Making Your Home a Haven

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Making Your Home a Haven | FaithGateway.com

Courtney Joseph

December 19, 2013

Why do we love certain houses, and why do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings. — T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, quoted in Welcome Home

We all desire to make our homes a haven. After all, no woman wants a cold, messy, or critical home. Whether you homeschool or not, whether you are a mom or not, or whether you are a full-time homemaker or work outside the home, your role in the home is huge!

Is your calendar full like mine? Do you feel tense, rushed, and even panicked at times when you are running late? Do you feel that the rest of the family is feeling the same way? When I am tense, the rest of the family is tense. When I am crabby, my family is crabby right back at me. I want to have a peaceful home, and I have learned that it starts with me.

Proverbs 14:1 says, The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

What makes a home a haven? Is it having a well-decorated home that looks as if it popped out of Better Homes and Gardens? Is it a home that has massive amounts of toys, food to feast on, video games stacked high, and every movie imaginable to view? Is it a certain number of square feet, a separate bedroom for each child, or the neighborhood in which you live?

No. It is not the things we have or the things we do not have that make our homes a haven. It’s you, my dear reader; you are the key to making the home a haven.

Let me propose a challenge: Purchase an extra-large candle and light it every day in your home. I start mine in the morning, but you can start yours at dinnertime. Do what makes sense for your family. I often have a candle burning in my kitchen, the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches my eye, I say a prayer for peace in my home. I encourage you to do the same — watch what God can do!

How to Make Your Home Sing

Edith Schaeffer wrote, “There is a charm in making music together which not only stimulates interest and creativity, but which breaks through whining and fussing and clears the atmosphere.”

Playing music is another way to bring peace to your home. I love to play classical and worship music daily, but we also enjoy upbeat music when we are cleaning or letting loose. As I light my candle, pray for peace, and turn on soft music, I am reminded to pursue using peaceful words in my home. I want to maintain peaceful relationships. There is no room for seething anger, tattling, criticism, and back talk when together we pursue making our home a haven.

Need music suggestions? Here are mine:

If You Know How to Play an Instrument, Play It!

In our home, when I sit down to the piano to play, the atmosphere completely changes. All whining and complaining disappear, and dancing and singing begin. This is what the book of Psalms is all about — making a joyful noise unto the Lord. So pull out your dusty instruments and start playing.

Sing

Sing or hum in the kitchen while you cook, in the bathrooms while you clean, or while you drive in the car. Force yourself to open your mouth and let your joy of the Lord be heard by your family. It will be contagious!

Strike Up the Band!

My typical morning includes a cup of coffee, a lit candle, piano music, and time in God’s Word. Your musical preferences may vary from mine, but whatever type of music you like, play it while you go about your daily tasks and you’ll find a smile on your face.

Use Peace-Filled Words

Instead of raising your voice in anger, lower your voice to a whisper. Proverbs 15:1 says, A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Don’t let someone else’s anger make you angry. Stay in control of your emotions, and do not let the other members of your family dictate your mood.Remember, yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom. Your home will not blossom into a haven if you are not controlling your temper.Continue to pray for peace in your home. Never cease praying. James 5:16says, The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Cleaning Up Clutter

Managing clutter is a huge modern-day problem for homemakers, and it can turn a haven into a hassle. Here are some ways to tackle this problem:

Contain Clutter

Pick an area of your home where clutter collects, and put something there to contain it. For example, I keep a small basket at the bottom of our stairs to collect all the little things that need to go upstairs. Truthfully, I need one the size of a laundry basket because often we are carting up stuffed animals, books, toys, hair ribbons, my purse, shoes, and more. Put bins to catch papers in the kitchen, office, and family room. I also love using buckets to organize under my sinks in the bathroom.

Set a Timer

Set a timer for twenty minutes, grab a trash bag, and walk through your house, throwing stuff away. Throw away old magazines, broken toys, and papers. The rule is, if you haven’t used or worn it in a year, either give it away or throw it away. Clutter attracts clutter. If you are a pack rat, this is a challenge. Take this challenge; you won’t regret it. And trust me: you won’t miss these things! Things will never make you happy. Unused clutter only weighs you down.

Organize Clutter Spots

List a few of the spots in your home that make you visually stressed because of all the clutter. Now organize them with hooks and containers, or move it all to a drawer, closet, or the trash can. Work on cleaning up clutter. Throw things away.

Deal with Spiritual Clutter

Oftentimes we have spiritual clutter that weighs us down. First John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What sin have I not confessed that is getting in the way of a peaceful home?” Now confess it. All of us carry the stain of sin. At any moment we may sin again… and often we let ourselves off the hook too easily. We justify our sin by saying things like, “I’m just discerning, not judgmental,” or “I’m just truthful, not rude,” or “ I’m just sharing prayer requests, not gossiping.”

The earlier in your life you confess sinful strongholds, the better. I encourage you to root out those sins now before they become habits. Do not get cozy with sin. Repent daily. Free yourself of spiritual clutter.

Create Family Nights

J. R. Miller says, “The richest heritage that parents can give is a happy childhood, with tender memories of father and mother. This will brighten the coming days when the children have gone out from the sheltering home, and will be a safeguard in times of temptation and a conscious help amid the stern realities of life.”

In our home, I’m the family night coordinator. If there’s going to be a game night, pizza night, movie night, or a social happening, it’s because I planned it. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. Growing up, my mother did a great job of creating fun family memories. They weren’t complex or over-the-top, but they happened! They happened year in and year out, and now the memories of those fun moments give me security, comfort, joy, and a bond with my family that will never be broken.

A wise mother knows how to have fun and how to be tender. She knows the healing touch of her hands. Jesus used His hands to touch and heal many. There is power in the gentle expressions of love through warm embraces and cuddles.

Mark 10:16 says that Jesus “took them [the children] in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”

Bless your family with tender, physical love.

The Art of Cooking

God created taste buds, the sense of smell, and the eye that is drawn to beautiful things. To please our senses, He created crunchy green peppers, fuzzy peaches, juicy watermelons, sour lemons, and sweet potatoes!

Cooking should not be thought of as drudgery but as an art. It’s the coming around the dinner table that blesses the souls of our families. In Luke 11:3, Jesus says to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread.” In America, we are so blessed we rarely have to ask God for our daily bread, but we must remember to give thanks for our food. Bowing our heads as a family in thankfulness to God is a gift we give our children and a memory they carry with them into adulthood.

I remember when I was a child, shortly before dinner would be served, a loud beeping sound would come from the kitchen phone. In the olden days, when a phone was taken off the hook, it would beep very loudly at a fast pace so you were alerted to put it back on the hook. Well, my mom took the phone off the hook on purpose because she did not want our time around the table to be interrupted. She guarded our family dinnertime.

Children and teens who eat a family dinner tend to get better grades, are less likely to do drugs, have healthier eating habits, and communicate better with their parents… and yet baseball coaches schedule practice right in the middle of dinnertime. What do we as moms do? We have to get creative! We need to move dinner to a later time or we have to say no to obligations that stand between us and our family time. We must not cave in and abandon the tried-and-true practice of eating dinner together. It truly is important.

Edith Schaeffer says, “Food cannot take care of the spiritual, psychological and emotional problems, but the feeling of being loved and cared for, the actual comfort of the beauty and flavour of food, the increase of blood sugar and physical well-being, help one to go on during the next hours better equipped to meet the problems.”

Alexis and I connect over peeling potatoes and cracking eggs. She loves to stir a pot of soup or pour the ingredients into the mixing bowl. She enjoys making meals appealing by pulling out fancy napkins and china alongside me. We don’t have to have guests to pull these things out; we make our home a haven when we treat our own family as worthy of these special touches.

Let’s bless our families this week with special surprises from our kitchen! And while the candles are lit and the music is going, take your husband by the hand and slow dance cheek to cheek — the children will love it! Grab them by the hands, too, and swirl them around. Have fun together as a family as you walk with the King!

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Your Turn

In what ways do you try to make your home a haven for your family? In what areas do you struggle? Leave your comments on our blog. We’d love to hear from you!

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The Envelope

http://www.joniandfriends.org/radio/5-minute/envelope1/#.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to December! And since we are beginning the Christmas season, I have a story to tell. It’s a simple story about a small white envelope stuck among the branches of a Christmas tree and a certain family who has placed it there for the past 10 years. So what’s in the envelope? Well, the thing with the envelope all started more than a decade ago because Judy’s husband, Mike, could not stand all the commercializing of Christmas that goes on during this time of year. You hear it on the radio; you see it on TV; it’s all about buying what’s bigger, brighter, and brassier than what you bought for gifts last year, right? Anyway, Judy could tell that Mike was not excited about the season. And so, she decided to bypass the usual shirt and tie for her husband that year, and wondered what she could do to lift his spirits.

The inspiration came, one December afternoon, when Mike and Judy had attended a non-league wrestling match between her son’s Christian school and an inner-city church. Her son’s team came out on the floor in bright uniforms and headgear; they looked great. However, most of the wrestlers from the inner-city team were not outfitted very well—ragged sneakers, no uniforms, and they wrestled without headgear. They were a great group of kids, but woefully unequipped. Needless to say, their son’s school walloped the kids from downtown—the suburban school wrestlers took every weight class. It was a pretty humiliating defeat for these urban kids, but they didn’t let it show. Mike watched all this from the bleachers. He and Judy were sitting together and for the most part had put a lid on loudly cheering for their son’s team. Seeing those church kids with their old uniforms, well, Mike just shook his head and said, “Man, I just wish one of those kids could have won. They have a lot of potential, but losing bad like this could take the heart right out of them.” As a coach himself, Mike loved any kid who enjoyed any kind of sport.

Well, that’s when, right there on the bleachers, Judy got the idea for the white envelope. That very afternoon Judy went to a local sporting goods store and purchased an assortment of wrestling stuff and gift certificates for athletic shoes and then sent everything anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, she placed the envelope on the tree with a note inside telling her husband Mike what she had done and that the gift was given in his honor. Well, I tell you, her husband’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year, and many years thereafter. Because each Christmas, Judy continued to follow the tradition: She sent a group of intellectually disabled kids to a hockey game on Mike’s behalf one year; on another Christmas, a check was sent in Mike’s honor to an elderly gentleman whose home had burned just as the holiday had begun. Judy always kept it a secret, not only from her husband but from the whole family. Soon, the white envelope became the highlight of the family’s Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and the kids, ignoring their toys, would stand wide-eyed as their dad opened the envelope to reveal its surprise.

The story does not end here. Judy shared that she recently lost Mike to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, she was so immersed in grief that she barely got the Christmas tree up. But Christmas Eve found her placing an envelope on the tree, yet in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of their children had placed an envelope on the tree in their dad’s honor. Oh, friend, that’s the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of Christ—which is the true spirit of giving.

© Joni and Friends

Teach the Children- Santa and the Symbols of Christmas

santa-kneeling-to-Jesus

“Teach the Children”

Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.

I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.

“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.

“But Santa, the children love you,” I said.

“Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them,” Santa said, “but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children.”

“Teach them what?” I asked.

Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent.”

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him.”

Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift.”

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God’s Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s foot steps… to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy: white to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God’s promises. The candy cane is in the form of a ‘J’ to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd’s crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life.”

“Teach these things to the children.”

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”

I asked, “But where does that leave you, Santa?”

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why bless you, my dear,” he laughed, “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll ever be forgotten.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“That’s why I came,” said Santa. “You’re an adult. If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”

 

– Author Unknown