Wednesday, August 3, 2016

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The Importance of Our Home as a Haven (+Resources!)


The home is a topic I've spent a lot of years studying. As a girl, my mom and grandma taught me all the basics of hospitality, cooking, cleaning, being a hostess, etc. I was given dozens of books to read. And then, one day, I began to apply what I had learned to the room I shared with my sister. Now I'm applying it to my own home. 

At the end of this post, I'm going to briefly share a recent personal experience about why I am writing on this subject. Take note: the home is more important than we often realize.

I just wanted to share with you why the home is a haven...and offer a few resources! Enjoy! Please be sure to share YOUR ideas in the comments!


Home.

In the crazy bustle of activity and events we call life, home is often an overlooked principle. Notice I say principle because, yes, the very essence of the word home is a principle. Home is not necessarily a place. It is an atmosphere. 

Home is - or should be - a haven.

A haven of rest, love, laughter, and peace. A place to heal from wounds. A place to find refreshment from the busy life we lead outside. It should be a hospitable for the hurting, a resting place for the weary, and a beacon of light to the lost. 

As Emilie Barnes says in her book Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home, "...if you are like the women I meet...you long for a home that is warm and welcoming, comfortable and freeing - a place where you can express the uniqueness of your God-given talents and nurture relationships with people you love. You are hungry for a home - and a life - that reflects your personality and renews your soul."

Most of us, deep down, hunger for the atmosphere of home.


Unfortunately, with the world being as it is, the home is being attacked as never before. And I don't just mean the foundation of the home (our faith). I mean the home itself and everything that goes into making its atmosphere what it is.

As Christians, we should be different. We are to be set apart, different from the world, and different from its customs. This should include our dwelling place.

Two Scenes...

Picture yourself walking up to a house. As you approach, you notice the broken toys, trash, shoes, and tools covering the walkway. It's not the usual evidence you see for children having happily played for. No, it's decidedly run-down and littered. 

You continue walking up to the door. But the door scarcely opens before you become overwhelmed with a sense of chaos. Noise - and not joyful ones - issue out from the house,  instantly overwhelming your ears and spirit.

You step inside. All of your senses are bombarded. The TV is flashing images and blaring noise. Dirt, garbage, toys, and paper litter the entry and living room. The odor of unwashed laundry and filth strike your nostrils. Children are hollering; those who are quiet don't bother to look up from their cellular devices or video games. Dogs are barking and rush around the house. Everyone has apparently forgotten their inside voice - or can no longer use it, simply because the other noises of TV, radio, video games, hollering, and barking make it impossible to speak in a normal tone of voice and still be heard.

You try to find a place to sit, but it is nearly impossible amidst the worn out boots blocking your path, the stack of papers heaped on the sofa, and the cats stretching themselves over the little remaining space. You've just arrived and, already, your senses are bombarded with chaos and your spirit is overwhelmed with anything but peace. 

This is the fourth, the sixth, the tenth time you've been there. And it's always like this. Nothing is unusual. It's all a very typical scene. And you sit there, struggling to feel Christ's presence. Because - didn't I mention this? - it's a Christian home.


Unfortunately, the scene I just described is a real one for many Christian living places today. 

No, it's not always that extreme. But, sometimes, even in a clean house, Christ's presence is somehow missing. 

Picture yourself walking up to another home. You smile at the squirt guns and baby buggy on the front lawn. Children have clearly been playing there. But it's not an unwelcome sight. The area is clearly taken care of and it's obvious that the children have simply been enjoying themselves.

The door is opened. You step inside. The first sensation that strikes you is the smiles. The mother of the home looks tired, true, but she is smiling. The younger children are crowded around her and excitedly usher you into the house. The oldest son smiles and waves in passing. 

What is that scent? As you are drawn to a seat in the tidy living room, you close your eyes and breath in the freshness. Someone has been doing laundry. A hint of vanilla and lavender lighten on your senses. When you open your eyes, you see a lit candle. It's next to a pile of music books, true, but you barely see the them. That little glow of light steals the attention from the one or two piles of unfinished school papers and brings a touch of peace to your heart.

Somewhere, soft music is playing. It's not too loud and brings an air of peace, even when the baby whimpers and the new puppy sets up a howl when he sees you. It's not a magazine perfect house, but it's clean and as tidy as one could expect with a home full of children. 

You feel welcomed. Whether it's in the gentle smiles, the moderated voices, the lit candles, the music, the Scriptures littering the walls (both on paintings and on the colored pictures on the refrigerators ), or love you can simply feel, you know that you are welcomed. You know that you are loved - if for no other reason than that this family loves Jesus.

The Witness of the Home

In our fast-paced culture today, the witness of the home is often a sadly neglected facet of our Christianity. However, it should not be this way.

Our homes should reflect the power, love, peace, and strength as as Christian claim to possess through the Holy Spirit. How can we claim the peace and love of Jesus if we live our daily lives in chaos and conflict?

Christianity becomes real in the home. We are no longer on our best behavior, in our best clothes as we are on Sunday. We are real. We are genuine. This is real life. And this is our opportunity to show the world that we are different - and not just on Sundays.

Hospitality is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate Christ-like love and sacrifice. However, it will become impossible if our dwelling place is chaotic, cluttered, and the center of bickering and disorder. It's rather difficult to find the peace of Christ in an environment overrun by arguments, shouting, clutter, and disorder. Our God is a God of order, of love, of peace, of beauty. And the way we live our lives is an unspoken testimony to Him and how He has changed us and made us different from the world.

In a world full of chaos, war, and sin, the witness of a haven-like home will speak volumes. 

Finding Balance...In the Home-Tone

All of us need quiet, calm, and peace. It is essential to procuring rest for our souls in this crazy world. But... We still do live in the crazy world.

Creating a haven of rest in one's home does not involve perfection. If anything, perfection can create a sense of unrest and chaos just as much as disorder can. The secret is balance and a desire for everyone's good. If Better Homes and Gardens is our goal, we might as well throw the idea of a haven out of the proverbial window. 

Why? Because perfectionism looks at the exterior. A haven of peace looks at the heart.

One can definitely create a child-friendly home that is still a haven of rest. The haven homemaker looks for ways to create a peaceful, loving, safe environment - not necessarily a 100% clean one. Life happens. Folks need to feel comfortable in their home. Therefore, it's about a tone, not a magazine cover. 

It's the tone of the home that makes quick decisions when things go awry. 

  • When greasy dishes are overflowing, the tone is the little voice that prompts one to light a candle and dim the lighting, creating an environment of peace in a messy kitchen.
  • When it's near 4 o'clock and everyone is tired and hungry, the tone prompts one to turn on some light classical music to calm nerves and set an atmosphere of quiet.
  • When papers and music and mail are overflowing, the tone reminds you to find an attractive basket or box to neatly contain the clutter.
  • When toys are scattered all over the floor, the tone is what prompts you to remind the children to have the mid-afternoon clutter-clearing time.
  • When tension is strong and a fight is brewing, the tone reminds you to lower your voice and seek peace.

You see, creating a haven of rest is not about perfection. It's not about clutter never being present, about dishes never piling over, about chaos never ensuing. It's about creatively finding ways to calm the noise, contain the messes, and consciously do one's best to create peace in a very un-peaceful world.

Creating the Haven

One thing I love about being a homemaker is that I get to use my personal styles, tastes, and opinions to fashion my home. I also get to consult my husband, glean from his opinions, and create an atmosphere that suits us both. (After all, a haven is about making everyone feel comfortable and at peace!)

Everyone person is different. Therefore, there is no cookie cutter way to create a haven. Only you know what you want and what works best to create peace and a loving environment in your family. Only you know how to answer the questions: How Do I Make My Home a Haven? and Is My Home Reflecting the Light of Christ?

Still, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips. I've learned them from my mom, grandma, and two books -- Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home and The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. I've done a lot of experimenting and come up with my own ways to make our home a haven, but again, it's all about individual creativity!

(Oh, by the way... Creating a haven has nothing to do with spending money on the perfect decorations. You can use what you have or purchase items in a very thrifty manner. Since we're called into full-time Christian service, you can be sure that the Jones family is on a very tight budget! It's entirely possible to create haven on a very small income.)


  • Candles are a life saver! They provide fragrance, soft or romantic lighting, and set an atmosphere of calm. If you or hubby dislike having open flames, there are now many varieties of flameless candles that flicker and even have scent! Sprinkle them around your home - by the sink, in the living room, in the bathroom, and make sure there is one or two on your bedside table.
  • Invest in some good classical or worshipful CDs. Be sure to hit that play button in the early mornings or mid afternoon when life is sure to be crazy. 
  • Baskets are amazing. Whether they contain spiritual books for quiet moments or blankets for those cuddly nights, use 'em! Fill them with whatever makes for a peaceful home and scatter them around the house.
  • Think good scents. Whether it's candles, room spray, Wall Flowers, an essential oils diffuser, wax warmer, or regular oil warmer, make your home refreshing! This takes a little work if you are the mother of small boys or live on a farm, but it can be done!
  • Consider creative ways to hide clutter. The dollar stores often carry cute little collapsible fabric boxes and baskets. Why not have a cute receptacle for all of that mail, sheet music, books, keys, etc?
  • Establish an inside voice.
  • Establish a daily "clearing up" time. Clutter always brings chaos. Have a set time (just five to ten minutes in the middle of the day) where you set a timer and see how much you can get clean!
  • Like to bake? Fresh bread, pie, etc. naturally creates a touch of whimsy, plus they smell really good!
  • Make a conscious effort to turn off the TV if you are not actually watching it. Background noise and scenes of violence will very quickly destroy an atmosphere of security and peace.

Be Sure to Leave Your Own Ideas in the Comments!

Those are just a few of the ideas I've gleaned from reading, learning, and gaining experience. I love being a homemaker and am grateful that God has entrusted me with such an important task.

I'll be completely candid. Not too long ago, my home came under major attack. Everything my husband and I stand for came under attack. People who claim to be men of God tried to shred our marriage and get in between us...and we've only been married 5.5 months. This tells me a lot about how important the home environment of a Christian is. Whether you have experienced it or not (yet), godly homes are under attack - even by those who name the name of Christ. Satan is fighting hard to keep peace, godliness, and order from our homes. He doesn't want us to have loving, peaceful relationships in the beauty of a haven-like home. 

Why? 

Perhaps it is because a home that mirrors Christianity is a more powerful witnessing/discipleship tool than we realize. 

Perhaps the way we live our lives reflects something to a lost and dying world. Perhaps peace in the home is a witness that we do follow the Prince of Peace.  Perhaps love in the home is a witness that we do follow the One who IS love. Perhaps things being done decently and in order reflect the God who established decency and order in the first place. 

It's up to each family how they want to establish an environment of peace and create that haven. But, however we decided to do things, it is wise to understand that we are under attack. Creating peace is never easy. But it is worth it...for our own sanity, for our walk with the Lord,  for our witness to a lost world, and to strengthen our ability to reach out to the hurting.

Leave your ideas in the comments! What books have you read? What tips have you learned? Please share!
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10 comments:

  1. Thanks for encouragement here, Alicia. Orderliness and lovely homey-ness in the right spirit is so important, as you pointed out here!
    Emilie Barnes is a great resource ~ Another wonderful one is Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking - She talks about how every little area of our homes can be a place to use our creativity and love those around us and our God.

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    1. Oh, thank you! Another good book to check out! :)

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  2. Love this post!! Thank you for the encouragement. There is SO much evil and chaos in the world, it is important our homes be a safe place to get away from all that. Kind of like a lighthouse.

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    1. Yes! That was what I kind of what I had in mind - a lighthouse in the fog!

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  3. It's hard to say anything that you haven't already said, but I can second that thought that clutter in the home tends to clutter the heart and mind. I have found it very helpful to have a daily tidying time, usually later afternoon before my father and brothers get home from work, so the house can be nice and clean and peaceful for them after their hard day of stress and labor. It also helps to foster an atmosphere of peace and happiness if you always greet your husband (in my case my father and brothers) with cheery hellos when they get home, not dumping all your burdens and cares on them when they walk through the door, or immediately nagging them to fix this thing or do that chore. Just a few tips that I have tried to implement in my own life that seem to have good results. :-)

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    1. Yes, good point about giving the men a little space! We always did that in our home too. If something was broken or majorly wrong, we always let Dad relax and settle in before choosing the right time to tell him. We don't want to overwhelm the poor guys! Thanks for that reminder!

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  4. Thank you Alicia! I had never really thought of our home in that way before! I have done a lot of diy projects, tiling mostly and really really enjoy that! Jesus in me I believe has put in me a desire to see change in spaces which gives me hope for change in the ways that are needed! I know changing things everyday wouldn't make for a peaceful haven of rest but over time and in a way that makes our home beautiful & functional & doing it myself is a HUGE money saver and actually the only way we could afford to upgrade and make our home more beautiful and yet practical. Still my husband & i have much room to grow in our hearts and minds and in our marriage to bring greater peace, contentment, enjoying the rest that Christ has purchased for us!!! Important topic rarely addressed at least in my view, the hospitality points have caught my attention too! Like the emphasis on creativity without having to spend a lot or even a little money! :)

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    1. Yes! Over time is a great way to put it. It's a growing process for us all - cultivating grace, peace, and unity one little step at a time!

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  5. Well, I help my family keep our home a haven by helping to keep things running smoothly. :-)
    Something I've learned just with my bedroom (everyone loves my room and will go in there to hide) is that even if I have a pile of school work on my desk, making sure my bed is made everyday lends a peaceful atmosphere to my room. Also, a candy bowl. Those things are great! Whether it's stocked with chocolate or an assortment of candy, everyone loves a candy bowl. I've also found that people love the books in my room (I have a lot in there). Keeping a blanket or in my case my favorite quilt folded at the end of the bed and a couple stuffed animals on my hope chest also adds to the peacefulness of my room. In our house itself, we have a ton of pillows. I've found that that's haven like for people because it gives them something squishy to hold and is very comforting and we have blankets or quilts on the backs of the sofas and larger chairs. Keeping a stock of tea and coffee is also great. Keep an open door policy. Tell people they can come by whenever and offer to give them your garage door code or alarm code if they come by and you're not home.

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    1. Wow, Hannah, it sounds like you are going to be a great homemaker! You're already doing so well with the space the Lord has given you for right now! That's so awesome. Now maybe you can mentor some younger girls in this area? Hugs!

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