My Blog

chalkboard vignette

 

When I was growing up, my most cherished memories include sitting around the table with my family after dinner, swapping stories about our day and reminiscing over favorite times. Sometimes we’d sit for an hour or more, not wanting our conversation to end (or to do the dishes!). That’s why I refer to my blog as the Kitchen Table. I’d like for you to pull up a chair and enjoy sharing stories around my virtual kitchen table. I hope you’ll browse through my latest blog posts and connect with me by leaving comments. My prayer for you is to be encouraged and inspired by the words I share here each week, without even having to help with the dishes. 🙂

Winner of the NIV Lifehacks Bible is…

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in Blog, Book Reviews, contest | 2 comments

Thanks to all of my new subscribers and current blog subscribers who shared my Lifehacks Bible posts! The winner, chosen by Random.org, is Karen Kay Thomason Brumbaugh! Congratulations!! If you’d like to order your own copy, visit bibl.es/nivlifehacks

Have a great 4th!

Carol

Lifehacks Bible

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Gathering Around the Table

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Blog, Blueprints, busyness, family, hospitality, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized | 4 comments

 

Gathering around the table

My mother has always had a thing about sitting around the table at supper. When the food was set out, she’d have one of us turn off the TV and we had to focus on each other and talk—or sit and chew in silence.

Most nights we talked. And talked. And talked.

Because my dad was a truck driver, he was gone most weeknights, so it was just the four of us. It was nice having Mom’s full attention as we ate. She’d listen to my sister, brother and I complain about what ‘tragedy’ we may have experienced in our young lives and manage to contain herself from the occasional eye-roll. Or we’d laugh over some hilarious happening of the day.

Sometimes, when Mom treated us with Libby Land frozen dinners, we’d get excited as she broke out the TV trays and we’d watch our favorite shows while devouring what we considered a delicious meal. I’m sure those were the nights Mom couldn’t bring herself to cook. And yet, we thought it was like having a party on a school night.

utensils-730288_1920

Mom was also particular about not using paper plates and always putting the food in serving dishes and setting it on the table at supper. We never served ourselves from the stove. Maybe it was because my Grandma, Mom’s mother, was from England and they did things a little more proper there.

 

After supper, my sister and I were responsible for cleaning up the kitchen. We’d play games while I washed and she dried. Or we’d sing our favorite song, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, to the top of our lungs. It was the disco era, after all. Ahem.

dishes in sink

When my husband, John, and I first married, I’d come home from work and make a big dinner every night and set it all out on the table. Since I was used to cooking for four or five people, I usually went a little overboard with the amount of food I made. And I had to clean it all up by myself.

After we’d been married six months, John and his brother started their own business. Because he was now working two jobs, and these were the days before cell phones, I never knew when he’d be home. Sometimes I’d have dinner waiting for hours before I’d hear him pull in the driveway. I remember one night not eating until ten o’clock.

So began the demise of my little family’s supper table. From then on we’d eat when we could, most of the time stopping at a drive-thru on the way home or ordering a pizza. We didn’t even sit and eat that at the table anymore. Instead, we’d sit in the den watching TV.

And I felt guilty.

Then my sister-in-law and I opened our own business and life really did get chaotic. The supper table was completely out of the picture.

 

Until, eight years after we married, John and I had our first child.

child at table with cupcake

At first, it didn’t change things much because we only had to worry about feeding her bottles. But when she graduated to baby food and a high chair, I decided it was time to bring back the supper table.

That was twenty-two years and two children ago. And I’ve made the supper table a priority ever since. Even if it’s not a home-cooked meal, I always try to have us gather around the table. My kids think I’m a little weird when I insist on using real plates and serving dishes when I cook. My daughter says it just leaves that much more for us to clean up. But I don’t care. I have a dishwasher now!

kitchen table

The most important thing that happens around our table, however, is the conversation. Just like it was when I was growing up. There’s just something about having the stress of the day behind us that allows for a relaxed time of sharing. Even if we have guests, we linger longer over the remnants of supper, enjoying the company that surrounds us.

I believe the family supper table is what kept my siblings and I grounded. And I believe with my own children it provides part of the structure needed to feel secure in our home.

In fact, according to The Family Dinner Project, regular family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression. They also believe it helps nourish ethical thinking.

hamburgers

So, even though I usually dread the words, “What’s for supper?” I’m happy we can reunite most evenings around the table.

 

Building godly homes

  1. Do you and your family regularly have supper around the table? If you do and your family hasn’t been sharing much lately, check out The Family Dinner Table Project for some great conversation starter ideas for all ages.
  2. Does your family have a habit of sitting in front of the TV? Try to switch things up by inviting everyone to the table and turn off the TV. You’ll definitely have some push back at first, but eventually your family will begin to look forward to it.
  3. Is your family involved in so many activities you’re never home to eat? Then make it a priority to try and eat together at a restaurant as much as possible, even if it’s fast food. You’ll still benefit from being together.

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Front Porches and Family

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, books and blogs, fellowship, Front Porch, hospitality | 6 comments

teal wood quote

 

Fireflies, family and the front porch. This is the substance of my childhood. As we played in the yard on summer evenings catching fireflies, the adults sat on the porch watching, laughing and swapping stories. Reminiscing about those days stirs a pleasure within that reminds me of the beauty of home, particularly one with a front porch.

chalkboard front porch sign

When my husband, John, and I bought our first home I was smitten by its generous craftsman front porch. Built in the days before television, it was wide enough for several rockers and deep enough for a swing, allowing neighbors to come and sit a spell on summer nights. John and I spent countless evenings after work observing the activity of our little town from our perch on the porch.

our first house

Our first house

Because our home sat only a few feet from the sidewalk, neighbors and friends would often stop and chat as they passed our house during their usual walk. I loved inviting them to sit and swing for a bit while we talked about local happenings. It was my favorite place to be. A place of respite and release.

A porch speaks volumes about community and family and gathering. 

welcome, wise women

Nowadays, many homes are built with just a stoop. Our modern communities feel a porch is no longer necessary—a thing of the past. After all, we barely know our neighbors. Pulling into our garage after a hard day’s work and closing the door behind us doesn’t allow for much socializing.

Unfortunately, that’s mostly true. But it doesn’t have to be.

Nothing brings a sense of welcome to a home like a front porch, especially one ample enough to accommodate those we hold dear.

Original photo of front porch 2

 

When we built our final home, I wanted a big front porch that could embrace anyone who wanted to laugh and visit and talk. One with lots of rockers. And a swing. I also wanted a big back porch with a table where we could sit and eat dinner in the evening and laugh and eat and talk. And swing.

So we built those porches and have enjoyed bringing loved ones, friends, neighbors and even some we didn’t know, onto our porches and shared till our heart’s content.

Sometimes I’ll hear the creak of the chain from the swing while I’m inside and know one of my family members is enjoying the peace from our back porch. That sound lures me out of the house to sit and enjoy conversation with a loved one.

IMG_0947_2

 

Or I’ll notice the front door ajar and peek out to find my husband with his feet propped up against a column while he watches the sunset.

When we first moved into this home one of my best friends came to visit. As she was leaving the front porch she looked out at the expanse of sun and deep blue in front of her.

“Big Sky,” she said. “You should call this place Big Sky because of its beautiful, unhindered expanse of sky .”

I think of that every time I look out across the front porch and see a stunning sunset. It’s like having a front row seat to God painting the sky. I feel closer to Him in those moments. And I’m filled with peace.

So whether we entertain others, sit in silence and enjoy the peace and quiet, or linger long over a good meal, a porch is something that this designer believes should remain a part of our homes. It allows us a comfortable respite away from the TV and chores that need to be done inside. It gives us a sense of community—whether it be with our family or God. And that’s something that doesn’t just belong in the good old days.

 

Building godly homes

Share some favorite front porch stories with your children. Kids love hearing stories from your childhood.

Does your home have a porch? If not, is there a spot around the outside of your home where you can create a welcoming spot for family and friends?

Take it outside. Now that we’re nearing summer, take dinner outside and enjoy talking with your family without the TV. Or invite some friends over for a cookout.

 

For further ideas on how to build community, even if you don’t have a front porch, check out Kristin Schell’s blog about the turquoise table, or Emily Freeman’s book Simply Tuesday.

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Your Scars Tell Your Story

Posted by on Apr 6, 2016 in architecture, being tested, Blog, Blueprints, depression, difficulty, faith, perseverance | 6 comments

Your scars tell your story

 

I’ve always been drawn to history. Stories of old that reveal truths from the past. Stories of families, love and even tragedies. I’m not sure why it intrigues me so. Maybe it opens my eyes to the fact that, while both good and bad fall on the just and the unjust, our world continues on. Many times I’m encouraged by people who’ve suffered much yet, inspired by hope, have overcome adversity.

Each time I visit Charleston, South Carolina, I try to learn more of its history. Whether it be through an educated tour guide driving a horse-drawn carriage, or roaming around some of the centuries-old homes whose facades tell stories of a society filled with graceful charms and painful struggles, each new detail fascinates me.

Charleston carriage tour

Charleston carriage tour

 

Evidence of battles with man and nature are etched upon many of the buildings scattered throughout the old city. From the great fire of 1861 that resulted in more damage to that city than the civil war, to, more recently in 1989, hurricane Hugo, the most destructive hurricane ever recorded at the time. McClellanville, a town only 39 miles from Charleston, took the direct hit of Hugo’s fury, leaving nearly 100,000 residents homeless.

But the most destructive blow came on August 31st, 1886, when the largest earthquake ever recorded in the history of the southeastern United States shook the city so violently some said the streets looked like waves ascending to at least ten feet. The approximated 7.6 magnitude quake lasted about one minute and was felt over 2.5 million square miles; as far north as Boston, Massachusetts, as far west as New Orleans, Louisiana, as far south as Cuba and as far east as Bermuda. It’s said that two-thirds of all Americans felt the tremors. The fallout was devastating, leaving no structure in Charleston untouched.

Mills House Hotel

Charleston eathquake aftermath looking at Mills House Hotel

 

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael’s Church after Charleston earthquake

Despite the seemingly hopeless aftermath, Charlestonians were back to work within a week and repaired the city in fourteen months. Ironically, due to the lack of funds available for a complete rebuild, many of the structures had to be refurbished rather than demolished, thus eventually becoming Charleston’s saving grace as it is one of the most historical cities in America.

In order to rehabilitate many of the dilapidated structures, however, earthquake bolts were needed to provide added stability. These steel rods ran through the entire length or width of the building, literally screwing bolts into the walls at each end. Every so often the owner would tighten the turnbuckle that would slightly compress the outside walls until, over a period of years, the house became as upright as was possible.

Unfortunately, homeowners weren’t thrilled with these ugly bolts screwed into their beautiful homes and started putting decorative plates behind the bolts—such as stars, lion heads or crosses—thus creating an enhancement to the property. Since that time, newly constructed buildings have purposely been adorned with purely decorative bolts and plates, adding a look of authenticity.

earthquake bolts

Decorative plate behind earthquake bolt

 

home with earthquake bolts

Typical home with earthquake bolts

Like these old homes that struggled to remain upright after natural disasters, sometimes I’ve felt off kilter and hopeless, wondering how I’d ever make sense of things again.

When God allows me to go through storms, whether in relationships, circumstances or the pressure of life in general, it feels as if God’s threaded an earthquake bolt through my soul and rotated the turnbuckle. The pain is real and uncompromising, but, if I trust Him, I discover He’ll put me back together in a way that makes my scars beautiful—just like those decorative plates.

A while ago, I endured a year of deep depression. I didn’t understand that God was using the pain and hopelessness of that horrible season to make me stronger. But now I see God’s purpose in it and look back at that time with a grateful heart. I’m thankful I chose to lean into God for support. In return I received assurance of His presence and love. The scars I have today tell my story and reveal the authenticity of my faith.

sunrise

If you’re going through a season of hopelessness, know that God has great plans for you. We are born sinful and God loves us enough to shape us into a more Christ-like image. It’s never easy and mostly painful, but if we’ll trust Him with each day, He’ll be faithful through the storm. He promises to never leave or forsake His children. And His mercies are new every morning.

 

Building godly homes

1. Are you struggling through a storm in your life right now? Reading through the Psalms is a way to encourage and renew your faith in God. Psalm 40 was especially comforting to me

2. Have you experienced God’s faithfulness during a difficult season? Take time to reflect on ways God revealed Himself to you during that time and thank Him for being there.

3. Do you know someone who is facing a terrible situation right now? Think of ways you can make a difference by showing God’s love to them during trying times.

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Cultivate Deep Roots

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Blog, Blueprints, faith, family, love for children | 0 comments

white house in field

 

When my husband, John, and I decided it was time to build our forever home on the family farm, we needed to determine its location. Since there are over 240 acres and the only buildings there at that time were his parents’ house and a few barns, we had a little bit of exploring to do. The property is divided in two by a winding road and John, from the time he was very young, knew which side of that road he wanted his home. But we still had a good bit of narrowing down to do.

Toward the end of the property line there are 3 small lakes surrounded by acres of pasture and a grove of trees that lead back to a meadow. On the upper side of these lakes there’s a tree line denoting where the land had been cleared years ago to make way for planting. Except, there was a grand tree out from the wooded area that stood alone in the field. I imagined its magnificence prevented someone from cutting it down all those years ago.

John and I both felt drawn to that beautiful old oak and decided it should anchor the right end of our house, giving plenty of shade against the afternoon southern sun.

 

oak tree

 

So we began construction, excitement growing as each new phase was completed on our home.

Late one afternoon John was at the house wiring in light fixtures when a shotgun of lightening landed right outside our kitchen window—directly in the center of that majestic old tree, splitting it in two. We had no choice but to take it down.

The focal point of our property was gone.

But, of course, we continued on with the house. We were disappointed to know that old tree wouldn’t be greeting us when we returned home each evening. Nevertheless, we knew this was the plot of land that called us to build upon it. The land where my husband’s ancestors took root in this place called America.

The fact still amazes me. Not many Americans can trace their family history back to the late 1600’s. My mother-in-law was entrusted with numerous original Nash family documents by her mother, to whose family the land was originally given. Although most of the property had been sold or parceled out over a period of more than 200 years, my mother-in-law’s dad, Pappy, was determined to acquire as much of the original land grant as he was able to afford.

 

cotton

 

Pappy used the land where our house sits to cultivate a cotton field. Something about that seems beautifully southern to me. And a great place for our children to grow up and learn their heritage—entwining their young lives on the very land where part of their history began. My children, especially my son, are fascinated with the relics and stories passed down through generations, understanding they carry on the legacy of those first settlers.

Knowing where we come from provides security and an appreciation of belonging to something much larger than ourselves.

The same is true for us as Christians. When we discover our true identity in Christ, we realize the importance God places on His children and encounter the great love He has for us and the power that’s available through the Holy Spirit. Helping our children understand Who God is and the enormous sacrifice He made for each of us through His Son, Jesus, gives them roots and teaches them they’re a small, but important, part of a greater story.

books

 

We, as wives and mothers, are called to love our families and manifest the attributes of God as we serve them in our homes. Knowing the inheritance that awaits should encourage us to cultivate deep roots in our children’s souls so that they can grow into majestic oaks who display God’s splendor—oaks that cannot be destroyed by lightning strikes of insecurity or lack of faith.

When we build our homes on the security of God’s grace, we can be confident that we have an eternal home and family. We belong to something of great importance. And just as my husband’s ancestors were confident that the deed given them by a Lord Proprietor in England guaranteed they would be landowners in their new country, we have an even greater inheritance knowing we are members of God’s family and are assured of our place in His kingdom—as daughters of the King.

 

Building godly homes
1. Do you know much about your own family history or that of your husband?
Make an evening of sharing stories of each family’s past history, even if it’s from not that long ago. It’s fun for children to learn about their heritage and nationality.
2. Are you familiar with scriptures that teach our identity in Christ? Read the following and others you might find on your own. This will help to encourage you as you rest in the assurance of belonging. 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 16:5-6, Deuteronomy 31:6
3. Do you have pictures of special family members displayed in your home? It’s a good reminder for us to share about those we love. I have a small black and white photo of my grandparents on their wedding day in my foyer. I’ve had numerous people ask me about the photo and feel privileged to share their story and how special they were to me.

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: The Power of Light

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, courage, fear, Uncategorized | 4 comments

 lantern in fog

Charleston in the spring. It’s not just a place to go, but a city to experience. A city that engages all of the senses through the fragrance of the tea olive, the ruggedness of the old cobblestone streets, and the sound of church bells mingling with the clip-clop of horses hooves as they pull carriage loads of tourists through the maze of streets.

The most intriguing part of this charming city, however, is its architectural history. The facades of houses and businesses still show scars incurred by wars, earthquakes and fires from over a century ago. The beautiful homes reflect the wealth of those who built such opulent accommodations. And the lack of telephone and electrical wires hanging across streets can be attributed to a town reaching back to its roots. A time when candles and then gas lanterns were the only source of light on a moonless night; to protect the innocent residents from burglars and drunks. But in order for a lamp to be of any use, there had to first be a lamplighter to ignite the flame.

lamplighter

Lamplighters were assigned certain areas to light the wicks of lanterns at dusk. The tradition began when concerned residents wanted to protect their homes from the vagrants and thieves who usually prowled neighborhoods through the dark of night. As history notes, the homeowner, who would carry a lantern, originally took turns with his neighbors to keep watch until dawn, making sure their homes were safe from attack. He became a watchman, calling out the hour, keeping a lookout for fires, and checking the doors to make sure they were locked securely.

Just one person and that little bit of light was enough to deter most criminals from attempting some underhanded deed in the black of night, creating a sense of peaceful security in the community.

Eventually, though, the homeowners of old quickly tired of rotating the night shift and began paying others a mere pittance to oversee their neighborhood. But these paid watchman didn’t do their job with nearly as much commitment as the ones who had the most to lose, the homeowners. Some even crossed lines and became thieves themselves because it paid better. Thus began the demise of many neighborhoods. The loss of assurance that all was well while they slept.

lightbulb

Finally, local governments stepped in and raised the pay of the watchmen so they could make a decent living. These watchman, who then became known as deputies, were the beginning of our modern police force.

But light was still needed to further help ward off the outlaws. As cities grew they installed permanent lanterns and hired men who were responsible for keeping the lanterns burning through the night, extinguishing them only after the sun had dawned over the horizon. The law and the light worked together to make the community safe again.

lantern on street

A light continues to be a symbol of protection today. If my young adult kids are still out when I go to bed I make sure to leave a light on for them—a sign that I care. A wise woman remembers the importance of light when building her dream home. As Christians, we are the light God sets in our homes and communities. That light emanates from Christ living within us. We are the watchmen He calls to pay careful attention to what’s going on around us.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:25-27

The woman described here in Proverbs is like the watchman who was the homeowner. She oversees her household well and with careful observation. She’s prepared for whatever situation may occur because she’s tapped into the true source of light. She can laugh at the days to come because she’s done her homework, studying and applying God’s word in her life. She understands this must be the core infrastructure of her home in order for her family to enjoy peace and security.

woman with lantern

When we let down our guard and give up diligently seeking God, we allow others to take on the responsibility that is ours. Just as the homeowner grew tired of pulling night duty and paid another to take his place, we must realize that no one is as invested as we are. Our homes and communities will suffer if we don’t take our call seriously. Just as the light of the watchman deterred thieves and vagrants from victimizing a community, our inward light that comes from Christ and the knowledge of His word, helps to stave off the evil lying in wait to attack those who are precious to us. Let’s take to our post, ladies.

 

Building godly homes

 

  1. One way to be light to those around you is by memorizing scriptures that have encouraged you. Share these verses with others who may be dealing with similar situations you’ve been through.
  2. How’s your connection to the Holy Spirit? If it’s not as strong as it should be, spend some time in prayer asking God to reignite the dwindling flame.
  3. Are you watching over the affairs of your household as you should? If not, pray about ways you can be a better observer and bring more security to your family.

Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: The Essential Element Needed for Integrity of a Home

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, discouragement, inspiration, love and marriage, motherhood, Uncategorized | 2 comments

 

quote

 

Home. The word can be meaningful and lovely. Or painful and ugly. One’s perspective of home is usually formed by a mother. Even if a situation is frightening or unpleasant, a family commonly looks to the mother to inspire hope. To let them know everything is going to be alright.

God created women to be nurturers. That’s why children frequently run first to their mother when they are hurt. They trust her to take care of them. It’s also why most women have a desire to make home a place of comfort, love and beauty—a place where others feel welcomed and safe.

front porch

 

In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

Many times the word helper in this context elicits raised eyebrows and indignant huffs among women. But the original definition of the word God uses, ezer, means essential counterpart, indispensable companion, or corresponding strength. Rather than denoting weakness, it implies fortitude.

It’s a warrior-word.

One of the best illustrations I’ve seen of this is an architectural component called the flying buttress.

Commonly used in Gothic architecture, [it] provides essential support that preserves the architectural soundness and integrity of a building. These buttresses bear the weight and relieve pressure from the walls, allowing for higher ceilings, ornate latticing, and more windows. Like these powerful structures, a woman provides an undergirding strength within the context of relationship that empowers another to become and achieve things that might have otherwise been impossible. She is an essential counterpart providing necessary load-bearing support. –Ezer: Biblical Femininity, p. 21

Wow.

buttress

God created us to be the load-bearing support in our homes. We provide the structural framework laid on top of the already level foundation of unconditional love. When sturdy beams are fastened to the foundation, studs can then be attached and up righted, allowing the home to take shape. These studs provide the strength needed to hold the weight of subsequent floors and the roof. Because of this, most walls sustain the integrity of a structure, making them an essential element that cannot be removed without being replaced with another type of support.

I’m a big fan of HGTV. Many of the shows are about renovating older homes and bringing them up to date, creating beautiful living spaces for families. Open concept is the desired plan for most of these homeowners, requiring many of the existing walls to be removed.

When contractors, however, realize one of these walls is an all-important structural wall, chaos ensues. They bring in the structural engineers who have to design solid, and sometimes cost-prohibitive, beams to replace the wall the homeowners want down. They look at various ways to make the plan work. But in the end, the wall must remain if an alternate solution isn’t found.

Many times we see ourselves as insignificant, convinced we can be easily replaced by a maid or a nanny in the day-to-day humdrum of life. Our role can feel unrewarding and thankless. We wonder if anyone would even notice if we weren’t there, except that there’s no food, clean laundry or someone to pick the kids up from school.

laundry

Let me assure you—you matter. You’re just as important as those strong structural walls that keep a house from crumbling. The love and time invested in endless cleaning, cooking and helping with homework do make a difference. Your husband and children may not say it often, or maybe not even at all, but you are essential in sustaining the integrity of your home. And, believe it or not, your children need you even more as they grow into adulthood. Don’t think you aren’t important to them anymore.

If you feel like you’re drowning in responsibilities and want out, turn to the Bible. God’s word can help you overcome your weaknesses. When others need to lean on you for support and you’re exhausted, incapable of mustering the strength, look to God. He is faithful. His word promises that He will strengthen, help, and uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). You are precious to Him.

Don’t give up. You are the manifestation of God’s grace and power in the place He has you—undergirding your dream home.

Building godly homes

  1. Think of all of the things you do for those you care about. What special touches can you add to seemingly ordinary tasks?
  2. Read 2 Chronicles 15:7. Write the verse on a notecard and put it somewhere you will see several times a day. Let it encourage you.
  3. Ask God to give you the strength to fulfill your mission as a godly woman. Your influence will make a difference for good in your home as well as your community.

Let’s build Kingdom homes together!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Your Foundation’s Critical Component

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, love, love and marriage, love for children, promises from God's Word | 7 comments

house ivy with bicycle and scripture
You won’t find pictures of it while scrolling through Pinterest or perusing house and garden magazines at the grocery check-out. It’s not something you envision when you lay in bed at night decorating each well-thought-out room. You probably wouldn’t even think to mention it to your best friend.

It’s not pretty, or especially interesting, but it’s the most important part of your dream home. It’s the foundation.

When the footings are dug they must be straight and on solid ground. The concrete must be leveled. And the blocks laid on top of the concrete should be perfectly perpendicular, otherwise your house will end up at least a little cock-eyed. Even if you can’t see the unevenness with the naked eye, eventually the house will reveal the truth concerning the lack of integrity below.

crooked blue house

The tell-tale signs of a lopsided foundation may show up in uneven door frames, sagging floor joists, or cracks in the walls. Some of this is expected due to the usual settling of a house. But when doors refuse to shut or floors droop ominously downward, the foundation needs to be addressed before it’s too costly to repair.

There’s an old home in our town that belonged to an elderly lady who recently passed away at the age of ninety-nine. She died in this house, the house she was born in. The only home she ever knew.

Proud of her beautiful old home, she was meticulous in making sure it was spotless and updated every so often. But even though the silver sparkles and the hardwoods gleam, the curvature of the floor in the center gives away the secrets of its foundation. Signs of strain are even more obvious on the second floor. The center hallway tilts heavily toward the staircase and the puckered plaster engraved across the walls leaves no doubt of the serious state of affairs under the house.

If only she’d put as much care into the foundation as she did the aesthetics of her home.

It reminds me of the care we need to take in laying the foundation of our spiritual homes. It’s easy to focus on the things we can see—how well our children look and perform, happy Facebook pictures with our spouse, maybe even sitting down to a family dinner often—but we need to look below the surface. Do our families know they have the solid foundation of unconditional love?

For most of my life I never understood the unquestionable love of our Heavenly Father. I viewed Him as a harsh taskmaster waiting for me to make a mistake so He could lash out with punishment. I didn’t have a secure foundation in my relationship with God. Guilt-ridden and exhausted, I couldn’t comprehend how much He loves me. Instead of falling into His grace, I strived daily to be the perfect mother, wife, housekeeper, friend, and church member. I could never measure up.

heart with key

Slowly, through prayer and Bible study, I began to grasp the incredible love God has for me. Instead of laying the groundwork of good works, I began to invest in getting to know Him better. It paid off. I can now say I stand on the solid rock of Christ’s love for me, and my foundation has never been stronger.

I want my family to know that, even if they mess up, they’re still welcomed and loved in my home, just as the Father has demonstrated that love to me.

Some days it’s easier to build up my family than others. I wish I could say I always respond wisely and without judgement. I don’t. But through perseverance, now that my kids are young adults, I believe they feel secure in the love they’ve been shown and have a solid support of God’s love.

child with bible

A home built only on the foundation of works, rules and discipline may look beautiful on the outside, but eventually the infrastructure will begin to show signs of deterioration. It most likely will be seen through sagging spirits and puckered attitudes toward one another. If not promptly addressed, the repair will be costly. But when we mix a heaping portion of love into the footings, we will build on the bedrock of integrity and truth, creating inviting homes that radiate God’s love.

Building godly homes

 

Is your view of God’s love for you a true representation of the Bible’s teaching? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, inserting God’s name for the word ‘love’ or any reference to it. Allow the true definition of His love for you to take hold in your heart so that you can begin to build a stronger foundation of faith.

Are there obvious signs of strain in your home? How are they manifested in each family member? In yourself?

How would your family say you demonstrate your love to them? Is it by attending their ballgames? Or spending one-on-one time with them? Or maybe cooking their favorite dish? If you’re not sure, check out Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages. Knowing their love language will allow you to be more intentional in showing them how much you care.

Let’s build kingdom homes together!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Who’s Your Builder?

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in being tested, Blog, Blueprints, change, commitment, family, Husband, love and marriage, love for children, marriage | 2 comments

house planer with verse

Although the word divorce has never been uttered between my husband and me in thirty years of marriage, there was a time I was afraid it might become part of our vocabulary.

With the exception of moving from our first home, a little trailer in the cow pasture, into an old home in town, my husband, John, has always been the one who decided when we needed to move. Even though we’ve only changed residences twice since, each time I hesitated to leave.

our first house

Our first house

The first time he made the declaration I knew he was right. But I loved the little home we’d made our own through lots of elbow grease and as much money as we could afford. It was now the cute bungalow I’d envisioned. But since I was pregnant with our second child and our small abode had only two bedrooms, we didn’t know where we’d put the baby.

When John asked me to start drawing plans for a next home, I balked, but then gave in since I knew the move was inevitable.

Elise and me in front of our new home site

Elise and me in front of our new home site

Being pregnant while taking care of an obstinate toddler and packing up all of our belongings was stressful enough, but having my husband act as the general contractor of our new home brought the tension between us to a level we’d never experienced.

In order to save money John did as much work as he could himself, and I certainly appreciated that. However, between his working all day at his own business then working during his off hours at the new house, we rarely saw each other. I felt alone and weary with all of my responsibilities, which also included choosing every detail of what went into the house. He was exhausted and felt unappreciated for all of his efforts, too.

I remember one night during the construction we had an argument. John went to bed. My little daughter, Elise, was still awake as I sat in the darkness of the den crying uncontrollably. I’d never felt more hurt and alone in my entire life. I wondered if our marriage would survive the fallout from the arrival of a new baby and new house so close together.

Me with Elise and her new Cabbage Patch doll

Elise and me

Even though she was only two, Elise knew I was hurting. She climbed up in my lap and patted me while saying, “Wuv you, Mommy.” I’ll never forget that sweet moment when I just wanted someone to sympathize with me. God gave me hope through my sweet daughter.

We finally did make it to move-in day, three weeks after our son, Jacob, was born. It took a while for things to settle down between John and me, but eventually, through prayer and perseverance, we were back on solid ground.

Bringing Jacob home from the hospital

Acting as the general contractor of a building project requires much time, commitment, organization and follow-through. Even though John and I were both familiar with the construction industry, being responsible for the day-to-day oversight of construction was excruciating.

It took both of us to carry out all of the work involved in the process and before it was over I wondered if the toll it took on our marriage was worth it.

Me and John in Charleston

My husband, John, and me

Taking on everything needed to build godly homes in our own strength will drain us both physically and spiritually, even if we work together with our spouses. We need Someone we can look to who is more than capable for the daily oversight of our homes. Who better to act as the general contractor and manage who and what comes into our houses than God? Or to take on the overall responsibility of making our home into the place of comfort and joy we long for?

He’s great enough to do it. But we must surrender control of our families, our homes and ourselves to Him so that we can enjoy the peace and provision only He can bring. We don’t want to waste our time laboring in vain while He’s waiting for us to request access to His awesome power. He can take our dream home from a design on a blueprint to one that’s alive and thriving. After all, He did create every beautiful thing in existence. He can do the same for you and me.

 

Building godly homes

• Take a few minutes each day to ask God how you can best meet your husband and children’s needs. He may surprise you by preparing you for something you’d never expect.

• Think about the people who come into your home on a regular basis. Do they build you and your family up? Or do they wear away the peace in your family?

• Evaluate the media that’s allowed into your home. Whether it’s through television, social media or video games, how can you make sure what’s coming in is edifying and unifying your family rather than causing it to fray?

• In what ways might you be “laboring in vain”, leaving God out of the building process? By putting more effort into your work rather than your home and family? Or striving so hard to keep your home perfectly clean and beautiful that no one enjoys being there? Ask God to help you let go of anything that may be keeping you, your husband and kids from experiencing real joy.

Let’s build kingdom homes together!

Blueprints for Building Your Spiritual Dream Home: Envision Your Dream Home

Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in architecture, Blog, Blueprints, commitment, family, hospitality, love and marriage, love for children, motherhood, promises from God's Word | 2 comments

dream home on water

Nothing gives a peek into a family’s lifestyle better than designing their dream home. I know because I’ve been drawing house plans for over thirty years.

There are the typical questions—how many bedrooms, how many baths, how much square footage. But beyond that, I need to know what quirks the family has, what desires top their priority list and whether they like to entertain or just keep to themselves. These are important details that help me better understand what they want in the final drawings.

grand staircase

One of the most important considerations in designing a home is cost. Many clients would like to have a home with all the bells and whistles. Big windows. Stone facades. Grand staircases topped with elegant light fixtures. Gleaming hardwood floors. But many times all of these flourishes are, unfortunately, above the budget.

When I design a home, I want to make it something my clients will not only be proud of, but will also be able to afford. I’m careful to inform them if something they want will most likely bump their budget out of reach. Sometimes they listen; sometimes they think they can make it work anyway. I’d hate to count how many floor plans I’ve drawn that are gathering dust because the builders’ bids came in too high.

drawings

Even if you’ve never built a house, maybe you’ve played with the puzzle pieces of a floor plan or created a “wish file” of photos depicting the details you’d like to include in your design as you customize a home just for you.

A perfectly designed house, however, does not necessarily make a home. A home is made of the spirit of those who dwell within—otherwise it’s just a beautiful shell with no soul.

There is someone, however, who has a dream home designed for each of us. It may not be the exact style we’ve longed for or have as many bathrooms as we’d like, but it’s a better plan. It includes joy and love and peace—the things that infuse a home with true beauty.

When we look to God to create our blueprint, it will become a place our families and we desire to come home to at the end of a weary day, where laughter ensues and fellowship is sweet. A place where lessons are learned and children grow into God-honoring adults. A place where marriage thrives and hopes are realized.

mom and girl

So how do we find the dream home God has for us? It’s not by thumbing through thousands of house plan books or scouring the internet for the right plan. Building our homes based on God’s Word allows Him to work in and through us to make a real difference in the lives of those in our circle of influence. A great place to start our design is in Proverbs. It’s short enough to complete in a month by reading one chapter a day, but has an abundance of wisdom packed into this one book.

Although the Bible gives an overview of how our homes are supposed to be, not all of them will look alike. In fact, most will be different because every family’s dynamic is unique. Don’t feel like your home has to look like so-and-so’s just because she seems to have it all together.

Speak to God as the architect of your home and ask Him to customize a blueprint to meet the specific needs of your family. What are the things you would request He include in your ideal plan?

That the love between you and your husband could be rekindled? Ask Him.

For more patience and understanding with your kids? Ask Him.

For your home to be one of hospitality where everyone feels loved? Ask Him.

Just as we should count the cost in building a physical house, however, we must also consider what it will cost us to achieve our dream. Are we willing to increase our budget of time and effort in order to make it work? Do we need to re-prioritize our life so the dream can be realized?

Many times it requires we lay down our pride, complaints or bad attitudes. It may call for us to pay better attention to what our children are doing and who they’re hanging out with. Maybe we need to turn off the TV and cell phones and spend quality time with our families, listening—really listening—to their hearts. Or God may require we bite our tongues when everything in us wants to lash out.

bible and crown of thorn

 

When we look over the projected cost of having our dream home, it may seem the sacrifices we must make are too great. It won’t be easy. It may be downright painful to pay the price. But before we decide it’s not worth it, we need to remember who made the greatest sacrifice in order for us to build our dream homes—Jesus Christ. He is our greatest example of submission to God. Let’s not let His design for our homes gather dust in the corner of our good intentions.

Listen to God and allow Him to take His rightful place as the Grand Architect. Following His grand plan will help you design and build the abundant dream home you long for—a place your family will feel loved and happy to say they belong.

 

Building godly homes
• Read one chapter from Proverbs each day and note the things God teaches you. Ask Him to give you the strength and motivation to begin implementing these nuggets of wisdom in your home.
• Sit before God and ask Him for the things you desire in your dream home. Be specific and keep a list. Make sure you note where God answers your prayer and how you’ve seen Him working.
• Don’t forget to thank Him for the progress you’re making!

Let’s build kingdom homes together!