May the beauty of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.Psalm 90:17
“Your house reminds me of my grandma’s.”
As a 22 year-old newlywed hosting friends for dinner, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the comment. The “house” was a small, dated apartment (what we could afford with both my husband and me in graduate school), but I was in a phase of mild-obsession with the victorian era, and so gilded candlesticks sat on a lace tablecloth, a silk flower garland ran across the top of a hutch full of china, an ornately framed print of Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott hung over the couch, and a clunky antique piano took up far too much room in the corner (with generous permission granted by our upstairs neighbors). Upon further reflection, I decided that a grandma’s house evokes all that is cozy and lovely, if a bit old-fashioned, so I absolutely would take that comment as a compliment. It was also the first time I realized that maybe I was created a bit uniquely in my desire to make even a temporary apartment warm and inviting, and well… homey.
Twenty-plus years later my style has evolved (goodbye Victorians!), my address has changed several times, and my understanding of what it means to be a homemaker has deepened and become more sacred. For every woman is a maker of the home, whether she works additionally outside her four walls or solely within. And with this vocation comes the joyous privilege and solemn responsibility of creating a place to nourish both body and soul. As Psalm 27:1 says, unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain, and so the older I have gotten, the more I have sought His grace and wisdom as I have endeavored to build my home.
However, I recall a time when I had small children, lots of messes, and a narrow faith. Life at home seemed so very ordinary and uninspiring. But through a circumstance that necessitated me homeschooling (something I never thought I’d do), God helped me re-imagine what it could look like to have our home truly be at the center of our family, to have it be a source of light and life and deep roots saturated in truth, goodness, and beauty. It sparked a vision in me, and I can honestly say that I have never been bored since. (I have been challenged, frustrated, and exhausted, but never bored.)
At home, the opportunities to create beauty, to exercise creativity, and to see the hand of God are endless. When I l brew a pot of tea, light a candle, and play beautiful music, I am creating an atmosphere that points my children to the creator of all things beautiful. When I harvest a random assortment of vegetables from my garden and transform them into a nutritious meal, I am using His good gifts to nourish my family and point them to the giver of all good things. When my family gathers around our farmhouse table for Sunday brunch to share what we learned at church, we are pointing each other back to the the truth that sustains us all: we are loved deeply and God is worthy of all our praise.
In her book The Lifegiving Home, Sally Clarkson writes, “Every day, in each inch of space, each rhythm of time, each practice of love, we have the chance to join God in coming home, in living so that we make a home of this broken and beautiful world all over again. Love is enfleshed in the meals we make, the rooms we fill, the spaces in which we live and breathe and have our being.”
In God’s sovereign plan He set us in families to live in homes together. And those homes are the workshop of life. It’s where overwhelmed kids who have held it together all day, feel safe enough to fall apart. It’s where troubling questions and difficult conversations happen on cozy couches. It’s where deep belly-laughter echoes and sometimes yelling too. It’s where every day I blow it, and every day I am forgiven. It’s where grace upon grace is extended and received.
Now that God has led us out of homeschooling and my children are older, the full schedules of seven people leave me longing for more time together at home. But He has been gracious to help us capture the chasms of time we are gifted, and perhaps I value them more because of their increasing rarity. We use them to share farm chores, meals, conversations, and card games, bedtime stories, corn hole, and the occasional moments of just being. I pray as our children begin leaving our home that it isn’t just the Sunday cinnamon rolls and blazing hearth-fires that they fondly remember or long to come home to, but the love and beauty of God that is manifested within these four walls.
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.