Once in awhile, I have to give myself a homemaking challenge so I decided to follow along with The Elliott Homestead as she started "putting her kitchen to bed each night". I already cleaned the kitchen before making my way to the sofa to "veg" each evening but I decided to hand dry the dishes in the drainer and put them away before turning out the kitchen light each evening.
Since they have usually been in the drainer at least a couple of hours already, it isn't difficult to quickly dry whatever water is left on them. Last night it took only a couple of minutes since I didn't use many dishes making and serving a salad.
I haven't been legalistic about it and if I'm not feeling well then it would be okay for the dishes to remain in the red Rubbermaid drainer overnight. But so far, I have kept up with it and absolutely love the way the kitchen looks each morning. Even if I must wash the kitchen floor this next week. I don't expect perfection.
This got me to thinking about how decorating our homes in a way that makes us smile is a gift we give ourselves. I have long thought it important but with the world the way it is now, I'm beginning to think it is essential to our peace of mind and yes, even to our mental health.
I recently had my three-month doctor's appointment and I was quite surprised when a mental health professional came into the office before my doctor. They were evaluating every patient for depression and substance abuse as these have increased in the last couple of years.
We had a nice chat and she asked how I could remain so peaceful. I kind of joked and said it is because I have been married to someone who is bipolar for over forty years so I have learned to do everything to be at peace. Like every other mental health professional we have talked to, she had never met a couple where one was bipolar and the marriage lasted.
I gave all the credit to God, where it belongs. There is a reason we lay our crowns at His feet. It turns out that she was also a Christian and then she understood where the real strength came from. But she also asked if I had done anything special to help on the bad days and I said I had set up my home to be a place that makes me feel at peace, especially my study.
The nice thing about having a room of my own is that I could decorate it anyway I wanted, even if friends and family rolled their eyes at my taste. Which leans a lot to vintage decorations, bookshelves, tea cups and teapots, both live and silk plants, and a lot of pretty things on the walls that make me feel I am in a lovely cocoon.
Actually, it is very much like the way I decorate the rest of the house. Only elsewhere, I try to fill the rooms with what I love while still recognizing I am not the only person who lives here. I want people to walk through the front door and feel at peace even if it is not their decorating style.
I have rarely had to fight depression but I did this year for awhile. The changes in the country (and the world) were causing more inner turmoil than I can ever remember experiencing. I was shocked at how quickly the new Administration was making changes toward Socialism.
People disappointed me more than ever before in my life. I wondered how some could not see how many things we once called evil are now called good. How those who live by Biblical principles are put down and quite often by other Christians. For the first time, I could see how the events of the End Times could actually play out in my lifetime.
I think I was actually going through stages of grief, not for a person but for the country I loved and for the Church. I was grieving the loss of the world as we knew it, even though I knew full well that the coming events must take place. I came to understand we were now well into the birth pains as prophesied in the Bible.
The birth pains give us the birth of a new child and that is a great blessing. However, going through the birth pains is not delightful. What does help a little is when a woman surrounds herself with warm fuzzies, lovely music, and items that help bring her comfort. Even then... nothing brings much comfort in the last stages of childbirth.
How did I get better? First of all, I read the Psalms when I didn't want to read my Bible and found them to be an old Friend. But I also found healing from my home. From those familiar things that have been with me so long as well as the new items from successful thrift store adventures.
I think that is why so many of us love Elizabeth Goudge's books and many by D. E. Stevenson, for both writers understood the healing power of our homes. Especially as we make a house (or apartment, or houseboat, or yurt, etc.) a place that reflects what brings us peace.
I think it was a combination of time, understanding friends and family, being surrounded by what brings joy, along with God's healing grace, that helped refill my soul with good things. More light began to get through to take away the darkness. I once again found that I could trust the Rock of Ages as the earth seemed to wobble on its' axis. At least my world did.
I know we can't take our stuff with us when we go to be with Him. I'm pretty certain what awaits is infinitely more wonderful than what is in my home here. But I am also certain He that designed the Temple in all its' glory and even gave some men the gifts needed to create such beauty... He understands my need for a home that helps me find peace in this fallen world.
There is always a balance between needs and desires and admiring and coveting. But I think most of us realize those differences. We thank Him when we know it had to be His leading when we decide to stop by a store and find a much desired object is on the shelf and now well within our budget.
After all, He is the Architect and the Builder of our Story here and our Home there. We must never let anyone make us think our homes are not important. For most of us, they are where we live our day-to-day life, where we can rest and find grace to meet another day in this unsettling world.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
The Elliott Homestead blog post where she talks about why she started leaving a clean kitchen each night before going to bed... here. There is a link to her Instagram account in the story.
Image: From @coffeeteabooksandme Instagram. This vintage pan holds three or four plants, according to their size, at a time. It sits on a vintage picnic basket and has had a variety of different plants throughout the years. Sometimes a plant dies but quite often it grows too big for the space.
One of the palms that used to reside there now has grown so large that it takes up a corner of the study. But I love having the greenery in sight when I get up each morning and enjoy that first cup of coffee sitting in the recliner. There is something life giving about real plants.