There are a lot of things that you really don't think about until someone comes to your home. Yesterday we had guests. Not just any guests, my Aunt Kathy and her kids Christian, Mia and Lily and Bobby. Let me clarify when I say "not just any": they've never seen our home, and there's a very good chance that they won't ever see it again because they live in Colorado and just don't get out here very often. They are beloved family and we were sooo excited to see them. We of course wanted to put our best foot forward and present a clean house, so we began picking up on Wednesday, and then of course on Friday morning during the last hour I was scrubbing floors, wiping down counters and making sure toilets were flushed. Jonathan was vacuuming, Mattie and Ben were dusting and Joe was making sure we didn't have anything unknown in the cupboards by displaying their contents on the floor. We had three spills...two milk and one vase of silk flowers was upset to spill the water on the floor. Why water in the silk flowers? Doesn't everyone water their silk flowers to enhance the realism? Our guests were coming for lunch, so we were preparing lunch too and snacks were out of the question because I didn't want to clean up another mess. WE had baked cookies, so everyone had their fair or obscene amount of cookie dough anyway. That did not prevent anyone from trying to have a snack. I recently purchased yougurt that doesn't have recloseable lids, so I had three open containers of yougurt in the refrigerator. Finally it was 10:30, the time that we anticipated their arrival, and the phone rang...they were running a little late. Whew! We had 15 more minutes to finish up some , well, something! We would have to pick at this point. Lunch would be a good thing to start finishing. The menu was simple...just soup, grilled cheese and Waldorf salad. Joe was tired, but doing pretty well and I knew when our guests arrived he would be too excited to nap so I didn't even lay him down. I felt pretty good about the condition of our house. It was dusted, vaccumed, toilets cleaned, bathrooms stocked with toilet paper, soap and towels, ALL laundry washed, dried, folded AND put away...well, except for that one basket that NEVER quite gets folded...we don't really even know what it is. We always seem to have a basket of clothes that we don't know what to do with...mostly socks, but always a shirt, rag, towel or something that doesn't necessarily have a home. It went to it's spot...my closet, and the door was shut. I didn't even have to dump a lot of things in my desk drawer, because I'm getting a little more organized. Then they came and we did the tour at which point I felt like I needed to have a justification clause in every room! Nice kitchen..."oh, there used to be cabinets here and we just haven't finished the backsplash." "The floors are going to be replaced eventually, because we don't like all the cuts and brown marks, and the permanant marker and fingernail polish just hasn't been removed yet." Great office..."Thanks...I accidentally bleached spots all over the carpet in a failed attempt to clean it!" Cool living room..."Thank you again...oh, the outlet covers aren't on because I just finished painting last night and that's why there aren't pictures on the walls either, but they go where all the nail holes are." The carpet in here needs to be cleaned too, I'm just waiting until after the mud is past." Is this the way to downstairs? "Yes, I will be paining these walls soon so that you can't see the nasty grime all over and yes, the carpet here too needs to be replaced. Ben adn Mattie dumped acrylic paint on the carpet downstairs and then walked in it and up the stairs and we couldn't get it out." Big family room..."Thanks, it wasn't finished well, which is why the big nails are sticking out of the trim that doesn't meet in the corners and we had a little flood which is why the ceiling dry wall isn't done and we realize the drywall finish is an eyesore, but we didn't do that, and the paneling needs to be replaced because Tim was checking for mold and broke it and hasn't replaced the trim yet either. The windows leak which is why we have batting and insulation shoved into the cracks. Let's go back upstairs...nice bedrooms..."Thanks, the walls are finished yet...we need to finish painting here, it's only been 18 months. The iron fell on the carpet when it was hot and Mattie spilled Koolaid powder here and it wouldn't clean up...maybe that was Ben?" The pillows have holes in them because the dog chewed on them and we're too cheap to replace them, or maybe we jsut don't notice anymore." The nursery stenciling will be done by the time we have another baby. Speaking of not noticing...back to the living room, we realize the couch cover has permanant marker streaks and black acrylic paint on it, but that looks 100 times better than if we were to take it off. And the chair? I'm reapholstering, so it is just draped for now. The other chairs? We just can't get the food, snot and grime off, and when we tried it faded the fabric. The table? I just need to paint it again...the dog chewed the corner and the kids have played on it with toys. The lamp? It got knocked over and the shade broke off. I just need to solder it back on. I will. Give me a year or two more! Wow...I had no idea what a disaster our house was and we just live in it this way! After all that, I felt like I needed to explain that it is never quiet here and despite what it may seem, I didn't feed my children raw sugar only for breakfast...they're always this energetic. All in all we had a great visit. If you could call it that. I don't really remember finishing a conversation or even asking anyone about themselves. It was only a couple of hours, but great to see them all the same, and I really do wish it would happen more often...maybe then they wouldn't notice the tacky living conditions either!
Maybe I'll have to explain my decor for years to come. I guess I should be grateful for the chance. I suppose without these blessings God has given us in the form of children, I wouldn't need to justify anything. Everything might be in it's place, clean and finished. I shudder to think of such a trade. Maybe the moral of this story is that for every stain on the carpet, hole in the wall, and broken anything, there is a blessing of a bigger magnitude to be counted. Don't get me wrong, I'd certainly enjoy a magazine-layout house, but without this family I cherish and the Lord we serve, any house is just a house. Our house, every tacky corner of it, is a home--our home.

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