This is a repeat from a few years ago but it is exactly what I wanted to say today. That's what happens when you have been blogging for almost fourteen years. ;)
I walked down the gravel lane this week, the forest on my left and my neighbor's red barn across the County road. I'll be able to see the barn clearly soon. The trees are mostly green but brown leaves and black walnuts on the ground tell me Fall is here, in spite of the warm temperatures.
I couldn't help but think how peaceful the scene was as opposed to the scenes on my TV for days upon days. The world has never been a safe place. Not really. However, it is apparent it becomes less so each day.
So all of this has me coming back to a subject I've written about before. One that is a mainstay of my writing. That is the subject of... home as a sanctuary. I put a lot of thought into creating such a home. It can be accomplished, whether one lives in a dorm room or a castle. Actually, I think it is easier to accomplish in a smaller place.
My goal is to have someone walk into our Living Room from outside and immediately feel calmer. Even if for about a year now, the Dining Room area has been full of papers and boxes as my husband has been working on a long term project.
If perfection is the goal and one cannot have sanctuary without it... it will never happen. I do not like clutter but I've learned to look at the Beauty around the papers and pray for the day when it gets put away. But when we know company is coming, he does pack up the boxes and hides them in our bedroom. There are ways to achieve temporary success.
Now that my children are grown, I actually miss the days of Legos (although not stepping on them) and doll clothes and creative projects being strewn around various rooms. I wish I had developed the ability to look past the clutter when they were home. I'm thinking that is where I learned the ability, though.
So in my home, I need to think through what is sanctuary and how to achieve it in spite of living in a fallen world with less than perfect people (including myself). The first thing I did... long ago... was to cut out photos in decorating magazines of rooms that I thought beautiful and brought me peace.
I know I've written about this before but it worked and I still do so from time to time. I learned from years of looking at images of rooms that there was a constant in what I loved. Items that would appear in the pictures, certain colors, lots of plants, lots of wood, vintage dishes, pewter, silver, pottery, books... lots of books, tea things, a cat here and there, images that made me smile.
My Study mostly embraces everything I love, which is possible because it is my room... my reward for the Empty Nest Syndrome. (It isn't easy for homeschool moms to find no children at home, as I was surprised to find.) When life is far from perfect, I can shut the door and play music and read and write a friend an email... no TVs are allowed in the Study.
The Study is where I keep everything I use to create, that doesn't have anything to do with food. I still miss Victoria jumping on my desk when I would begin a creative project. She loved washi tape. However, Florentine provides hours of comic relief. So a cat (or more) in the home is a good thing. I will admit that dogs can be, too, but don't tell Florentine I said that.
Other rooms in the house, while containing much of what I love, also had to be comfortable for the two guys who lived in the house. So the only foo foo dainty items are the tea cups and teapots, most of which are in the china cabinet and on the hutch. I hung my favorite Dutch lace curtains in the dining area when we moved in and a Dutch lace valance acts as a petticoat showing under a plaid valance in the kitchen. A little bit of girlie pretty they didn't mind.
If a home is to be a sanctuary for everyone who lives there, it has to be comfortable. There must be places one can bring a pillow and a throw and nap on Sunday afternoons or read when taking a break from housework. There must be furniture that is sturdy for rowdy boys (including husbands who never grew up) and safe places where they can put up their feet without worry.
We have, of course, made books a priority and many bookcases make for a very cozy environment. Most of our books came from library sales. We have favorite TV shows and movies on DVDs, collected over the years with Amazon credit or received as gifts. Since the kids moved out, most of the music in the house is what I have collected over many years. My husband likes to listen to his favorite music on the computer in the office.
As I have been working in the Study this weekend, I have had two albums playing on the CD player, rotating off and on according to my mood. Playing now is Michael Card's amazing Starkindler "album", with favorite Celtic Christian music bringing peace. The other is a favorite John Denver CD, purchased at Cracker Barrel a couple Christmas seasons ago.
Sitting next to them is a George Strait CD, also from Cracker Barrel using a Christmas gift card, and an Indelible Grace CD of seemingly ancient hymns revised with modern arrangements. If anything, my taste is eclectic. Come the beginning of November, the wicker basket with the Christmas music will be pulled out. As with Christmas movies and books, one month is not enough to enjoy them.
I find sanctuary in the kitchen as I prepare soup or make bread. As I write, the ingredients to make orange cranberry bread are coming to room temperature. They will transform into a loaf for a treat this week and a loaf for the freezer. Last night I cut the backbone from a whole chicken to try a new-to-me baking technique called Spatchcock chicken, something I've wanted to do for quite awhile. Since I love to cook, trying the new technique took my mind off of the troubles of the world. It was delicious by the way.
I find peace when I sweep the kitchen floor, lemon oil furniture, polish the thrift store silver, as well as chopping vegetables to prepare dinner. The nice outcome of doing these things is that others in the home appreciate the outcome. Whether a lovely meal or keeping the antiques looking beautiful.
Last week I wanted to decorate the breakfront for Fall but it needed to be lemon oiled first. So I put on the podcast with Sally Clarkson talking to Michael Ward and enjoyed the process of seeing wood come back to its' natural warm glow as the oil was rubbed into it.
I should mention here that I am married to someone with a Master's Degree from the school of Forestry at the University, specializing in Wood Science and Furniture Engineering. So no can of Pledge will ever be found in our home. Never. Ever. I learned that our first year of marriage. But I digress...
I think part of what makes our home a sanctuary is not only what is in it, but what is not. I'm careful about the books, movies, TV shows, and even the artwork which hangs on the walls. Everything should bring peace and never be defiling before God. I know we all have different opinions of what that would be so each home would be different. I watch documentaries about Bigfoot and things that go bump in the night but never horror movies. Go figure.
It can take a lifetime to tweak a home to be exactly what would bring us sanctuary. We have spent many a weekend when the kids were younger, searching treasures at garage sales. Since I presently have "enough", I mostly go to Goodwill and thrift stores to find small treasures to enhance the Beauty.
Even if we had lots of money to spend on furniture, art, and decorations, one does not create sanctuary overnight. It is the process of the creating that also brings peace and that does not arrive by UPS.
Of course, one cannot have a peaceful home that is a sanctuary if one does not have peace in their heart. That comes from knowing the Prince of Peace. For peace is a Person. One can have the most lovely home in the neighborhood and be full of desperation. One can spend a lot of time decorating their home and making it almost perfect but people will not want to spend time there because of the atmosphere in the home.
So I believe that the most important part of having a sanctuary is in having it be a Christ centered home by knowing Him personally ourselves. He knows that we will not be perfect this side of Eternity but we are running the race in such a way as to become more like Him each day.
He knows that our home will never be perfect until we reach our Heavenly Home. But the process of making it lovely and a sanctuary is part of living the life He has given us... never ever achieving perfection. Good enough will be... good enough... when it comes to our homes.
Now, the fun begins. Think of ways your home can be even more of a sanctuary for friends and family as it is today. I enjoy asking God to show me more ways to create Beauty on a budget. Life with Him should not be boring.
Mentioned in this Post
Starkindler by Michael Card... here.
Spatchcock Chicken... here. This has a video that shows how to butterfly a whole chicken. I made mine very similar to this, although I didn't cook it on a rack and no cutting of lemons or rosemary was involved.
Sally's podcast with Michael Ward... here. Click on the Play Podcast window.
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Image: Warming up in Badger's kitchen by Chris Dunn