those first blurry seconds following such an announcement. At least there are for me.

  1. “My poor baby.” Actually that’s not true. If I’m going to be honest, my first thought is really, “Where’s the vomit?”

  2. Now I think, “My poor baby.”

  3. With a sigh I accept the final thought, “Whatever my plans were for tomorrow are now totally shot.”

There is nothing worse than a middle-of-the-night vomit fest of stripping the bedsheets, scrubbing the floor and scrambling to find enough blankets and extra sheets to get your little sick one back into bed. For that reason, whenever one of our girls went to bed feeling under the weather, we always put the mop bucket next to their bed.

If I’ve said it once over the past 16 years, I’ve said it dozens of times, “If you have to throw up, do it in the bucket first, THEN come and get me.” If memory serves me right, I believe there had also been a time when Reagan came to my side of the bed in the middle of the night to tell me she didn’t feel well and then immediately starting vomiting right at my side of the bed. So once again, the rule was FIRST bucket, THEN mom.

But this particular night she hadn’t gone to sleep feeling bad, so as I crawled out of my warm bed I asked, “Did you get sick in your bed?”

“No.” Carpet then, I assumed.

We walked into her room and turned on the lights. Nothing. She was right that there was no vomit on her bed. But I didn’t see any on the floor either. In fact, I didn’t even smell anything. Hmm. Walking towards the bathroom I pondered out loud, “Did you throw up in the toilet?”

“No.” Lift the lid. Check the toilet. Nothing.

“Did you get sick and flush it already?”

“No,” came her simple reply once again.

Back to her bedroom I went, with her tagging along behind me. I searched all over the room, even under her bed. One more trip to the bathroom to double check all the nooks and crannies of the floor. Again, nothing. “Honey, did you GET sick or do you just FEEL sick?”

“I got sick.”

Okay, it was WAY too late in the night or early in the morning to even begin to figure out what was going on. I was baffled. There was only one final question I could ask, “Sweetheart, WHERE did you get sick?”

With complete innocence in those big blue eyes, she looked up at me and answered as though it had been a very simple question all along, “In the bucket.”

The bucket? What bucket? I hadn’t set any bucket out for her before bedtime. How could she…wait a minute. “WHERE did you throw up in the bucket, Reagan?”

“In the closet.”

I beelined it to the front foyer closet where I keep some of my cleaning supplies and opened the door. There on the floor of the 3x3 foot closet was the bucket (with the mop still in it I might add) and the sickness that I had been trying to find.

I dropped to the floor and wrapped my arms around my little girl. You see, what I know is that the closet door shuts on its own. Not tight or anything, but enough. My sick little curly headed daughter had walked down the dark hall in the middle of the night, gone to the front of the house, and kneeled in a cramped closed closet to throw up in a mop bucket simply because I had always said, “get sick in the bucket, THEN come get me.” Her trusting obedience to something that had to make no sense to her at the time was so very precious and beautiful. I don’t think that I could have loved her any more than I did in that moment.

Now the girls are 16 and 12, and simple obedience isn’t always so simple anymore. They want to question and argue my directions. They think they have a better way. They pick and choose what they want to obey. Yet here I still stand saying, “Girls, trust me. I love you. I want good for you. I would never knowingly lead you down a harmful path. Just obey me. In fact, as my children, that is how you show me that you love me back, by obeying me.”

Sound familiar? “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.’” (John 14:23a NIV) We’re supposed to have that same trusting, obeying relationship with The Lord. But instead WE often question and argue God’s directions and commands. We think we have a better way. In fact, we even take it a step further and start showing God how much we have given up in our lives for His sake. We keep track of our sacrifices, whether that be of our money, our time, our hobbies, our friends. We justify doing certain things our way because we have sacrificed in other areas. I know that I have certainly done that with living a life in ministry!

God convicted me of this through the words of Samuel when he confronted King Saul for his disobedience to God. Saul had followed MOST of The Lord’s directions, but not ALL of them completely. His own way seemed better. “But Samuel replied: ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.’” (1 Samuel 15:22a NIV)

The things God asks of me may not always make sense in my limited human thinking. They might not be what I want either. But I DO believe that God loves me, and I DO believe that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The simple obedience of a sick little 5-year-old girl has taught me what needs to be the top two things on my life’s Bucket List.

  1. Trust God wholeheartedly

  2. Obey Him completely

I think if I can learn to do that one day, everything else will be cake!

#obedience #parenting #faith

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