When Your Oxen (I Mean Kids) Are Messing Up Your House

My coffee table is covered in children’s books, a box of Legos, my Bibles, a box of crayons, a sippy cup, and ALL the little Lego men that I swept out from under the couch this morning.

There’s also a few preschool crafts and the remote control to the t.v.

Then there’s the center piece, all buried in there. It’s supposed to be an ornate pedestal bowl of THREE ornamental balls, but of course someone broke one…..when they were using it as a bowling ball, I believe.

Most of my house is as cluttered as that little table. I won’t even bother lying and saying it’s just because we’ve been busy lately.

Busy lately? Ha! It’s been pretty high tempo since about 2011.

We, like most American parents, live a little overwhelmed, stressed, sleepy, tired, and yes, we’re busy lately.

I rushed home from volunteering in the library this morning (BEST job ever– I love it so much I have trouble making myself leave it). As soon as I pulled in the driveway, the LOWE’s people were here with our new dryer.

Only I was being thrifty and purchased a dented dryer, so I have to send it right back because the drum is rubbing the dent in the side, making quite a loud racket. Problem not solved…

I unloaded the dishes and made myself lunch, but I needed some words of comfort.

Words of encouragement go a great distance when life is an uphill climb.

Kindness I read from a blogger a few years ago came back to me as I sat in my favorite chair, staring at that cluttered up coffee table.

She’s a mom of five boys, but she doesn’t blog anymore. Still what she said is with me though, and her words were so wise…

4Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.     

 Proverbs 14:4

Julie (the blogger) said that this verse reminded her of her life. Her house is full of oxen, and so her stable is never clean, but look at all the glorious benefits of having a house full of children, 5 boys in her case.

Yes, people without……oxen……have tidier spaces. People with more OCD may also be better at it.

People with the tidy mangers even occasionally say hurtful things to us.

In the past four years, several folks have (surely unintentionally) hurt my feelings about my house. They didn’t get it.



Normal, right? No, it gets worse than this. I do have enough pride to not show you those pictures


But what is that to us?

Our life is richer thanks to these oxen. There’s not a parent worth having who would not agree that their children are their greatest blessing.

Sometimes I’m actually embarrassed to tell people about all my children because it feels like bragging, which we try not to do!! This glorious blessing is not something any of us take lightly.

Empty stalls are for retirement. No thanks. I’d rather have my coffee table full of toys and my arms full of hugs. An empty nest will be something to embrace later, and I’m sure by then I will be ready for it.


For today, It’s better to have…..

coloring books in my dining room than empty place settings

Clean school shirts to fold on my couch than tidy rooms with no inhabitants

Video games in front of the t.v. than knick-knacks collecting dust

baseball hats on my hall tree than empty hooks serving no purpose

dried toothpaste in the boys’ sink than a guest bathroom that’s rarely used.


We can only clean so many areas at once, ya know? You do your best.

These little souls, made in the image of God, are put in our care for a season. It is our most precious duty. There is none like it, the charge to guard and bring up your children, both flesh and blood and adopted.

Your house is the stable, and your kids are the oxen.

And yes, it’s a messy job, but what a privilege!! What a privilege to have a house cluttered with preschool art and marked with chubby handprints. Be still my heart.

Eventually we will all be older and in a newer, cleaner phase of life. We will think we are still so busy because it will be hard to remember all this that we are doing now.

Maybe we’ll even shout to the neighbor kids to keep off the grass. Oh, I hope that’s never me.

But for today, the manger is full, and from the strength of the oxen comes the abundance of the harvest, and I am thankful. I hope you are too.






  • Katie

    April, this is a great reminder! THANK YOU! My living room is cluttered with bedroom pillows, books, clothes, water bottles, random grapes, and little oxen as well. I have an especially stubborn ox right now too, which makes these precious moments overwhelming sometimes. But this is a great reminder that being a mama to all these cows is absolutely a privilege… One I can’t begin to understand why God allowed me to experience. You are an inspiration to me and a lovely friend!
    Thanks for being real and honest!

  • Julie McEntee

    Hey April! So sweet of you to remember that post! The thing is, I needed to be reminded of that Proverb myself. Seems like the bigger the boys get the messier the manger. Thanks for the constant encouragement to all us boy moms. Blog on friend!

    • Hey!!! I’m so excited to see you hear!! And yes!! No one ever warned me as they grow, their propensity for destruction only increases with their size!! Everything is just bigger, though at least I no longer have to pack a diaper bag.
      Isn’t it cool how I still remember what you wrote 3 years later? Your work was not in vain, what a blessing.

  • When I was a new mommy, I vowed my home would NEVER be messy. Never, ever. I prided myself on my clean home with my newborn snug in a baby sling against my chest, while I had nothing to do but tidy and sweep and mop and blog. Then I went back to work.. and the baby grew… and then I had another baby… and now another on the way… needless to say, my perspective on what, exactly, defines “clean” has shifted. 😉 But yes… my life is so much richer!! Really puts things into perspective…

  • Hi April, I’m not really familiar with the Bible, but I do like those words. They ring very true. Looking around me there are bits everywhere, most of them do have their place, but that rarely happens. I’m not sure if I’d like an empty manger, but my husband would probably say that I’m plenty messy enough to be able to keep the untidiness up, but that’s not really the point.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC and for sharing those wise words!

    Debbie Roberts recently posted…Zakynthos Town At NightMy Profile

  • Hi Kendi, these look perfect for the bathroom. Nice and easy to clean out too! I love those little chalkboard stickers, I’ve never seen any like them before. I will certainly be on the lookout for them now, there’s always space for stickers in my life!

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.

    Debbie Roberts recently posted…Zakynthos Town At NightMy Profile

  • Oh I so needed to read this today. So true. I’d rather be picking up the socks and lego with a home full of children than have a tidy house and no oxen. #MMBC
    Cheryl | Time To Craft recently posted…Somerset pork and apple stew, …. and the TeenMy Profile

  • Jen

    Ugh, I have a tent strewn with scarves in my living room right now. I give. I am so past caring right now. It took me a while to get there though.

  • What an amazing perspective. Thank you!
    Our kids are total oxen. And I only have one boy but the girl is JUST as messy…
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