The cookie jar is empty.
The laundry, piled six loads high on the dryer and the boys won’t sit through homeschool. I didn’t sleep well last night and I haven’t had my coffee and all I can think about is needing to make those cookies. Because what kind of mother doesn’t have cookies in her cookie jar?
I am constantly failing Pinterest’s Martha Stewart standards. I don’t have a chalkboard with tonight’s menu on it — goodness, I don’t even have meat thawing, and it’s day-old Chinese for lunch. Again.
I’m rushing the boys, yelling, taking my pent-up mother-guilt on them, forgetting that home is not a casserole or color-coded towels or clean toilets.
Home is mommy’s arms, is Daddy wrestling with his sons on the floor, is a stack of board books piled precarious on the coffee table because your two-year-old is addicted to building towers.
I don’t have to be a great housewife in order to make a home. It’s not about my casseroles or my manicured lawns; it’s about my state of heart, and unless I am filled with peace and joy, my home will feel distant and cold.
Home is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and pulling your boys to you with tears in your eyes and begging them to forgive you for getting stressed out over an empty cookie jar.
Because your life is beautifully full.
And you sit there for a while, a tangle of arms and hearts.
It’s taken me 33 years to find this place with the broken doorbell and the dirty door mat. I traveled the globe searching for it. Because we’re all, deep down, searching for our Father’s house—our eternal dwelling.
Home is a place for the broken to break bread. And in my traveling I learned the comfort of a cooked meal, of a welcome mat at the door, of family’s open arms, and when my Mum got sick with brain cancer I returned to take care of her and found God at her bedside. In the eyes of a woman who homeschooled me, who baked bread every week, who made home for me.
How about you friends? Do you feel the pressure to keep your cookie jars filled, your floors squeaky clean, your laundry neatly folded and put away? Can I say something to you, if you do?
Stop! Stop, and rest. Because friend?
You are more than your clean floors. You are more than your folded laundry or your stocked shelves. You are more than the role of Mom or Homemaker or Wife. You are a woman. You are an intricately designed creation woven in your mother’s womb, whose hairs are counted by the Maker of the Universe. You are loved.
Our lives are not Pinnable. They’re messy, with peanut-butter fingerprints and toy cars and runny noses. And you know what? They’re perfect.
Because in the end, it’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame.
I am excited to give away a copy of my newly-released memoir, today. Just leave a comment here on the blog to win.
I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.
All proceeds from Atlas Girl are benefitting The Lulu Tree, a non-profit dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir,Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.
Yes so timely for me as well! Thank you for spilling your heart out, & somehow conveying my own! I have goosebumps!
Such an important message for all of us imperfect moms.It is our imperfection allows God’s love to seep out through the cracks to our loved ones.
Thanks for the reminder to rest – to breathe. I seem to need frequent reassurance that it’s ok to not have the magazine worthy (as far as the world is concerned) home.
Thank you so much for this! Ever since having my second child (nearly a year ago!) I feel like I just can’t keep the house clean or get any projects done. I know I’m doing important work by being present with my kids and taking care of their needs but I have struggled with the internal stress of feeling like I’m failing because none of the other stuff is getting done. Thank you for showing some grace and helping me to re-align my thoughts!
I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this, this morning! Thank you!
Oh, I love this post! You don’t know how long I’ve struggled with guilt for the no cookies in the cookie jar thing (and countless other things), because I used to be able to keep up with it all and now, after an accident I can’t do much… not even some of the basics. I have to remind myself everyday that my worth does not lie in outward things, and with God’s grace, I’m starting to believe it!
I was supposed to read this today; sometimes I feel like I am coming to the end of my rope. Thanks for reminding me I am not alone!
Beautiful. Poignant. Thanks!
“Our lives are not pinnable.” Amen amen amen! God has been speaking to me through posts like these here lately. Being blessed and broken at the same time is perfectly acceptable. Losing things in life (the big job, competitive friendships, social media, acquiring “things”) to win big (better marriage, more family time, financial peace, making my world smaller so I’m not tempted to compare myself to others). Thank you, Father, for another blog post that speaks truth in my heart. Help my husband and I to keep looking in your direction for prioritizing our lives. Can’t wait to read your heart, Emily!
So easy to get caught up in the pinterest perfect life when we all know that is not reality…
This blog so moved me. I am a Pastor’s wife of a failed church plant. We have moved 9 times over 12 years. My sons been is 6 schools in 6 years and I’m homeschooling now. We know what it is to have much and to live in poverty. It’s been hardest on my children. I have battled depression these last 2 years and yes the loneliness is brutal. I am just trying to fall in love with God again and get to the piont where I feel safe to go and do whatever He wants again. Thank you for sharing today. This was a divine message for me.
Bless you Tara, for being so open and vulnerable. I moved a LOT as a child of missionary/church plant parents and it was hard…but it was also wonderful and it taught me to deeply value long-term relationships, not just value them but make them a priority and fight for them, regardless of distance. Your children will be okay. The fact that you struggle with them being okay or not proves how deeply you love and care for them. THAT is all they need: a mother and a father with a heart that bleeds for them. The rest is gravy! Hang in there sister.
Thank you for your encouragement. I feel my first ministry are my children though I didn’t always see it that way. It is my deep conviction now. I can’t save the whole world but I can raise children who will influence more than I ever dreamed.
What a wonderful reminder. I’ve given up on the “pinnable life” and just trying to keep my kids from strangling one another is enough. 🙂
Thank you. How I needed this reminder after a long day. The list of imperfections in our home is too tiring to list. I hope to reach that place of not comparing, and seeing His perfection amidst the chaos.
I love it when someone share their “not so pinnacle” life, because really…isn’t that the world we all live in?
Thank you for your open sharing about reality and motherhood. This is what I struggle with daily and have been questioning how to find the balance. I have been struggling with showing the patience and love God shows us, while trying to instill certain things aren’t acceptable. It is good to know I’m not alone in this journey of ups and downs. God bless.
Thanks for the reminder to rest. I need to remember that those pictures are only a snapshot not a life. I can’t keep up with the Jones’, they don’t do what I do.
Thank you! I’m currently a stay-at-home mom due to job loss (six months now), and lately I’ve felt like epic fail on every front. I needed to hear this today.
What a great reminder! I am so tempted to try and have a “pinnable home.” I need to remember that it isn’t want my home looks like that’s important…it’s what my heart looks like! THANKS!
Thank you for this article – I’m certainly not keeping up – I’m just glad to have gotten my 5 littles fed and the Dr visits done today . . . trying my best to keep my heart tender and open and to show God’s love in the midst of the mess. It’s a daily challenge.
This was so good for me to read… I need to remember this daily! Thanks writing this!
Wow. You so get me!
“It’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame” this just hit me upside the head! I am often so busy keeping our home “nice” and not using my time to pour into my children, only for my house to be a mess again the next day. This was very convicting as it made me realize that my family makes our home, not a clean house. Thank you!
That very same line “hit” me too. So often we worry about what others think, but neglect how we are making our loved ones feel in the process. The other day my son (8) hit the neighbor girl. I was horrified and we promptly disciplined him. All I could think was, “what must the neighbors think”. While doing his prayer, his heart opened up. He asked God to help him apologize to his friend. He began to cry as he ended with, “in Jesus name we pray…”, and said he felt badly for what he had done. We asked forgiveness and I was able to teach him to forgive himself. At that moment, I thanked God for showing me my child through His eyes and not that of the world. I struggle with, “what We look like”, to the outside world. Blogs like this help keep me on track!
What a great post! We all want to be Mommy of the Year or Martha Stewart, but never achieve it. As long as we realize it’s not failing our family, it’s all good! I’d love to win your book.
WOW – as a working mom of 3 boys I struggle with mom guilt on a daily basis. All my stay at home mom friends “seem” to have the perfect pinnable life. The last line of your blog entry “Because in the end, it’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame” has really moved me. Thank you…..