Noah wanted an iPod for his 9th birthday. While I was worried about two things – 1. He will be disappointed to receive such a physically small present as his only present, and 2. Is he prepared to be responsible for such a pricy gift? – We did it and he loved it. He did a great job taking care of it. In fact, the only scratch even on it was from something I did.
But as electronics go, he eventually wanted the newer version – the iPod Touch. We bought it for another holiday when he was 11. Unfortunately, on a Friday evening, he and his dad got home late and Noah changed into his pajamas half-asleep. The next morning, my husband did a load of laundry and Noah’s iPod touch was in the pocket of his jeans. The iPod was ruined. We tried rice, letting it air dry. Nothing worked. So my husband decided the fair thing to do to teach a lesson in responsibility was to have Noah pay half of the cost of a replacement iPod and he would pay the other half. So that’s what they did. Fast-forward a couple of months, and I did laundry, and when putting the clothes in the dryer, I saw the new iPod in the bottom of the washer. Ruined. We prayed over that iPod and everything. He ended up getting an iPad for Christmas a few months later, rather than the long list of Legos he had originally hoped for. (iPads are much larger than iPods and harder to miss going in the washer).
While my husband and I disagreed about whose responsibility it is to check the pockets before washing – the wearer of the pants or the laundry doers – I had a hard time remembering to check the pockets before dumping clothes into the washer, even after two traumatic laundering experiences. So I put a sticky-note with a big, black check-mark over the detergent hole to remind me of my responsibility before each load. It helped tremendously. I haven’t missed checking a load since.
For my Bible reading, I am in the book of Numbers. I was cruising through lots of rules and regulations and punishments, when in chapter 15, verses 32 through 36, I read about a guy who was gathering wood on the Sabbath day – a violation of the rules God had given them. God commanded Moses that this guy had to die for his blatant disregard for God’s commands.
Back to rules and such in verses 37 through 40, it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”
The tassels for the Israelites were a kind of check-mark sticky note for the Israelites. These tassels (I kind of envision a Dolly Parton sort of fringe, though I think I’m way off on that one) were to remind them of the laws to obey, laws designed to guard their hearts, to keep them focused, to train them to control their actions, and especially to give honor and worship to God.
When an Israelite woke up and put on her ensemble for the day, she would see a tassel and remember to have reverence and respect for God and only God – no golden calves, no man-made idols. Her focus would be brought back to Him, perhaps leading her to remember how awesome He is. How He led her and her people out of Egypt, when without Him it would have been impossible. How she was once literal a slave, but now she is free. How He led her and her people by a cloud during the day and fire by night. How He gave her manna to keep her from being hungry.
When this Israelite lady would clean laundry during the day, she would see her tassel on her sleeve and remember God’s command saying she isn’t to covet her neighbor’s house. She would look around and see her own home, her own dishes, her bed, and be thankful for the comfort she has, thankful for a place to rest her head and be with her family.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in big, time-consuming projects I get myself into, or so distracted by regular everyday routines that I could use a tassel. Or a sticky note. Something to remind me of what God wants from me. Something to remind me of what he has already done for me.
Some of these things happen naturally. When Noah makes me laugh, or gets his own ear-to-ear, wide-eyed, genuine smile, I naturally thank God for letting me be his mom, and naturally feel a renewed passion not to screw him up.
When I see a beautiful sunset – the kind with pinks and purples all mixed in - I instantly tell God, “Nice work!”
But in everyday things, how do I remind myself to not grumble when things don’t go my way? How do I remember to be thankful in all things? What about the days I’m feeling down on myself? How do I remind myself not to bring everyone around me down too? On days I’m doubting how God is going to make things work out, how do I remind myself of the many, many times He has been there for me, and the bunches of times He has been there for His people in every situation I read in my Bible?
I really don’t want to go with tassels. That’s kind of ‘80s-country and not my thing. But I need a plan. I’m thinking maybe sticky notes.
Maybe one on my mirror to remind me of how I can trust God, no matter what, like Psalm 9:10 –“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Maybe one in my kitchen to remind me to be thankful - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
For you, it could be something other than sticky notes. I heard a woman on the radio saying she talked to God about thinking about Him, and knowing He is thinking about her, when she sees a robin. Sounds kind of kooky, I know, and she admitted as much, but she said the experiences she has had with robins because of this have meant so much to her. Whatever works for you, just make a plan to remember.