Tag Archives: home

The Real Meaning of Home

26 Jun

Since our lives for the past 4-5 months have revolved around houses, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of what it means to be “home”. Not having our own house for 3 months has shown me how much of my comfort and ease in life is derived from having a place to call home – and it makes me more appreciative for how Jesus not only gave up His earthly home during His ministry, but also gave up His heavenly home to come to earth for us. Having a home is a precious thing.

But for us Christians, our home is not here on earth. Second Corinthians 5:1-10 are some of my favorite verses, and I have thought about them a lot lately. “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Jesus has promised us a heavenly home with Him: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

So our ultimate hope for a home is in heaven. But here on earth, a lot of us are also called to have earthly homes. If everyone were nomads or missionaries, society would not function! For those of us called to stay (in our current season at least), what should we do with our earthly homes?

This is what God has been teaching me lately: A house is a tool. It’s a means, not an end. It’s meant to be used to rejuvenate those who live there, to entertain and host friends and family, and to make memories in. It is fun to decorate and paint, but those also are just a means of creating an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, not an end in itself.

So what does this mean for me in practical terms? It means having people over and not worrying about tracking dirt on the carpet. It means hosting play dates and not overreacting if something gets broken or colored on. It means letting God lead us to use our house in the ways He sees fit, and not staking our claim to our “own territory”.

It also means keeping practicality and functionality in mind. With 2 dogs and young kids running around, a brown couch is much more practical than a white one. I plan to decorate and organize in a way that allows Emma to reach the stuff she can have and nothing more, so I don’t have to be constantly telling her no. If we can find something that fits the bill of what we would like for a certain use in a thrift store or on Craigslist, we buy that instead of something brand-new or name-brand.

For me, it also means valuing gifts and things with sentimental value. That’s the problem with trying to make a room look like the ones in a catalog: it would often require getting rid of things I’ve been given, because they don’t “go with the decor” or “aren’t my style.” This is something I’ve learned from my paternal grandmother: Cherish gifts. A home is more about memories than picture-perfect decorating. And soon, Emma will be painting “beautiful” pictures for us to hang on the walls!

I read Luke 12:23 yesterday – “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” – and it made me think, “For life is more than decorating, and a home more than furnishing.”

It’s easy for me to get so focused on decorating and re-creating Pinterest rooms that I forget: A home is a means, not an end. It’s not a competition to have the cutest house. Beautiful decorating means nothing to kids.

I’ll close with this excerpt from one of my previous blog entries:

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

I am praying that God uses our new house for His purposes, and that we embrace those purposes whole-heartedly.

Getting Motivated When You’re Bored Out of Your Mind

19 Jan

You’ve probably heard me mention before how slow things are at work, and have been since May when I was hired. Luckily, I am good at entertaining myself or I would have quickly gone mad.

However, I stink at being motivated when there’s nothing I have to do. And I find myself pushing the tasks I do have off until the next day because frankly, I can’t be bothered to stop reading blogs, mapping running routes, modifying training plans, and reading other useless nonsense on the interwebs. When I do have more than one work-related thing to do each day, I find myself annoyed because I had other things I wanted to do today. I already had plans, thankyouverymuch.

Someone driven by career goals would have quit long ago. My only “career” (and I use that term loosely) goal is to be a published author so I’m not sad to not be “succeeding in corporate America.”

Others would have at least utilized their 8 hours (sometimes 7…) a day for something that would improve their job performance. (I’m a copywriter so blogging counts, doesn’t it?)

Not me. I have seriously done everything on the Internet I’ve ever wanted to do, except anything work-related. I’ll find myself driving by a billboard that looks slightly amusing and making a mental note of the website – I should look that up at work. Things I would normally do at home (read: everything personal) I now save for work, so that I don’t lose it by 10 am and wind up in the office coffee shop, chugging spiked frappucinos.

Some days I succeed. I have enough blog posts queued up in Google Reader from the 100 or so blogs I follow that after the morning’s work of logging my previous day’s workout, checking my email (work and personal), and doing “15 minutes of actual work,” I can easily zone out until I leave at 4 pm.

Other days, when it’s slow in blogland, Reader is empty by 12 pm and I languish. I get a headache from looking at the screen and reading but what else to do? I do a crossword, check email, visit The Nest message boards, vote for the best outfits on People.com, and ::gasp:: even attempt reading the news. (But my eyes quickly glaze over and I abandon that idea. How did I manage to major in Journalism without ever reading the news? I’m just that good.)

You’d think by the time I’m done wasting hours of my life sitting in an uncomfortable chair and causing my back to need physical therapy, I’d be rearing to get ‘er done once I got home. But the combination of the winter cold, the short days, and “I’ll do it tomorrow”s combine to make me even more lazy once I get home. It’s like I’m in a walking coma. After my workout and dinner, it’s only 6 pm and I wonder, Is it too early to go to bed?  I don’t want to watch TV but I don’t want to read and I surely don’t want to be productive. What to do, what to do…

I assure you, there is a point behind all this mindless chatter.

The point is, I have realized that I am not a victim of circumstances. I make my life what it is. And if I don’t want to spend days upon days of accomplishing absolutely nothing but running a few miles and eating a bunch of food, I don’t have to.

So I’m making some changes. I’m not going to get crazy or anything, but I think implementing a modest structure for my days and evenings of boredom would be wise. So this is what I’m thinking:

At work

Do work-related activities until at least noon. Obviously, this goes out the window once I (hopefully!) start having more things to do but who knows when that will be? In the meantime, I will read books and blogs on writing style, marketing, copywriting, etc, or do whatever work is assigned to me. After noon, I can do whatever useless crap I want (unless work comes in, then I will do that). Baby steps people. It’s harder than you would think to break out of a 9-month funk.

I put this into practice today. I had a meeting this morning, worked on some event materials, organized some files and then read The Elements of Style until noon, at which time I promptly opened Google Reader and exhaled a sigh of relief. Although I did mostly enjoy reading the book. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE grammar and syntax? I took a Linguistics class my senior year in college for my Spanish major and wondered why hadn’t I taken any before. It was by far my favorite class ever.

At home

Do one thing every day. I have done this before and found it quite useful. I make a list of all the things I’ve thought about, wanted, or needed to do and then do one small thing or part of one bigger thing on the list every day. For example:

  • Finish race memory book
  • Find passport or apply for new one (I’m pretty sure it’s lost)
  • Buy photo corners at Michael’s
  • Work on scrapbook (1 page each night)
  • Clean the dogs’ ears
  • Brush the dogs’ teeth
  • Buy more dog food
  • Schedule bike fit
  • Clean refrigerator
  • Get teeth cleaned at dentist done!
  • Get haircut done!
  • Get physical therapy for back done!
Because…

On a positive note, I have been more diligent about going to bed early and getting up at 5:30 to read the Bible and work on my book. So at least I have that going for me!

Do you struggle with laziness when not required to do anything? Any tips on getting motivated?

Thankful.

25 Nov

Travis and I made it to Minnesota, amazingly. The 16-hour drive to Nevis (where Travis grew up) was brutal. I hit a wall around hour 14. I had been driving but after encountering some icy roads in Fargo, I decided Travis should drive. I had planned to stay awake because I knew Travis was exhausted too but I literally could not. I felt drugged – I would wake up periodically to check on Travis but would fall back into my comatose state faster than he could respond.

Then, when we finality got to his parents’ house, I crawled into bed to take a nap. After 3 glorious hours of unconsciousness, I felt human again. I was so completely out of it that Travis said I was sawing logs like he never heard before and when he tried to poke, shake, clap, and yell at me to get me to stop, I wouldn’t respond. He resorted to pinching my nose shut, so I couldn’t breathe. Apparently, that was effective. Good to know my survival instinct still works.

This Thanksgiving is the first in the last 3 years we’ve been back to the good ole Minnesota. It’s a good feeling. I love the snow, the cold, seeing everything covered in white, people bundled in warm clothing. Up here in the sticks, you also see people wearing blaze orange and camo hunting gear, even though they’re not hunting. Ah… Minnesota. Good to be here.

I am very thankful to have inlaws that I really love. Travis’ family is great. Very laidback and down-to-earth, friendly, welcoming, supportive. I am so glad we came back to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Being here brings back a lot of good memories and fuzzy feelings. It makes me very excited at the thought of moving back in a few years. To live near family, enjoy snow all winter long, play on lakes all summer long. I didn’t realize how much I loved Minnesota until we moved away. But I’m still very glad we moved to Colorado, not only because we’ve made good friends and had great experiences, but also because we now know that if and when we move back, we will be choosing Minnesota because we love it, not just because we were born here.

I am thankful that God created this great state.

DIY Valance

23 Nov

Ever since starting to work at home back in March, I have been on the hunt for the perfect valance for my office. I love damask patterns, so I was really looking for one like that but couldn’t find one that would fit since the window itself is only 2′ tall.

So I made my own!

I had attempted to sew things before making this valance with the sewing machine I got from Travis’ grandma but the thread kept bunching up on the underside of the fabric and I couldn’t figure out why. Beth (my MIL) suggested adjusting the thread tension, which I did. And while I think that was part of the problem, I soon discovered the real reason I was having problems: I was forgetting to lower the foot where the thread comes out (excuse me if there’s a technical name for that). D’oh! So now, I just have to learn how to feed the fabric through in a straight line!

Regardless, here is the how the valance turned out:

 

Colors for the office are now pink, orange and teal

I had at first planned for it to be just a piece of fabric hanging across the window (like a flat valance) but even though I only made it 12″ long, it covered up 1/2 the window. And since my sewing job wasn’t the greatest, bunching it up and tying bows helped to make it shorter AND hid my poor seams. 😉

 

Closeup of the fabric and bows

Since I am proof that even a non-sewer can sew something and make it look decent, here is how I made this: I bought 2 yards of fabric (the window is about 4′ wide). I folded the fabric in 1/2 the long way and sewed shut all the open ends (top and 2 sides). I then folded the top down about 3 or 4 inches (depending on the size of your curtain rod) and sewed that, creating a pocket for the curtain rod. If you are creating a flat valance, you would probably also want to sew a seam along the bottom (about 3″ from the bottom), just for the visual.

Anyway, it’s not complicated or hard at all. It’s pretty much just using common sense. But not only was this cheaper than buying an actual valance (I think the fabric was less than $10), I got to choose the fabric I wanted AND make it the right length for our window (since it’s more of a midget window than a normal one).

Here is my office right now:

 

Where I have been spending my workin' days - see the cute pink lampshade?

I am planning on adding wooden letters painted pink and orange spelled HOPE right above my desk, to the left of my lamp. It’s on my To-Do List!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

 

Home for the weekend

30 Oct

Enjoying time in the Word

I realized this morning, as I was enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the Bible, that I haven’t been home on a weekend in over 6 weeks. Holy cow! No wonder I’m exhausted.

While I wish Travis and I could just go do something fun, we’ve both been so busy lately that we have to use at least part of this weekend to catch up on housework, chores, and unfortunately, do some work.

I have had time, though, to figure out who and what I’m voting for (which was a long process, since I knew practically nothing about any candidates or amendments). Travis and I are also talking about checking out Costco (for fun and to see if we want to join) and going out for sushi.

Katy wanting attention... is she not SERIOUSLY the cutest dog EVER?

Tomorrow, we are finally resuming our Panera-before-church tradition. Travis and I had been doing that for 2-3 months but once I got this job, that was pretty much out the window. We’ve started reading Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller together but we’ve only actually discussed a chapter once because of our crazy schedules. SO needless to say, I am VERY ready for some routine! And who doesn’t love Panera? Mmmm…

I have to admit, though, that remembering how much I enjoy weekends – and how much I don’t have them anymore – just reinforces my feeling that I don’t want to do this job next year. In fact, there is a position opening up in the church office that I’m going to apply for. I’ve already told the current administrator that I’m interested and I’m going to bring my resume when I go to volunteer on Monday. I’m really trying to trust the Lord with the outcome and timing but I can’t help getting excited about the idea of a real office, a regular schedule and no more volunteer coordination or timing.

I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, have a great, relaxing weekend!

A heavenly country

20 Feb

Everyone has their own interpretation of heaven. Some people think that it’s an endless expanse of sky with white puffy clouds and nothing to do but play harps and eat Philadelphia cream cheese. Others think that heaven doesn’t exist at all. Once you leave earth, there’s nothing. Or maybe they think that heaven is part of earth, like the white sandy beaches of the Cayman Islands. Some people might think heaven is whatever you loved on earth all together in one place, like in the movie What Dreams May Come.

But for Christians, it’s none of those things. Instead, it’s a city where the streets are gold and there are no lamps and no sun; nevertheless, it is always day because the light of the Lamb reaches to all places. It’s the presence of God, intimate and forever. It’s no longer having sinful flesh but rather, gloriously resurrected bodies. It is perfection beyond any human expectation or imagination.

That’s what I have to look forward to. That’s what makes my life here on earth worth living and indeed, worth enduring. Even though my daily troubles seem puny compared to the human suffering I hear and read about–like just tonight, I read about female genital mutilation in countless third world countries–my life wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t have such an end. I am always confounded by those who don’t believe that anything happens when we die. My roommate in college believed that. What do we have to live for if there is nothing after this life?

Moreover, if the glorious new earth described in the book of Revelations is not true, and if Jesus Christ did not die and rise again for the forgiveness of sins, we who are Christians have nothing to live for either. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Christians–and I believe all people–need something to live for beyond this life. For “…If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people to be pitied,” because this life is hard and messy.

I have felt that truth about life living out in Colorado. I love my job and the people we’ve met and I’m with my wonderful husband. So I have a lot to be thankful for. But I miss my friends more than anything. Humans were made for community. Not just Christians but humans in general. I believe that God designed us to need each other. So leaving behind my very best friends has been very hard.

I feel at times like Travis and I are going through life alone, just the two of us vs. the Great Big World. It may be because when we became Christians 4 years ago, the first Body of believers we plugged into was a group fully bought into the value of discipleship. We had the importance of one-on-ones and intentional relationships drummed into our heads day after day. And I loved it. I loved being in a discipleship group and meeting once a week with a group of my girlfriends. We talked about boys, bodily functions, random things, and the Bible. We related our insecurities, our longings, our struggles, our joys and successes. I felt so close to those girls, not only because we shared the bond of the Spirit but because they bared their hearts to me and I to them.

But out here, I have not found this. I have met some great women through our church that I am excited to get to know. But it seems that the potential of that deep relationship forming is small when we only get together once every other week and everyone has husbands, kids, and full-time jobs. It looked different as a college student in a campus ministry.

So I have been delighted by the reminder of my real home: heaven. C. S. Lewis writes in his book The Great Divorce, “I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in the ‘High Countries.'” The fellowship I so desire, the bridge over the gap in human intimacy and vulnerability, will be waiting for me in heaven. And more than that, it will be beyond expectation: all believers will be together in perfect union as we worship and adore the Lamb of God forever.