Making Your Home a Haven – Week 3 {Family Fun Night}

Candles on  vintage tray with nuts and pumpkin on wooden background

As a little girl, every night my family ate a home cooked dinner around the dinner table. We weren’t allowed to watch television and my mom always took the phone off the hook so there were no distractions.

But on a few special nights, my mom would put a table cloth on the family room floor and she served dinner there. The change of pace, the ability to watch television while we ate, and a family game afterwards — made for much excitement in the eyes of this little girl.

And so the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in our house.  Our dinner hour is always spent around the dinner table with no television or distractions.  But on a few special nights, I like to put sheets, blankets and pillows on the family room floor and serve dinner there.  The kids love it!

We eat dinner, watch a show or movie and then after dinner, we play a game –or two!  Some of our favorites to play are Trouble, Spoons, Life, Apples to Apples, Monopoly and Clue.

Game night

We played a game of Clue after dinner this past Friday –I won! And there were no tears. Seriously, we’ve come a long way.  I know that playing games can sometimes cause family brawls. Right? Lol!  Competition does not always bring out the best in children…but it’s a great time of character training and loving memories.

Clue

 

Week 3′s Challenge:

Keep your candle burning, the music playing and plan a Family Fun Night.

Have a pillow party in the family room and get out every blanket and pillow in the house and be cozy with the kids or your hubby! Even if you live alone you can do this. Enjoy a cozy evening of hot cider and caramel corn. Bust out some old fashioned games and take the time to savor these moments with your loved ones.

Work on kindness and joy this week.

Kindness and joy are both fruit of the Spirit and character traits that should be evident in a Christian’s life.  Let’s role model it for our children as they learn to walk in the Spirit as well.

Joy comes through our salvation.  It is not dependent on our circumstances. Joy can be hard to display in our homes when there is tension, worry, stress and discontentment.  We must fight for joy.  We must choose joy. Choose to slow down. Choose to smile even on days when everything just seems upside down.  Pause. Pray for peace.  Pray that God gives you a gladness found only in him, despite our circumstances.

Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate.  One way we can show kindness to our children is through listening…and listening and listening.  Here are some conversation starters we can use this week at the dinner table, to get our children to open up to us:

Conversation Starters for kids

Did you know that Romans 2:4 says” it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance“?  Sometimes we think we need to be strict with our children to get them to obey, but I believe kindness, listening, smiling and playing with our children will soften their hearts towards the love of God and obedience.

**Chime In**

How is the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge going in your house?  Do you have your candle and music going?

What is your favorite thing to do for fun with your family?

What is your favorite board game to play with your family?

Share a special memory with your family, from your childhood.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

 

 

Making Your Home a Haven {Week 2 – Music}

Candles on  vintage tray with nuts and pumpkin on wooden background

Music.

It has a strange effect on people.  Certain songs can flood our minds with good memories.  Others can touch a painful and tender place deep inside of us where we’ve been hurt and bring tears.  Others make us lift our hands in worship while other songs just make us all want to boogie! lol!

Edith Shaefer says “There is a charm in making music together which not only stimulates interest and creativity, but which breaks through whining and fussing and clears the atmosphere.”

Music changes the atmosphere of our homes.

In our home, soft piano music plays 24/7.  Yes, even in the middle of the night we have music going.  We can’t hear it in our bedrooms but I like coming down the stairs in the morning to a serene atmosphere.

6 things I absolutely love in my home:

1. Vaccuum cleaner lines on freshly vaccuumed carpet.

2. The sound of the dishwasher running at the end of the day – signaling the kitchen is clean and closed.

3. Warm towels fresh out of the dryer.

4. The way the house is sparkling clean ALL at once right before guests arrive.

5. A flickering candle on my kitchen counter.

6. Soft music playing in the background.

I simply enjoy these gifts in life.

But…

They are momentary.

Soon the kids will come running into the room and wrestle around and the vaccuum cleaner lines will be gone.

The dishwasher will stop running and need emptied – that’s not so fun!

The towels – they’ll be cold and wet soon. And most likely, left laying on the floor somewhere.

After the guests leave, the house will need cleaned all over again.

It’s the cycle of life.

But…

My candle keeps on burning and my soft music…keeps on playing.

Morning, noon and night they serve me. My candle serves me with a flickering warm light, a pleasant scent, and a reminder to turn to God as my source of strength and help.

My music serves me with a soothing sound.

They don’t make messes, they don’t need managed, they just simply bless me and my family.

This week’s challenge:

Keep your candles burning, your prayers going and add soft music in your home.

Choose worship, classical, jazz or another form of peaceful music that the family enjoys. Focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships.

Work on gentleness and self-control this week.

Now we can’t have our candles burning and our music going and not pause to take a look at our own hearts.  Our homes should be different than those who do not have the mercy, grace and help of the Lord.  As we go to Him in prayer, may we take the time to see if there is anything in our lives that is displeasing to God, that we need to repent of.

Here are 4 ways to pursue gentleness and self-control this week:

4 ways to pursue peace in our homes 

So let’s begin. Light your candle, crank up your music and continue praying over your home. Every time the glimmer of the candle catches your eye – pray for peace. Peace with each other and peace within your soul.

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

**Chime In**

Are you taking the challenge this week?

What kind of music is playing in your house?

Have you been lighting your candle?

How has God worked in your home through this challenge?

If you are a blogger and are writing about this- please leave a link to your blog post in the comment section so we can visit you!!

Thank you all so much for your accountability. I so appreciate you joining me on this journey!!! We are in it together!

Walk with the King,

What Type of Environment Are You?

Candles on  vintage tray with nuts and pumpkin on wooden background

Welcome to Week 1 of the Making Your Home a Haven 5th Annual, Fall Challenge!

Edith Shaeffer says:

“We are an environment, each one of us.

We are an environment for the other people with whom we live, the people with whom we work, the people with whom we communicate…our conversations, attitudes, behavior, response or lack of response, hardness or compassion, our love or selfishness, joy or dullness, concern for others or self pity – all these things make a difference to the people who have to live in our environment.”

Have you ever considered that YOU are an environment?  What type of environment are you?

Are you the warm and hospitable type?

Are you the cheery, sunshine type?

Are you calm and quiet?

Harried and hurried?

Irritable and angry?

Or perhaps tired and ticked-off?

What type of environment are you?

Life is certainly not all butterflies and roses…but because we are Christians – we are to reflect Christ in our environment.

It’s ironic we are starting this challenge now…because last week was anything but peaceful in my home. So here’s my full disclosure. Lol!

First – my dryer. It is 20 years old (from my husband’s first apartment before we were married) and it died…so we ordered a new one and 7 days later it arrived. Needless to say, a week without a dryer (and hanging clothes to dry) made the sight of this truck a cause for celebration!

dryer arriving

Then my tough guy football player split his lip at football practice this past Tuesday and had to go to the ER to get 4 stitches.

Alex getting stitches

Poor guy!  Four stitches may not sound like many, but by the next morning his lip was puffy and bruised and drinking and eating were a challenge this week and I worried a bit over the entire thing.

Then there’s this landscaping project we began.  The plan was to take out our flower beds in the backyard (since I am not much of a gardener) and plant grass. But the ground is very wet here and the tire tracks have turned the backyard into a mud pit.   So here is what our backyard looks like right now (half of the seed and straw has been spread):

backyard

Did I mention I have this beautiful WHITE little puppy who uses that yard to go potty in?  Her name is Snowball but maybe we should rename her Dirtball? Lol!

Snowball outside

All of these life irritations try my patience deeply.  Life is not always a bowl of cherries.

It is very easy to become frazzled and frustrated and eventually foolish with my words and actions.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” ~ Proverbs 14:1

And I know that within my own strength, I cannot be peaceful and patient.

This is where Christ changes everything. I do not have to be perfect to please God.  Hear me on this…If you have lost your temper and have lost your way this week, take heart.  Jesus loves us no matter what we do good or bad.  His death on the cross means….he meets us right where we are.  Sinners in need of grace.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8

But we don’t want to stay where we are.  As we mature in Christ, we want to move forward by repenting of our sins this past week and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit this coming week.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22,23

Making our home a haven won’t happen by accident.  We must seek and pursue it.

And while many things that happened in my home this past week were out of my control there was this one constant.

God.

He was there with me.

And the flicker of my candle on the counter morning, noon and night reminds me – there is a God who loves me that I can turn to over and over and over with my worries, fears, stress and struggles.

Prayer brings peace.

Philippians 4: 6,7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Week 1 – CHALLENGE:

Go buy an extra large candle and light a candle everyday in your home. I will be starting mine in the morning but you can start yours at dinner time or whenever is convenient for you.  I will be placing mine in the kitchen – the main hub of my home.

Each time the glimmer of the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace and patience within your home.

You are an environment.

Let’s make our homes feel more like a warm hug than a cold shoulder for all those who find refuge under our roof this week!

Walk with the King,

 

 

**Chime In** 

What type of environment are you?

What gets in the way of your peace and patience in your home?

Have you begun to light your candle?  What scent is your candle and does your family like the candle?

Here’s a picture of what I’m using this week – I LOVE the scent of this Glade Apple Cinnamon Plug-in!

October candles

 

***If you are blogging your way through these weekly challenges – feel free to  leave a link to your blog post in the comment section so we can come visit you ;) !

 Need more encouragement in Making Your Home a Haven -
check out my dear friend Karen Ehman’s book titled
A Life That Says Welcome*
it is $1.99 on kindle through midnight Monday!

A life that says welcome*AmazonAffiliateLink

Making Your Home a Haven Fall Challenge Is Back!

Candles on  vintage tray with nuts and pumpkin on wooden background

Welcome to the 5th Annual “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Challenge.

If you’ve been around a while – you know all about this series and might already have your candle going right now!

But if you are a newbie – you might be surprised that I’m launching two series simultaneously – the first is the Reading Through the Bible Series and this month we are in the book of Genesis (find the printable bookmark and reading plan here)  and then the second is this new Fall Series.

Oh friends, we don’t want to just read God’s word – we want to live out God’s word in our homes first and then outside the home where God has planted us.

So this challenge is all about living out the word of God within the four walls of our home.

I will be posting about our reading in Genesis on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I will be posting these fall challenges on Mondays. ;)

Each week I will give you one practical tip and one spiritual tip that you can do to create a haven in your home.

Is your calendar full? Do you feel tense, rushed and even panicked at times? Do you feel like the rest of the family is feeling the same way?

I believe we can create a physical environment, as well as a spiritual environment, that can bring peace, harmony and a sense of calmness to our homes if we are willing to be intentional.

 This challenge will run through the month of October and this video I use yearly, explains the heart and plan behind it.

(if you can’t see the video: click here)

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” ~ Proverbs 14:1

Here’s the topic schedule:

Week 1: October 6th -Go buy an extra large candle and light a candle everyday in your home.

I will be starting mine in the morning but you can start yours at dinner time or whenever is convenient for you.. I will be placing mine in the kitchen – the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.

Work on peace and patience this week.

Week 2: October 13th – Play soft music everyday in your home.

Choose worship, classical, jazz or another form of peaceful music that the family enjoys. Focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships.

Work on gentleness and self-control this week.

Week 3: October 20th – Keep the candle burning, the music playing and plan a Family Fun Night.

Have a pillow party in the family room and get out every blanket and pillow in the house and be cozy with the kids or your hubby! Even if you live alone you can do this. Enjoy a cozy evening of hot cider and caramel corn. Bust out some old fashioned games and take the time to savor these moments with your loved ones.

Work on kindness and joy this week.

Week 4: October 27th – Focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home.

Cook things with pleasant aromas like homemade bread, pies, and cookies. Don’t wait to have a reason to make something special – do it simply to show love to your family. Invite your kids and/or hubby to cook along side of you – make memories in the kitchen – test tasting, being creative, laughing and loving. Remember the importance of dinner time around the table as a family.

Work on showing love, goodness and faithfulness to your family this week.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22,23

You may notice that our spiritual emphasis this year is on the fruit of the spirit.  There is no magic in the lighting of a candle, soft music, game nights or comfy food – it is the power of the Holy Spirit working through us that will transform our homes into a haven for everyone who passes through our doors, so the light of Jesus can shine brightly.

Will you take the challenge?

“There’s simply no place like home.  Whether you have a one-bedroom apartment or a large farmhouse, home is where we rest, refuel, and build strong relationships with our loved ones.  No two homes are alike.  Home is a place where we express our individuality in the kitchen and on the walls.  Whether you are a full-time homemaker or work full-time outside the home, we all have in common the desire to make our homes a haven.  Together let’s pursue peace and harmony.” ~ excerpt from the book, Women Living Well

If you are in – it’s time to prepare for the first challenge by going out and purchasing a large candle.  I just love the fall – this should be fun!

See you back here on October 6th when we discuss the first challenge!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

 

When Your Home Does Not Feel Like a Haven

When your home does not feel like a haven

In 2010, after finishing our very first – “Making Your Home a Haven” Fall Series – I wrote this post.

I wrote this post because I know…I know that there are many who lit candles, prayed, tried to plan game nights and prepared cozy dinners …but you are discouraged.  Your home STILL does not feel like a haven.

There is a self-talk that rattles around inside the brains of women – yes, even Christian women who long to live out God’s word in their homes.  I know because my brain does it too…and here’s what it says…

{From the archives}

I turn to Psalm 23…

1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (want. want. want. I want…)

2. He makes me lie down (lie down…if only I could lie down for just 20 minutes…if only if only if only) in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. (quiet. quiet. quiet…this home is so loud…television, ipods, cell phones, chatter, I can’t get a moment of quiet here).

3. He restores my soul (my soul. needs. restored. …it hurts). He guides me in paths of righteousness. (I am so alone…I have no one who understands…if only I had someone to get me out of this mess. mess. mess. Someone besides me please clean up this mess!).

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (what if. what if.what if. what if I’m not enough?) for you are with me (you are? why are you so silent God?); your rod and your staff they comfort me. (comfort. who needs comfort. I am strong. I will pick myself up and press on. I am not weak.)

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (overflows. overflows. overflows. Dirty dishes overflow, closets overflow, my trash cans overflow, my laundry baskets overflow, my calender overflows…if everything is so full – why do I feel so empty?)

6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. (follow. follow.follow. I feel like difficulties, trials, disappointments, bad relationships and financial problems follow me… goodness? love? follow me?) and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (put on fake smile. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…BUT…I want. I want. I want. if only. if only. if only. my soul hurts. mess. mess. mess. I am weak. no. I am strong. empty. empty. empty.)

Do you hear the self talk? Do you hear what is happening between this woman’s two ears?

She is saying rotten things to herself about her life, about the people in her life, about her circumstances, and even about God. And then she wonders…why? don’t? I? have? peace?

The problem is not out there – it’s inside of her.

Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Do you want to see a change in your home? It starts in your mind.

Are you in a storm? Do you need help?

At the core – I am empty, ugly, self-seeking, insecure, questioning myself to death regularly – even to the point of tears over fears and failures. I hurt. I struggle. I wrestle. But then - I lift my eyes up to the maker of the heavens and the earth and this world pauses for just a moment and all my ugly thoughts and self talk are washed away by his love, grace and peace.

Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

The storms do not disappear but seeing a glimpse of the sunshine that awaits me, lifts me up when I am weak. He is strong. And so I rest. And he restores.

If you are discouraged – I encourage you to get alone with Psalm 23 for 5 minutes today.

The Lord is indeed your Shepherd and you shall not be in want. You must claim these truths. Let him lead you by still waters…are you thirsty? Sit still. Drink a tall glass of his living word! Let him restore your soul. He is with you. He loves you. You will one day dwell in His house- His Haven – forever.

Walk with the King!

Courtney

3D wlwbook cover

 

The book, Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home, is now available in most bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.