The Home as the Hub of Life on Mission

Our family is in the process of moving from one house to another, and I’m kind of feeling all the feels about it. There’s the nostalgia and twinge of sadness as we say goodbye to a house where we’ve made sweet memories and grown as a family, but there’s also the excitement about a new place for a new season. All these feelings brought about by our upcoming change of address have gotten me thinking about the fact that a home is much more than just brick and mortar.

When we think of a house, we may think of shelter or a space to decorate according to our various styles. When we think of a home, we might envision a refuge or place of belonging. But in the Kingdom of God, does a home have a deeper purpose than even these good things? Does the Bible have anything to say about God’s purpose for the home?

Women who are familiar with the Bible may remember that in Titus chapter two, the work of the home is mentioned. Here, the apostle Paul exhorts Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine (the gospel): Older women are to train younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home . . . that the word of God will not be reviled” (2:4-5). Paul is not here saying that women should only work in the home. The point Paul makes is that the home is significant in God’s gospel mission; therefore, the work of the home is extremely valuable to Him. The Bible is clear that the mission of believers is to spread God’s glory to all the world by making disciples through the power of the gospel (Matt 28:19-20, Rom 1:16). This mission is not disconnected from Paul’s exhortations to women concerning work in the home. When Titus chapter two is interpreted in light of Christ’s great commission mandate, women will begin to see that their homes can serve as a “hub” or effective center for living a life on mission for Christ .

The mission begins within the walls.

I love Mother Teresa’s thought provoking words: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Al Mohler recently made a similar statement: “If we can’t reach our children, we can’t reach the world.” Our mission to reach the world with the gospel starts at home. The people who live within our walls {spouses, children, roommates} are our closest neighbors and usually the people with whom God has given us the greatest influence. Hearts and minds are shaped early and, as parents, we have the hearts of our children first. As we are faithful to love and care for our kids in the day-to-day, we have thousands of opportunities to make intentional deposits of gospel truth into their hearts and lives while praying for God to bring transformation and growth.

When we view the home as the hub of our mission efforts, even the most mundane and exhausting work required in keeping a house and caring for those we love is important and meaningful; yet, at the same time, it doesn’t rule us. Christ rules us. We can work faithfully by His strength and for His glory while recognizing that our joy is not dependent on whether or not we have a beautifully decorated and tidy home, a thankful spouse, or well-behaved children.

To use our homes as the hub of our mission efforts does not mean we are domestic goddesses who keep picture-perfect homes and never make mistakes in front of those who live in our home. In fact, it’s really just the opposite. Being on mission within the walls of our homes means that we really get the gospel ourselves. We understand that apart from Christ we are broken and flawed and weak. We recognize that every failure–every bad attitude, impatient word or careless act–is an opportunity to point to the Perfect One whose righteousness has been credited to us through faith and who is slowly transforming our hearts as we turn from our sin and look to Him alone. The ugly things in our hearts that are exposed in front of those we love give us the chance to demonstrate humility and true repentance as we shout the good news that the gospel of Jesus is our greatest hope in our weakest moments. To be on mission in our homes, we must model our deep need and highlight God’s great grace.

The mission moves beyond the walls when the door is open.

God has provided us earthly homes as temporary places of refuge, not that we may sequester ourselves behind closed doors and only minister to those within our walls, but that we may open our doors and bid others to come in and see that the it is The Lord is good. These physical structures we live in are just temporary dwellings, but they can be a powerful  tool to point others forward to our eternal dwelling in Christ if we will simply open our doors.

A missional home is an open home, not a perfect home. Are we willing to welcome others into our imperfect (and in my case, messy) homes to share of our time, our food, and ourselves? In the book of Acts, Luke records that the early Church did life together. Followers of Christ gathered daily to learn, worship, break bread, and remember the gospel together. They also applied the gospel together as they generously gave of what they had to meet the needs of others. In short, they lived life with a “what’s mine is yours” mentality. “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were beings saved” (Acts 2:47b). As they lived life together with open homes and hands, the gospel spread.

We live in an individualistic culture of locked doors, drawn curtains and privacy fences. The American mentality is “you can only count on what you earn”. But if our homes are going to function as little gospel outposts for taking the good news to the world, we must work by Christ’s strength to keep our doors open regardless of how uncomfortable or costly it may feel.

We each need to ask ourselves questions such as these: Is my home open to those in the Body of Christ? Do I regularly welcome believers in to share a meal or coffee and speak about the things of the Lord together? Is my home a refuge for others in need of a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, godly counsel or just a free place to spend the night? As I welcome the Body of Christ, am I intentionally seeking to build relationships with the lost in my circle of influence while petitioning the Lord to add to [our] number those who are being saved? Do I speak to neighbors and try to get to know them through time? Do I develop friendships with lost coworkers who do not know the Lord and invite them into my home? Do I pray for them and ask the Lord for opportunities? There are countless creative ways to use our homes for God’s Kingdom mission if we will open our eyes and ask daily for his strength and help.

Lest we become easily discouraged, let us remember that we will not be perfect in managing our homes for effective gospel mission. We will struggle and always have room to grow, but weakness itself is a gift. It reminds us that our hope is in something greater than our home and our own efforts at faithful obedience. In the hard moments, let us shift our perspective to the truth that Gloria Furman communicates so well:

The remnant Israelites learned that their home was not their refuge. In our modern time, we need to know this too. We need to know that our home is not a projection of our image but a space in which we work to display the image of Christ. Home points to a peace that is beyond color schemes and adornments. It points to the fact that the Lord is our refuge. Jesus Christ is the greatest missional home manager the world has ever seen. He builds his house, and he sets his house in order. He is head over his church, and he loves her perfectly. He nourishes her with his word. Christ reigns in sovereign superiority; he is the basis of all our joy. We must live our lives focused on his sovereign lordship over the cosmos.“

Yes. And amen.

 

How I repurposed a large frame

I’ve had lots of little DIY house projects floating around in my head lately. I want to paint the headboard on the guest bed, paint a table in my living room, clean out the garage, and the list goes on. These little projects aren’t getting done right now, though, because my babies need food, fresh diapers, clean clothes, and LOTS of one-on-one attention {and if you read my last post, you know what else we have going}. This is a full time job for me during this season, and that is ok. Because babies have eternal souls. And they grow up and leave. House projects don’t. I do manage to squeeze in an easy project every now and then, more for my enjoyment than anything else. Adam said, “This is like therapy for you, isn’t it?” Well, yes. Yes, it is.

I recently repurposed a large frame as a message board/bulletin board of sorts and created a totally different look very inexpensively. My mom got this Van Gogh copy years ago at a yard sale and had it framed for me. It hung in the kitchen of the apartment I shared with 4 other girls in Auburn. It has recently been hanging in the breakfast nook of our kitchen, and while I really like it, I’m ready for a change.

IMG_8210 I really had no inspiration or plan for this project. I initially decided I would take the canvas out and hang something in the empty frame. So, I browsed Hobby Lobby and came home with a good sized letter “R” and some burlap ribbon. The letter was five bucks. The ribbon was the most expensive part of the project at almost $15.00, which is more than I would typically want to spend on ribbon. But I absolutely LOVED it, and the fabric matched some pillows in my living room, so I went with it. Then, I started experimenting. IMG_8215 I liked it ok but still thought it was a little plain jane, especially with the neutral wall color. IMG_8218 I had lots of leftover ribbon, so decided to add a strip below the letter to use as a space to pin pretty invitations, favorite pictures, appointment cards, etc. I just hot-glued the ribbon to the back of the frame . . .IMG_8237and then pinned a few things up.
IMG_8231After looking at it on the wall for a few days, I still wasn’t satisfied. So, I pulled out the paint. I mixed gray and green Folk Art acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby (645 Basil Green and 2500 Greenscape) until I came up with a color I liked. Then, right before the paint was completely dry, I scratched it with my fingernails to distress it.
IMG_8275I can pin a little….
IMG_8267 IMG_8268 or a lot…IMG_8291. . . or nothing at all. The great thing about an empty frame is that you can do so many different things with it. I realize the hanging letter won’t really work if your last name starts with an “L” or an “I” or a letter without a curve to loop the ribbon through. But you could do strips of your favorite ribbon all the way up and clip pictures with clothespins. Or you could hang a pretty wreath in the middle. I’ll probably change mine again before long. I’m thinking I may cover the open back with burlap and put it on my mantle. IMG_8292 The possibilities are endless! 😉

Somewhat Settled

I think moving almost killed me, but we’re finally feeling {somewhat} settled. Minus the garage, we’re out of boxes. My sweet parents kept L in Jackson for a few days so we could unpack with some amount of productivity. {Well, as much productivity as one can have while carrying a small watermelon}. Then, mom brought L back and stayed a few days. She helped me make the house start to feel like a home with her “decorator’s touch.” There is still some work to be done, but we are settled in for the most part. Now, if I can just get newborn clothes washed and a double stroller ordered before little John Wicks arrives…

We’re enjoying our new home and are so thankful for the Lord’s provision of it. My prayer is that we will always use our home for His glory and His purposes as we seek to minister Christ to the people of this sweet community.

It’s certainly nice to have a little more space and to be able to use some things we’ve had tucked away storage. The buffet in the picture below was inherited from my mom’s parents. We have several heirloom pieces from grandparents throughout the house. They are precious reminders of our godly, loving heritage…

Here are just a view snapshots of progress…

IMG_4431Mr. Boy is enjoying his new abode as well! {Especially his new tub :)}IMG_4457

Burlap Door Hanger and Other Ramblings

So, it’s a been a long time since I’ve had time to get “crafty.” But we’re currently enjoying two weeks of what I like to call “in-between” time as we wait to close on our house. We’ve been very blessed to get to live in a church member’s BEAUTIFUL lake house about 45 minutes out of town during these “in-between” weeks. And since I’m finally finished with school work for the semester and have no boxes to unpack {yet} it feels a little bit like a vacation. Well, sometimes at least. Like maybe for the 2 hours each day that Mr. Boy naps. And then vacation is pretty much over for the day.

All that to say, I decided to take advantage of the calm before the storm {that will be moving into our house/having a baby} and make something to hang on the door when Mr. Boy #2 makes his arrival. Because clearly this will be my only opportunity to do so.

I’ve been admiring the burlap doorhangers that I keep seeing in all these cutesy giftshops for a while, but since I’m too cheap to drop 40 bucks and just BUY ONE ALREADY, I’ve been looking at ideas on pinterest and thinking about attempting to make one myself. I should say attempting again. Because a few months back I definitely tried to make a pumpkin that said, “HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!” and it was a total flop. TOTAL. But I’m thinking it was because I didn’t have a good pumpkin pattern, and I’m not the best a free-handing a pumpkin. So, for baby JW, I decided on a little boy’s jon-jon…something for which I most definitely have a pattern.

This was my pinterest inspiration. . .

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And here is my own version. . .

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It really was a pretty easy little craft. I just traced the outline of a size 24 month jon-jon onto some poster board and cut it out to make a pattern.
IMG_4312 Then, I used blue paint to trace the pattern onto a piece of burlap (leaving space for the white/writing area).IMG_4313I went to town filling in the outline with my blue and white paint…IMG_4314I used 3d, black fabric paint to outline the details and then cut out the jon-jon, leaving about half an inch of unpainted burlap around the edges. I decided not to use fray block because I sort of like the messy, ragged look of the burlap edges.

I traced an exact duplicate for the back side and painted it blue…
IMG_4315 Then, I took a chance and free-handed the initials with a thick Sharpie. At some point in this process, I decided to go with his monogram instead of “Oh Boy!” even though I thought it was absolutely precious! I filled in the initials with the 3d fabric paint.

Below, you can see the white hanger I used. Adam just took a normal white wire hanger, folded the ends to make it small, and then flattened those rings with some pliers for me. The buttons were easy to paint on…

IMG_4318 Finally, I hot-clued the two burlap pieces together, leaving just enough space for my hand to stuff the inside with grocery bags to give it shape. I actually glued the two pieces of fabric around the hanger, so it looks like a real hanging outfit. And I decided to nix the polka dots and just go simple. IMG_4323So, that’s that. A fun, easy project for a lot less than $40. I think it will serve as a cute way to announce the arrival of our second little bambino.

And on a totally unrelated note, here’s a picture worth documenting of Mr. Boy enjoying the lakeside view.

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DIY Kitchen Table Facelift

Y’all.

Let me just tell you, this little project that we decided to embark upon was a labor of love. And I’m thankful to say that it didn’t end in divorce 🙂

We’re not exactly experienced do-it-yourself-ers. But, alas, pinterest takes us all to new heights, causing us to believe we can do anything just because we read someone’s “how-to” blog tutorial. Let me tell you, the blogs make refinishing furniture sound easier than it is.

Our kitchen table has been in desperate need of some love since we got it about 3 1/2 years ago. Our table and chairs were living in Adam’s parents’ garage when we got married {I believe they were once Adam’s sister’s?}. His parents offered the set to us, and we eagerly accepted since we had not a stitch of furniture.

I loved both the table and the chairs, but they didn’t match. We were planning to repaint the table shortly after we got married, but it never happened. We’ve been busy for the last 3 years. Recently, though, we got the brilliant notion that refinishing the table would be a fun project to work on together in all our spare time (HA). I read a few blogs and thought it sounded easy enough.

And, thus, we began.

Almost two weeks, a whole lot of work, and eight trips to Home Depot later, we finished. {FYI: Home Depot is less than a mile from our house. Good thing or we would have gone broke paying for all the gas to get there and back what seemed like a bazillion times}. After all that, though, I must say that I’m pleased with the finished product.

Here’s a photo of the table and chairs in our first apartment. I used those placemats to try to tie the wooden chairs together with the black table until we could get around to changing it.

Our goal for this project was to sand the table down to the original wood and then stain it to match the chairs {as closely as possible}. Easier said than done. I really love the chairs, though, and wanted to leave them the same. The table was originally painted white and then black. Adam sanded through all that paint with an orbital power sander.

Here’s the tabletop sanded down to the original wood {that little spot on the bottom is just water}.

I decided to paint the base of the table green to match a green bench from Pier 1 that’s in our kitchen. With my shoddy painting skills, I was achieving the exact look I was going for–that distressed look with layers of paint showing through. I had to go inside to feed L, though, and Adam finished my painting job just a little too perfectly. So, I had to go back and scuff it up a bit with some sandpaper. This is Adam’s perfect version below.

After sanding down the table, we stained it with Minwax Wood Finish–Golden Pecan. This color choice came by recommendation from our new friend Bob at Home Depot. We took a picture of one of the chairs in and asked him to help us pick a color that he thought would match.

Well, unfortunately Bob was a little off with his color choice. This stain gave the wood on the table more of a red tint than the chairs had. To be honest, it wasn’t really Bob’s fault. It’s hard to pick a stain match based on one little iphone picture. The chair did appear to have more of a red tint in the picture.

So, I went back to home depot to consult with Bob. He told me that since we had only stained and not sealed the stain with polyurethane, we could use  paint thinner to get about 80% of the stain off. Then, he helped me pick a new stain that we hoped would match the chairs when combined with the 20% of the former stain left on the table.

And the new stain did match a LOT better. But the stain was slightly darker and exposed all of these little markings made from cross-grain sanding with the orbital sander. You can see them below…not too pretty.

So, we had to sand the entire table again, this time by hand. JOY! Luckily, we were able to get most of the markings out. We stained again, let it dry overnight, and then sealed it with several coats of polyurethane, sanding between each coat. The polyurethane bubbles very easily and dried leaving bubbles on the table after the first few coats. So we had to thin it by mixing it with some paint thinner.

This picture below shows how the green bench goes with the green table base {which is hidden when all the chairs are around the table}. It’s not an exact match but pretty darn close. Those fabulous chair cushions were on clearance at Pier 1. Score.

Here’s the finished product of the tabletop.

And here it is in our little breakfast nook. We did put a coat of polyurethane on each of the chairs so the finish would match the table. And we do have a fourth chair, but I’ve yet to poly it since we use the bench for seating.

So, there it is. I’m glad we made it through our first major DIY project. It was a lot of work, but I think it was worth it. And I’m certainly glad that my kitchen is back to being a kitchen rather than a workshop!

New Door(s)

Isn’t this panel fabulous?

It was an early Christmas gift from my mom that we found here during her last Louisville visit, and it led to a somewhat comical interaction with a little neighbor as Mom was hauling it inside.

Little Boy: Is that a door?!?

Mom: Well, no. It’s actually a decoration for your house that’s made to look like an old door. 

Little Boy: [pensive] Can you open it? 

Mom: No.

Little Boy: Why not? 

Mom: Well…because it doesn’t have a doorknob. (Good answer, Mom!)

Little Boy: [pensiveness leads to a lightbulb moment] But you can put a key in it because it has a keyhole!

Mom: [chuckling] Well, I guess so!

Don’t you just love kids? 🙂 The little guy was having a hard time comprehending why anyone would have a non-functional door propped up against a wall in their home as a decoration. Adam probably feels the same way. His response: Where’d we get that new door thing?

On a somewhat related note, the Rice family will be acquiring a real new door in the near future. Well, I guess the door won’t actually belong to us since we’ll still be renting. But we are moving….to a townhouse…that is a whole 300 square feet bigger than our current apartment. Woohoo! While Baby Boy himself does not take up a lot of space, all of his equipment does. We are busting at the seams, and it will be nice to have a little extra space during our remaining time in Louisville.

While we’re excited about our new home (and so thankful), we’re less than thrilled about the actual moving process which will take place just a few short days after we return from our Thanksgiving vacation to Alabama. Moving is stressful in general. Returning from vacation + caring for a 3 month old + moving at the beginning of the Christmas season = majorly accelerated stress levels. Prayers, please. Seriously.

And I’ll leave you with this sweet little smile….

because I just can’t seem to write a post without some mention of my new little love. 🙂