Daily Messes



Sometimes, I wonder how one small person can make such big messes. Pen Elaine, joy and treasure that she is, can turn a small snack of cereal into mess that reaches 100 times the radius of her bowl…you know what I mean? How does this happen? I sit and eat with her every day, but I still wonder at how she turns mealtime into such a mess. Now, I have always been a messy eater, so I admit that she probably gets this trait from me. The cereal mess in the picture was no big deal because I have a dustbuster thing that has revolutionized my life, but macaroni and cheese, yogurt, anything with spaghetti sauce…all these types of food have taken on a new form of thought for me that makes me just a bit anxious. Ridiculous, I know, but I like to cut down on the time I spend cleaning the kitchen when I can. However, cleaning the kitchen is a happy chore, especially compared to a poopy surprise, which can appear anytime at this stage, pre-potty-trained, when Pen Elaine is bothered by poopy but doesn’t go to the potty before it occurs, but rather she touches it down in her diaper and then wipes her hands anywhere close by… or tries to change her own poopy diaper…a too-difficult task for a barely 2-year-old who nevertheless wants to be independent. Thus she makes a bigger mess of things, spreading poopy even further, than if she’d just let me help. So, cleaning messes is a daily habit that is just part of the landscape.

Now, I’m thankful for having a house to clean and a cute kid to clean up after, truly. These are happy times, but sometimes I wonder how to balance hopes and dreams and goals for the future with staying on top of daily messes. Also, I wonder if God is having to clean up after my daily messes. Messes like conversations and relationships, mothering and discipline, wrong attitudes or missed opportunities, am I moving forward in God’s plan for me even as I’m feeling my way through life with human attempts and weaknesses? Am I living wisely or am I trying to be independent and change my own “poopy diaper” when I should be relying on God instead, through prayer and Scripture reading and humility…Pen Elaine challenges my authority at every turn. She resists my requests and tests her limits constantly. She’s so darn cute, that I want to give snuggle her with kisses in the same moment that she’s driving me crazy, so I deeply want to discipline her in a way that awakens and molds her unique heart to all that life holds for a child of God. I know God must feel the same way about His children. I’m working through all of this, as a mother and a woman and a child of God, but on this journey, I am comforted by Philippians 1:6 (and recommend the encouraging kids’ book by Max Lucado, God Thinks You’re Wonderful):

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NASB

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV


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