Nancy Moser

Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane (Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novels are Masquerade and An Unlikely Suitor. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at and and her historical blog:



Suppose a man says to God, “I am guilty but will offend no more.
Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.”
                                                                              Job 34:31−32 (NIV)

Messy rooms give me an attitude. It’s not even the mess that bothers me as much as what the mess symbolizes: lack of respect.

It was time for a talk. Our two youngest children—aged eleven and fifteen—sat on the floor in front of me, their long legs vying for space. I prepared for the ninetieth repetition of the Clean Room Talk. But this time, I felt a different emphasis brewing. The kids were older now. The essence of the Clean Room Talk needed to go beyond picking up their toys.

I took a deep breath. “What do your messy rooms tell me?”

The kids exchanged a look that said, “This sounds like a trick question.” They were right; it was a trick question.

I gave them a hint. “It has something to do with respect.”

Carson perked up. “When our rooms are a mess it shows we don’t respect them.”

“Or the things in them, or us as your parents. Or even yourselves.”

“Wow,” Laurel said. “All that because we don’t hang up our clothes?”

“All that,” I said. “And so . . . I want you to go off by yourselves and figure out how you want to handle it. Through the years we’ve tried nearly everything. My rules haven’t worked. So now it’s your turn. What will entice you to keep your rooms clean? Reward or punishment, it’s up to you.”

They looked at me as if I were crazy. Maybe I was crazy. Or lazy. Truth be told, I was weary of trying to come up with “the answer.” Charts, star stickers, pop inspections . . . years’ worth of aborted attempts to attain “clean” for more than an hour had worn me down.

A few minutes later, the kids returned. Carson was spokesman. “If we keep our rooms clean for a month, we each get $25. If we lie about it, or don’t do it, we lose the TV for one week. And if we don’t do it three times in a month, we lose all chance of getting the $25.”

Wow. The conditions were stricter than I would have imposed.

“I agree,” I said. “Now go to it. Get them clean.”

A while later they appeared before me. “We’re done.” Stupid me; I believed them. Only later in the evening did I discover what all mothers know: our idea of clean is not our children’s idea

of clean. It wasn’t even close. But after pointing out that dirty clothes do not belong in drawers or under beds and that the perimeter of the room doesn’t have to look like a display at a garage sale, they got back to work, their discouragement evident.

I showed some mercy. “Since we haven’t really gotten started with your deal, we’ll say it doesn’t count this time. And I’ll lessen the penalty. No TV tonight. But you can watch it tomorrow.”

Carson shook his head. “No, Mom. It does count. We lied. We didn’t do what we should have done. It counts.”

Laurel looked at her brother, appalled. I looked at him, amazed. Somehow in the fifteen years of his life, he’d found integrity and honor. He was willing to accept his punishment as deserved and just. He was willing to change. What more can a mother ask?

It made me think of my own life, and my own battle with authority—with God. Did I have the integrity and honor to accept the punishment I deserved? Did I have the determination to change?

My son had humbled me.

Yes, messy rooms give me an attitude. But this time, in spite of the messy rooms—perhaps because of them—Carson and I experienced a wonderful new emotion.

Respect. For authority, for each other, and for ourselves.


Nancy Moser