Creating a Home You Can Live With
“Better a dry crust eaten in pace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict” Proverbs 17:1 NLT
When we first moved into our current home I hated it. Really. It wasn’t the layout I’d had in mind, there were way too many projects that needed to be done and, while it is in a cul-de-sac, it’s at the bottom of a steep hill which, in Missouri at least, is treacherous come winter and in the rainy seasons.
It was also not in South Carolina, but that’s a blog for another time…
It’s been 8 years since we moved into the fourth house my husband and I have owned together. Today, I can honestly say this one has been the greatest challenge and the greatest blessing. It’s in this home that the lessons God taught me in all our other homes have been able to be expressed more fully than in any other place of residence I have yet to experience (which, in my lifetime, to date, is 16).
Well, several things played a role. First, this home when we moved in was a blank canvas. Literally. Every room was beige with beige carpet. Every. Single. Room. Additionally, when we moved here I was in the throes of homeschooling (My daughter was entering sixth grade and my son first grade) and I was in the beginning stages of writing the first version of Cultivating Peace and building a way to teach the lessons I had learned through small groups. My husband traveled a lot (his new job was much busier than we had imagined), and we knew no one.
Before we moved in I clearly understood I had an opportunity. I could choose to rely fully on the lessons I had been learning, teaching and writing about and turn my home into a place of peace where God’s grace, mercy and love reigned, or I could choose to follow my old habits and this new house could be chaotic like my previous homes had been. The choice was mine, and I chose God’s way.
It wasn’t easy.
I was daily making choices to educate my children, write my book, spend time with my husband (at odd hours and a lot on the phone), and get involved with various groups so we could meet people; all things that were important to our well-being. This house, while in great need of some character and personality, had to wait patiently for the residual time I had left, which at first wasn’t much. It was frustrating because, as you will read in Cultivating Peace this week, I am a woman who thrives in organization and order, especially in my living spaces. When there’s chaos around me I find it very hard to concentrate on what I need to do.
Little by little though, things started falling into place. I had been teaching my kids how to do certain tasks around the house, which they could now do well without my supervision and we were able to build housekeeping into our homeschooling schedule and still stay on track. While my husband was traveling, I had time to plan in projects where I could work late and leave unfinished messes for days at a time while I alternated using my time between my kids, my writing and the project instead of having to get the project I'd started all done to the exclusion of everything else. I met wonderful friends and took the risk to invite them over to my lackluster home. They didn’t judge and instead, when asked, lent their creative eyes to my house and helped me build it into a home we all loved. The winters, though not my favorite time of year, provided for built-in down times for which my ever-organized self could use to organize basements and closets and drawers and rooms.
What had been my greatest sources of chaos were now the very things God used to create the order I longed for.
He wants to do the same for you.
In this chapter of Cultivating Peace, you will find a bit more background of my crazy self, but you will also find some great key points and practical strategies to help you keep your perspective about your house: “Our homes were meant to be a safe place for the people living in them to learn to live in grace as they grow into the people God intended for them to be. It’s the relationships within the home that do that, the building itself is merely the place it can happen.” (page 181)
Are you ready to start build your home according to God’s plan? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Taking care of our homes is something we all must do, but how we do it makes all the difference between cultivating peace and creating more chaos. What’s the determining factor? The standards we are trying to live up to. (page 180)
Comparison steals the joy of home keeping. Instead of cultivating peace, comparison steals it and places us on a never-ending treadmill of keeping up that we were never meant to pursue. (Page 182-4)
Scripture can be used by the enemy to discourage our home keeping. The enemy exists to “steal, kill and destroy,” (John 10:10) even using the Proverbs 31 Woman against us to make us feel as if home keeping has a high standard to keep rather than a beautiful example of what life can look like when we surrender ant trust God to take care of our homes for and through us. (Pages 182-85).
Spending time taking care of preparations instead of spending time with others in not the way Jesus would cultivate peace in our homes. (See this Scripture story for context)Instead, He wants us to trust that He will give us the time, energy and resources to take care of those in our homes. (pages 185-6)
We’re living with false expectations, that we can throw away. Social media, Pinterest, HGTV, and the cultural inundation of constantly needing to update our homes to the freshest looks, as well as thousands of “perfectly easy” cleaning products, have woven together the standard that a good home is one that’s always beautifully decorated, well organized and perpetually clean. This breeds resentment—either at others or ourselves—because we just can’t do it all.
Cultivating a peace-filled home over a perfect house is where Jesus leads us, and there are 4 key ways we can join with Him (page 187):
Submit to God’s plan for peace and order within our homes
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in how and when to pursue that plan.
Remove the lies we have been living under about taking care of our homes and replace them with God’s truth.
Respect our personal management style in keeping our households, without comparing what that looks like for anyone else.
It is better to keep things simple enough to maintain the relationships in our homes than to complicate them and create quarrels by trying to achieve an impossible standard. God will direct our steps in creating and maintaining peace within our homes if we chose to ask for His help and commit to trying to follow Him. The key is not to assume control over how, when, or even what keeping our homes is supposed to look like. (page 188-89)
Fear keeps us stuck on the treadmill of impossible standards. Choosing to let God direct our steps in order to receive the peace He has for us in the chaos of our homes is impeded by the fears we are living with: the fear of failure, the fear of being imperfect, and the fear of disappointing others. (page 191)
A good plan for cultivating peace within our homes follows three steps:
Invite God to change your heart and align it with His
Create processes and routines rather than running ourselves ragged all the time playing catch-up
Pay attention to the season your family is in
No matter what chaos you are facing in your homes, remember that learning to receive God’s peace is a process and change will take time. While I share several specific examples in this chapter to help you, ultimately how you keep your home is a decision to be made between you, God and your family.
May you choose to invite God into your chaos and allow Him to show you His way!
Here are this week's assignments: (remember: every reply with a question, comment or critique enters you into a drawing for a free Personal Schedule Management Coaching program with me!)
Color-code last week’s Schedule Tracker. Once you do, reflect on the following:
Were you able to spend quality time with your children last week? Why or why not?
What did you notice about how much peace you had in your week?
How did it go planning time for Quiet Time and time for yourself before adding in other areas of priority?
How are things going in your marriage (If you are married)? Do you need to spend additional time with yourself or your spouse?
This week, download another Schedule Tracker and plan out your week according to your work schedule and appointments. Then add in daily Quiet Times (remember, these do not have to be at the same time every day) and at least one hour to spend on yourself. Next, block out time to be with your spouse (even if you don't have a plan yet) and your children as the season of parenting you are in allows. Last, using your quiet time, seek God’s plan for taking care of your home in the season of life you are in. Do you need to clean out? Organize? Set up routines (especially for summertime)? What does God say about all of that?
Do questions 1-5 in chapter 7 of Digging Deeper.
Feedback Friday Question: What strategies do you use to keep on top of taking care of your home? Join me on my Facebook page as I share my top strategies (they really do work!) for a clean, organized (mostly) home. (Remember, every time you comment on a Feedback Friday post it gives you an entry to a drawing for a FREE Personal Schedule Management coaching program!)