Bless This Messy House

January 25th, 2022 by Sara Buffington

My husband and I built our dream home on 10.5 acres in Virginia. We contracted the whole thing ourselves, and Peter himself laid all our heart of pine floors.  I picked out all the colors of paint. The walls were mostly a creamy yellow, which I consider the happiest color.

house-1

We planned to raise our family there. We installed a full swing set in the backyard even though our oldest could only use the baby swing. We had plenty of space, extra bedrooms, and scenic views from every window. We joked that this would be the house we would die in. (That's pretty dark humor, I know.)

We lived there for 1.5 years.

Our entire lives turned upside down at that moment. The life we were building in Virginia? God decided to close that door abruptly and without much warning. 

We sold out dream home in a week and moved to Florida. We shoved our furniture in a storage unit and moved into 2 bedrooms in my inlaws' house. Our two kids in one room, Peter and I in another.

The whole thing was shocking, sad, and God-led.

God Bless This Messy House

Home Obsession

The first months in Florida I did very little. While my toddlers napped, I did one of two things:

1. I watched reruns of Law and Order. I just love Jerry Orbach.

2. I obsessed about decorating.

How do you obsess about decorating when you have no home? I can tell you. You read lots and lots of home magazines.  You subscribe to catalogs of home stores that you never actually order from. You read online blogs of people doing amazing projects around their houses, like tiling their kitchen with actual pennies.

I planned my future home color scheme: gray with accents of citrus colors.  When I closed my eyes at night, visions of pillow shams danced in my head.

I thought to myself, "When I finally get a home again, I will make it perfect."

home

Spreading Seeds of Discontent

After a year or so we moved into a rental that we could afford. Peter was in grad school, and we were pinching every penny.  I couldn't paint the walls, but I did what I could to the house with our limited budget.

I still subscribed to the magazines and checked online sites for deals because I wanted my home to be a pleasing sanctuary.

But there was a problem with my sanctuary. I was never at peace in it.

Because I looked all day at amazing pictures of beautiful homes, I only ever saw my house as wanting. It was never good enough. There was always more to be done.  I was chronically unhappy with it.

Because I looked all day at amazing pictures of beautiful homes, I only ever saw my house as wanting. I was chronically unhappy with it.

A Happy Family Lives Here

One day Gabby Browning invited me to her house. She told me I would recognize it from all the palm trees. They have an unbelievable variety of palm trees. Their yard is more of a tropical rain forest–ponds, fruit trees, and leafy branches crowding the pathways.

leaves

When I walked inside their home, I looked around. This thought immediately sprang to mind:

"A happy family lives here."

The home was pleasing and comfortable but not ripped from the pages of a catalog.  The couches were comfy and lived-in, the side tables were clustered with frames of family photos, the kitchen table was crowded with a bowl of fruit, napkins, and placemats (you could tell they ate there as a family regularly).  The fridge was crammed with leftovers packed in Tupperware. This was a family who loved to cook.

I really didn't notice the color scheme. 

I didn't notice the backsplash or the pillow shams. 

I just sensed an atmosphere of love.

A happy family lives here.

Finding Focus 

After that day I discontinued my magazine subscriptions. I took myself off catalog lists and stopped visiting home blogs. I realized I wanted that kind of home, one typified by its feeling of lived-in warmth rather than the warmth of its color scheme.

It took some time, but soon I walked around my imperfectly-appointed home with contentment. I didn't even hate the carpet in the bathroom anymore (why oh why would someone put carpet there?).

I focused instead on the actual composition of my home: my family. My kids wrote on the walls with chapstick (they were supposed to be napping). My toddler threw food on my Oriental rug. The kids in our Bible study jumped on my bed (in my defense I didn't know this was happening at the time). 

It wasn't neat, but it was beautiful. A happy family lived here.

God blessed the mess. And he blessed me with gratitude for all that he had given me.

Ask Him to Bless the Mess

If you are like me, you may have a sink full of dishes and laundry practically crawling out of the dryer. If you want to eat at the table, you have to clear the piles off it first.

By all means, clean. By all means, subscribe to Pottery Barn or stroll through the paint aisle at Home Depot. By all means, spruce up your home and yard. But don't let those things pull your focus or steal your gratitude. 

God cares about the people in your home, not the laundry. Ask him to give you the eyes to see the true beauty in your home. God bless your mess.

Can you relate to this? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out Christopher's first sermon in a series on Home. Don't miss one! Subscribe to our podcast channel on iTunes.

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About this author:

Sara Buffington

Sara Buffington

In April 2013 Sara started leading worship at New Covenant, and she considers it a joy and a privilege. She lives with her husband Peter, their three children, and Poppy the dog.

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