Work Hard, Play Hard

There is so much noise. Everywhere I turn, something is ringing in my ears demanding my attention, and I am exhausted. The tile saw in our bathroom is the loudest right now. One of our family goals this year is to refinish the upstairs bathrooms. The kids’ bathroom went pretty great, minus the 300lb vanity that we had to install in one piece. Oh, and the shower valve that we twisted too far and had to have a plumber minus two issues. All things considered, we were done in 11 days and under budget. Not too shabby.

We are in the beginning stages of the master bath, and it is kicking my butt. The past five nights, I have gone to bed with dry, cracked hands, stuff up my nose, and body aches all-over. Goals come with a price, and sometimes it is physical. There have been multiple times where I am just cursing the bathroom and wondering why we didn’t just pay to have someone do it. At least the tile. Then I remember what it costs and what we are saving by doing it ourselves, minus my temporary sanity.

My dad reminded me the other day how, as a kid, I loved helping do projects with them at their old house in Denver. They were always doing a bathroom or a floor or something, and I was always eager to jump in and get dirty. I don’t recall complaining because I was just happy to be a part of it, working with my hands.

It reminds me of episode 3 of The Chosen. Jesus finds himself surrounded by a bunch of kids who stumbled upon his little camp. In a few scenes, He gives them work to do, but they don’t care. They love being with Him regardless of what they are doing.

Last night, channeling some of my inner child energy, I decided to finish up the grout in our shower before bed. As I used the float to spread the mixture over the seams, I found it incredibly soothing. And then I felt prompted to do something a little out of character: I dropped the float and began to use my hands. I grabbed a big ball of grout and mushed it into the wall. The slightly gritty gray paste felt interestingly familiar as it squeezed through my fingers. I was a kid again playing in the mud, not caring about what I looked like or what else needed to be done. I thanked God for creating different textures and the sense of touch. I am so grateful for the space to sit with Him and play. Not sure my husband knew what to think when he found me (and the floor) in the tar-like substance. Oh well! Good thing he loves me :)

Maybe God wants us to work hard and play hard. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. To remember the joys of being alive, like when we were kids. And the humility of just letting go!

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 18:3-4

P.S. I will post before and after pics when we are done! 

  1. Practice Wondering. We engage in many mundane things every day that could be brought to life with a little wonder. Much like I felt curious about grouting tile with my hands instead of using the “proper” tools, try being curious in an area you tend to play it safe. 
  2. Go on a bike ride or play tag at the park with your kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt more alive after playing Groundies on the playground with my children. It’s a blast! 
  3. Be goofy. Maybe make up a song with different lyrics (one of our family faves) or play a board game that gets you out of your comfort zone. The ability to let loose is a gift that we don’t use often enough. 

*Not coincidentally, right after the grout incident, I happened to read chapter 2 from The Good and Beautiful Life, which is all about the gift of play. I love when God affirms me like that! 


JL McCarthy

February 2, 2021