Thursday, July 19, 2012

Making A House a Home

This post so encouraged me, I had to share it with you. It is a Facebook devotion from Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies. You can like the Above Rubies FB page to get mini-motivational messages each morning.
(I am sharing it in its entirety). 
--Dear lovely wives and mothers, Thank you for your lovely comments regarding yesterday’s post, I LOVE HOME. Would you mind if I took the next few days to comment on some of the comments? I think it will be encouraging for all.

One precious mother writes, “I’m struggling with this as my home doesn't feel like home. I’m so grateful that God has given this place but it needs so much work doing to it and money spent that we don't have.”

Dear mother, and so many other mothers in similar circumstances, can I encourage you to not get bogged down with all the problems and what needs fixing and repairing, and instead enjoy what you do have? You are so blessed to have a roof over your head, a place of shelter for you and your children, and a place to raise them for the glory of God. You don’t have to have everything perfect to do the great job of raising godly and effective children for the kingdom of God. You just have to have the right attitude.

It all comes back to our attitude. It’s certainly not hard to get depressed when things are not as they should be. I know. But, it is amazing what you can do even in the most primitive and imperfect situations. I could even complain myself. My fridge is falling to pieces and the drawers fall out every time I open the fridge. The stove is ready for the dump! But, hallelujah, I can still cook, and I can still put some things in the fridge! So I keep praising the Lord until we can one day afford new appliances.

I think of my daughter, Serene. Currently, her husband is fulfilling contracts in different states in the country. Serene and the children go to be with him as they are able. His last contract was in Mississippi and he and his brother rented a tiny home for them to sleep when not working—no homely things for a woman! But, Serene couldn’t be parted and she and the eight children spent a few months with him in this little home. The children had to keep quiet all day while the men slept as they worked night shift. She couldn’t let them outside because it was next to a quarry with sheer cliffs a few feet from the house! And she was at the end of her pregnancy!

We arrived to bring her and the children home so she could have her new baby in Tennessee. Instead, she had the baby on the day we arrived in Mississippi. That night Colin and I slept on their blow-up mattress and it was so uncomfortable we couldn’t sleep all night! Serene slept on it every night in her last weeks of pregnancy.

I asked her, “How on earth did you do it?” With a big smile, she said, “God gave me grace. I loved our time in that place.” You see, it’s not the circumstances, but our attitude!

I think of my daughter, Evangeline. They live in their tiny home with their 10 children. They are building on bedrooms, but they are still not completed. The children have never had beds and have slept on the floor all their lives! But, no one complains. They all love their life and you couldn’t find happier children. The boys all want to be tough and train for the Delta Force anyway!

How does Evangeline homeschool and run a home in such tiny circumstances? It’s her attitude! Ask her how she is doing today. She’ll reply, “I’m great. In fact, I’m God’s pet! God is so good and I have a wonderful life.” Evangeline also loves to say, “I’m caring for children, not stuff!”

Please, dear mothers, get your eyes off your circumstances and put your eyes upon the Lord. Thank the Lord for what you do have. Rejoice in what He has given you. Make the most of what He has given you and make it the most beautiful place in the world even if everything is half-finished and falling down around you.

One of the challenges of homemaking is to make something that maybe ugly into something that is beautiful. Isn’t that exciting? As another mother commented, “I used to live in a basement apartment where pipes were coming out of the ceiling, but it was our home at the time and I loved being there with my growing family.” If you have pipes coming out of the roof, decorate the pipes and make them an amazing feature! Who wants to have a boring house anyway? Make every negative into a creative and beautiful thing.

It’s the atmosphere of your home that counts. You can have joy, fun, laughter, and most of all, the presence of the Lord in a tiny unfinished home. You can have coldness and complaining and discontented children in a large and beautiful home.

It’s not the building, it’s the atmosphere. Have you got it?

Me again. Doesn't that just jazz you in regard to your attitude toward your home? What can we do today to make it more special, to spread more love, more joy? And as I prepare for a new day, I'm also thinking about what I can do to help my husband to have a good start to his day: grinding coffee and setting the coffee timer, making granola (his favorite breakfast over Greek yogurt) so he has something to eat if he has to leave early.

Here's to a great day ahead!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Own Less, Laugh More?

Hope everyone is having a great summer! I am trying to be present less on the computer these days so that I can be more fully present with my kids during the day (and be more focused at home). That said, I will commit to at least one post a week, written when they're in bed (whether that be early in the morning or late in the evening). So here's a thought I've been mulling over lately...
 Photo Credit  
(not my neighbors, just a Flickr picture I found)

A Mexican family moved in next door recently. From all appearances, they don't seem to have much in the way of material possessions. The kids' favorite toys seem to be their bikes, and they ride them gleefully for hours in the afternoon and in the evening. Their dad works construction and worked nearly non-stop to build a deck this weekend. And their mom--I haven't seen her much, but the aroma wafting toward our house from her cooking smells delicious and makes me feel like an imaginary cook-off on who can make the best smelling food for their families is on! (Kidding).

A few days ago, as I was working busily inside on catching up on my to-do list, my son came in and said, "Mom, the mom next door is pretty laughy [he meant giggly]. I've heard her laugh 10 times already today," (and it was barely noon when he told me this).

He went back outside to play, and I stayed inside to mop the floor or wipe out the fridge or whatever it was that I was busy doing. That day, I hadn't laughed at all. Even worse, I couldn't think of anything to laugh at. My sense of humor was hidden under my work load.

With four kids under seven, it is so easy to be buried with stuff to do. Despite my best attempts at scheduling, I am always behind. The work always seems to pile up. It's like the saying--"Cleaning house while children are small is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing." I don't expect a spotless house--sure, that would be great--but I am aiming for a manageable one. And I feel like a woman trying to climb a snowy hill, where you make some progress and then slide back down. I can't seem to get on top of it.

So I got to thinking:
What is the difference between me and the mom next door?

Could it be that owning less makes it easier to laugh more? There's less to do, less to manage, less stuff to care for. In that simplicity, perhaps one is freer to slow down and enjoy life more, laugh more.

My son's comment was a wake-up call to me to slow down a little, take some of the stress off and laugh a little more. But where do you start to find funny stuff to laugh at?
  • Pray about it and ask for a spirit of laughter. (After doing this, the next day, my youngest son pushed his face against our glass door and made the silliest faces. We all laughed hysterically.)
  •  Capitalize on silly moments. Savor them. And laugh!
  • Sometimes, I think you may have to force a fake giggle, if it's not coming naturally at first. Practice makes perfect, and the spontaneous laughs will soon follow. 
  • Find clean jokes and tell them. Laughter is contagious (remember getting the giggles in class or at church?), and if someone starts laughing, you'll soon be laughing, too.
  • Here's a link to another article on the topic, and you could always do an Internet search for more tips.
In my quest to laugh more, I'm adding one more thing to my to-do list: go through the house and declutter.
I'm aiming to own less so I can laugh more.

Sharing With:
The Better Mom
Women Living Well
Raising Homemakers