Last night I went to a monthly bible study for Moms. It’s a varied group; many churches represented, several homeschoolers, and it’s a lovely group. The venue changes, and last night we were able to switch last-minute: the neighbor of our intended hostess wasn’t going to be able to make it since her husband was working late. She welcomed us to her home instead, so she could attend for the first time.

After the study, we enjoyed some pie and ice cream, and then took a tour of her older home. It’s near where we first lived in town, but bigger (not BIG mind you, just bigger than our tiny 872 sf home), and beautifully remodeled/fixed up. Apparently there are still things they intend to do, but really it was breathtaking. Not because it was just *so fancy*, but because they have four children, the oldest of whom is 7. *I* have four children, and my oldest is nine.

I’m trying to be inspired. I really am. But it wars with discouragement, and I’m not sure which is winning today. Her carpet is soft, and new, and there are no apple cores to be found within its fibers. Her children’s rooms are painted beautifully, and no one has taken a pen or marker or pencil or sharp utensil to them. Their beds have (coordinated!) blankets, and none of them were on the floor. Her converted attic loft/guest/storage area, for which she apologized, looks like any “after” photo I might take after a real effort at cleaning/organizing/decorating. How does she do it? How does anyone do it? Why can’t I???

I sat with the kids today, and we held hands and prayed about this. I pointed out that I had vacuumed up all the cornmeal two days ago. Someone poured more on the floor of the schoolroom. I told them the miracle(s) that brought this house to us. I asked them if they gave someone a gift, if they would want that gift to be loved or not. I showed them the (pieces of) crayons I just picked up from all over the floor – for the second day in a row. The tape stuck to the floor in great, wasteful lengths. The bookshelf overturned in the bedroom. Who does this kind of thing?

I am not completely ignorant. I have not completely neglected the training of my children. But oh my gosh it sure looks that way. Where am I missing it here? Why the glaring, glaring difference between two otherwise similar households? I do not (seriously) require the jacuzzi tubs, or a fireplace in my bedroom suite, or glassed-in showers, or the stainless fridge-over-freezer. But oh, an apple-core-free carpet would be fantastic. A little order to rest in, without sacrificing three times over when the girls have five minutes to their own devices. Without abandoning sleep altogether, what can I do to close the gap??