I am doing a little spring cleaning lately, even though it’s fall and the state of my house would not indicate any cleaning has occurred. This is a “new beginning” cleaning and what is going on in my home seems to parallel my heart. This summer we eliminated our homeschool room, which we will not need anymore as we send out children off to school. Once the homeschool room was eliminated we began to swap rooms around in our house like a game of musical chairs in slow motion. At the conclusion of the game each child was seated nicely in the room of their choice, with mom and dad losing the game, fighting over the space in the last remaining bedroom. (From hence forth the rooms will be know as Rugby, Weapons, Castle and Ghetto according to theme.) The process was arduous and painful; muscles ached from lifiting and painting and scrubbing. It meant cleaning the dirty, removing the garbage, fixing the broken, restoring and redifining the wall colors and finding the new in the old. It was multi-staged, complex and filled with unexpected bumps in the road, but it was a task well worth undertaking.
The first room was Rugby. My daughter, who first breached the topic of going to traditional school and opened up this floodgates of change, took over the former homeschool room. We turned it into a room of her hopes and dreams as we decorated it to reflect her desire to become a professional rugby player and play in a World Cup for the USA Eagles team. It reflects the letting go of my dream for my children (homeschooling) in exchange for their dreams for themselves. It was by far the most difficult room to paint and assemble, but the one with which I took the most time in planning. The next room to change was my son’s Weapons room. Paneled walls and a drop ceiling meant that not a drop of paint went into the process. Pieces of furniture from around the house mixed with a craigslist loft/futon sofa bed frame. It was in some ways the calm in the store, the necessary respite to regroup from the letting go of my dreams and the physical agony that came from the hours of painting and lifting. It is a room that represents the unchanging. My son ahs changed a great deal over the years, but this aspect of who he is, his interests and his goals has been unwavering. He was even named for a military leader in the Bible and my prayer for him since birth has been that he would be a mighty warrior for God, like his namesake. It is a room that in some ways serves as an anchor to normality and simplicity and yet it is the room that will become empty first as he will head off on his life’s adventure in only a few short years. The third room was the Castle room. It is the room of whimsy and childhood. It is the room that reminds me that while my children are growing up there is still so much child in them. It is a room that was literally painted around my things, as my husband and I were still living in the room. I painted it as I studied for my certification testing for the job I hope to one day get, listening to lectures on itunes. I am moving to a new stage of life, but this room reminds me that I still have many more years left in raising my children, because they are just that, children. I enjoyed the one night that I slept in the finished castle room, feeling like a child again. That is a feeling that far too often I loose sight of in the hustle and bustle and intentional raising of my kids. Last to be moved was my husband and I into what I have now dubbed the ghetto room. Once our room had a tropical peaceful feel. Now it is a hodge podge of decor; sporting the camo theme of the boys, with chipped paint and dirty walls. A toilet and sink sit in the room in a way that speaks of ill planning. The room is over crowed and poorly arranged in an attempt to find just enough space to put a comfy chair. The comfy chair and the respite it will hopefully provide is still a pipe dream, but it’s empty spot beckons it. While somewhere in our minds we intend to finish it, I suspect that it will be a long time coming. As it is now, it is a reminder of many things. It is a reminder of the sacrifices that we as parents make for our children. It is a reminder that paradise sometimes gets traded in for chaos, but that is not always bad. It is a reminder to me that for everything there is a season. It is a picture of the imperfections of this world.
In less than 30 hours I will send my children off to school and find myself faced with an empty home. I will undoubtedly see the rooms that have been transformed over these last weeks and remember these lessons. I will go to my unfinished ghetto room and wonder of the possibilities that it holds. So what can be done with broken dreams? Why we must find new dreams, new passions, new things that touch our soul and the Spirit within us. What joy there is in finding those solid, precious things that are unchanging and gleening from them the themes that will become the story of our lives. What could be more unchanging than Christ himself who dwells in me? How can we grasp the joy of our lives in the messiness of living? We must spend some time resting in the castle, the house of God, and discover our true value as children of the King, set apart and precious in God’s sight. Perhaps my children’s rooms represent in some small way the triune aspects of God himself, Holy places. And as I spend my days on this broken, messed up earth I am called to commune with God, to engage in his labor, and to revel in his glory. When the first day of school ends and I gather my children from the train station I will look for Christ in them, just as I have found him in our home, and in my heart and in this journey of broken hearts and new dreams. I will embrace them and this uncertain future and I will praise the God who brought us here.