"Mommy, what are you doing?!" my sweet 10-year-old asked me. Heistheway was very shocked that I was taking pictures of our messy dining table and kitchen.
Before I could answer her, she added, "Why don't we clean up before you take those pictures?" I was smiling. As I took photos, I told my sweet confused daughter, "I'm taking pictures because it's beautiful."
"But who wants to see a messy kitchen?"
"That's just it. No one wants to show their messy kitchen."
I still didn't get to fully explain to her the beautiful heavenly thoughts that were going through my mind. As I took my last few photos, Heistheway thought to share the alarming news with her siblings who were joining us from their bathroom break.
"Pelaiah! Abraham! Mommy's taking pictures of our messy kitchen!" I laughed at their surprise. They knew how much I liked taking photos but am rarely found taking ones of messy things. I was looking forward to sharing the hidden treasure I saw.
They were gathered in the living room --- all six of them.
"Do you want to know why I'm taking pictures?" They smiled at me.
"As you left the dining area I was staring at the crumbs on the table, the dirty dishes, the cup and spilled water on the floor, and all of the mess in our dining area. In that silence I was admiring all the lovely things that happened at the table and in our kitchen to produce that mess.
I saw a lot of love, good healthy food eaten, sweet fellowship, and the love of family. I saw hard work and sacrifice and an enjoyable time together eating with the people we love who love us back. I looked at it all and thought of all those things and how beautiful that mess looked to me. It said so much more.
I took a picture because I wanted to remember it and I want to share it with others."
Then I proceeded to tell them the following story.
Many years ago when I was a new mom I thought I knew how I was going to run my household. I was the first member of my family who was saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ when I was about twenty-years-old . So I didn't grow up in a Christian household.
Everything I read and studied in my Bible amazed me because most of it was so new to me. I felt like I was unlocking new treasure whenever I read and devoured God's Word!
Because of my new walk in the Lord I felt as if I was trying to start my life anew from a Christian perspective. How did God view my household, kitchen, my home's surroundings? I didn't have a clue.
So I did the first best thing I could think of: to try to imitate pictures of living spaces from magazines. Poor me. And poor daughter.
Every time I passed by our couch I found myself straightening our couch pillows for what felt like the hundredth time that day ! I thought that our entire house --- even the kitchen --- had to have a very neat and orderly appearance always.
I wondered how I was going to teach my two-year-old firstborn in the kitchen without making a huge mess every time. So I hardly attempted to teach her.
I didn't get upset at my daughter for using our house like normal people would. I just felt bad for her because I thought we could do so much more together if I felt free to enjoy my home and actually use it.
An Unknown Mentor
Then one day I was searching for godly advice and encouragement on homemaking online. Titus 2 mentors were hard to come by.
Back then blogs were a new idea and most people built websites out of html code the hard way. I came across a website of a Christian woman who shared homemaking skills and advice in a loving sweet and gentle manner.
I felt as if I was having tea with her and learning from this older woman. Her humbleness and gentleness made a great match in my book for being one of my chosen mentors that moment. She didn't have a blog but had many helpful pages of topics on her website.
The Lord was leading me to read what she wrote about life in the kitchen with children. What I read that day shaped my future in ways I never imagined and dreamed of.
Enjoy the Mess
What she said shocked me and also freed me. She encouraged young moms to enjoy training their children to willingly and cheerfully work with their hands (Proverbs 31:13-15).
She said that flour will get on the floor, that one of the greatest things and gifts we're giving our children by allowing them to work alongside us was the beauty of a joyful training ground. Not only will our children learn to master a great skill such as cooking but they will be able to bless others by it and do it with great joy because of their loving environment.
She was right but I had to make a huge adjustment! I was excited at the thought of a new engaging learning atmosphere in our home and I was also nervous. I cringed at the thought of walking on flour and sweet cookie dough on our clean floor but I knew it had to change. And change I did. Right away.
Though my firstborn was so young and she was just starting to learn many things as a two-year-old, she doesn't remember those days at all. I'm glad that those challenging and confused times were short.
That perspective on having a loving and highly educational environment has blessed our family in other areas of our lives and not just in the kitchen. Our children have engaged in so many activities with us and have learned many skills while enjoying the process.
As I shared this story with my children that morning, their eyes and mouths were gaped open. They couldn't picture me being a Mommy who wouldn't allow them to do hardly anything in the house especially the much-loved kitchen. In our home, the thought is completely unimagineable!
So now I am here writing this as a young mom with six older children under ten years of age. Enjoy and treasure those teachable moments in the kitchen and expect a mess every time!
Enjoy every crumb and speck you have to clean up because one day you and your children will see all the great blessings you've received in your lives because of it. So instead of cringing at the thought of a mess, see the beauty in it.