Archive | March 2012

My Preschooler Put Me in a Padded Cell

Have you ever noticed what a great sense of humor God has? Back in the days when I thought that my home had to look picture perfect for me to entertain guests, my children did their best to make sure it didn’t, and I sometimes wonder whether God didn’t put them up to their antics, just to keep their mama humble.

One such occasion stands out vividly in my memory. My husband and I had both worked overtime cleaning, cooking, and decorating for a Christmas party we were hosting. We finished our preparations with just half an hour to spare and dashed back to our bedroom to get showered and changed before our company arrived.

Meanwhile, our two-year-old sequestered himself in the hall bathroom, whereupon he discovered a stash of maxi-pads stored under the sink. Working quickly but quietly, he unwrapped every last one — no easy task, since I buy in bulk — peeled the adhesive strips off the backs, and stuck them to the cabinet, the floor, the toilet, the tub, and as far up the walls as his little hands could reach.

By the time the doorbell rang about fifteen minutes later, every square inch of the room (from about four feet down) had been padded with super-absorbant softness.

Mercifully, I happened upon the crime scene on my way to answer the front door and was tipped off to the surprise awaiting the first hapless person who wandered in. Sending my husband to greet our guests, I ducked inside and deftly undid the damage. But my toddler was happy to lend a helping hand, and I was smiling as I worked.

What have your little ones done that embarrassed you? How did you react? If you maintain a good sense of humor, you’ll often find that those are the memories that make you laugh hardest in the end.

Home Shows and Show Homes

Home Shows and Show Homes | Loving Life at HomeI once walked into a house I thought was on a holiday tour of homes and wandered through several rooms before realizing in embarrassment that I was at the wrong address. Fortunately, the home owners were hosting a party at the time, so I was was able to slip away quietly without making too much of a scene.

But the reverse has also happened: Another year I visited a home that really was on the tour, but had a hard time shaking the feeling that I’d come to the wrong place. It was almost as if the owners weren’t expecting us: “You’re here for the Open House? Tonight? I thought that thing was next week!”

Not that the home wasn’t lovely — it was. But, unlike most of the private residences I’d toured during these holiday fund-raisers, this house had dirty dishes in the sink, newspapers scattered on the floor, and sticky little handprints all over the bathroom mirrors.

In other words, this house looked lived in.

Moreover, the folks who lived in it were still there. They had not been spirited away for the duration of the tour, as was the usual custom. The owners of all those sticky little fingers spent the evening sprawled across three sofas watching television, seemingly oblivious to the steady stream of people parading through their home.

I’m not sure where their mother was that night, but had I spotted her, I would have shaken her hand, for she did me a huge favor (and possibly many of the other ticket holders, as well): She demonstrated unselfconscious hospitality. If she were worried about what others might think of her housekeeping, it didn’t show, and it certainly didn’t keep her from opening her home for a good cause.

I used to get really uptight whenever I was expecting company. I’d clean and scrub and polish and organize (and sometimes even sew and paint and landscape) for weeks in advance, snapping at anyone and everyone who got in my way or undid my work. I was much more of a Martha than a Mary, and I consequently missed out on many opportunities for sweet fellowship, joyful service, and gentle encouragement.

But over the years, God has changed this attitude. Maybe that home show assured me the world would not come screeching to a halt if I opened my house to guests when it was less than picture-perfect. Maybe adding eight or nine more children to the mix convinced me that having a picture-perfect home is not my highest goal, anyway.

I still love to entertain, and I still love to tackle big projects before I do, racing the clock to see how much I can finish before the big event. The difference is that now I do it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart — and a lot of helpers, young and old, at my side. And if the guests arrive before we finish loading the dishwasher (or planting the pansies or painting the baseboards), we leave the work for another day, grateful for what we got accomplished, but happy to take a break and fellowship with good friends who, after all, have come to see us, not our house.