"Home is the nicest word there is." -Laura Ingalls Wilder
We love our home, and we love inviting people into our home. Of course, there are seasons where we aren't able to host as often or as much as we would like, but it is always a constant that we think about and work towards.
And, as I get ready for people coming over, I clean and prepare so that the house is ready for them. I can hear my mother's voice reminding me to check the bathroom and make sure there is toilet paper and the trash can isn't full. I try to make my unending piles tidy, or throw it all in my room so at least the general house looks presentable. If I am cooking dinner, I try to have the meal mostly done, the dishes ready to be filled, and the prep dishes almost caught up!!
But, you know what? When people come in, they don't even notice those things. I mean, some of them might, but most of them don't. Most of them don't see the fine layer of dust that I really need to take care of on the bookshelf. They probably don't even bat an eye that a pair of the boys' socks is peeking out from under the couch. Once, I had a sprig of mistletoe that hung in my house from one Christmas alllllllllllllllllllllllll the way until the next Christmas (and probably a little bit longer than that!) and not one person said anything about it, except my husband who thought I was just ridiculous, but made no move to take it down either!!
I have begun to learn that all of those 'fixes' are not what makes up my home. Whether or not my house is clean is not what people are actually coming into!! My home could be immaculately decorated by Joanna Gaines herself, and that still wouldn't be what people walk into (it would look mighty nice, though!)
Do you know why? It's because we have welcomed them into our home - not into our sanitary/perfect/chic/feng shui living space. (none of those things are bad, BTW!)
So, what's that difference look like?
What does home look like?
This is a question that I have pondered ever since I first moved into our tiny first little 900 sq.ft. single bedroom house on the back lot of a property here in Great Falls as a newlywed. It is a question that grew and followed me to the second story home of a Humanitarian Kindergarten/Daycare Center in Kosovo where we shared our home and life with guests from all over the world! And, it is still the question that I ask as we grow and change with the shifting seasons and pressures of our lives.
Maybe it is your heart is to make your house/apartment/condo/trailer/tent/campground a home, and I think it is a question that you ask yourself, also.
I have had people walk into our home and say, "I want to decorate my house just like yours. I love it." Of course, I laugh and say Thank You and we carry on with our time together. But, inwardly, I tell them what I'm really thinking.
"Yes! Decorate your house, . . . . but your home can't look like mine. There's no possible way. Because the beauty that makes us different human beings, will be infused into everything we touch, including our homes, so our homes will be beautifully different, too. And, that, my friend, is AWESOME!!"
And, I worry that sometimes this scares us. This idea of not being able to be like the loveliness we see somewhere else. I know I have looked at magazines full of beautiful homes, and decor, and lovely lighting, and perfectly dressed little kids playing ever so calmly on some freakishly gorgeous rug!!!! and wondered what in the world was wrong with me that my home didn't look like that!
Come on, be honest! We compare ourselves to others and come to the conclusion that because our home doesn't look like someone else's that it isn't good enough, and therefore we just aren't very good at making it that way. It must take a special gift, talent, or a visit from Chip and Joanna (can you tell I would totally die if I got to meet them in person?!) for a house to be lovely, and we weren't bestowed that special something.
We have let that lie run in our brains for WAY too long!!
Your home has to look different than anyone else's because there are different giftings, passions, interests, and dreams inside of it. All of those things are in your home because they are a part of the people who live inside of it & our world needs them. What your home communicates to the world is special and unique and needed.
So, how do you start figuring out what that looks like? What is your home supposed to look like?
I've realized along the way, that I ask myself questions as I process what I want my home to look like. They are questions that help me find my heart, and define my priorities. They are also questions that grow and change as my family and I learn and grow and change. We're creating a home and creating is a process, a journey.
So, Ask yourself some questions. But answer them honestly. Your answers have to reflect your heart, because that is where your home will come from. Also, if you are reading this and you aren't married, answer it for yourself.
What are things we love? Simply list things you love. In our home, we love God. We love people. We love music. We love food. I love color (Dan just has to deal with that one!). We love letters, words, and books. And, we love creativity & working with our hands
Why do we love those things, or what do we love about them? We love God for all that He has done for us, and is doing in us. We are a process that He works on every day and we are growing more and more into who He has called us to be. -We love people and their stories, and laughter in our home over silly games, and babies growing and toddling, and loud kiddos playing together. We love friends who become family, and crying together over painful pieces of life, and sitting together on the couch watching movies - We love how music can change the atmosphere in our home. We love learning how to play instruments and what it challenges in our boys' brains. We love singing and dancing and worship. - WE LOVE FOOD! Enough said, right? We love how it comforts us, brings us together in the kitchen and around the table, and makes a reason for others to share in your life. - We love the beauty of creation and the vibrant colors it holds and the variety that it allows and we encourage that in our home. Painting, drawing, clothing, fresh flowers, decor, it all shares an excitement for life and a joy that we aren't able to express without the rainbow. And, we love creating things with our hands, and the sense of pride that grows when we see our own work. - We love reading together. We love reading alone. We love how beautiful quotes inspire us to think deeply. We love the Bible. We love how positive words bring life!
Finally, How can I express that love in our home? Here is where you get to start creating your home. How you express the love for the things that are uniquely in your heart will help create an atmosphere and HOME that is beautiful. Because we love God we have set up rules that turn our hearts and our boys' hearts towards him. We make it a priority to keep Him as the center of our lives, even when everyday life wants to push him out. We work to learn how to change as He gently teaches us more and more about His heart and character. Because we love people we decorate in a way that makes space for them to be comfortable. I decorate with things that little kids can touch and not break, I leave blankets on our couches so that people can cuddle up and be cozy. At our old home, we finished our garage so there could be space in our home for our boys to grow and have a place where they can be stinky teenage boys with their friends! Because we love music I have a piano in my dining room and it gets played, loudly, right when I am making dinner. We have a drum set in the boys' bedroom. We hang our guitars on the wall and include them in the decor. We have music playing all the time! Jazz, Classical, Worship, Blues. It helps wake us up, change our moods, and adjust our hearts. Because we love food I meal plan and grocery shop on a budget. I watch cooking shows that inspire me to try new things. My boys are learning to cook for themselves. We have fresh herbs in our garden so I can go out and cut them whenever I need to! Because we love color we painted our walls 16+different colors (the hallway was painted twice before I settled on the grey it is currently!). There are art supplies ready at a moment's notice to allow anyone who wants to doodle, draw, think, or dream to do it with flair. Because we love letters, words, and books we write notes to each other and leave them on the mirror for weeks on end. We have single letters that spell out different words sitting on our piano. We declare Truth over our lives and days. We allow handwritten quotes on canvas to be decor.
Now, start making your home look like the things you love. Make space for those values, passions, and dreams to come out and be shared! Maybe your home is black and white, because you appreciate the simplicity and cleanness of it. Gorgeous. Maybe you have a gym in your garage because you share your desire for health and fitness with the world. YES!! Perhaps you want your kiddos to learn how to care for others, so you set up a plan once a month to do a special neighborhood project. Love it!
These are some ways that I have seen other people creating their homes. And, I love when I get a chance to be invited in.
I would love to hear from you on this. How do you create your home? Are you frustrated with what your home looks like and envision it being something else? Like me, do you want to have Chip and Joanna Gaines come over for dinner, too?