Messy Times

I was re-typing portions of our book, Mighty Acts of God, and reading all the Bible story act-out suggestions. They brought up some spicy memories…like Benjamin scrawny and whining, an inside-out T-shirt on his head, stomping his foot and yelling “No” at a  half-sized Moses. Johanna, giggling while she pretended to drive a stake through Sisera’s head (my dad’s hair before it was completely white). Yeah…I got a little nostalgic.

It made me realize something about my Mumsie. She let us make messes–BIG ones. In fact, she often asked for them.

I don’t like to share the kitchen with anyone…let alone six kids ten and under. Mama would give us each a blob of bread dough to “knead” (meaning make goofy faces with it and laughing until it was time to pile it all back into the five-gallon bucket). She dug out dress-up stuff for Bible act-outs, and she let us tear outside after history reading to pretend we were soldiers, wild Indians, and galley slaves. My parents rubbed their faces with “war paint” and jumped into the thick of whatever wild lesson was being (undetectedly) learned at the moment.Kids helping in kitchen

I don’t think that attitude comes naturally. Isn’t it easier to can the peaches all on your own? To keep sticky, clumsy hands out of the kitchen and to keep crazy boys out of trees and sawdust piles? Keep the laundry, dust, dirty faces, questions, and chaos to a minimum?

Teaching kids to identify the story God is writing, with all its different tastes, smells, and textures is hard work. It takes big sacrifices, lots of time, and a little creativity.

But the formaldehyde spill in the back hall and the grape juice flood in the kitchen were some of the best times. I can hardly remember any learning that didn’t involve a mess or a wild, spin-off, creative project of some sort. Don’t underestimate what this hard work will do for your kids. We are so blessed and grateful!

Pull up your sleeves and dig down into that stinky formaldehyde, smear catsup “blood” on your door frame, pretend you’re the slug coming into Noah’s ark–be crazy and be real. Show them how amazing and magical and real all this stuff is spinning around our universe and beyond. Chances are, you’ll learn something new from the tiny, excited minds around you and find yourself gaping at the bigness and the details of our Storyteller.

There is a lot of dirt and sticky mess in the world. Isn’t digging in, learning what it means, and putting it back in order what it’s all about?

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3 Comments

  1. With two boys (so far), ages 6 months and 2 years I needed to be reminded of this. I find chaos and mess very distressing. I enjoy order, quiet, cleanliness…but I LOVE my boys! I want them to live life, not just exist but really LIVE! Stepping outside of my comfort zone and learning to let go of things that don’t have eternal ramifications is helping me to grow, forcing me to grow. I’m learning to remain calm amongst the insanity and find my peace and joy in seeing them (and myself) grow more Godly, instead of finding peace and joy in a perfectly spotless and orderly house.

  2. Bethany, your mom is my role model! I want to be just like her when I grow up. Oh, wait…I am grown up. Thanks for this! Now I’m off to say “Yes” to the little one who just said, “Mommy do you want to go play swords outside with me? Here’s a big one for you and a little one for me.”

  3. This is a tough one! I have so much to do without extra mess!!! I do try to let them explore and be children and I am fine with mud and water and little messes, but their fathers have to be okay with it, too. That can be tricky! I love the idea, however, and love to watch my children discover their world 🙂