This may sound familiar if you read my Spiritual Sundays post a few weeks ago, entitled "Preparing and Protecting Our Children." I would like to go back to part of that topic and focus on making our homes sanctuaries, simply because I think it is such an important part of our everyday lives, and it can provide a firm foundation for our families as we struggle to live in a world where our values are constantly tested.
Why do I believe this is so important? There are two main reasons.
First, the public world we go to every day (whether school, work, shopping, socializing, etc.) is often a test for our moral standards. We are constantly faced with things that tempt us to make choices that go against what we know to be true in our hearts. Standing up to those "spiritual attacks" requires spiritual strength. Each day as we go back to our homes, we should be able to have an opportunity to fortify those spiritual reserves- not only to replace what strength might have been lost, but to increase and build our own testimonies that we may be a light unto others.
Secondly, when our homes are sanctuaries of peace and love where the Spirit of God can dwell, then they will be places where our families will want to be. So many of the struggles we face today are because we are drawn outside the home- husbands that work overtime or spend too much time socializing with those other than their spouse and children, leading to damaging affairs and alienation from their families; teenagers who sneak out to be with peers who take part in questionable activities; even mothers who indulge in inordinate amounts of "me time", leaving their homes and families to fend for themselves. When we make our homes islands of warmth, acceptance, love, and beauty, then they will draw our family members back, strengthening the family unit as a whole.
I believe that in order to accomplish these two goals, we need to "begin with the end in mind" as Stephen Covey would say. Every family is different, so each family's idea of their home sanctuary will be different. It might even be helpful to sit down with your family, or even just your spouse, and ask them what they believe a happy home should be. The question I like to ask myself when I feel something is missing is: When you open the door after a long day, what do you want to see/hear/feel when you walk in the door? The physical home atmosphere is just as important as the spiritual one. I have found in my own life that it is difficult to feel the Spirit in my home when it is messy, there is loud music or a tv blaring, or when I am stressed with housework, losing things I need, etc.
So here are a few of my suggestions that are also my own personal goals for making my home a place of peace, comfort, and love:
- Begin each day with a prayer, both alone and with the family/children.
- Prepare for the day the night before, by laying out clothes and shoes, doing the dishes, and doing a general pick-up around the house.
- Plan dinner ahead of time (I like to have a full week of menus set at the beginning of the week so I don't even have to think about it).
- Play some soft instrumental music- this will bring peace into my home faster than anything else I've found. I highly recommend the music of Paul Cardall or Mindy Gledhill.
- Light a nicely scented candle. This brings warmth, light, and a pleasant aroma into the home.
- Open shades and blinds to let sunlight in. This is an easy thing to forget, especially when you have little ones that nap- I always forget to open the shades when they get up!
- Keep smiling. You are the heart of your home, and your attitude can make or break the spirit in your home.
- Speak softly (without the big stick!). It is amazing how the tone and volume of your voice can affect the outcome of a confrontation. Next time you feel like you want to yell, whisper instead. Everyone else will have to get quiet to hear you. :-)
- Give abundant praise and express heartfelt gratitude. Each person in the family has an expected role, but when that role goes overlooked and unacknowledged, threads start to unravel from the fabric of the family. Even if a task is something that is expected, give appreciation for doing it. Thank your husband for going to work, thank your children for putting their dishes in the sink, and above all, give praise for anyone who displays a positive and loving attitude.
- Leave extra time. One of the biggest stresses in daily life is the rush to get somewhere on time. If you find yourself doing that often, then plan ahead the next time to wake up earlier, start preparing to leave sooner, or whatever you need to do. If an extra 5 minutes isn't enough, then plan 10; if that's not enough then 15, and so on. The kids will be happier and so will you.
- Display reminders of what you believe in. Hang images of Christ, favorite scripture quotations, or anything else that inspires you and helps you to feel peace.
- End the day with a prayer of thanksgiving and a blessing upon your home, that our Heavenly Father may help you to invite His presence into your home, that your family may have a safe refuge from the cares of the world where they might feel His love surround them always.
It is my hope and my prayer that I can incorporate these things into my home, and that you may find inspiration in these ideas as well. May our homes be sanctuaries where we can feel God's presence in our lives and our families can grow in spiritual strength and love.
What are some ways that you have found to make your home a haven from the world? Please share a comment!