Friday, November 9, 2007

Just a House, or a Real Home?

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: Isaiah 32:18—My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. (NIV)

I came home from work around noon today and noticed that Penny, our chocolate lab, wasn't around to greet me. I figured that she was spending the day lounging with the neighbor's dog as she often does on school/work days, so I called across the yard for her and then came in to fix my lunch. I'd just sat down to enjoy my pork steak when I heard the trademark rumbling of paws across the deck. Penny-poo was home and wanted in to greet me!

Her excitement fueled not just one, but two full spins around as she saw me approach the sliding glass door to let her in. I thought her back end would fly off in all the wagging and she was clearly surprised I was home before the usual hour. I couldn’t resist hugging and scratching her and of course I had to share a few morsels with her. Later when she saw that I was finished eating, she found a sunny patch on the carpet and settled into a nap.

I thought to myself, Man, who wouldn't want to come home to this?! That dog has got a pretty sweet deal: go and socialize with friends, roll around in something—the stinkier the better, chase interesting things around in the woods, then when hunger or exhaustion sets in, come home to hugs, food, and a sunny place to nap. Waiter, can I have what she's having?

I was filled with warmth and joy seeing her so satisfied, knowing she has a happy place to come home to. But I was also suddenly filled with conviction that maybe it’s not always such a pleasant experience for the people in my life. See, dogs are simple: food, a bit of attention and love, and they’re generally happy. But people? A bit more complex. I expect things from them and they expect things from me. And when expectations go unfulfilled, we just might greet each other with frustration at the doorway instead of hugs and belly rubs.

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and been immediately blessed by the environment? I remember being delighted by the calm of one place in particular. My friend had scented candles burning, fluffy cushions on the couch to sink into, and low instrumental music was playing on her surround-sound. The whole room had an aura of peace and calm. I felt like I had walked out of chaos and into tranquility as she welcomed me in. And I felt loved because of her hospitality.

Lately, I’ve made an effort to go to those lengths in my own home. Why save candles for company when they could bring my family joy in the meantime? Why not have inspirational music as a backdrop to our activities at home?

But most important in creating a sanctuary for my family is that the attitudes, words, and actions that reverberate through the air are complementary to any environmental variations I’ve made. What good is order and a pleasant aroma if a funky attitude is stinkin’ up the place, ya know?

So when the kiddos burst through the door after a busy day of classroom learning, playground encounters, following rules (I hope!), and a long bus ride, will they walk into a sanctuary that allows them to unwind from their day and just be carefree for awhile? When my husband finishes up a day of sales calls and administrative chaos, will he cross the threshold into appreciation and love? Will they find a safe-haven from a world that can be rude, unfair, and at times even cruel? Or will they dread opening the door because they may find more of the same?

Ladies, even though it may seem a little unfair sometimes that it’s solely up to us to create this for our families, it really is. The very first time I read Proverbs 31—as a mom of twin toddlers trying to grade 100 research papers while potty training—I was resentful. I remember thinking, “Hasn’t she earned the right to sleep late? Or at least go to bed early? Can’t her husband stop being respected at the city gate long enough to get his butt home and give her a break?!”

But now, years later, I see the wisdom in the roles set forth by God himself as harmonious when we do them humbly for his glory. You’ve heard the expression “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Isn’t it so true? We set the pace and consequently, set the foundation of memories for our families.

Whew! That can be a daunting challenge on our own, but thankfully, if we invite the Holy Spirit in, his fruit will be manifested in a mom and wife that is truly welcoming. Gals, if we start there, we’ve got the most important ingredient to make our houses homes. I have to remind myself daily to submit to that. But when I do, I can gain the satisfaction of knowing I’ve fulfilled expectations and met needs for my husband, my kids, and yes, even our darling dog.

Lord Jesus, thank you for entrusting us with our families. Guard our hearts and minds when it comes to ministering to their needs on a daily basis. Fill our minds with the wonderful thought that we’re actually doing it all for you and let that shape not only what our hands do, but what comes out of our mouths, as well. May our submission to your Spirit be a pleasing and fragrant offering to you, Father, that in turn you bless our homes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application: List some adjectives that describe how you feel when you walk through your door. What adjectives would your family members list? What action steps could you take that would add more positive adjectives to the list?

Power Verses:
Job 8:6...and if you are pure and live with integrity, he will surely rise up and restore your happy home.(NLT)

Proverbs 27:15—A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; (NIV)

Proverbs 21:9—It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. (NLT)

John 14:23—Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” (NLT)


karen said...

Awesome, Kathy! You are so right! Thank you for reminding us.

brittanie said...

This is good stuff. I have been studying the Proverbs 31 chapter alot lately.....
I want to be like her!