Like kids in a school cafeteria, we make trades as mommas. We trade dry-cleaning-only-tags for machine-washable ones. We trade alone time for story time. We trade evening plans for littles' needs. We trade order for mess.
Last week, my sweet niece, Makenna, found a stray yellow crayon. Girlfriend must read my blog, 'cuz she totally agreed: my walls are too white. And she's a woman of action, that one.
To be honest, I hated cleaning it up. I love it - freedom of expression, baby. But we are renting in this season and I know not everyone shares my point of view. Magic Eraser (insert villainous music here) wiped the splash of yellow back down to it's original blah. But I hold onto the mess in my heart.
We all get here differently, into this mess of motherhood. Some of us were excited while others were terrified. Some of us were more prepared than others. Some of us waited a good long while before we dove in. Some of us didn't have that option. Some of us are mothering Aunties, loving and spoiling those not from our womb.
High school homecoming queen, Katie Davis, had dreams of being a nurse. She went to school...and dropped out. She made a trade - the American dream of being an educated, workin' gal for moving across the globe. And young, single, in a foreign country, she became a momma when three girls, orphaned by AIDS, lost their home in a storm. As Katie sat by the hospital bedside of one of the girls, they asked if they could stay with her. How could she refuse them? She traded in the yellow convertible of Homecoming Court for a minivan in Uganda. Those three grew to thirteen girls who now call Katie "mom." And she is actively pursuing adoption for each one. She's only 22.
And, unafraid of mess, they are still taking people in. A grandmother unsure of how to care for her starving grand-baby. A young mother with three kiddos evicted from their home. An alcoholic, dubbed the town crazy man, suffering from a burn wound. They mend. They rebuild. They go and make room for more to come and mend and rebuild. Katie says:
I don’t know why us and I don’t know why here. Our house is a wreck and dinner is late. We make a ruckus in the grocery store and we don’t get invited out much because surely we will bring a screaming baby or worse, crazy people. We are late to church and sometimes we get there and one doesn’t have shoes and one forgot to comb her hair. We are the messy ones. And we pray and we pray that we could spill out the grace God has so lavished on us.
I think it's because of the mess that so many feel safe with Katie and her family. They know they won't be judged. They will be accepted. And all I can think of is:
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.God places the lonely in families;he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
(Read more about Katie's story here or follow her blog. And Kenna, thanks for putting me on to Katie.)
I've been haunted by a story I heard on the news a week ago. Authorities were called about a possible pet hoarding situation. Police showed up and rescued 12 dogs from the residence - all badly malnourished and unkempt. Three had to be put down.
I love our dog. And I hate the thought of animals being abused or maltreated. But dogs weren't the only ones rescued. The 80 year-old-owner who couldn't care for herself let alone her animals, was also pulled from the home.
I'm not sure how someone lives 80 years and ends up with no one but a makeshift family of canines. No family, friends. No one popping in on her to see how she was doing. No one to find yellow crayons and color her white walls with happy.
But the lonely ones live here, too. And they need a safe, messy place to take them in.
If your home is like ours, your days are filled with small things like bed jumping, party prepping, little marker people and (finally) throwing the paci's away.
Your walls are decorated with crayon and hand print smudges. Your floors are littered with toys and scream to be mopped. You throw the milk out because you forgot to put it away. You're still make-up-less and in sweats when the doorbell rings. These are all perfect conditions for taking in the lonely. For setting them in family.
Our mess doesn't disqualify us from adopting people. It empowers us.
And we are able - because of mess - to make trades. To trade in the quiet, "just-us," plans we had for our lives for something richer, fuller, better.
You don't have to be a mom to make trades or open the door to mess, by the way. Don't even have to be a woman. Just need a few white walls waiting for a bit of yellow.