The screen door squeaks open, then quickly swings shut. Footsteps rapidly cross the living room towards the kitchen. Her arms wrap around me in a quick hug before her little hands reach out, eager to sample the icing recipe I’m trying to perfect.
A few minutes later, my ears perk up as the screen door moves on its hinges again. Another friend. She flashes a toothy grin at me while she tastes the butter and sugar I’ve mixed together – she gives me a thumbs-up, indicating the icing is ready to be swirled onto rows of tiny cupcakes.
They come and go, these ones and their sisters. Sometimes I feel like we’re raising a neighborhood, between the overflowing dinner table, the extra shoes by the door, the silly jokes, and the added drama.
Their parents and grandparents ask repeatedly, “Are you sure it’s okay for them to hang out all evening?”
Oh, yes, I assure them. It’s more than okay.
As I gaze at the nine bicycles laying all over my tiny front yard, I think about how different things are this year. How full our home is. How much bigger our hearts are.
There are rarely only four people here for family night anymore. Our living room has become the standard game spot when it’s raining. And preteens are rediscovering their love for dolls as they delight in hours of imaginative play.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have let them in. I was so embarrassed by my clutter that I shut others out of my home, and in doing so, I was also closing them out of a part of my heart.
I grew weary of living that way.
I finally decided that I wasn’t going to let a messy house stop me from reaching out to others. But I knew I was too busy putting out clutter-fires to make time for more important things. So I decided to unbury myself. It was tough. But I didn’t give up.
The difference has been amazing.
And while my house still gets messy, a gentle mess from a day or two feels and looks a whole lot different than piles of clutter that have been laying around for several years.
And just like our bodies continually need refreshed with water, our homes continually need refreshed from excess.
Because when we’re not weighed down by the burden of clutter, we have more energy to give, to love, to serve, and to welcome others in to our homes and our hearts.
Will you join me in welcoming others in?
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