The idea of “home” is biblical. It is remarkable in literature. It is portrayed in music, theatre, film; in both old and new art forms. It seems difficult for some, yet effortless for others. When we grow up in homes that don’t feel safe, we might feel stuck in that unfortunate pattern. When we talk about “home” we refer to more than just four walls for shelter and safety. We build homes in others’ hearts, and those “homes” feel much more powerful than a domicile to put things in.

Yet, there is something to be said about curating a space where friends and family can gather, especially when the bulk of our income often goes towards paying that rent or mortgage! The whole idea of a home is built right into our culture, our idea of what it means to be a free American citizen.

Recently I have been making an attempt to really think about what my home portrays about my life and my priorities. My husband and I have so much STUFF that we sometimes feel stressed about it, but when we go to de-clutter, we still end up keeping 80% of it. I once read somewhere that if you can sleep better away from your house, you need to de-clutter. I think I fall into that category.

Here are some goals of homemaking for me. Some are way easy, some are a major challenge for me! Feel free to comment and let me know what you find works for you, as well as what you struggle with.

Creating a space that feels calm and safe.

Obviously, we spend so much time in our homes that we don’t want to be stressed by them! This may look like adding some plants or removing some outdated decor elements, or it may be as simple as a coat of paint. No matter what this looks like for you, remember that the home can be a haven for you.

Your emotional wealth can be multiplied by spending quiet moments hearing God in your home, but if your soul can’t be present in this space, you might miss out on these precious conversations. Often, I find that when I work to create a calming atmosphere, I will actually be more prone to spend time in it not just because its doing its job, but because it gives me a sense of accomplishment in that I was able to manifest something that I dreamt of.

Being creative! Using what we already have to genuinely display ourselves in our home.

Those trips to Target sometimes leave me thinking, “Man, if I just had that throw pillow, the living room would be complete.” My husband likes to remind me that the six other throw pillows are doing their jobs just fine. So much of what makes us happy is caught up in THINGS, when we could really use that energy to enjoy what we already have, both the tangible and immaterial.

Think of some of your most meaningful gifts. I’d be willing to bet that their price tags are either nonexistent (like a homemade card from a special youngster) or are valued at a much lower price than your emotions would appraise them for. Some of my favorite items on display in our home are photographs of family and friends. We give them to each other at Christmas and they’re always crowd pleasers.

My husband studied Science in college and loved to collect random skulls and bones from animal specimens, and at first when these appeared on our shelves at home, I was a bit miffed. Now they’re some of my favorite elements of our house. In fact, in the living room, next to one of his skulls sits a jar of sand from our honeymoon beach in the Bahamas; this little corner of the room is one of my favorites to sit and stare at. Our homes should be an extension of our love, not necessarily our wallets.

Establishing home “rules” that allow for fun, creative experiences.

One practice that I struggle with all the time deals with “breaking the mold” and being spontaneous. It is something that I wish came naturally to me, but it just. does. not. I have been known to miss out on a silly play fight because I didn’t want to mess up my hair. Life is too short for this type of stubbornness. I aim to get better at this by not stressing so much about the dirt on the floor or the messy kitchen clutter, but by focusing on the joys of having a blessing such as a kitchen in a house.

I want to go ahead and establish this mentality now, before we have children, so that we won’t be quite as thrown off when the mess is the norm. My goal is that my house rules will focus on support for each family member, on the love and compassion that comes with sharing a space with someone. I want our rules to center around the love that Christ displayed for us by his life and death. I want our rules to be less legalistic and more forgiving.

Reminding myself that the list will always be there, and it will never be perfect.

My friend and I have a promise to each other that we will never allow the clutter and mess of our houses limit our friendship. Maybe you have those handful of friends and family who are always welcome no matter the state of your house. Part of being a friend is accepting the “mess” figuratively, so why not also accept it literally?!

Using rainy days as purge opportunities.

I know that I would feel so much better if all the closets were clean. Somehow, I feel like our homes tend to mimic our internal struggles. If we have messy closets and dark corners that hold scary cobwebs, maybe we have some of those “messy” place in our hearts. Working to clear the tangible spaces will help us clear the emotional ones. We don’t have to live in a mess, remember! Sometimes just an afternoon of folding laundry can help us breathe easier.

When our creator makes a space for us at his table, we are invited to find our home in His presence. No matter what our current dwellings look like, feel like, or remind us of, our true worth and assurance comes from knowing that we are AT HOME no matter where we are. Our failures and mistakes are taken off at the door, we are given a cup of forgiveness as we enter, and we find our places at the most welcoming, beautiful table we can imagine.