Beneath the Surface

Most people have a junk drawer in their kitchen.  I have a junk room.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not exaggerating when I say that room is a colossal mess.  At least it was a few hours ago and if we’re being honest, it will be again.  It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Occupying the left side of our 1912 colonial, our dining room is pretty isolated from the remainder of the house with only two doorways keeping it from being completely closed off.  It’s proximity to the kitchen and the front hall just makes it too easy to be a dumping spot. Add in the fact that we rarely use the room for actual dining, and well, you’ve got a recipe for disorder and disgrace.

Since Christmas, the giant dining room table has been home to a few of the girls k’nex projects (among other things) so we’ve made the room a no go area for the many littles who accompany their mama’s (my coffee pals) on occasion.  The rest of the downstairs is fair game, but the dining room?  Off limits.  Naturally this has all the littles scrambling right to it.  They just can’t resist it. Including the little guy who came over yesterday.

And so this little post begins.

You see, I’ve been avoiding that room.  I’ll occasionally stand in the doorway and stare at it, but only for a moment.  I can’t begin to describe the emotions that race through me at the sight of the six foot table covered in papers, toys, and decor.  Decor of holidays gone by that should, for all intents and purposes, be down in the basement in their respective storage containers; not mingling with the trash.  Literally.

I try to glance over the pile of discarded clothing and jackets that have begun to call the window seat home.  To say nothing of the overflowing “art box” that’s been shoved into a corner.  The list of atrocities goes on my friends but I will spare you the rest, if only for the sake of my own humility.

I keep saying “I really need to clean this up”, yet I never do.  I just feel so overwhelmed.  Where do I even start?   Besides, I tell myself each time, it’s really not dirty it’s just cluttered.  When I do finally take the time to fix it up, it’ll only be a matter of  minutes, so why bother doing it now?  Funny how the justifications and thoughts can circle around and around ending up in a neat little box with a pretty little bow.

This has been my routine so to speak until today.  I stepped in there armed with a trash bag, a broom and dustpan, and determination- all fueled by good old fashioned embarrassment.  That embarrassment quickly turned into downright mortification and shame.  It was bad.  Worse than I’d thought.  Because beneath the surface of that “clutter” was …well, it was bad.   Let’s leave it at that. So I swept through like a mighty tornado determined to never feel that way again when someone has to chase their little through there.  (As was the case yesterday- the motivation for today’s cleaning spree.)

As I stood in the doorway an hour later, my goal accomplished, I couldn’t help but think about how my dining room is a lot like myself.  Sometimes I seem like I’m all put together, other times I’m a downright mess.  Either way, there’s always more than meets the eye.  There’s so much more beneath the surface that needs to be straightened up, cleaned, and repaired.

I am so beyond blessed that God’s cleaning skills are better than mine.  Daily he’s dealing with me- through prayer, my bible reading, church sermons, and even through the friends he sends my way.  He goes beyond what the human eye can see and he looks upon the heart.  He cleans me up from the inside out.  He doesn’t get overwhelmed.  Doesn’t take shortcuts.  He doesn’t ever, ever give up on me, even when I’ve given up on myself.  My God looks beyond the surface and none are too dirty, too messy, or too far gone.

When God Says Clean? You Clean.

So a funny thing happened in the past twenty-four hours.

I’ve been wanting a new living room set for a long time. Especially since moving here. I haven’t been in a rush though at times I felt more impatient than usual. Yesterday was sort of in the middle.

It just kept popping into my mind. And each time,following that thought would be a reminder to myself that it’ll happen when it should. That my God is a provider.

And then another thought kept coming to my mind. Clean the coffee nook area. Always right after thinking of the sofa situation.

First time it drifted through the maze that’s my mind I went into the kitchen and began to remove everything from the little nook. Benches. Table. Everything.

I swept. I mopped. Then I left it to dry.

Later. Same thing. Thinking of the sofas, then the coffee nook. So I pull out THE BASKET. You know the one. The landing zone for all things paper. Ads, bills, junk mail.

So there I am- purging paper, tossing receipts from Nixon’s term (just kidding, but you get the idea) and my hands land upon an unopened piece of mail from Wells Fargo.

I almost didn’t open it. How many times had I received such an envelope only to open it and discover yet another offer for low APR and what have you.

But this time? This time I opened it. I’m so glad I did.

Inside? An escrow check.

From June.

Now. I know. I know. This next part will have you thinking we’re frivolous and small minded, but I promise it’s not so. (At least in this instance). The money wasn’t burning a hole in my pocket, but a thought was knocking on my door.

The lack of living room furniture. The constant thought to clean and in the end find this money.

We decided hey if that’s not a sign what is? Let’s just go to that furniture store that’s going out of business and see what they’ve got.

Now originally we were looking for a sectional, but we decided a sofa set was just more flexible. Especially since I’m constantly rearranging. Not to mention budget friendly. (The sofa set vs sectional; not me.)

Well. We found a set and we basically got both for the price of the couch. Ka-Ching ka-Ching!! And it arrived first thing this morning.

I can’t help but think, if we’d opened that check two months ago we’d have ended up using it for something else. Also, if we had gone couch shopping, we wouldn’t have found that just right one for just the right price.

So as I sit here on this cloud of comfort, I can’t help but think of what I call monuments. Little testaments of God working in my life. Even at times like this where it’s something shallow and materialistic.

Moments like this, and even the sale of our previous home, and indeed, the purchase of this one stand firmly upfront in my mind. Proud sentinels pointing to His provision. His timing.

And His Whisper.

When God tells you to go clean, you go clean.

The Artist of My Soul

Paint me a new day,

Oh Artist of my soul.

Create in me a new heart,

As your picture is made whole.


With each stroke of your brush on the canvas that is me,

I secretly hope for a picture of comfort,

A portrait of ease.


But you’re the Master Painter

Your ways are yours alone.

So paint me as you desire,

Oh Lord, let Your will be done.


Swirling, vibrant colors.

Sweeps of greens and blues.

Slashes of red;

Dabs of yellow.

Your vision is made manifest

My heart daily made new.


Slowly being created is the canvas that is me.

Each day bringing new hues and shadows

Forming a masterpiece-

that I, on my own, could never conceive.


My God, you alone are the Master Artist of my Soul.