God Makes a Meal Out of Messes

I survey the kitchen and living room, and my eyes are assaulted with messes. Mail, worksheets, art projects, toys, plates of food with a few bites left, an origami style army of paper tanks, counting blocks. The messes feel endless. And for a tired mom, the messes can feel like the enemy. Of course, they're not. They're evidence of life and growth. They are the essence of learning, exploring, and doing. A home without messes is a home without people, without life. If I want my children to grow as people, I must invite them to make messes. To take part in learning requires physical stuff to be used, to be handled, changed, glorified.

Then I also must invite them to learn to pick up, put away, restore order, and turn their learning into more than mere mess. A messy kitchen ought not to be chaos only, but the evidence of raw materials being transformed into something tasty and warm and good to eat.

And as I study God's word, I find the same to be true. His word is living and active, and the process of growth that happens as I seek to understand it, and live my life under its authority and protection, makes messes. Not the kind of messes that are atrophy and dust-collection, but the messes of life and growing and glorification.

Expand Your Categories

As children have joined our family, so have our categories for living. Twelve years ago, I didn't have a category for a load of laundry that was all pink. But three daughters later, now I do. Before having sons, our family life didn't include a category for toys that were all of the round and throwable sort, but two sons later, the importance of such things is real.

This is doubly true in relation to our son with disabilities. I had no category in my brain as a 21-year-old for a family that included a son with a feeding tube. I never contemplated what it might be like to change a g-tube or help him sleep hooked up to his tube all night. How could I have? I don’t know that I'd ever heard of such things. Now we've expanded our life to include those sorts of things, along with countless other ways our lives have grown, changed, and become messier since having children.

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