The mess is our story.

I was reminded of this post today after I posted the following status update on my personal Facebook page:

For the last week our kids have been obsessed with making paper snowflakes and the scraps all over the floor have been driving me crazy. That is until I read today that that Sandy Hook PTA is asking for children to make snowflakes and send them in to bring some winter cheer to the grieving students. Thank you Lord for a fresh perspective today. We have dozens to mail in!  Here’s the link with the details, make a mess and send in some snowflakes!

It was just after 7am when my youngest woke up and came into the kitchen, for some odd reason the camera was sitting on the table and my husband snapped a picture of us.  My son looking very disillusioned and the crumbs.  The crumbs on the table, I’m pretty sure I even said – “you got the crumbs in the picture!”  But then when I looked carefully at the picture I could see my love for my son was captured in that moment and the crumbs didn’t matter anymore.

Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience spoke this weekend at The Relevant Conference and one of the many things she said as I was furiously scratching out on paper her every word was this…

“The state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul.”

I am a perfectionist living in the body of a very imperfect person.  Really I’m like 2 people fighting for space here.  On one hand messes make me crazy on the other hand I’m often the one to create them.  It’s interesting how that works.

Yes, I’m talking about literal messes but also…spiritual messes.  We are messy people and that’s ok.  The mess is our story.  The crumbs on the kitchen floor tell a story of a delicious dinner the night before with 4 clamoring laughing children who may or may not have also made the other sticky mess I stepped in when they spilled their juice.  The pride, insecurity, unforgiveness….I could go on and on is another type of mess.

We are messy people – saved by Grace, and Grace makes you and me good enough, even perfect in the eyes of a loving Savior.

Again… “The state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul.”  If you have young children like I do, give yourself grace.  My house is messy 95% of the day, no matter how often I ask my son to clean up his legos or my daughter to put away her art supplies – within minutes they’re poured out again.  They are living life, playing.  Let’s live life and pour out our legos, even better… let’s get down on the floor and color.  I’ll be honest about my mess, it’s been too long since I’ve seen the floor for any other reason than scrubbing it.  By grace…I’m learning to love the mess and even make some messes of my own.


  1. Sara @ Happy Brown House says

    Thank you for sharing your heart and words! So glad to have shared this experience with you this weekend! Can’t wait to see how God uses this weekend around the blogosphere.

  2. Angie says

    That is just the sweetest picture ever! The dishes will always be there, crumbs will always be on the table and there will always be more laundry to fold. Your child will not be long in your lap to love and cherish. For they grow up too fast!

    Leave the crumbs and hug them tight!

    • says

      Angie, I wrestle with the guilt of this all too often. I know I’m not I’m not alone in it, and it’s never too late to make changes. Thanks for the reminder to hug them tight!

  3. says

    As one who has been (im)patiently waiting, currently in year #6, for God to bless us our family with a child, I cannot tell you how much it means to read a post like this and to see a photograph like that. So many people complain about their children, about their lives, about the lack of “perfection”… Oh, how we all forget so quickly how blessed we truly are. And we are, all of us, so very blessed by the gifts of family, friends, of God’s love.

    This post touches a part of my spirit that is not often touched and I thank you.

    • says

      Stacy – wow what a powerful comment. As my eyes opened first thing this morning the first thought that came to mind was – I shouldn’t have published this post. I doubted for a bit that anyone would relate and through the screen judgements would fly, then I read your comment and I am glad I hit publish on this post.

      We are all hurting and we are all very imperfect – we just don’t talk about it often. We need to, it’s healing and it reminds us that we are not alone. We are all so very messy. I’ll be praying for you Stacy.

  4. TFF Fan says

    AMEN JULIA!!! in this crazy-busy world, it’s nice to read something like this to make me stop and realize what really is important….and it is not a clean house. It’s God, family, friends, health and The Frugal Find! I’ll be sure to enjoy every crumb that drops on the floor tomorrow while we eat breakfast. Thank you for that post – it was heartwarming and a great reminder on how to live life.

    • says

      haha, I love that you said The Frugal Find – you are too funny. Remember even those crumbs that stick to your socks in the morning, those are the worst – but I bet they’ll make you think the most about what is important.

  5. Dawn says

    Your post made me smile and cry at the same time. Your son is beautiful. Thank you for sharing – I am just the same, my own worst enemy. We are so hard on ourselves, brutal really. I want everything to be perfect, which leaves no time or room for real living. I need space to be messy sometimes, too. Why do we compare ourselves to an unrealistic image of mothering? sigh. I’m really counting on God’s grace as I seek to be a gracious mother one day at a time.

    • says

      Dawn, you are so right. We are so absolutely brutal to ourselves. I can’t even begin to count the nights I’ve laid in bed with tears streaming down my face thinking “I should have said yes instead of no today, I should have ran around with the at the park instead of sitting and watching, I should have baked those cookies my daughter wanted to bake, I should have done…more.”

      Maybe we should have, but we have to give even ourselves grace. It’s ok…tomorrow is another day and it’s never too late to make some good healthy messes.

  6. Kristi says

    this brought tears to my eyes! I am not a neat person, never have been. But, my kids are always clean, dressed, fed and loved. I am always running around, volunteering at school and church, so, the house gets neglected. The kids are only kids for a little while, and we can never go back and give them a childhood again. So, I will enjoy my cluttered home, it simply reflects that we truly “live” here.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Kelly N. says

    Awwww what a beautful story, and the picture is absolutely precious! You can see all love from a mother to her son. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Christi Meyer says

    In this crazy, busy life we lead, the need to control things drives me every day. I am the mom of three beautiful daughters, 21, 14 &12. My oldest is at college but my two younger ones are involved in everything. I came from a home of a single mom who was not involved with my activities which compels me to be there for my kids. It’s overwhelming sometimes! Your picture & story reminded me of what’s important. Love. Love for our family and God’s love for us. The housework & mess will still be there tomorrow. This was a great reminder.

  9. Kristi says

    love it and thank you!!! i got the chills reading your story and seeing your pic. i’m a sahm and struggle with my “mess” of a house that i can never seem to get a hold of. thank you for reminding me of our beautiful mess that we create each day :)

  10. says

    You are so inspirational! We all need a good reminder of these things! I try to remember my boys will not remember that I always kept a clean house but the moments I spent with them, its not always easy, so again Thank you for the reminder!

  11. says

    oh friend, how i needed to read this. i just made the kids clean up every last scrap of toys, mid day. i was sick of stepping on them :( i think we will go build a fort and NOT clean it up at the end of the evening.

    this mess is my life and i love it, just needed the reminder. xoxo

  12. Rachel Leah says

    Absolutely Adorable and so Precious, and such a beautiful story! Made me tear up 😉 Messes are just a part a life….enjoy the mess and all the idiosyncrasies you have as a mommy. Its moments like that which make life worth everything :) Hugs and love to all

  13. Carolyn says

    I try to remember to be thankful every day for the crumbs that make up my life with a 3 year old! Like Stacy K is finding, it was a long road to motherhood and I am blessed with these reminders of the child I now have in my life. The crumbs and messes are evidence of a fun-filled day!

  14. @Robinsbite says

    Love this-“The state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul”. I’m going to post it on my FB account status and its going to become my new mantra. Thank you for sharing!

  15. says

    The love for your son pours out of this picture. I am blessed just viewing in. I have just visited your site via the relevant link up. I didnt get to join you all as im here in the UK but am taking inspiration from your words x

  16. says

    Oh my goodness Julia! This is beautiful. I had to leave early and missed Ann’s keynote. I’m so disappointed that I had to miss it but I had to so it is what it is! :) However I am blessed to read posts like yours that speak to my heart today not Saturday. It was so awesome to finally meet you face to face! Love ya girl! :)

  17. Lynnette says

    Thank you Julia- that was beautiful! (sounds like you had a very fabulous and inspiring time at the conference) I was talking to someone a couple of months back (she just had a baby and a 3 and 5 year old) and basically what we decided was this- our kids will not remember the nights we didn’t do the dishes because we were too tired after everything we did in the day, but they will always remember that even though we were so tired after our day, we still took time to spend with them……this picture speaks volumes :)

  18. says

    I LOVE this, and I can relate on so many levels. Thank you. I am going to ignore the mess for a bit tomorrow and enjoy my children. I forget to do this so often. :(

  19. says

    Thank you, Julia, for putting to words what is grinding on my heart and soul as I am still trying to process through this past weekend! Today was a day that the lap top was hardly seen, most of us stayed in pj’s nearly all day, and there were plenty of messes to go around! 😉 Praying for you, and so glad to call you friend!

  20. says

    amen! I often remind myself: when they are gone, THEN I will have the nice furniture, walls free of fingerprints, etc. For now I can live with the mess.


  21. laurie says

    Julia, you are me…and 95 % of mother’s out there. Thank you so much for putting into word what so many of us are feeling, and more importantly reminding us what is truly important. Thank you for sharing your Grace. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family.

  22. says

    I love the crumbs! I have them too. :) I am so glad to have met you and to be reminded of the message I heard too, that the state of my space is NOT the same state as my soul. I need to treasure the crumbs and the legos. I won’t have them as long as I think.


  23. b says

    While I agree that a mess is not the end of the world or a reason to yell and scream, I also believe it is important to teach our children to keep a (mostly) neat home. It’s nice for Dad to come home to after a long day and it’s also very nice to know where things are when you need them! I find that a little mess turns into a BIG mess quicker than seems possible. I’m really not trying to be a spoil sport. Our kitchen was a mess after Dad made breakfast this morning (awesome!) and I decided to relax and hang out afterward rather than clean it right away. But it’s clean now and if an unexpected guest dropped by we could sit down for a cup of tea in a clean, comfortable kitchen.

  24. Sharon C says

    This is me!!! You wrote about my house and my character…LOL! I am also trying to get a handle on myself in this area. I grew up in a not so clean home and have taken my cleanliness to an extreme. I fight myself, my kids and my husband everyday over messes that aren’t that big of a deal. Thank you for posting this.

  25. says

    I try to remind myself of this every day! You just let it sink in again! Thanks so much. I want to go scoop my son up from his crib and snuggle. Of course, I won’t actually do that, so we can both get some decent sleep tonight!


  26. Susann says

    Thanks so much for posting this. I am always calling myself a “terrible housekeeper” because it seems my house always looks like a tornado went through. I thought I was the only one who lets the dishes pile up and has a kitchen floor that looks like it hasn’t been swept in a while (it’s amazing how quickly crumbs accumulate). I’ve always thought, “why can’t I be more like . . . and have a clean house?” Thanks for reminding me that I’m normal and I don’t need to worry about it but just enjoy each day with my little ones and be grateful my hubby makes enough money for me to stay home with them while they make a mess of our own home rather than a daycare.

  27. Danae says

    Such a sweet picture and so true! I have days where the mess starts to drive me crazy, but it always seems life intervenes and reminds me it doesn’t matter :) The mess is the memories and the memories are what are remembered!


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