Bumping through the clouds with the turbulence of a spring snow storm irritated my frazzled nerves as we neared the airport in Denver late Saturday night. With blowing snow, icy roads and streams of light flashing from hundreds of headlights, I prayed, "Please, Lord, let us get over the mountain pass without a wreck."
Though my spirit had soared through 3 speaking gatherings with precious, generous hearted women in North Carolina, getting to bed after midnight each night had left me moving ahead slowly as we traveled to Philadelphia and two more ministry meetings. I had been home less than a week from England before this trip.
Watching my heart and mind from inside my spirit, I could see that I needed a rest and a couple of days to fall apart. We all have to step back some days in order to keep going forward.
Lighting several candles, the gas fireplace, (10 inches of new snow outside!), sipped warm coffee and had a tray light snacks to nibble, I settled into my couch covered in a warm blanket and snuggled up with a book, while my favorite music playlist wandered across my mental landscape. Somehow the beauty and rare quiet of the moment began to provide rest and an atmosphere of refueling I sorely needed.
Beauty and order in a home give a sense of stability and grace to a frazzled spirit. Home is my favorite place to be and ordering my life, and the lives of my family around familiar habits that give beauty and bring rest has served all of us for years amidst our busy ministry traveling schedule.
Pieces of family artifacts give familiar pleasure to our souls because they speak of family stability family comfort. All our little knick knacks have a story, a meaning to our family alone. Throughout our marriage, Clay and I have made it a habit to memorialize special events in our lives with something beautiful. On our honeymoon, we purchased a small pressed flower arrangement mounted between two pieces of glass that stood on attached legs. It has stayed with us all these years to remind us of God's love and care for us, as depicted in our marriage verse, "Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these" (Matthew 6:28-29, NASB).
Humanity's ability to appreciate beauty is a distinctive mark of God's image within us, much like our ability to use language. God made us to enjoy and benefit from beauty, whether in the things he created or in the things we create. In contrast to the common and crass things of this world, which have a negative effect on our spirits, we are naturally drawn to and find pleasure in expressions of beauty—majestic mountains, burning sunsets, starry heavens, captivating paintings, inspiring music, moving poetry. Beauty brings us closer to the Creator, whose very nature and presence is the ultimate expression of beauty.
I have filled my home with expressions of beauty because I need to stay in touch with that part of God's image within me. It is a reminder to me in the midst of so much that is common and dull that I live in a world created by a God of unadulterated beauty and unlimited creativity. Beautiful pictures on the walls, a creative centerpiece, a roaring fire, a bright spray of flowers, flickering candlelight at dinner, creative calligraphy, lovely books, classical music—all are ways that I can bring beauty into my home.
Even a small touch of beauty can minister to my spirit. Some years ago, a cranky washing machine died in the middle of the night. We were greeted the next morning by two inches of water covering the kitchen and living room floors. Every towel in the house was called into action to mop up the kitchen, and the living room soon became a disaster area with stuff and furniture piled in the center of the room. It was a mess.
At the end of that day, a friend brought me a small pot of beautiful petit roses. As I endured the mess in succeeding days, I drew pleasure from those lovely roses each time I passed them. In spite of the chaos surrounding them, I found myself refreshed by the flowers' beauty and loveliness.
I have found two keys that unlock the ministry of beauty in my home: to be creative in using beauty, and to take the time to admire it. To drink some tea is one thing; to savor a tea time with a creatively set table, candles, music, and a beautiful book is quite another. A cup of tea may temporarily satisfy the palate, but a tea time can satisfy the soul if you take the time to unlock the beauty that is possible there, and to truly enjoy the person with whom you are sharing the moment. And to offer a friend or a child or husband, not only a cup of tea, but a tea time of close friendship will build deep threads of love between hearts.
Beauty keeps my spirit refreshed. Without it, my spirit becomes dull and lifeless; with it,I am invigorated and encouraged. God has certainly made beauty a priority in his universe, so I can imitate him by making room for beauty in my home.
What can you do today, this week, to make a memorable time with your child, your friend, your husband--all who may need refreshment to their souls. How about you? What anchors can you build into your life that will give you a mini-retreat along the way.
Be inspired with new ideas of how to do this in The Lifegiving Home.