October 2012

Today is Halloween. Oh, and it’s the last day in the 31 days to loving my home series that I’ve been writing. Whew.

I’m thinking this morning, in the midst of pumpkin carving and costume assisting, of how to sum up this loving my home thing. What to say to make it all come together in a neat and tidy pile of words and thoughts. And my conclusion this morning, as I walk across my pumpkin-gore spattered kitchen floor, is that loving my home has very little in common with neat and tidy.

I’ve decided, in summation, that loving my home is, instead, about the embrace.

A big old messy hug. That’s what loving my home is.

Websters says an embrace might be: to clasp in the arms with affection, to cling to, to cherish, to welcome, to accept, to submit to.

Webster doesn’t say a thing about the receiver of the embrace. She doesn’t need to be beautiful, or new, or clean, or anything, really.

Loving my home is not about making perfection. Perfection is a lie.

Loving my home is about embracing what is, being love, and giving grace.

Thanks for listening.


If you would like to read all the posts in this series, you will find a link at the top of this page.

Carter wrote this the other night. He couldn’t sleep, so he wrote this little manifesto and showed it to me in the morning.

(He does have lots of amagenashen!)

Now, I don’t know what your thoughts are when you read this, but these are the thoughts of the mom of a dyslexic eleven-year-old boy who has never in his life written anything not required of him.


That was my first thought. And then, He wrote something without being asked. And each line starts on the left side of the page and tracks to the right. And not a single letter is written backwards. And he has written out his beautiful eleven-year-old thoughts, straight from his heart, and he wanted me to know what they are.

I can’t tell you how speshel this little piece of writing is to me. I will keep it forever. To remind me of my sweet boy, and to remind me of what’s important. Of what success really means.

How to really measure success?

The only way to really measure success is to not compare your’s to anyone else’s.

If I compared my son’s writing to many other children his age, he’d come up short. He’d not measure up very well.

But, compared to where he was at a year ago, he’s made great strides. He’s been very successful. He’s come such a long way, and I couldn’t be happier.

I mean, how can you not love a kid who devotes his life to God and fun!

So here I am, a slipshod housekeeper and mediocre cook, trying to love my home this month. It would be easy for me to compare myself to someone else and feel less-than. To feel that she is better than me. But, Carter has taught me so much about what it means to accomplish great things.

So, instead of less, I feel success.

Don’t measure your middle by someone else’s end.

Donald Miller

After years of Daddy being gone Monday to Friday, it’s a blessing for us to have breakfast together as a family each morning. This is a time I treasure. To look around the table at each smiling yawning face.

Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get going.

They don’t come the first time I call them. They pull the covers over their heads, and they wait until the very last minute to creep down the stairs and sit up at the table.

But it’s still dark out, Carter says. Every morning he says this, and it’s true.

It’s hard to get going when it’s dark out.

Especially on a Monday morning, after the weekend of friends and visiting and fun. Monday seems a little … less? Drab and uninviting. The plain Jane day in a week of days more beautiful and exciting.

Monday is not the life of the party.

This is my Monday challenge. To spark the light, because sometimes the darkness overwhelms. An extra smile, hot tea with honey for still sleepy boys, ancient words that offer a glimpse of glory to come.

Sometimes this making-of-a-home thing is summer easy, and it’s not hard at all to love.

Other times, it’s winter dreary. The light is dim and it’s hard to see the important why’s and it would be nicer to just pull the covers up and sleep.

If you are feeling Monday blue, Friend, then this is my prayer. If the light is dim and the week ahead looks endless and life is a little dull, I pray that you won’t just wait for the light. I pray you will bring the light. That you will be the spark.

Whatever it takes, do it. Love your home. Love the people who make it home. Love the people you meet today, whether in a store, at work, or online. Know you are loved, and that at least one person (me!) is praying for you today.

Today Friends, let’s bring the light, and show Monday she can be beautiful, too.

It’s cold. And I’m a baby. So I really want to whine and cry about the weather, you know?

But I’m learning love this month, and on a Sunday afternoon on a cold, beginning-of-winter day, I love my home for its warmth.

In fact, I might just stay here until Spring.

My husband could pick us up milk or whatever from time to time. I could make that work.

I could so easily be a hermit.

Today, I’m loving my home for its warmth. The heat that fights hard against the chill winds rattling my windows. The murmur of my husband visiting with my middle son and his friend at the kitchen table, while they drink hot chocolate. And a text from my oldest boy, in the city working for a couple of weeks. He’s having a great time, but we miss him. Warmth.

And the fun of knowing my youngest is probably going to be the cutest zombie at the zombie walk this afternoon. He was so excited to go with his friend to the town Hallowe’en party. I hope someone takes pictures. He’ll come charging in the door soon, and he’ll have had too much junk food and he won’t want to take off his zombie makeup. Warmth.

Yeah, it’s cold outside. But this home offers warmth, in all kinds of ways. So if I do have to leave at some point during the next several months, I will take comfort in the knowledge that my warm home will be waiting to embrace me when I return.

(Oh, and I think it’s probably safe to put the lawn mower away, now.)

Just be honest.


I mean, I could say I would have framed all those pictures and hung them on my walls this month, but I ran out of time. Or, I didn’t get a chance. Or, something came up.

But those would be excuses.

What I must say, if I’m honest, is that instead of doing that, I did something else.

No excuses.

This month, I’ve been loving my home. It’s been fabulous, for the most part. I have enjoyed a renewed relationship with my space in this place. I have learned much about myself and about what it means to call myself a home-maker, or stay-at-home-mom.

But the month is almost over, the clock is ticking on my 31 days, and I’m feeling a bit of pressure to make it all meaningful. To tie up any loose ends, to complete the things I anticipated being part of this experience. To do what I didn’t get done.

I won’t. Get it all done, I mean. And I’m tempted to come up with reasons why I won’t. Excuses.

But love, I’ve realized, is not a checklist. It’s not about to-do’s or finishing jobs or completing tasks. Love is a state of being.

When I was growing up I heard sermon after sermon, preaching Love Is A Verb. Love is an action. Love is what you do. And there is something in the doing of love that is important. Love without works is dead, perhaps, just like faith. I get that. I get that doing is important.

But maybe love isn’t just a verb. Maybe there is something else, first, that is so important that without it the verb-ing of it just doesn’t seem worthwhile.

I think that love – deep, meaningful, motivating love – is first and foremost, a state of being.

God IS love. Because he is love, he does love.

This month of loving my home has taught me something deeper than the joy of a clean house, that is, the joy of doing love. This month has taught me the joy of being love.

I may not finish all the jobs I set out for myself this month, but I’m not going to make excuses. I’m not going to feel guilty, or stay up late on the night of the 31st just so I can say, I finished that.

I hope I’ll wake up, instead, fresh on the morning of November 1st and think, I am love. And then spend the day doing it.

He’s made a calendar for the month, and today is the day he’s designated Carter Day. We’ve had Grandma Day and Fun Day and a few other days, but this day, according to him, is his.

He reminded me before bed last night.

Breakfast in bed tomorrow morning, please, he said. A cup of tea with honey and something simple to eat. Because I’m not really a big eater first thing in the morning.

It makes me laugh a little.

I ask him why he wants to have breakfast in bed, and he says, Well, because I never have. I just want to know what it feels like.

Special treatment once in a while. To be treated like royalty now and then. To have your own day.

Today, for an eleven-year-old little boy, this is home.

Today is Carter Day.

I am up to make the coffee and pack his lunch, and I’m already running late. It’s pressing on me already, this day, and I glance at the clock on the kitchen wall. The old chicken clock hanging on the wall above the stove, and it scolds me. I fill the coffee machine with the beans and pour water into the reservoir, the reservoir that my husband, unknown to me, had filled the night before.

Water tidal-waves all over the kitchen counter as I fill what was already full, and I’m startled into paralysis for a minute, until my brain tells me to grab a towel and mop up the mess. Water under appliances and all over the floor and dripping down into the drawers. And my first thoughts of my husband this morning are, what was he thinking?

I try the coffee again, fresh water and beans, and I push the button that begins the coffee magic. I step on another annoying maple bug that has found its way into my kitchen and is attempting the dangerous trek across my kitchen floor. I slip the bread into the toaster and push down the lever and – the kitchen goes silent. The power is off. The breaker is blown, so I make my way down into the creepy part of the basement, find the panel, and flip the switch.

Back up the stairs to the coffee and the toast and I fry an egg and a slice of bacon and the breakfast is ready just as he comes in the door, cold air with him, from doing the chores.

We sit, warm coffee and a few minutes to talk, and he tells of his friend’s daughter, the one in the hospital, and he says it will just be a few days until she is gone. They’ve turned off the machines and it’s just a matter of time. My heart aches for the young mother, and for the dad and the son left behind, and for the pain of it all.

And the spilled water and the creepy basement and the messes of the morning all fade into thankfulness, again, for the blessings of this home and this family and this day.

He leaves for the day and while the family still sleeps I pour another cup of coffee and I sip grace slowly. Prayerfully. Gratefully.

I sat across the table from her, my friend of many years, and she blesses me with her words.

You matter to me, she says. You make a difference in my life.

She looks me in the eye, and locks me up right there with her words and her straight-from-the-heart friendship. She changes me. Her bestowed blessing changes me then, and forever. Her love is all that the famous passage states it should be in those words penned in that letter to the Corinthians, way back then.

Love is patient and kind, I read in that ancient book, and I look up the words in the greek and I wonder how to love my home, patiently and kindly. To do patience and to do kindness. I think of my friend’s blessing, and I wonder if this holds some kind of key.

Patience, I learn, is about enduring, about doing it for as long as it needs to be done, and kindness is about service, about being gentle, about the bestowing of blessing. And it makes all kinds of sense to me that these words are so often linked.

Doing patience. Doing kindness. I don’t often think of my home this way. I think of how she serves me, how she serves my family with walls that keep out the winter winds and the comfort of her warmth and her security. But I’m thinking, today, that I must serve her too.

And I’m thinking that it must be more than duty. Duty might get the job done, but duty isn’t love.

I’m thinking of my home today, on a windy, cold Saskatchewan winter day when Grandma and Grandpa are visiting. They come into my kitchen with arms full of groceries and luggage and smiles and hugs, and before we can catch our breath, Grandma is up to her elbows in flour and butter and sweetness. She blesses us with cinnamon buns and pies and their good smells fill the house.

As she works, we visit and laugh and stop for coffee, and I know it’s more than a job to her. She is loving us with this work she is patiently and kindly doing. And that is what turns the simple food into a beautiful blessing. This is not duty. This is love.

Today I bestow a blessing on my home. I thank her for all she means to me. I thank her for her steadfastness, for her shelter, for the way she keeps stuff out and keeps stuff in. I recognize how much it means to me to have this place of comfort and warmth in which to raise my family and live these lives.

Today, as I work within this space I do so as lovingly as I can. I try patience and kindness out, and it seems right and good.

Bless this house, O Lord we pray,
Make it safe by night and day . . .

Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out . . .

Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let thy peace lie overall . . .

Bless this door that it may prove,
Ever open,
To joy and love . . .

Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in God’s Heavenly light,
Bless the hearth, the painting there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer!

Bless the folk who dwell within,
Keep them pure and free from sin . . .

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee . . .

Bless us all that one day we may dwell,
O Lord! With Thee!

Words and Music by Helen Taylor and May H. Morgan ( a.k.a. Brahe ), 1927

A few weeks ago I wrote twenty-seven hundred miles, and I concluded it by saying,

“May all of us live in the moment and find ways to experience and worship Him.”

In recent weeks I have visited two friends who have gone to live in special care homes because they are dealing with dementia, and their wives of many years are unable to provide any longer the care they need. One of the friends I visited was a bit agitated. He paced and wondered what he should do next.

The other one sat quietly, and when we talked about where he was born and grew up he smiled and remembered the names of people he had known long ago.

I felt for my friends, but I felt even more for the women who loved them and had experienced life with them.

And I was reminded once again about the importance of living in the moment. We don’t know what turns life will take. We can’t change the past or determine what will happen in the future, but we can choose to live in the moment.

As I live in the moment I want to:

love well

enjoy our children and grandchildren

be optimistic

appreciate beauty

make the little space I live in better because I live there

value simple things

forgive when needed

live in the present with hope


Janelle here. I can’t help myself. I have to add a bit to what Dad has written so beautifully. First of all, it snowed here for the first time this winter, and I am totally drooling over the picture of Dad and Bailey, out for a summer walk on what looks like a lovely warm day!

Snow. Brrr.

Dad’s post today, which is part of the My Dad and Me series that Dad and I write together, fits so wonderfully into my 31 days to loving my home series. (You can find links to both of these series of posts at the top of the page.)

The reminder to live in the moment, to take life as it comes and to experience it as fully as possible, is timely. It’s easy to not do this. It’s easy to drift and miss out.

What better inspiration to appreciate the abundant blessings of my home and family than to hear the stories of men, friends of my dad, who can live no longer in their homes. Who can live no longer with their wives. Whose very memories of home and love have diminished.

Can I just say here, for all of you to hear, how amazing my parents are? They spend hours and hours caring for, visiting with, taking baking to, meeting for coffee… so many of these precious elderly souls.

Thank you, Dad, for this reminder today.

May all of us live in the moment and find ways to experience and worship Him.

The other way is easy. To be impatient, I mean. To hurry, hurry through whatever task I am doing. To rush, not really being in the moment, as they like to say these days. To bustle through the awake time, bumping into life as if it’s in my way, like I’m shouldering through a pressing crowd. To want it all – the children, the chores, the day – to move more quickly. Annoyed when it, when they, don’t.

I look up the word patient. It’s not really a passive thing. Did you know? It’s not just waiting. It’s more like, endurance. As in the idea of doing something, or even suffering something, in an ongoing, enduring kind of way. I think of things like reading the same book to a toddler, over and over. Or household chores, done daily. Or making meals.

Or doing dishes.

I’m putting the dishes away, out of the dishwasher and into my cupboards. I do it quietly this time. Patiently.

I am thankful for my dishwasher. I haven’t always had one. I open cupboard doors and drawers and I tuck spotless plates and bowls and silverware into their homes. I have all I need. My things are clean and waiting to be used again. I am blessed.

I open a cupboard door and I notice, on the inside, what has become invisible over time. I see childhood notes, the ones made in Sunday School, the one given me the time I came home after a stay in the hospital. I remember my babies as babies, and I think, I am blessed.

I reload the dishwasher with the breakfast things. Knives covered in jam, cups emptied of tea or coffee, the plate my husband used for his bacon and eggs before he left for work. The kids are getting themselves ready for the day, brushing teeth and such, and I think, as I tidy the kitchen, I am so blessed.

This home, this kitchen, this small world of daily family life… it is mine to care for. If I like, I can care patiently.

Today I am patient with my home. I stop and notice and I consider what it means to endure. To complete the jobs that I know will slowly be undone and will need to be done again. The dusted shelves will become dusty once more. The dishes will again need cleaning, the laundry will again need washing and drying and folding, the floors will again need to be swept or mopped.

Today I will care. Endure. Be patient.


Love is patient…

1 Corinthians 13:4

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