“Remember when we were at your house last summer. Well, on the way home, my daughter was talking about all the bible quotes and saints up on your walls.”
She asked, “Dad…can we put some Catholic work up on our walls, too?”
This was part of a conversation on a call with my brother. He had been doing a lot of renovations on their new home and called me about a recent comment his daughter made. He wanted me to know how much it had impacted his daughter.
While this message was so beautiful to hear, it was proof that I was, in fact, creating the culture in my home that I wanted.
She was inspired, and I didn’t have to say a thing.
My home environment had created a culture that inspires. A culture that is full of hope and love.
How do we create a hope-filled culture? I believe we have to delve into what inspires us and the mission of our families.
What do we want people to encounter when they meet us? Do we want people to feel welcomed when they enter our homes? This becomes evident when you approach someone’s house and see a beautiful welcome mat and little signs like “Friends and family gather here.”
Do we want people to feel comfortable? People who have “comfortable” homes tend to always have an “open door” policy. Their home has comfortable couches to sit on, and they always invite you to sit and chat.
When I think of the hope-filled culture of my home, I would like people to be inspired:
by our faith…
by our love for each other…
by our love for inviting people into our lives…
To be inspired by our faith…
Years ago, when I would visit my uncle’s home, I was always drawn to a sign in his hallway. It said, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Countless nights I would stand in front of that plaque, making a mental list of all the “evidence” of my faith.
I remember thinking I didn’t want a hung jury. I wanted all 12 jurors to convict me!
My faith is an integral part of who I am, and that not only affects my personal life but my role as a wife and mother. I want my home life to reflect the importance of my faith. Inspirational quotes from saints and bible verses on the walls are a small way to share my faith with those visiting my home.
A sign that hangs in my living room states, “Do little things with great love.” A quote from St. Therese, it is a reminder to each of us that we should always be looking to serve. We can show our love in little ways.
As a teacher, you learn that having posters and signs at eye-level encourages students to read. The information readily available at eye-level or specifically placed in places where people sit for periods of time will more likely be remembered. I can still recall several phrases from a poem that was on my childhood mirror.
In addition, I want our faith to be integral to who we are, regardless of who is visiting our home.
A few years ago, my daughter had a friend over who did not believe in God. When it came time for dinner, we bowed our heads, and my husband led grace. In a later conversation, I told my young daughter, “we would never make your friend pray when she was at our house, but we will not change who we are either. If you were to go to her house, I would expect you to say grace before meals even when they don’t.”
It is also important to create places of prayer in our home. Lisa, the founder of Little With Great Love, shares her own insight about this here. In our house, we gather in the morning, cuddling together with blankets and bibles, and we share scripture. Our bibles, located in a basket under our coffee table, are always readily available for quick reference. Additionally, the St. Joseph’s catechism is also in a basket next to our couch as we review and study the catechism with our youngest in the mornings.
Our study, whose bookshelves house numerous writings of the saints and Catholic and Christian writers, is another testament to the importance of learning about our faith in our family.
Throughout the year, we decorate our home as we celebrate various liturgical seasons in the Church and traditional holidays. During the Easter season, we have vases of flowers throughout the house to celebrate “new life” and the “hope” of the resurrection.
By our love for each other…
A couple of years ago, we started a tradition of taking family photos in the fall. It has become a fun challenge to pick two or three “color” themes for our picture and raid our closets to come up with outfits. I love hitting discount stores like Ross, Target, TJ Maxx, and Burlington Coat factory to find a fun new accessory, accent sweater, or a cute dress for one of the children. It’s important to me that, although we dress alike in the color selection, that each person’s personality is clearly displayed. I work with each child to find an outfit that is “them.” I believe that creating an environment that embraces the beauty of each individual is vital to the identity of our family.
Looking at our walls and seeing these pictures brings such joy to my heart. It allows me to celebrate how our family, and each individual, has grown and continues to strengthen who we are.
Our house runs on love and Jesus. This quote says it all, and when I saw this written on a sign at Hobby Lobby, I knew I had to buy it. It was our family motto on a sign! It is a reminder to all those who enter that this home is built on love.
Loving each other means spending time getting to know each other.
Regular, nightly family dinners are how we reconnect after busy days. We share our small victories of the day and laugh with each other. Our conversations always include a “family question” of the night and usually end with nighttime “cuddles” on the couch.
Our house is a place of laughter and fun. Alexa is always playing music, and we have regular dance parties. We love family movie nights with popcorn and candy, or anytime we get to travel together.
We not only love each other, we say “I love you” often. We try to create a safe place for our children to share their hearts and hurts. We have done this with family rules about not tearing each other down and always thinking of each other.
By our love for inviting people into our home…
Hospitality and sharing a meal are great ways of serving others and filling them with hope. So many people desire connection with others, and there is a beauty in vulnerability. However, when we open our home, we open ourselves up to criticism and judgement. We have to find the beauty in sharing ourselves with others. We give people a reason for joy and hope when we invite them into our lives and our homes.
Hospitality doesn’t have to look like a big meal. It’s sharing a cup of tea. It’s ordering pizza after a day at the park. It’s being open to allowing the Lord to bless your time with another individual or family. It’s a way of saying, “You are welcome here” without saying anything.
We love having people come to our house. Every Halloween, we invite multiple families over our house for a taco bar and to trick-or-treat. We take plenty of pictures of the more than 20 children who crowd on our stairs for a picture. It is a special time of fellowship and fun.
From birthday parties to dinner dates, our home has been a place of fellowship for many years. As we are currently in the process of moving, our thoughts are already heavily on our new home and purchasing a place where we can entertain and exercise this gift for hospitality. We desire our home to be a domestic church that draws others to Christ.
Our homes are more than just physical buildings. They are subcultures of our society. They define the ideal space that we want to stimulate growth for our family. What is it that our heart yearns for? What hope-filled culture can we create for our own families and for those we love?
Let us inspire with our very lives.