A Magazine Moment

Are you like me?  Do you flip through magazines, catalogs, or even blogs and websites and sigh sometimes because what you’re looking at is so beautiful, clean, tidy and stylish and your life feels nothing like that?

There are so many amazing blessings that have come to all of us through media, digital photography and the internet.  We can share ideas and information so easily that we forget life ever existed without it.   But sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can become dis-satisfied with our own lives by comparing them with what we think life must be like inside that picture.

Sometimes I fall into that trap.  I guess I look at it all and think that life inside that picture seems calm, organized, slow, and surely the to-do list is nearly empty!  I’m tempted to wish I lived in a place that was “done” so I could focus on things I want to do and fewer things I need to do.

Guess what?  It’s not reality.  The homeowner of the picture I’m in love with still has work to do.  They still have things to maintain, lawns to mow, bills to pay, laundry to do.  Weeds grow in their flowerbeds and children spill in their kitchens.  They too, will have things wear out or will tire of some of their decor.  Having someone photograph their home doesn’t mean they’re living a dreamy life.   If they feel like they’re living a dreamy life, it’s as much about their habits as it is about the space.

What I’m really wanting is the feeling that life is beautiful. The feeling that I’m not overloaded, but able to appreciate and enjoy the simple blessings life has to offer.

Two days ago I spent a couple of hours cleaning my kitchen thoroughly before beginning phase one of my fall preserving.  I like to start with a clean kitchen.  I got it all cleaned up, hung my new sign, then turned my attention to the overflowing bowl of tomatoes on my kitchen counter.  In that moment I looked around and thought, “My kitchen looks great!”  It was flooded with light from the afternoon sun and the gladiolus in a vase were so bright and beautiful you couldn’t help but smile.

I was having a little magazine moment in my own house.   There was a room in my home that looked beautiful.  It was just a small part of my house.  I wasn’t looking at the laundry piled high in the laundry room or the wall my two year old most recently decorated with crayon.  I wasn’t looking at the garage that needs cleaning out or the bathroom that needs scrubbing.  I was just looking at my kitchen and I loved it.  I loved it because it was mine, because I had worked to make it beautiful, because it was full of light, because I had slowed down enough to appreciate it.

I realized there are times when a small part of my house looks like this and I don’t even notice it because I’m so focused on the areas that don’t.   The difference has nothing to do with my address or budget and everything to do with my frame of mind.  Much as I would love to live in a home that is all clean all the time, it’s not my reality right now.  I have young children.  I have a lot of children.  I have a lot more to do than just clean.  But I do my best to take care of it and all the other things I’m responsible for, particularly the eight awesome young people who are our children.

My house doesn’t have to be featured all over blog land for me to feel good about it.  It is ours.  We actually live here, which means there are dirty socks and toys in addition to the accessories I love.  I don’t own a home for the purpose of decorating it; I own a home for the purpose of raising a family.  A house is just a tool, like my hammer or screwdriver, for accomplishing something.  The time I have with my children is fleeting; my oldest is old enough for me to start figuring that out.  So I’ll take the messes as they come, clean them up the best I can, repaint the whole interior as soon as my baby is done with markers and teach my children to work alongside me on the laundry and housework.  The purpose for having a house is for people to live in it.  I remember a whole lot more about the feeling in the home I grew up in than I do about the decorations.

And when those “magazine moments” strike, even if it’s only a two foot square space that looks beautiful for two minutes, I need to smile and let that beauty nourish me.  The kitchen lasted up until I brought everyone home from school and things quickly disintegrated from there.  It’s ok.

The purpose of this post?  I’m not sure.  I guess it’s just a gentle reminder to myself to enjoy the eye candy everywhere while remembering that the best life is the life being lived right here, right now in my own house.  It’s the life that involves holding sad little ones while the dishes wait in the sink and great conversations with a teen-aged boy in his messy room.  It’s the life God gave me to live and I’ll be much happier if I live it cheerfully than if I wish it looked more like… whatever.

I hope you enjoy your life this weekend!

Jennifer

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