Joy Can’t Die.


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 Consider them all wise, well timed, and apparently best unpublished.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.


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27 thoughts on “Joy Can’t Die.

  1. Love this, thanks so much for sharing it. I struggle with the same issues, same type of kids, same mind games and balance issues. Thank you for the reminder of what is the best. Much appreciated!

  2. “Fighting for contentment and joy and generations of blessings.” So beautifully said. Thank you. And welcome back! I’ve missed your posts 🙂

  3. This was great – just what I needed – it’s great to find others who have the same struggles and feel “normal” when life with kids is chaotic and wonderful at the same time.

  4. LOVE this…. So timely and needed! …”choosing the thing that cannot last over the thing that cannot die”… such a convicting line about the times we indulge in selfishness… Glad this one was published!

  5. As a new mom struggling to find time to get all the cleaning done during the week, this blog really brought some things to light. I’ve been pretty hard on myself about not ever getting enough cleaning done or all of it done within the week. And at the end of the day, when my to-do list doesn’t have one thing marked off, I feel so defeated. But your words brought some relief to that guilt. I’m doing what’s more important in the long run and for the generations of my family to come…giving a lot of the time in the day to my son. Raising, nurturing, teaching, loving, holding, soaking in these days that won’t be here forever with him this little. Because at the end of the day, my moments throughout the day build up more for my family and family to come than a clean house. Although it is good and right to tend to the daily chores, so is not letting the enemy have a hold on it through the pressure I feel when not getting stuff done. All this “stuff” will get done and if not, it will be done one day! Thank you for sharing this!

  6. As others have said, it’s (weirdly) encouraging to be reminded that every other mom is fighting the tidy-battle while being reminded that the attitude-battle is the Real Thing. So many things seem to look at this and throw the bathwater out and never bathe the baby, so to speak. ‘It’s a hard job, so leave it all a mess and make cookies’ is not as encouraging as ‘whether you’re making cookies or tidying up, remember your people and what you’re doing’ is much more helpful.

  7. This was a great encouragement for me, a mom who is past the years of little ones running around, but who can still get caught up in things of life that do not build a Godly foundation.

    I can look back and say that what I remember is not the times that my house looked spectacular but the times that we were truly living. If I had known then how short the season would be, I would have been more mindful to squeeze as much glory for God into as I could. Press on faithfully, sisters to the goal.

  8. Truly enjoyed this post! Well said and something I will share with my daughter. Just had a wonderful time with her and my grandkids doing a pirate themed birthday party. 25 little ones playing games in the back yard, making crafts, eating cake and all sorts of sticky things resulted one giant mess! 4 garbage bags and a few hours after the last guest left I am happy to say things were a little cleaner (hopefully) than at the start of the day and we had some priceless memories to cherish! This Gramma is so thankful for her iPhone/camera. I never leave home without it. Now I just have to figure out how to download all those pictures I take. My memory card is full.

  9. I have just flopped on to the couch, too tired to get ready for bed. After a huge day, and a busy evening of cleaning/tidying/preparing, since the 4 little ones went to bed, it was lovely to find this post, and to be reminded why we do all of these seemingly endless tasks. Thanks for your insights – something good to reflect on during the week when I look at the “littered” floor 😉 And it’s Sunday tomorrow, so there will be rest 🙂 ~ (Australia, 10:30pm)

  10. I too hope to enjoy this season with lots of little ones, with sticky fingers, messy faces, and also messy house to go along with it. I know this time will change too quick and I won’t be able to relive it.
    But I do also want to teach them to be organized and clean, on their level of capacity, and to serve with a glad and thankful heart. I’m working on this with them all the time. It is constant work, reminding them, encouraging them, forgiving them, disciplining them,and so on. But it will all be wort it! The Lord is our strength in our weakness. He will bless the hard work.
    BTW, I just started this at our house and they love it!

  11. Thank you so much for these words of encouragement. Perfect to find as I come home from vacation with tired children, bags full of laundry, and a new school year staring me down. 🙂

  12. Just what I needed to hear as a mother of three children ages four and younger plus another baby on the way. Thanks so much for the encouragement!! I greatly needed it!

  13. What great encouragement and truth! Thanks for posting this! I have an almost 4 year old, and a 19 month old, and I feel the same way about the house!

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