Loving well begins at home. I firmly believe this. It is not that we cannot or should not love those outside of our home, and even Jesus Himself says that we are to love our neighbor, but loving has to begin with our nearest neighbors- those under our own roof. It must begin here.
But how do we do this? What does it look like, this loving, day-to-day? Sure, we can study and apply 1 Corinthians 13, or make a bucket list of all of the ways we plan to demonstrate our love for our family. We can busy ourselves in endless tasks at home- cooking, playing, washing AND ironing the clothes (ironing…one day I will love well enough to iron beyond just “on the go” pressing), listening to nonsense knock-knock jokes, and praying over boo boos. But maybe loving well at home is more simple than this. Not that it is ever easy- it is definitely not easy- but just perhaps it is less complicated than we make it out to be.
I recently listened to a wonderful podcast interview with Dr. Christopher Perrin of Classical Academic Press where he discusses how homeschooling, specifically what some homeschoolers call “morning time” should involve “restful learning.” He suggests that modeling liturgical practices from the church in the home is a wise approach to creating a restful home. What he means is that the sights, sounds, and smells that encompass our worship practices in the church can be transferred to the home as we nurture whole-hearted children. I think this idea can be applied to all families, not just homeschooling families.
Light bulb moment for me! So often I stammer to do “this” or “that” with unnecessary deadlines and rigid schedules without considering the overall what I am calling “tone” of our home. What I mean is this:
When the people in my home grow up and grow old, what will they remember about home?
What is the overall experience of home for me and my family right now?
So many of us busy moms make home out to be a barrel of memories to be made, when really loving well is less about filling up our family with experiences and more about filling up their wells with truth, goodness, and beauty. This may result in less activity, but more meaning in the end.
Because sometimes less is best.
I have been mulling over how the Fleming household can be one that evokes meaning, and I have come up with a few thoughts which hopefully will develop into a family mission statement of some sort in the near future.
A Sensory Home
Here are some questions I am considering while thinking about a meaningful home for my husband, children, and me:
- What does my family see when they are at home? What pictures, furnishings, and overall visuals give a sense of meaning for them? How are these things arranged? What visually frames our home? Are there good books to grab, artistic paintings/prints on the walls to admire, and maybe a candle flickering on the mantle?
- What does my family hear? I started playing music during our dinner hour, and it has helped transition us into mealtime. Mind you, it gets loud and my girls love to play “musical dining room chairs” from time to time, but something about having quiet music on in the background creates a special sort of ambiance.
- What does my family smell? I love when everyone is out of the house, and I get to cook or bake and they come in and say “Mmm it smells good in here!” I often will diffuse oils or light scented candles to permeate our home with beautiful scents. Although, sometimes home smells like a dirty diaper or rotten broccoli, so I will quickly diffuse some purification oil or light up a candle and move on. Just keeping it real here.
- What does my family taste? I want to nourish my family with good, healthy, and tasty foods. Also, I want to expand my children’s tastes to different foods across the food pyramid and as well as from various cultures. I want fall, Christmas, summertime, and Saturday mornings to have a taste that brings warmth and nostalgia for my husband and kids.
- What does my family feel? Soft blankets, plush pillows, real wood, fuzzy rugs, and such provide comfort and rest. I want my family to feel at home.
Really, home is suppose to be a place for rest and worship. It is a sanctuary for worship unto God. It is a place for breaking bread, welcoming guests, sheltering in, and joyous laughter. The Christian home is where hearts that are broken come in to find restoration and hope. Home is where a strong foundation is laid. It is a schoolroom for children to learn about faith and how to love well. It is where the gospel can be displayed as husbands and wives unto one another and parents unto children repent and seek reconciliation knowing that the front door will always be open no matter what. No matter what. This is not a fairy tale. It gets messy- home, that is. Both in the literal and figurative sense. But that is okay. Home is not perfect, only Jesus is. We are simply the curators. God is the designer, and Jesus is the Redeemer.
If you are like me, the way I envision home and the way we pull off living day-to -day are not always equal. Sometimes my children hear yelling. Sometimes dinner gets burned and the smoke alarm goes off. Sometimes toys are strewn all over the floor and crumbs from last night’s dinner remain under the dining room table. Sometimes a firm hand was given when what was needed was a gentle hug.
But I do not think we, moms in particular, need to despair. We mustn’t. His mercies are new every morning. So, we get up, grab that cup of coffee, open the Word and begin again. We kiss our husbands, hug our children, get to work and continue cultivating truth, beauty, and goodness in our homes. The story that we are crafting for our kids’ memories of their childhood, I believe, will not be tainted by occasional bad days, but will be marked by the over-arching sense, or rather senses, that “home” evoked for them. Of course, all things and all of our people are to be bathed in prayer as we go about this. And we will light a candle, bake some banana bread, play some Chopin, and read a little bit of Lewis along the way.