“Your room is a disaster”. I heard this very quote from my mom millions of times growing up. Looking back, she was right. It was a hot mess and I should have been ashamed. My usual approach to tackling the mess was “out of sight, out of mind”, or rather “out of mom’s sight”. I became really good at cramming all of my junk in places where it wouldn’t be visible. I wanted the appearance of a clean room without it really being clean. This worked great, until my mom became an unsuspecting victim as she opened my closet door only to be caught in an avalanche of all things hidden. But somewhere along the way, that messy teenager who never had time to clean her room, really began to enjoy the cleaner things in life. I started to believe (and sometimes still do) that a clean house is a sign of having it all together. I can’t control much in life, but I can certainly control how tidy my home is. Right? Well friends, if you lead a busy life or are managing a small circus of little people on a daily basis, you likely feel like me in that your job of “cleaning’” is never done. You try so hard to stay on top of it, but you just can’t. You wipe the counters and sweep the floors, only to find that someone is hungry again. You scrub the toilets and then hear your two year old (or husband) lift the toilet seat. You exhale when you fold the last piece of laundry, and then discover that the hamper somehow managed to refill itself while you were busy folding. There have been times when I have seriously thought “how dare you use that bathroom? I just cleaned it!” I get it. It’s so hard to keep up (dare I say, impossible?). I’ve gone from working woman, to working mom, to stay at home mom, and you know what I’ve learned? It’s hard to keep up with no matter what stage of life you are in. But there is one thing I’m learning that we can change a whole lot easier than keeping up with it all - our perspective. I still struggle often with finding that perspective. Not too long ago, I sat down to squeeze in a little quiet time before my little *alarm clocks* woke up. I flipped open my copy of Triggers (MUST READ if you haven’t already!) and noticed a chapter titled “Messy Homes”. I turned there as quickly as I could. I just knew this chapter was somehow going to change my life and give me the cheat code to keeping up with it all. Are you ready for the cheat code that I found?
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
I’m sorry? I’m looking for the chapter on managing a messy home, not dirty farm animals. But as I kept reading, it hit me. Strong oxen are needed for a good harvest. They are a necessary part of the labor, even if it involves the hard work of cleaning the stable. Sure, a stable with no oxen would be clean and would require less work, but what about the harvest? The more I read, the more my perspective shifted. Having a fruitful home usually requires a mess. Whether its an art project with the boys, letting them help me cook, hosting a play date, hosting community group, etc., all of those things require a mess. But in each of them, there is so much joy that it strangely makes me thankful for that mess. That very afternoon, I found myself in the kitchen, home alone with the boys, and attempting the greatest pinterest fail of all time. I had signed myself up to make a caramel cake from scratch for a friend’s birthday. Let me just say, that was the ugliest cake ever made (although it did taste amazing) and that icing was a runny nightmare. You could say I was feeling a tad overwhelmed. There was still spit up in my hair from earlier that day, my kids had pulled out nearly every dish I owned (or at least the ones that weren’t piled in the sink), there was caramel icing dripping down my white cabinets, and *shocker* I was running late. I’m pretty sure it was even raining outside. This is normally the moment that defines my mood as “not-so-great” for the rest of the evening. Then suddenly, I remembered the cheat code verse from earlier that day. In that moment, I realized that while my manger was far from clean, there was so much to be grateful for. I was so grateful for the laughter exuding from my boys as they made drums from my pots and pans. I was grateful to have a friend to make a cake for. I was grateful for a community group who can fill my home. My family, my friends, and my community are all necessary parts of the harvest. Even this morning while reading the Christmas story with my two year old, I thought about how messy that manger must have been, but man, was it ever fruitful. I’m not saying we should all wallow in our mess and let our homes fall apart around us, but sometimes it’s okay to throw on a pair of socks to mask the crumbs on the floor and give yourself a little grace. Embrace the harvest in your home, open up your stable, and be thankful for the strong oxen in the field with you daily.