"Content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified." I can still see the simple print framed on her kitchen wall. That afternoon, while her house was fragrant with coffee and children played outside, my teenage self learned a profound lesson.
It was more than the quote that stopped me in my mental tracks though. As a woman of God, wife, and mother, she embodied Anna Waring's hymn lyric in so many ways – including the literal sense. Their house was tiny. But long before Marie Kondo's joy-sparking minimalism became popular, she had mastered the art of living simply and well. Her example of life in a space so small she had to restock her refrigerator every two days largely formed the way I view my own home.
It wasn't just the way she kept her house that impacted me, although she taught me a lot about the joy of organized simplicity. It wasn't the size of her living space, either, although that showed me that it's not about where you live, but how you live in it that counts. She filled her space with warmth and grace, and it was evident as soon as anyone stepped in the door.
Homemaking is a term rife with stereotypes, isn't it? Maybe it conjures visions of baking bread in a ruffled pinafore or just scenes of washing dishes in a bathrobe. (Nothing wrong with ruffles or homemade bread!) But what if we chopped the word "homemaking" back into two words and flipped them around in our minds?
Home isn't a place, not really. It's more of an idea. For starters, it's where we feel safe and protected; a thing some people never find. But everyone, deep inside, longs for it. Making home can happen however and wherever we choose. It stems from a heart attitude: a heart that seeks to find its contentment in Christ. A heart that is free to serve and welcomes the vulnerable needs of those around it.
We can make home simply by working daily to create a space where our loved ones feel always accepted, never condemned or cut down. A place where we strive to work through conflict honestly, to ask and give forgiveness, and break down barriers. A place where we seek to build up and give courage. Only peaceful hearts can create a peaceful home.
If this is the case, we don't have to have a family of our own or even a whole house to make home.
Making home is more than wall hangings or furniture, but it does have a practical side. After all, taking care of our surroundings is one way to show love. I'm not talking about eliminating the mystery called LIFE that creates dirty dishes or scatters baby toys on the floor. Sometimes a perfect house is the enemy of making home. But showing that we care about our home, whatever that looks like, can help create an atmosphere that is welcoming and peaceful. That atmosphere will look different for all of us, depending on our season of life and unique personalities.
It might look like using colorful coffee mugs, throwing a pretty blanket over the corner of the couch, or consolidating clutter into a hide-it-all basket. Maybe it's as simple as turning off the big light source in a room and using warm, golden lamplight and natural light to full advantage. Little touches can make a huge difference.
Last week, I needed some daisies for a photo of a book. That little bunch of white flowers only cost me $4.87, and when the photo was posted, they found a home on my kitchen table. I was surprised at how many times they made us (and our guests) smile. I was inspired to keep my table cleared of clutter, and they added joy to our dining area. Only $4.87, but they changed the way I viewed a whole part of my house.
Believe me, I'm far, far away from having this figured out. (There are closets in my house right now that would make your hair stand on end!) But it is something I am working toward, however imperfectly.
Jen Schmidt said in her book, Open Door Living, "Our homes – no matter how imperfect – are the most likely location for changing the world around us."
Let's change the world by making home.