Is There a Roller Coaster in Your Living Room?


roller coasterUnless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.   ~ Psalm 127:1


A roller coaster in the middle of a house? I’d seen some interesting house plans before, but this was the craziest. Another plan was designed with a Wal-Mart attached to the house. That way the owner could go shopping whenever the mood struck.

Don’t get excited– these weren’t real houses. They were dream home plans sketched out by third graders.

Little did I know when I signed up to read each week to my daughter, Elise, and her classmates what wild imaginations many eight-year-olds have. I enjoyed reading fun books and discussing them with the kids, but sometimes the activity I’d have them do afterwards that related to the book brought unexpected results.

The book I’d read that week tied in perfectly with having the kids draw a house plan. As an architect, I brought in a large set of my drawings for the kids to use as an example and taped them to the board. After passing out over sized sheets of papers, I gave them their assignment.

“Okay, kids, I want you to draw a house plan–your perfect dream house. Think of everything you’d love to have in your future home. The sky is the limit. Go!”

As I waited for the children to finish, I walked around the room and observed their creative works. Making the rounds to each student’s desk, I frequently had to ask for an explanation. In my practical Type A mind, it had never occurred to me to integrate into a client’s plan a roller coaster, McDonalds, or a slide coming from the master bedroom into a centrally located pool. Of course, I’m sure I’d have stared at them in disbelief if they’d asked.

As kids, they had little concept of practicality or financial means. I’d told them to draw their dream home and that’s what they did. They’d most likely look back and laugh if they saw their elaborate drawings today.

Elise's third grade class
Elise’s third grade class

When we start designing our spiritual version of a dream home, it may not look like the plan the Master Architect has for us. Sometimes we can come up with wild themes that leave God completely out of the picture or rarely consult Him about the details. Making wrong choices may leave our dream homes, and families, in shambles.

As parents, sometimes we feel our kids need to be involved in every sport and extracurricular activity offered. Or we may expect outstanding grades from our children at each report card.

Maybe we’re trying to relentlessly perform for our family or peers. We try to make every day like a fun trip to McDonalds, juggling all of the balls in the air and then wonder why the foundation of our home is crumbling.

Are we or our kids doing stunts as outrageous as having a roller coaster in the living room?

When I used to do that, I noticed my family wasn’t excited about all of the fun anymore. They’d come to resent everything that was taking me away from them. I realized I was chronically exhausted. I took it out on my family. I put them last and blamed them for the outcome.

front porch
This wasn’t how I’d envisioned the dream home for my family. Instead of being a place of unconditional love and refuge, it had become a head-spinning circus of activity, with me as the ring-leader. Finally, I cried out to God to restore order and peace in my home. And He did, once I learned how to say no.

If you’re struggling to keep all of the balls in the air, please stop to take a serious look at what it’s doing to your family. Sit quietly before God to ask Him what crazy parts of your dream need to be removed in order to experience His plan for you and your family. If there’s something they resent, that’s your first clue. Recognizing the things that suck the life out of your spouse and kids is of utmost importance to keeping your family strong. Discern the boundaries God has for your family, not everyone else’s. Learn to say no to the roller coaster in the living room and discover the peace God intended for your home.

If you’ve dealt with a season of too much activity, I’d love to hear what God taught you through it.