As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Monday, October 31, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 31 ~ Hold Loosely



And so we have come to the last of these thirty-one days. 

On the very first day of the series I said,
Home is made up of beautiful sights, lovely aromas, tantalizing tastes, comforting touches and textures, and lively sounds. But it is more than our physical surroundings and the appeal of the senses. It is also the intangible beauties of attitude and atmosphere. The best home is a reflection of our Heavenly Home, a humble foreshadow of that Home that is promised to His children.
I have attempted to offer you some new ways of looking at your home, and your own place in it.  Maybe one or two ideas have inspired you to brighten your homein its surroundings, or in its atmosphere. 

There's one more thought that I'd like to leave with you...hold it loosely

You see, I am merely a steward of my home, my little piece of the here-and-now.  It is not really mine.  It is where He has placed me right now, today.  And I am responsible, as His steward, to take good care of it, and to do my best, and to do it with all my heart (as unto the Lord, and not to men, Colossians 3:23). 

But if He should choose to take it away, or move me to another place, then I must loosen my grip and say, "Yes, Lord." 

Now that may sound as if my attitude is oh-well-no-problem-easy-come-easy-go, but that is certainly not the case.  I love my home.  As I told you ~here~, I had to learn to love it, but now I can hardly imagine myself anywhere else!  Home is a good place to be.  However, it is a only a temporary gift.  I must hold it loosely, while I hold tightly to eternal things.   



For the things which are seen are temporal;
but the things which are not seen are eternal.   
2 Corinthians 4:18b 



May you and I be able to declare with Martin Luther,

" I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." 



~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 
God bless you as you continue to make your house a home...while you focus on the things that are eternal!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 30 ~ Books For Inspiration





In making a home, there are a few books that I have found helpful through the years.  They are all quite different, but each one has had an influence in some area as I have tried to make my own home.
 


The Bible
Oh yes, this is the most important one!  I would not even begin to attempt to make a home without the true foundation which is the Word of the Lord. 
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."  


The Way Home and All the Way Home by Mary Pride
When I discovered these books, it was like a breath of life...a whole new way of looking at my role of wife and mother, but through the lens of the Word of God.  The ideas presented were such a contrast to the values of our modern society, and even a contrast to many of the values of the church.  


The Hidden Art of Homemaking
by Edith Schaeffer
Creative ideas to spark your own creativity while you strive to make your home a place of beauty and blessing. 


The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot
I found this book to be inspirational as Elisabeth Elliot tells of the home in which she grew up.  The author shares family stories and the guiding principles of her parents' home as they raised their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.   


The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin
Within these pages, the author provides you with the tools of making your home a place of welcome and hospitality.  Read this, and your perspective on "entertaining" will change. 





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Since today is the day for recommendations, I am going to suggest that you read my daughters' blogs, as they have also written 31-days series this month! 

Kristin, my oldest daughter, is wife to Brian and the mother of five beautiful treasures!  During the month of October, she has been writing encouragement from her own experience: 31 Days for the Struggling Mama.

Kati, my second daughter-third child, recently purchased a nifty new camera with some graduation money.  She has been learning her new camera, snapping away, and posting some of her favorites on 31 Days of Photography Fun.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 29 ~ Hide Ugly Stuff

Don't leave it in sight.  The ugly stuff, that is. 

Living in an older house, we know all about lack of storage space.  The builders of our house did not alot much square footage to closets, and the few that they built were eensy-weensy.  So we have had to be creative in finding places to put our belongings. 

Of course, the first answer to storage problems is to purge!  I find it necessary to purge fairly often to keep our stuff to a manageable level. 

But my second principle of storage is to hide ugly stuff




Put it away.  Put it in a basket.  Put it in a cupboard.  Put it in a closet.  Put it in a pretty container.  Put it behind closed doors.

Choose furniture with drawers or doors. 

Choose sofas with skirts.  (Lots of stuff can fit under a sofa.  My scrapbook box and our Wii balance board are under the living room sofa.  The kitchen loveseat conceals shoes, as we have no mudroom or foyer at the back door.) 

Choose to have your husband build some closed cabinetry at the bottom when he creates your built-in bookcases.  (Yes, I know I'm lucky.) 

Put your dish soap in a pretty pump container if it must sit on your kitchen counter.  Hide extra rolls of toilet paper under the vanity.  Put daily mail in a deep basket (or sort it when it enters the house).   

Corral legos and blocks in a basket. 




Why not look around your house and see if you see anything ugly?  Then find a way to either purge it, or hide it. 


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



Friday, October 28, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 28 ~ Celebrate the Seasons


Add some simple touches to celebrate the seasons. 


A home that has some seasonal touches looks like a home that is cared for and loved.  It says that its keeper has taken a little time to do something that is beyond the ordinary stretch of days.  If I look inside a house and nothing tells me what season it is, it feels a bit sterile or detached. 




I admit that I go all out for fall decorating--inside, outside, every nook and cranny!  I adore fall...the cooler temperatures, the return to routine, the spectacular beauty. 

I enjoy decorating for Christmas too.  (You can take a peek at the farmhouse dressed for Christmas by clicking ~here~.)

The other seasons have more subtle touches--paper snowflakes, winter berries, tea tray on the kitchen counter...forsythia clippings, lighter colored dishes and trays...flowers inside and out, maybe a sea shell here or there.



"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
Genesis 8:22
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 

Do you decorate for the seasons?  In a big way or a small way? 




Cranberry Upside-Down Cake



For a dessert recipe with some autumn flair, try this!
Adapted from this recipe... 
(Word to the wise: Don't omit the allspice...it is so-o-o-o-o good!)
 

Linking up today with Kristin's Comfort Food Friday



CRANBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE



 
 
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Directions:
  1. Grease 9-inch cake pan.  Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Whisk together ½ cup of the sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Sprinkle in pan. Evenly distribute cranberries over sugar mixture. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend into creamed mixture. On low speed, beat in milk.
  5. Spoon batter into pan over berries. 
  6. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 
  7. Let cool completely before turning out of baking pan onto serving platter. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 27 ~ An Ordinary Tradition


Sometimes little rituals in your day or week 
can make ordinary times special. 

At our house Friday Movie Night is one of those rituals. 

The evening begins with take-out for supper.   (Yahoo!)



After dinner (and an easy clean up!), we put on the coffee
and our night at the movies (usually something from Netflix) begins!  



And what would movie night be without movie snacks?  



To ensure variety, we pick numbers at the beginning of the month, and each person has a week to choose the carry-out meal and the movie.  (If it were my turn every week, we'd eat Chinese food and watch You've Got Mail.)


What daily or weekly rituals does your family have? 



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 26 ~ Holiday Traditions

I have chatted with you about traditions, and why I feel that traditions are important.  I have shared some of our mealtime traditions.  And today, I will tell you about some of our holiday traditions


A Month of Thankfulness
Thanksgiving is more than one day at our house.  We read Thanksgiving books.  (Read ~here~ for some of my recommendations.)  We sing Thanksgiving hymns, all month long, choosing one to sing together around our Thanksgiving table before the blessing and the feast.  (Click ~here~ to read about a beautiful collection of Thanksgiving music.) 

One of our most blessed holiday traditions is our Thankful Tree.  All through the month, we write our thanks on cut-out leaves.  We mail leaves to Ryan's family so that they are represented on our tree.  Any guests who visit during the month are invited to add their blessings.  And we add a few more on Thanksgiving Day, as each person is given a leaf  as they arrive.  (Click ~here~ to read details about our Thankful Tree.)



Christmas Movies

We watch lots of Christmas movies!  Most of the time, I am wrapping gifts or making to-do lists while watching, but we try to fit in as many as possible during the short season.  And there are a few that have a very definite date or occasion on which they must be viewed.  Why? It's a tradition! (You know...you do it once, and then the next year, and then it is set. in. stone.)

A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott) must be seen on Black Friday and must be accompanied by Thanksgiving leftovers.  When we write out Christmas cards, we must watch Eloise at Christmastime which we recorded from television onto a VHS tape.  If we are not finished with the cards (we rarely are), we watch Eloise at the Plaza, which isn't even a Christmas movie, but it's tradition nonetheless.  The Homecoming is reserved for Christmas Eve, with the exception of one Christmas Eve when our VHS tape broke (nightmare!), but now we have the DVD and all is well.  
 
(I must add that we have lots of favorite Christmas books, too!  I gather them from all of the bookshelves, and we read through at least one chapter book, and numerous shorter "picture books" during the season.)
 
 

Annual Christmas Ornaments
  
When the older children were small, we began giving them a special Christmas ornament each year.  We tried to find one that was either indicative of their personality or their interests, or that represented a significant event in their lives that year.   We continued this tradition...and so now we give ornaments to each of our four children, our son-in-law and our daughter-in-law, and our eight grandchildren.  Yes, that is a lot of ornaments, and some years I am tempted to discontinue this tradition, but then I find the perfect one for Ryan or for Owen or for Eve, and my enthusiasm returns with gusto.   
As part of the tradition, we give these out on Christmas Tree Night (after we eat our subsanother part of the tradition), and it is thrilling to this Gran and Papa to watch the eager faces as they open their treasures one by one.    
 
(To read more about our tradition, and to see some pictures of the special ornaments, click ~here~.)
 
 
First-Day-of-Spring Baskets
We used to do Easter baskets, but several years ago we changed plans. Resurrection Day is such a glorious beautiful day of rejoicing, that it almost seemed to trivialize the significance of the holiday to make a big deal out of chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks. But chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks are such fun, and my children had always received such treats...so Ron and I decided that, as the first day of spring is exciting and something to celebrate, and bunnies and chicks and flowers certainly represent the spring of the year, we would begin the tradition of the Spring Basket.

It is great fun to squirrel away (rabbit away?) little treats to fill the baskets!  Candy, yes...but also pajamas with a bunnies-having-a-tea-party design, recipe cards, cute socks, garden seed packets, pencils, boxes of tea, nail polish. 


::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  :: 

These are some traditions that are meaningful to our family.  I am sure that yours are different from ours.  The important thing is that each family takes the time and the care to create traditions that are meaningful to you!  These are strong family memories that will make your house a home. 





Addendum:
There is also nothing wrong with changing a tradition, or adding a new one.  After all, families are not static.  Our own has gone through many changes—the addition of more children, children growing up and leaving the nest, the addition of grandchildren, the relocation of our son and his family (across many miles), to name a few.  We must adapt our traditions with the changes in family dynamics. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 25 ~ Use Your Heirlooms


Do you have any family heirlooms? 


If you do, may I suggest that you get them out and use them?  If you don't, there are no family memories attached to them, so they won't mean anything to those who will have them next. 

My great aunt told me over and over about the "moss rose tea set" that I was to have.  It had been her mother's (my great-grandmother's) and she treasured it highly.  But when she gave it to me, I put it on a corner cupboard in my dining room...and there it sat for many years.  It received a weekly dusting, some admiration, and that was about it.  

A few years ago, I decided that our own family should have some "history" with the tea set too, so on Kati's sixteenth birthday, we carefully washed each piece, and used it to serve tea to her party guests.  Of course, I did not want anything to be broken, but I was willing to risk it for the sake of the special occasion, the sense of family connection, and the simple pleasure of using the beautiful heirloom. 






I also have a set of silver spoons that belonged to some ancestor on my mother's side.  These spoons were wrapped in a piece of flannel in my sideboard...until the day of a family party when I decided to unwrap them, put them in a little crock, and use them for stirring cream and sugar in the coffee.  These spoons are engraved with mysterious initials..."mysterious" because we cannot decipher them!  At many family gathering since then, we have guessed and figured at those initials, and we still have not come to any consensus.  But that just adds to the fun of using these family pieces. 




I have a couple of treasures from my paternal grandparents.  One is my grandmother's sewing basket, which I use for storing ribbon and trim.
 


The other is this table with bamboo legs (I wonder where it came from) that we have had on our back porch for I don't know how long. 




Your "heirlooms" don't have to be valuable (most of mine aren't!).  They don't have to be family pieces.  For goodness' sake...they don't even have to be old!  They can be new or thrifted pieces that you have deemed to be special.

But do try to use your special pieces from time to time...to appreciate beauty, to create family memories, and to make your house a home. 




Imagine my surprise when I read this post today by Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me.  We seem to be thinking along the same lines!  Hop on over and read her wise words about "using the good stuff". 

Monday, October 24, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 24 ~ The Law of Kindness


I probably don't need to say this...   but...

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't allow your children to hit one another, or call one another names, or bully or belittle one another. 

These rules have been FIRM ones in our house, and I am so glad!  Our children have always been encouraged to be courteous and kind to one another.  (I am not referring to good-natured teasing...but you know when the law of kindness has been broken.)

The benefits are many!
  • The team concept is fostered.
  • Siblings learn to be the best of friends.
  • Peace is the norm in the home. 

One of the first Bible verses that we had our children* memorize was this one:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you.  (Ephesians 4:32)

And I can still hear those tiny voices with their lisps and their baby "r" sounds as they recited that nugget of gold from the Word of God. 




And just as it is important for siblings to treat one another with kindness, it is equally important for adults to use kindness in their dealings with their children, and with one another.  Dare I say that there is a difference between Godly admonition, correction, and instruction in righteousness (I Timothy 3:16) and yelling and screaming and disrespect?  (And dare I say that I have broken the law of kindness?) 

I propose that a house is not a home unless the law of kindness prevails. 




* Some of my grandchildren have also memorized Ephesians 4:32...which warms my heart.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 23 ~ Consider Homeschooling

If your children are small and you have begun to think about school choices...or if your children are in a traditional school and they spend most of their day outside of the home (and a chunk of the time they are at home doing homework)...

Consider homeschooling. 

My older two children were in the 6th and 4th grades when we (finally) decided to take the path of homeschooling.  I had considered it for several years, but didn't think that I could do it. 

I was a nervous wreck.  Even though I was convinced that the Lord wanted us to do this, and I even became enthused about it, I thought that it meant the end of my "freedom" and the beginning of a difficult task. 

So wasn't I surprised when I found that (in some ways) it was easier?  No longer were we pulled apart, spending the greater part of the day in different places. No longer did my children need to follow the agendas of other people (and not the people who loved them).  No longer were we slaves to the schedule that someone else had set, nor were we slaves to their ideas.

By the end of our first week of homeschooling, I knew that we had found our way.  It was God-centered.  It was home-centered.  Our family worshiped together, prayed together, tended our house together, learned together.  We had become a team. 

Bringing our children home to school was one way that we made our house a home. 

(Oh...and that "freedom"?  I never missed it!)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 
More of my musings about home education...
          A Lesson in Abundance
          What's the Goal?

 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 22 ~ Provide Reading Corners


Ingredients for a reading corner: 
  • Cozy chair
  • Nearby lamp
  • Place to set a cup of tea or coffee
  • Book

A favorite reading corner in our house is on the loveseat in the kitchen.  (We I have been known to stare down the person who got to this reading corner before I did.)  It has all of the right ingredients.


 This chair is an appealing spot, but the lamp is not quite bright enough for me, especially in the evening.  I once put a floor lamp beside it which improved the situation greatly, but, alas, I had robbed the lamp from the space by my husband's recliner, which meant that he could not see to read the newspaper, and so I returned it.  (It was only fair, since Ron usually moves from my favorite spot on the loveseat when I stare him down.)  



We also have reading chairs in each of the bedrooms. 



You just can't have too many reading corners! 

Where do you curl up with a book? 



Friday, October 21, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 21 ~ Children's "Room" For Expression


A child can learn to make her (or his) house a home by having some say in how that room is decorated.  Let them choose the colors, the style, and fill it with the things that make them happy. 


I was twelve years old when our family moved to a new town and I had my own room for the first time.  My mother allowed me to choose the colors for my space, and I chose bright yellow and orange.  (It was the seventies after all! ~smile~)  I found the brightest yellow bedspread you have ever seen.  I decorated with butterflies, including the string art butterfly I hung over my bed.  I sometimes wonder why Mom didn't close the door to my room, but she let me be. 

I have tried to allow my own children the same leeway when making their rooms their own.  (Fortunately, they have all had better taste than I had.  Or maybe it's because they did not grow up in the seventies.)  But in our country-style farmhouse, we have at different times had children's rooms decorated in everything from shabby chic  to pink with a capital P to animal skulls and nutria pelts.  (Yep.)  And it's okay. 




Children who are sharing a room may have to work a little harder to have a space that reflects their individual personalities, but it can be done.  Kristin and Kati shared a room for seven years...and there is a thirteen year age difference between them!  One side of the room had a Fisher Price doll house and stuffed animals and  a poster with the numbers 1 to 10; the other side had a CD player and posters of contemporary Christian singers.  But they had matching quilts and eyelet curtains and a bookshelf with both classics and picture books, and it worked (with an occasional request from Kristin not to buy Kati any "big toys"). 

So what about you?  Do you give free reign to your kids' expression in their rooms?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 20 ~ Be At Home


To make a house a home, you need to spend some time there.  Making it cheerful.  Making it welcoming. Making it homey. 

When I was a new wife and a young mother, I went.  I did this; I did that.  I went here; I went there.  If you wanted me to join a club, teach a class, or go shopping with you, I'd do it.  I tried to make a home, but it's kind of hard to make a home when you're not there much.  

In time, the Lord called my heart to my home. 

Yes, I had been a "stay-at-home mom," but my attentions were often directed outside of my home and family.  Then the Lord gave me a new vision of my role as a wife and mother, and being at home became a pleasure.  Home was where I wanted to be! 
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine...
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  (Titus 2:1, 3-5)

Of course, there are errands to be run, and times to go out to fellowship or help or visit.

But to truly make a house a home, there has to be someone there to do it!

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 19 ~ Read Aloud


Choose a book to read aloud as a family.

Sharing a book is a wonderful way to create family memories, learn together, and collect a treasure trove of shared knowledge and stories.

Dad usually chooses the family read aloud.  After all, we girls read (or have read) lots of books together as part of our homeschool studies, so this is a chance for Dad to have some input into our learning.  His selections bring some male influence into our reading, and he sometimes chooses books that we may not have read otherwise.

Think your family is too old to do this? 

Think again!  We have continued to read aloud long after each child learned to read.  In fact, we read aloud as long as they are physically present.  And I hope that Ron and I will continue to share books aloud, even after the last child has left the nest!

A few of our family read alouds:
  • The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann Wyss)
  • Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness (John Mason Brown)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days (Jules Verne)
  • All of a Kind Family series (Sydney Taylor)
  • Young Abraham Lincoln (Carl Sandburg)
  • Across Five Aprils (Irene Hunt)
  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
  • Drake: The Man They Called a Pirate (Jean Lee Latham)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series (C. S. Lewis)  

    Sharing a love of literature, history, or just a good story...another way to make a house a home.  
    ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    {31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 18 ~ Discover Linen Spray

    There is nothing like climbing into a bed made with freshly laundered sheets smelling of lemon verbena!  Mmmmmm...

    I have found inexpensive bottles of linen spray at discount stores like Marshalls and HomeGoods.  They come in all kinds of luscious scents: lemon verbena, lavender, honeysuckle...  Just spray some on your clean sheets as you iron them. 

    Oh, you don't iron?  No problem!  Just spritz them after you put them on the bed.  

    (You can also use linen spray to freshen a rug, a throw pillow, a dresser drawer...) 



    Yet another way to use scent to make your house a home!

    ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


    Monday, October 17, 2011

    {31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 17 ~ Set the Tone


    The woman (wife and/or mother) has the power to set the tone in the home.
      




    I have never liked the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Not because I doubt the truth of the statement, but because it is usually said in a flip manner by someone who thinks that that is funny. The image is that of a family cowering because Mama is displeased. Funny? Not really.

    I believe that a woman has tremendous power to influence the attitudes of those in her home.

    I am not denying the headship of the man; I believe wholeheartedly that the husband/father is the authority in the home. He is responsible to lead, to teach, to protect, and to love.

    But...if I am frazzled, or angry, or blue...
    if I am ungrateful, or discontent, or grumpy...
    then I can see the effect that those attitudes have on my husband and children.  

    And that is sobering.  

    But...if I am encouraging, and hopeful, and worshipful,
    if I am faithful, and patient, and meek,
    then I can also see the effects of those attitudes ripple through my home. 

    Yes, I believe that a mama sets the tone for her household.

    A while back, I blogged about a book that we were reading, and how a particular passage impacted me: 

    We have been reading The Yearling, written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in 1938. In this coming of age story, the Baxter family—Penny, Ora, and twelve-year-old Jody—live a hard life in the Florida scrub region at the turn of the century.


    It is November, and the first frost has come to the scrub. The Baxters are in the “front room”, enjoying the first hearth-fire of the year, Penny smoking his pipe, Ora sewing, Jody lying on the floor in front of the fire, daydreaming.

    Ma Baxter said, “Now throw a stick on the fire. I cain’t quite see to foller my seams.”


    She had cut down a pair of Penny’s winter breeches for Jody.


    She said, “Now take another notion to grow like you done this spring, and I’ll be cuttin’ down your breeches to fit your daddy.”


    Jody laughed out loud and Penny pretended to be offended. Then his eyes twinkled in the firelight and his thin shoulders shook. Ma Baxter rocked complacently. They were all pleased whenever she made a joke. Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening.


    If you are familiar with this story, you know that Ora is a hard woman, who fusses, criticizes, and has a sharp tongue. Life has been hard for hershe has lost six children before Jody is born, the family is always on the edge of having enough to get by on, they work extremely hard and have constant set-backsand she has been hardened by it.  In the passage that I quoted above, however, Ora is in an unusually good humor, and that is why her family is so much enjoying the evening spent in front of the fire.  Their spirits are lightened because "Mama is happy."

    "Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening."

    The first time I visited my dear friend Debbie at no spring chicken, I was struck by this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder that Debbie has in her blog header: 
    "Let's be cheerful!  We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger.  Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant and happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture and the furniture comfortable and beautiful!"

    Most of us would be horrified at the thought of stealing the purse of a stranger, but are we ever guilty of stealing the brightness out of the day for our families? 

    I must insert here that I am not saying that we should not be "real".  There is a right time for sorrow and grief, for sadness and tears.  I am not suggesting that we waltz about with our insincere smiles, pretending that everything is great when it isn't.  It is neither real, nor truthful, nor helpful to do such a thing. 

    What I am saying is that our attitudes should reflect His grace, and when they do not, then we are robbing our families of brightness.  Even in sorrow, there can be the brightness of hope.  In tears, there can be brightness of encouragement.  In need, there can be the brightness of reassurance.  In everything, there can be a heart of thankfulness.

    I do not write this post from the perspective of a woman who has mastered this, this gift and this responsibility of setting the tone.  I am afraid that I am not always that gentle heart and encouraging presence that is my ideal.  Sometimes I get annoyed.  Sometimes I have a chip on my shoulder, or an offended spirit. 

    But I write about this concept because I believe it to be true.  A woman sets the tone in her home. 

    So how do I go about setting the proper tone, or being that gentle, edifying presence?

    Hear the wise words of my daughter-in-law, Sarah:
    I find that it does no good to simply 'resolve' to be more pleasant and full of grace. It's the Lord's grace that allows me to be gracious to my family and His mercy that keeps me from my self.
    I believe that is the answer!  Accepting the Lord's grace for us, and extending that to the members of my family. 

    This week, will you join me in extending His great grace to our husbands and children?  Will you allow Him to help you set the tone in your home? 


    Setting the proper tone can make your house a home!



    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    {31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 16 ~ Build It



    I have always been intrigued by this Bible versethe concept that I am able to build my house, but also that I also have the power to pull it downWith my own hands

    I want to be a builder, not a destroyer! 
    And I acknowledge that I must totallytotallyrely on His guidance to be that wise woman

    :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::



    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    {31 Days to Make a House a Home} Day 15 ~ Cushy Seats

    Once upon a time, the Lady of the House bought a lovely high-backed colonial sofa.  Oh, how she loved it! 

    
    
    Her family?  They hated it! 

    It wasn't cushy.  It didn't invite you to curl up on it with a book.  It didn't invite you to take naps on it, much less spend the night on it if you were sick and needed to stay downstairs. 

    But she loved her sofa so much that when the fabric started to wear, she had the thing reupholstered, and she loved it even more with its new clothes.  (Did you hear the collective sigh of the children?)


    There came a day, however, when it was time to buy a new sofa. 

    This time she decided to go for comfort.  So she hunted high and low for a colonial fabric that she could love combined with a cushy sofa

    Her family loves her for it. 



    Moral of this tale:
    Comfort is more important than beauty in making a house a home. 


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