The Parable of the Dirty Dishes

When it comes to chores, I think that no chore is more despised by kids than that of washing dishes. I know even myself growing up there was always that sigh after dinner; to know that while everyone else was doing the things that they wanted to do, I was going to get the pleasure of washing the dishes.

This was made more real to me as I have raised 3 kids to adulthood (and one still to get there) seeing their frustration, whining, complaining and in some cases; outright disobedience over washing the dishes.

However, of all the chores that a child might do, perhaps washing dishes is the one that teaches us to most about life, goals and accomplishment.

In Proper Military Fashion

My father was Career Military. With 39 years active service spanning across Air Force, Army, Special Operations, CIA and more… hr was a stickler for the details. In everything, there was a touch of perfection needed to be approved; with EVERYTHING to be done in proper military fashion. You really haven’t lived until you have been thoroughly chewed out my a Combat Veteran for spots on dishes. However, for me it wasn’t the tone; it was the message: we need to be detail oriented in all the things we do. I still hear the messages ring like: There is only one level of clean, the only difference between the floor and my plate is how much food I can fit (meaning both need to be cleaned the same way)

We see this detail mindset from God in the very example of His Old testament Tabernacle. Every detail from the size, the curtains, the materials used, yes even down to the dishes used; we note how He is a God of details when it comes to the way that He wanted things to be.

Clean Inside and Out

I recall one time I observed my brother washing dishes. He was in a hurry and was only washing the outside of the glasses. Sure the soapy water was at least going into the glasses, but that wasn’t “washing them”. It didn’t take very long before the error of his ways to be revealed. It just took a coffee cup that just rinsing wasn’t going to get clean to get the flag raised on what was done. However, this time it wasn’t my father… it was Mom.

Can I get an AMEN from those who would say angering your father was bad, but getting Mom upset; was like the end of the world kinda bad?

Mom told us (Yes, I got the lecture too) that if the cup wasn’t clean inside and out, it’s not clean! Taking a shower doesn’t clean what is inside, she said. To be truly clean you need to clean the inside and out.

Jesus said something like this when He was making an example of the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

The Job Isn’t Done Until It’s Done Right!

My parents had more sayings than a politician has excuses. Maybe it was a Kentucky thing because Grandma Adler had quite a few too. The one my father liked the most I think was: “How come there is never enough time to do it right, but there always seems to be enough time to do it over?”

While he said it a lot to our shame, the saying was sound. Whether doing dishes, taking out the trash, school work or, well, whatever we do; we should take the time to do it right.

This mindset lead to my life verse:

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Maybe my family’s sayings we’re just out of the Bible… the Brewer Family Version.

Not My will, but thine

Another important lesson learned from washing dishes is that the standard I needed to achieve was not my own. Meaning simply I didn’t decide when the job was done, or done right; but rather the one I was performing the task for. Naturally this life lesson leads to the attitude for employer/ employee relations, parenthood and even ministry; but most notable is in the Military.

We see this reflected here:

Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

The Parable of the Dirty Dishes

Perhaps the moment that sticks out most in my mind is when I was washing the dishes as a youth. As I was standing there at the sink alone with only the light above the sink on; I was having a little pity party. Slamming the plates, clanging the pots; I just didn’t feel it was fair that I always had to do the dishes.

My Mom came in and listened for a moment and then ask: “What is on that plate you are washing?” Dirt Mom, I rasped back. “More specific?” She ask in a soft tone that only a Mother knows how to give. “Dinner?” I queried. “Yes, dinner. Many tonight didn’t have dinner, didn’t have a home to have dinner in or a family to have dinner with. The fact that you get to wash dishes tonight means that you had dinner, in a home with parents; that worked very hard to provide for you and your brother.”

I have never washed a dish in the last 40+ years without remembering that soft tone, the care in her voice; or the parable of the dirty dishes.

 

The Importance of Chores

It’s no secret in this day and time that young people today lack many of the “work hard” traits that we reflect on as a core principle. Finding a young person that exhibits a work ethic is literally a diamond in the rough. As a Veteran, business owner and parent; I would like to take this article to reflect on some core values and more specifically: the importance of chores.

Setting the Ensample

Do as I say, not as I do. For years I have heard this expression and disliked it. It might sound good when you’re talking to a six-year-old child; but, in reality it avoids our personal responsibility to teach our children based upon our words AND our actions. Often times a young person’s solid work ethic comes from watching the work ethic of their parents. By showing them what hard work looks like our children will see hard work as “normal” rather than the exception.

The biblical term that best describes this is called the ensample. The difference between an example and ensample is this:

  • An example is telling them how to do something
  • An ensample is showing them how to do something

By setting the ensample for our children we can help produce in them a strong work ethic that will lay the foundation of success for many years to come.

Everybody Hates Chores (but everybody needs chores)

Household chores are simply a way to help children become acclimated with work. However, if used properly; chores can also teach children responsibility and accountability. Simply doing chores to get them done, without accountability, is just a way to get free labor; we should rather use chores as a teaching tool. Just as an employer (or Sergeant) would challenge their employees or subordinates to complete the task as stated, chores should be handled with the same responsibility and accountability.

As stated: Completing a task the way that you or told or shown how to do. Not how you think or perceive the task should be completed.

Example:

If the chore is to take out the trash, was it done exactly as stated? Was it taken out on time? Did the trashcan get cleaned? Did a new trash bag get placed in the trashcan? By following through and making sure that the chore was completed as stated you identified to the child your expectation. By holding the child accountable for the proper completion of the chore you help teach them the same accountability that they should have when working for an employer or later on… for their customer!

Holding the child accountable for the completion of the task to be done exactly as stated requires as much work for the parent as it does for the child. The child should know that our most important goal is that they learn how to complete a task as stated. (Not how they think it should be done). If we, as parents, do not check that the task was completed as stated (to our complete satisfaction) we show them that they can get away with slacking on the task; thus identifying our work ethic towards their learning. Remember we should never consider chores as free labor, it should always be utilized as an opportunity to teach a solid work ethic.

A Real World Example

In the USAF, I experienced the end results of airmen; that were not taught the fundamentals of completing tasks. I recall one time where I spoke with my old TI – Technical Instructor (after he PCS’d to Pope AFB) He expressed his frustration on how had to teach young people, that had graduated high school; how to properly wash their hands, keep their areas straight, how to speak to others with respect and how to properly perform a task, completely, as stated. Basically, he was frustrated because he had to become their parent rather than their Sergeant.

Those young people that were taught a solid work ethic, generally found themselves in a leadership position inside the first few weeks of basic training or technical training school.

A Final Thought

This article was not meant to point out the problems with anyone’s parenting abilities. Nor was it meant to identify that somehow my capabilities to parent were better than anyone else’s. However, I think we all can agree that there has been a decline of a strong work ethic in our young people. As a Veteran, business owner and parent, I am always evaluating my role and willingness to share the lessons that I have learned. If there’s ever room to improve, I want my children to seek those improvements; to go further, be better and achieve higher levels of success. I also know that in order for them to go beyond my means they will need a foundation that is as strong as that will to achieve.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

written by the Honorable Kentucky Colonel Rick Brewer (SGT. USAF)

The tomb of the unknown soldier is not unknown to me,
He had a wife, a child, oh yes; a fine family.
He chose to serve his county; the land of the free and brave,
Not knowing that in the process; it would be his own soul to save.

There was orders to follow; work to be done,
Sometimes the chore; sometimes some fun.
Though all the seasons bore down hard on him,
He would bare the snow and the sun; again and again.

They would give his missions some fine names: Endeavor, Storm, Revive
Each one seemed harder than before, but he did them all with pride.
All the while he did not know that the weapons of a government trade,
Were slowly, silently, causing his body to degrade.

As the poison of those many weapons was coursing through his veins,
He pressed on through the mission, smiling, through all his body’s pain.
His wife could see behind the smile; not knowing how it would end,
Seeing now there was a new silent war; one he might not win.

The government he served so bravely; fought him many a year,
Using words like: classified, top secret, security; seeking to create fear.
The media calls him forgotten, misplaced; he just cries “I’m here”
But now just a page in a history book, on a shelf, in the rear.

The tomb of the unknown soldier is not unknown you see,
For as I strive to live each day, I know that tomb’s reserved for me.
So what do you write on the stone of a man whose life he gave?
He chose to serve his county; the land of the free and brave…

 

A Flag Tattered and Worn

written by the Honorable Kentucky Colonel Rick Brewer (SGT. USAF)

A nice young man came walkin’ by
He asked, “Why do you fly that flag so high?
Those stars and stripes are tattered and worn
and a new flag would be better adorned…”

I answered back with a smile in place
gleaming through the scars deep on my face.
Why that flag was Grandpa’s, I begun,
He raised and lowered it with the daily sun.

Till he got the call to go to war,
to serve his country on a foreign shore.
You see Grandma refused to let it down
waiting for the day he was safe and sound.

So through the sun, rain and wind it blew,
She said cause that’s what Pappy’s going through.
No one was taking him in each night
as he braved the elements in his long fight.

Till one sunny day the corner he round,
Grandpa was home safe and sound.
The next day the flag in the sky did soar
then he brought it in at night as he did before.

For just a few years the flag waved proud
as Grandpa told his stories to the stirring crowd.
No one was more proud than Grandma, no not one
Till the next foreign war called their son.

You see now why this flag is tattered and worn
Grand Fathers, Fathers and Sons now have born,
the responsibility of keeping you free
which is why you see these scars on me.

It didn’t matter what type of harshness it was;
a beach, a jungle, a desert because
this flag has flown while we were gone
and our wives this tradition have carried on.

For three generations this flag has flown
through the rain and snow, wind and sun
Across the world for this country we roamed
This flag meant welcome home son, welcome home.

Written on behalf of My Grandfather, Kenneth Adler (Korea) & My Father, Kenneth Brewer (Vietnam). Their flag, handed down to me, was flown while I was deployed during Desert Storm and given to me upon Grandpa’s passing.

Uniform Recreation

I was challenged at church by some Veterans to wear my dress uniform this past veterans day (2020), so began a month long search. I only had my ribbons and a few loose pieces that made it from my time in the Air Force, the rest didn’t make coming home from Germany where most of my household goods were “lost”. I only had a few pictures that my wife’s grandmother kept to even remember how the uniform looked.

The Challenge

The first challenge was knowing that the Air Force was in the process of changing over the uniform toward the last 1990’s into 2000. We were going from the “bus driver” look to the “airline pilot” look, which started some controversy that I will go into later in this article. I was determined to get the look as close to how I had it, with any AF regs of the time; along with any base uniform “liberties” that were promoted at the time.

Sourcing

Jacket, Pants, Shirt, Pants Belt and Hat = Ebay. Had to search for a bit to find a uniform that fit me (not as small as i once was) and was not faded. (Blue Air force Uniforms turn purple when exposed to too much sunlight.

The “ropes” or Aiguillette took me weeks going through websites and images to find the same one Pope AFB used at that time.

https://www.supplyroom.com/us-military/product/26805/double-braid-aiguillette-shoulder-cord-with-2-nickel-tips-one-color

White Belt, rank patches – Marlow

Item Number: 60-050-mw60050style2-!60-050-0-0-00-000-2100

https://www.marlowwhite.com/web-belts-for-honor-and-color-guards

Honor Guard Metal Pin – 2 different orders on ebay. The first was faded.

https://www.ebay.com/usr/ms.sparrow59?ul_noapp=true

White Beret – Don’t ask me why Gen. Floys wanted white… but we wore white and became known as the Q-Tip Brigade.

http://www.ebay.com/usr/kmcoll2?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

Flying Tigers Patch for Ascot

http://www.ebay.com/usr/itsyourairplane?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

Bus Driver Hat

http://www.ebay.com/usr/oaoasalesteam?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

TAW Pin for Beret and right pocket

http://www.ebay.com/usr/rangerjones?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

M1 Garand replica (can’t afford the firing one) But this thing is so accurate.

https://www.replicagunsdirect.com/catalog/replica-assault-rifles-and-sub-machine-guns/wwii-m1-garand-replica-167.html

Sling

Amazon from AMMOGARAND.COM PACKRATS COLLECTIBLES LLC

Shoes – As I can’t wear anything anymore but sneakers… I didn’t bother to buy Patton leather shoes. (Sorry for all the uniform police out there)

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