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Glorious, Not Tidy

Every year, without fail, I write down my New Year’s Resolution, “Organize House.” Maybe I should just create a template that I can use every year instead of having to expend energy in writing out those two words.

It’s not that I don’t try. I do. I sort through endless school papers, give away boxes of too-small little boy clothes and mismatched tupperware, and collect bags of toys for teachers to use in their classroom “Treasure Box.”

But somehow things keep multiplying. Like rabbits, the papers pile up again the next day, little boy toys and clothes explode out of closets and drawers, and my promiscuous tupperware has more babies during the night.

Even more than that, I have little people who walk behind me undoing my progress. Like yesterday- I finally had a clean guest bathroom, anticipating guests arriving in 10 minutes, and then my youngest son put a Mt. Everest of toilet paper in the toilet and the not-so-clean water overflowed onto the floor. Arggh.

One mother described it as having an important job in which you have to file documents in certain folders. The challenge is that sitting next to you is a “helper” who takes out the files as soon as you put them in, rearranging them in different folders. Arggh.

So, I’ve finally decided that my yearly Resolution to organize my house is really an exercise in futility. And I’m determined to look at things differently.

Flashback to the Saturday I attended a “Women at Rest” at my church. It’s a morning designed for women to do just that- rest, read the Word, pray, and refocus their thoughts. That morning, I came upon Proverbs 14:4, “Where there are no oxen, the barn is clean. But abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

I have a lot of little oxen in my house. And yes, it is possible that if I had no little oxen that I would have a better chance of keeping my barn clean. But would I trade the clean barn for the abundant crops? No. Then why do I always feel like such a failure in regard to my house?

As I walked down the hall at church that morning, I ran into my dizzyingly creative friend Carole Virden. Like my favorite theologian G.K. Chesterton, she has a way of turning my world upside down with one phrase, after which I suddenly realize my world has actually been turned right-side up.

When I bemoaned my frustrations, she hugged me and said, “‘Glorious, not tidy.” I looked at her quizzically.


She smiled, “My husband came up with that phrase. He described our house as ‘Glorious, not tidy.'”

My inner critic seethed at that phrase. We all have one. What does yours look like? Mine is a thin woman sporting an ironed, gray pantsuit, perfectly coiffed hair, and wire-rimmed glasses. She often barks with narrowed eyes, “Heidi, why can’t you be tidy? Don’t you know how important it is for your children to grow up in a tidy home?”

But my inner counselor, who is whimsical and smiling and full of grace, wearing flowy sleeves, flowered skirts, funky shoes, and looking a lot like Carole, affirmed my struggle and turned my world right-side up, silencing my critic with one word, “Glorious!”

I know my little oxen won’t be in my barn forever, and while they are here, our barn will probably not be organized, or tidy. But, O Lord, I pray that our barn would be glorious! Full of laughter and life and grace.

So today, I’m crossing out my New Year’s Resolution “Organize House” and replacing it with something much better: “Glorious, Not Tidy!”

Come to think of it, that’s a much better template, anyway.

7 thoughts on “Glorious, Not Tidy”

  1. Heidi, Just finding your blog now. Love it! Hope I can read lots more here. Make sure Brian posts on FB to remind me as my house is definitely “Glorious!” This was a wonderful read! Terri Ferraro

    1. So fun you found me here! You can “follow” my blog if you want to, and it will send you an email notification when I post something new. I only write once a week or so, so it shouldn’t clog up your email or anything. I have a feeling most of us theatre folks have “glorious” houses! It just comes with the territory 🙂

  2. I just love you, dear cuz…. I was wrapping up apples in newspaper for winter storage that (LATE) night you and I chatted about this very verse, more than two years ago. I’ll never forget how refreshing and encouraging that long conversation was with you. I too will adopt your phrase of Glorious, Not Tidy.

    1. heidi noelle petak

      Yes! Our conversation has never left me…but obviously continues to ruminate! I imagine you often teaching and hugging and chasing and encouraging and cooking and filling your home glorious with your laughter. miss you!

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  4. Great phrase! I grew up in “Glorious, not tidy!” 🙂
    I’ll relieve my mom’s long time guilt with it!
    Hmmm Come to think of it, so did my kids!
    Guilt gone! Thanks Heidi! January 5th and we’re off to a good start!
    How can I ever “Thank You?” I know… I get some of the oxen! 🙂

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