PREPARE: TO MAKE READY FOR USE IN ADVANCE
"Oh, mama, I can hardly wait to come home. Let's have tea by the tree, share all of our adventures from the past few months, and just be friends for hours and hours. I just love home!"
Excited down to my tippy toes and filled with butterflies every time I think about it, I can't wait till my precious ones are all under my roof. We all belong to each other and we have all needed a place--
--A sanctuary for life, a holding place for all of our ideals, an atmosphere of love and a energy that engages dreams and inspiration. In short, my children and husband to not need a perfect home, or always organized and clean, but they need a mother and wife who is committed to whatever it takes to fully live the life of Christ in this home that they understand, taste and feel His reality.
God created the garden as a "place" for us to flourish--wild with color, confronted with beauty, texture, interesting sounds, a variety of food, companionship. He contemplated not only the needs Adam and Eve, his children would have, but he also pondered how to make their home a place of beauty, soul satisfaction, mind engaging and interesting and spiritually captivating.
Planning and providing are truly a glory of a woman, living into God's design. With my precious ones coming home, I have been planning and preparing ahead of time, so that when they come home, I can focus on our time together, meet their needs and walk through the days with peace. With 7-10 people in my home for the next few weeks, three meals a day, will not totally overwhelm me as I prepare ahead of time for the few days I will have with my crew. If I am behind and in a "Martha" mode, I will miss precious moments with my favorite people. Relationship is the key to love and influence, so it is my goal to prepare to be patient, to stay up late to listen, to understand and to serve. I want them to leave my home to go into the world with the fragrance of Christ fresh in their hearts, minds and souls--and always thinking this is the best place to be.
A Place of Beauty and Tradition
Now in my 60's, I have had a whole lifetime of gathering precious treasures that speak to my children of family, memories--the way we have always done things, and to make our home environment one in which they will always think it is the best place to be.
Actually, I have learned that when I live in a tiny overseas apartment, or a sprawling older home, that it is the "me" inside of it that makes it home for my children.
Each of us, made to be like Him, has an endless capacity to bring beauty in our world as He did. We just have to practice. I tend to do things the same every year, because my life doesn't provide for much creative space right now--but for all the times I have built this in the past, it is now easy for me to put in place because of practice.
The gorgeous red dishes in the poster were very special dishes passed down from a great grandmother. The kids ate on these only on very special occasions at their grandmothers home. But they speak of heritage.
My grandmother on my mother's side constantly worked in ceramics and I grew up with this nativity scene from the time I was a little girl, so it sits on a hutch in our entrance and will speak of all the times we read the story out of look and looked at this precious scene. I grew up with this as a little girl.
As both of all of our parents passed away in the past few years, our house is stuffed with grandparent stuff, and great grandparent treasures. The rocking chair was needle pointed by my grandmother where she rocked my father to sleep when he was a child. The fireplace brass cover belonged to a great grandmother on Clay's side. The auspicious grand mirror hung in my mother's dining room my whole life. The silver tea set was my mothers and she would have up to 100 people in our home at a time and all of us children had to serve.
Since Clay and I have, at times, lived a much simpler life in small apartments and leaking houses in missions, we pondered how we would use all of this "stuff." But 6 years ago, we planned to have leadership trainings in our home and we serve all of the moms who come off of the old china, talk about heritage, keep literally over 100 people on our home each year, and so we consider it God's art as a place where people come for a refuge away from the world. And so it has become for my sweet children. Our house is a miss-mash of precious old antiques from family and 50 % off furniture from garage sales and furniture marts--but this is our puzzle, our story--every one's is unique and with effort becomes special to our children and friends because it reflects some of our story or background.
PREPARING FEASTS AND TASTES
Guess who was home last night--and the first thing we did was, EAT! We sat for 2 hours catching up, laughing, talking, being friends, and so once again, the atmosphere was set by food!
So to ease my stress, I cooked up lots ahead of time to help me every day when someone is hungry again!
Next comes planning for all the tastes and cooking so I do not have to always get overwhelmed when my children want to eat all the time.
Several dozen of their favorite Christmas cookies in dough balls so I can take a few out at at time and cook them fresh. (Peacan snow balls, oatmeal butterscotch and 3 dozen sugar cookies)
2 Dozen Turkey Meatballs--for a Swedish meal and 2 dozen for an Italian meal!
In the kitchen at all times, clementines, some kind of roasted nuts and dark salted chocolate almonds--
All the favorites of my homecoming kids.
PREPARING YOUR HEART
Every day, we have so many choices--what to do with our time, how to relate to people, what to value, how to deal with pressure and conflict, how to invest our lives at each moment of the day! But what we practice, what we cherish in our hearts and thoughts, we become. Truly, what we sow, we reap.
If I want my children to leave my home loving God, being morally strong, having emotional healthy foundations, living by faith, then I must invest in my heart--and make very specific goals for how I am going to become more excellent, more holy--set apart for God's purposes. It is my heart that feeds my children every day and gives them an appetite--a longing and desire to become the best they can be because they captured a vision of what God made their lives to be by being with me.
Daily, I have been spending time in Isaiah 40's about Jesus--and asking God to continue showing me what our amazing savior was really like. I have also been studying Mary--what made her such a wonderful picture of one who responds to and follows God.
Daily, I have been praying for my family and friends--because I know that all miracles begin with God--and His mysterious work. When I bow my heart before Him regularly, my faith grows so strong and at peace knowing that I have no control of anything, but by depending on Him, I am living a spiritually strong life
Daily, I make write down commitments: I will listen and look into the eyes of my peeps, I will not be on my computer, I will watch my tongue and use it to encourage, to build up, to create a peaceful place. And I will write down some of the things I want to pass on to them through the messages on my heart--this year it is a ministry heart. (More about that tomorrow!)
But when I take time to prepare my heart to be ready for the entourage, noise, work and interaction of these live adults who will invade for 15 days, I am much more likely to make good memories and to see that God was at work amongst us.
I would be so honored if you would order and read my new book and find inspiration in its pages!