Friday, September 25, 2009

That House

My house is that house on my block. You know the one…the house that meticulous gardeners drive past shaking their heads in disdain; the one that just might be abandoned, but you’re not sure; the one with the trees (that started out as mere weeds) growing through the deck slats—and flourishing, I might add! Oh, the lawn gets mowed now and then, but the weeds have grown taller than…well, taller than me; and hearty sapplings fill our gutters like flowers in a window box. One day a well-meaning representative of a lawn care company stopped by to try to sell his services to us. “I can treat your lawn and get rid of all the crabgrass, goosegrass, quackgrass, dandelions, mushrooms, nimblewill, foxtails, and all broadleaf weeds for you.” My husband and I stared at him for a silent moment, and then I expressed what we were both thinking: “But then we’d have no lawn!”

It’s not that we don’t care. We’d love to have a picture-perfect yard. Paul enjoys yard work. (Me? Not so much.) We just never seem to get to it, and physical challenges have made it more of a daunting task.

More than that, though, it’s an issue of priorities. We both work—Paul full-time and me part-time. Before I get home from work, I stop at the fitness center to work out—believe me, I wouldn’t do that if it weren’t necessary! By the time I get home, shower, make and eat dinner, and clean up, there just isn’t much energy left. But I dig way down deep and pull some out. I have praise and worship team practice on Monday evening, lead a small group at my house on Tuesday evening, enjoy an evening with my husband on Wednesday, go to church (and play percussion in said praise and worship team) on Thursday evening, and inevitably have something going on Friday evenings. “But what about the weekends?” you ask? Well, on Saturday there is our bi-weekly church leaders’ meeting, my monthly writers’ group meeting, and the men’s group my husband leads at a local cancer resource center…and then grocery shopping. On Sunday we attend church, attend monthly elder’s meetings, and may spend time with church family or extended family.

You may be thinking, There’s your problem, you’re too busy! You need to give something up! Well, it’s not like these are trivial things we do. Our children are equally busy with classes and homework, jobs, church, and extracurricular activities that help to develop them into well-rounded people. I suppose we could hire someone else to care for the lawn, but we’d rather have the money to pay the mortgage and eat, thank you very much.

So now you may be thinking, Then you just don’t care. And you know what? In a way you’re right. I do wish our yard looked more like the one two houses down from us where we see that young couple outside pulling weeds in the summer and raking leaves in the fall, but I don’t care enough to bump the other priorities in my life. What I’m busy with, I want to be busy with. I choose to be about my Father’s business, lawn be damned!

Do you wonder if I’m simply justifying irresponsibility? I’ve considered that, and the other day that accusing little voice in my mind said, What about the Proverbs 31 woman? I bet she’d have a nice lawn! (That Proverbs 31 woman can be such a pain sometimes!) So I went to Proverbs 31 and read it, and you know what? It says nothing about the exterior of her home. It talks about nurturing and valuing and esteeming her husband and children. It talks about wisdom and character and perseverance. It talks about fostering health—her own and her family’s. It talks about hard work, production, and shrewd business dealings. I have lots of shortcomings to work on; but a yard dominated by weeds does not mean I eat the bread of idleness nor shirk my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and woman of God. I’d rather have my husband think of me as a godly wife who faces life’s challenges with patience and grace than a meticulous groundskeeper. And I’d rather have my children remember me as a mom who was always there for them with sound wisdom than as a mom with a green thumb. And I’d rather put my hand to the plow in the kingdom of God than in my yard!

So as you drive past my house, peer past the jungle foliage and know that you’re seeing a home with a family that loves deeply and makes conscious choices about how we spend our time. Our house may not be beautiful on the outside; we just prefer to invest our time internally and eternally.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more! I keep up with my lawn (the front only, minimal at best LOL)solely based on one reason alone ... what others think. Which is the wrong reason to do just about anything. You put it all into wonderful words and I just may use your blog to explain myself to others if ever asked :) I love you so much ... and your writings too!

  2. Kate..I agree with all the lawn stuff...I do love to mow the grass and PLAN what to do with our new yard, but the only thing I don't agree with, if you did hire someone to do your lawn, you would still be able to afford the Mortgage & eat...your Father is the creator of the universe. I'm sure if you really wanted your lawn tended by someone else, all of your needs would still be taken care of. :) Trust me...i'm preaching to myself on this factor. Love ya!

  3. I think it's not so much what's going on outside a house as what's going on inside--and knowing you, there's a whole lot of love, prayer, praise, and laughter. And that's so much more important than pulled weeds and a tidy deck!

    Thanks for the reminder of what really counts!

  4. I don't even care what our lawn looks like. The fact that we still have a half a pine tree in our front yard makes it easier to describe to people trying to find our house. "It's the cottage looking one with an oak tree and one and a half pine trees in the front yard!" It also brings up interesting stories. Hahaha. Love you, Mom. Your writing gets better and better everytime I read it!

  5. I love reading your blog. Can't wait to drive to your house, not past. Love you - david barrow

  6. Kate, this is a wonderful piece and I think you should submit it to Proverbs 31 magazine! It's right up their alley. You've hit the heart of the issue - man looks at the outside, but God looks on the heart. I don't know you well (though I'm hoping to!), but from where I sit, you have a beautiful heart. Thanks for sharing!
    Karen (CCWG)

  7. "And I’d rather put my hand to the plow in the kingdom of God than in my yard!"

    I can't tell you how much good it did me to help out at your house all those summers ago, I'm tempted to offer to come over again but like you I'm super busy now. Isn't yard work half the reason people have kids?

  8. From thousands and thousands of miles away... I peaked and saw the soul of your was standing up high on top of the 1/2 tree that your daughter mentioned. Standing high because of who you are...