A couple of months ago, a few things happened sort of all at once: the washing machine quit working, our van broke down, and my husband's computer went kaput. Ouch!
So, what do you do when a lot of big expenses need your attention? Start with the one thing you need the most and make do with the rest. In other words, since we are a one-car family, and my husband makes a living doing computer work, a new washing machine had to wait.
How does one do laundry for five people without a washer? Thankfully, we had been preparing for this day awhile back when the washer was down for a bit, and we knew it was just a matter of time until it died for good. Praise God we had the equipment to do our laundry somewhat efficiently by hand already. (By the way, if you ever try this out, a spin dryer is a wonderful thing!)
I started thinking about how great it was that we were getting our fresh air, sunshine, and exercise by doing meaningful labor. We had purpose. We had to work together as a team to meet a common goal, a basic necessity not just for each individual's benefit but for the whole family. We all got in on the work, even the toddler who loves to plunge the clothes in the buckets — and get drenched in the process.
Isn't it kind of ironic that we have all these fancy machines to increase efficiency, but then we have to find ways to fill up our kids' time with other things that may not be as purposeful? Are we filling our lives with meaningful things, or with fluff to fill in the spaces? If having a washing machine (or any other modern convenience) means the kids will have more time to get bored and need artificial entertainment, then I'll hand wash clothes. All. Day. Long. Truly, I believe the challenge is not in finding something fun for our kids to do, but in finding something useful to do and making it fun.
At the end of the day, the lessons we learned from the simple act of washing our clothes by hand was of greater impact than what we could have ever learned from a day spent in books. This is education: out in nature, work to do, real-life problems to solve, serving together for one another, and the sweetness of rest and satisfaction of a job well done after the work is finished. Praise God for providing this life lesson for our family!
"Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 2:24
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