We live in a small house, less than 1,000 square feet. We love our home, but in a society that applauds "bigger" and "more," we have never really expected others to fall in love with it like we have. Admittedly, it is a bit crowded. The kitchen counters are covered with appliances and canisters; the living room houses a toy kitchen and bins of toys; the girls share a bedroom so we can have a small guest room; and there is only one bath.
Furthermore, ever since we moved in this house, we have been working on a project, or two, or more at a time. I've even been a bit embarrassed when neighbors would come into my back yard and see at least three or four of the following at any given time: a backhoe, siding, shutters, shingles, lumber, stacks of bricks, ladders, wheelbarrows, shovels, hoes, and rakes. Add to that the pink-that-should-be-red front door, the half-painted back deck, the "soon-to-be-painted" bricks and foundation and swing set, and a million other things "we are going to do," and I've thought of my house as more of a vision that needs to be explained than a welcoming environment.
Just this week we have had 10 guests who have never been in our home before. Each one was complimentary of our home, our yard, and our small garden. But I, in my despicable pride, found myself pointing out all the flaws that we are going to fix...someday. When I look around, I see the hole in the wall that needs to be patched, the shutters that are still sitting on the deck waiting to be hung and painted, the little brick wall that we intend to mortar, the trim that needs to be painted, and so much more. I wish now that I would have just accepted their compliments with a simple, "Thank you," because, as my brother said, "The homeowner is the only one that sees those things." And, because I have since remembered something...
It's not the decor but the people that are at the heart of the home. Of course we all want the decor to reflect our personalities, our passion for people and life. We want our homes to be beautiful, a reflection of the beauty that is in all of us as masterpieces of God. But what does that mean? I think it means that we love on the people that walk through our door--our spouse, our children, and all our relatives, our friends and neighbors, and even the college student selling children's books and the little old ladies inviting us to a their church.
We don't want to get so caught up in the decor that we forget to love on the people. Because it's not the decor that says, "You are welcome here," but the smiles and casual conversation. It's our willingness to listen, our ability to laugh, our compassion that moves us to pray that will make our homes beautiful.
I may never get that painting hung over my couch, but I pray that you will feel comfortable enough to prop your feet up when you sit under that blank wall. I hope you will accept some tea and feel free to share your prayer needs. And if there's a backhoe in my yard the next time you come, I hope I can stifle an explanation and just offer you some lemonade; we can sit outside on the half-painted deck, look at the backhoe while we chat, and watch the kids play on the slip'n'slide. It might be messy, it might be dirty, but I hope it feels welcoming.
May God help us love well. May His presence be felt in our home. And, as He is Love, and we pray His Spirit into our home, may our guests feel Love when they walk through our door. Love makes our messes beautiful. So, we welcome you in to our beautiful mess.
A Random Note: A sweet sister in Christ gave me the wonderful suggestion of laying hands on the garden, asking God to bless it with a bountiful harvest. I have done so, not just once, but many times; while weeding or watering, I will throw up another plea for God to bless our meager efforts. I say "meager," because really what is pulling a few weeds compared to the miracle of God turning a seed into a plant that produces fruit and more seeds!? We do very little, but I'm anxious to see what He will do as we acknowledge and welcome His presence into our garden.
I'm sure this is completely out of context, but this verse was in my readings this week and I prayed it would not only apply to our garden but also our children. May the good seeds we plant bear good fruit.
"The Lord will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest." Psalm 85:12