This was such a wonderful book! A highlight so far for this year, for sure. It’s funny how my book list is evolving, as my years are changing, my environment is changing, as I’m exploring new parts of my own life, different books are being highlighted. I’m being drawn from business and time efficiency to rest, mindfulness, and purpose. From rules and tips and checklists to abiding and love and intentionally creating a beautiful life without the pressure. I learned long ago (though I am STILL reminded over and over) that pressure does not come from the Lord. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for leading me and not pushing me.
So, this book popped up in an Amazon search and immediately it spoke to me. It is written by a mother and daughter duo, who have done the life they present for years and years, and have the stories and ideas to prove it. They both paint a beautiful picture of intentionality (without pressure or perfection) in creating a home that is inviting, warm, loving, and fun. This is what I want my home to be! Who wouldn’t?
In our home, for the most [part], the conductor of life within its walls is me. This is the role I have chosen, the role that suits me best…
This really spoke to me! I am the one who is planning parties, picking up things, forming meal plans, discovering fun adventures for us to do. And that is crucial to the rhythms and melodies of our family! The way we speak to each other also is a huge, but often overlooked component of peace in homes, but it is the steady beat of compassion, love, or shame and frustration heard consciously or unconsciously from all members of your family. How things bustle during the holidays or how you choose to rest on a particular long weekend is up to the conductor, so I choose to plan ahead and approach life with intention. That’s how you can have the bustle without the hectic and the rest without the boredom.
Side note on speech: Long ago when Philip and I were dating, he remarked at the excessive sarcasm I would use in everyday speaking, to him and others. He didn’t like it much. I thought he was just sensitive, because that’s how everyone in college spoke. But because I loved him, I decided I would taper it back a bit (read “a lot”) just for his sake. And you know what? I was happier, he was happier, and I realized just how unhappy people were. It’s just not healthy to permit that kind of negative speaking constantly spewing from your mouth. This is just one of the many ways I’m thankful for his influence on me. Love you, Philip.
How can ordinary meals, the usual days with their ups and downs of work and school, sickness and exercise, be a place where we discover and create the transcendent beauty of our Creator God?
…the real loveliness lurking in the corners of the ordinary: a bowl of apples, a child’s face, a Mason jar of wildflowers. I mean the breathtaking loveliness that comes when ordinary moments are filled and formed by hospitality, ritual, and relationship: dinner by candlelight, heart-to-hearts over hot chocolate, a shared autumn walk, a sick day in which real love is made tangible in ginger ale and chicken soup and a child’s favorite quilt.
I want my home to reflect the deepest affirmation of my heart that God is with me, that He has given me every good thing. I want my home and life to be an invitation to feast, to touch, to savor, and to know the goodness of my beautiful God.
YES! This is what my heart has known for so long, but my brain didn’t! I knew I wanted it to be a place of rest and peace, but it’s much deeper than that even still. Real LOVE is tangible.
My grandmother was a professional at creating celebrations out of things maybe some would find insignificant. One time, my cousin Claire, a young girl then, was trying on makeup unbeknownst to my aunt. When my aunt told her wearing make-up (for her age, especially) was reserved only for “special occasions”. She looked up at her mother and replied, “LIFE is a special occasion!” What a laugh this got from my entire family, but especially Grandma! She thought it was such a significant lesson that she got little ceramic jewelry boxes engraved with “Life is a special occasion”- Claire Van Bever and gave them to all of the granddaughters (at least! I’m not sure who else got one!).
The family also threw a giant year-long party for my grandparents when they were turning 80 years old. It was along the theme of “Around the World in 80 Days”, based on the book and movie with the same title. We mapped a route including places they had lived and/or visited and just filled in some places in between to make up 80 days. Then members of the family sent maps, websites, souvenirs, recipes, poems, anything we could think of, trying to make contact every day for 80 days. Some things were emailed, snail-mailed with date to open, phone calls, etc. It was fun for them as much as it was for us to celebrate them! Of course at the end there was a giant party and they flew across their lake property in a giant hot air balloon.
I have so many stories like these, from thoughtful listening parties from recordings in the 1950s of family singing, to “dollar pancakes” to see how many the kids could eat, to cards at Valentines with $2 bills in them for “ice cream”. These rituals and celebrations are important placeholders in the fabric of my memory and my heart as well. They are unique to me and I hate to say that it might’ve taken me 33 years to finally realize just how special these things are in our lives. It’s different for everyone of course, and some families aren’t as tuned in to the sacredness of rituals and celebration, but, you are the conductor! Start it now. Make your life prepared for the little ways you can create memories. I hope my kids remember things like the way we buy a fish at the beginning of each summer, or make a summer checklist. I want them to think about the hikes they don’t particularly like to go on now, but I know they’ll appreciate later on. How I read aloud to them, or we wrestle together. I want them to have fond memories of Christmas traditions that run deep in our family, and the way we set the table really fancy sometimes, just because. Even just on this last road trip, my mom thoughtfully put a playlist together of folk songs and symphonies that would correspond to traveling to California. This took her valuable time, but it was so fun to see and participate as we traveled.
Intention. Preparedness. Thoughtfulness.
These are words that are valued, but we need to make sure we exemplify them to our children, and teach them how to use.
I will end this post by saying, I think I have finally come to the conclusion that my life is made to be the conductor of our family’s symphony. I am settling into that. For years I have wanted something more, something more for ME. But I’m feeling now that the deeply rooted satisfaction of life that I was longing for, was really in front of me the whole time. Might things change and evolve some more? Of course! But this season, this important moment in my life is meant to cherish. To create memories for my children and us as a family… together.