On a summer morning we walk toward the house amidst air so moisture-laden you could wring it out. My sister Megan knows somebody who will give us a tour of the beautiful old house, the same house that is featured in a new movie called August: Osage County. I don’t know much about the movie except that its backdrop is the county I grew up in, it’s based on a play, and it stars Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Meryl Streep.
The house creaks with history, and we enjoy learning parts of it while the kids run circles in the cavernous rooms. I wonder what the original owners would think if they knew Hollywood had camped in their kitchen and driveway. I also wonder what the producers would have done if this house hadn’t been here. Osage County isn’t chock-full of hundred-year-old spacious homes surrounded by acres of property. But this one is here, and as I stroll the second story veranda, a thought wades through the thick air,
This house stands strong today because someone invested in building something of quality long ago.
You just never know how your actions today will alter your tomorrows.
I keep thinking of this as the calendar slides to August sticky and slow, like popsicle juice down my arm. I lick every last drop because I don’t want to miss the last taste of summer. Our family has been traveling and hiking and gardening and reading and swimming and wearing jammies ’til noon. I love it all, but there’s a price for all this summer fun.
In the Strong house, dust camouflages the color of every furniture piece, laundry loads stand tall as my daughter, and piles of disorder threaten to stage a coup. About the time I get down about this is when I hear my grandma’s voice calling Cleanliness is next to godliness! If I actually bought into that, I’d be concerned for the state of my soul.
But sometimes I do buy into the wrestling that goes on in my mind, the kind that convinces me no matter what I’m doing, I’m making the wrong choice. For example:
When I hang with the family. (You should mop these floors rather than rely on the dog to do it for you.)
When I clean. (You should pay more attention to your family than your dust.)
When I write. (You should be doing either of the above or a thousand other productive things.)
Sometimes the Enemy goes to not-so-great lengths to steal my contentment. But the Lord gives my anxious heart rest by asking one simple question:
Kristen, how will your actions today alter your tomorrows?
I turn a new direction where a cool breeze meets my face and a sincere message meets my heart: God wants me to care for the hearts in my home first and foremost. For me to do this, the above (and so much more!) must all be invariably accomplished, and in different seasons the amount of time spent on each one changes. But when something other than what I’m doing in this moment wearily tugs on my sleeve, I can choose the action that will best influence our tomorrow so that a hundred years from now, my family legacy will still stand strong.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. We are free from any agenda other than what He guides us to this day. This moment.
That big white home in Osage County, Oklahoma stands strong because someone invested in building something of quality long ago. For today and all our tomorrows, may the same be true for your family and mine.
Do you sometimes struggle with the pull to be somewhere other than where you are? How do you tune into God’s agenda and rest in His contentment moment by moment?
Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies