Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making your home a haven!

There are so many wonderful things about living in an area with four perfect seasons. I have always especially been fond of the colder seasons- I am one of those nutty sweater people who would rather wear five layers and sip hot cocoa than wear a tee shirt and Capri pants. (Favorite sweater seen below- click the picture for info. My friend Sara makes them by hand!!!)

Last year, right around this time, I accepted a "Fall Challenge." I had never done a challenge online before, and the thought of it was pretty neat. All I had to do was challenge myself to follow through on the suggestions offered by Courtney, over at Women Living Well. I can remember last year- it was very chaotic and stressful. I found so much comfort in the suggestions that were offered in the challenge. The simple, inexpensive, and blissful suggestions really brightened a very dark time of our lives.

The first week of October: Buy a very large candle, and light it every day. Each time the light catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home. This was amazing. That little light quite literally got us through some of the darkest days of the year. I loved this part of the challenge so much I continued it through the holidays. I can remember a critic of the idea sitting at the table, talking to me, and hearing all of the noise from the children in the background (3 boys under 5 years old = loud) snidely commenting, "I don't think your candle is working." The candle is not meant to change our situation, it is meant to remind us there is light in every situation. Gratitude first.

The second week of October: Play soft music everyday. Focus on peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships. This message is so important! The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies. ― J.R. Miller I know that most people find it horrible, but I start playing Christmas music during this week. I enjoy the "Classical Christmas" station on Pandora- the music is beautiful and uplifting! I am also a huge fan of Jenny Oaks Baker and adore all of her CDs.

The third week of October: Find spots in your home that are visually stressful and do something to change them. While you are working on cleaning up clutter, look at your spiritual clutter. This week is always so wonderful! I love it because while I am clearing up a stressful part of my home, I also work on something stressing my heart. What I find to be helpful is either completely redecorating that small part of the house, or completely "gutting" it and throwing away or donating a lot of the items. Then, when it is all cleaned, buying or making something beautiful to fill that spot helps remind me to keep it spotless. As far as the spiritual clutter goes, I adore taking this time to look up General Conference talks about some of the major concerns, questions, or stresses in my life. For example, reviewing a very recent talk by President Uchtdorf brought tears to my eyes when I read:

As a child, when I would look at the little forget-me-nots, I sometimes felt a little like that flower—small and insignificant. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father.

Years later I can look back on that young boy with tenderness and compassion. And I do know now—I was never forgotten.

And I know something else: as an Apostle of our Master, Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart—neither are you!

You are not forgotten.

Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.

Isn't that beautiful? I loved it. Yes, this is a perfect time to look at any spiritual clutter and clean it up!

The fourth week of October: With a candle burning, and music playing, have some tender moments with your family. Be sure to take extra time to really listen to the members of your family. So often it is easy to get caught up with all of the work we have to do! Carter's schoolwork has to be completed, Harrison's schoolwork needs attention, my own twelve credits at the University have demands, housework is never ending, and dinner always needs to be served. So many things on the to-do list can often overwhelm and take away from the things that matter- creating lasting and beautiful memories with our loved ones! By reminding ourselves to slow down, and focus on what really matters, we are more likely to take the time to play, laugh, and enjoy our families.

Halloween: Focus your attention to the kitchen, the heart of your home. Cook things with pleasing aromas. Remove all discontentment with your home or family, and give thanks to God for the home God has given you in which to create your own haven for your family. This was the best part of last year! My soul felt more calm and relaxed from already being reminded of my priorities, from saying so many prayers, being surrounded by beautiful uplifting music, and having cleaned out my clutter. This was the cherry on the top! Last year we cooked "Dinner in a Pumpkin" (we will be doing that again, this year!), lit extra candles, and spent time together. I had filled the house with warm scents, and when the children went trick-or-treating they returned to a beautiful and calm home. I cannot tell you how many people that came to our door would put their heads inside the house and say, "MMmm, it smells so good in here!" Children who were just trick-or-treating could feel the warmth of the home! Imagine how nice it would be to always live there!!!

I am thrilled to do this challenge again this year. Yes, we have had a few rough days this month, but overall, our stress level is pretty low and things are wonderful! Could they be better? Sure- but that isn't the point. The point is in MAKING our home a haven!!! Where there is room for improvement, we can improve!

1 comment:

  1. I really need to do the third week- and here in the Philippines, we have a 4 day weekend and I really should start! Patsy from