The Ebb & Flow of Loving Home

It is summer.  I am off schedule with the blog.  In the past, that would have stressed me, but no longer.  It’s just a natural part of life.  It is a natural occurrence of the change in seasons, change in schedules.  Life is a little less hectic and the daily routines a little less hurried.  The lack of schedule affords more time for play, projects, and my favorite-reading.  I always get a little more reading in during the summer months.  I also find, that summer is often my time to dream-dream about the year to come, dream about what I want to do to the house, with the yard, etc…  Reading, reflection prompt dreaming.

Today I want to encourage you to get a copy of Melissa Michaels’ book, “Love the Home You Have”.  Mrs. Michaels is the author of the blog “The Inspired Room”, which I have followed for some time.  I absolutely LOVE this book.  I have long had a love affair with home.  Even as a young girl I loved arranging my room, creating order in an effort to have my own haven. I love home.  I love creating home.  But, and there always seems to be a ‘but’, I can get sucked into the world of discontentment.  I can find myself procrastinating, slipping into a home care slump, while I yearn for that new couch, piece of art I can’t afford, …  I can find myself living the comparison game thinking my space is inadequate.  It’s a trap.  Too many of us find ourselves there.  Some use it as an excuse to give up: give up on decorating, cleaning, hosting.  ” Love the Home You Have” reminds us what home should be about.  It encourages us to breathe, play, collect and enjoy the process of creating home.

LoveTheHome

I have often believed our homes are a reflection of who we are-really who we are.  They reflect the state of our spirit, our priorities.  As we settle in to who we are, learn contentment, it is reflected in our homes.  We worry less about the things we don’t have, and value what we do have.  We embrace our style, our likes, and that is reflected in how we care for our home, the treasures we display, the furnishings we choose.  A house full of clutter is often a reflection of someone lacking direction, someone living with stress as the result of an overbooked schedule.  A house where furniture is falling apart, floors are dirty, the kitchen sink is piled high all the time, is often the reflection of someone avoiding , someone avoiding discipline, trying to find purpose, struggling emotionally.  A house that seems cold, void of personal items, can be a reflection of someone desperately trying to control all of life, function in their own strength.

Truth be told, our homes at various times can reflect all of the above.  The condition of our homes reflect the condition of our spirits, our hearts.  “Love the Home You Have” not only shares ideas on how to care for and create a place of beauty and peace, but encourages us to care for ourselves.  Mrs. Michaels encourages us to find contentment, not just with our homes, but with the person God created us to be.   No home is perfect, believe me I have built 5 and still haven’t gotten it 100% right!  My budget will never afford me the opportunity to buy what I want when I want.  My love of hospitality means my home is often full of people, and things get dirty when people fill your home.  Just as I live and breathe, so does my home.  As I grow, mature, so does my home.  As I release worldly expectations, I am free to create, find joy in the quirky parts of life and home.

“Love the Home You Have” is full of decorating ideas, home management ideas and personal care advice.  No matter where you are in the ebb and flow of loving your home, I encourage you to order your copy today.

http://theinspiredroom.net/lovethehomeyouhave/

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Embrace Yourself as the Proverbs 31 Woman

I had a little mini vacation this past week visiting family.  In those moments of down time I often find myself reading, reflecting on where I’m at, how I see myself etc…  Just before leaving two separate clients had commented to me about some organizing my business partner and I had done for them.  Their comments were reminders that I do indeed have talent, see things in ways others don’t and am good at what I do.  While I love getting those kind of comments, I am going to be honest and tell you it is very hard for me to accept those kind of compliments.  I rarely see myself as skilled or good at something.  I am most often my own worse enemy and critic.  What a shame.

If you have been following my blog you know I am revisiting the Proverbs 31 woman, as I do once each year.  In the process of revisiting those scriptures I always learn something new or am challenged in new areas.  This year, seeing myself for who I am, being the person God created me to be, has been the recurring theme and place of discontent and conviction.  This woman of God was strong, physically, mentally and spiritually.  She put much effort into her daily living, seeking to fulfill her purpose.  Who she was, was so much more important than what she did.  I am reminded she was confident.  Not in a haughty way, but in a wise way.  She feared the Lord and praised Him with her hands, her words, her actions, her concern for others.  She accepted who she was and set out to live for Him.  Her example reminds me I am to embrace the person I am, the way He created me to be.  It is sin not to.  To belittle who I am is wrong.  I am not to be haughty or confident in my own abilities, but I am to embrace the gifts and talents He has given me and set out to use them for His purposes and His glory.

Psalm139.14

If you have been struggling with doubt or have a tendency to be your own worse critic, look back at the Proverbs 31 scripture and ponder over Psalm 139:14.  You are unique.  There is but one you and your purpose, your talents and gifts do not match anyone else’s.  You have purpose.  Be glad.  Rejoice in who you are.  Embrace all that He has given you and commit to use it for His glory.

The Love Hate Relationship with Summer

Summer.  It is amazing to me how we as moms can have such a love hate relationship with summer.  Come about April most of us begin to long for the “lazy” days of summer.  We are tiring of the lunch making, the homework, the after-school activities, the schedules.  We dream of days filled with no schedule, moments by the pool, sleeping in a little later (if we are lucky), no back packs to check, no homework to battle through.

Then summer hits.  BAM!  Within the matter of a few days we begin to seek out activities.  What will we do with these children all summer?  The camps, birthday parties, family vacation, reunions, etc… fill the calendar and we realize that in no time at all we will back at it.  We gaze at the long list of all we thought we’d do this summer and realize there is no way!

It is a love hate relationship.  But isn’t much of life that way?  Too often we look forward to something missing the moments right in front of us.  We find ourselves in the midst of the time we anticipated and we panic, we realize we have failed to plan or the reality of our limited time hits us in the face.  In a matter of moments we can go from dreaming to being overwhelmed and panicked. The words ” I’m bored”, are uttered by a child and our emotions go through the roof.

Our family intentionally cleared our calendar this summer.  No family vacation.  No camps.  We decided instead to simply be at home, a home we just had the opportunity to build.  We decided to go with the unexpected, to spend more time with family and friends.  I decided to keep pursuing better health and engage in more of my creative pursuits.

beachseatSounds great doesn’t it.  A “lazy” summer at home.  Well, let me be honest.  Two weeks in and the above picture is where I think I want to be.  I’m missing the family vacation.  I’m doubting our decisions-even though we reached them as a family.  I see what others are doing and I feel the comparisons creeping in.  Why?  Why do we go there?

I know why I do.  I take my eye off the prize.  I look around more than I look within.  I forget that I am right where God wants me to be, with the people He has entrusted to my care for just a little while.  I forget that through prayer and seeking we made decisions we believed were best for us.  I forget to trust He will see us through, even the leaner times, the darker times.

So, while I have moments wishing I was in a chair on the beach, I am going to focus on being where I am.  I’m going to treasure the moments by my pool listening to nieces and nephews laugh, taking in the squeals of high school girls, breathing in deep the quiet moments captured sitting alone in the sun by my little space of paradise.  I’m going to be thankful for a home in which we rest, land safely.  I’m going to appreciate the fact my 16 year old daughters would rather be here than elsewhere, that they still share with their dad and I.

Summer is here.  I have anticipated it.  I’m going to rest in it-soak it up.  I’m not going to rush it.  I’m not going to fall prey to the comparisons, the regrets, the looking around.  I’m going to take today for what it is and be-be in the moment, be grateful, be content.

BECOMING-Not Finished (another look at the Proverbs 31 woman)

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Industrious, thrifty, organized, virtuous, confident, modest, kind, merciful, creative, resourceful, loved, blessed.  Do you ever wish you were all those things?  Does reading that list of attributes exhaust you or deflate you?  I have said it in weeks past, and will say it again.  The Proverbs 31 woman as described in those passages, was not a perfect woman, nor are the passages a description of her in one moment in time.  The passages describe the entirety of her life-who she became.

We are becoming.  So often we want a list and we want to check it off-maybe even twice.  We want to be finished.  In reality though, were we to find ourselves finished, life would be over.  Scripture reminds us we are becoming.  We are ever running after the goal, seeking to be strengthened as we approach the finish line.

becoming:  
Adjective:  1.  that suits or gives a pleasing effect or attractive appearance, as to person or thing:

a becoming dress; a becoming hairdo.  2.  suitable; appropriate; proper:  a becoming sentiment.
Noun:  3.  any process of change.  4.  Aristotelianism. any change involving realization of potentialities, as movement from the lower level of potentiality to the higher level of actuality. (Dictionary.com)
I love the definition of becoming.  I want the adjective to describe me and I want the noun to be taking place.  What makes me be pleasing , suitable?  The change taking place in me.  Becoming more like the one who created me.
The Proverbs 31 woman became who she was after years of becoming.  She sought wisdom, she sought to grow, she sought help.  As she grew, as she became, she did.  All along the way though, she had to make decisions.  She wasn’t becoming just because she lived.  She was becoming because she decided she wanted to.  She set before her priorities. She made a decision every day to guard those priorities, to work towards becoming the woman she felt God calling her to be.  
We too must decide.  Being organized, thrifty, caring, industrious, strong all require action on our part.  It doesn’t happen because we are by nature any of those things.  They each require some action, something we have to decide to do.  And, in order to take any action, we must set aside time to be engaged in those things we know will help us become the woman we want to be.  I can’t be thrifty if I am daily making runs to the grocery store picking up dinner items.  I can’t be caring if I constantly forget friends’ birthdays, fail to block off time to serve others, run late.  I will not be physically strong and able to work/serve if I am not exercising and eating correctly.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t just happen.  It requires choice, daily choice, daily sacrifice, daily obedience.
I challenge you, and myself, let’s not be finished.  Don’t give up.  Don’t allow fear or frustration to keep you from decisions. Don’t get overwhelmed.  Let’s continue becoming.  I want to be that attractive, effective woman.  I want to continue growing and changing so that when my time on earth is done and I attain my reward it will be said of me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Think about your priorities.  Block off time this next week to focus on doing something-even just one thing-to become in that area.  My weakness-exercise.  I’m blocking off time 4 days next week to exercise for at least 30 minutes.  We can become. 

Having a Housekeeper-It’s Biblical!

“…and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31: 15.

So often we study the Proverbs 31 woman and then sit in awe or defeat.  We compare ourselves to her, a lifetime of achievements and qualities captured in 21 short verses.  We lose perspective.

This woman of God lived a life well lived.  She was blessed, praised and honored.  She did much.  She ran multiple businesses, she managed family finances, she took care of herself physically and emotionally.  She provided for her family. Her days started early and ended late.  But more than what she did, which is where we often focus, we need to consider who she was.  We should study to learn about her qualities, not her achievements.

We have already discussed that she was pure, trustworthy, loyal, industrious, and thrifty.  Most of all we know she feared the Lord and sought His guidance daily, hourly.  It is in the seeking to know who she was that we will find the lessons He has for us.

I have often joked about verse 15.  Before children, when I was working 60+ hours a week, volunteering in my community and with our youth group at church, I had a housekeeper.  In fact we had her for 16 years.  She became our friend, an extension of our family.  Her daughter grew up in front of us.  We shared laughs, tears, trials and joys.  I was blessed to have her help, her friendship.  On occasion, my husband would question our need for her.  (You see I am one of those people that would clean up to get ready for the housekeeper.  I know.  That’s a whole other discussion.)  On more than one occasion I would whip out Proverbs 31:15 to justify my decision.  I mean after all if this revered woman in scripture clearly had maidservants, then I should most certainly follow suit.  So there you have it ladies.  Having a housekeeper is indeed biblical!

Well, remember that thing called perspective?  In deed the Proverbs 31 had maidservants.  She lived in a day and time that financially, politically was one of the darkest and most difficult times in Israel.  Families often found themselves unable to provide for their children, thus abandoning them or selling them.  Recurring battles and plunder left many children orphaned.  Living in a trade community there we enslaved girls brought in and sold or traded, some even abandoned after the merchants were finished with them.  Yes, human trafficking existed even then.  As such, families who were able, families who felt compelled to help, would take young boys and girls in as bond servants, offering them safety, shelter and provisions.

The Proverbs 31 woman also had need for help.  Again, due to the times, life was difficult.  Much was required if one was to have food and provisions.  It required sacrifice, planning, diligent labor, ingenuity and physical strength.  It would have been virtually impossible to do it alone.

courtesy Town & Country
courtesy Town & Country

While I’d like to stick with the whole “having a housekeeper is biblical” thing, the real lesson is so much more.  It’s not about the housekeeper/the maidservant.  Again, it is about who the Proverbs 31 woman was.  She was wise.  She spent time considering all that she had and needed.  She sought God’s counsel as she attempted to plan for the future.  She was confident enough to know she could not do it all, she could not be all.  She knew what and when she needed to delegate. She saw her plenty and knew she was called to serve, to rescue, to help.  She provided for her maidservants as she did her family.

This woman did not live in abundance.  She had plenty.  But even the plenty she was willing to share, with her maidservants (vs 15) and with the poor and needy (vs 20).  It wasn’t about having more for the sake of having more.  It was about having plenty/enough and being willing to stretch that to help meet the needs of others.

This woman did not work from a place of pride.  She was humble.  She sought to work hard, give her best, yet she knew and accepted what she could not do.  A part of her resourcefulness was knowing what to delegate and to whom.  Once she chose to delegate, she then taught/trained those whom she sought help from.  Her ways were gentle.  She worked alongside them.  She cared for them.

So many lessons for us.  When I seek help am I doing it to stretch my plenty or to obtain abundance?  When I seek help do I humbly come alongside that person teaching/training and working alongside?  Do I use the extra time afforded me by having help to do something worthwhile?  Do I look for the needy and offer them help?

I don’t have a housekeeper any more.  Some days I miss her terribly.  But finances changed, my work load lightened, my daughters grew and the wiser choice was to take our plenty and use it wisely.  I now delegate to my daughters, working alongside them to train them and teach them how to care for a home, provide for a family and serve others.  We open our home to serve others.  We look for opportunities to help meet needs in our family, church and community.

We all live in different circumstances.  Our plenty is different for each of us.  And some of us our blessed with abundance. Remember, to that one, much is expected.  Having help is important.  Knowing what and when to delegate is critical.  Let’s remember those lessons from the Proverbs 31 woman.  Let’s dig deep and look at who she was, not just at what she had or did.  In the end it is all about stewardship.  Stewardship of our time, our resources and our plenty.

Proverbs 31-Her Husband has Confidence

Friday came and went and clearly I did not blog.  We had a full weekend around our home.  On Friday, thanks to homeschooling, my daughter and I joined Tacos4Life (read about them here: e5dEbDf1) packing Manna packages to feed the hungry.  We went with two other moms and had an absolute blast.  And yes, of course lunch was at Tacos4Life.  It’s just too good to pass up if you are ever in the Conway, Arkansas area.  (AND they are opening one in Fayeteville area soon!)  That evening was dinner and movie with my girls and their friend, followed by wedding shower for a former babysitter and then a board meeting on Saturday.  Yep, we were busy.  But good busy.

I’m not gonna lie.  I felt some tinges of guilt all throughout the weekend, knowing that just as I was beginning this Proverbs 31 series, I had already failed to post on a Friday.  The old me, the former self, would have piled guilt upon guilt and called it quits, deeming myself a complete failure and incapable of blogging.  But the new me, the recovering perfectionist laid the guilt aside and enjoyed all that was this weekend, knowing I could catch up on my blog at a later date.  As I pondered on the scripture for this blog and considered the Proverbs 31 woman, I had to laugh, just a little.  I couldn’t blog, didn’t blog on Friday because I was in the midst of being a Proverbs 31 woman.  And that, is what it’s all about.  I can plan.  I can strive to accomplish.  I can seek perfection.  But in the end, who I am is what matters, and each and every step of obedience, and each and every relationship brings me one step closer to being who He wants me to be.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”  Prov. 31: 11 NIV

The Proverbs 31 woman attended to her house, her family and especially to her husband.  He knew when he left for work in the morning she too would be attending to her work, the home, the family.  He knew she would be working alongside the maidservants caring for all they had, being good stewards of the material possessions, creating a safe haven and place of rest for the family.  Nothing in this scripture means they were rich.  Nothing in this scripture means she was some sort of genius handling all the family affairs.  This scripture simply means this wife was trustworthy, dependable.  She was a woman of her word, especially in regards to her family.  It also means she kept her priorities.  Her husband didn’t have to worry about coming home to chaos, hungry children, and an absent wife.  He knew, as sure as he knew there was air to breathe, his wife was putting their family above play, friendships and even ministry.  Yes, even ministry.  No matter who we are, no matter what we do, nothing changes the priorities as ordained by God.  He is first, our family second then our work and ministry.  The Proverbs 31 woman kept her priorities and as a result her husband had confidence in her.  As a result their home life, their family relationships and their marriage had value.

More often than ought this scripture convicts me and tugs at my heart.  I can’t help but think of the times my husband has come home to dirty dishes, no meal planned, upset kids and a less than pleasant wife.  I can’t help but think of the trinkets I have squandered money on believing they would somehow make me feel better, have a sense of confidence or impress my neighbor.  But there have been good moments too.  Sixty dollar savings as a result of coupon clipping.  Five nights o meals at home as a result of planning and advance shopping.  Furniture and household items still looking new and standing the test of a family of four due to cleaning and maintenance.  I want my husband to trust me.  I want my husband to know he can believe my words.  I want my husband to know I value him, our family and our home above friendships, work and ministry.  I want my husband to know I trust him, I honor and respect him.  These scripture remind me.  These scripture point me to the path worth taking.

Does your husband have confidence in you?  If not, is there something you can do to change that?  Some of you reading may be in a dark place, a lonely marriage and possibly even a harmful marriage.  Please know that God can redeem.  If you need to seek shelter and safety do so.  God will honor that. He can meet your needs.  You can place your confidence in Him.  If you are struggling in your marriage and long for more, begin with you.  Take one step to do one small thing showing your husband he is priority.  It may be as simple as picking up quickly before dinner or seeing that there is a pitcher of his favorite sweet tea.

The journey continues.  Remember it’s not a sprint.  This Proverbs 31 woman was always growing, always learning and always adjusting with the seasons of life.  Her love of God and her commitment to her priorities never wavered.  Let’s encourage one another to continue, to keep on, to pursue the heart of God as Proverbs 31 women.

Proverbs 31 Woman: Wife of Noble Character

Unpacking the Proverbs 31 passage is truly a life changing for any woman who seeks to live life according to God’s design. The passage begins in verse 10.

”  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.”  Prov 31:10 NIV.

In other translations noble is translated virtue or pure.  I believe this speaks to the state we should be in before marriage-a virgin, having saved ourselves for the one God has chosen.  I believe it speaks to the state we should remain in after marriage, the partner of one man, our husband.  Our character should reflect that of Christ.  This is not about perfection.  It is not about an image.  It is about heart.  We have to remember life flows from the heart.  As we seek to keep ourselves pure and noble we honor who God has created us to be, we honor God and we bring hope and beauty to our husband, our marriage, our family and our home.  Scripture says we are worth more than rubies.  Our value goes beyond what we do, what we bring to the marriage financially.  Our value goes beyond our skills.  Our real value is based upon our relationship with Christ, our security in Him, seeking to be fulfilled through our relationship with Christ, not the relationship with our husband.

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How can I maintain virtue/nobility/purity?  How can bring hope and beauty to my husband/family/home?

  1. I must guard my heart:  this means protecting it from unsightly/immoral books, songs, television, movies, gossip, relationships.
  2. I must fill my mind and heart with His word-the tool available to me to instruct, correct.
  3. I must spend time in prayer confessing and seeking God’s counsel and direction.
  4. I need to remain humble.
  5. I need to be mindful of my choices-this is such a big area.  So often we allow ourselves to become so busy we simply move through life, never giving any real thought to our actions, our choices, our speech, our friendships.  Life on auto pilot leads to moments of disappointment.  We can find ourselves in compromising situations not even knowing how we got there.  Mindfulness is a result of scripture study, prayer and focus.
  6. I need an inner circle of godly women who speak truth into my life, holding me accountable.
  7. I must seek to serve God first and my husband second, children third.

Over the course of the next few months I am going to spend Friday breaking down these scripture.  I’d love to hear from you.  How does this passage speak to your heart?

Further reading:

Elizabeth George:  A Woman After God’s Own Heart

Ann Ortlund:  The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman

Gordon MacDonald:  Ordering Your Private World

Friendships Matter to Our Daughters

I have twin 16 year old daughters.  I have loved every season of life with them.  I have to say though, there is something very settling about the season we are in right now.  They are coming into their own.  As a mom, I have the opportunity to begin to see glimpses of the women they will become.  I have the opportunity to see the fruits of my labor and know that it was not in vain.

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I have never been one to have a ton of friends.  Partly due to my personality type.  I love my alone time and I’m an introvert.  I am also extremely loyal and when I do make friends, true friends, the relationships are lasting, authentic and deep.  I have had the opportunity lately to spend more time with my friends.  We have been engaged in business, events, sharing difficulties in life.  I have also just made a point lately to spend more time with my friends.  My daughters have also been spending more time with friends.  I love to watch them interact with their friends and see them with this group of girls they have known for years, as well as the new set of friends.  They are bound with girls of like faith.  They share prayer requests, they share philosophies on dating, they share shopping, they share laughter.

This past week on the ride home from school one of my daughters commented on how much she liked one of my friends and then went on to say how happy she was I had gotten to spend more time with my friends.  I asked her why she liked my friends and why it mattered to her if I spent time with them.  I don’t think I had ever really given that aspect much thought.  Her first comment was that I was happier when I got to be around my friends.  Her second comment though was the one that mattered.  She went on to tell me she loved my friends because she knew they loved God.  She knew they were all really good moms who worked really hard to raise their children and to encourage others.  Then she said the golden words.  She said she liked my friends because she knew they prayed for her and they cared about my family as much as they cared about me.   Yes.  She is right.

When our friends are women of faith walking our faith journey with us, in honesty, in integrity, they influence our families and we their families.  I am a better person because of this small group of women.  My family is a better family because of this small group of women.  These are the women who correct me, hold me accountable, rejoice with me, pray with me. These are the women who would pick up my kids in an emergency, bring me food when I am sick and know how much I love chocolate!

As moms our friendships matter.  We are often cautious about the friends our daughters choose.  Are we as careful about our own friendships?  Do we spend time with women who influence us for good?  We need to remember the women we choose as friends will influence our families as well.  We need to remember that how we live out our friendships sets the example for our daughters.  I am so thankful my daughters see the women my friends are.  I am so thankful they see my friends as positive role models.  I am so thankful my friends enhance my family, make me a better mom and wife.

Friendships Matter.

Inspired-Back to Basics with the Proverbs 31 Woman

Any time I am asked to speak, God does a work in me.  This weekend, sharing about how to be effective women and not just efficient women, I was reminded how valuable these passages in Proverbs 31 are.  It saddens me when others say this Proverbs 31 woman is not relevant, that she is simply an ideal, and not one we can attain to.  I just beg to differ.  She is an ideal. The description of her however is the entirety of her life.  Yet, we see her included in scripture.  I believe she is the goal to be attained, much like Paul refers to.  She is the culmination of a race well run.  She is God’s design for woman and the description of her helps us in setting our priorities and making choices.

prov31I am reminded that in good season, God grants me the wisdom, the ability and the time to be and to do.  Keeping Him first and my family second, remain constant.  The opportunity to work, invest, minister, etc… come at different times.  So often in my humanness I struggle with the “in due season.”  I read Proverbs 31 and I want it all, all right now.  I strain and struggle. I become discouraged and before I know it, Satan convinces me I can’t do it.  He would be correct.  I can’t do it without Christ and I can’t do it all at once.  I have to remind myself that a “no” now does not mean “no” forever.  There are moments when God says “no, not right now”.  I have to remember that He will restore those jobs, ministries, relationships in due season.

I struggled with this when my girls were younger, spending way too much time trying to do too much, looking to the next season instead of embracing the season I was in.  I have fallen prey to that again.  I realized as I shared with others, God was convicting me.  I had let a seed of resentment set in regarding home schooling.  I was looking to ministry and jobs I wanted, but couldn’t make work in this season.  I need to embrace this moment.  What a gift.  I have the opportunity to be at home, to focus attention on both my girls in unique ways.  I get this extra time while home schooling.  I have to have faith, living in this season with strength and dignity, knowing He will open doors for ministry, expand my opportunities when this season is over.

As I refocused my attentions on this passage it was like revisiting an old friend.  Why had I lost touch?  Why I had I let my attention drift to other things?  This world needs more Proverbs 31 women.  I embrace setting her before me as an example, a goal.  I will not strive though.  Instead I will rest in Him, seeking His guidance and wisdom as I seek to love Him, serve my husband and my daughters.  I will embrace His precepts and follow His word.  I will raise girls to do the same.

The link below is a document outlining what I believe to be the attributes of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I would love for you to use these as motivation.  Please don’t look to them as a “to do” list.  Instead see them as a guide.  Remember it is not about what you do, so much as it is about who you are.  Yes, the Proverbs 31 Woman did a lot, but the passage focuses on who she was, how she did it.

Outline

A House That Breathes

If you have been following my blog, you know we built a home this past summer.  The process was exciting, fun, fulfilling.  It came at just the right time.  I was coming out of a two year process of some real life changes.  The kind of life changes that come with living past the age of 40.  Coming to terms with who I was, no longer trying to do.  Coming to terms with a family relationship I couldn’t fix, that would never change.  Healing.  Healing the empty places I had allowed to grow trying to be for others, for society, for family.  Coming to terms with my spiritual self, understanding who God is in new ways, ways only made possible by the hurts, the struggles, the disappointments, the losses of this life.  Celebrating.  Celebrating surviving young motherhood.  Celebrating the young women my daughters are becoming.  Celebrating making it past 20 years with my best friend and husband.  Celebrating friendships, the authentic ones.  The friendships of women who bare their souls, are strong enough to cry, to admit weakness, to ask for help.  Celebrating being that friend to a few, the special ones.  Celebrating family, embracing family.  In the midst of it all I learned to breathe.

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It may sound trite, but it’s not an easy thing to do.  And yet, breath is the very sustenance of life.  We rush through life taking shallow breaths, breathing in quickly, exhaling too quickly.  We rush.  We find ourselves holding our breaths in an attempt to hold our anger, our sorrow, our excitement.  It requires yoga class or meditation therapy or a doctor to remind us to breathe-really breathe.

I have learned to breathe and as we set out to build I wanted to create a home that would breathe.  We purged.  Being an organizer, that wasn’t terribly difficult, but it still required thought, discipline and action.  I kept only what we loved and used.  I set out to paint the home in an array of neutrals-shades of white.  I set out for there to be open spaces, empty spaces.  Week before last I had my first “gathering” of those outside the family.  As the guests arrived, more than one commented on the house.  There were the usual compliments, but the greatest of them all were these words, “I love it.  I walk in and I take a deep breath and feel myself relaxing.  There is space.  There is calm.”  Not just once did I hear these words, but three times. Satisfaction.  The years of struggle.  The years of battling my “demons” within, were all worth it.  In those moments I knew I was living, living the life of abundance, peace, contentment.  I was breathing.  My home was breathing.

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Possibility is not in the stuff.  It is not in the structure of the home.  It is not in the activity.  It is not in doing.  Possibility is in the stillness, the knowing, the being.  My life is lived in shades of white.  My calendar is filled with white space.  Not by chance, but by choice, by discipline, by intention.  My walls are filled with white space.  Not by chance, but by choice.  My thoughts are focused on what is most important.  My eyes rest on art and pieces of furniture most important.  And in the in-between, in the shades of white, I can breathe.  I can sit and listen.  I can hear the still small voice of God speak clearly regarding who I need to be, who He is.  My home rests, it breathes.  It holds room for life, for guests to enter, to take a breath and rest.

I challenge you to create a home that breathes.  As you enter the holidays and think towards the year ahead, what can you eliminate?  What areas cause you stress?  What rushes you each day?  Find your shades of white, breathe and live.

A few of the rooms I used as inspiration:

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