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hand wash only // a devotional

devotionaltiffany garzaComment
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Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. John 19: 1-3

Our dishwasher has been out of service for more than a month and still has a few more weeks according to our property management company before it will be fixed. It sits in its spot a bit mocking at its lack of ability to be used what it is meant for. I stand in front of the kitchen sink a bit longer to wash each dish we use and have recruited Penny to dry them, minus the knives and sharp objects. She actually seems to enjoy it, happy to be able to do something a bit more grown up than her usual pouring of the milk at dinner and clean up.

I smiled as I remembered our dishwasher breaking at our previous address around this same time just two years earlier.

Two years earlier. Two years earlier as we had settled into our new routine as a family of five, having recently adopted our youngest. We were settling into life without social workers or home visits or extra forms to fill out at doctor’s appointments and breathing in his new legal name.

Things were settling.

Ry had turned one, though still not sleeping through the night, which unbeknownst to us would not happen until he about 18 months and after the birth of his brother, and was starting to get a bit more self sufficient.

I had been sitting at my desk, typing away through Savoring the Year, pressing keys and enjoying the quiet of Jude napping while Penny attended summer camp at her preschool when I got the call. It was from a friend, asking if I would be able to watch her daughter while she got things back on track in life – a short term care, not fostering but the county would be involved.

Ricardo and I prayed about it and this is one of the heartbeats of our family – to be for family, to build up families and love them wherever they are at.

We said yes.

After a week of going back and forth with the county, we now had four children five and under, one with extensive trauma that we had yet to see but knew was a possibility. As the trauma surfaced, I did everything I knew to do to keep everyone safe and getting her the help she needed.
And the dishwasher broke.

I had three children running around the house with our littlest trying to tag along, piles of laundry and now piles of dishes to wash by hand, along with the usual stack of baby bottles. Never in my life had washing dishes seemed so daunting.

Our closed kitchen made it impossible to see what was going on in the other room. Whether cooking or prepping a meal or cleaning up, the walls made it impossible to see what all the shouting or loud bangs were from. Perhaps another head was being ripped off a Barbie or crayons were being yanked out of hands or a coveted toy was now belonging to someone else. It was hard to say.

Being up every two hours with our son, on top of a four year old who refused to sleep, turning on all the lights in the house and walking up and down the halls, doing extra dishes had never been such a task to complete, all the while trying to quickly wash and dry in order to mediate in between fits.

It was a season of learning what it means to say yes and what it means to love without boundaries. It was a season of seeing brokenness – in our own home and in the lives of those around us, sometimes as if looking in to a microscope.

I had been told during the five weeks she was with us, to not be taken advantage of in the situation. Something that had taken me back after the words left her lips and made my stomach turn to knots and a thought that never had occurred to me. Love is not about being taken advantage of it. Love is about giving, even when it hurts and sometimes looks like washing dishes while keeping everyone out of harm’s way.

When I think of loving like Jesus, I see him nailed to a cross and being spit on and misunderstood by many. I see his hands nailed to a cross and giving and giving and giving when it clearly hurt because he knew what no one else understood – that giving when it hurts to those who are hurting is what love does through the power and strength of God alone. Despite our pain that lasts for a short while, resurrection lasts an eternity. Love has the power to breathe new life into those who are hurting and bring them to the feet of Jesus.

While dishes are not my favorite chore by any means, I will take laundry over dishes any day, they are definitely easier this time around. I am more than thankful for the open kitchen where the dishwasher sits, awaiting its replacement and for the four children running around our home as dishes are being hand washed. And for the perspective that the Lord continues to give and seasons that come and go and remind how fleeting life is, yet how powerful the word yes can be, along with gratitude for all of the modern conveniences.


+Read John chapters 19 and 20.

+As you read, soak in the humility and endurance Jesus showed in the name of love. Is there a situation you need to love well, even though it may require humility and endurance? Pray about how to do it.

+Situations can be the same, yet the dynamics and circumstances can vary greatly. Has there been a time of similar situations with different circumstances? What have you learned from them? How has love or humility been a factor?

Bonus: Read John 19 + 20 through using the SOAP bible study method


Praying that you would have the wisdom and discernment to love well those around you, whatever that looks like in your life. Praying that despite obstacles or what others say, that you would follow God’s leading to know when to move forward with yes and when to say no. Praying that you would have perseverance to keep going when it is hard and the tiredness sets in and the grace and encouragement to give to others as they press on in love.

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, August 2018. Join the adventure to be the first to get it straight to your inbox, along with other fun tidbits from the shop.