I’m sitting at my laptop in the spare room (oh, that sounds “Narnia-ish”) which is a combination office, bedroom, practice room and storage space containing items my daughter is collecting for her first year at college. It’s a nice room, although there is no bed as of yet. A headboard leans against the wall, waiting. There is a wonderful dresser, holding candles, linens and other decorating items. My daughters’ violins and son’s guitar are also here as well as a couple music stands. There is a white rocking chair in the corner, a reminder of the baby days of my kids, nights when I’d rock them and sing softly over their fuzzy heads. You see, this room really is of the multi-purpose sort; it is used for a variety of activities, depending on the family’s needs at a given time. It bugs me when I focus on it, this room lacking a real purpose yet used so much. I dream of walking past the door and seeing a bed made up with the quilt I’ve got ready. I imagine putting guests in here to stay instead of in my daughters’ room.

But I guess I’ve come full-circle, in a way. My family had such a room when I was a teenager. It served many purposes through the years and is still one of the most-used in my parents’ house. A lot of happy times happened there, and I can’t imagine my childhood home without it.

I’d love to have a house like the magazines show, with fresh flowers and couches just begging you to sit. The cookies in the jar are always soft and the counters never get family-clutter. Yes, it would do my heart good to be able to keep a house like that. It always feel like some sort of failure to be normal, you know, to have a “lived-in” house. I’m not talking about filth or stacks of egg cartons in the corner; I just mean the usual this and that which accumulates in a family’s day.

But, one-purpose rooms and un-lived-in rooms are not happening in my life. Instead, I have imperfect spaces, but they’re spaces that reflect a family who lives close and lives busy. So, I guess you could call this room I’m sitting in a family room in some ways. In fact, all the rooms in our house are christened with the energy and joys and trials of family living. And I think this house loves it; after all, we are the ones who give it life.

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