Homemaking & House Warming

August first marks a new leg in the journey of engaged life. My fiance and I signed a lease on our first home together: first stand-alone house, first yard, first vegetable garden, first signed contract together. Not to mention two whole bedrooms which leave me longing to fill them with kittens, puppies, and babies. Well maybe just the first two for right now.

We will not live in the house together until after the wedding, but it has brought us to a season of preparation. Preparing a home in the midst of preparing for a lifetime of marriage. You can imagine the layers of desires, dreams, growth and even internal conflict this has surfaced for each of us.

Societally speaking, Western culture sometimes cringes at the word “domestication” and views homemaking as a retro and dated practice. But God says otherwise, as the strong and dignified Proverbs 31 woman watches over the ways of her household (Proverbs 31:27). And so my eyes are beginning to align more with His, viewing homemaking as a beautiful discipline to be cultivated in the years to come.

Here are just a few observations / lessons I’ve learned since signing that lease just two weeks ago:

1. Turning a house into a home takes a lot of work.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down . – Proverbs 14:1, ESV

And this is where I’m so grateful to have my partner, my future husband. Making a home is not easy, and we need to work as a team! Since we’ve received the keys, we have spent hours each day evaluating, cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, measuring, bleaching and sanding. All with the goal of creating a clean, fresh, comfortable home for us as newlyweds.

2. It is really easy to get wrapped up in material items. I almost think that my alter ego is an interior designer, and if you’ve seen my Pinterest board you would probably agree. I love a room that is aesthetically pleasing. From the wall colors, to the furniture and layout, to the throws. But this fun hobby all too easily turns into thoughts like, “We need that duvet cover from West Elm to complete the bedroom.” All in all, to decorate or own nice things is not sinful. But the obsessive thoughts and worth-seeking behavior is where I need to draw the line. And thankfully Jesus has already drawn it for me. Not only has He drawn the line, but He has also given me His Word to remind me that my worth is found in Him alone. Without Him, all else is empty.

3. Home making and house warming sharpens character. I am now in a sweet position to begin serving my husband-to-be in the realm of our new home. This sharpening of servanthood extends further to community, family, and friends and can take many forms from Bible studies, to barbecues and tea parties with girlfriends. In the earliest days of the church, members met in homes and upstairs rooms. Our home is a place where we can uniquely serve, and be God’s hands and feet in a place of refuge.

4. Our home will be what we make it.  This statement seems simple and obvious. And it is. It is my prayer that our home will be an extension of worship; a reflection of God’s Kingdom crashing in. Perhaps it’s just the city noise, lights, traffic, and fast-paced lifestyle, but I think our longing for a comfortable home, quiet and set apart, is a God-given desire for something He longs to give us (starting in this life and perfected in the life to come).

I hope to create our home as a sanctuary and resting place. Not just aesthetically, but behaviorally. I want to leave space and time for God to speak into our lives. Home should be a safe place of prayer; where the walls, the neighbors, and the family inside are prayed over. While this earth will remain broken until Jesus returns, it is still possible to make our homes a reflection of our heavenly home.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. – John 14:1-2, NKJV

This Greek word mansion  (μονή) is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in John 14. The meaning translates not only as a noun, dwelling place, but also as an action, an abiding. Jesus connects the dots down in verse 23:

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

The home is not just a place of relationship for our earthly families. Home is a symbol and a place for our heavenly families as well. It is the very illustration Jesus uses here to depict relationship within the Godhead, as well as the Holy Spirit (the very God of the universe!) coming to abide within us. All of the walls of our home and things inside will pass away, but some things will not:

time spent with our Father in secret

acts of service and love for others

time spent with our Savior in the context of community and fellowship

hearts grown closer to God’s heart as we surrender our dwelling place to Him.

 

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To Labor for Love

When I first think of the word nurture, I think of the root of the word. It’s very nature is feminine, linked almost inseparably to motherhood. But to nurture you do not have to be a mother. You may be a pet owner, a youth leader, a nurse. Each of these uniquely but collectively seek to nourish and strengthen out of empathetic service.

Barbara Hughes, author of one of my favorite books which outlines the basics of a beautiful [and humbly disciplined] life, points out a concept not seen by the naked eye:

“To live out life as a nurturer in this self-centered, godless culture will cost you.”

When I read this, I stopped. I had to read it a second time. It would have been easy to let my eyes skim over the words, but something in my brain (or maybe my heart) hiccuped at this text. This isn’t just talking about dishing some dog food or handing out pills in the hospital. This is talking about something much deeper. This is talking about loving deeply, about bearing another’s burden. 

In the midst of processing this last week, a very real experience occurred while working in the hospital. During  the last leg of a twelve-hour shift, I was completely bombarded by the despair, hurt and frustration one of my patients was experiencing. As nurses we see human frailty at it’s most broken state – what may even be considered the slow process of dying – and with that comes the healthy practice of separating emotionally from the constant illness within the hospital. But every so often the grief will really stick with me.

Throughout the night I was overwhelmed with sadness for a man and his wife; his functional state was diminished, and she was by his side expressing her wedding vows not just as words but as actions. She held his hand, speaking comforting words, nurturing him, quieting him to sleep in his distress. So much love, but so much sadness. At the end of my shift, her despair hit a wall and she very expressively aimed her frustration at me. It was all I could do to explain his care kindly and walk out of the firing zone while holding it together professionally (for lack of better words).

I quickly walked to a private, secluded room and cried. Not one or two tears down my cheek, but face contorted, eyes bloodshot, unable to stop the tears as they messed up my makeup and left my skin pink and mottled. The tears were not of anger or hostility toward the woman. They were products of anguish, sadness and frustration; the same frustration that she was feeling. Our sadness was one and the same, although hers was undoubtedly greater.

One of my youth pastors from high school called this weight the labor of love. 

This past Sunday a pastor spoke on loving enemies. While nurturing normally doesn’t occur with foes, something he said stood out to me on the universal sacrifice of love:

“[to love is] to passionately desire their greater good at our own expense.”

Is this not what Jesus did on the cross?

So as I reflect on this uncomfortable and painful experience with a patient family member in the hospital, I see it as an encouragement. An encouragement to continue to love deeply, even when at times it hurts the heart. An encouragement that although boundaries are needed in the workplace, sometimes to have compassion to the point of feeling others’ pain is a good thing. It is a refreshing reminder of why I became a nurse, and also Who’s strength and hope I must rest upon in moments of despair.

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Simple and Sweet: An Introduction

The sun rises and then sets. Hope expands expectations and still passion fades. A man exercises free will over his choices yet can be broken by his circumstances. Stepping back to view the larger perspective, however, reveals change as consistent and constant. Seasons in life ebb and flow; winter, summer, spring and autumn appear as contrasting hues, yet side-by-side they create a story.

During sunrises and sunsets,

hope and despair,

pivotal choices and also brokenness,

I pray some things will always be true of me:

I am a follower of Jesus. I hope I never grow tired of hearing the Gospel; that my response is always awe and thanksgiving. I care about sharing the hope of life that comes through Jesus alone. I long to know God more personally and deeply. I am a Registered Nurse, and absolutely in love with my profession. I love to study the Bible historically and also contextually, how the Living Word applies to life today. My life purpose is to help heal and nurture the broken and broken-hearted through nursing and ministry, and almost all of my biggest dreams include these elements.

Sweeter Than Honey is a blog about God’s goodness and grace, simple and sweet. I’ve only the plan to reflect on God’s immeasurable goodness woven through joys, musings, and life lessons with the idea that my human experiences may resonate a bit with your human experiences, and just possibly serve as a small hope and truth.

And God’s truth is so good, always:

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalm 119:103