Monday, March 4, 2013

When Disaster Strikes. . . Or Does It?

I've decided to write a post today to make everyone feel better about their lives and homes. This is going to take a lot of courage, because we all go through this life trying to put our "best foot forward" and keep our struggles and weaknesses to ourselves. That is a good strategy in many ways. It is helpful for forming relationships, getting a job, "keeping up with the Joneses" and many other things. But it has a destructive side too.

When we think that everyone around us has a "perfect" life, and only see the parts of other people's lives that make them look amazing, we can get quite discouraged. And it's especially destructive because what we are seeing from the "outside" is not usually the truth at all. In fact, it very seldom is the entire story.

I was having a discussion about this the other day with a couple of friends, and it was very therapeutic for everyone in the conversation to realize that we were all "normal", and that we didn't need to hide behind this wall of perfection just so others would accept us.

That said, there is a time and place for everything. No one wants to hang around someone who brings them down or makes them feel sorry for them. No one likes to hear someone complain all the time. At the same time, no one wants to be around someone who is always bragging either. In fact, as in many many things in this life, there is one extreme on the right and one extreme on the left, and the truth lies somewhere in between.

And so, for the sake of truth and encouragement, I am going to show you some pictures of what my house looks like this morning, after a very fun weekend (gulp). Yeah. I am. Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And after all, I'm short on time this morning, so here goes. . .

The Den. . . 

The Family Bathroom. . .

The other side of the Den. . .

The Upstairs Laundry Room. . . 

The Kitchen Sink. . .

The Dining Room Table. . .

The bedroom of two daughters who shall remain un-named. . .

In all fairness, I had to take a picture of the entrance next to my bedroom door. . . (cough, cough)

The downstairs laundry room & bathroom. . .

The family room. . . and yes, those are some of the boxes I've been nicely organizing for my game area. . . (boo hoo!)

The sort area in the family room where I had been neatly organizing all the games and puzzles. . . 

The landing at the bottom of the stairs. . .

My bathroom after a couple of girls got ready this morning. . . 

There. Now you know. Should I just go crawl into a corner and cry right now?? o_O

But seriously - How many of you have woken up on a Monday morning to surroundings just like this? I venture to say that many, many, many of you are in this situation when the weekend is over. And sadly, this may be after several hours of cleaning on Saturday, right?!? 

Why are Mondays so awful sometimes?? I have tried to figure this out for years. Although the answer is staring me right in the face, I just don't like to admit it. I like to have FUN on the weekend - GASP!!!

And even with a cleaning session on Saturday morning, which we do about 85% of the time, Mondays can be disastrous due to the "reward evening" after the work is done, plus the long Sunday when we take time off from working. . . 

Now, when I'm really on the ball, we tidy up before bed so this doesn't happen. But after all, I am human, too, right?? I could list all sorts of excuses why we didn't tidy up thoroughly on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, but I won't, because they are probably all the same reasons why many of you didn't either. hahaha!

Now, lest you get terribly discouraged, here's another example that shows this is not just a phenomenon in my house or yours, it is a normal part of life in society. Here is what New York Times Square looks like on December 31st:
Marvelous! Beautiful! Incredible! The Place to Be! The world's largest party!!

Yeah. True. But. . . 

Here's what it looks like on January 1st after the crowds have dispersed:

This guy doesn't look like he's quite as thrilled about all that confetti as everyone was the night before. . .

See!?!?!? It's not just you!!! It's not just me!!!! This is LIFE!!!

SO - why am I writing about this? Several reasons actually:

Reason #1: To make everyone feel NORMAL. You may know me personally and be aware of some of my talents and strengths, and not realize how things are sometimes behind closed doors. Now you know one of my weaknesses - I like to have fun and relax on the weekend, even if it means my home suffers!

Reason #2: To make a point that it is important to be realistic about what you are going to accomplish in your home. Even with a great power purge going and a bunch of great hard-working kids that can get things done in a jiffy when properly motivated, we often take several steps backwards. So don't look at all my "after" pictures and think I live in a dream castle.

Reason #3: To emphasize how important it is to LIVE in your home. Of course it's never going to look like the cover of a decorating magazine! That is staged just for the pictures. Have you ever noticed that you don't see much sign of LIVING in those pictures? Oh sure, they will lay out a book somewhere, but it's so obviously not real, it's ridiculous!

Reason #4: LASTLY, and most importantly - To point out how important it is to look for the POSITIVE. I could look around my home this morning and become extremely discouraged if I only look at the dark side of things. But let's look again and see if we can find some positive things too. . .
Oooo! Christianna took my request to work on bedrooms on Saturday seriously! Look at this beautiful room!

And she even organized the closet!!

Both sides too!! Yay Christy!

Lonny has been working on a climbing rope. . . he's braiding it from old baling twine. Steven got to try it out!

Melissa too! :) What a great Daddy!

YUM! Christianna made us lemon poppyseed cake. . . it was incredible. . . those two pieces are going to be dessert at lunch today!

Lonny started a batch of bread this morning. In fact, we have had homemade bread at least once or twice per week for months now. Thanks to some employment issues, we are trying to be extra frugal. The bright side? Nearly all of my kids know how to make homemade bread now. Awesome!

This piano has been the center of many a happy moment in our home this weekend and others. There were several gatherings around it this weekend for singing and making music together. What could be better than that?

And to top it all off. . . the living room actually looks fairly decent! Yay! The silver lining!!

So what this all comes down to, ladies and gentlemen is this: LIFE HAPPENS. And we have to LIVE in our homes. Yes, it helps to be organized and clean, and we should never stop striving for that goal. But don't make it the end in itself. A clean, organized home is a MEANS to an END. What we are striving for here is JOY in our lives. 

Here's a little scriptural insight into this principle:

"And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth. . . And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. 

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."  
(Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2: 19-27)

I don't know that I've ever quite read that scripture and realized the powerful application that it has for us today. If we "clean and organize" our home to a state of perfection, and then strive with all our might to keep it there at all costs, we are giving up joy. We will know no misery or frustration, so we will never know true joy.

So, what is a jumbled parent to do? I don't know what you should do, but here's what I did: 

After this roller coaster weekend, I had a little talk with my family last night. We decided that today after school, everyone was going to dig in and get the house clean. If necessary, that will be our "Family Home Evening" activity this week. OR - if everyone can work hard and get things tidied up after school while I'm teaching music lessons, then we will have some FUN for Family Home Evening tonight. We can play some games or watch a movie! (Just something NOT messy. . . please??) 

SO - that's the plan. And I feel like it's a good one.

I love struggles because they always make us more grateful for the good times. 

Hey - stop laughing - I'm serious! 

So, keep your chin up, my jumbled friends! And look around you for the positive things you can find all around you. In every storm cloud there is a silver lining. You may have to look hard to find it, but when you do, it will be, oh, so worth it!!


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