One of the things that I spend the most time thinking about is mess. Seriously, I know. If you have read much of what I have written you have probably noticed that I can basically not write at all without mentioning laundry or walking on pretzels. I try to suppress it, but it does pop out – probably because it is actually a really big deal in my life. Mess in the home and people in the home have been some of the major headers over the flow chart of my sanctification. Much of my personal walk with the Lord has taken place circuitously around our home, and I am so thankful for that – because also in my home are a bunch of little people that I love. And it is here, in the middle of my sanctification laboratory that they are learning about life and God and joy and peace and family and sacrifice.
When I bring up my problems to my husband – they are often things such as: organizational methods, things we need to get rid of, messes that I have uncovered, why the children could be making the messes I uncover, whether I need to become more organized and live by a schedule, etc. In other words, I bring up methods. I judge my performance by methods. And the thing he pointed out to me the other day has been on my mind ever since.
He said “Show me the fruit. What are you making?” And as we talked about this, I began to see how many ways I am not looking at the fruit – and how much more important that is. His comment was that I could show him that I had gotten rid of all the junk in the kitchen – cleaned the drawers out super clean and now I had only a one cup measure and a rolling pin. Ta-Da! Look how sleek and simple this is! Look how much we aren’t in bondage to all those potato peelers and microplanes! Look at how we finally have uncluttered our space and are living the good life. And it wouldn’t tell you anything at all. The question, upon looking in the vacant kitchen drawers ought to be, “What are you making with that?” And, “Is it any good?”
So the question really ought not to be about what does my home look like – but what does it sound like? What does it feel like? What are my kids like? Are they joyful and secure? Do they trust us and love each other? Are they enjoying the life that God has given them? Are we loving them and honoring God in the way we treat them? And of course when this is all true, your house will also be good to look at.
It will be different though, because the priority difference is noticeable. When the people come first, the house doesn’t. When the fruit comes first, the method doesn’t. When the joy of the Lord comes first, the joy of minimalism doesn’t. The truth is that we need to re-order what we look for. You could walk into a home that looked perfect, and yet the fruit of that home might be bitter. And it could easily tempt you to resent the noise and the spills and the troubles that you are having in your very sweet, fruitful home.We simply cannot forget what we are doing in our homes. What is the whole purpose of this place? Not just how it looks, but why it looks. What are we for? Why are we doing this?
If you set a time lapse camera up over my kitchen sink and then reviewed the footage, you could come up with some pretty dark news: a lot of mess and many dishrags coming and going. But if you turned the camera to the table, the picture would be very different. I should be judging that mess in the sink only in light of the smiles on the faces, the laughing around the table, and the joy of the Lord. These two passages really make up my whole point:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
And then in Proverbs 11:29, we have this warning.
“He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, And the foolish will be servant to the wise-hearted. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.”
This is the answer to what you are trying to do at home: win souls. Your home, your cleaning, your cooking, your laundry, and all the things you do are simply the tools that God has given you to use as you win souls. This is the real work, this is the real fruit. It is a wonderful thing that God has given us so many diverse ways to bless our kids. And every one of those ways can be used to trouble them. But the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.
I am going to try, in the next couple of posts to talk a bit about things that we do in our home with this in mind. I don’t think we all need to do this the same way, because, thank the Lord, we are all different and have different children. But it is good to think through our methods looking forward to the fruit – and I will try to share a few of the ways that we do this in our own home.
And finally, about the “funner” sign. It’s a joke and an admonition all at the same time – be funner, people!
17 thoughts on “Funner, Part 1”
Rachel, this is RIGHT where I’m at! I was just stressing out about all the messes over the weekend. They seem to never end at my house (5 little people).
Thank you so much for this encouragement and perspective.
And, yes… I need to learn to be a “funner” mom! 😉
I love the “time lapse camera” image! I need to focus less on the “sink shot”, and get a wide angle lens on my camera or something. 😉 Dave and I have similar conversations about messes and organization etc.. 🙂
So glad you ladies are blogging again. Also – I want the funner sign.
Thank you so much for this today! I tend to judge the quality of our day by how “together” I feel at the end of it. Today was a rough, messy homeschool day, and the baby has just gotten into the try-everyone’s-shoes-on-and-leave-them-all-over-the-house stage. Thanks for refocusing me on the fruit of today’s chaos: Lord willing, this is all helping me to win four little souls to Him.
You don’t even know how much I needed to read this just now!! I’ve been re-arranging my daughter’s room today and I’m also dealing with a sick toddler and the rest of the house is a MESS! I’ve given myself to my kids the past 2 days – they came before my house and that is ok! I know the house will get its time from me eventually.
Thank you for this. It’s such a helpful perspective to me right now. I think I need to read over this a few more times to really let the truth sink in.
What a wise question for your husband to ask!
You have nailed the right focus for it. I sometimes miss the mess because of the joy that came with it. Can’t wait for Funner Part 2.
p.s. my motto during the season of little ones was “If you want to visit us, come any time. If you want to visit our house, make an appointment.
Rachel, I saw you’re hosting an online seminar soon. Will it be recorded and available after the event, or is it a now-or-never deal? 🙂
This is beautiful. Thank you – it’s all about the fruit!
Thank you! What a beautiful thought. It goes along with asking yourself at the end of the day “Was I faithful?” instead of “Did I do my best?” The former helps me focus on the fruit as you suggest; the second causes me to focus on effort and results in my home.
Also, I echo Franci’s question: Will your online seminar be recorded? Wednesdays are crazy around here, so I wondered if there would be make-up sessions for days I couldn’t make it??
This was very encouraging! Thanks Rachel! I’ll be training my eyes to look for fruit today over empty clean spaces. 🙂
(…And I am also wondering if your online seminar will be recorded?)
This was encouraging for me too, especially since I’m a few days into our first week of homeschool with 6 little kids! After reading this yesterday, it seemed like today was full of messes though, so now I’m a little scared to read what’s next…lol. 😉 I’m also wondering about the online seminar, because I’d love to do it too, but I don’t know how well I can count on an hour of quiet!
Thank you for this post, Rachel! I recently wrote about that same Psalm on my blog: http://www.reneeemerson.com/2014/08/unless-lord-builds-house.html
It helps me to remember that I am experiencing the reward Now, caring for my sweet littles, not in the future, When I finally get the house organized, the sunroom painted, the bathtub spotless.
Did you read my mind?!?!? This is just what I needed to hear! I’m such a methods person too. I’m always talking to my husband about how I can simplify or make something more efficient. I guess I’ve been working on the wrong thing! Thank you for the encouragement to ask thw right questions regarding my home.
Thank you thank you thank you! This is such a sweet reminder. I really needed to read these words today. I literally just had a conversation about this very thing with my friend in my kitchen while bemoaning the piles of laundry on my dining room table. Looking forward to reading part 2 and so on.
I totally need a FUNNER sign. It’s the funnest thing I’ve seen in awhile 😉
FANTASTIC! Your ‘Mess Ministry’ truly ministers to my soul. I want a sign that says ‘Excuse the mess, this is a Sanctification Laboratory!’.