Handprints on the Windowpane

by Audrey on November 22nd, 2013

A number of years ago I wrote this:
 
It’s November, and I think I am in the middle of the noisiest and messiest years of my life.  My older children are teenagers yet I still have a little boy who is, well, little.
 
The younger years of my older children were noisy and messy but the noise and the messes were different.  Back then, the mess was caused by lots of little people with lots of little things.   Now, the messes are caused by big people with big things plus the one little guy with lots of little things still.
 
The noise of my older children’s young years was caused by loud, yet little voices.  The loudness, really, hasn’t changed much but it just seems louder.   Teenage voices have emerged.
           
Our house.  Lots of activity.  Lots of messes.  Lots of clutter.  
 
On one particular noisy day, after morning schoolwork was done, I sat at my desk in a new little tucked away corner of my house.  I found this spot because I thought it would be a quiet place to work when the children were involved in independent activities.  
 
And then it happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed handprints on the windowpane facing my front porch.  Two handprints.   And I wondered, why am I the only one who sees handprints on the windowpanes? 
 
Hmmm.  I suppose I could measure the hands on each of my children to see whose they were or I could march into the kitchen muttering a big harrumph while dramatically getting the Windex and waving a rag in the air for all to see  . . . but I didn’t.  In fact, I decided to leave those prints right there, staring at me.
 
Why?  Well, very early that morning, I had read in a devotional book about a mother whose young child had died suddenly.  My heart wept along with hers as I formed an image of this grieving mother in my mind as she watched the small white casket being lowered into the ground.  I can’t even imagine that kind of loss.  This mother would never hold her precious child again. 
 
Yet her story encouraged my heart.  I read that after she returned from the funeral, she found little fingerprints on a windowpane.  She recalled how if she had seen them just a few days before, she would have wiped them off, but now they were precious to her.  They were the last reminder of a little active child.  This mother tenderly covered and preserved those little handprints.
 
So on my day, as I looked out at the glass smeared with handprints, I thanked God for them.  And all throughout the day when I heard loud, deep voices call  MOM!  I thanked God for those voices. 
 
That day, I thanked God for the messes in my house.
 
God renews my perspective in little ways.   Through muddy shoes, dirty clothing, and even quarrels among my children.  Yes, it’s tiresome and wears me out BUT these things also serve to remind me that my children are alive and well and that God is at work in our home. And this is the job He has given me.  So what if my house is a little cluttered, a little noisy, and a little smudged? People do live here.  And we make messes.  We also learn to clean our messes and take responsibility. But life is messy.
 
So yes, November, the month of giving thanks.   I’m finding that in the middle of the messiest and noisiest years of my life, chores are never completed and work is never finished.  Proverbs says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.”  Right now, I have a lot of oxen . . .
 
Luke’s gospel tells us about Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha.  Martha welcomed Him but then was distracted with all her preparations, really, I guess with the mess that comes with serving people.  Yet, messes will abound wherever people are.  You cannot serve people without a mess.  You just can’t.  Where there is life and activity, there will also be a mess.
 
 Yes, I did finally wipe off the smudges from my window all those years ago – but it did take me a few days. I needed the lesson to sink in. 
 
And now?  I think about that morning now that I have grandchildren and once again I have handprints on the windowpanes.  
 
I’m so thankful to the One Who is at work in my life and allows me to be in the middle of so many messes. 


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