When Your House Looks Like a War Zone -- How to Maintain Perspective

My neighbor's yard looks like it's been bombed with small mortar fire.

In addition to its pockmarked landscape, there are paths worn through the grass large enough to plant a row of corn. Not to mention the unidentifiable bits of fabric and stuffing strewn from one end of the other.

It's a good thing I don't live in a neighborhood governed by a homeowner's association, or my neighbors would have been fined or voted out by now. But rather than complaining about their less-than-Southern-Living yard, I look forward to walking by it. In fact, it makes me smile.

The reason I like this yard is because it's populated by two dogs--Lady and Roxie. As my dog Winston and I walk the neighborhood, we've come to look forward to the hike up the hill to their house. Two mixed-breeds with less than stellar pedigrees, Lady and Roxie are happy-go-lucky doggie friends who love life and consider every day an adventure.

Their yard is evidence of this. Convinced there's a juicy bone buried somewhere, they've excavated a large part of the yard in search of treasure. They serve as the official escorts to anyone walking the length of their yard, hence the well-worn traffic trails along the perimeter. 

And every so often their owner presents them with a new stuffed animal, which they promptly eviscerate, creating the snowfall of polyfil and fabric. It is a well-used yard with happy occupants.

During my  more active days of parenting, our house looked a lot like Lady and Roxie's yard. Black holes amidst toy piles dotted the landscape, while cheerios littered every corner the dog couldn't reach. There was always a sticky spot somewhere on the kitchen floor, and often the only writing implement available to take phone messages with was a crayon. The laundry pile resembled Pike's Peak, and piles of library books akin to the Eiffel Tower defied gravity in every room.

But the occupants of my home were happy-go-lucky children who loved life and considered every day an adventure.

My house was never pristine, but it was, as my mom always said, "clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy."

And even when I did marshal the troops and undertake a major clean, it didn't stay that way for long, because my house was lived in.

If you're struggling with a house that never stays clean or a yard that's less than perfect, because it's well-lived in, take a lesson from Lady and Roxie. A friend of mine understood this and allowed her children to dig a gigantic hole in her backyard. "There'll be time enough to grow grass when they're grown and gone," she said. I always admired her for that.

If you've got little ones at home, do what you have to do to keep the health department away, but don't forget to enjoy the very people who are making the messes. It won't be long before they're gone, and you'll have all the time in the world to clean.

And you'll wish you had a mess again.

At least, once and a while.

You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.

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• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

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  1. We often lack self-control in this area, don't we? Some of us can't control our impulsive desire to have things too clean and others can't control themselves enough to keep things decent. I hope the impulsive ones take this to heart, and the messies don't read it! : )
    I like your mom's quote.

  2. Thanks for this wisdom, Lori. I still struggle at times with the balance especially when deadlines loom.