Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Worn, The Beautiful

Lately I've had a lot of things going through my mind as I scramble to finish the last few projects and deep clean before listing our house in the next week and a half or so.  

As you can imagine, as I have been on my hands and knees scrubbing bathroom grout, inside cabinets, window panes and baseboards, and I can feel the soreness in my back.  As we lift boxes and clothes from the basement to the van and then to the storage unit, again my back is sore and arms are, too.  My hands get dry from washing them so much after cleaning and my feet have stepped on everything from a lovely nail when our old carpet was being ripped out to gunky paint that dropped off our paint brushes.  We've washed and pulled and scrubbed our hair free of paint and have just collapsed many nights after tucking in the kids from shear exhaustion of it all! Because, after all, this stuff isn't our real job.  Heath is working days and nights as a resident and I'm a stay at home mom who never stops tending to the kids and house. After a couple months of working extra hard around the clock I've developed a very aching, sore body!  Right now I can feel every muscle because they are so tender.  Of course lifting little ones, taking hot cast iron skillets out of the oven, and laundry baskets up a flight of stairs will do that to you over time anyways...

Where am I going with all this complaining--err--explaining?  

Today it occurred to me.  God gave me a very healthy body. (Praise Him!)  He made me in His image.  I have working arms, legs, spine and heart so I can not only move but truly live!  My body was created to work in this way.

Across borders and seas there are moms who carry children for miles just to get clean water.  

I think I can manage a flight of steps.

There are people who don't have a very healthy heart or lungs to work for them properly.

I think I can get mine racing real good every day to become "Mommy Robot" while playing chase with the kids.

There are families around the world who only have rice mush to eat day in and day out.  Every.  Day. And they are thankful for it.

I think I can handle cooking 3 meals a day without complaining or eat leftover chili for the 3rd day in a row.

There are homes made with dung.  Actual poop from animals, and the families are just proud to have shelter.  

I think I can wipe down some greasy baseboards and learn to live with wet floors from all the snow and rain.

What am I really saying here?  

I want my mindset to change on my body and home.  While I like working for my body by exercising and eating healthy, I can't help but feel God made our bodies to work for us!  I can live with pain for all the gain that comes with it in the end!

With my very own ability, I'm able to clean and cook, rock my daughter every night, crawl around the floor to find Legos buried under furniture, bathe fidgety-widgety toes, and even paint entire rooms and pack lots of boxes.  

Yes, these things can take a toll, but instead of me just feeling the aches, I've decided to be thankful.

My body is a gift I can't take for granted. 

My home is a gift I can't take for granted.

I was thinking. Again.  Some of the most used rooms in my house--the rooms that I'm in the most and that stay the messiest-- those are some of the most loved places to be!!  

Here are some untouched places at this very moment in my busiest and best working room... The kitchen. (Don't worry Molly, the mess will be gone when you list the house!)  It doesn't always look so strewn, but if it does, instead of getting frusterated I want to see life!

Because this is where life happens.  Home is where life happens.  Water glasses always sitting out means that I have good things to drink and loved one to serve with a body healthy enough to do so!

All the crumbs mean I have plenty of food to eat.  Every day.  I've never once in life ran out of food without means to buy more.

My messiest room, the kitchen, is also best loved!  It's where I cook for my family, and you know how I love to do that!

It's where I teach my daughter the art of seasoning a homemade pizza well.  And enjoying it.  (Even when a bag of trash waiting to be carried out in the corner... Eek)

It's where in the midst of painting a room we make quick PB & Js to enjoy with the kids, and where my children just love holding onto my legs while I'm cooking.  It's where my son peeks around the corner, knowing to stay clear of the stove, but wanting to watch his mommy.

This room is always alive!  It bears the marks of working for me with almost constantly a crumby floor and clean dishes to unload, with grease splatters and dirty aprons hung.  But I live in the kitchen and it works for me, like my body works for me.  I love them for it, too! 

Sometimes the mess and the aches in life indicate--instead of something being wrong-- that something is incredibly... right. used. Loved!

God gives us strength to do the hard things in life.  The hard things that turn out to be some of the best things, if you just stick with it!

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 1 Timothy 4:7

Parenting is physically and emotionally the hardest task I've ever had.  It's also crazy rewarding and fulfilling to pour into your children!

Upon keeping a home everyday, getting our house ready to sell has taken so much out of me since the start of the year, but we're at a point that I can see all the rewards!

Painting, purging, deep cleaning, reorganizing, and color coding my closet was time consuming, but the result is beautiful!

Our closet was once a huge mess, but now it's more like a dressing room I enjoy changing in!

For two weeks our entire bedroom was moved out as we slept in the dining room.  This picture was actually after our walls were fixed from the hundreds of cracks that this old cape cod had developed in the charming wall boards over the years.  This pic was just after sanding, priming, and painting, but before the new carpet.  May I just say this picture is already light years from what this room looked like when we bought the house?  I love progress.

Our tranquil bedroom retreat after!  

This picture isn't at all staged since I snapped it after my morning coffee, and there are still details with bedding and decor to sort out.  But now, coming up here to our bedroom instantly calms me.  After a week of being snowed in with the sound of nail guns and a cloud of dust, tranquil is exactly what we're wanting! For weeks, the rest of the house haphazardly stored everything this room carried, but now we can see all the work and effort paid off!

In under a week's time of being back in our bedroom I've managed to spend every morning's quiet time up here with the Word and coffee and myself.  

Over the past 2 1/2 weeks of sacrifice during a winter storm and while construction was going on in our house, we managed to live in & through the chaos.  Imperfection at is best!

My friends, this room is a perfectionist's nightmare.  

But God made a way you see, and it's all over!

So here I am today back in my clean, but imperfect livingroom.  Just the way I like it now.

Where there is beauty that God made.

Life lived.

Where there is usually a coat thrown over the couch by the back door because I have a hard working husband who comes home to me!  (I can handle a few strewn coats now!)

Life lived.

And in my well-loved kitchen there are my favorite promises I've written.. Well, God has written, but are now on my heart.  I've walked by these verses for many years hoping and believing God to change many situations, and He has!!
Life lived.

I'm thankful for the things that look worn but are actually loved!  I have a life very well-lived, and this is my year to finally wholeheartedly embrace that.


You know.. I'm not quite finished.  

First off, normally all the different filters in my pictures would drive me nuts, but today I'm just happy to be writing!

I did want to mention that over the past couple of months, I've been inspired by a few people.  First, when I was stretched the very thinnest during this reno, mom told me that she was praying my fruit of the spirit would further mature from this.  (Honestly, that was the last thing I cared to hear at the time when I was in a fetal position with a severe headache from all the smells and sounds.  When I had to get relief on my bed that was in the middle of our dusty diningroom with the workers in the house...that was a low point). But Mom always knows just what to pray, and now in hindsight I can see fruit developing.  God is good!!!

Also a blog post from Courtney at  Women Living Well about her unique view on her "love handles", and watching the astounding movie The Good Lie that is based on a true story has changed my whole perspective on the perfection of what I eat.  You know, I could've been born in Syria or in Niger or any other struggling country with problems that would make most of mine seem embarrassing, but I was not.  I was born in a country that generally knows no need, only want.  So while I actually enjoy cooking nice homemade meals because it's my creative outlet, I don't feel guilty for making a simple tator tot casserole to feed my family of 4 .  Because even though it's not the fanciest or healthiest, it's better food than some children may eat their whole life.  

Also a terrific book on making a home and decorating that I got for Christmas called The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith, was also was great food for thought.   

She told me to embrace "life" in your home.  The wear and tear on things only show they've been loved, and after visiting an African village herself, her outlook on what home was completely changed.  Just reading of it changed mine!

God has beautifully wrecked my life over the past few years in so many ways, because I've trusted Him to do so (starting in January 2012 to be exact). I can proudly say because of my house's recent "wreck" I learned even more how beautiful things come from imperfection.  My body and house are just two of these things.

Don't be afraid to embrace the hard or resist the perfect and "beautiful".  


elizabeth said...

I struggle so much when things are in a mess and upheaval. It's easy to lose my peace. Your lessons learned are good for me, too!

Leslie said...

Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth. Honestly I do too, but God is changing that and it's a gift! I can err on the side of worry and perfectionist sometimes, but God didnt call me to a perfect life. I want to see what really matters this year (what matter to him!) and hold tight to those things only! I hope you're doing well, and the weather is nicer in your region than it is mine... A big snowstorm came through yesterday! :)

Maria said...

What a beautiful post, Leslie! There is so much truth in what you write, and this lesson in perspective is both freeing, and life-changing! I've been (slowly!) moving towards similar realizations myself, telling myself it's a process! Hope the rest of your preparations for your move go very well!

Leslie said...

Thank you, Maria! You know, I hope and pray more of us can grasp what really matters in life and let our tight grasp go a little on all the rest. :) You're right in that it is very freeing! I'm really glad you stopped by to read, and I'll have to hop over for a visit to your beautiful blog now!

Coffee Mom said...

Beautiful post. Sounds like there is much life and love in your home!! Good, important reminders. Blessings to you during this time of transition!

Leslie said...

Thank you! Life isn't perfect here, but there is certainly much of it, hehe! My words here are usually for myself so I'm just happy to hear that others can relate, as well. I hope things are well with you this year. I miss seeing your family on your blog... I'm sure your baby is darling! You really have always inspired me with your heart for God and your family!

Ali @ said...

Great post Leslie :) It really resonated with me. Thank you!

Debbie said...

Leslie, I love the perspective in this post. We have so many blessings, if only we will look at them that way.

Thanks for reminding me that messes are really just signs that I have people :) For that, I am so grateful!