Well I have ended up taking an enormous hiatus from actually blogging. Don’t think for a moment that I haven’t been busily writing blogs in my head though – I have! All summer long! Consider them all wise, well timed, and apparently best unpublished. It turns out that the only missing component in my life was time to sit down. It seems like it is time to break the ice with my old friend, the blog, and it’s patient readers.
Summer has been blasting along beautifully, with no child going to bed on time, just like always. Shadrach broke his femur just in time to celebrate his 2nd birthday in a body cast. He is still in it – we hope for only another week and half. We did volleyball league and lacrosse, Irish step classes, and lots of hospitality. Life has been really beautifully full. The kind of full that makes your back feel sick at night, and your laundry get out of control.
I continue to wrestle, day in and day out with keeping the house clean because I find that to be no small task. There are so many people in this house – living every corner of it up to the max. And I love those people and the creative games that drive them to leave things in all places but the right ones.
But loving this is not the same thing as always feeling like it should be this way. So I think through my options. I feel like if I wanted to keep my house looking great all the time I would have to choose between doing nothing but clean the house, and becoming an affliction to my children all day every day. By that I mean, I could throw away all their toys, and I could walk around behind them all day in order to notice who it was who dragged their dirty hand down the hall wall – but I’d really rather not be that person in their life.
But this little dilemma of mine actually includes a few other options too. You can have a messy house while being a pill to your children – just ask me, I’ve done it. And you can have a clean house and be laid back and pleasant – this is of course the ultimate dream, and I have had a few brushes with that moment, but it never lets me stay. And I’ve been wrestling with these issues, because often it feels like this is the hardest thing I have to deal with.
While in the throws of some part of this argument that I have with the internal accusations, we were driving in the country and saw something that is pretty common around here – a collapsing old farmhouse. Sometimes there isn’t even a house anymore, just a broken barn, or a stray root cellar, or just the tell tale wild roses and lilacs out in the middle of nothing else.
As always my mind wanders to the people who lived there. The people who started a life there. Who built that house out of nothing, and painted it and planted flowers outside of it to mark their love for it. The bed in the upstairs room that bore up under births and maybe deaths. The people who worried there, and nursed grudges there. The people who made love and prayed there – who wept over failed crops and hoped over new ones.
Then comes to mind that beautiful, rich, sorrowful line in Psalm 103 –
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
And as I though of this Psalm, and as we drove past this little marker of someone else’s life lived – it strikes me. What will be left of me in a hundred and fifty years? Will there be a legacy of a perfectly organized house? Where will my piles of clean laundry be in that time? Nowhere. Gone. Lost forever, and no one will even know it was here. What will have become of my endless quest to be streamlined and organized? Well – nothing. There will be no brass plaques.
But the very next line of this Psalm is so beautiful –
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
So here you have it in a nutshell. God’s mercy doesn’t need any memorial – it never dies. It is the one legacy that we can give our children that does not just melt away in time. God’s righteousness will not fade in the sun or break under the weight of snow. There is no grave that can hold that. It is explosive from one generation to the next.
I find myself looking differently at all this work we are doing – the most enduring legacy that we can give to our children is God’s grace to us. When I indulge in a petty attitude about my work at home – I am choosing the thing that cannot last over the thing that cannot die. When I seek God’s grace to overcome the temptations that are before me, however petty, I lay up very real inheritance for my children.
When we fight for contentment and joy, we fight for generations of blessing – for generations of the strength of righteousness. When we do not indulge in selfishness or shrillness or bitterness because we are living in the joy of the Lord – our children will be strengthened by that. And in a hundred and fifty years – what will have become of these adorable little children of mine? They will have poured themselves out for the next generation – and Lord willing, those children of my children will be fighting the good fight. Not just for organized closets – but for the Glory of God. And they will be fighting with the mercy and grace and strength that God poured out so long ago on us.
And I find this so comforting. Wherever you are, however clean your house is, however together you feel – there are places that God is pushing on you. Grab onto His grace there, and build something lasting. When you find yourself wanting to give up – not feeling like respecting your husband or disciplining your children – that is when you need to ask God to build your house – throw open the doors of your heart and ask God to lay a foundation that will last for generations. Generations of testimony to the strength of God – to His mercy to us, and to His everlasting Grace.