Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Where the Heart Is

This series on peace is wearing me out!  I've had to truly dig deep into what peace is, and what it isn't, and figure out what I need to ditch to get me some more of it.

My good ole Webster's has these definitions to offer:

peace noun  1. freedom from fighting and war  2. quiet

peaceful  adj. 1. calm and quiet  2. without anger or fighting

I find that when our home is in discord it is when I am striving, in my own power, to get things done my way. Or perfectly. Or both.  Typically, when I begin to feel panicked about how the house looks, or how the house doesn't look, I get cranky. This is why family used to hate having company.

I would invite someone over and then turn my family upside down as I attempted to accomplish everything I had been putting off for the last year.  I would want to organize every closet, drawer, and cabinet. I would then move on to the bedroom attempting to decorate and declutter.  Everything that had been piling up for Goodwill had to be immediately taken up. Not even the garage was exempt from my rampage.

We were usually so worn out by the time the company actually arrived that we'd fall asleep before dessert.

As a firstborn, I can be quite demanding. I find that when I ask for things to be done I expect them to be done immediately.  Now that I recognize this trait in myself, I can make adjustments. Just because I am driven to get something done does not mean that everyone else in my home will have the same drive.  I have come to accept my home for what it is:  a place where my family lives.  That means we eat, craft, play games, experiment, hash things out, and explore together. Since we are a homeschooling family it also means we have a 4 bedroom schoolhouse.  In other words, our home is organic in nature. Friends have come to love, and to expect, that there is a certain level of chaos here most of the time.

The fact that I cannot control how our home looks ALL of the time does not mean we should not open our home up.  In fact, I think when I got comfortable with how we live and accepted people stopping by it made our home more peaceful.  More than one friend has said, "I'm so glad that your house looks like mine!"  They are usually referring to laundry waiting to be folded, cooking messes, or toys scattered about.  I used to mutter, or shout, depending on the day, "No one lives like this!" in frustration, but I have since learned better.

We once went to visit a dear friend, whose house is much like mine, filled with children and their accessories, and my daughter turned around and said, "See mom, we're not the only ones who live like this."  Those of you who know me could probably guess which daughter said that. :)

That does not mean that your house has to be messy.  I have friends who are very gifted at organization and decorating and their homes are beautiful, even when I stop by without calling. That's who they are. One day I may be there, but today I am not.

I will say that I have made the very conscious effort to remove things from our home that there is not room for.  Over the last few years, with the help of my family, we have cut down on the amount of stuff we have in our home.  A.W. Tozer said, "As long as we think we own anything, that thing owns us. As soon as we know that we own nothing, then God owns us."

Yes, yes, and yes.

I have learned that peace does come at a price, and the price is my effort. I have to work tirelessly with my children to teach them to get along. I have to work endlessly with myself to keep my tongue under control, and to stay focused on the task God has given me. For me, these days, a peaceful home means having a place for everything. It does not mean having everything in its place at all times. It means we can put it away when we choose to. Well, it means putting things away when I say so.

I am a firstborn, I can't change completely.

So, what does having a peaceful home look like to you?  Do you have a peaceful home? If so how do you do it?


  1. Haha...Was it MY house??

    Of course...this is still a miserable struggle for me. I think of my house as a disease I don't want anyone to catch. I have had two children tell me my house is the messiest they have ever seen...that can make a person sensitive.

    Working on that peace...

    1. Kate - your house is by no means the messiest house we have been to!! Yours is one of the most CREATIVE houses I have been too. One of the most fun houses. A house that produces amazing food, children, and fashion. Praying for peace for you...xo

    2. Then COME OVER LADY! I miss you!!!!

  2. great thoughts, Kara. I, myself, am a control freak. Over the last few years I have really tried to be more of a Mary and less of a Martha... although both great women =). I struggle with every detail being so perfect that I have made myself sick in the past. Jesus told Martha that Mary chose what is best by listening at his feet. To me... that is what peace seems like.... being hospitible to company by looking at their souls & spirits in love rather than fretting about dishes, laundry, who's not taking their shoes off & tracking in mud... and whatever else. This story has been impressed upon me so much in the last few years... my daughter Winnie was almost named Mary-- I thought maybe it would give her a head start =)
    Thanks for posting,
    -Kristen Gubbins

    1. Kristen, I so get you. I love Mary, and I love Martha. When we spend time with Jesus it is much easier to take the focus off of the outside and lets us focus on the inside.

      P.S. I like the name Mary, but I love the name Winnie.

  3. I think for me, it's been and continues to be a hard journey of finding peace in the midst of chaos. It's a time to look to Jesus as the Prince of Peace and worship him above all else - even a clutter-free home, which is so totally an idol for me. It sounds ridiculous, embarrassing even, to say that I sometimes worship tidiness more than I worship Jesus, but that's the truth. So, a peaceful home is one that focuses on Jesus over all else. I'd like to say that everything else will just get in line once that priority is straight, but it rarely does. It's more that everything else becomes smaller as He becomes a bigger focus.

    1. Sarah- I got goosebumps reading this. I, too, struggle with tidiness as an idol. I love that "It's more that everything else becomes smaller as he becomes a bigger focus." Right on!

  4. what a great post! i can really relate. i find myself getting anxious when the clutter rears up. we walk straight from our carport into our kitchen, so our kitchen can never really be clear of clutter. that said, you know i wish there were another backpack on that hook and a stinky pair of shoes on the floor next to the door. xo

    1. Oh, Anna! I wish you had another pair of stinky shoes, too.

      Why is it that the kitchen is the dumping ground? It just is I guess. :)

  5. Peace in my house consists of the mediating personalities of a destructive two year old, an organized but messy husband, and a clean freak/control freak (but oh so loving and pretty) wife. The destruction, piles of organization, and the spotless hand scrubbed floor rarely meet in peaceful ways. Peace is usually met in that moment when despite the destruction that has become our kitchen, we are all enjoying our freshly baked brownies or dinner. Peace comes in that small moment when we come together to do something as a family :)

  6. Hi Kara,

    Whew, keeping the home clean and tidy is hard, and I often err on the cluttered look in busy seasons. But I am so much calmer when things are put away and taken care of.

    Peace in general though? I love the verse, "He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him." -- That has been a powerful verse for me to meditate on the last year.

    Have a great week.

    Jennifer Dougan