October 2012


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

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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.

Love is patient…

1 Corinthians 13:4

I’m up early, making the stew and buns and getting lunch ready before church. Friends are coming. Good friends with the six children, and I’ve kept it a surprise for the boys.

We walk into church and into the surprise and we all squish into one row. And after, when the visiting is over, we come back home. To stew and fresh buns and the kitchen table conversation.

We remember the past and we laugh and its such a sweet time. The men share hunting stories and the women share everything and the children play, and it’s very good.

On a Sunday, home is for visiting.

I fear I’m starting to bore you.

How much can one say about one’s home, really? Turns out, a lot.

Two-thirds of the way through the month, and I must say it’s been a journey. This whole loving my home thing, writing about it, has made me conscious, more deeply aware, of the blessing home is.

I didn’t plan a thing. I didn’t think ahead of post ideas, and I still don’t know where it will end. But the daily reflection on my home and what it means to me has been soul-satisfying.

I worried, when I chose the topic, that it would be too materialistic. I mean, a home is a thing, really. Just stuff inside walls.

But it’s not. That’s a house, maybe, but not a home.

I am a stay-at-home mom. This is the place where I live, work, raise my children. This is the space where I spend most of my time.

I’ve fussed often over the years about my lack. My deficiencies. I’ve spent so much time trying to be better. A better cook. A better housekeeper. A better mother. A better wife. A better decorator. A better organizer.

A better home-maker.

How lovely its been, these past couple of weeks, to just love. I’ve re-fallen in love with this home. I’ve remembered what first drew me to her. I’ve rededicated myself to her care.

But in the process, I’ve fallen in love again with myself. With who I am. I’ve remembered the joy of just being, instead of the pain of trying to be better. Of just doing, instead of trying to do better. Of just loving.

Strange, you may think? Perhaps.

But isn’t love always?

Little does more for me, for my soul, than a bit of outside loving displayed. From the first scraggly dandelion, carried with pride in chubby baby hands and placed in glory on the kitchen table, to the  pussywillows I look for every year, to the windowsill displays of whatever boy treasures have been discovered, a bit of nature is a breath of life in my day.

Bring it in, even just a bit of it, and see what it does for you.

**********

The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

At least, that’s what Carter says.

For an eleven-year-old boy, this about sums it up.

Home is that place where you can have a particularly smelly evening, and be proud of it.

Home is where the stinkier, the better rules.

Home is where volume is important. Volume and, you know, how long it can go on for. The longer and the louder, the better.

Home is where people clap for you when it’s an especially deserving effort.

Home is where you keep track and try to beat your brother’s record in the number of explosions in one evening.

Home is all of these things, plus a dad who’ll tickle the farts right out of you and a mother who still laughs and brothers who make comments like, good one, buddy.

Home Sweet Smelly Home.

Love.

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