Home Making
by Pamela Lancaster

 In the last week I've had two doctor appointments and I've filled out the new patient information sheets, complete with the blank for "occupation." I love being able to write the word "homemaker" in that blank. I am thankful that I have a husband who encourages me to live out one of my roles as part of the dominion mandate: making a home.

This issue of Patriarch finds me literally in the process of creating a new home for our family as we begin remodeling a brick ranch house to make it fit our family and lifestyle. Over the last four months I've gone through my decorating files and pulled out possible ideas for this project, and I've been drawing my ideas on graph paper. I've checked out books from the library and bought all the latest country decorating magazines. I've evaluated what makes a home inviting and thought of ways to incorporate those ideas into our home. I've cut and pasted ideas for shutters, window boxes, a sidewalk, kitchen cabinets, a porch, a deck, and bookshelves on pages for quick reference. I've prayed for creativity and wisdom in putting together this new home for God's honor and glory.

Let me step back now and share with you some of the discussion that has gone on between Phil and me concerning this neglected, nondescript house we've bought. First of all, let me say that this is not the house of our dreams… not even close. BUT it is the house God has provided for us to take dominion over and so we start with grateful hearts knowing it can be redeemed and made to serve God's purposes. I love this kind of challenge.

We start by asking ourselves, "What do we want our home to accomplish?" Here are some of our answers:

1. We want a home that reflects God and brings honor and glory to Him.

2. We want a home that provides a warm, secure and loving atmosphere for our family to grow and mature.

3. We want a home that welcomes, first of all, the household of faith and then others, providing both with refreshment, encouragement, and truth.

Of course this process would pose no challenge if we had limitless money… but we don't… so we meet the challenge with excitement and expectation to see how God will work to help us meet these goals.

Next we ask ourselves, What does the house have to offer to meet these goals and what do we need to change or add to meet them? How can we maximize what is there? What can we save and reuse and what do we need to replace? I pour over my file of ideas, I review my Emilie Barnes' books, and I call to mind all the things that I have learned from Edith Schaeffer and others. I keep two verses at the head of my prayer sheet to give me daily perspective. From Psalm 127:1: "Unless the Lord builds the house it's workers labor in vain." And from Psalm 5: "...and wait in expectation."

If it were my house alone it would have lots of pink, lace, and rose printed material, but this home is first of all my husband's castle, haven, retreat, oasis, and it is also the home of my six children. Therefore I need to factor in these needs and their tastes, and I do this willingly because I recognize the eternal importance of creating a home that acts as a magnet, pulling us together as a family that wants to be together. We live in a culture where a home is more often than not a house where a group of people sleep and keep their clothes, along with a computer that keeps track of their over-busy schedule. We as Christians must do better than that. The world needs us to show it how to create a welcoming, homey home and how to be a family. Our homes need to nurture our families and others, to be a place that feeds them not only physically but feeds their minds, hearts, and souls so that they can become all God created them to be.

Phil and I have discussed the fact that we are called, "children of the light," (Eph. 5:8) and how that should affect how we remodel and decorate our home. In our last home it meant taking down heavy drapes and raising the blinds to let in all the natural light possible. It also meant putting up a simple Amish-made candle chandelier over the kitchen table, a new cheery nature-print wallpaper, and having candles and oil lamps around for that cozy evening glow. In this new house we have more and larger windows, which is a blessing, but we also plan to take out a wall between the living room and dining area. This will create an open, light-filled area that will house the family room/library, eating area, and kitchen. I am going to call this area "the gathering room," which is an idea I gleaned from one of my decorating magazines and immediately fell in love with because of all the positive qualities that this word conveys. We will also use light colored paint and wallpaper to give the allusion of larger, more airy space.

Our remodeling plans have incorporated not only our own family's needs but the needs of hospitality, having space to bring others into our life. Recently we were at The Southern Heritage Conference in Louisiana and we heard a speaker talking about the benefits of the Southern culture. One of those benefits was the ever-present porch where the family gathered to spend time and to hear what he called "porch tales," stories from the family history. This bit of information helped confirm our decision to build a large deck across the front of the house which extends into a screened-in porch on the side (which will double as a summer kitchen, especially during canning season). This is a relatively easy way to add hospitality space and take advantage of our beautiful mountain setting and fair weather - and the decorations are already provided by our Creator!

Now outdoor living requires outdoor furniture, and where is that to come from? It has always been Phil's and my experience in our twenty-seven years of marriage that the Lord provides what we need. Once again he has already been meeting this need through some incredibly cheap chairs and tables that we found at a flea market and auction, even down to one being the perfect shade of green that I desired. We also found the perfect planter - just like in one of my magazine pictures - at the dumpster one day when emptying a load of trash. Coincidence? I think not! I also operate on two biblical principles: What do I have in my hand? and What do I have in my house (found in Exodus 4:2 and 2 Kings 4:2). A lot of our things are presently out of sight in storage units, but as I remember what we already have it is fun and exciting to think about how they can be used in this new home. Sometimes it will be in entirely different ways. (Try using your God-given creative imagination as you look around your home!)

It is a joy for me to see my four daughters making their plans for their two bedrooms. Even Alice, at age five, talks about what will make for "the spirit of loveliness" in her bedroom space. Sarah, Laura, and Joanna all have homemaking notebooks where they keep ideas and pictures of their decorating preferences. The boys also have decorating ideas and preferences, having been brought up in a home in which we discuss and try to practice the importance of beauty and order.

Yesterday I bought a Marjolein Bastin picture with a favorite quote of mine by John Ruskin on it, "Nature is painting for us day after day, pictures of infinite beauty…". God has blessed us with such a marvelous creation that reflects Him, so I try to incorporate as much of that beauty into our home as possible. God intended His creation to feed our souls and to show us more about Him as we observe and enjoy it and as we share it with others. This means that I have also been working on my landscaping plans and ideas. My plans include lots of flower beds with a variety of color, textures, shapes, smells, and even tastes. I have also included plants that will attract birds and butterflies. Again, where do these plant supplies come from? So far I've located some wildflower patches that I can borrow from, a friend has offered to share some of the plants from her yard, our landlady has given us permission to thin out some of the irises and daffodils at our rental home, we'll buy some, I'll salvage and replant what is already there, and we'll see how the Lord will provide all the rest that we'll need!

I share all of this with you so that you can know me better and what our family is currently working on, and to encourage you in your home making. The summer is a good time to look around and do some evaluating and praying to see if there are some things you could do to make your home more hospitable and glorifying to God. In my first article in ssue #25 I shared the illustration about the two African men who had been turned off to Christianity by the lack of beauty that they had found in the missionary homes. In her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Mrs. Schaeffer ends that illustration by saying:

I am sure there is no place in the world where your message would not be enhanced by your making the place (whether tiny or large, a hut or a palace) orderly, artistic and beautiful with some form of creativity, some form of "art." It goes without saying, too, the "The Environment," which is you should be an environment which speaks of the wonder of the Creator who made you.

Does your home and message need any enhancement?

I look forward to the day when this neglected, rundown house, that several locals have said has been an eyesore to them, becomes a HOME that reflects God's beauty, order, and hospitality, a home that says, "Welcome, come in and visit awhile!"

P. S. I highly recommend Welcome Home, by Emilie Barnes, who I find to be very inspiring and encouraging and who I think will have the same effect for you in your home making.

Back to Homemaking

From Patriarch Magazine----used with permission 2001

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