What makes a house a home?
Close your eyes and envision your home- not the castle or mansion you hope to have when you win lotto but the actual house you live in, looking the way you want it to. No, wait! Don’t open your eyes yet. I want you to relax and envision with the eyes of your heart. I want you to think ‘home’ rather than ‘glam house’ or ‘show room’. What would make your house feel like home to you? Really think about it. NOW open your eyes. Take a look around you. Does your house reflect home to you? Is it a sanctuary? Is it restful? Is it how you want it?
Personally, I have taken a step sideways from ‘interior design’ in order to focus on making my house a home. Realistically, this isn’t always easy when you have:
c) limited finances
If those are your challenges, then please take a deep breath and read the previous sentence again but with an inner and outer smile. Why? Because I want you to not think about how awful the mess is and how so many things are in need of repair and how little money you have. It is so easy to view problems as …well…problems while losing focus on the blessings that often reflect these problems. As I look at the puddles of dog drool on my laminate floor and the dog hair on my carpet, I remind myself how this big, hairy beast brings so much joy to our household. Piles of shoes in the hallway? That just reminds me that I am blessed to have some of my children still living at home with me; for the laughter around the dinner table and the long talks we share. When I think of our limited finances, I am grateful for the choice I had to work part time in order to have less stress and more creativity in my life. My life is how I created it…mess and all.
Throughout my life, wherever I have lived, I have always made an effort to remind myself to be grateful for having a roof over my head. This was the case even with my most humblest of abodes. Wherever I have lived, I dedicated my home to serving others. It has been a shelter to troubled teens, free accommodation to college students, a house group meeting place and most often, a place to bless others with a meal and friendship. A sense of home is something all human beings crave and which I never take for granted.
There are several ways to make a house a home. A home should have a sense of harmony between all those living there as well as for those who just visit. It should also be a sanctuary for those who need to feel loved and embraced at the end of the day. A home is welcoming and comforting through the use of its decor and scents. Above all, a home should emanate love. The word ‘home’ describes the spiritual or sensual aspect of the house. When you walk into someone’s house, you will often immediately sense whether it is truly a home. Making a house a home does not require a lot of money because it starts within the spirit of those who live there. If you wanted to begin at this very moment, you can. You can pray or ask yourself, “How can I help?” or “How can I love better?”
…your teenage daughter who is studying in her room would feel more at home if you brought her a cup of hot chocolate.
…or your wife who has had a stressful day would feel loved by a scented bath being drawn for her.
…or your husband may love a surprise gift of a dvd he has been wanting to see or a movie downloaded and a bottle of wine and a cheese platter to share.
Little acts of kindness, done often enough, goes a long way to helping those you live with to feel at home. However, those acts need to take a back seat to ‘being there’ for those you live with. When they want to talk, listen. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Stop what you are doing if you can to give then undivided attention. Listen prayerfully with your heart so as to know the best way to respond.
Bigger acts of kindness sometimes takes planning. Family meals can be a gesture of love. Plan to have fresh vegetables prepared every day and you are planning to give love and consideration to the health and well-being to all who come to the table at meal times. I found it to be more cost effective to shop for groceries on-line. It adds the cost as I go along so I don’t over-spend and the cost of delivery is much cheaper than the taxi fare I would spend if I shopped in person. Sometimes delivery is even free. Also, if I shop little shops 2-3 times a week then I am not throwing away any fresh produce that went bad before I had the chance to prepare them. Preparing a meal can also be an act of kindness to yourself. When you prepare a meal, you allow yourself to be creative and mindful. As long as you are not rushed, it can be a meditative process.
So to recap: Start to bring a sense of home to your abode by being grateful for where you live and who you live with, by intuitive acts of kindness to those you live with and by asking yourself (and God), “How can I love better?”