I grew up with Mary Engelbreit and Kim Jacobs calendars. With the cozy homes depicted in their art, I couldn’t help but dream about creating a home someday. My mama, who made our old Victorian house an extension of her loving arms, would walk through our neighborhood with her four daughters. Each of us girls would pick out the house we wanted to live in when we grew up. I remember settling on a pink one. 🙂 Actually, none of us live in that neighborhood now, but each of my little sisters has created a unique, welcoming home of her own.
The wonderful thing about a home is that, once you are inside, it hardly matters which part of the world you are in. You might as well be living in your dream destination. Nothing would be so very different. For example, I have a dear friend who longs to live on the beach. Even though she lives five hours from the coast, she has filled her dwelling with shells and mermaids, “Beach House” signs, and seaside-themed magazines. When I’m inside her house at night, it is easy to imagine the ocean whispering in her backyard.
I live in a bustling city, though I have a quiet, country heart. Yet in my house, my soul is at home. My “ideal” home in the country would be much the same as this one, save perhaps the views from the windows. It would hold the same dear ones. We’d still dance in the kitchen. My grandmother’s piano would still be prominent and oft played. I’d still grow flowers, fill shelves with books, listen to music while I cook, feed the birds, light candles, sing, read to boys, pray, clean, cry, and dream.
I want to encourage each of us to stop yearning for the future. Instead, let’s make our current abodes reflect our hearts! How blessed are we to have a physical shelter, a harbor, a haven in this world!
“I want to have a little house with sunlight on the floor.” – Nancy Byrd Turner
Here are a few home decorating suggestions from two of the sweetest of children’s books:
The Visit by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrations by Wendy Anderson Halperin
This is a beautifully illustrated, rhythmic book about two sisters visiting their aunt and uncle in the country. (The author is Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter!)
- The breakfast table
It is around this humble circle that loved ones hold hands, pray, look into each other’s eyes, and hear each other’s thoughts. No wonder statistics say that children who participate in “the family dinner” are less likely to rebel!
- The garden
My little boy’s elementary school just added blooming window boxes to all the old, drab portable buildings on campus. The nodding pansies make me smile and think of the goodness in the world, instead of feeling the former hint of melancholy along that path.
If my car stranded me on the side of the road, and I was left to wander up to a house to ask for help, I would knock on the door of the house that had a birdbath and flowers. A garden speaks of attentiveness, of nurturing. The flowers smile, signaling that (hopefully) the homemaker is cheery, too.
Mama Loves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Kathryn Brown
This book is a lovely poem about all the things Mama loves (teapots, rain boots, ladybugs, roses in baskets . . .) Each stanza ends with “and ______ with me!”
- The porch swing
Sweet tea, unhurried days, relaxed conversation, a good book—a porch swing welcomes them all! Since our current home doesn’t have a porch, a teak glider on the patio will have to work a similar magic.
- The wind chime
My aunt-in-law surprised us with a beautiful, giant wind chime when our second child was born. Maybe it was an untraditional baby gift, but it is one that is still giving over 7 years later. On a sunny day, the sound of a wind chime sweetens the air. For a fleeting moment, when the gentle wind is blowing and the sun is barely warming your skin, you can feel as if you’ve been swept right into a children’s book.
- The piano
Even when it is silent, it emits the pleasures of music, past and future. If you don’t have a piano, consider putting a guitar on a stand. In my childhood home, my parents hung a painted banjo on the parlor wall. None of us could play the banjo, but somehow it still contained a mysterious promise of joy.
“. . . Where even the teakettle sings from happiness. That is HOME.” – Ernestine Schumann Heink