When you live alone, you usually don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You can wash the dishes how you want, you can cook the way you want, you can leave the place a mess if you want. After all, it doesn't matter...because you live alone! You can live the way you want...
I've always prided myself on my healthful habits, organizational skills, my cleanliness, and my economy in relating to the environment in which I've lived. I've never seen myself as wasteful or as a splurging slob. (And I'm not!) But since I've come to live with the Lee's, I've realized I still have much room to grow and a lot to learn about healthful living and saving resources. This family isn't just thrifty, they are the King's of frugality! I have to admit that in the beginning I rebelled against this "frugality."
When I first came and began to wash the dishes, Abba (dad Lee) taught me to make sure I soap all the dishes first with the water off, or only a trickle of water so I'm not being wasteful. Then when I rinse them, I should keep them in a pile and finish the rinsing before I put them in the dish rack, so I don't let the water run un-attended as the dishes are being stacked!
As for water that we rinse the food in, if it's not soapy, DON'T pour it down the sink! That gets carried to a barrel outside and then put on the garden to water the plants. That saves excess usage from the well!
Umma (mom Lee) taught me that the parts of the Kale, Broccoli or Cucumbers that I usually cut off and throw away, can actually be saved and used in stew later. They also taught me how to peel things so I don't loose any more nutrients than necessary. She also showed me how to be careful with what sponges I use on the pots and pans so I don't make scratches. (Honestly, I've never worried about that before!) She showed me that rather than trashing perfectly good glass containers or jars, you can wash them and recycle them. There's always a use for something, so be careful what you throw away!
Kyung taught me not only how to make a perfectly good healthy meal out of almost nothing but fresh veggies and rice (I'm serious), but that if you go shopping, it's better to save a few cents and forgo the shopping bag, even if it means carrying everything out in your bare arms! (This one was a little hard for me to swallow at the time, especially as it was raining out, and I was afraid I was going to spill groceries and cans all over the street! But I managed. And after all, we did save $0.10 cents.)
Obba (big brother) taught me that if I need something I should ASK FIRST before I go and buy it, because he probably has it and can loan it to me. Who knows how much they've helped me save in this department. Course sometimes, I'd rather just go buy it...but still. It's good to share and save my money as well. He also taught me that instead of driving 15 minutes into town for just one errand or two, to wait and put all my errands together or go with others in one trip so I can save gas. Growing up in the country miles away from any town or shopping center, this use to be old hat to me...but now I have to admit, I've been in the city too long and have grown lax and lazy! So he is teaching me the right way again...
As for Sue, there are so many things she has taught me...to always be sure to turn off lights when I leave the room, to look carefully through the produce I'm buying to make sure there are no bad spots so we don't have to go home and throw food away, to look for the cheapest prices, to call home and get family to go online and find the cheapest gas station before I fill up, to save my extra napkins from chipotles and bring them home to use, not even to throw the kid's scraps of left-over food away, and to go to her closet if I need new clothes rather than going to the store to buy more! Wow - I could go on and on!
Many of these things I thought I knew...but the Lee's have taught me so much more!
Now I am on my own for a week...they aren't around to watch me. They aren't with me to make sure I conserve or do things just right. Yet, I find myself out of habit, washing the dishes the way Abba taught me to. I barely use a trickle of water! Not because he's looking over my shoulder (he wont even know), and not because I necessarily think it's the easiest way to do it...but most importantly because this is His house, and I want to honor him.
As I wash Umma's pots, I make sure I use the soft scratcher. She's not here to remind me, I do it because I want to honor her. I find myself trying to finish up every last scrap of food so it wont go to waste. Not because I want to eat it, but because as Umma once said, "Even this one grain of rice took a whole year to grow!" And as Christian's we shouldn't be wasteful. But also, this is her house and the famiLee's food, and I want to honor them...even if they aren't here looking!
When I ran to town to get some things for Sabbath, I tried to get all my errands done at once, so I wont have to go back later. Obba's not here to reprimand me for wasting gas, but his wisdom stays with me. When I buy things at the store, I remember Kyung as I look at prices. And as I check out, if possible, I say "No thanks" for the bag, and carry stuff out in my arms. Kinda funny, to find myself doing this without even being prompted. But why waste an extra bag if I can avoid it...and after all, I saved $0.10 cents!
Of course, there are still many things the Lee's have to teach me...and I don't always learn as quickly as I should. But while I might have felt burdened at first with the new conservation measures, and things that I wasn't use to, I'm so grateful for the things I have learned. And I carry on, partly because I know this is the BETTER WAY...but also because I'm so grateful to be part of their famiLEE and I want to honor them!
So tonight as I enjoyed some quiet time alone in the house, doing the dishes (ever so careful not to use too much water, because I know Abba likes it better when I'm mindful), I thought about all the other areas of our lives that "Honor" should play a part...
I've been given an even more valuable house to take care of...and no one's standing around telling me how I should take care of it, or how to make it last the longest. Oh, there's manuals, and I've received a good education in "house upkeep" but still, it's my choice. Usually no one is watching!
Yep, you guessed it! It's the house God has given me...my body AND my mind! Do I honor God by how I take care of it? What I eat, what I wear, what I think about, how disciplined I am in my Bible study habits...how I relate to others?? After all, He's not standing here in person telling me, "Melody! You really need to do this because if you don't your house is gonna break down sooner than it should, or you're gonna run out of resources." Actually the world encourages us, "Just relax! Just do what feels good! Do what you want?" I've even had my Christian friends say, "It doesn't matter if you splurge a little here or there, tell a little white lie now and then, or don't always follow all the rules exactly. After all...God knows your heart! He knows you mean well!" But I wonder...if He knows my heart, doesn't that mean that it hurts him more when I don't live up to what I know to be truth? The people around me, they may admire my house...but they don't truly know what's on the inside...only God! And the more I think about it, the more I believe that it's only when we honor God on the inside, where no one can see, that we are truly being honorable.
So now more and more I pray, "Create in me a clean heart Oh God, and renew a right spirit with me! When no one is looking, when no one is around to applaud my good behavior or pay me tribute, will you still give me strength to do right and honor YOU?"
I don't claim to have arrived, obviously I'm still growing...and God has definitely been putting me through the refiner's fire a lot lately, to help me grow more! But my prayer continues. This is what I long for...this is what I pray for. To not just "look pure" before fellow man, but to truly "be pure" in Heart before God.
So, as I have the honor of looking after Lee's house, as I wash the dishes, scrub the floors, and seek to utilize every last grain of rice, I'm reminded again how grateful I am for what this special Asian famiLee is teaching me....but even more, I'm grateful for what God is teaching me! Yes, I'll continue to seek to conserve the electricity, I'll continue to save the water...out of love and respect and honor. But more importantly because by honoring them, I am truly honoring God! And that's what matters most!!
"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart." I Sam 16:7